How Can a Dead Person Believe Unless God Makes Him Alive?

How can a dead person believe unless God first makes him alive? This is a question that is asked by Calvinists. Ephesians 2:1-9 states that we are dead in sin, that we are saved by grace, and that we are made alive in Christ. And there are many other passages that state we are dead in sin. Given that a physically dead corpse can’t do anything, how can a spiritually dead person do anything like believe? Could Lazarus raise himself from the dead? Of course not!

The implication here is that a corpse can’t do anything. A corpse can’t consent to being made alive, and so therefore it must be God who makes us believe. So says the Calvinist.

How does the Arminian come to a different conclusion? It’s important to start by noting that we strongly agree with what scripture teaches. Humanity is dead in sin. We are saved by grace. We are made alive in Christ. We can not believe in Christ unless God first gives us the grace to enable us to believe.

The disagreement is over the Biblical definition of what spiritual death entails, as it relates to our relationship with God. Being spiritually dead does not mean that we are corpses that have no spirit and make no decisions, as the Calvinist implies. Instead, being spiritually dead means that our sins have hardened our hearts and have separated us from God. To “be dead” in this sense is to be separated from Christ, and to not desire to be reconciled with Him. To be alive in Christ is to love Him and to be in relationship with Him. Our sins keep us separated from God and we are dependent on Him to initiate the reconciliation that enables us to believe.

The Calvinist mixes a non-religious understanding of physical death with the Bible’s definition of spiritual death. The Calvinist is defining spiritual death as a corpse with no spirit, like Lazarus was before Jesus raised him from the dead. But a spiritually dead person is not the same as a physically dead one. Prior to God’s grace, a non-believer does not seek God, but he is still physically alive, still has a spirit, and still makes decisions. After God begins to draw the non-believer through grace (and He draws everyone), then the non-believer is enabled to believe.

This kind of death (separation) first took place after the fall of Adam and Eve. After they sinned they did not immediately die physically, but they were immediately separated from God. The first thing they tried to do was to hide themselves from God (Genesis 3:8).

Speaking of non-believers, Paul describes spiritual death in Ephesians 4:18-19:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

Notice that in this passage the non-believer is not a corpse unable to make decisions. Non-believers are “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

Jesus also describes death this way twice in the parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15). Speaking to the servants the father says “this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” To his older son the father says “we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

In the parable the son was not a corpse. He was able to make decisions, including the decision to go home. Yet, the father still said he was dead! That’s because the son was separated from relationship with his father, and was dependent on the generosity of his father in order to be reconciled. The same is true of us in our spiritual death and separation from our Father.

Jesus describes the concept of separation and its effects in John 15:5-8

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

We are alive in Christ. Separated from him we can do nothing. When we are spiritually dead, it means that we are hardened against God, and are not in relationship with Him. We are dependent on His drawing grace that enables us to believe.


Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism, Calvinist proof texts, faith, grace, hardening

90 responses to “How Can a Dead Person Believe Unless God Makes Him Alive?

  1. Very well done my brother. God bless you in 2014.

  2. Reblogged this on Arminian Today and commented:
    Excellent article on the Arminian view of depravity as contrasted with the Calvinist view.

  3. Congratulations Kevin. God Bless you. I will translate it to portuguese. I’ve invited you on Facebook. A big hug.

    Walson Sales.

  4. The vine must be grafted in, no vine can graft itself, a gardener is required, see John 15:1, Matthew 15:13. And that is only the half, space must first be made, see Jeremiah 11:16, John 15:2, Romans 11:17, Romans 11:24.

    • meant to type branch, the branch must be grafted into the vine.

    • We are in agreement that the Gardener is required. However, A gardener uses a live branch when grafting, not a dead one. Dead ones are cut off and thrown into the fire (John 15:6).

    • Dane

      The grafting you illustrate – Romans says that they are grafted back in if they do not remain in “disbelief”. I have never seen this before. Clearly the grafting is the actual spiritual regeneration, the true life source, so belief precedes regeneration, it is the condition Paul describes before they are grafted back in. A Calvinist must say they that it is in their being grafted back in that they believe. Not so according to Romans.

  5. Hmmm. I’m Calvinist, and I agreed with this completely.

  6. hello again Kevin, :-)

    Ignoring other things :-) at the end you say “When we are spiritually dead, it means that we are hardened against God, and are not in relationship with Him. We are dependent on His drawing grace that enables us to believe”.

    How does His drawing grace “enable us to believe”? I.E. what in us changes?

    • Hey On the light side,

      Does this answer your question, or are you looking for something else? Prevenient Grace

      • It helps, but not quite.

        In that post you say “The Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin, shows him his need for the Savior, and urges the person to repent”. Now to me that’s telling one that they should believe which is different to *enabling* one to believe which is what you say is done in this post

      • I think they’re the same thing / occur at the same time. A person convicted of sin is convicted when God has been working on his heart. Realizing the need for the Savior occurs when God has opened one’s eyes. Being aware of God urgings occurs when God has enabled one to hear.

    • Dane

      It (prevenient grace) functions a lot like common grace, in that it allows a totally depraved nature to understand and do right, like say, telling the truth (unregenerate people can tell the truth), when their nature can’t find within itself to anything good, as Paul says in Romans 7. If a Calvinist could understand the mode of prevenient grace that mechanizes (gives ability) the will to see and understand the truth of the gospel, then a Calvinist is getting closer to understanding how an unregenerate can tell the truth, and understand the gospel as well. Many Calvinist confuse prevenient grace with saving grace. pre-grace enables – it does not save. Enabled faith is the instrument, but it is God that saves.

      • I was reading Luke 24 yesterday and it says:

        “And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” i.e. Jesus was right next to them, talking to them, but they did not recognise Him. Then it says “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him” i.e. something external had to happen before the recognised Jesus even though their “hearts (were) burning within (them) while He was speaking to (them) on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to (them)”.

        Call it what you want, but Jesus specifically said “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day”. There are two things here with the Father at the centre. Firstly one can’t come to Jesus without the Father’s calling (i.e it’s not man deciding to come to Jesus) and secondly those who are drawn by the Father will be (not asked if they want to be, but will be) raised up on the last day. In the next verse Jesus reiterates this by saying “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me”. Read that slowly: of the people who have “heard and learned from” God 100% come to Jesus, they’re not asked “do you want to come to Jesus”, but Jesus himself say that they will come to Him.

      • Hi Adrian, Arminians fully agree! We can not believe in Christ unless God first draws us (gives the grace to enable us to believe). This drawing is universal (John 1:9, John 6:44,45, John 12:32, John 16:7-8) It is resistible (John 5:34,39,40, Matt. 23:37, Acts 7:51, Heb 4:2, Heb 10:29)

        You also omitted an important part of v45.

        And they shall all be taught of God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

      • Comments lost again. This V2 is abridged.

        Yes John says that quoting an unknown prophet.

        You quote scriptures that suggest that God draws all men and this appeals to our souls, but Jesus spoke in parables so that people could not be forgiven; the Holy Spirit forbade Paul preaching in Asia; and though people need to hear to believe and God gives the church evangelists He has not given enough so that most people have not heard the Gospel.

        How can God draw people yet deny them access to the Gospel at the same time?

      • Sorry you lost your comment Adrian, that’s frustrating. Sometimes I write mine in notepad and then paste them in later, just to make sure that doesn’t happen. :)

        Regarding Jesus speaking in parables. The knowledge could only be given to a few at first, it was not the proper time or place for everyone to know. However, the disciples faithfully wrote and testified of their experiences, so that everyone can know today. See Matt 13:10-17, for example. In verse 17 Jesus says that even prophets and righteous people did not understand, because it was not yet the proper time for them to.

        Regarding Acts 16, and the Holy Spirit telling Paul not to go to Asia (modern day Turkey), it was a matter of priorities, the Holy Spirit wanted Paul to go to Mysia at the time. Others did go to Asia later on, following Jesus’ commandment to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel”.

        God does draw people who have not yet heard the gospel. See Cornelius for example. Scripture also says that those who know less will be held accountable for less (Luke 12:47-48). So we don’t know the exact status of the unreached. They are in God’s hands.

  7. Which are all things God has to do to you. If God didn’t do those things to you (e.g. enable one to hear) then you couldn’t do it at all (e.g. be aware of God’s urgings).

    Meanwhile the Apostle Paul says in Romans “how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” and you say “He (God) draws everyone”.

    How do you reconcile your God draws everyone statement with Paul’s statement that we have to hear to believe and the fact that most of the world never gets to hear the Gospel preached?

    • Yes, grace is all of God, we agree there.

      To answer your question: Scripture clearly states that God draws all. So the question then is how to reconcile the fact that God draws all with the fact that many don’t hear the gospel.

      I’m an inclusivist, so I think in those cases God has ways of reaching those who haven’t heard the gospel preached. He holds them accountable for how they respond to the revelation they do receive. This is also how the patriarchs like Moses could be saved, as well as infants, the mentally handicapped, etc.

      I’ve done a few posts on inclusivism, Here’s the link to them if interested.

  8. Thank you.

    It’s interesting how our starting point dictates how we travel.

    In one of the pointed to posts on the “The Case for Inclusivism” is the comment “The shepherd seeks out the lost sheep”. Well we had the lost son (which is also in Luke 15) spoken on again at church this week ( )

    Now this was a good sermon as it added to my understanding of the situation, but what was *not* referred to, and I’m wondering if you have thought of it and take it into account, the “lost sheep” and the “lost/ prodigal son” belonged to the shepherd/ father in the first place?

    So it was not a shepherd going out and looking for sheep that didn’t have an owner and making them his but a shepherd who had a sheep and it wasn’t with him any more so he went out to get it back. Same with the father, he wasn’t taking in any son but his own who had lived with him for a time but had moved away outside his protection and suffering as a result.

    See the difference? The difference between taking back what is yours and making something that isn’t yours yours.

    Have you considered this and do you take it into account?

    • Hey Light Side. I think where we might differ is this: God’s purpose in Christ is to for all of us to belong to him. Reconciliation is what he desires and gives him joy. That’s what Luke 15 is about.

    • Dane

      The prodigal was “dead” and “lost”. We were all God’s children as humanity, but Adam caused us all to “go astray each to his own way”. So not sure where you are going with this?

      • Sorry Dane, but the prodigal was never dead (yes he was living in a far away land, but he didn’t die) and he was the father’s son before he went away, while he was away and when he returned.

        Their emotional relationship varied over time, but the “I am your father (Luke :-) / you are my son” relationship was unchangeable and didn’t.

      • Dane

        I would have to disagree. His son was “lost” and “Spiritually dead”. This is Jewish law. If a son leaves his Father and asks for his inheritance and leaves for a foreign land (leaves Israel), this is blasphemy. This person lost all their rights and privileges and inheritance in the land and family as an Israelite. This is why Jesus has the son knowing he is not worthy to be called his son, but only a slave/servant. You can’t read this story as 21 Century listener, you need to understand this story from an Israelite’s perspective. All these things mean something. It was the Father’s grace to welcome his son who was “dead” and is “NOW” resurrected, alive, look it up. His name would have been “blotted out” of the family tree. Read the OT.

      • OK, I’ll admit Luke says “this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found”, but where’s the OT scripture that explains the meaning?

  9. We do we do. Lawn moving time now, but later I’ll leave some comments to the “The Case for Inclusivism” post. (switching to WordPress id)

  10. Dane

    Read the law on deserters and rebelion. A son that rebels against his Father is a high crime, there is no offering for forgiveness, only two options in the law, banishment or death. A son like this would be banished, look up “cut off” or blotted out, it is an unpardonable sin under the law. You can see why the older brother was so angry, how his brother received grace and the Father was so willing to recieve his son who was as good at dead. This shows the power of the cross that goes beyond law that takes a son the became a foreigner and is brought to life. This would blow a true Israelite away by this father’s grace. Not sure how any of this fits the topic :) ? The son was drawn back to his fathers love. Notice that spiritual dead people can by grace be drawn by their fathers love b

  11. Gene Brode, Jr.


    I have always taken Romans 7 as a “post-conversion Paul,” but am beginning to be persuaded that Paul may be describing the actual workings of the Law on someone dead in sin (pre-conversion). It seems fair to say that while none seeks God and no one understands (Rom 3), experience shows that a lot of unconverted people like to do good and feel bad when they sin. So when God first works on a soul via the Law, there is a desire to do right alongside a total inability. As they hear the truth found in the gospel, they are given light and an opportunity to turn to Christ. No one seeks–but God does.

    I have not found any Scriptures that, when properly interpreted, said anything definitive about sinners not being able to believe when they hear the gospel. John 6:44 as mentioned in the comments does not say that when God draws, people can’t resist. It insinuates that when God draws, men are enabled to come. I feel that the standard Calvinist interpretation jumps to the conclusion that “all drawn=all come.” Jesus does not mention them actually coming in verse 44–he skips to the result of coming. The entire context tells us what happens to those who come–they’re given eternal life. So drawn does not necessarily mean coming In our day.

    However, keeping with the context of that day and age, those Jews who knew the Father were drawn to Jesus. Those who did not know the Father (referred to as children of the devil–John 8:44) were not drawn due to disbelief, but they were still called to believe (John 6:29). Had they believed in the Father they would have been drawn to the Son since the Father and the Son are one (John 10:30). We like to think about this passage as it pertains primarily to the 21st century, when instead we ought to be thinking about Jesus’ opponents when he says, “No one can come to me…”

    Same goes for Jesus saying that Nicodemus and his friends must be born again. All must be born again–true. But why did he say this to Nicodemus and not his disciples? Because so many of the Jews simply would not believe and had it all wrong.

    • Good thoughts Gene. Thanks for the comment.

    • Gene, I can see why you could say that John 6:44 “insinuates”, but do Matt 11:27 / Luke 10:22 which both say “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” insinuate something or say something?

      • Gene Brode, Jr.


        I assume you hold to Calvinist interpretations based on your previous comments. We both would agree that context is key. I think it’s wise to consider a couple of chapters (before and after) usually when trying to understand one verse like this. Sorry in advance, but I think your question warrants a lengthy response.

        In chapter 10, Jesus sends out the 12 to the lost sheep of Israel (and said to avoid Gentiles and Samaritans) with a specific message (10:5-7) that’s reminiscent of John the Baptist in 3:2. He gives warnings that lead us to believe many would reject them (10:14-40). In verse 40 he says whoever receives them receives Jesus, and whoever receives Jesus receives the father. The opposite is also true–rejection of any one (Father, Son, or apostles) is a rejection of the others. They can’t worship the father in spirit and in truth if they’re rejecting the son, nor can they come to the Son in faith if they reject the Father or the apostles.

        Jesus goes on to talk about John the Baptist, whise ministry was to call the lost sheep of Israel to repentance (Matt 3:2). This is just like it was in the Old Testament, when God was calling his people back to him in repentance at various times. This is very important, because if the Pharisees, the leaders, and many other Jews had been truly worshiping God, Jesus and John the Baptist would not have needed to call them to repentance. Before Jesus and John even arrived on the scene, these people had already rejected the father. 

        This is the state of affairs when Jesus starts preaching to people in the apostles’ cities. They were “wise and understanding” in their own eyes, but not in God’s eyes. They were arrogant not humble, and God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

        By the time we get to versus 25-30, we see that Jesus is talking about people who are so proud and wise in their own eyes that they reject their own God. The Pharisees and rulers had burdened the people with traditions, rules and regulations. Those who were under them were like little children those who would come. Remember Jesus says that unless one becomes like a little child he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Little children are gentle and lowly, humble, just like Jesus. These are the ones fit for the kingdom (Matt 5:2-9).

        So Jesus is not insinuating that he is going to irresistibly blind and deafen people so that they cannot repent; I mean, he just preached through the cities of unrepentant people so we see the Father’s heart to call sinners to repentance. Neither is he insinuating that he will irresistibly open the eyes of some while damning the rest to hell. Jesus receives the humble, the child, those who are not wise in their own eyes. He will show the Father to such.

        Next up in chapter 12 we immediately see the hard-hearted Pharisees judging Jesus by their traditions. They had hardened their hearts against him and against the Father, and so he just goes right into a prophecy from the Old Testament about bringing the gospel to the Gentiles (12:18-21). They hardened their hearts just as Pharaoh hardened his heart, and God reciprocated (Rom 9:17). God used this to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul says (Rom 11:11).

        God’s plan has always been to unite Jews and Gentiles under his promised Messiah. This is a major theme of Ephesians and Colossians. Scripture gives us a pretty clear picture that God planned it all in advance, but that does not warrant the interpretation of irresistible grace as many Calvinists seem to derive from these texts in my opinion.

  12. I too have heard the Calvinist “dead means dead” narrative — by none other than R.C. Sproul and several others.

    What if, however, CHRIST HIMSELF, gave an unambiguous answer as to how we should interpret the word “dead” when it comes to one’s spiritual condition?

    He did. In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).

    Read it for yourself and consider who each person in the story represents. Note particularly what the prodigal says/does in verses 17-19 (emphasis mine)…

    But when he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.'”

    And listen now to what the father says in verse 32…

    But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.

    It is crystal clear that Jesus himself did not consider “dead” to mean what our Calvinist friends insist that it mean.

    And guess whose definition I’m hitching my wagon to?

  13. By the way, this parable is also highly useful when evaluating the doctrine of eternal security. Consider the other son and the fact that he never left while the prodigal left but later returned. What word did the father employ to describe the prodigal’s spiritual condition while away from home? What does home represent and what does the son who never left represent?

    I have always contended that a plain reading of the Bible, cover to cover, would never lead one to Calvinist doctrines without external influences to take them there; i.e. Reformed pastors, teachers, study bibles, radio programs, et. al. Simply put, Calvinism must be acquired; I have never once met anyone who arrived at TULIP aided only with a Gideon’s Bible and a reasonable faculty for reading comprehension. For example, R.C. Sproul acquired reformed doctrine not through his own studies, but — by his own admission — through the “unassailable logic” of one of his theology professors. He simply could not refute it, so came to embrace it. Ironically, Calvinists pride themselves in their exegesis. They would be wise to recall whether the interpretation of the scriptures they hold today was arrived at unaided through the scriptures themselves, or via considerable external influence that convinced them to contort plain meaning into something that instead fit their system.

    • Good thoughts MrTeebs. I agree that one does not naturally come to a Calvinist conclusion by reading scripture. It’s always something that must be taught and read into the text.

    • Adrian

      “via considerable external influence that convinced them to contort plain meaning into something that instead fit their system”

      As the TV show said, “People are Funny”.

      What is the plain meaning of choose/chosen mrteebs?

  14. Adrian,

    Simple question: Did you arrive at Calvinism by simply reading the Bible, or were you helped along the way by detailed tutorials on reformed systematic theology? Do you know anyone — with arguable exception of Augustine — who arrived at such conclusion Sola Scriptura?

    I have never met or even heard of such an individual, but perhaps you are the first. However, I suspect that “considerable external influence” was indeed involved in your current state of reprogramming understanding.

    • Adrian

      The old “answering a question with a question” diversion eh! Well while you make up your mind as to whether you’ll choose to answer my question let me answer that for you.

      I guess you could say “considerable external influence” was involved in leading me to seeing God’s choice of me for what it was but (probably contrary to your expectations) that influence came from the Charismatic / Pentecostal preachers I had at my church during the first 15 years of my Christianity.

      For 15 years (and for 41 now) I’d heard my pastors say something along the lines of “believe and be saved” or “believe and you’ll be born again” but that never happened to me. But I must digress…

      Remember how “Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” “came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven” “a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me”? Well I wasn’t as dramatic but like this.

      A friend took me to church when I went to see him to see if he wanted to go to the pub. That night the church was asked if they were free, and I was specifically asked that by someone and (truthfully) answered “No”. However I went to the church the next two nights and on the third night, after the altar call the pastor said “someone here is having a burden lifted from them” and my internal response was “that’s me, I’m free”.

      So there I was, set free but I didn’t have the faintest idea of what happened. Four nights later someone explained to me about “accepting Jesus as my Lord and Saviour” and I thought “yep, I’ll do that” so went home and did.

      A couple of weeks later I was Baptised in the Holy Spirit in much the same way. I was in church and there was something I wanted to do but was scared to. I said “help” and God Baptised me in the HS.

      So with two things that I was being taught I had to do something to get I did not do as told. I did absolutely nothing to get born again and I didn’t ask for the BHS, I just asked for help.

      Well 15 years later I was taken to hear David Chilton speak ( and there requested a copy of the Chalcedon Report ( The first copy I received listed the Biblical sequence of steps to salvation, i.e. one is born again which enables them to believe. Finally what happened to me made sense.

      So sorry, no “detailed tutorials on reformed systematic theology”, just a simple table comparing how reformed theology sees salvation occurring vs the arminian version.

      So what will you choose to do now? You know what a choice is don’t you? Maybe you could choose to explain what a choice is to me? :-)

  15. Adrian,

    I think the burden of proof is on you, not me, to explain chosen/choose. Again, I would appeal to a plain reading of the scriptures…

    God’s chosen people (Deut 7:6) had to choose (Josh 24:15). Not all “the chosen” persevered (Josh 5:6, Heb 3:17-19).

    God chooses all (Jn 3:16). Some choose in response to be as those who perished in the wilderness, others choose to be as those who crossed the Jordan. Hebrews 3:12-4:16 seems pretty clear to me.

    Christ told us to pray “…Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Did He mean what He said? What if we disobey and do not pray? Is God’s will done regardless? If it is true under Calvinism that “He sovereignly ordains whatsoever comes to pass,” why is God’s will on earth something we are told must be brought about through prayer? What if we reverse the words and say “Your will be done in heaven as it is on earth?” If God’s will is a foregone conclusion, why was Christ’s will thwarted in Matt 24:37? And God’s will in Ezekiel 22:30-31 contingent on a man to pray?

    My point is simple: the assumption that God chooses some for salvation and not others is something that must be read into the text. A substantial portion of the Old Testament is an appeal from His prophets to His chosen people to “choose life”. Sadly, most of them did not, and captivity and death was the result of their choices, not God’s. Re-read Deut 11:26-28. He chooses all. We cast the deciding vote. A sovereign God can and has delegated to man the ability to determine his own fate — not apart from God, lest any man should boast — but through Christ alone.

    • Adrian

      “the assumption that God chooses some for salvation and not others is something that must be read into the text”

      Above is said “God chooses all (Jn 3:16)” and yes J3:16 can be read to imply that all can be saved.

      However Jesus also said in Matt 13:10-11 “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” Mmmm to some it has not been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Jesus said that, not me).

      How do you understand Matt 13:11?

      • Keep reading through to verse 15. That’s where the answer is.

        In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
        “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”

        Who brought this condition on? They themselves or did Christ simply give them over to that which they had already purposed and refined through their own habitual rejection of truth? The key phrase in the verse is “the heart of this people has become dull.” Not through some divine decree or whim, but through those individual’s own repeated actions. These people were not suddenly struck deaf or blind, contrary to the “crop” they had planted. They were harvesting precisely what they had sown.

      • Another key phrase in the Matt 13:11-15 passage is “…they have closed their eyes.” It seems clear that this condition was brought about through their own hardness of heart.

        And yes, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but when did this occur? What hardening and obstinance had Pharaoh already shown when God amplified the trajectory of stubborn refusal Pharaoh had already established?

  16. Adrian,

    I have re-read your comments again. Frankly, it seems to support what I said, not contradict it, as 15 years after your conversion you had someone explain to you how a particular version of systematic theology harmonized with your personal experience. I do not want to diminish your experience in the least, but it is quite telling to me that rather than reading the Bible during those 15 years and finding the answer there, you needed a disciple of John Calvin to explain it all. Again, this confirm my suggestion that Calvinism must be taught/i> as opposed to caught by simply reading the Word.

    It also seems to me that in both examples you provided, your heart condition was the pivotal factor and came first, not after. You truthfully answered “No” when asked if you were free. Are you certain that this was not precisely the acknowledgement God was looking for so that He could flood into your life?

    And regarding your other experience, God wants to fill every believer with His Holy Spirit. You first said, “help” and then the baptism came almost immediately. But you would probably contend “yes, but God put the desire there first.” That may well be true, but could you have resisted / shrugged / shirked? I believe the answer is yes. God initiates, but that does not mean that He proceeds unilaterally through to completion and “believes for us.” With belief as with perseverance, there is always some level of action required on the part of the individual before God will act further.

    The circumstances of Paul’s salvation are not unlike my wife’s experience. She heard an audible voice. This puzzled me for many years until God showed me Acts 26:1-19 and asked me a question: “I had a very important calling on Paul’s life – it required radical intervention. Do you believe that even he had to preservere to the end? That he could have disobeyed the heavenly vision? That he could have explained away the vision and persisted in unbelief?” Granted, it may have been easier for Paul to believe given the dramatic encounter, but it may well be that his calling and the persecutions that awaited him required such a dramatic unveiling of Christ. Let’s also remember that nowhere in Paul’s account does it say that Christ “believed for him.” Paul was still free to come to his own conclusion afterwards. I am also reminded of John 12:20-36. The same God spoke to all assembled and all heard it. Some said it was an angel. Others explained it away as thunder. Yet Christ said, “the voice was for your benefit, not mine.” Was the voice only for the elect to hear? If so, why did he then say a few sentences later that he would draw all people to himself? Was this again only for the elect?

    • Adrian

      I’ve been employed in the same “trade” for 41 years and I’ve lasted that long because I’m good at it. Actually maybe that’s not quiet true as we were just discussing how “in our days” we had to have aptitude tests to get in the door and some we work with now wouldn’t have “passed” that test. This relates to the comment that “this confirm my suggestion that Calvinism must be taught as opposed to caught by simply reading the Word”.

      My aptitude is not that of a teacher. God gave teachers to the church to teach those of us who are not teachers what the Word actually say as opposed to what those of us who read bits of it think it says.

      Paul writing to the Ephesians says that
      a) God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him”
      o- God choose us, not we Him, when, before we or anything existed (which means that God knows the future), and for what purpose did He choose us?, “that we would be” – not “could be” or “to give us the choice to be” but “would be”
      b) “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will”
      o- still before anything existed God, who knew we would one day exist, destined us to be adopted as sons according to His (not our) will.
      c) “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will”
      o- the reason we have an inheritance is because we were destined to for God’s reason who does what He wants
      d) and “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”
      o- Abraham “received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised” and we have been given the seal of the Holy Spirit (2Cor 1:22). Could God have taken away Abraham’s circumcision?

      How can one read Eph 1 and say that God’s choose and predestination of us was based on what God saw we would do (in the distant future after He had created the world) rather than on because God wanted to, unless one is taught that that is what it means?

      • I will address this later this week. It is getting late here, but it is a good question and one I will gladly answer. Thanks for the continued dialog.

      • I hold to the corporate view of Eph1.

        Individuals are not chosen by God for salvation or damnation. Rather, when individuals believe, they become a part of the corporate body of Christ (the church).

        God before the foundation of the world chose to save believers through Christ. Eph 1 doesn’t say that God caused individuals to believe.. Biblical election is always corporate (the church) and always in Christ. It can’t be independent of him.

        Individuals become part of the corporate church when they believe, not before. See Eph 1:13 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

        Check out the Society of Evangelical Arminians for some good articles on corporate election.

    • Adrian

      If Eph 1 is corporate Keven why is it there?

      • Adrian,

        I am working on my own reply to your original Eph 1 question, but it is too much to type on my phone.

        It will be forthcoming when this airplane lands and I am back on my iPad with a full keyboard connected.

        However, I am curious. What is it about Eph 1 that makes its message appropriate only if referring to individual election?

      • I’m not sure I understand your question Adrian. Corporate election is all about pointing to Christ. So in Paul’s argumentation it’s being Christ centered.

      • Adrian,

        I have read Ephesians many times over the years and re-read the first chapter again on Monday.

        My understanding of this passage is like that of our host, Kevin: corporate election.

        Paul is referring to all those who would believe, not particular individuals. Thus, He looked down through time yet to come, saw the predicament that man’s free moral agency would land him in, decided ahead of time that it was still worth creating man in spite of the pain it would bring Him, and came up with a plan of how He could redeem us — all before the foundation of the world. Thus, he predestined the outcome for those who would choose Him. How will the matter end for that corporate body of individuals? Ephesians 1 tells us: It will end well; He predestined it.

        This is not the same as predestining particular individuals to their eternal home, because that would not comport with Ezekiel 18 and frankly almost the entire remaining body of scripture.

        We expelled ourselves from the garden through sin. He redeemed and adopted us through Christ and offered this to all, even though He also sees who will ultimately accept Him versus reject Him. The salvation plan was not something God had to frantically devise as “Plan B” when man fell in the garden. It was something He foreknew before He had ever even created the garden.

        I also don’t think that His offer to save all diminishes His love for us in the slightest. Calvinists seem to believe that by offering salvation to all (not just the elect), it somehow dilutes and cheapens God’s love for us by spreading it too thinly instead of a laser pinpoint directed at only the elect. To which I reply, “Nonsense.”

        Quite frankly, it strikes me as a perverse jealousy to think that having God’s love offered to the “unwashed masses” means that the elect are somehow less special. In fact, it sounds a lot like a petulant child that insists a parent cannot possibly love all his children, nstead demanding it all be showered on “me and only me.” which brings up another point: exactly how does any Calvinist really know that they are among the elect, this side of the grave? Perhaps they are elaborately deceived and merely think they are saved, only to later fall away. That is the retort I have always been given by my Calvinist friends when questioning TULIP’s P. Everyone who ever falls away is dismissed by Eternal Securists as never having been saved at all. “Oh,” my Calvinist friends intone, “no one can pluck you from His hand, so if you fall away, you were never really in His hand to begin with.”

        Hmmm. Then what exactly are all the Bible’s repeated warnings about persevering and falling away there for? They are meaningless if not directed to the truly saved because the lost would not be “falling away” from anything. My Calvinist friends tell me these warnings are there to warn against losing one’s reward, not their salvation. I’m not buying it. The warnings are simply too stern to be construed as “don’t settle for a mediocre mansion when you should be striving for the best mansion.”

        Ironically, I think it is only those who accept that believers can indeed fall away from grace that can ever truly have assurance in the here and now. But that is another topic for another thread on another day.

        Back to the topic of predestination and God’s foreknowledge…

        Many people confuse knowledge with causation. Most Calvinists I have talked to (and some non-Calvinists as well) have an extremely hard time with this concept because they believe that if God already knows who will be in heaven and who will be in hell, then he must also have caused each and every choice to happen. They reason that “the future cannot be otherwise than what God sees” and thus individuals are constrained from acting freely at all. I don’t believe this to be the case. Let me illustrate.

        As a human being, I can look to the left from my present position on the timeline and see what has already happened, but not to the right to see what has not yet happened. I can know, with absolute certainty, what day the stock market crashed in 1929, who won the World Series in 1957, what day/minute/second the World Trade Center towers collapsed, and a host of other historical facts. Does any of this knowledge mean that I caused those events? Of course not; we regularly divorce knowledge and causation when it comes to viewing events of the past. But there is a strange unwillingness to do so when it comes to future events.

        I think we are in agreement that God can look to the right of the present on the timeline, not just to the left as we can. He can see eternity stretched out as a line — all of it — with absolute certainty. But He can see all of this while still giving man moral agency and free will to choose. He sees who will choose each way, without causing the choices they make.

        God’s ability to see the entire timeline before things even happened according to our perspective on the timeline is how scripture can say that He predestined us (us=believers, not necessarily particular individuals) to adoption as sons and “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”

      • Adrian

        I can see mrteebs how you might read Eph 1 this way but I don’t see it’s purpose if it’s corporate. And also it’s to me it’s too personal to be corporate. (wish I knew how to BOLD stuff, gotta use caps)

        Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God (not Paul’s),

        To the saints (Chirstians) who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

        3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed US (not everyone – and so throughout the reading) with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose US in Him before the foundation of the world, that WE would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined US [not the outcome] to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on US in the Beloved. 7 In Him WE have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on US. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to US the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also WE have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that WE who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, YOU were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

        Paul’s HS inspired writing says US, WE, YOU. That’s very personal.

        Though I must say your “predestined the outcome” is a lot more palatable then the “predestined those who He knew would choose Him” others come up with given that those of us who exist only do so because of God’s numerous intentional future population changing interventions He makes into the world.

      • Now Dimly


        Nearly 2 years ago I was a Calvinist when someone challenged me on this topic. I set to studying Ephesians to answer the challenge that he gave: “There are no elect to salvation.” Here are a couple of things I’ve found since then.

        1. Who are the US WE YOU Paul speaks of? Believers/saints (1:1) or possibly believing Jews (us/we) and believing Gentiles (you). See 2:11 and its context.

        2. Ephesians is not about election primarily. It’s about what God did through Christ. The phrase “in Christ” (or some form of it) appears a lot more than “chose” or “predestined.” It’s about God’s mystery which he hid for ages and revealed in Christ; that is, that God planned to save Jews AND Gentiles all along (3:1-13).

        3. God’s choosing/predestination in chapter 1 is always TO something (e.g. holiness) and Paul never mentions once being chosen to believe or to be saved. Even 1:4 which is a favorite verse among Calvinists is not about salvation; rather it’s about the outcome of those who believe. For what did he choose us before the foundation of the world? “To be holy and blameless before him” says Paul. That’s a lot different than saying God chose some and not others.

        Those are just a few thoughts. I don’t want to bog down the conversation you all have going but I thought I’d chime in. I began an essay of sorts on this but I’ve become too busy to finish it presently. When I do I’ll put it on my blog.

      • Also, can you post the URL of your blog Now Dimly? I’d like to take a look at it.

      • Thanks for joining the conversation Now Dimly. Excellent points. FYI – the first time you comment, I have to approve it. That’s why your post didn’t show up right away. Now anything you post should show up. :)

      • Adrian

        Hi Now Dimly welcome.

        I just happened (as if) to be up to Romans 8 in my mornings readings today and wonder if you (or Kevin) see vv 29-30 as corporate? Here’s how I see it if it’s corporate:

        For those whom He foreknew (everyone as God knows all things), He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (an outcome? isn’t he talking about the people he forknew? anyway lets carry on reading it as “everyone”), so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (everyone?); and these whom He predestined (everyone?), He also called (everyone?, well Arminian’s say we’re all drawn, yes?); and these whom He called (everyone?), He also justified (everyone? this is universalism now isn’t it? If He calls (draws) everyone and justifies all he’s called how’s that not salvation for all?); and these whom He justified (everyone), He also glorified (everyone).

        Maybe you can read this differently, I’d be interested in how.

      • I hold that believers are predestined to salvation, not that people are predestined to believe.

  17. Gene Brode, Jr.


    I used the wrong account to comment (nowdimly). My blog is

    I’m actually in the middle of this Ephesians study doing an in depth look at keywords and themes to see how they relate to the topic of election, but it’s far from finished.

  18. Tre

    The Election was for the Covenant. In Romans 8 Paul is talking to the Gentiles because the Jews had turn away from God so God turned to the Gentiles. Paul explains that the Gentiles were predestined for God’s Salvation.Paul confirms that Jesus died for all in 8:32 and then later in Romans explains to the Gentiles how they were grafted into the tree. In the beginning God’s plan for salvation was for both the Jews and the Gentiles. If your not a Jew your a Gentile. Again the Election was for the covenant. God’s decision to give all Salvation was not our decision or something we received from natural birth. Salvation is God’s Gift but in order to receive the Gift you have to believe. In the John 1:12 it says for as many believed they received he gave the right to become children of God. You can be elected and still go to hell. Jesus says In Matthew 24:24 that even the elect will be deceived by false teachers, signs and miracles. Jesus also says in Matthew 24:13 The one who stands firm to the end will be saved. This is why Jesus tells us to keep watch because we don’t know the day or hour Matthew 25:13 we also see God giving his people a choice throughout the old testament for example Joshua 24:22 they worshiped Idols the Lord told them put down your Idols worship me or perish. Joshua 24:22 confirms people choosing to follow God. Why do think in the book of Revelation in the beginning of John’s dream Jesus first appears to the 7 churches? Hypocrites will definitely not inherit the kingdom of heaven. So we should be careful how we view Election. The Election is whoever believes in Jesus Christ receives salvation. God Elected Jews and Gentiles for Salvation.

    • Adrian

      Tre, question. Why are the words elect and election used in the Bible if that is not the meaning of the word?

      I presume you’re old enough to have voted in government elections. When you elected you didn’t “choose” everyone, but you would have said something like “I choose A over B” (that’s what an election is). Also you would have not said “I’ll take whoever comes along” unless you didn’t vote but in that case you didn’t elect did you?

      God is God and can do whatever He wishes. If He chooses to give salvation to everyone who believes that’s up to Him, but it means He’s willing to take whoever He gets. On the other hand if He elects some to salvation He gets whoever He wants.

      The Biblical definition of the word can be found here:

      • Adrian, “Election” is a biblical term, but the Calvinist baggage that comes with it is not. Biblical election is always corporate. God chooses Jesus, and those who believe in Jesus are saved in him.

        It’s similar to liking someone who plays for your favorite sports team. I like the Seahawks, and as a result I also like every player who’s on their roster. But I choose to like them because of they are players for Seahawks, not because I like them as individuals. And if they leave the team and go to the 49ers, I will dislike them very much. It’s like that with God. He has chosen us in Christ. But if we don’t identify with Christ, then he dislikes us very much.

        Your example of voting in an election isn’t applicable, because when we vote in elections, we vote for reasons (like we agree with the candidate’s views). But Calvinistic election is unconditional. God arbitrarily chooses persons for no reasons in the person. Not because they believe in Christ.

        God can do and does do as he wishes. God is also good, so he doesn’t do things against his nature like lying. He also created everyone, so he already gets what he wants when a person is created. But the Calvinist is in effect saying that God creates people he doesn’t want. And that doesn’t make any sense.

      • Adrian

        “God chooses Jesus” sorry Kevin, I don’t understand. God is Jesus, Jesus is God. Are you saying He “choose” Himself?

        “But Calvinistic election is unconditional. God arbitrarily chooses persons for no reasons in the person”

        Actually it’s His love that is unconditional. And yes that is not based on what is in us but at the same time it is certainly not arbitrary. As Paul says in Romans 9:11 “so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls” and in Eph 1:5 “according to the kind intention of His will”.

        What is wrong with the idea of God doing what He wants to achieve what He wants to achieve?

      • Hi Adrain,

        I see no conflict in saying God (the Father) chose Jesus (the Son). They are both God, and they are both distinct persons.

        That’s fine, we don’t have to use the word arbitrary, although I think Calvinistic election is. I was pointing out that your example of voting in an election is was not synonymous with Calvinistic thought, because when we vote, we do make our choice based on qualities of that person.

        Romans 9:11 is about God’s choice of Israel for a purpose, and Eph 1 is about God’s choice of us in Christ. So both are corporate, but one is about Israel, and one is about the Church in Christ.

        We agree God achieves what he wants. I say he also achieves it in a good way. But you didn’t answer my question. Why do you think God creates people he doesn’t want?

      • Adrian

        It’s interesting reading how you put things Kevin, “God arbitrarily chooses persons for no reasons in the person” and “Why do you think God creates people he doesn’t want?”

        I wonder what God is ultimately creating Kevin, is it people or a kingdom that includes people? What is God’s ultimate plan and how does this earth which will exist for but a blink of an eye compared to eternity play a part in it?

        God created man. Man sinned. Man deserves to be punished. God in his mercy decides to take the deserved punishment Himself and save some.

        But why did God allow the world to exist to this point of time such that you and I would be saved but lots more around us would be lost? No idea, He doesn’t tell us. He does tell us that he doesn’t enjoy the death of the wicked, but at the same time allows more and more wicked to exist. Some call it a paradox or in different “(t)here is much in Biblical revelation that is beyond human understanding, and at least a few things that seem contradictory to our human minds” ( I once thought that we could understand all things in God but the longer I go on the more I think there is that He isn’t going to tell us, especially as we’re meant to learn to trust Him.

      • Adrian, I think God’s ultimate plan is to make people in his image who freely love and worship him.

        I read the link, and I disagree with the second half of P1, that all events are decreed by God.

        God foreknows all events, but he does not decree all events. When a child is beaten and raped and murdered, that is not something that God decreed.

      • Dane

        Very good point. What I think is interesting is that a Cavinist understands an allowable decree by God for someone to do evil, but does not understand God’s allowable decree by grace to choose good.

  19. Tre

    Well Adrian here is the thing if only certain people are chosen then there is no point in teaching God’s word. In fact there is no point in Jesus telling us to preach the gospel among all nations in Matthew 28. Again The Election was for the Covenant. His choice was for the Covenant Jacob I chose and Esau I hated is equivalent to Jacob I chose Esau I rejected. Did God hate Esau but loved Jacob? Certainly not in Romans 9 Paul is talking about Salvation and his people and how he wishes he could save them. The Gentiles received God’s Salvation because the Jews stumbled it’s all Connected together. God Chose Jacob for the Covenant to be fulfilled Adrian. Romans 9:25 As he says in Hosea:’I will call them’ my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her’ my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” Romans 9:26 and,” It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,’ You are not my people,’ they will be called’ sons of the living God.'” Paul is talking to the Gentiles and had it not been for the People God chose for the covenant we would have ended up like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Jews stumbling opened up Room for Salvation to people like me and you the Gentiles for Salvation, Only a Remnant of Jews will be saved not because they can’t but because of their unbelief. The same goes for Gentiles. Romans 30-32 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”. You see when people who agree with God’s word and what the holy spirit has to say and not by what man says its a beautiful thing. God called Jews and Gentiles not certain individuals.

    • Adrian

      “Well Adrian here is the thing if only certain people are chosen then there is no point in teaching God’s word. In fact there is no point in Jesus telling us to preach the gospel among all nations in Matthew 28”.

      Of course there is Tre, God tells us to because it is through the preaching of the Gospel that God has chosen to implement his will. Somewhere Paul says “how can they believe unless they hear”. Why? I don’t know as God doesn’t tell us. But then He could have created a world in which only those who would believe would be born (or – to add Kevin’s theology to the mix – would live long enough to make a choice) but He didn’t. What we do know though is He does things according to His will, which is not how we’d do them or how our rational western minds think they should be done.

      Jesus said to Simon “follow me” and Simon did, but later Jesus said “you didn’t choose me, I choose you”. Simon got to obey Jesus not choose Him. We don’t see Jesus telling someone to follow Him and them saying “No”.

      Here’s a good word on God desiring all men to be saved

      You say “God called Jews and Gentiles not certain individuals”, but if you’re not a Jew you’re a Gentile right so why not just say God calls everyone?

    • Now Dimly

      We need to keep in mind that God’s purposes for choosing varies. His choice of Simon as an apostle is not the same as say his choice of Jacob (which was a choice of Messianic lineage). Then you also have his choice of a covenant people (Israel). Jesus called Simon to follow, Simon chose to follow, then Jesus stayed up all night in prayer and chose Simon as an apostle.

      Likewise, as said above, God chose to include Gentiles (follow the keywords “mystery” “plan” and “purpose” throughout Ephesians) and now we have a choice: Will we follow Jesus and be a part of his covenant family, or will we reject him? If we choose him, will we strive to persevere? God will give us the grace but we must put forth discipline and self-control and press on.

  20. Tre

    Adrian he did say that in Romans 8:32. Ah yes Now dimly the Election for the covenant was to push and bring forward the Messiah which is Christ Romans 9:4,5. In God’s Sovereignty his Will will been done in fact it has already been fulfilled about 70% of prophecy has been fulfilled. So Again In God’s Sovereignty his Will has been done but in his Sovereignty because he loves and cares for Everyone because of his mercy he gives us a choice. This is displayed in his word Exodus 34:6,7. Not to mention John 3:16. Why is my language not clear to you? Did you read Joshua 24:22 Adrian? I can’t go by words from a man’s opinion I can only go by what the scripture says. Calvinism is man made principles Man agreeing with Man and Not man Agreeing with God. If you can show me any teacher better than the Holy spirit which is God show me. What I am saying is the Lord Our God Decreed if we obey his Command no harm will Come to us. But if we disobey God we will perish. Leviticus 26:13-18. The Lord is giving us a choice the word If means to lay hold to or the condition that or in the event of. Ecclesiastes 8:5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. 1 John 2:5,6 but, if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him, This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. If God only chose some people for salvation then Satan can take the day off God’s word has a purpose. I say to you again you can be Elected if you believe in that type of false teaching and still go to hell. This is why Jesus said even the elect will be deceived if possible by false teachers. People being deceived Jews and Gentiles who believe in false teachings. Remember the Young rich ruler? Why would the Lord offer the young rich ruler something he couldn’t take?

  21. Tre

    I am passionate about God’s word but I will humble myself and apologize Kevin you’re absolutely right.

    • Adrian

      Better passionate than lukewarm.

      I’ll ask this not being sure of what answer I’ll get, but:
      1) Are we not God’s creation?
      2) If the answer to 1) was “Yes” then can’t He do with us whatever He wishes?

      When we had younger kids something like this would happen. We’d give them apple pie for desert (they had NO choice) but it came with cream or ice cream (their choice). The kids had choices, yes, but they were strictly limited to the choices given. Not that they knew that, but we were the parents and they were our kids and we set the rules. As they grew up their breadth of choices expanded until they left and had to make all their own choices.

      And that in a way is how I see us and God. God gives man choices. Limited choices. But at the same time as His revelation to us matures God shows us a bit more about choices.

      See God as the older, maturer, senior, dare I say “boss” in the relationship (the Bible does say He’s LORD) makes choices too. The question I guess is whose choice is the overriding one?

      To me it’s God’s. We’ve always known we’re sinners, but towards the end of his revelation to us God lets us know that being dead in our trespasses we were unable by ourselves to do any of the things required of us. So God had sent Jesus to pay for our sin and when God applied that to us (His specific choice) we believed.

      These words may be wrong as they are what others believe, but it seems to me that the alternate view is that although dead in sin we can still do as God commanded (well at least the “believe’ part) and this determined God’s choice (as in His general choice). Man’s choice then is the overriding one. [Except for the exceptions of course – sorry, just had to add that in there].

      • Adrian, I like what AW Tozer had to say about choice. In short, God has made the sovereign choice to give us limited freedom. So we make choices and this is by God’s plan. Here’s what he said:

        “Here is my view: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.”

      • Adrian

        Yes we exercise moral choices. But remember we are slaves, slaves to sin or righteousness.

        We’ve got football finals going on here at the moment, AFL and NRL. They are totally different and when an AFL player gets hold of the football what he chooses to do with it is entirely different from what a NRL player would do.

        One of the choices a person has when they get a ball is to run with it over some line to get points. Would an AFL person do this? No, it’s not part of the game, he kicks it over the line.

        A person chooses to do evil because that is his nature. Sometimes he can choose to do things that appear nice, but God sees the heart and knows the why which may be evil.

        To be in a position to really do good our nature needs changing and it’s against our evil (sinful nature) to want that so it has to come from outside.

      • Dane

        I think this statement, “appears to be nice”, is a side track to a reality not admitted. There is nothing anyone can do that is good, because there is “nothing good within our sinful nature” to draw from. All goodness is from God and tained by mans nature to some degree regaurdless of new birth (although new birth brings a nature change- is yet still tainted and influenced by the old). Having said that, the love of a Mother to her newborn is something that can be pure, and is good, and is abled from God (grace given) to those unregenerate. So the issue is that grace is ocassional to all for good (as seen in the love of a parent to their child that goes contrary to our nature), and is also ocassional to all for saving faith.

      • Good point about the mother’s love for a child. It’s similar to what Jesus said about how even evil parents know how to give good gifts to their children.

      • Arminians agree with this, that our desire are evil. The difference is we believe God wants to change and free everyone, not just a few.

      • Adrian

        I was up to reading 1Cor 1 yesterday and in it Paul says:

        “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” … “To the church of God … saints by calling” … “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” … “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness [a general statement and generally true], but to those who are the called [a different specific statement about people separate from the first general statement], both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” … “consider your calling … God has chosen the foolish things …. and God has chosen the weak things … and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, … [b]by His doing you[/b] are in Christ Jesus”.

        It speaks of Paul as being called by God’s will, of the saints being called, of the gospel being foolishness to most except to a called group to whom it is God’s power and wisdom, then Paul lists five specific things that God uses as the criteria for His choices and ends up telling the saints that BY HIS (God’s) DOING they are in Christ Jesus.

        How do you read that and still say God wants to save everyone?

      • Paul is writing to believers, and explaining how they are different than those who don’t currently believe. But we also know God wants everyone to believe, so those Jews and Gentiles who are currently perishing can also be saved. Elsewhere the same Paul says:

        “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.”

        So we see here that God wants all people to be saved. On top of that it says that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all people.

      • Adrian

        Technically I believe scripture says “Jesus gave himself as a ransom for” MANY (well at least in my versions)

      • Scripture says both “all” and “many” in different places. All is many, however, a few is not all.

      • Adrian

        We can bet bogged down in words can’t we :-)

  22. Andrew nrw

    THIS Is excellent. I don’t see how a Calvinists could argue this.

  23. Pingback: Society of Evangelical Arminians | Friday Files, 24 August 2018

  24. Pingback: Society of Evangelical Arminians | Friday Files, 8 February 2019

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