N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 83 (He Predestined)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:29-30, Part 2

(Rom. 8:29-30 ESV)  29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

“Predestined”

Of course, we’ve covered the heart of the predestination question in the previous two posts. But there are a few remaining points that need to be considered.

First, Paul clearly considers predestination distinct from foreknowledge. Many modern readers assume that foreknowledge necessarily triggers predestination, because there can be no foreknowledge if there is free will. But Paul plainly sees predestination as a blessing beyond foreknowledge — “those whom he foreknew he also predestined” — and so as the words are used by Paul, they are not logical equivalents. What’s the difference?

Well, foreknowledge can be entirely passive. Give me a crystal ball and magic powers and I can see the future (not really but you understand). But knowing the future isn’t the same as causing the future to unfold as you wish. That’s predestination. God is not only an observer of the future, but he is also an active participant in the present and the future to bring about his desired results.

That sounds a lot like some forms of Calvinism in which every single thing is interpreted as the will of God. If a serial killer tortures and kills hundreds, well, God has a plan and it’ll all work out. It makes God the author of sin. And that is certain the furthest thing from Paul’s thinking.

Rather, Paul is still thinking in covenantal/narrative terms. That is, God made certain promises to Abraham and Israel, and God will keep those promises despite Israel’s stubborn hearts and idolatry. Ultimately, God keeps his word despite the fecklessness and rebellion of humans. His promises are predestination.

Notice also that predestination is a collective blessing. It’s “those he called” not “each one whom he called.” “Those” refers to Israel — and ultimately Israel as reconstituted in Jesus as faithful Jews with faithful Gentiles grafted into the Jewish stock (Rom 11). These are “those” who are predestined to be adopted as brothers of Jesus, to call God Abba! and to possess the Spirit of Christ.

How do I know? Well, I’ve read ahead and know what Paul is going to say in Rom 9 – 11. But I’ve also read behind and know what the prophets said. They said nothing of God predestining every single thing ever. In fact, you can’t read Gen, Exo, and Num and reach such a conclusion. I mean, Israel rebelled, murmured, complained, and rebelled some more — so much so that God was ready to wipe the entire nation out and make a new one out of Moses’ descendants only. Who would argue that God would predestine rebellion against himself? (Well, some would, but some would have lost touch with reality in their theologizing.)

So predestiny is found throughout the prophets. In fact, the very fact that there exists such as thing as prophecy by itself demonstrates the nature of God’s predestination. He not only knows the future, but he’ll cause it to unfold as he wishes — from Gen 3 to Rev 22. The Bible is filled with this aspect of God’s nature.

But the scriptures tend to speak in collective, covenantal, national terms. God promises Abraham a great nation — not that every descendant would be elect and saved. Hence, God’s promise is kept if only a remnant is faithful and saved. There are, of course, times when God speaks of the future of an individual, but we read our culture back into the scriptures when we assume that every promise is about individual salvation — how I go to heaven when I die. Maybe it’s about God’s promise to bless every nation through Jesus, which tells us but a little about the fate of a given individual.

Now, at this point, if you’re like me, you’re wondering why this is such a big deal. I mean, if I can’t claim a confident salvation because God has promised that the church is elect, foreknown, predestined, and ultimately glorified, what has that to do with me — if I can rebel, fall away, be damned, and lose these promises?

Well, it’s good to know that God’s Kingdom will never be defeated. It may lose some battles. It may be sent into the wilderness to hide. But it will survive to the end of time. When I cast my lot with the church, I’m tying myself to a body that is God-guaranteed to last forever. The Kingdom will prevail because God has so promised. I just need to get on board and hang on tight.

And it matters that God wants the Kingdom to succeed. That is, contrary to much preaching, God isn’t asking trick questions and looking for foot faults in order to damn me. Indeed, he is literally moving heaven and earth so that his promises will be kept. For millennia he’s been working a plan designed to save the world — and if I lose that salvation, it won’t be because I wasn’t smart enough to read between the lines and suss out the silences. It’ll be because I chose to rebel — and that will be my fault entirely.

And it tells me that God sees Christians as a single nation and a single race separate from all other nations and races. He predestined that this Kingdom would come into existence as a single Kingdom under a single King. When we see what God is trying to do, we understand much better what we should be trying to do. Our mission or vocation becomes, in part, to unify the Kingdom by recognizing the unity God has already provided. We don’t have to work for unity. We have unity. We have to work to rid ourselves of our false perception that we are divided by how we worship, how we organization, and the denominational title we hang on our buildings.

Like earthly siblings, our brothers aren’t exactly like us, and because we are so alike, the differences annoy us and make it hard to gather as family. But like earthly siblings, family should ultimate triumph as we have but one Father and eat at but one table.

Wright explains it, so typically, from a different point of view —

The five great verbs (foreknown, foreordained, called, justified, glorified), crashing chords at the end of the movement, are all to be understood as Christ-shaped. That which is true of the Messiah is true of his people.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 602.

From the foundation of the world, and from God’s blood oath with Abraham, God’s and Jesus’ fates have been foreknown and predestined by God. As God passed between the sacrificed animal carcasses and walked through the pool of blood, he became predestined to die on the cross.

Just so, Christians, as a nation and a race elect by God, have been foreknown and predestined to die with Jesus in baptism and, more importantly, die with Jesus in daily sacrificial living. We are sons of God not just because we’re saved but because we share in Jesus’ inheritance and the path to that inheritance: service, submission, suffering, and sacrifice — all leading to justification and glorification.

To be “justified” is to be declared innocent of all charges and hence part of God’s community. It’s the judge’s verdict following a trial. Pilate found Jesus guilty but God overrode that decision, justifying Jesus by the resurrection. Just so, as we re-enact the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior in baptism, we are also justified — declared innocent of all charges despite the world’s disagreement. God speaks through baptism and it’s judgment that matters. And so we are joined to God as his children — even when we don’t get along with our siblings.

Jesus’ resurrection was followed by his ascension to heaven, in bodily form. His soul didn’t leave his body and flit off to the heavenly ether. Jesus — body, soul, and spirit — all went to heaven to be enthroned at God’s right hand as the Son of God reigning on David’s throne over Israel — the newly reconstituted Israel that we call the Kingdom or the church.

Just so, when we arise from the baptismal waters, we are enthroned in heaven with Jesus. No. Really.

(Eph. 1:20-21 ESV)  20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 

(Eph. 2:4-7 ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

In both Rom 8:30 and Eph 2:6, our glorification with Jesus is spoken of in the past tense, as though it’s already happened. And perhaps from God’s perspective — from outside of earth time — that’s true. But from our own perspective, it seems likely that Paul is speaking proleptically, that is, speaking of a future event as so certain that it can be expressed in the past tense.

As a result, Paul skips sanctification, going straight from the baptistry to the glory of God’s Presence — because in a sense we are already glorified. While we have yet to undergo the full transformation that Paul describes as happening at the general resurrection in 1 Cor 15, God has come to live within us already. God’s Glory is already present through the Spirit.

And, already, we’ve been given dominion over God’s Creation. I mean, no other species on earth has the power to both heal and to destroy the environment. We have the power; it’s just a question of whether we’ll use it for God’s purposes or for some other.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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59 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 83 (He Predestined)

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    If you cast your lot with the church, I believe you would need to start all over with Christ.
    Error 503 got my other message.

  2. Randall says:

    Hi Jay,
    It’s been a long time and I understand you are quite ill. My prayers are for your complete recovery and additional ministry to the church.

    Above you wrote: “So predestiny is found throughout the prophets. In fact, the very fact that there exists such as thing as prophecy by itself demonstrates the nature of God’s predestination. He not only knows the future, but he’ll cause it to unfold as he wishes — from Gen 3 to Rev 22. The Bible is filled with this aspect of God’s nature.”

    This sounds like God “not only knows the future, but he’ll cause it to unfold as he wishes.” Thus it suggests God knows some things about the future and cause them to unfold as he wishes.

    What about all the rest of the stuff? Is it too unimportant for God to be involved in the same way? How would one go about causing some things to unfold as they wisheed unless they also controlled all the variables?

    Hesed,
    Randall

  3. Dwight says:

    I understand that God’s will is complete, but that doesn’t mean he controls everything, but rather he controls what he wants to control. He might want to see certain outcomes so he controls how things happen and thus knows what man will do and not do.
    But it seems as though God doesn’t seek to control man, but rather wishes man to bow himself to His will. We see this in Noah. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, but doesn’t take over his will like a puppet, but rather controls the things around Jonah to steer him. Paul was also shown the truth, but not made to obey the truth. Many of the Pharisees who knew Jesus and saw His miracles were not impressed enough to see Him as the Son of God, because they had hardened their heart.
    Sometimes God has to soften us up some, for us to see and sometimes that doesn’t even work.
    But we are never forced internally.
    When Jesus was before Pilate, Jesus told Pilate that if God wanted to He could prevent Pilate from crucifying Jesus, but this wasn’t His will.
    If we look at the scriptures the grand narrative is the coming of Jesus and God directed that to happen, even while man went about living his life as he chose.
    And according to David/ gospels/letters, God answers prayers and those who are righteous, if we ask.

  4. Randall says:

    Hi Dwight,
    I guess you hold some inaccurate ideas regarding what the scriptures show about how God acts in our lives. But perhaps I don’t understand what you mean. Or perhaps your comment was not directed at my comment at all.

    Above you wrote: “I understand that God’s will is complete, but that doesn’t mean he controls everything, but rather he controls what he wants to control. He might want to see certain outcomes so he controls how things happen and thus knows what man will do and not do.”

    So how about all the things that one presumes are not controlled by God? Do those actions have ramifications as to what else happens? Of course they do! How does one control the end w/o controlling all the means to that end? Of course, one can’t control the end w/o the means to it.

    I don’t think that God controls us apart from our exercising our will. I do believe He makes us willing when we would not be willing if left to ourselves. The problem with all of us is that our willer is broken so that it doesn’t will well. Alas, a new birth is prerequisite!
    Hesed,
    Randall

  5. Dwight says:

    Randall, I have a hard time following you sometimes.
    You wrote, “So how about all the things that one presumes are not controlled by God? Do those actions have ramifications as to what else happens? Of course they do!”
    So you think that God controls the insects that eat your garden or the bird that nest in your neighbors trees? To what end? And if I kill those insects or shoot the bird do I change God’s plan?
    And then there are the animals in the field that I know nothing of living out their generations. Are they too under God’s control and part of a plan?
    Which is why I wrote, “I understand that God’s will is complete, but that doesn’t mean he controls everything, but rather he controls what he wants to control. He might want to see certain outcomes so he controls how things happen and thus knows what man will do and not do.”
    God doesn’t have to control everything down to the smallest detail to make the big things happen.
    In this I agree that “I don’t think that God controls us apart from our exercising our will.”
    But God doesn’t “make us willing when we would not be willing if left to ourselves.”
    God might prod us, but He doesn’t “make us”.
    And those in Acts 2 showed a willingness before they were baptized. They bent their will to God in repentance and were born again.

  6. Randall says:

    Freud taught determinism i.e. that our past determines our future. An associate of Freud named Carl Jung took a different perspective that I believe is referred to as teleology. i.e. the future draws us to what it will be rather than being determined by the past. For God, a being not limited by time or space, I wonder if one perspective should even take precedence over the other or not.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  7. Alabama John says:

    When you put a spirit that is totally following your will, it doesn’t have a choice. That being so, that spirit is predestined to either heaven or hell according to your guidance instead of its own choices.

    That makes God simply playing his ultimate will for each of us and we have no choice in the matter.

    On the other hand, us exercising free choice by God allowing us to, creates an atmosphere where even God can be surprised by both our choosing to do and be good which makes Him happy and choosing bad which makes Him sorrowful.

    Without that ability to make choices there would be no need of a judgment.

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    If God always knew and caused us to follow his instructions, the test of Abram sacrificing his son would be a no brainier. God proved that he was not sure of Abram’s intent to completely fulfill his instruction as he stopped Abram and made the statement that now he was sure of Abram’s loyalty.

  9. Dwight says:

    AJ and Larry, I believe this is true. We often write off where God says, “Now I know ..” to Abraham. But it shows that while God knows the arch of what will happen, he still doesn’t know which way man will go until late man makes the decision. God allows this of man because God desires man to not just do His will, but wants man to desire Him. “If you love me you will keep my commanments”. God didn’t simply force Paul to see the light, but showed Paul the light that Paul wanted and needed to see.

  10. Randall says:

    Hello Dwight, I assume you realize that you are saying that God doesn’t know everything. That is, He is not omniscient. Do you think this is consistent with the whole of scripture?
    Hesed,
    Randall

  11. David says:

    I am puzzled at God not knowing whether Abraham would carry out his command until Abraham raised the knife. If that were the case, then God couldn’t be absolutely certain until the knife went through Isaac’s body. Abraham could have changed his mine at any second. I take it that God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, and if the intent to obey is strong enough, then faith is counted as having obeyed. But that doesn’t solve the foreknowledge problem. God knows our thoughts, but does He know our thoughts before we think them?

  12. David says:

    Beginning to be anxious about Jay. Anyone have an update?

  13. Monty says:

    In several places scripture is written from God’s perspective as if God didn’t know something or had to “go and see for himself.” Take God’s conversation with Abraham about Sodom, I’m paraphrasing but the outcry of Sodom’s sins had reached heaven and God says something like “Let’s go down(to Sodom) and see if it’s as bad as we thought, or in essence to check it out. Now we all know that God in his omniscience already knew exactly how bad it was, but (I believe) this happened and was written for us to learn more about how God judges sin and how God deals with men. Abraham reasons with God(interesting) that if could only find 50 righteous souls would he not spare Sodom? God said he would. But God already knew exactly how many righteous there were(if He’s omniscient). This whole scenario isn’t for God’s learning, but for Abraham’s and ours.

    The purpose(I believe) of the story is to reassure men that God’s judgments are in fact just. That he goes the extra mile in making sure that the righteous aren’t judged as the wicked are. Will not the judge of all the earth do right? The answer is yes he will.

    Take Judas for example, he was chosen by Jesus. Surely no one believes Jesus only picked him because he needed a fall guy to fulfill scripture. Did God not know Judas would betray Jesus ahead of time? Sure he did. Did Jesus pick a bad apple? Evidently so. A fellow whose heart was already hardened so that the light of Jesus couldn’t break through. Judas was a thief and coveted money. How many times did he hear you can’t serve God and mammon? Jesus loved Judas as he did the others. But Judas was like some of the Pharisees who saw the miracles, heard the teachings and it had no affect on him. He was destined to be lost because he was corrupt through and through. Judas became a tool for Satan to use as God foreknew that he would. Even though God knew it would happen and even though it was “destined” to happen. It wasn’t due to God making Judas act in a way that he wouldn’t have ordinarily acted in keeping with his personality.

    God foreknew that the light of Jesus was never going to penetrate this guys black heart. He knows that about all who are destined to be lost. But he didn’t make him(or anyone else) that way. That’s why he was not one “given to Jesus by the Father.” Only the saved are “given to Jesus.” This (to me) speaks more to free will (in our choice) than a lot of other scriptures. Judas was not providentially hindered (by God) in anyway but through his own bad heart. Protection from Satan was not given to him as it was granted to Peter when Jesus prayed for him. Satan asked to sift Peter as wheat. He needed permission from God, as with Job, to do so.

    What was Jesus claim of “I haven’t lost any that you gave me Father” if there wasn’t any real “danger”( because of predeterminism) that he would lose any? Rather hollow don’t you think?

  14. Alabama John says:

    Being able to and exercising that being able to are two different things. God can make that choice.
    He is able to.

  15. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    That is true, but he will not change (override) your choice.

  16. David says:

    Monty

    I have had the case of God not knowing whether Abraham would obey and offer Isaac, thrown up to me as proof for works salvation and as proof for an extreme Arminian position. I had thought that the language in that account was probably, as you said, for Abraham’s and our learning. It was not that God didn’t really know, but the writer of Genesis was bringing it down to man’s level. I didn’t know how to explain that in a credible way, but you just did by pointing to the case of Sodom and Gamorrah. I don’t think anyone would argue that God had to go down and take a look for Himself before He knew the situation. Good comments. Thanks.

  17. Dwight says:

    The only way I can think of it is that God know all things, but as reported to him by the angels or when he decides to look or listen. After all God is said to listen to prayers. I am sure God listens to prayers that are directed to him, not all prayers in general, especially when they are directed to another God.
    Does God pay attention to the blade of grass growing in my yard and if so why?
    We are told that Jesus came down and suffered in temptation like we do as to be a better mediator between God and man, but if God knows all things, then what was the point?
    Like I said I am not destroying God’s ability to know and control all things, but that God is an active listener and knower, meaning he listens and know what He wants to listen and know.
    In the case of S & G, God sent his angels down and didn’t go down personally to see and interact.

    But I am not wholly tied to this thinking.
    It is possible that God knows all things, such as in how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll lollipop, but I find that not worth knowing to God.

    God knows the hearts of man, because God looks into the hearts of man and/or man speaks his heart.
    Now does God know the future.
    Yes, but only because he looks into the future and/or he directs the future.
    I would say that God predestines and predetermine that which he wishes to predestine and predetermine.
    A strange thing is Samson. He was a judge and strong when his hair was long, but he was over all a scoundrel, often going against his vow, by drinking wine, touching unclean animals, etc. He was pretty much a loose cannon, but Samson wasn’t overall without faith in God, at least at the end.
    Did God plan for Samson to do all of the bad things he did just so he could get a way to avenge against the Philistines? I don’t know
    .
    But I admittedly move in between not knowing how God operates and what God knows and doesn’t know in details and how He knows it.
    But I mostly care that God knows the overall state of man and that God sent His son to man and now God awaits man’s response to God.
    Going back to Lazarus and the rich man, Abraham tells the people who want God to send Lazarus to his kin “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

  18. Randall says:

    Many of these comments provide excellent support for the criticism that the CofC has, and continues to “major in the minors and minor in the majors.” We don’t study the nature and attributes of God so we stake out positions on what God knows and doesn’t know without having ever studied what the scriptures teach on this subject. On the other hand we have studied, over and over again, minor issues such as instrumental music and even how many cups to use in the Lord’s Supper. God help us.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  19. Dwight says:

    Randall, I am telling you what I think and the reasons I think it, but it isn’t clearly what I know.
    I refuse to place God in a hard cased box, because I am not able to see where God ends or begins. Many times we are shown glimpses of God and sometimes we are shown God showing us from the perspective of man because we cannot understand God, meaning he comes down to our level.
    I have actually studied the nature of God many times and each time I come away with the conclusion that we may never understand the mechanics of how God operates, but we don’t have to. I don’t have to know the nature of the Spirit to know that I must live in it and by it and through it and allow the Spirit to live in me.
    We must know that God love us and cares for us and helps us when we need it and has plans, whether it is because God sees us directly or because we each have angels that God sees through.
    This goes down to the thought that if God can do anything can God create a rock so big that He cannot move it. First of all God would not do something that contradicts Him and second God does things that have purpose and meaning.
    But I am right there with you in that many, many times we teach the little things and bypass God all together.
    But then again the coC split over their knowing how the HS indwells or doesn’t indwell. There are oodles of HS articles out there that make points and counter points. But all in all we are fighting over mechanics of something we are told, but don’t understand, and not just accepting the words as they are said.
    I have heard lessons on the HS and come away with the feeling that we have tried to box the HS in terms of action and yet we are but shown examples of the HS in action.
    It is good to understand God and the HS in what they do, but we must never think we know how they do it.
    At some point we need to back up and accept the blessings of God and the HS and then figure out how we are to act in relation to them, which is a hard thing.

    Paul Simon wrote, “God only knows, God makes his plan, The information’s unavailable to the mortal man,
    We work our jobs, collect our pay, believe we’re gliding down the highway
    When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away”
    We think we know, but we don’t, not really and yet we still must do what we can in the time we have it. We can’t live God’s life, we must live our life, which is hard enough.
    We are told to love God and love others. These are the important things.

  20. Randall says:

    I never cease to be amazed at we’d hat people are willing to sacrifice at the altar to free will.

  21. Alabama John says:

    We’ve only had the bible as we know it for a few hundred years and that is just a very few of us,,not most on this earth.

    I will always admire and respect those that didn’t have it but still in many ways ouit of respect of the Supreme Being (called by many different names) got down on their knees and gave thanks to God and asked His blessings. They didn’t understand all the laws, commands, etc. that we having the bible in all our denominations argue and differ about, but they knew God.

    So, God in His simplicity is who they worshiped and it was the true, only God, unobstructed by anything else they loved. I certainly believe God loved them before and back just as well!

  22. Dwight says:

    Amen AJ, Amen.
    It is amazing the damage the Pharisees did with their access to the scriptures and their zeal for the law. Too bad they didn’t have a zeal for God and their neighbors. The people that followed were much better off than those that were the teachers in many ways. We have just replaced the Pharisees with other such people who don’t just read the words of God, but wish to interpret the Law for those they wish to control. I myself have crawled out of that way of thinking.

  23. Alabama John says:

    Good for you Dwight, Hallelujah! More and more are doing the same. God is working among us.

  24. Monty says:

    Randall,

    If you care to get into a dialogue that would be great, I’d personally love to hear what you have to say even if it’s against what I’ve studied, and yes I’ve studied the nature of God. If you can enlighten us great, but to come here and make derogatory above the fray comments are for what purpose? Make us feel bad? Show us how much smarter you are? Show us your contempt? If you’ve taken offense to anything I posted please explain why and let’s talk about it. I believe many on here have an open mind. That doesn’t mean we’re going to readily jump on the Calvin train(if that’s where you’re coming from). It just means you’d better have some good sound arguments.

  25. Randall says:

    Monty,
    Hi! I hope you’re having a good day. As to the info you requested. I’ve provided it before but I’ll do it again so you and others don’t have to research it for yourselves. Though I do wish you all would research it for yourselves. A good read would be Chosen By God, written by R.C. Sproul – if any actually wants to understand what folks like me are saying. If you wan’t to read it and disuss fine. (However, if you don’t want to read this, or something like it then please do not expect me to engage with you on the subject matter.) Passages like God coming down to see S&G and count the righteous for Himself or Moses talking some sense into God when God was going to destroy the Israelites and make a new nation through Moses are understood as anthropomorphisms, or more accurately anthropopathisms. That is, God is revealing himself to man through human like form (morph) or human like emotion or intellect (pathos). God is still understood to be omniscient, but reveals Himself as learning something new about a man such as Abram/Abraham or the Jewish nation to teach us something. In the case of Moses where God is on the verge of destroying all of Israel we see God’s hatred or sin in general and idolatry in particular as well as His jealousy. It is not that Moses talked some sense into God and got God to “repent” of the evil (calamity) he was going to bring on Israel for he knew from eternity past that Israel would behave as they did. And that He and Moses would have the conversation they did etc. (Moses wiser than God, or more in control of his emotions – ludicrous)

    As to “freewill” that so many in western society seem to practically worship: I think many people confuse having a will with having a “free” will. Man has the ability to make choices and he does so. However, there are many things man can not accomplish by willing it to be so. None of us can be perfect, not even for a minute or two, b/c we have a fallen nature and every being acts in accordance with their nature. A dog acts like a dog b/c it IS a dog. God can not sin b/c He is God. That is, His attributes include him being infinitely pure and holy so he will always act that way. Man, being sinful by nature, will choose to sin. No one ever made you or me sin. We did it b/c we wanted to; b/c that’s the kind of people we are. Romans 7 might be appropriate here. Thanks be to God that He loves sinners and saves them anyway. So you and I can be saved through His grace b/c He is a gracious being. So God can’t sin and man can’t do anything that is ultimately good apart from the activity of God in our lives. He loves us and makes us willing to love Him back. He draws us to Himself so He alone deserves the glory for anything we ever did/do that is truly good. Most of what we think we do that is good is tainted by sin in some way. For example, a man may give several million dollars to build a medical center that provides free medical care to children but then his pride is revealed when he requests the hospital be named after him. So even his “goodness” is tainted by pride. I have even heard folks at CoC claim that man’s will is more free than God’s b/c God can not sin and man can do either good or bad. This confuses freedom with license. And it fails to recognize man’s nature as well as God’s nature. I hope I don’t have to provide numerous scriptures to convince anyone that man’s heart is desperately wicked.

    So yes, man makes choices and man is responsible for the choices he makes but man would never choose God b/c he is a good person as he isn’t good. God alone is good. But God can enable the fallen creature to choose God and God works toward that end – to complete in us the good work that He started. This in no way should be caricatured as man not having a real choice in the matter. He does, he simply chooses in accordance with his nature.

    I hope this helps a little.

    BTW, I have had this same conversation with members of the CofC so very many times in the past. I refuse to be dragged into it at length again.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  26. Dwight says:

    Randall, It would help if you didn’t start out with a condescending tone if you really want to discuss, which it seems as though you are set to preach to the unlearned, which we aren’t. Chances are we have heard most sides of the issue.
    In regards to man talking to God and God changing His mind, there are oodles of examples of this. This shows that God listens to man, because God cares for man, otherwise prayers would be pointless. But let’s start at Abraham, he is great example, in Gen. 19 God sends his angels down, but before that Abraham that in Ch.18 God says that He is going to destroy S&G and Abram whittles down the number that would save S&G to ten from fifty. This is repeated many times by others, another example being, Nineveh where God says that He is going to destroy Nineveh, but when Nineveh repents he doesn’t. God gave Nineveh the chance to save itself. Then there is Gideon who asked that God show him a sign not once but three times. All repent means is to turn from to something else and there is no connotation that repentance is sinful. There is nothing anthropomorphisms about it.
    We have to remember that we are made in the image of God, thus we have some of the characteristics of God, but are not God. We are His creation and God loves His creation.
    I will have to get to the other points later as I have time.
    BTW, I am not coC, but I am a Christian who happens to go to a coC assembly.

  27. Dwight says:

    Randall, I will read Chosen By God as I get the chance and I can find it on the internet.
    I differ from many in the churches in that I do believe that man will sin and is destined to sin, because man is in the flesh, but this is not the same as being born sinful. Birds are born to fly, as it they are born with wings and thus will fly, but they do not fly immediately from the egg, but rather later determine to fly. We and they do not as many believe simply sin because they learn it from another and thus spread it and catch it like a disease.
    And I believe that man can do good, but because man does sin, is not good, because he has been tainted by sin. Thus all men are not good, but can do good and more importantly can achieve good by seeking and achieving God, who makes us righteous. There is only one that is good and that is God, even as spoken by the Son of God. Jesus sought to humble himself, even though he had never sinned, so can we do less and shouldn’t we do more in this. Jesus showed us, as he was born in the flesh, that we can over come this call and seek spirituality and be spiritual.
    I some time ago wrote an article called “By Nature Children of Wrath, Becoming Children of Light” that deals with how man can be born to sin (will follow the inclination to sin), but not be born sinful. I will send this article to anyone who ask and they can read and critique it.

  28. Monty says:

    Randall,

    I appreciate your response. I happen to agree with you about the anthropomorphism thing. I believe I said as much in my post about the conversation between God and Abraham.”Now we all know that God in his omniscience already knew exactly how bad it was, but (I believe) this happened and was written for us to learn more about how God judges sin and how God deals with men.” Of course God knew how many were “righteous” in Sodom. Something I believe you would deny.(That there were any “righteous” in Sodom) Scripture speaks of righteousness in two ways. “None are righteous-no not one”, as it speaks to being without sin and able to save themselves. Jesus said, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. But scripture frequently talks about the righteous as opposed to the unrighteous . Those who live by God’s decrees vs. those that don’t. For example Ps.1:6 “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Proverbs 11:23 “The desire of the righteous is only good. But the expectation of the wicked is only wrath.” We all have a sin nature and no one is without sin and therefore Jesus is necessary, but that doesn’t mean mankind is without any ability to be what scripture refers to as righteous or good by our own actions as opposed to those who live by their evil desires. As far as what you said about Moses being wiser than God I don’t know where that came from. I skimmed over the comments(maybe I missed it) but didn’t see it.

    I may or may not get around to reading Sproul, if I have to read that before you and I can discuss this then I guess we won’t. I believe in the sovereignty of God and that he is so sovereign that he can create man and give man total free will and that in no way affects God’s sovereignty. Maybe I believe in his sovereignty more than you? Some believe man cannot be free because that would mean God couldn’t be sovereign. I disagree. Both are true.

    I don’t believe God predetermined who would be saved and who would be lost, or maybe that’s not the best way to phrase it, for what the Calvinist believe(if I’m not mistaken) is that all are lost and God chooses to save some, sort of like a rich person who owns a lot of land would go to an animal shelter and save a a dog or two from being euthanized. He could be looked at as merciful and kind to save a couple of dogs. They were lost, they were a bad breed and ugly, no one was ever going to rescue them because of their nature, save for the kindness of that rich person. But what if that same person had the wherewithal(the land to put them on, the feed to feed them with etc,) to save all the dogs from being destroyed? You would say there is a limit to his kindness. How would the other dogs feel about the man’s kindness? Probably that he isn’t that kind. He had the power to save us, but he decided not to.

    The problem I have with that analogy is God is able to save all us despicables. HIs mercy and compassion he is rich in. His love knows no bounds. Why wouldn’t he save everyone if he certainly has the love, the compassion, the mercy the space in heaven(wherever that may be)? If it’s totally his call and man doesn’t have a choice then why wouldn’t God save all the unrighteous dirt bags? That view IMO lessens God. It is counter to Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and crying out ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that art killing the prophets, and stoning those sent unto thee, how often did I will to gather thy children together, as a hen doth gather her own chickens under the wings, and ye did not will.”

    Jesus died for all men. God so loved the whole world. That whosoever(anyone) who believes on him should not perish but have eternal life. God is not willing that anyone perish. HIs desire is that all would come to repentance. I believe God woos man through the power of the Gospel. When men hear the Good News and don’t respond it is because Satan has blinded them by their allowing him to, and not opposed to doing so against their will and not because God wills to not open their heart. Satan would blind all men to the Gospel would he not, if it was as simple as it being his decision alone.

    Paul talks about in Romans how some knew God, but their foolish hearts were darkened. This cannot (IMO) be explained by Calvinism which teaches that once God flips the switch (so to speak) there is no refusing God and no leaving God. Once saved , always saved.

    God in the person of Jesus made himself vulnerable to all on the cross, to either be accepted or rejected. That is what God’s love does, in the cross it says whether you choose to obey the gospel or refuse it, I was willing to go this far. This is how much I loved you. God doesn’t make anyone a robot that has to follow and love God against the person’s will. Maybe that’s not what you believe. I hope it’s not.

  29. Randall says:

    Hi Monty,

    Your reply was lengthy – and I appreciate that. I will try to address a few things and provide a little more information that you requested.

    First: As to the righteous in S&G. Yes, of course God knew about each and every person there. I think in this passage the term “righteous” refers to those who are righteous relative to those around them. But not righteous in the ultimate sense of being w/o sin. Only Jesus lived such a life. I believe this is generally true when the righteous are mentioned in scripture as there is no person that if good save God alone.

    The part about Moses being wiser than God comes from when Moses came down off the mountain and the Israelites had made a golden calf to worship. Read Exodus 32-34 for the biblical account.

    You don’t have to read Sproul. That is up to you. However, if you do read it you will find out what people like me believe rather than a caricature of what we believe. That way we can have a meaningful conversation rather than one that I don’t want to commit to. I have heard the study of Systematic Theology mentioned from the pulpit in a CoC only three times in my life, all three times to ridicule the study. It does have great value in that it will help us to not affirm two doctrines that are in conflict with each other. For example, affirming God’s omniscience and then affirming there are things God didn’t or doesn’t know.

    Also affirming God’s omniscience means He has known from eternity past who he would save and who He wouldn’t save. That does NOT mean that man doesn’t make a choice for which he is responsible, There is our perspective as we are located in time and space. Of course, God in not confined to such a limited viw of things, After all, if God knows for certain that something is going to happen, then it is going to happen isn’t it? So you could read Sproul or a systematic tehology if you want to flesh this out a little more, Up to you.

    God is not unfair but that is our major complaint with Calvinism. It offends our sense of fairness. We want to be the ONE that decides rather than God. So we jump through all kinds of hoops to make it so. But let’s say there is an orphanage for children rather than dogs. I may want to save one or two children for myself. Well, let’s say there are billions of children and my resources are unlimited. So I chose a billion children for myself and save them and provide them with a magnificent existence. Would you think ill of me if I didn’t save them all? I wasn’t obligated to save any of them as they offended me greatly and repeatedly. Wouldn’t I be gracious to have saved so many? Especially since all of them hated me until I worked in their lives to bring them to know me and love me. Calvinism doesn’t make God the bad guy but caricatures of Calvinism do. All our metaphors will break down if pushed beyond the limit of the point they are intended to make, kind of like parables in that sense.

    In the end we can affirm the absolute sovereignty of God and bless and thank him for His mercy towards us. As to those that want nothing to do with Him, well they get just what they wanted. To some it seems that Calvinism makes God the author of evil. Not so, but logically it does make God the ultimate cause of evil, but in some way that He i not tainted by evil in any way for He is absolutely pure and holy. This is something very difficult to admit. On the other hand, Arminianism makes God less than absolutely sovereign as man is the ultimate decider of his fate. Calvinists reject this as God must be God and that means He is always absolutely sovereign.

    FYI, there is a significant difference between one saved, always saved and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. However, I will acknowledge that since is not bound by time of space I would affirm once saved, forever saved.

    Monty, above you wrote “Jesus died for all men. God so loved the whole world. That whosoever(anyone) who believes on him should not perish but have eternal life. God is not willing that anyone perish. HIs desire is that all would come to repentance. I believe God woos man through the power of the Gospel. When men hear the Good News and don’t respond it is because Satan has blinded them by their allowing him to, and not opposed to doing so against their will and not because God wills to not open their heart. Satan would blind all men to the Gospel would he not, if it was as simple as it being his decision alone.”

    I pretty much agree with all this. I would make a few little changes – such as God loved the world – means the whole cosmos. The revealed will of God is that all men, or at least all kinds of men be saved. However, He knew from eternity past that He would not save all men. So this is true but only part of that story. When God woos us, he does it effectively b/cc He is omnipotent He can and will accomplish whatever he ultimately desires to accomplish. We will likely not understand His mysterious ways.

    Monty also wrote this: “God in the person of Jesus made himself vulnerable to all on the cross, to either be accepted or rejected. That is what God’s love does, in the cross it says whether you choose to obey the gospel or refuse it, I was willing to go this far. This is how much I loved you. God doesn’t make anyone a robot that has to follow and love God against the person’s will. Maybe that’s not what you believe. I hope it’s not.”

    You are correct. I do not believe that God made us robots. He doesn’t make us do anything against our will but He does make us willing.

    That’s all for now,

    Hesed,

    Randall

  30. Dwight says:

    anthropomorphism- “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.”
    Now we must realize that while some things might be anthropomorphism, many might not be.
    We, man, were/are created in the image of God, thus we have some of the characteristics of God.
    Unfortunately we, man, abuse our characteristics in such a way as to dishonor our creator.
    But perhaps one of the most prominent characteristic is free-will. God has free-will and man has free-will and God allows us to use our free will, because either we will align ourselves with God or not. We are not forced to love God, because true love cannot be forced, and Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandment.” Also we are told to “love the Lord thy God with all they heart, with all they soul and with all thy might.” And “you neighbor as yourself”.
    Love like faith has to be built on man’s response to God.
    But just because God wants and deserves our love, doesn’t ensure that He gets our love.

    In regards to Sproul’s book, I have read some of it and found contradictions. He makes the point that God is so sovereign that he controls the molecules and the sand and yet that he allows some things to happen, so he is “in a sense foreordaining it”. In a sense? This is like saying, “kind of”.
    The problem is we talking about people.
    God allows people to do things and this doesn’t mean that God if foreordaining it, unless if people sin, then God is foreordaining it, even though God is against sin. Man does many things God doesn’t approve of and if these things are foreordained, then God is going against Himself and we know a “house divided cannot stand”.
    I do believe that God can see the heart of man and know the inclination of man, but I also believe that man can turn on a dime the other way. Peter is a good example of having strong faith (enough to walk on water), but not strong enough faith to be resolved in it (started to sink). He faltered.
    I think, don’t know, but think that God waits for proof or at least wants to see proof.
    God could have condemned Adam and Eve even before they ate the fruit, because they became tempted, but God didn’t condemn them until they ate. This is mercy on God’s part. And it also gives man a chance to change or be different.

  31. Randall says:

    Hi Dwight,
    Acts 2:22 says “22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

    Am I correct that you don’t have any problem with God having a deliberate plan and foreknowledge here. Is that correct? If no objection here then why object if God chose to do it other times as well?

    People have said that God made man in His own image and man has returned the favor. I find more than a little truth in this generalization.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  32. Dwight says:

    Randall, because this plan doesn’t set a precedent for all things and all people at all times.
    I believe I did state that God made plans, go back to Paul Simon song, but unless God tells us, we don’t know what they are.
    Look at Job, there was seemingly no plan, God gave Satan the ability to inflict Job and Job suffered through it and then Job was rewarded. If Job would have renounced God we would have a different story with a different ending.
    Did God intend for David to kill Uriah and basically rape Bathsheba resulting in the death of their first child? Pretty macabre.
    Or was this the result of sinful thinking and bad choices by a man who was a “man after God’s own heart.”
    Gen.1:27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
    I Cor.11:7 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”
    But of course man is called on to:
    I Cor.15:49 “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
    2 Cor.3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord”
    But this after man chooses to follow Jesus.
    The one thing about Samson is that despite his best to get himself killed and although he did many sinful things, he still was useful to God.
    I believe that servitude, as Jesus showed his disciples, was one of the greatest examples of Godliness. And this required humbly placing yourself under another in service our of love for another.

  33. Alabama John says:

    Sinning and disobeying God existed way before us humans made in Gods image. The devil and his angels were kicked out of heaven and Gods presence for disobedience which is what is called sin. So even spirits in heaven can and have disobeyed and SINNED.
    Wonder if they will stand in line with us and sent to their reward when its judgment day?

  34. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    We don’t have to wonder about where those who have disobeyed will stand on judgment day.
    Rev 20:10 ESV and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
    Rev 20:14-15 ESV Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

  35. Dwight says:

    Supposedly Satan was a fallen angel as were the demons. So you are right sin was prior to man, but not on this earth, where Satan tempted man to sin and he did. From what we know the angels sin was pride and they were without the pleasure/burden of the flesh of man.
    Many will join Satan in the end. We will see if the fire is eternal torment or temporary fire , then death or immediate death, but without God and being in His presence, any other ending is not good. Wherever we end up will be because we made the decisions that got us there.

  36. Larry Cheek says:

    It would be very hard to identify or to testify that the rebellion of Satan was before Adams sin. God pronounced the curse upon him after the temptation was acted upon by man. Prior to the temptation he was just the serpent. The communication in Revelation about Michael and the dragon in chapter 12 indicates that the serpent, dragon, devil was a resident of Heaven and was not dispelled to earth until after the birth of The Son Christ. Read it carefully, explain how I may have misunderstood.

    Rev 12:1-17 ESV And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (2) She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (3) And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. (4) His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. (5) She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, (6) and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (7) Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, (8) but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. (9) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (10) And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (11) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (12) Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (13) And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (14) But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. (15) The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. (16) But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. (17) Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

  37. Dwight says:

    Larry, So if Satan was just a serpent, then he wasn’t an angel?
    In Luke 10:17-18 Jesus said, “Then the seventy[e] returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
    Did Satan really fall or was Jesus relating that Satan’s power over man was slipping as man through God was able to command and reject demons.

    I believe Revelations past chapter 3 becomes very symbolic and figurative and Ch. 12 is a great example of this figurative language. It appears to be in heaven, but also on earth, the woman is probably Israel, from which Jesus came. The dragon might be Satan or it could even be the Roman government or even Herod who tried to kill Jesus.
    What were the third of the stars that were cast down to earth? Were these the fallen angels? But if so, then how did they fight in heaven in vs.7?

    My point is that I would not use Revelations as my source for Satan’s sin of rebellion as Gen.2 shows that Satan was in rebellion at that point when he tricked Adam and Eve.
    Satan is called the father of lies and thus Gen.2 was probably just an example of his lies towards God.

    But also I am not tied down to anything on Satan’s past history.
    But I do know where Satan will end up and that he has lost his power over man through Jesus.

  38. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    In the point that you make above. It would seem that anyone who deceives another by distorting a message from God would just as subject to punishment as the serpent or Satan. I mention this because I have noticed that some men have a tenancy to be very lenient upon a teacher, preacher who has not studied the scriptures carefully and teaches much of their own concepts. Which deceives their followers. Have you also noticed that tenancy?

  39. Dwight says:

    Larry, yes, but this is a multi-faceted yes. As there are many types of deception and many reasons and intents, even though all are not good.
    I seem to go back to Rom.3:4 “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.”
    I think all men lie, sometimes to others and many times to themselves and often while they are lying to themselves, they are leading other astray.
    We have to often times own up to our own errors, not only that we see, but that others see before we do. The problems with the Pharisees is that they wouldn’t accept the truth, because they had the “truth”. Paul was the same way. And this is probably the hardest to overcome because those “truths” become ingrained in us and we teach them as truth.
    The concept of having to have faith in baptism in saving in addition to having faith in Jesus is one that we constantly teach as truth.

    In regards to Satan, I believe that he intentionally led Adam and Eve astray to wound God, the creator. Now it is possible that man would have done it themselves, but maybe not, but such is the power of a lie and casting doubt.

    But we need to never argue that we are true, but rather we can speak truth.

    Ironically even those who have studied the scriptures can speak falsities, when they mine the scriptures for what they want to say. I have fallen in this trap myself. Every time we say such and such is a sin, but don’t have scripture that says such and such is a sin, we have extracted sin from between the lines. Or we have interjected our thoughts into the scriptures and gotten them back.
    What we need is less teaching and preaching and more humility and self conviction.
    We need less talking at, and more talking with.
    Fewer lawyers (sorry Jay) and more love for others.
    I Tim.1:5-7 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”
    We have instead done this 2 Tim.4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.” when we employ them. They teach what we want them to teach us.

  40. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    I believe that our points are very similar. My suggestion about teachers and preachers was referring to my opinion that most of these who have studied under several generations of professional teachers have been indoctrinated with many tainted messages from their teachers and have been blinded to many true messages which they would have understood if they had carefully tested the Word of God in the scriptures with an open mind. As you suggest they may have a clear conscience (not realizing the extent of their indoctrination), a very good example of this would be Saul (Paul), he even confirmed that his teachings and actions prior to Christ’s intervention were preformed with a faith that he was serving God. But, in the example above will a teacher or preacher not be held accountable if his teaching does not match God’s intentions because he believes it to be true? I to have also fallen victim to being programmed by some of these concepts by preachers in my life. The bad part of this is when I began to learn of some of these distortions of scripture and approached preachers which were teaching what I believed to be in error I found that they relied upon their teachers more than upon the scriptures, and refused to even test my interpretations. They resorted to actions to suppress any possibility of error being exposed. Did you also encounter this type of resistance?

    P. S. If we carried this to the extreme than anyone who taught Jesus along with any other dogmas or doctrines which they were convinced were true, would also be justified, not accountable for their responsibility to those whom they had taught error.

  41. Dwight says:

    Larry, I do not trust many preachers these days as they often fail to be Christian and attempt to be preachers, meaning that they let their position of what they know and what they are supposed to do, get in the way of growth and being open mind. They fail to be humble.
    And accept no possibility of being wrong in terms of doctrine, while expecting all others to be wrong.

    I have approached a preacher in another town because I had heard that he was good at editing books and articles and also I like to get an outside opinion from people I do not personally know to avoid bias, this preacher said he would critique my study if I sent it to him, which I did, then because it was wrong in his eyes, he forwarded it to the preacher at my congregation and then I was confronted about it.
    I still have not gotten the study back with any corrections on it, even after I had expressly asked for that and was told that would happen.
    If I send an article to anyone, even to you, I expect to be corrected through the article. It is either right or wrong and if wrong, then I can make corrections and if mortally wrong then I can throw it out.
    We place out preachers high on a pedestal like fine porcelain and protect them from breaking or being wrong and they do the same and if they fall, they might shatter, so we don’t let them fall.
    Once they stop getting paid to be on the pedestal, they generally stop preaching.
    My dad preached and I saw the same in him.

    So yes I have found that the preachers do not test the scriptures, but usually recycle material, which they “know” to be “true”.
    I did a study on wine and found that this was rampant within the churches with no fact checking on material.
    You just accept material within your circle or that which agrees with you and don’t question it.

    I do believe that teachers will be judged more intensely than those who follow, because they are leading others in thought and usually create environments of judgments towards others.
    Jesus often condemned the teachers, scribes, etc. while showing compassion on those they taught.
    I may be overly harsh, but I have deep feelings based on some hard experiences.

  42. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    That is a heart breaking story. My experience almost parallels yours, but in my experience I tried to share a preachers 5 sermon presentation converted from speech to text with some elders of another congregation (we did not have elders). When my preacher found out he rallied the balance of the congregation to disfellowship me. That seemed very obvious that he knew his presentation was not something the elders would approve. Even though the elders were aware of the event, they did not go against this preacher. He had been preaching for many years and had a reputation for being knowledgeable in scriptures, Hebrew and Greek. They evidently were more afraid of him than God.

  43. Dwight says:

    Larry, Preachers almost have an immunity to being wrong, that others do not, that is until they cross somebody that is higher up the food chain, but if they are in the highest slot, then it is hard to confront them or their material with any hope of change.

  44. Alabama John says:

    I think of the different positions we have held to be truth during our lifetime. How many have changed as we grew longer in the tooth. If God had judged us by how we followed the scriptures at various times we would of been found scripturally wrong. Would that error of sent us to hell?
    Trying to be right is a lifetime, ever how long that is, effort and so many of us, most by far, if any, will never get it all just right, but keep on trying and because of that, God will look at our hearts to see how we wanted to be right or not.
    I am so thankful for that as it is so consoling and comforting as we all study, trying our best.

  45. Dwight says:

    Amen, AJ. I sometimes feel blessed that I never got the chance to be in a position of authority, because I know I have been wrong in the past, even as now it leads to a constant feeling of frustration that others can’t see how wrong we are and have been in doctrine. Up until two years ago I believed IM was wrong, that is until I preached a lesson at a small church on God and His word and one of the points I blurted out was, “God is not vague and never was.” This profoundly changed how I looked at and interpreted the scriptures. This meant that the ENI of CENI were not commands leading to sin, but rather points where we can differ. And that IM, which God neither commended nor condemned, was within our scope of allowances. I now find myself in a constant state of possible/probable wrong in what I “know” and thus in a constant state of overwhelming grace.

  46. Alabama John says:

    Dwight, that was a wonderful blurt!
    Funny how such a simple thing can change us forever in our thinking. Back to basics is sorely needed among us Christians.
    Keep the faith and the doing of good works Dwight. I’m proud of what you and others like Larry are doing to get back to basics where Christians would all agree rather than teaching interpretations by different men that separate us so.. Always been interesting how regional those teachings are too.
    Grace should be number one!

  47. Monty says:

    So, I watched some videos from R.C. Sproul and John Piper and this is what they are teaching: “Regeneration precedes faith, a person is born again before faith, rebirth then faith. A sinner is held responsible for their unbelief or lack of faith.” Huh?

    I’m not the smartest guy in the world but it seems to me that if God predestined a person to be saved then he predestined those he didn’t predestined to be saved to be lost. and if that’s so then what responsibility does someone God predestined to be lost have in rejecting something he was kept purposely from ever understanding to begin with?

    Paul said in Romans that people could and did have revelation(Knowledge) from God but exchanged the truth for a lie. They went from “worshiping the creator to the worship of created things.” I don’t think this scenario is even compatible with Calvinism. If you really believe Calvinism then God cannot give unregenerate man a revelation of himself and expect him to live by that revelation(ex.- sex is between a man and a woman) because man after the fall is totally corrupt and incapable of even understanding spiritual truth on his own and has to be rebirthed prior to having faith. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. A man cannot have faith in God without the Holy Spirit first saving the man. So, in Paul’s account in Romans he goes from man worshiping the true God(that man therefore has to be a rebirthed person according to their teachings)then that man exchanges the truth about God for a lie(worships the creature) that he purposely gives up his truth concerning God(is man’s will stronger than God’s?) I thought it was irresistible grace?

  48. Dwight says:

    Monty, the whole confusing thing about the predestination is why if we are chosen to be saved or lost by God, do we need to do anything, especially since we don’t know what state we are in?
    We could live totally righteous before God and yet still be lost as predetermined.
    Or we could live totally in sin before God and yet still be saved as predetermined.
    Unless God doesn’t predetermine out salvation until after we have lived to God, which sounds more like post-determination.
    The strange thing is that all of the people were healed by their faith, not before their faith. When Peter’s faith wavered, he started to sink. He didn’t walk to Jesus and then have faith, but his faith established his walk. We are saved by “faith through grace”. Our works are an direct expression of our faith.

    “A sinner is held responsible for their unbelief or lack of faith?”
    I thought a sinner was held responsible for their sinning.
    And if having a lack of faith is sin, then still how does that effect one who has been predestined to be saved, especially since his regeneration preceded his faith?
    A double “Huh”!

  49. Randall says:

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+9&version=ESV

    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,[b] 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.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

    Hesed,
    Randall

  50. Dwight says:

    Randall, The context if you read further is about the Jews and the Gentiles and the blessings available to both through the Jews.
    “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”

    The clay in this context was Israel, who God made, by His will, into a vessel for the blessing to come. Jesus came through the Jews, who at times were good and bad, and still he used them to present Jesus to the world. The Jews were the ones made for “honorable use”.

    Reading further we read: “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.”
    So we read that the Jews didn’t attain the “law of righteousness, because they did not seek it by faith” in that they rejected Jesus. The Gentiles, of course didn’t either pursue it either, but in their acceptance of Jesus, have attained righteousness.

    This is why we read in Ch.10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
    So faith is involved in order to attain righteousness. It is not cast on us.
    vs. 9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
    Faith precedes salvation, in all accounts.

  51. Monty says:

    Context , context, context…..

  52. Monty says:

    Isaiah 65:2 “I have spread out my hands all day long to a disobedient and obstinate people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own thoughts;”

    Chosen or not chosen? Saved-lost? Somewhere in between? If Pharaoh had no power to resist God then how could these people of God(my people) resist him? If his grace is irresistible? Does God always get his will? If so then why are we supposed to pray that his will be done on earth as in heaven? Why did Paul warn the Galatians that if they made circumcision binding on Gentile converts they would “fall from grace?” That’s not even possible according to perseverance of the saints.
    Rebirth then faith? Saved, then faith? Jesus didn’t really die for all men? Strange doctrines.

  53. Dwight says:

    Monty, I believe that we often build a theology around a concept. Calvinism built off of the concept that you were born sinful, then expanded from there. We in the coC do it as well, just to a lesser extent sometimes getting the same results, some more profound than others.
    What Calvinism does is deny Christ as the savior, because if you are chosen as saved or lost from the time you were born, you don’t need a savior.
    In the coC, at least the conservative branch, we place much of our faith in baptism and build on that. Baptism saves…the Bible says so.
    But it also says in in I Tim.2:15 “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”
    But if true, then Jesus doesn’t save or at least Jesus is on the same level as baptism, repentance, faith, etc. There is not one way to God, Jesus.

    As you noted…context, context, context.
    Faith, baptism, repentance, all are parts of salvation, but they don’t save, because none of then are a savior, even though we try to make them do that. In every instance baptism is presented within the context of the teaching of Jesus, the savior.
    So it is relatively easy to take a single passage with a thought and turn it into something more than it is. We must resist that urge.
    Or else we get things that rob Jesus as the deliverer of mankind.

  54. Alabama John says:

    I can just picture many of us, especially the bible scholars, at the judgment before God quoting the same things out of the scriptiures we have preached that we must do alike.
    Seeing God looking frustrated at us and saying Jesus rode an Ass, do you? And us answering, no, I ride a Lexus.
    Will that difference send us to hell?
    I think not!

  55. Dwight says:

    AJ, In a bible class I recently attended on evangelism, the point was brought forth by the preacher that sponsoring church set-ups are wrong because we don’t have examples of them in the scriptures, but of course last week in the same class it was brought forth by him that the “early church didn’t meet in buildings, but in homes and public locations, but of course now we use buildings we paid for with church money”, then in the most recent class he also made the point that the money that was given went to the needy saints and needy preachers.
    Huh?
    The point of course is that we are hypocritical in our views on things that we must emulate vs things that other must emulate and things that we can do in the name of expediency and things others do in the name of expediency.
    We might not get pinged by God for not riding a donkey, but we will for telling others they must.

  56. Alabama John says:

    Dwight, We need to be teaching more of the love of God. For us older folks there is an old song about the love of our mother and how she called us home at suppertime. There will come a day when we will be called home by God. We should concentrate more on the grace and love of God and less on our fear of God.

    Here is the old song to which I’m referring

    https://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=jimmie+davis+singing+gospel+songs&s_it=video-ans&sfVid=true&videoId=A2D7BAC7D12EE84F4C0CA2D7BAC7D12EE84F4C0C&v_t=webmail-searchbox

  57. Alabama John says:

    For so many of us, “Time has woven a realization of a truth” that God loves us and we look forward to meeting Him in person to spend eternity with Him.

  58. Monty says:

    Was Calvin intelligent? No doubt. He was noted for his logic skills. But he was a tyrant. a bully, a dictator of Geneva who couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate even the slightest criticism. He condemned many to be burned at the stake who differed with him in doctrine, By their fruits you shall know them, Jesus said. I see no way that Calvin brought great teaching when he himself was such a bad man.

  59. Ken Sublett says:

    Jay is correct: the story of Jacob and Esau speaks of TWO NATIONS. The difference between the two is that God PICKED Jacob to bear the SEED LINE leading to Messiah. Neither were randomly selected to be saved or lost:

    Wright: (Rom. 8:29-30 ESV) 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    Calvinist always miss verse 28:

    Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that LOVE GOD
    to them who are the CALLED according to his purpose.

    The CALLED are elected or INVITED

    g2822.kletos, klay-tos´; from the same as 2821; invited, i.e. appointed, or (specially), a saint: — called.
    2821. klesis, klay´-sis; from a shorter form of 2564; an invitation (figuratively): — calling.

    The PURPOSE of God is to be called by the Gospel:

    g2098. euaggelion, yoo-ang-ghel´-ee-on; from the same as 2097; a good message, i.e. the gospel: — gospel.

    Gal. 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that CALLED you into the grace of Christ unto another GOSPEL:
    2Th. 2:14 Whereunto he CALLED you by our GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ

    The Gospel is the Power by which we are elected or invited.

    Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    The only condition of being a believer that “Jesus is the Christ the Sobn of the Living God” and not some random selection to prove that God is sovereign.

    In the next verse the WORD “FOR” is Greek enim or WHAT I MEAN IS:

    Rom. 8:29 FOR whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the FIRST BORN among many brethren.

    JESUS was was in God’s purpose as the SEED of Abraham and

    Rev. 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
    and the FIRST BEGOTTEN OF THE DEAD, and the prince of the kings of the earth.
    Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

    Those who are called by the gospel are also sons of God predestined to be SONS.

    In Romans 9 Paul informs the Jews that they were NOT PREDESTINED based on their race or God’s favor: In chapter 10 and 1 Corinthians 10 Paul reminds the Jews of their failing the TRIAL of God in His 40 day plan at Mount Sinai

    Rom. 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    The OBJECT of PREDESTINATE is to be conformed to the Image of Jesus Christ. However, they must be INVITED in accordance with God’s plan. Calvinist of the Post-Dort era deny the atonement and deny that anything Jesus did had any effect on God’s hand pick from eternity past. In fact, the Jews believed that God then LOST His sovereignty,

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