Adam and Eve, the sin nature through the man, and women in ministry

Adam and Eve, the sin nature through the man, and women in ministry

Hung out to dry on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The question has come up on this blog whether Adam had a sin nature at the fall that would have been passed on to all of us and if this is an issue that is important regarding women in ministry.  After all we need to know why it is that only Adam would bring sin into the world and if all of us have something “hanging” onto us from just on man, why is that? We need to know why sin didn’t come into the world through the woman.  Is this because she was “under” the man so that anything she did was not placed on her account but on his account?  These questions and more will be answered in this post.  First of all it should be noted that the term “sin nature” is not found in the Scriptures. The Biblical terms are “old man”, “old self”, “body of flesh”, “in the flesh”, “uncircumcised in heart” along with the symbol of the old nature – the foreskin of the heart.  Here are just of a few of the verses that talk about the old nature in these terms.

Colossians 3:9 (NKJV) Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

Ephesians 4:22 (NASB) that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,

Colossians 2:11 (NASB) and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;

Romans 8:13 (NASB) for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 7:14 (NASB) The Conflict of Two Natures 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

Deuteronomy 10:16 (NASB) “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

Acts 7:51 (NASB) “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.

God did not create mankind to be this way with sin controlling our lives. Mankind was created perfect and without sin, but a change happened when Adam chose to act in rebellion without any deception on his part that would have caused him to fall into sin and when Adam had the full knowledge of the truth. How long Adam and Eve had been in their state of perfection before the fall is debatable.  The only age given for Adam when he was outside the garden is at the birth of Seth who is said to be in the image of his Father Adam. Adam was then 130 years old. Adam had passed on his own fallen image to his children as none of them were born perfect as he had been created perfect. If Adam was 130 when Seth was born, it certainly is possible that Adam could have lived as much as a hundred years or more before he was kicked out of the garden and before Eve gave birth to their first child. Whatever the time period, Adam and Eve were sinless during that entire time until the fall. This is in stark contrast to mankind after Adam, as all of us can hardly live one day without sin. The difference between the ability to live a sinless life for perhaps as long as a hundred years or more and not being able to live sinless for a day is the result of the significant effect of what we call the sin nature or the old man who is now a part of the core of our being because we were all “in” Adam when he fell.  There is something in us that has been tainted by the fall.

1 Corinthians 15:22 (NASB) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Romans 5:14-19 talks about the effect of the one man’s sin upon the human race.

Romans 5:14-19 (NASB) 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.

17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

There was a condemnation that came to all men because of just one transgression of one man in rebellion. We will pick this up a bit later. There are several common errors that come from the teaching about the effect of Adam’s sin on the world.  The first common error has caused many to reject the teaching of Adam’s sin having any effect on us.  That error that has been taught by many is the doctrine that Adam’s offspring are charged by God with Adam’s sin. The Bible lays this error to rest by stating that the son will not bear the punishment for the father’s sin.

Ezekiel 18:20 (NASB) “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

It is impossible for Adam’s sin to be charged to our account. In other words although we get the nature of the “old man” through Adam, no person will ever end up in hell to pay for Adam’s sin. Anyone who goes to hell will be there solely for their own sin because God does not charge the son with the actual sin of the father. The other error is the thinking that God made Adam just like us as far as our ability to sin.  Mankind is not just able to sin, but we have been made slaves to sin with the propensity to sin as if it is just a part of our created nature. Watch a young child and see how naturally they learn how to lie without anyone ever teaching them this sin. But Adam was not this way. He was created able to sin when tempted but he was also created able not to sin.  He was created with sin having no hold on him. He could turn his back on sin as easily as shooing a fly off of his shoulder because that was his nature as a perfect sinless man. The only way that Adam or Eve could sin would be through deception or through willful rebellion. There was no other way possible as sin did not live in Adam or Eve. A similar situation happened with the creation of one of God’s foremost angels. He was created perfect until the day that sin was found in him. Through one act of rebellion against God, he became a sinner who now cannot stop sinning. In fact Jesus said that there is no truth in him. His nature went from perfection to complete rebellion. The very focus of his existence  now as satan is the life of an opposer of God and an accuser of the brethren. It was only one sin and that one act of rebellion that took a perfect creature to the place of a habitual sinner without the ability to get back to where he had fallen from. Adam was in this same place. When Adam chose to rebel against God’s one law in an act of rebellion, he fell from his place of perfection into the life of a habitual sinner. And it is Adam’s rebellion that we inherit. Adam’s rebellion tainted his very being at the moment that he reached out and touched the fruit and ate. It was because he ate with his eyes wide open to the truth and without any deception to cause him to act in unbelief, he acted in rebellion to the truth that he believed. Adam fell and just like satan he was not able to get back to the place where he had fallen from. He now was a rebel and a slave to sin just like all of his children after him. There are three remaining questions that need to be asked and answered: 1. Why was Eve not charged with bringing sin into the world? Eve was not charged with bringing sin into the world because she did not sin in rebellion against God. Eve was deceived into disobeying God’s command and so although she sinned, she did not sin in the way of satan the first rebellious one. It is impossible for Eve to bring the nature of rebellion to her seed because she never sinned in rebellion. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1 that he himself was an example of one who sinned in ignorance and unbelief and because he didn’t sin in outright rebellion against God, he received mercy.

1 Timothy 1:13 (NASB) even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;

Eve received mercy from God because she did not sin willfully in rebellion. It was her seed that would be the Messiah and this was God’s grace and mercy towards her and through the Messiah that brought mercy towards us as the children of Adam. The fact that Eve did not bring sin into the world has absolutely nothing to do with what some teach is the place of the man having a priority role so that he was the sole one responsible for sin. This unfortunate teaching has permeated the church where many teach that because Adam was male he had some kind of special authority over the world as the sole ruler. This is just not true.  The difference between Adam and Eve as far as the original sin and the curse that was brought into the world is solely because of the way that Adam sinned in rebellion. It has nothing to do with Adam taking the blame because of his maleness. God did not call Adam to take the blame for Eve’s sin. God called them both to account for their sin individually but their individual sin was committed in different ways and this difference was used by God to bring mercy into the world through the seed of the woman. So through Adam was brought inherited rebellion and through Eve was brought the mercy of God through the Messiah. There were two different reasons for sin and two different effects on the world. 2. Why is it very important to our faith to understand the “old man” nature that each one of us has inherited from Adam? It is  importance to understand the place that Adam had in bringing the “old man” nature of rebellion to each of us because Adam’s place of passing the inheritance of his own nature of rebellion to us is set up in Scripture as a type and contrast to the last Adam who is the Life Giver who is able to pass to us the inheritance of His nature of His perfect and sinless life so that we can be reconciled to God through His blood.

1 Corinthians 15:45 (NASB) So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

In the passage that I quoted above from Romans 5:14-19, Paul uses the fact of death coming to all of us through Adam to prove that Adam is a type of the last Adam who came into the world where each man as an original Adam had an eternal and universal effect on this world. If we remove the effect of the first Adam, what will we miss from God’s typology that has been provided by the last Adam? The universality of the last Adam is connected to the first Adam and even more since Christ is able to remove not just the sin of one man, but the transgressions of the many (Romans 5:16).  The passage is an extremely important apologetic passage for the universality of Christ’s sacrifice, but if we remove the connection between the sin of the one man having an effect on all to bring them to be sinners, how will we use Paul’s connection to Christ having universal importance and effect?

3. Why is it important for Eve to have remained with her pre-fall ability to not sin after the fall so that she could remain as one who was never a rebellious sinner? It is important that Eve did not take on a sin nature of rebellion for it was her seed alone that would be without inherited sin in order for the Messiah to be born sinless and without the natural inclination to sin as a slave to sin.  Eve was not taken from Adam after he sinned and thus Eve was the only woman who did not have Adam’s old man nature. She was the only one that the Messiah could come through her own lineage. If Eve sinned in rebellion there would be no one left for the Messiah to come through. Adam was the only one kicked out of the garden because of his new rebellious nature. Adam could never go back to where he started as he had the nature of rebellion from his one sin.  God kicked the one man Adam out of the garden because his new nature made him a threat to the tree of life which was now forbidden to both Adam and Eve. God had told them that they would surely die if they ate the fruit. God never prophesied that Eve might rebel and eat from the tree of life after the fall because Eve still had the ability to not sin. It was only Adam who possessed the nature of rebellion and who would act consistently with that nature. It was because of him that the garden was closed and because of Adam alone that the tree of life needed to be protected. Eve would have obeyed God’s new prohibition because she was no longer deceived and because she could obey. God prophesied that she would produce the seed that would be the Messiah and so we can know for certain that she did not end up in rebellion as a sinner like Adam with an old man nature. The Scriptures have told us the truth when they say that sin entered the world through one man. If Eve had given herself over to rebellion like Adam after she left the garden, she too would have brought sin into the world. The fact that the Scriptures remove Eve as having any part of bringing rebellion into the world shows us that God was able to take the evil that satan had planned for mankind and turn it around by God Himself destroying the destroyer through His act of mercy to the very one who sinned because of the deceiver’s deception. God receives the ultimate glory because He brought mercy to one who had sinned in her ignorance and unbelief. And God received the ultimate glory by bringing the Messiah into the world as the very seed of the woman who received His mercy. Do you see God’s plan? Do you see the difference between the sin of rebellion that has no way to get back to innocence and the unintentional sin that God covers over with the blood of the one true lamb of God? This is an important issue and I challenge us all to think this one through so that we can put all the pieces together to bring a full picture of the Messiah and what He has done.

426 thoughts on “Adam and Eve, the sin nature through the man, and women in ministry

  1. “It is important that Eve did not take on a sin nature of rebellion for it was her seed alone that would be without inherited sin in order for the Messiah to be born sinless and without the natural inclination to sin as a slave to sin. Eve was not taken from Adam after he sinned and thus Eve was the only woman who did not have Adam’s old man nature. She was the only one that the Messiah could come through her own lineage. If Eve sinned in rebellion there would be no one left for the Messiah to come through.”

    But Mary, of Eve’s lineage and a virgin, carried the “sin nature of rebellion'” because she was born of both mother and FATHER.

  2. Lin,
    You are exactly right. Mary was not without sin since she had a human father and the sin nature spreads through the father. This is why Jesus had to be virgin born. It wasn’t an option for the Son of Man, it was needed in order for him to be our Messiah that was the lamb without spot or blemish.

  3. I am open to the idea that Eve is virtuous after leaving the garden but only if one of two interpretations of Gen 3:16 are followed:

    Either Gen 3:16 is exclusively about Adam and Eve and is inapplicable to any other marriages;
    or Eve’s “desire” is exclusive to Eve and Adam’s “rule” is a condition of both his sons and daughters.

    What I can not accept is a situation where the virtue of Eve is passed on to all wives but the villiany of Adam is passed on to all husbands. If no woman is like Eve because of all women’s (other than Eve) inheritance of a sin nature from Adam, then no woman can replicate Eve’s sinless desire and it can not be applicable to any marriage.

    Of course, both acceptable situations raise serious concerns for egalitarians. If Gen 3:16 is only about Adam and Eve, then no one can claim that males necessarily inherit a trait of ruling from Adam or that females inherit from Eve some desire to be benevolent toward their husbands even when those husbands behave badly. Any anecdotal evidence in support of such a conclusion is purley coincidental.

    On the other hand, if everyone inherits Adam’s “rule”, men and women alike, then that lends weight to the comp claim that women want to rule men just as much as men want to rule women. They just go about it in different ways.

  4. “You are exactly right. Mary was not without sin since she had a human father and the sin nature spreads through the father. This is why Jesus had to be virgin born. It wasn’t an option for the Son of Man, it was needed in order for him to be our Messiah that was the lamb without spot or blemish.”

    So, even though Mary inherited the sin nature from her own father and carries it around with her, she cannot pass it on because she is a woman? She can have it…but cannot pass it on, right?

    So when my daughter is naughty, I can thank my husband for passing on the sin nature to her. I am innocent. :o)

    (Sounds like a reversal of what the comps do with blaming Eve. I blame them both for rebellion, deception and subsequent bad choices)

  5. gengwall,
    I am very pleased that you are allowing yourself to be open about Eve not having sinned in rebellion after the fall.

    Either Gen 3:16 is exclusively about Adam and Eve and is inapplicable to any other marriages;
    or Eve’s “desire” is exclusive to Eve and Adam’s “rule” is a condition of both his sons and daughters.

    This is a false dilemma which is a logical fallacy. It doesn’t have to be a or b. Eve’s desire is not exclusive to Eve as men are to have this same desire and they are encouraged to “leave and cleave”.

    Genesis 2:24 (NASB)
    24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

    The term “be joined” means:

    (1) TO CLEAVE, TO ADHERE, specially firmly, as if with glue, TO BE GLUED,
    Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (185).

    Jesus represents the perfect example of a husband who left heaven to pay the price for his wife and He “cleaves” to her and promises that He will never leave her. His longing and desire is for her.

    But for us – all of us humans get the “full meal deal” of the sin nature with the possibility of committing every sin. While it is relatively uncommon for women to be the abusers of men it is not unheard of. They too can have this nature if they follow the inclination of evil in that direction. But as our world shows, it is far more common for men to have this sin that manifests a stronghold in their lives because men are more apt to be aggressive and to want to control every situation. But it is not a “given” that all men will seek to rule and all women will love even when they are not loved back. There is an identifiable pattern for both but it is not a hard and fast rule.

    So while Genesis 3:16 is specifically about the first humans and their life outside the garden, in this verse there is a pattern that we can identify in a good portion of men and women. We can learn something from this pattern that may reveal our own heart and help us to understand our weaknesses and struggles but it would also be wrong to force an application onto every male and every female. It is not true that one cannot be male unless he has a propensity to rule the female. Nor is it true that one cannot be female unless she only desires the good welfare of her husband. All of us are a mixture in some way of our two original parents and all of us are capable of both good and bad.

    So the bottom line is that anyone who seeks to lord it over others is following the example of Adam. Jesus said that this is not to be the attitude among us. It is not to be the attitude of males nor is it to be the attitude of females.

    And the fact that Adam brought sin into the world is not an indictment on every male. It is not because he was male that he sinned in this way. It is because he, like satan, chose individually and willfully to sin in rebellion. And we have been stuck with his nature, except that through the last Adam we now have freedom to live as though we are dead to this sin nature so that we can live in union with Christ and exemplify his righteousness by our changed lives.

  6. Lin,
    You said:

    So when my daughter is naughty, I can thank my husband for passing on the sin nature to her. I am innocent. :o)

    (Sounds like a reversal of what the comps do with blaming Eve. I blame them both for rebellion, deception and subsequent bad choices)

    While the sin nature comes through the line of Adam and through the male line, none of us can blame our bad behavior on our human parents. We are tainted through the sin line but we are responsible for our own sin.

    There is only one who can free us from the vicious cycle of sin – both our own and the sin nature that we have through Adam. Jesus has given us a way out through the renewing of our minds. He alone is able to circumcise our hearts and remove that bent towards sin and as we live in Him we are growing more and more to become like Him. When we finally see Him, the process will be complete for we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is. Then the stain of sin will no longer have any hold on our lives.

  7. Cheryl – “This is a false dilemma which is a logical fallacy. It doesn’t have to be a or b.”

    You misunderstand. I am not saying that a and b are the only possibilities, I am saying they are the only possibilities I will accept as reasonable.

    Cheryl – “Eve’s desire is not exclusive to Eve as men are to have this same desire and they are encouraged to “leave and cleave”.”

    If you are saying that the good “desire” in Eve exists equally in men and women I am happy. Of course, it still means the bad “rule” in Adam exists equally in both as well.

    Cheryl – “While it is relatively uncommon for women to be the abusers of men it is not unheard of.”

    It depends on your definition of abuse. Physically, this is certainly true. But physical abuse is only one kind.

    Cheryl – “But as our world shows, it is far more common for men to have this sin that manifests a stronghold in their lives because men are more apt to be aggressive and to want to control every situation.”

    Absolutely untrue. Women are easily as controlling as men. Again, the difference is how each gender goes about accomplishing control. Just because men’s controlling actions are more visible due to the fact that they are outwardly physical does not mean they are more numerous.

    Cheryl – “So while Genesis 3:16 is specifically about the first humans and their life outside the garden, in this verse there is a pattern that we can identify in a good portion of men and women.”

    But you have managed to still see this “pattern” as biased in favor of wives. To you the pattern is that wives are generally virtuous and husbands are generally villianous. That is what I can not accept as valid.

  8. gengwall,

    You misunderstand. I am not saying that a and b are the only possibilities, I am saying they are the only possibilities I will accept as reasonable.

    Alright, then it appears that you have your own predefined limits of reasonable possibilities. What do you find unreasonable about my view or about other possibilities?

    If you are saying that the good “desire” in Eve exists equally in men and women I am happy. Of course, it still means the bad “rule” in Adam exists equally in both as well.

    This does not follow. Now I do not know the hearts of other people so I can’t tell you what is in a person’s heart, but I can evaluate the outward actions. In country after country both Islamic and otherwise, men rule their women by both physical and psychological force. They do not allow them to be free people to chose their own way. I have read through a portion of several tractates in the Talmud and the “role” that women have for the most part is in the like sections of ownership of animals. It is undeniable that men have unrighteously taken a lordship rulership primarily over women but they are also doing the same thing to minorities and other men who do not fight back. Men excel in this sin and it isn’t until Christianity takes hold that the sin is held back in a large way. There are still issues with “Christian” hierarchists who want to keep the best portion of the God’s gifts for themselves alone, but it is also undeniable that when people come to Christ one of the areas that men are becoming sanctified is in the area of lordship over other human beings.

    As far as what women’s sins are common to the female gender perhaps that is better expressed by those who are outside of our own blind spots. But I can tell you that I have met few women whose sin is in taking lordship over others. I have met more than my share of men who lives show this tendency in a strong way.

    It depends on your definition of abuse. Physically, this is certainly true. But physical abuse is only one kind.

    Usually one who is physically abusive is also verbally abusive, but women too can be verbally abusive.

    What I was talking about mostly is illegal “lordship” or “rule” over another human being. Men in every generation have struggled with this sin and because their physical size gives them the advantage, they are the clear “winners” in this area.

    Absolutely untrue. Women are easily as controlling as men. Again, the difference is how each gender goes about accomplishing control. Just because men’s controlling actions are more visible due to the fact that they are outwardly physical does not mean they are more numerous.

    In context I was talking about aggression and control. I realize that women have been known to manipulation rather than outright control.

    Cheryl – “So while Genesis 3:16 is specifically about the first humans and their life outside the garden, in this verse there is a pattern that we can identify in a good portion of men and women.”

    But you have managed to still see this “pattern” as biased in favor of wives. To you the pattern is that wives are generally virtuous and husbands are generally villianous. That is what I can not accept as valid.

    Actually you are not able to refute what I say at all until you understand it. I have never said that women are “generally” virtuous or that husbands are “generally” villainous. I do not accept that bias rendering of my view as valid either.

    So the question is still in the end, did Eve become a rebellious sinner after she left the garden of Eden? If she did, what proof does the Scriptures give for this rebellion? And if she did not become rebellious because she had the ability to remain without sin (unlike us), then for what reason would it be important that she remained without sin?

    What say ye?

  9. The reason that the sin nature had to be passed on to all (except for the seed of the woman) is because we were all to be shut up under sin so that salvation would come through faith and not by works.

    Galatians 3:22 (NASB)
    22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    Romans 11:32 (NASB9)
    32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

    The term “shut up” means:

    to catch by enclosing, close up together, hem in, enclose…confine imprison
    Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.)

    It is the sin nature that “catches” us and imprisons us and makes every single one of us needy so that none of us can claim to be sinless and having “earned” salvation.

    If some were able to be sinless of their own ability, then salvation would not be needed by all. God has in His providential will allowed all to be “shut up” in disobedience through the sin nature that came through Adam. When we are caught in that sin trap, we are able to understand that we need a Savior. And none of us is in a better boat because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The fact that the sin nature comes upon all of us leaves us without hope in the world, but able to seek for and find the Savior by His own drawing us to Himself.

  10. The other thing that has not been answered by those who claim that there is no sin nature is the fact that even young babies can sin without ever being taught to sin. They do it naturally. Why is this? If there is no sin nature, then why do babies sin? These should be the completely innocent ones if there is no such thing as a sin nature.

    I have yet to hear an explanation for babies telling lies that has made any sense. If this is how God made us, then how is this “good”? No, the fact is that God did make us perfect and without sin “in the beginning”. But sin came into the world. That changed everything.

  11. Here is one more thing to throw at my readers. If there is no “old man” nature that comes through the line of Adam, then why was it absolutely necessary for Jesus to be virgin born? Thoughts?

    Thanks again gengwall agreeing to move the discussion from this older post http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2010/03/07/why-was-eve-punished/ to my post on the sin nature. It is easier for me to keep tract of and with over 400 hundred comments it is difficult for new readers to process through all of them.

  12. Cheryl – we clearly aren’t understanding each other. You keep taking examples from human history but, it seems to me, are trying to read them back into our universal sin nature to say that sin itself is apportioned unequally between men and women. I do not question that in certain times and certain places men have acted worse than women. But I refuse to believe that the general effect of sin on human nature, specifically as it applies to marriage, is biased toward men. Therefore I feel that Gen 3:16 is making a universal statement about sin and humanity, not about what particular cultures may or may not do.

    But maybe we are saying the same thing in different ways. My objection is to any interpretation that elevates women over men morally, just as you would strenuously object to the comp interpretation of the verse which elevates men over women.

    Now – you asked: ” What do you find unreasonable about my view or about other possibilities?” If your view holds a bias against men or for women, it would be that bias that I find unreasonable. It would not only be unprecedented in scripture when God speaks and teaches about marriage, but it would not accurately reflect the equal impact of a sin nature on Adam’s sons as well as his daughters. I still see such a bias in your thought process. But I may be reading you wrong. A statement that woudl put my mind at ease would be something like “Gen 3:16 teaches that men and women have an equal propensity to engage in sinful actions that are directly harmful to their spouse”.

    You further asked:

    “So the question is still in the end, did Eve become a rebellious sinner after she left the garden of Eden?” – I don’t know, and at this point I don’t much care. As I said, I am open to a virtuous Eve as long as she doesn’t predict women as a more virtuous gender.

    “If she did, what proof does the Scriptures give for this rebellion?” – If she did, my response would be “no more than it gives for Adam’s future rebellion.” We disagree sharply on addtional witnesses. Again, I don’t know if we are at the point in the discussion to resume that particular conversation.

    “And if she did not become rebellious because she had the ability to remain without sin (unlike us), then for what reason would it be important that she remained without sin?” – I’m not following.

  13. gengwall,

    Cheryl – we clearly aren’t understanding each other. You keep taking examples from human history but, it seems to me, are trying to read them back into our universal sin nature to say that sin itself is apportioned unequally between men and women.

    Well, I do know for sure that are not understanding me. I didn’t say that “sin is apportioned unequally between men and women. I said that

    we are all capable of any sin

    . It is one “nature” after all and so we have a capability of acting out if we choose to do so. It just so happens that what is in mankind cannot be seen from our heart since no one sees it. Looking at mankind throughout history gives us a fuller picture to comment on what appears in common from one nation to another and one time to another. We both see that.

    But I refuse to believe that the general effect of sin on human nature, specifically as it applies to marriage, is biased toward men.

    I never said that. The general effect of sin on the human nature is that we all sin and no one gender is freer than the other of that sin.

    But maybe we are saying the same thing in different ways. My objection is to any interpretation that elevates women over men morally, just as you would strenuously object to the comp interpretation of the verse which elevates men over women.

    Well if we could find those who think that women are elevated over men morally, then we both can “have at them”. I do not believe that women are morally better than men.

    If your view holds a bias against men or for women, it would be that bias that I find unreasonable.

    I don’t hold a bias against men. Do you hold a bias against women? Just because sin came through the man doesn’t mean that all men are worse than women. After all we are all children of Adam and it isn’t until we become children of the Lord Jesus that we take on a new nature.

    By the way, are you one of the ones who disagrees that sin came through Adam and that we have a sin nature because of that or do you think that all of us were born in perfection without a sin nature?

    It would not only be unprecedented in scripture when God speaks and teaches about marriage, but it would not accurately reflect the equal impact of a sin nature on Adam’s sons as well as his daughters.

    I don’t believe that the silence of Adam at the fall is a teaching about marriage and neither is God’s curse on the earth a general teaching about marriage. I do find a general teaching on marriage in Genesis 2:24. I do not find Jesus or any of the other apostles using Genesis 3:16 as a general teaching on marriage so it must not be foundational to how to function in our God-ordained marriages.

    I still see such a bias in your thought process. But I may be reading you wrong.

    You are reading me wrong.

    A statement that woudl put my mind at ease would be something like “Gen 3:16 teaches that men and women have an equal propensity to engage in sinful actions that are directly harmful to their spouse”.

    How could I say this if what Eve did wasn’t sinful? However I do believe that men and women have an equal propensity to engage in sinful actions that are directly harmful to their spouse, although Genesis 3:16 doesn’t teach that. If one wants to make Eve as sinful and having harmful actions toward her spouse, then one would have to back it up by the Scriptures.

    “So the question is still in the end, did Eve become a rebellious sinner after she left the garden of Eden?” – I don’t know, and at this point I don’t much care. As I said, I am open to a virtuous Eve as long as she doesn’t predict women as a more virtuous gender.

    As I said Eve is unique. All of us are Adam’s children. Her seed alone is Jesus.

    “If she did, what proof does the Scriptures give for this rebellion?” – If she did, my response would be “no more than it gives for Adam’s future rebellion.” We disagree sharply on addtional witnesses. Again, I don’t know if we are at the point in the discussion to resume that particular conversation.

    You haven’t answered my points but it appears to me that you may be taking this all personally and it isn’t Adam that you are defending but all men.

    “And if she did not become rebellious because she had the ability to remain without sin (unlike us), then for what reason would it be important that she remained without sin?” – I’m not following.

    I am asking if there is any reason why her sinless nature would be necessary. Would her seed be touched by her sin if she had rebellion? If not, why not? Remember that there was only one seed of the woman, not seeds. Jesus is the only full offspring of the woman. If He could come through a sinful and rebellious Eve, then for what reason would it be necessary that He have no human father?

  14. pinklight said on another post

    Three witnesses of Adam’s sin nature:

    Sin of rebellion
    Rule
    Reaching forth his hand also for the other tree

    This is a very good summary of Adam’s sin. He sinned in rebellion, but he covered over his sin, God prophesied that Adam would take dominion over Eve (rule over her) and Adam was kicked out of the garden to prevent him from reaching forth his hand and eating the fruit of the tree of life. It also was a sign that he had the ability and the propensity to continue his pattern of sin.

    Good job!

  15. gengwall,

    On another post you said:

    A predictable event is not an assured event. As the definition so clearly states, the event is only “theoretically possible”. You can not claim that the cherubims and flaming sword prevented an actual sin, but only a theoretically possible one. I continue to contend that the Tree of Life can not be used as a witness to Adam’s future actual sin.

    It isn’t an actual sin until it is committed, but by then it is too late. God will not allow one who has a sin nature to rebel again and then live forever in this state. Rebellion cannot exist forever since God has planned a day when it will end. God removing only one party from the tree of life is a witness to the potential of the nature that is in that person. In the original creation Adam and Eve were not removed from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were just commanded not to eat or reach out for that fruit. They had the ability to obey. But now it is necessary not just to command Adam to not eat but to actually remove him. His removal shows that he could partake, if he were not physically kept from eating. Since God only did this to one person, there is a division between the nature of Eve and the nature of Adam. Only one was a threat that caused God to bring in protection.

    Moreover, as you state above, the reason to prevent Adam from accessing the Tree of Life was simply to ensure Adam’s death. It was not a sin for Adam to live forever, nor would it have been a sin for Adam to partake of the Tree of Life in an effort to live forever.

    Yes, this would have been a sin. The tree of life was no longer allowed to them as they must die. If they went against God’s command, it would have been sin.

    The term “lest” is a prohibition. The Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (pg 678) says:

    removing, taking away always in constr. (followed by Makkeph) it becomes a conj. of removing, prohibiting, hindering, lest. It is used—(1) where an action precedes, by which something is prohibited which we fear and wish removed. ..
    (2) it stands at the beginning of a sentence, where—(a), it implies prohibition and dissuasion…(take heed) lest Hezekiah deceive you.”—(b) it implies fear, dread. Gen. 3:22, and now (for fear) lest he put forth his hand.”

    The tree of life is now a prohibited fruit tree.

  16. Lin,
    On another post you said:

    Come to think of it..what makes you think God saying to Eve: “He will rule over you” is bad? Does God SAY it is bad? No. We just know such a thing is BAD and part of the warning to Eve.

    The Hebrew term means to exercise dominion over as ruler tyrant, fearful dominion. This type of rule is lording it over another human being and this was usurping the rule from God that He had over Eve. It is a sinful action by the definition of the word that God uses.

    But some cannot see that her ‘turning’ to Adam is a bad choice? Some old translations interpreted it as ‘alliance’ after the interpretation of turning… as in Eve and Adam form an alliance after the fall.

    The term “for” as in longing for Adam is the term where the turning comes from. This places the longing toward the husband:

    gen-3-16-for1

    The sources that I checked all say that the word means longing, desire or craving.

    gen3-16-longing

    Nothing says that this is a bad choice that she should remained glued to her husband in marriage and have his children.

  17. Lin,
    On the past post http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2010/03/07/why-was-eve-punished/comment-page-4 that we are now answering here on the issue of sin here, you said:

    Syllogism of your premise

    P1a – Adam’s sin nature is to be prone to rule over women
    P2a – All who have a human father have Adam’s sin nature
    Ca – All who have a human father are prone to rule over women

    P1b – All who have a human father are prone to rule over women (Ca)
    P2b – All women have a human father
    Cb – All women are prone to rule over women

    Interesting that I see Paula’s thinking in your comment. Did this come from Paula? Is so, she is welcome to come here and challenge me herself if she thinks I am wrong.

    Now let’s look at the problems with what has been written.

    P1a – Adam’s sin nature is to be prone to rule over women

    This is not what is claimed. God said that Adam will rule over his wife. His nature is not to rule – his nature is to sin. One of the ways that he would sin would be to take an unauthorized rule over the woman. There has been no claim that he will take that rule over every woman.

    P2a – All who have a human father have Adam’s sin nature

    Adam’s sin nature does not mean that the person will commit every act of sin. It is a propensity to sin, not a propensity to do one particular sin just like Adam did.

    Ca – All who have a human father are prone to rule over women

    This is not the claim. This is the correct claim – All who have a human father are prone to sin.

    P2b – All women have a human father
    Cb – All women are prone to rule over women

    This is just plain wrong and nothing like what I have claimed. Let’s not let Paula misrepresent my view. All women and men who have Adam as their ancestral father are prone to sin because they all inherit his sin nature. They don’t all inherit his way of ruling.

    These are the inescapable conclusions of your arguments. They are valid syllogisms whose conclusions flow properly from the premises. The only way to change it, is to change the premise.

    I recognize this as Paula’s writing. And usually Paula is wonderful in her logic as she is a very smart woman. She is very wrong on this one and she has claimed an invalid argument on my part. Perhaps she would like to come here herself to argue her point. That would be the logical and respectful thing to do if her argument has validity.

    you must present scriptural support for claiming that women do not inherit this, or that only their eggs are sinless. Neither is supportable by scripture, or biology.

    I am not claiming that women are sinless. I am claiming that all (including all women) are to be “shut up under sin” as the Scripture teaches. And I submit that Scripture states that the Messiah had to come only through the woman’s seed. If you disagree with this (and since biology cannot identify the sin nature gene) I would like to ask you why the Messiah had to come from the woman’s seed alone?

    Here is my claim http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2006/11/20/adam-as-head-of-the-family/

    You have redefined “sin nature” to mean a uniquely MALE quality, which females obviously cannot inherit, and that makes women devoid of a sin nature. That is the obvious conclusion of your premise.

    Apparently Paula has not paid much attention to the post I keep linking to or she would not have made this statement. Females all inherit sin except for the first woman Eve who did not inherit Adam’s sin. It is only through her seed that the Messiah can come.

    We must take a deep look at ‘inherited sin’. The Fall was horrible. It changed everything. Even for Eve.

    Again I am assuming that this came from Paula. Scripture never says that the fall came through Eve or that sin came into the world through Eve. While she had great heartache because of the fall, she is never blamed. If we blame her, then we are doing so inappropriately for it was to be through the seed of the first woman that we could have salvation.

    Lin,
    I would really encourage you to leave Paula’s writing for her to present here if she would like. I am not sure why she would not come here herself to defend her own view. If she believes that she was created perfect and that she can stop from sinning because she has no sin nature, then she can come here and present her view.

    Lin, thanks for always being willing to argue in a passionate way with grace and respect. It is very much appreciated on this blog.

  18. Cheryl, I have been known to use syllogisms before. Perhaps not here? In any event, I am teaching them to my daughter right now and this one was too good to pass up.

    I find this last comment from you below the belt and unnecessary. I think it is best I bow out.

  19. Lin,
    I didn’t mean to offend you at all. I think we both know that Paula has taken an opportunity to mock me on her blog. If you think this is fair and respectful then so be it. I think that she should come here and hash out this issue herself. Do you agree with me? If you don’t then I’m sorry. Those who want to argue passionately should be willing to defend their view instead of resorting to taking shots behind someone’s back. I prefer not to handle disagreements like that. Let’s be men and women of God and handle this fairly and with respect. That is all I am asking for.

  20. Cheryl, I am at a loss of how you could think your comment was not personally offensive. I learned syllogisms in my 4 years of taking University Logic classes. I think they can be helpful when a topic becomes so detailed and confusing. It could be the premise is wrong and leads us to a wrong conclusion. But then, they do not work well when you continue to ‘change’ your views on certain points.

    Such as this one:
    “This is not what is claimed. God said that Adam will rule over his wife. His nature is not to rule – his nature is to sin.”

    You have been claiming that men have a sin nature to ‘rule’. I think that is verifiable on the last thread. It could be that your view is being refined as you think this through.

    I have not read Paula’s blog today so not sure exactly what you are talking about. Guess I should check it out. If she gives an opposing view, why would you consider that mocking? Do you consider my comments here mocking you? If you think that, you are very wrong. I simply disagree with you.

    I have no wish to engage on this sort of personal attack level.

  21. Questions going through my mind-
    Where did Jesus get his humanity (perfect humanity/perfect nature) from? Are we born perfect or not born perfect? Were Adam and Eve made perfect or not?

  22. More questions-
    So if Eve had rebelled (assuming she did and her seed was tainted then) where then did Jesus get his perfect nature from since Mary did not have a perfect nature? Or did she have a perfect nature and we do too? If Jesus didn’t get it from Mary’s seed alone, then how can he be linked back to us (Adam & Eve) and be our Redeemer? If we have a perfect nature and Mary did too, then why do we need Jesus? Why did a perfect man (his flesh) have to die if we are born perfect and we can stop ourselves from sinning and rebelling? Couldn’t any one of us then choose to never sin and therefore be perfect like Jesus was?

  23. Romans
    7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

    Can this be said about Jesus? Or was he different from us because of the woman’s seed that wasn’t tainted?

  24. 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NASB) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

    Why must we die if it weren’t for us inheriting it from Adam? Why do we inherit death from Adam when he was the one who sinned? There must be a reason.

  25. Lin,

    It could be the premise is wrong and leads us to a wrong conclusion. But then, they do not work well when you continue to ‘change’ your views on certain points.

    I haven’t changed my views. It seems like you have misunderstood. My focus is on Adam’s sin nature. His sin nature has come out in several ways – hiding his sin, rule over his wife and the need to protect the tree of life from the rebellion of Adam. Patriarchy is an outflowing of the sin nature in a desire to rule over women as well as other men. Patriarchy has been established since Adam’s day until our day in many cultures, in many lands and over a long period of time. Men and women have followed Adam’s way of sin during those years to in many different ways but the one way that God warns the woman about happens to be the most consistent sin with men. When Christianity comes into a culture, a change starts that gives respect, honor and freedom for women to serve God.

    So ruling is not the sin nature, but the sin nature can consist of an ungodly rule along with other sins.

    Do you consider my comments here mocking you? If you think that, you are very wrong. I simply disagree with you.

    I do not consider people who come to my blog and engage me even if they disagree with me in a passionate way as mocking me. I invite dialog and as I said before I consider your questions as respectful. But I have had a dialog on the other blog some time back and I asked some hard questions – things that others ask here all the time and the post got shut down and no answers were given to my questions. I have no problems in inviting Paula or any others who disagree to disagree to my face. But doing things behind someone’s back is usually considered disrespectful at the very least.

    That is my stand and I think it is more than tolerant for debate and dialog because it is my aim for my own blog to remain respectful and fair. I have no problem with you on my blog. You are upfront with your disagreements and you have a right to express your point of view with all the passion that you have.

    Here is my concern. I do not want anyone unwittingly to be a “mouthpiece” for someone else who is unwilling to dialog here. I very rarely feel disrespected on my own blog and I tolerate a lot especially when the strong comps have shown up here from time to time. But I can feel highly disrespected when people take their disagreements with me behind my back without bothering to dialog with me first and especially when dialog has been shut down by the same person over the same subject in the past.

    Okay, ‘Nuff said.

  26. pinklight,
    Excellent questions once again! You asked:

    Where did Jesus get his humanity (perfect humanity/perfect nature) from?

    Jesus is the promised “seed of the woman” so Jesus got his perfect humanity from Eve.

    Are we born perfect or not born perfect?

    None of us is born perfect. We are subject to death even during the time before we are born because of the fall of Adam. And we have a nature that has a difficult time not sinning although we can not sin for a time and we can hold back on the extent of our sin, but our own thought life should tell us how much of a sin nature that we truly have.

    Were Adam and Eve made perfect or not?

    Adam and Eve were made perfect in the beginning. They had the ability to choose to sin but they also had the

    full ability to remain sin-free. There was no necessity that they sinned because they had choice.

  27. pinklight,

    So if Eve had rebelled (assuming she did and her seed was tainted then) where then did Jesus get his perfect nature from since Mary did not have a perfect nature?

    Jesus had to inherit his perfect human nature from Eve since she was the only person on the earth who had no rebellion in their nature. If Eve had sinned in rebellion she would not be qualified to be the mother of the “seed”. God couldn’t just create another perfect woman from the dirt because the Messiah had to be the “kinsman Redeemer” which is someone who is related to us by blood but who is also able to purchase us. If Jesus had any spot or wrinkle he could not be the perfect sinless lamb who was given for the sins of the world.

    Or did she have a perfect nature and we do too?

    No, Mary did not have a perfect nature and neither do we. Mary did not have to be sinless to carry the Messiah since all that was needed was the “seed of the woman”. Eve’s seed passed along through the generations was never tainted with sin. As long as there was no human father there was no possibility that the human Jesus would be tainted with a sin nature. He was born perfect just like the first Adam and even though He was tempted, He was able to choose not to sin.

    If Jesus didn’t get it from Mary’s seed alone, then how can he be linked back to us (Adam and Eve) and be our Redeemer?

    If the seed of the man was used, the human Jesus would be tainted, but the Kinsman Redeemer needed to be a descendant of Adam. The only way that He could be a descendant of Adam but without an “old man” nature, would be to come through the seed of the woman alone.

    If we have a perfect nature and Mary did too, then why do we need Jesus?

    Good question! Why would we need Jesus? And if any of us are perfect then we could work our way to God because we are in perfection already. But we are in need of a Savior because we are sinful and we have been that way since we were conceived with the seed of the man.

    Why did a perfect man (his flesh) have to die if we are born perfect and we can stop ourselves from sinning and rebelling? Couldn’t any one of us then choose to never sin and therefore be perfect like Jesus was?

    These are questions that need to be answered by those who believe that they do not have a sin nature. I sure wish I had the answers because I would like to see how they would get the answers from God’s word.

  28. pinklight:

    Romans
    7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
    Can this be said about Jesus? Or was he different from us because of the woman’s seed that wasn’t tainted?

    The term “of flesh” is one of the Biblical terms for the “old man” nature. No, Jesus was never “of flesh” or “sold into bondage to sin” because he was “the seed of the woman” born without any kind of sin.

    Why must we die if it weren’t for us inheriting it from Adam? Why do we inherit death from Adam when he was the one who sinned? There must be a reason.

    It is for this reason:

    Galatians 3:22 (NASB)
    22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    In the wisdom of God, He decided that all would be “shut up” under sin so that we all would be in the position of needing a Savior. He was not going to play favorites so that none would be created perfect and thus never sin and not need a Savior. By the fall happenting exactly the way it happened, we all were “in” Adam when he sinned so that all were “shut up” under sin and all need a Savior. This was done so that God could give life in Christ to any who would believe. Eternal life isn’t given by being created perfect and working to stay that way. God’s plan is that He would bring people into heaven only by faith so universal sin had to happen so that God’s choice would be set up as the plan of salvation.

  29. Hi Cheryl,

    I appreciate your attempt to defend the doctrine of original sin. I agree wholeheartedly here with you. However there were a few things i thought you might like to flesh out a little for me.

    You said “God never prophesied that Eve might rebel and eat from the tree of life after the fall because Eve still had the ability to not sin.”

    I wonder how you hadle texts such as these with your theology…

    Eph 2 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. “
    1 John 3:4 “sin is lawlessness”
    I’m not convinced that the bible ever gives the indication that any single person has ever had the capacity to ‘not sin’ after the fall, even Eve. What texts support the idea that Eve was able to not sin after her original sin. Please cite your texts

    You said “ That error that has been taught by many is the doctrine that Adam’s offspring are charged by God with Adam’s sin. The Bible lays this error to rest by stating that the son will not bear the punishment for the father’s sin.” You then quote Eze 18.

    Now this may simply be terminology issues. I agree that no-one is responsible for another’s sin, Adams or otherwise. But are you saying that children do not suffer the punishment for the sins of their parents (on earth i mean, not eternally). If so, how do you understand these texts…
    2 Kings 23: 25-27 “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. 27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

    Here Judah is punished for the apostasy of an earlier king Manasseh. The effects of the sin of the king result in the destruction of Jerusalem, regardless of Josiah’s reforms. Also…

    Numbers 13:18 “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

    Here quite plainly the children are punished to the third and forth generation. Can you clarify your position?

    Also you said “since Christ is able to remove not just the sin of one man, but the transgressions of the many (Romans 5:16). The passage is an extremely important apologetic passage for the universality of Christ’s sacrifice”

    Again maybe this is just terminology, but are you promoting a doctrine of ‘universalism’, namely that all people are saved and none perish in hell?

    Thanks

  30. Also one other point.

    Where does the incarnation come into play in your theology. You seem to state very strongly that Eve did not have a rebellious sin nature because this was neccesary for Jesus to also not have a sin nature.( through the virgin birth with no corrupted father) But where does the fact come in that Jesus is God, and that in God there is no sin. To me he is sinless (or without a sin nature) precisely because he is fully God and he is fully human because he is born of woman (since only women can bear children)

    I can’t help but wonder if you are pushing your Gen 1-3 theology into the incarnation and corrupting it.

  31. I just wanted to remind people that this blog is open for questions and for challenges from those who agree with me and those who disagree with me. I believe that as Christians we can dialog with grace even when we don’t always agree.

    I am going to be really open right now regarding something that I don’t tolerate well and something that hurts me deeply. Quite a while ago I was on an egalitarians blog where there was a discussion on original sin and I commented and asked questions regarding a view that is opposite to mine. My questions were not answered and when I asked if my questions were going to be addressed the egalitarian host got mad and the comments were shut down. Now she has created a post on the same subject and has no problems making fun of my view on original sin and allowing others to do the same.

    The question I would like to ask, is this the best way to handle disagreements on doctrinal issues? Since I am very open to being challenged and have yet to shut down the comments on my blog, why not come here and discuss it? I will no longer go to that blog to comment because the attitude that shuts down the opposition’s questions by shutting down the comments does not sit well with me. I have a far different philosophy. If I have the right position then I can accept a challenge and I can answer back without mocking the other person. A challenge does not weaken my position, it merely strengthens it because it causes me to work on finding ways that will answer the questions in the way that someone who is not in my head can also understand why I believe as I do.

    If I am wrong I will never shut down the comments but I will be open to see where I am wrong and I will turn away from my error. I have this attitude because I understand that none of us is perfect and we all can have blind spots that can cause us to believe something that is not true. It is a win-win situation when someone can dialog/debate/passionately discuss these matters with me and work to convince me that I am wrong. I intend to do the same with them in as gentle a way as I can, and in the end even if we do not agree, we at least can have a clear understanding of why we believe as they do and why we cannot accept the opposing view.

    But if our purpose is to put people down for their views and make fun of them personally this comes across as a position of weakness instead of a position of truth because the truth seeks to educate and encourage. Mocking and belittling a person comes across as a superior attitude. While this may draw people who like this attitude, I highly doubt that the attitude would be tolerated if they themselves were the subject of the ridicule. They would be greatly offended, I am sure. I was not offended so much as I was deeply hurt. I am human after all and I have feelings.

    So if anyone wonders why I allow debate here and why I allow people to challenge me. It is because I believe it is a win-win situation. Truth is worthy of being challenged and it will stand. What isn’t truth should be challenged and we can all learn from it. And what is corrected and challenged with a Christ-like spirit will be heard.

    It is my desire to give out my own correction to others in this same spirit. For I know that my Lord Jesus watches all that I do and what I do with a wrong spirit hurts Him. When I act in a loving, respectful way even to those who do not treat me this way, I am sharing the nature of the Lord who desires all of us to be conformed to His image.

    Okay, I believe this needed to be said because the issue of challenges to my belief in original sin came up. I will no longer comment about this matter of what is written about me on this other blog. If anyone wishes to make a comment I will allow it, but I am moving on. I don’t want to dwell on things that hurt me, discourage me and pull me down. There is too much positive that can encourage others for me to focus on these negative things any longer. I will certainly accept the one challenging me to come here and pose questions and I will answer.

    Okay, I’ll get to the questions posed to me shortly.

  32. Mark,
    You said:

    I appreciate your attempt to defend the doctrine of original sin. I agree wholeheartedly here with you.

    I take this as a kind word from you and it feels really good to have someone speaking out in agreement. Thank you, Mark for taking the time to let me know that you are agree with me.

    You said “God never prophesied that Eve might rebel and eat from the tree of life after the fall because Eve still had the ability to not sin.”

    I wonder how you hadle texts such as these with your theology…

    Eph 2 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. “
    1 John 3:4 “sin is lawlessness”

    In regard to the Ephesians 2 verse, this is talking about the children of Adam as “by nature” children of wrath. This is exactly what I have been talking about – the nature of the “old man”. But this cannot be used for Eve since she did not inherit Adam’s nature.

    Regarding 1 John 3:4, sin is lawlessness but God Himself has defined two ways to come into this “lawlessness”. There is unintentional sin that can come through deception and there is defiant sin which is done with full knowledge of the truth of sin. The Bible lists Eve in the category as one who fell into sin through deception. She is never even once listed as one who was in rebellion while Adam is placed in that category.

    As I read the Scriptures I see that so often God places opposites together to give a message of God’s way and man’s way. For example there is Sarah’s child and Hagar’s child. There is Jacob and Essau. Then there is Adam and Eve. One brought a curse on the earth and the other saw the deception that they had fallen into and accepted God’s promise to punish the one who had deceived her.

    I’m not convinced that the bible ever gives the indication that any single person has ever had the capacity to ‘not sin’ after the fall, even Eve. What texts support the idea that Eve was able to not sin after her original sin. Please cite your texts

    Actually I am not claiming that Eve did not have the capacity to ‘not sin’ after the fall. In fact she had the capacity to sin before the fall just as Adam did. What I am claiming is that she had the capacity to not sin before the fall and after the fall since she did not sin in rebellion. I am also claiming that while Adam had the capacity not to sin before the fall, he became a sinner with a sin nature after the fall and he became a slave to sin. Do you see the difference between what I am saying and what you thought I said?

    Along that line I have said that for Eve to have a rebellious sin nature after the fall would require a witness of Scripture to this sin nature. I am not claiming that she could not sin, but I am claiming that for Eve to sin she would either have to be deceived into sin or she would have to sin in rebellion. There is no indication that she sinned in rebellion after the fall. And as far as being deceived again this seems unlikely. First of all she now had her eyes opened to the deceiver. Secondly the deceiver was condemned by his original deception of Eve. How was he going to deceive her again? I also see no evidence of this. I believe that a person created perfect without a sin nature can live a sinless life. Jesus did. Since Eve did not inherit Adam’s nature, why could she not continue to live a life without rebellion? Without a charge of rebellion against her, I have to consider her innocent until proven guilty. I would ask, what do you believe to be evidence of her rebellion?

    Now this may simply be terminology issues. I agree that no-one is responsible for another’s sin, Adams or otherwise. But are you saying that children do not suffer the punishment for the sins of their parents (on earth i mean, not eternally). If so, how do you understand these texts…
    2 Kings 23: 25-27 “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. 27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

    First off my discussion had been that the Father’s sin’s would not be placed on the account of the son so that we are not punished for our Father’s sin. Having said that I will deal with the passages you brought up.

    In the passage of 2 Kings 23, God is showing that even though there is a good king in the land, and this good king forcefully destroys all the idols, the mediums, the spirtists and all of the other abdominations including the places where the Jews were burning their children to Baal, if there is no turning from evil from the people, even a good king cannot save Judah. There is a price to pay for the evil that they have done and the forced cleansing of the evil from a good king will not stop God’s anger against the people.

    Here Judah is punished for the apostasy of an earlier king Manasseh. The effects of the sin of the king result in the destruction of Jerusalem, regardless of Josiah’s reforms.

    It is the people who did the evil. Even though they had been encouraged by an evil king who set up much of the apostacy, it was the people who followed the evil with their whole heart. God wasn’t punishing repentant people. And God wasn’t punishing innocent people for the sins of their fathers. Let’s see that:

    2 Kings 22:3 (NASB)
    3 Now in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azaliah the son of Meshullam the scribe, to the house of the LORD saying,

    It was the 18th year of the reign of King Josiah when the scroll of the law was found. When King Josiah found out what was written in this law he was humble before the Lord and tore his clothes and wept before the Lord at the evil that had been exposed. It was then that he went out and destroyed all the idols and the places of evil that had been set up and where the people were doing what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. For this God promised that he would not see the punishment that God would bring to the people:

    2 Kings 22:15–20 (NASB)
    15 She said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to me,
    16 thus says the LORD, “Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read.
    17 “Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.” ’
    18 “But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the LORD thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard,
    19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.
    20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.” ’ ” So they brought back word to the king.

    So this good king would not live to see the punishment but the people who did the wrong doing would be punished. This was in the 18th year of Josiah and he reigned for 31 years so it was only 13 years later that Josiah died. Then evil reigned again and the people did not obey God. While the original evil was to be punished from the evil that a former king instituted, it was the people who followed and did the evil and they did not repent nor were their hearts softened to God as Josiah’s heart was during his reign of good. We do not find “innocent” and “repentant” people being punished for the sins of their fathers.

    I will continue answering in the next comment.

  33. Mark,
    You asked:

    Numbers 13:18 “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

    Here quite plainly the children are punished to the third and forth generation. Can you clarify your position?

    I think you mean Numbers 14:18. In that verse God says that he “will by no means clear the guilty” what comes after that is to be interpreted by the disclaimed. These are not innocent children who are punished for their fathers sins, but succeeding generations who have been taught to hate God and despise His word. We can see this clearly by the parallel passage in Exodus.

    Exodus 20:5–6 (NASB)
    5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
    6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

    Do you see that God punishes those who hate Him, but to those who love Him and keep His commandments He does not punish but shows them lovingkindness?

    God is a fair and loving God who does not punish the children for their parent’s sins, but he does punish those who hate Him even if that hatred has been taught and passed on from preceding generations. But when a people turn from this hatred and honor God He will not punish them, but love them and show them kindness.

    Also you said “since Christ is able to remove not just the sin of one man, but the transgressions of the many (Romans 5:16). The passage is an extremely important apologetic passage for the universality of Christ’s sacrifice”

    Again maybe this is just terminology, but are you promoting a doctrine of ‘universalism’, namely that all people are saved and none perish in hell?

    No, this is not the heresy of universalism. All those who hate God and reject His word will go to hell.

    In the Scriptures there is always a two part application of the removal of sins. There is the sacrifice which is perfect and complete and there is the application of the blood. For example at the passover the death of the lamb was enough to universally cover all the people within the house but the death of the lamb alone while it was a perfect sacrifice had to be applied by faith. So if the Israelites killed the lamb and ate it as was required by God, even though the sacrifice had been done on their behalf and even though it was a perfect sacrifice, God required the blood to be applied by faith. It was not a work but a response to God’s work. In every sacrifice for sin there is always two parts because the blood always had to be applied. This is where universalism fails. They believe that the death of the perfect sacrifice will be enough to apply the benefit that had been purchased, on their behalf. But the purchased benefit will never be put onto their account without faith. God kept all under sin universally so that only by faith would anyone enter the kingdom. Universalists believe that the fact that Christ died for all means that all are saved, but they fail to see that the application of the sacrifice by faith is required for all and it cannot be disregarded because God in His wisdom set it up this way. We either go in God’s way or we don’t go in at all.

  34. I am going to leave the question about the incarnation until I have more time to answer. I have to go now and get other things done, but I will answer the next question because it is a very important and valuable questions that applies to this subject.

  35. Mark,
    You asked:

    Where does the incarnation come into play in your theology. You seem to state very strongly that Eve did not have a rebellious sin nature because this was neccesary for Jesus to also not have a sin nature.( through the virgin birth with no corrupted father) But where does the fact come in that Jesus is God, and that in God there is no sin. To me he is sinless (or without a sin nature) precisely because he is fully God and he is fully human because he is born of woman (since only women can bear children)

    Thanks for the questions! Jesus had two natures one as God and one as man. His nature as God came from His being God from eternity past. His nature as man came through Mary.

    If Jesus as a human could be sinless because He was God then He wouldn’t be just like us. And if being God is what made Him sinless then why couldn’t He have a human father? Why must He have been born from a virgin without the possibility of a human father? This is where the incarnation comes into play with Him being fully God and fully man but without sin.

    The reason why Adam and Eve were without sin in the beginning is that they were created that way by God. But since God requires a perfect sacrifice for us as the Kinsman Redeemer, the man Jesus had to take on our flesh – the flesh that came from Adam. If you make Jesus the man sinless because He is God, then that takes away His connection with us. Then He is different than us in his humanity because He has been somehow cleansed of the sin nature which we are not cleansed from. But if as I state that the sin nature comes into our world only through the man, then the virgin birth removes any barrier that would stop Jesus from being like us. He is our Kinsman Redeemer back through the lineage of Eve who came from Adam before he sinned. It gives Jesus a “natural” human existence as a sinless man just like the way that Adam was created sinfree.

    The challenge to those who believe that the virgin birth was not necessary to have Jesus be a sinless human is to answer why God demanded the sign of a virgin and why He rejected a human father for Jesus. I believe that the Messiah coming through the seed of the woman which has not been tainted with the sin of rebellion assures that the Messiah will not have a sin nature. For if we believe that the sin nature comes through Adam, why should it be hard to believe that there is no rebellion that comes through the seed of the woman?

    I can’t help but wonder if you are pushing your Gen 1-3 theology into the incarnation and corrupting it.

    It was God who said that the seed of the woman would defeat the serpent. There is no corruption in this seed and God gives us no understanding that God would have to do something special to cleanse the seed. The woman had no rebellion to produce rebellion in her seed. If I am wrong, then all it would take is a Scripture or two that states that sin comes into the world through two or that Eve was in rebellion or anything along that line.

  36. truthseeker,
    On the other post about Eve you asked:

    I see absolutely nothing stated in the text about Adam or anyone else developing/now having a sin nature. It is completely and totally absent. Would God have not stated something clearly that was this monumental?

    Adam hid his sin which was a continuation of the sin pattern:

    Job 31:33 (NASB)
    33 “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
    By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,

    Adam is also predicted to sin against his wife by ruling over her. In Genesis 3:22 God stops only one future sin from taking place and that would be the sin of Adam eating from what is now forbidden. This verse is very monumental as it is the first time that God forbids something that was given freely before and it is forbidden because of the need to stop a sin from taking place.

    If, as egals, we claim to be so careful about what is and isn’t clearly evident and stated in the text regarding women and their ‘roles’, then why do we just jump right in there on this one and pronounce that there is, indeed, such a thing as a sin nature showing up here? It is like the emperor’s new clothes, if you ask me.

    How do you explain only one man hiding his sin? How do you explain only one man looked on as one who could again sin with knowledge? I see Adam’s continued sin in three ways. Do you see an innocence or do you see something that has changed in the man? God didn’t have to set a guard on the tree knowledge of good and evil in the beginning. Why does God have to set a guard to the garden now? What has changed?

  37. truthseeker,
    You said:

    If, as is stated above in #390, Eve sinned by eating the fruit and breaking God’s command (1 sin) and we might say, by offering it to Adam and presenting a stumbling,tempting opportunity to him (second sin?-after all, Jesus had harsh words to say about those who cause others to stumble-i.e. little children), then Eve is at least half way or all the way to having sinned the same number of times as Adam, at this point, and this would certainly qualify her for a sin nature, too. I mean, one or two times-what’s the big difference when we are ‘developing a sin nature’?

    The Bible doesn’t say that Eve “tempted” Adam. In fact this is an old way of blaming the woman for his sin that many saw in the account. But it isn’t true. Eve offered the fruit to Adam and she wasn’t accused of being a temptress. God didn’t say to Eve, because you offered the fruit to Adam, cursed is…. Offering a piece of fruit was not a sin to her since she was fully deceived and he was not.

    As for developing a sin nature due to a long enough list of episodes of sin, I only read of two-God says to Adam, because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife (1) and have eaten of the tree (2). How can two instances be enough to develop an entire nature? If I had a child who rebelled twice, I would in no way conclude they had a rebellious nature-not at the point of having rebelled only twice! There are some children who ‘only rebel’ a few times, and when they receive punishment, etc. for it, never do such things again.

    There were two instances of what God said were sin and another stated by God in the book of Job that I quoted above (hiding his sin) another by God when He told Eve what Adam would do to her outside the garden and the very strong possibility of Adam’s future sin which would have been devastating to God. I think that all of these is a good sign of a new nature.

    In fact, as I read out the rest of the account about Adam, he is only mentioned a couple more times and those are only minimal factual accounts of him knowing his wife and fathering Cain and Abel. There is no further explicit documentation of Adam continuing to rebel any more than there is of Eve.

    We have already have enough documentation for a “two or three witnesses” pattern to prove Adam’s continued sin. There is no witness of Eve’s sin after she was deceived. But on top of this is the fact that Adam (and Adam alone) is said to have brought sin into the world. What sin did he bring into the world?

    (Even if we ‘add a few’ by saying Adam sinned by blaming God and Eve, that is still only a total of 4 episodes. If repeated occurrences is what it takes to make something as deeply ingrained as a ‘nature’, I would hardly think 4 would be an adequate number of times to develop such a thing.

    If Adam still had his perfect nature he would not have had to sin at all after the first episode if he didn’t have a different nature. After all in all the time that he existed before the fall he didn’t sin even once. Now all of a sudden within a short period of time he sins 4 times. Why? And now Adam is said to have brought sin into the world.

    The next thing that is really important is to note that Lucifer only sinned in rebellion once before his nature was changed. It is the kind of sin that is most important. Adam’s sin was the sin of rebellion.

    In fact, the more I look at the whole passage, I simply see Eve blaming the serpent for beguiling her, and Adam blaming Eve for giving him the fruit, and God saying, ‘because you did thus and such, this is what is going to happen.’ Period.

    Eve blamed the one who was to blame. That wasn’t a sin. And God knew that the serpent was to blame so he cursed him for doing what he did to Eve. But Adam blamed the one who was not to blame. That is the difference. God did not accept Adam’s excuse and God did not blame the woman for Adam’s sin.

    No mention of sin natures. No further mention of Adam or Eve sinning. The consequences are monumental, of course. But the account is simple. I don’t want to hang more pots and pans onto the wagon than are already there.

    The new testament makes it clear that we all have an “old man” nature. Where did this come from? How could we have this “old man” nature and Adam be free from this nature? I would be interested to know where you think this nature comes from and if it is “natural” and God created us to sin so easily why would He say that what He created was good? Does God consider the “old man” nature as good?

  38. truthseeker,
    You said:

    Regarding Eve’s desire being ‘to her husband’ which is how the interlinear translates it, I would really like to hear a scholarly, knowledgeable person’s take on what it means to have a ‘desire TO your husband’. That is an awkward way of saying ‘desire for a husband’. I think there is a reason why it is ‘to’ and not ‘for’.

    It is actually “toward” and this is where the “turning” comes from.

    gen-3-16-turning

    The focus of her longing is toward her husband. If one sees Eve as left in the garden and Adam as the one kicked out, her one-flesh union with him would manifest in a longing toward him. It is the turning toward her husband that comes from this word alone. Longing for and cleaving for one’s husband is not a sin and as I said on another post, God gave them the mandate to fill the earth. That mandate was not rescinded because of the fall. It was not a sin for Eve to be with her husband and God never accused her of sinning nor did He force a divorce on her. She was free to be with her husband to continue God’s mandate.

  39. Lin,
    You said:
    This is because ‘desire’ is not a good translation and takes us into all kinds of error and problems on both sides of egal/comp. God warned Eve that she would turn to her husband and he, in return, would rule over her. Even though history of the translation of teshuqa is there for anyone to see, people still defend ‘desire’ as appropriate. I think it causes a lot of interpretation problems.

    “Longing” is a very good translation and I have not found a single lexicon that translates the word as “turning”. I do agree that turning is in the text but it comes from the word “toward” as seen in the above example that I copied.

    I also note that BEFORE God talked to them andright after they ate, Eve was hiding from God with Adam and covering her nakedness, too. Bad choice? Sin? Reaction to sin? The absolute horrible effects of bringing sin into the world?

    The reaction was shame. This is always what follows when one sins. But shame is not the same thing as covering one’s sin like what Adam did when he blamed his deceived wife.

    Eve was caught up in it even though deceived. Her subsequent turning to Adam was not a good choice. I think some here have a comp view of turning to the husband as a good thing. OUr human relationships are nothing compared to our relationship with God. If we are both seeking God, we will have a great relationship. God does not come between humans who are both seeking Him.

    I think that we have a view of Eve as if she was a sinner like us. While we can sin by looking to our husbands as if they were mediators between us and God, the Scripture nowhere attributes Eve’s longing for Adam and turning to him as a sin. If I have missed something, I stand to be corrected. But where is the correction from the Scripture? It won’t be from what we “feel” the text says but what does the Scripture say in the text that makes Eve’s future actions as a sin?

    Adam rebelled against God and dealt with Him treacherously. Yet Eve chose to turn to Adam. She enabled the sin of patriarchy with a bad choice. God warned her.

    While I agree that God warned her what life would be like with her sinful husband, how can we say that God warned her not to turn to Adam? The Scripture doesn’t say Eve don’t do that. Where does the text say that God warned Eve not to do this action?

    God is Soveriegn and could populate the Earth any way He wanted to. Not too long after, He flooded the earth and wiped out all mankind except a few. And Noah ended up drunk and naked!

    God is Sovereign, but He always used humans to populate the earth, not recreations of the first man from the dirt. And yes Noah ended up drunk and naked. He too had an “old man” nature.

    The effects of the fall were horrible. I shudder to see them watered down here in order to prop up Eve as totally innocent for her choices.

    The effects of the fall were horrible. However God has always blamed only Adam. No one here is watering down the acts of Adam. Is charging Eve with sin when God didn’t charge her with additional sin something that is watering down the effects of the fall? I don’t see how.

  40. gengwall,
    You said:

    I will add that I don’t think God’s image contains some sin component. That is not what I mean to imply. What I am getting at is that God gave Adam and Eve free will to make choices. That free will was equal and the choices available also equal. That includes the choice to rebel. It seems to me that the difference choices between Adam and Eve at the fall had only to do with knowledge, not nature. Adam chose to rebel because he had the knowledge to avoid being deceived. Eve was just as capable of a choice to rebel, but her lack of knowledge led to her being deceived. Adam may have had his nature transformed at the fall to now contain a propensity to make rebelious choices – that will be argued in the other post – but nothing about Eve’s experience changed her capability of making rebellious choices. It only changed her susceptibility to deceit.

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. Are you saying that after Adam sinned at the fall with the two things that God charged him with and after God kicked him out of the garden so that he could not rebel and take of the tree of life, that Adam could have not sinned at all for the rest of his life? That he was actually no different than before he sinned? If this is so, can you explain the change in Lucifer was being perfect to the place where he has no truth in him at all and he is the father of lies? Was Lucifer (now satan) no different than Adam in that he could have chosen to not sin not to ever sin again even after he fell?

  41. Lin,
    You asked:

    We have to ask why the Septuagint used ‘turning’. This is the translation quoted quite a bit in the NT. Then we have to ask why Turning was used almost exclusively (except for the Latin Vulgate around 400 AD which translated it as “power”) until around 1300 when Pagnino translated it as ‘lust’ and lust it stayed up to the AV until it was then translated as ‘desire’ in modern translations.

    The concept of turning is in the passage of Genesis 3:16 although the Septuagint translates it as “turning back” See below:

    gen-3-16sept

    This is also the way it translates Genesis 4:7 but does this make sense? Sin is “turning back” to you?

  42. pinklight,
    You asked:

    Why do we die?

    We die because we are under the sentence of Adam because of sin and we do not have access to the fruit of the tree of life. What I really praise God for is that some day we will be back to paradise with God and back to the tree of life and we WILL life forever – those of us who have faith in God.

  43. I received an email from a friend who was interested in dialogging on the issue of sin but didn’t want to post on the blog so I am going to address their concerns/questions to me here for everyone to read but to keep them anonymous.

    But for me, the whole idea of “original sin”/inherited “sin nature” opens a can of worms and it appears that it perhaps perpetuates the misogynist view of Genesis in the long run. It still puts “males” at the center – in turn giving some creedance to male’s having a type of ultimate responsibility for the mess of humanity.

    It isn’t “males” that brought sin into the world but one person. That one person didn’t have a sole kingship that made them responsible. In fact I am sure that if it was Eve who had sinned in rebellion she would have been charged with bringing sin into the world. This is not a male/female issue but about one sinner.

    The whole doctrine seems to have originated with Augustine’s interpretation of Paul’s (my friend put in the Greek, but unfortunately my blog doesn’t allow the Greek to be shown) as meaning “in whom all sinned” in Romans 5:12. Modern translations agree that its proper meaning is “because.” According to Augustine all sinned “in Adam”, which he understood as meaning that because Adam sinned every other human being, each of his descendants, is counted as a sinner.

    This is one of the ways that some have understood original sin, but this is not Biblical. Adam’s sin did not become ours. The correct translation is “because”. Here is the difference. We didn’t sin “in Adam” as if we participated in his sin. We were “in Adam” when he sinned so that the consequences of his rebellion would be felt by those who had yet to be born. We experienced the results of the poison and our DNA was changed from perfect to disposed toward sin.

    For me, there is a problem with the fundamental idea that we inherit sin at birth as part of our human nature and if Christ is not “fully human” and “fully God”, then to me, Christianity has a serious flaw.

    I have a problem with that too and this is not what I believe. We don’t inherit “sin”. We are sinless when we are born. But we have a bent towards sin although we have not committed any sin. Do you see the difference? I too have read from those who believe that we inherit Adam’s sin and this cannot be because God has clearly said that He does not punish the son for the father’s sin.

    Here is where the doctrine of a “sin nature” creates a problem for me: if Jesus was born with a different nature than the rest of mankind, then whatever else he accomplished, he could not recapitulate our lives on our behalf.

    My friend, let me say it this way. If Jesus was born with the same nature as the rest of mankind, then He couldn’t be the Savior. He had a different nature (sinless) but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t human. It was the exact same nature as we were created to have. It was the same as the first Adam and thus Jesus is rightly called the “last Adam”. Jesus and Adam are compared in Scripture and both became human without sin. Adam changed that by rebelling, but Jesus fulfilled all righteousness without a single sin. It was the same beginning but different ending. We couldn’t say that a man who had Adam’s nature at the beginning (sinless) he couldn’t pay for our sins. I say that he had to have the original nature that God made mankind to be or we would have been left in our sins.

    He could, perhaps, purchase us. But having purchased us, he could not also heal us.

    Well, Adam the perfect man couldn’t heal us. In fact the Scripture says that no man can ransom another for the price is too great. But because Jesus was man AND God, as God He could heal us and as the God-man he could pay for our sins in full.

    His walk was then fundamentally different than Adam’s.

    His walk was not fundamentally different than Adam’s. In fact his walk was the exact same as Adam’s in the beginning. His walk was vastly different from Adam’s after Adam sinned.

    If we believe that Jesus was fully human, and yet lived in this world without sinning, we have a logical and a theological problem. How do we explain that Jesus never received either the guilt of sin from Adam, or a sinful nature which caused Him to sin? “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.”

    This is where Jesus was different than Adam’s end. Jesus never gave in to temptation and His temptations were “in every way just as we are” while Adam was tempted to rebel in only one thing. So Jesus was far greater than Adam and He understands all of our weaknesses.

    How can we be guilty for a “corrupt nature” with which we were born, and over which we had no control, and for which we are not personally responsible?

    We will be condemned for turning away God’s antidote to our sin. While we may not be able to do much about living perfectly without sin, we can accept God’s revealed word and have faith in Him. It is for rejecting God that people go to hell in the first place. And secondly we go to hell for sinning in things that we do have control of. While we cannot always control our thoughts we can control our actions. Those who commit adultery and then say that they couldn’t help themselves as they are not guilty because they had no control are simply in error.

    God has placed us all under sin so that we would all be in a position to have faith in Him instead of earning our way to God. Some may say that He should not have done it this way, but it is fair that all of need God and need a Savior and if we look to Him in faith, we will receive salvation and that is fair.

    It seems inconsistent with all just ideas of God that after Adam and Eve, He forms all the rest of us with a nature which with absolute uniformity leads us to sin and destruction. The claim is made, “The present state of human nature cannot therefore be its normal and original condition. We are a fallen race.” But the more I study this, that just seems to be a means to transfer the blame from God to Adam, or through the sophistry of the “Federal Headship” of Adam, to all of us as really present “in” Adam when he originally sinned, and then to find all of us “responsible” and “guilty” for the sin “we” committed “in Adam.”

    I do not agree with the “Federal headship” of Adam and that we are guilty for Adam’s sin. One pastor told me that his wife had a couple of miscarriages and that he didn’t know if those unborn babies were in hell. When I balked at this statement and told him that unborn babies could not commit sin, he stated that they were guilty of sin in Adam and that if they went to hell they deserved it. Honestly I was appalled. This is not Biblical teaching. Unborn babies do not have “Adam’s sin”. They are innocent of sin and God condemns no man or baby for Adam’s sin.

    I think that the error that has been taught in the name of original sin has tainted the doctrine that we have an “old man” nature that we inherited from the man who brought sin into the world. We don’t inherit sin. We inherit a sin nature. If we don’t understand that so many Bible verses don’t make sense for the “flesh” is talked about as sinful and needs to be put to death.

    If there are any others who would like their questions/comments placed here but don’t want to go on the record, I don’t mind at all. Just send your questions to me and I will make sure that they are placed here anonymously.

    This is such a huge topic for many people. It is important for us to think these things through Biblically as well as to reject the bad arguments of the past.

  44. gengwall,
    You said:

    God: Eve, there are some unfortunate consequences that are going to affect you personally because of the situation. You will have an increase in sorrow and in pregnancy and raising children will be generally not fun. This is all that jerk Adam’s fault, of course. Yet you will not succumb to what would be perfectly justified anger toward him. No indeed. Instead, you will continue to desire to connect deeply with him on the soul level in such a way that you are best friends; a level where you can share all your hopes and dreams with him. Yet, can you believe this, that dirty rotten no good so and so will not only not appreciate your efforts to be his soul mate, but he will take advantage of your goodness and purity and lack of ill will and instead dominate and oppress you all of your days. There is more, I’m sad to say. You, being female, will pass on your goodness to all your daughters. Oh sure, now and then one of them might go against her better nature and fall to her sin nature that she inherits from that misogynistic pig husband of yours, but by and large all women will naturally be kind hearted and model this pure desire you have for Adam. But since Adam is both evil and male, he will pass on only his abusive, ruling nature to men and they will subject their wives in the future just as Adam will subject you.

    Now, that is quite dramatic, but it is in essence the argument that Cheryl puts forth as the correct interpretation of Gen 3:16.

    Nope. Honestly I hear your own pain in this. It seems to me that you think that just because you are a male that egalitarians (and me?) look on you as a male, receiving only evil from Adam’s nature and we women are perfect and unaffected by sin. I don’t know where your reset button is, but if I could find it I would likely push it to clear out the bad thoughts. I am not against you and I don’t know anyone here who is against you. And I will say it once more….our father Adam brought sin into the world and all of us are influenced by a nature that causes us to rebel.

    And the biggest reset button is our Lord Jesus. He is able to change us into His image. Now men don’t get more of the image of Jesus than women do or vice-versa. We all share the same human first father and we as Christians will all share in the same Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

    see Gen 3:16 as more balanced than that. But I still must postpone my interpretation and first look at the rest of scriptural teaching (not biblical history) when it deals with
    marriage.

    Oh my goodness, I hope so. That was a terribly unfair rendering.

    When God instructs us about marriage in scripture, He always maintains a balance between husband and wife. Genesis 2:24 is the best example of this. Although He created them distinctly male and female, the two are equal and create, in godly marriage, a one flesh union. 1 Cor 7 is also a stark example, with Paul addressing husband and wife with instructions to be explicitly equal in relation to each other in sexual matters. We see the balance in Song of Solomon, where neither lover is dominant and both of their desires are unconditionally met. And we see it in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3, where, although making gender distinctions, the instructions to each gender have equal weight and produce balanced results to the marriage. In all of these cases God’s teaching on marriage is gender balanced, with neither gender being better or worse, or getting more or less, than the other.

    I don’t have any problem with this.

    Why would God deviate from the pattern here? Why would God all of a sudden elevate one gender while denigrating the other?

    Oh, I see the problem. You think that because God says something that He is proposing it. But that is not the case. God is saying what Eve will do and He is telling Eve what her husband will do.

    Notice two things here. He isn’t telling her that any of this is what He wants. He is predicting their human wills.

    Secondly notice that He doesn’t tell Adam what he will do. Why? Because Adam doesn’t need to be warned about something that he can’t control. So what is this all about? It is about two people who are one in flesh in their marriage union dealing with a bad situation out of the garden. What has this got to do with the good things that are set up for all marriages?

    Moreover, why would God predict a pattern of behavior that is neither lived out in real life human experience or addressed in subsequent teaching?

    Do you mean why would God predict Adam’s bad behavior to Eve? Because she has the option of whether to leave the garden or not. He isn’t forcing her out. It isn’t going to be a rose garden out there with the sin cursed earth and the one who brought sin into the world. Is God predicting that all men will rule women? Whether this is something that a lot of men do or not doesn’t mean that God is telling Eve that this is what her sons are going to do to her. God is specifically talking to one person (Eve) and telling her about her own husband.

    It just doesn’t make any sense unless Gen 3:16 has nothing to do with marriage; unless it is exclusively about Adam and Eve. But nobody suggests that that is the case.

    I think people have taken Genesis 3:16 far beyond the prediction that God made. Now if God had said to Eve that Adam and all her sons will rule her, then that would have been a double warning for her and a predictor about all men. But is God actually telling Eve that all men will rule her?

    Gen 3:16 is the sin axis around which Gen 2:24 and Eph 5 rotate – the ideal of Gen 2:24 on one pole, the path to return to the ideal on the other pole of Eph 5. Of course, for this to be true, one would need to establish that Eve’s “desire” is sinful.

    So it seems like you have a package deal that would fall to pieces if Eve was not sinful. I don’t know, my friend, but if I had to make a woman sinful without a second witness, I think I would drop my package deal on Genesis 3:16. For if for you to be right, you have to make her sinful, then your desire to be right is going to be a stumbling block to see anything other than what you want to see in the passage.

    On conjunctions – Cheryl is correct that the conjunctions could be translated “yet”, but that is only one possibility. If the verse says what she says it says, then her conjunctions are correct. But you can’t decide what the conjunction must be and then determine the meaning of the conjoined phrases. You have to determine the meaning of the phrases and then the conjunctions fall in line. It is just as likely that phrases 2 and 3 are not subsequent and antithetical to each preceding phrase, but are instead simply items 2 and 3 in a list of consequences and not so intimately related to the preceding phrases. So “and” is just as valid an interpretation.

    It isn’t just a conjunction, it is a coordinating conjunction.
    gen-3-16-coordinating

    ..therefore the connection between the parts is established and it isn’t just a list of unrelated events.

  45. to continue with gengwall’s comments:

    On “desire” – we continue to use that word because it is in all the modern translations, but we all know that “desire” is somewhat inadequate. The correct term is more likely “turning”. Other synonyms may be “inclination”, or “attention”, or “interest”, or “focus”. The point is that whatever “desire” is, it can be positive or negative based on context.

    I have not yet found a single Hebrew lexicon that lists “turning” as a viable option. It is in the text but just not for the for this word. But I do agree that the context will determine the meaning. We agree here.

    On prepositions – This “desire” or “turning” is almost unanimously viewed as “to” or “toward” Adam, and justifiably so because that is the general meaning of the preposition being used. But, that preposition can also mean “against” as it does in Gen 4:8 when Cain rises “against” Abel. In cases where the two actors in the phrase are antagonists, against is a proper and often more appropriate translation. It could work in Gen 4:7 as well, and maybe should be used: “Its (sin’s) desire (or turning) is against you (Cain) and you must rule over it”. Certainly, the element of antagonists is satisfied and the verse does not lose any meaning or power when “against” is substituted for “for” or “toward”.

    I agree that when there are antagonists that there is can be the meaning of against for the preposition.

    Cheryl acknowledges this usage but insists that there is no antagonist in Gen 3:16 to justify it there. I am incredulous at the suggestion that Adam is not antagonistic to Eve. Not only has he brought humanity to this point through his rebellion, and caused significant and painful consequences to Eve, but the future, which the verse is explicitly addressing, will be one where he engages in an oppressive and abusive rule over her. In the future, Adam and Eve will absolutely be antagonists. So, Eve’s “turning” could absolutely be against Adam.

    But Adam’s antagonism cannot be considered. I am not at all suggesting that Adam is not antagonistic toward Eve, but you cannot change the subject around. A woman who has a sin nature would certainly be antagonistic toward Adam but you cannot make Eve into a sinner by suggesting that she cannot help but sin. There must be something else to make this an absolute. Also notice something that is against your position. Eve’s desire is listed first and the coordinating conjunction is in the direction from longing to rule. If God wanted to tell us that Eve would respond to Adam’s rule with antagonism, then God would have placed Adam’s rule first and then Eve’s desire after that as a result of his rule. But with the order that it is written, her desire cannot be taken as a result of his rule, but something that is there first.

    On sin nature – Cheryl’s trump card is that there is no second witness to Eve sinning outside the garden so whatever “desire” is, it can not be claimed with scriptural support to be sinful. I counter that Adam’s “rule” also has no second witness, and although Cheryl has suggested numerous scriptural solutions to that challenge, they are woefully unconvincing. I, on the other hand, contend that God is sufficient witness to Himself. God is not a false prophet, and so there needs be no second witness to a prophecy about Adam’s sinful rule that proceeds directly and audibly from God. The same is true for any sinful behavior on Eve’s part. We can quibble about rebellion and deception all we want, but if God is saying Eve sinned, we’d best believe it.

    We both agree the Hebrew word for rule means a lording it, or mastery of another person and that is sinful. What we both agree that the word used for Eve is not necessarily a negative word. God cannot be made to say that Eve is sinful no matter how hard you try. The word order is wrong, it is a coordinating conjunction, not just a conjunction listing unrelated words in unrelated order. And God is not saying that Eve “sinned” a second time. If she was a rebellious sinner she would also have been kicked out of the garden.

    I think that you need to work harder to get a second witness for God’s word with the inspired words, the inspired grammar and the exact word order (not the rearranging of cause and effect as you have made in the passage) cannot be used as a witness against Eve. I am open to hearing a valid witness to “longing” as a bad thing. But so far you haven’t presented anything that would hold up in court. And I am unwilling to attach sin onto the woman without a Biblical charge of sin that will hold up to the required two or three witnesses. I do not want to meet Eve in heaven and tell her that I charged her with sin because it made my thoughts on marriage fit. That may be a good reason to believe it, but it isn’t good enough in my opinion. Like I said, I could be wrong , but I would like to see the evidence that I am wrong.

    So, my view of Gen 3:16 is that it is God’s prophecy about the destruction, due to sin’s influence in the world, of godly marriage as testified to in Gen 2:24. Both Adam and Eve, (and subsequent husbands AND wives) are party to this destruction – Adam through unloving “rule” and Eve through a disrespectful “turning”.

    And what disrespectful “turning” against my husband are you charging me with? I would like to see the evidence you have against all women.

    We can return to a Gen 2 model of marriage, but only if we recognize that both Husband and Wife have Gen 3 described flaws that need correction.>

    Yes, please do tell us what the flaws are from Genesis 3 that God is charging against all women. I would be interested to hear it. I would also like to know if you have a second witness to this “flaw” or if Genesis 3:16 is the lone charge against all wives?

    Well, this has certainly turned out to be an interesting discussion. Certainly passionate and thought-provoking and I think has pushed us into the passage deeper than even I thought to go. Good going!

  46. I’m noting this as I’m learning…:

    and were by nature children of wrath

    Interesting. Why would we be called “children of wrath” out of all things if we are born perfect – children of perfection with only the ability to chose to sin?

  47. Did the fall happen once? Or does it happen everyday when someone sins? Or do we really never fall because we can go back to being perfect after we once choose to sin, by deciding to choose to sin no more?

  48. If Jesus as a human could be sinless because He was God then He wouldn’t be just like us. And if being God is what made Him sinless then why couldn’t He have a human father? Why must He have been born from a virgin without the possibility of a human father? This is where the incarnation comes into play with Him being fully God and fully man but without sin.

    Thanks. Making notes ;P

  49. For those who have asked me privately, I will clarify. I haven’t read the article that was written about my view. I wasn’t sent the article nor was I consulted about it as I consulted complementarians that I wrote about. In fact I asked permission of CBMW and gave what quotes I was going to use to their publisher. I also contacted John MacArthur’s organization and spoke to his right hand man personally and sent him a list of the quotes I was going to use. I treated them with respect as brothers in Christ.

    My concern about mocking was in the comments made about me in the comment section. That is the only thing that I have seen. I was misrepresented and mocked and those who treat their “friends” this way should consider if this is how they would like to be treated. Perhaps asking questions of a person puts one into the “former friend” category and then it becomes okay?

  50. Just a reminder about the policy that I set up for my own blog. Here it is from my disclaimer:

    As Christians we believe in unity through truth on the essentials of the Gospel, and the grace to allow for differences of personal conviction on non-essentials. Salvation in Jesus alone, by faith alone, and love for others are all essentials; issues such as gender (hierarchy), eternal security, predestination, Bible versions, etc. are non-essentials. It is loving to speak the truth and spread the Gospel to the lost, but not loving to divide over secondary matters, nor to harass those who disagree.

    While I work hard to keep a respectful atmosphere on this blog I will not take a position of policing everything that everyone writes here. I request that posters respect my position that we stay focused on the issues and not attack individuals. Those who post here are responsible for their own comments. The blog owner and the blog administrators will not be responsible for comments by posters. I just ask everyone to remember that there is only one Lord Jesus Christ that we all serve and if we really love Jesus we will love and respect each other even if we disagree on the non-essentials.

    Our belief is that the gifts that Jesus has given to women are for the common good of the body of Christ and women may use their gifts with the authority of 1 Peter 4:10, 11. We welcome dialog and trust that you will find a community here that loves the Lord Jesus and their brothers and sisters in Christ. We choose not to be identified with those who mock the body of Christ and attack fellow Christians in the name of a non-essential issue of faith. If you are willing to be respectful and you name the name of Christ, you are welcome to dialog with us whether you agree with our position or not.

  51. Cheryl,

    Thanks for your answers. A few more comments.

    1. First off- good on you for correcting my wrong biblical quote, sorry about that. However I can’t see in Num 14 how the text is saying that the generations are evil. Likewise I can’t see how 2 Kings is relating to the whole of Israel. It specifically calls into view Menassah. Not only that, if your interpretation would be to work you would have to say that every single person in Israel was apostate. There is no room in your theology to understand how the righteous amongst the nation still suffered because of the majority. Lamentations I think makes this clear. There were people in Israel who were faithful to the covenant, althought the majority (and the kings) were not. The same can be seen with Elijah, when God reserves 7000 for himself who do not bow the knee to Baal. To me the covenant was communial. The nation as a whole was to abide by it- especially the leaders (kings). When they were unfaithful, the nation suffered for that sin, even those who were righteous (though few). This same paradigm seems consistent with what the bible teaches about generational sin. Although person b is not responsible for person a’s sin, he/she may still suffer the consequences of it. Your thoughts?
    2. I am glad you are not supporting universalism. It appears we again agree on this. Frankly I am astounded that you even have to defend the doctrine of original sin. Maybe that is a cultural thing in Canada/US. It seems pretty clear to me in the bible the nature of our depravity. Not only that Pelagianism was wiped out early on as heretical teaching by the church. It appears however that it still runs rampid. I applaud you for defending the bible here.
    3. About the incarnation. First I must confess that I believe that this doctrine is probably the hardest to understand, even above the Trinity. How Jesus could leave glory, humble himself to earth and be both fully God and fully man is very difficult to understand, let alone explain. However I don’t see what you have said as solving the difficulty. You seemed to imply that not accepting your approach diminishes Jesus humanity- I don’t think it does. Jesus is fully human because he humbled himself to become human. The bible declares that he was tempted in everyway like us, so he was fully human, yet he withheld temptation. The reason I believe he withheld was because he was fully God. God cannot sin therefore Jesus could not have sinned, even though he was tempted to sin because of his humanity (this is where the incarnation gets messy). Your view makes it theoretically possible that Jesus could have sinned and I appreciate what you are saying because you are trying to understand how his humanity worked. But to imply that Jesus could have sinned is to deny that he was fully God, not able to sin. It also implies that God is able to sin theoretically and that he is changeable, both of which the bible denies. So I must protest again that emphasising this stuff about sin natures doesn’t solve any issues. I think it probably creates more. Not only that, but the bible is silent on this issue. It never says that Jesus was born of a virgin because only Mary did not pass on a corrupted nature. You are basically speculating on the issue. But I can see why you so it, because you need the incarnation to support your understanding of the banishment and sin, but I don’t think it works.
    4. Finally I would just like to point out how you understand the seed of the woman in Gen 3. you said “It was God who said that the seed of the woman would defeat the serpent.” Now I don’t think this is actually correct. The verse in Gen does not say that the seed of the woman would ‘crush’ the head of the serpent. The NIV is unhelpful here. The Hebrew uses the exact same word for the serpent and the woman, namely the serpent’s seed will bruise the heel of the woman’s seed, and the woman’s seed would bruise the head of the serpents seed. Nothing in this verse indicates that the woman’s seed would be victorious or crush the serpent. All this protoevangelium stuff is read back into the verse from Christian heritage. I think the point of the verse is to show the enmity between the two offspring, the corruption of relationships because of sin, firstly between God and people, then between people and people and finally between people and animals. To say that one is victorious over the other is eisegesis not exegesis.
    5. That said I am not saying that Jesus did not conquer over Satan, I believe that to be true, but the specific verse in Gen 3 grammatically does not say this, it’s read into the verse. Jesus conquering over Satan is established from other passages not Gen 3.

  52. Sorry another point.

    I just read through some of your comments Cheryl to others about original sin, and i must confess now after reading them that i disagree slightly with you.

    I agree that we have a corrupt sinful nature, however i disagree that children are not born ‘sinful’. I can’t see how you say one while rejecting the other. MAybe you can expand on it for me? At what age therefore do children become sinful? When does there corrupt nature kick in if not at birth?

    Regarding those who outright reject the notion of original sin i must ask therefore how you even understand grace. Without a proper understanding of sin, the offensiveness of it to God, our inabilty to be sinless, i can’t even fathom how grace is attractive. It seems like a cheap version of grace. You are either ‘dead’ in your sin according to Eph 2 or you are not. Maybe someone can express how they understand what the bible teaches about sin if Augustine and the early church was incorrect?

  53. Mark, glad to have you back!

    1. First off- good on you for correcting my wrong biblical quote, sorry about that. However I can’t see in Num 14 how the text is saying that the generations are evil.

    The issue is whether the people have repented from what the good King destroyed – the idols, the burning of their children to false gods, etc. Do you see where the people repented so that they would not be punished? After all God is not punishing innocent people. Or do you think that this is what God is all about – punishing people who have not sinned or people who have repented of their sin?

    Not only that, if your interpretation would be to work you would have to say that every single person in Israel was apostate. There is no room in your theology to understand how the righteous amongst the nation still suffered because of the majority.

    God treats the righteous differently than he treats the wicked. In one instance in the Scriptures a young boy from a wicked leadership is said to have to die as he was the only one who was not wicked. God said that his body would be the only on that would be buried. Sometimes God causes the death of the innocent to protect them from the punishment that He is going to inflict on the rest.

    Other times, God promises to protect those who are obedient to Him and He prospers them even in the land of their enemy. Even those who are not Israelites qualify for special blessing from God even in the midst of God’s wrath on the wicked:

    Jeremiah 39:15–18 (NASB)
    15 Now the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah while he was confined in the court of the guardhouse, saying,
    16 “Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am about to bring My words on this city for disaster and not for prosperity; and they will take place before you on that day.
    17 “But I will deliver you on that day,” declares the LORD, “and you will not be given into the hand of the men whom you dread.
    18 “For I will certainly rescue you, and you will not fall by the sword; but you will have your own life as booty, because you have trusted in Me,” declares the LORD.’ ”

    God is one who is faithful to those who trust in Him and He does not treat the faithful in the same manner as He treats the wicked.

    To me the covenant was communial. The nation as a whole was to abide by it- especially the leaders (kings). When they were unfaithful, the nation suffered for that sin, even those who were righteous (though few).

    God works within the levels of the entire community yet He also works in a one-on-one relationship within the community. This is especially important when the community becomes corrupt and unfaithful yet God is not unfaithful.

    This same paradigm seems consistent with what the bible teaches about generational sin. Although person b is not responsible for person a’s sin, he/she may still suffer the consequences of it. Your thoughts?

    The consequences will only be toward those who hate God. The minute a person turns, repents and loves God, God breaks the sinful cycle. God is not unfair to the righteous.

  54. Mark,
    You said:

    Frankly I am astounded that you even have to defend the doctrine of original sin. Maybe that is a cultural thing in Canada/US.

    No, I don’t think it is a cultural thing. What I think it is, is a reaction to any teaching that goes beyond original sin and touches areas that the Bible doesn’t teach. There mere mention of an inherited sin nature can cause many to think that I have accepted all the unBiblical additions that are common today. But I don’t believe in throwing out what is Biblical because it has been warped along the way. The fact is that we have all be touched by the fall and all are kept under sin so that all can be draw to the Savior.

    It seems pretty clear to me in the bible the nature of our depravity. Not only that Pelagianism was wiped out early on as heretical teaching by the church. It appears however that it still runs rampid. I applaud you for defending the bible here.

    Thank you, Mark, I do appreciate that! I don’t think many here know or understand that the rejection of the sin nature coming from Adam was part of Pelagianism and it was condemned as heretical. I tend to want to show from the Scriptures where the “old man” nature is an issue and must be dealt with instead of ignored and rejected as if it doesn’t exist. To merely say that this teaching has already been rejected as heretical isn’t always helpful until one can show why the correct teaching is true. Maybe I am wrong in thinking this way, but that’s how I think.

  55. Mark,
    You said:

    3. About the incarnation. First I must confess that I believe that this doctrine is probably the hardest to understand, even above the Trinity. How Jesus could leave glory, humble himself to earth and be both fully God and fully man is very difficult to understand, let alone explain. However I don’t see what you have said as solving the difficulty. You seemed to imply that not accepting your approach diminishes Jesus humanity- I don’t think it does. Jesus is fully human because he humbled himself to become human.

    Mark, I think you are confusing things here. Jesus’ humbling Himself deals with his Deity. This explains how He could set aside his right to act independently as God.

    The bible declares that he was tempted in everyway like us, so he was fully human, yet he withheld temptation.

    Temptation doesn’t make one human. The angels were tempted to rebel but they weren’t human. Jesus’ humanity in a kinship is highly important in the Scriptures. This shows that He didn’t just come as a separate creation that wasn’t related to us, but that he was born in our form.

    If you look carefully at Romans 1:3 you will see a necessary fact about his humanity:

    Romans 1:3 (NASB)
    3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

    Jesus had to be a descendant of David. It wasn’t good enough for Him just to be human. He had to be of a specific lineage.

    The reason I believe he withheld was because he was fully God. God cannot sin therefore Jesus could not have sinned, even though he was tempted to sin because of his humanity (this is where the incarnation gets messy).

    The problem with this reasoning is that it not only makes the temptation invalid, but it makes Jesus really not to be like us. Remember that God cannot be tempted? It is only because He was also human, that Jesus could be tempted. There had to be something other than his being God that stopped Him from sinning otherwise how can we look to Him as one who suffered our temptations? His sinless nature (from being the seed of the woman) made Him able to not sin but it did not prevent Him from sinning. He would have been just like Adam was in the beginning. Adam didn’t have to sin, but Adam was able to sin if he chose to. Jesus did not have a sin nature, so Jesus did not have to sin. And Jesus as a man looked to God in keeping Him clean from committing sin. We can look to Jesus as our example and follow Him in trusting God to keep us clean.

    Look at how Jesus handled temptation:

    Hebrews 2:18 (NASB)
    18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
    Hebrews 5:7–8 (NASB)
    7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.
    8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

    Now some think that being “saved from death” means that Jesus was praying that He would not have to go to the cross, but this is not correct for the next part says that “He was heard because of His piety”. God didn’t save Jesus from dying on the cross, but God did save Him from the death that comes from sin. God saved Him from being tempted to the point of sinning. As a man He looked to God for His help and God heard Him. Jesus is our true High Priest who has suffered like we suffered yet without sin. He didn’t sin because He is God. He didn’t sin because He looked to God in His temptations. All of this shows the importance of Jesus’ being a sinless human that comes through His humanity and not in spite of it.

    Your view makes it theoretically possible that Jesus could have sinned and I appreciate what you are saying because you are trying to understand how his humanity worked. But to imply that Jesus could have sinned is to deny that he was fully God, not able to sin.

    This shows that you don’t understand the dual nature of Jesus. He was fully and completely human and fully and completely God. As God He was not able to sin, but He laid aside His right to act independently as God and He lived His life as a man. As a man he was able to sin just like the first perfect man was able to sin. If as a man He was not able to sin, then He wasn’t really human.

    It also implies that God is able to sin theoretically and that he is changeable, both of which the bible denies.

    Again you don’t seem to understand that dual nature of Jesus. Do you remember that the Bible says that God is not a man that he could lie? Well, God isn’t a man. But God can take on humanity so that the humanity itself is not an addition to His Deity but an addition to his personhood. So in the form of God, he cannot sin, but in the form of humanity He had to be able be tempted. What He did was what Adam should have been able to do if Adam had been faithful and had looked to God for help. There is no temptation that can force us to sin if we are living in the Spirit and putting our trust in God.

    So I must protest again that emphasising this stuff about sin natures doesn’t solve any issues. I think it probably creates more.

    I don’t know how far along in your pastoral studies you are Mark, but I hope that when you finish you will understand that the full humanity of Jesus and His being without sin from conception is highly important and is worth studying, worth debating and worthy of acceptance for it gives us reason for the hope that lies within us.

    Not only that, but the bible is silent on this issue. It never says that Jesus was born of a virgin because only Mary did not pass on a corrupted nature. You are basically speculating on the issue.

    What the Bible does show is that it was a necessity for Jesus to be born of a virgin. It is when one studies why Jesus could not have a human father, that the sin nature that comes through Adam becomes clear and understandable.

    But I can see why you so it, because you need the incarnation to support your understanding of the banishment and sin, but I don’t think it works.

    I came to the understand of the vital importance of the virgin birth of Jesus long before I dug deep into the Genesis account to understand that only Adam was kicked out. The understanding of he incarnation helped me to understand the fall, not the other way around. I started with the basics and worked out from there.

  56. Mark,

    You said:

    4. Finally I would just like to point out how you understand the seed of the woman in Gen 3. you said “It was God who said that the seed of the woman would defeat the serpent.” Now I don’t think this is actually correct. The verse in Gen does not say that the seed of the woman would ‘crush’ the head of the serpent. The NIV is unhelpful here. The Hebrew uses the exact same word for the serpent and the woman, namely the serpent’s seed will bruise the heel of the woman’s seed, and the woman’s seed would bruise the head of the serpents seed. Nothing in this verse indicates that the woman’s seed would be victorious or crush the serpent.

    Paul alludes to Genesis 3:15 and interprets the crushing as being done to satan in Romans 16:20

    Romans 16:20 (NASB)
    20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…

    And in Hebrews 2:14 the crushing is defined by the term “render powerless” as this is what the crushing means:

    Hebrews 2:14 (NASB)
    14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

    John MacArthur shows that the seed of the serpent is satan himself operating within his followers and it is satan who is defeated by Jesus:

    3:15 After cursing the physical serpent, God turned to the spiritual serpent, the lying seducer, Satan, and cursed him. bruise your head … bruise His heel. This “first gospel” is prophetic of the struggle and its outcome between “your seed” (Satan and unbelievers, who are called the Devil’s children in John 8:44) and her seed (Christ, a descendant of Eve, and those in Him), which began in the garden. In the midst of the curse passage, a message of hope shone forth—the woman’s offspring called “He” is Christ, who will one day defeat the Serpent. Satan could only “bruise” Christ’s heel (cause Him to suffer), while Christ will bruise Satan’s head (destroy him with a fatal blow). Paul, in a passage strongly reminiscent of Gen. 3, encouraged the believers in Rome, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). Believers should recognize that they participate in the crushing of Satan because, along with their Savior and because of His finished work on the cross, they also are of the woman’s seed. For more on the destruction of Satan, see Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 20:10.
    MacArthur, J. J. The MacArthur Study Bible (Ge 3:15).

    And finally a quote from an Old Testament commentary written in the 1800’s that describes probably in the very clearest manner why the virgin birth was necessary:

    I. The person here predicted—
    [It was the Lord Jesus Christ; who was in a peculiar way “the seed of the woman:” for he was formed in the womb simply by the agency of the Holy Ghost, and was born of a pure virgin altogether without the intervention of man. And this was necessary: for, had he been born like other men, he would have been in the loins of Adam, like other men; and therefore would, like them, have been partaker of his guilt and corruption. But, being the sole and immediate workmanship of God, he was absolutely perfect, and therefore capable of sustaining the office of a Saviour for fallen man: whereas, if he had been otherwise formed, he would have needed a Saviour for himself, and been incapable of effecting salvation for others. Thus you see, that when it was impossible for man to restore himself to God, God “laid help for him upon One that was Mighty;” on one who, being God and man in one person, was able to effect for men all that their necessities required. As man, he could atone for sin; and as God, he could render that atonement available for all who should trust in him.]

    Simeon, C. Horae (1832-63). Homileticae Vol. 1: Genesis to Leviticus (pgs 37–38)

  57. Mark,
    You said:

    I think the point of the verse is to show the enmity between the two offspring, the corruption of relationships because of sin, firstly between God and people, then between people and people and finally between people and animals. To say that one is victorious over the other is eisegesis not exegesis.

    The problem with your view is that the New Testament authors like Paul and the author of Hebrews say Genesis 3:15 as being a battle between the virgin born Jesus and those who are in Christ and satan and those who are his followers. None of them saw this verse as being a battle between merely humans and humans or between humans and animals. That interpretation doesn’t fly with the NT.

    5. That said I am not saying that Jesus did not conquer over Satan, I believe that to be true, but the specific verse in Gen 3 grammatically does not say this, it’s read into the verse. Jesus conquering over Satan is established from other passages not Gen 3.

    You are then going to have some difficulty with the direct reference back to Genesis 3:15 by Romans 16:20. Any interpretation of the promise of God that makes it as merely a fight between humans and animals and that the humans win over the animals is seriously missing the point of the gospel preached in Genesis.

  58. Mark,
    You asked:

    I agree that we have a corrupt sinful nature, however i disagree that children are not born ‘sinful’. I can’t see how you say one while rejecting the other. MAybe you can expand on it for me? At what age therefore do children become sinful? When does there corrupt nature kick in if not at birth?

    Sin nature is not sin. It is an inherited propensity to sin but it is not sin itself. One has a sin nature, but one doesn’t become a sinner until one actually sins. For example a baby still in the womb is not a sinner since he/she has not committed any sin. To say that the unborn are sinners is to go beyond what Scripture actually says and this is one of the reasons why so many are fighting against the teaching of the sin nature.

    When a child lies or steals or whatever, they then are sinning and before that they have sin nature that makes sinning natural, but is not actual until they sin.

    Regarding those who outright reject the notion of original sin i must ask therefore how you even understand grace. Without a proper understanding of sin, the offensiveness of it to God, our inabilty to be sinless, i can’t even fathom how grace is attractive. It seems like a cheap version of grace. You are either ‘dead’ in your sin according to Eph 2 or you are not. Maybe someone can express how they understand what the bible teaches about sin if Augustine and the early church was incorrect?

    I look forward to reading an answer from one of those who believes that they have no sin nature.

    I think that the verse about our being a “slave to sin” is a better one to use:

    Romans 6:6 (NASB)
    6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

    Here we see the “old self”. How does one who believes that there is no sin nature understand that? And what is the “body of sin”?

    How can those who believe that they have no sin nature understand the issue of “slavery to sin”? If they have no sin nature, then they should be able to just stop sinning.

  59. Mark,
    Here is one other quote that you may accept since it includes the view of Calvin:

    The Messianic interpretation of the ‘seed of the woman’ appears in TJ and Targ. Jer., where the v. is explained of the Jewish community and its victory over the devil “in the days of King Messiah.” The reference to the person of Christ was taught by Irenæus, but was never so generally accepted in the Church as the kindred idea that the serpent is the instrument of Satan. Mediæval exegetes, relying on the ipsa of the Vulg., applied the expression directly to the Virgin Mary; and even Luther, while rejecting this reference, recognised an allusion to the virgin birth of Christ. In Protestant theology this view gave way to the more reasonable view of Calvin, that the passage is a promise of victory over the devil to mankind, united in Christ its divine Head.

    J. Skinner: A critical and exegetical commentary on Genesis. (pgs 80–81).

  60. Cheryl,

    I think that a propensity to sin and an inherited sin nature are not the same thing, and I think you’ve made it clear that they are not.

    One can also argue that humankind has an inherited ability to do great good and therefore fulfill the law of Christ (Romans 2:14-16).

    So where’s the rub? Do humans have no ability to do the right thing and make the world a better place?

  61. Greg,
    You have brought up an excellent question for discussion.

    I think that first of all that there is an issue of definitions that needs to be discussed. In my discussions with Calvinists, they have told me that the “sin nature” that we have inherited makes us a “sinner” and means that we are guilty of sin from the time that we are an unborn baby in the womb. However their definition is faulty and this meaning is not found in the Bible. The “sin nature” is not actual sin and so we cannot be a “sinner” just from the “sin nature”. There must be personal sin that accompanies it for us to be actual sinners. So while a young child may have the natural desire to sin (and this is the sin nature) there is no guilt until actual sin is committed. No one will ever go to hell for having a “sin nature”. They go for their own actual and practiced sin and rebellion.

    One can also argue that humankind has an inherited ability to do great good and therefore fulfill the law of Christ (Romans 2:14-16).

    Romans 2:14-16 doesn’t say that. It says that the Gentiles have a conscience within them that is a law to them. Paul also says that their conscience sometimes defends them and sometimes accuses them depending on whether or not they follow their conscience. But these verses doesn’t say that we have a ability to fulfill the law of Christ. After all, if we were able to fulfill the law of Christ, then we would not have needed Christ to die for us. We could have made it on our own through doing good things if that is all it takes.

    So where’s the rub? Do humans have no ability to do the right thing and make the world a better place?

    Sure. Some say that unregenerate man can not do a single thing that is good, but I don’t see that in the Scriptures. Jesus said that those who are evil can give what is good.

    Matthew 7:11 (NASB)
    11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

    But is our ability to do good enough to say that we are basically good? It is interesting to see the the humanistic view is that we are basically good.

    Carl Rogers says: I do not find that…evil is inherent in human nature. Carl Rogers was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology.

    But the Biblical world view is at odds with this view as we are told that we have desires inside that are part of our fleshly nature and these desires are not good.

    Galatians 5:16–18 (TNIV)
    16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    There is a battle going on between the Spirit and the “natural” desires of our carnal “fleshly” nature. We have been tainted by the fall, not by someone else’s sin coming on us, but by a nature that we are at war with. For if we give in to the sinful nature within us, Paul says that we will die.

    Romans 8:13 (LEB)
    13 For if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

    Paul talks about this inner war with his sin nature that he needs to fight and win through Christ.

    Romans 7:15–23 (LEB)
    15 For what I am doing I do not understand, because what I want to do, this I do not practice, but what I hate, this I do. 16 But if what I do not want to do, this I do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that lives in me. 18 For I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my flesh. For the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but the evil that I do not want to do, this I do. 20 But if what I do not want to do, this I am doing, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that lives in me.
    21 Consequently, I find the principle with me, the one who wants to do good, that evil is present with me. 22 For I joyfully agree with the law of God in my inner person, 23 but I observe another law in my members, at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that exists in my members.

    Since the bible says that even those who are evil can do good, why is it that Paul says that there is no good in him? The answer is that although we can all do good, we are not good. Our deeds can include good, but our nature is not good. There is evil in the human nature that comes from the fall.

    The truth claim in the Bible is that man is fallen and his heart is desperately wicked. The world’s philosophy is that man is basically good and that he should get in touch with his own inner desires so that he can have self actualization and save himself through self-oriented pursuits.

    It is a cosmic battle that rages over two dimetrically opposed truth claims. Man is not intrinsically good but he has evil living within him and so mankind needs divine grace, regeneration and redemption. If we were created as good and perfect human beings without a “natural desire” to sin, then it would be possible for one of Adam’s offspring to live without sin. But the truth is that all have sinned and our natural desires are to continue to sin. Where does the natural desire to sin come from? Scripture says that one man brought sin into the world. Where did this sin go when it came into the world?

    If there is no sin nature (or natural desire for sin) then the sin that Adam brought into the world didn’t go anywhere. It just died with him. But the Scriptures talk about a “spread” of sin that has spread to all. This natural desire for sin lives in each one of us and it comes from the rebellion of the one man.

    I would like to challenge anyone who thinks that we as humans do not have the natural inclination to sin within us that has been inherited from Adam, to bring as much Scriptural proof for their position. Let’s not just argue from our reasoning, but let’s discuss the texts.

    Thanks, Greg, for bringing a text onto the table. I don’t think that it proves your point, but it was nice to see Scripture here instead of just an argument.

  62. Cheryl,

    I’m not so sure that you have satisfactorally addressed the main issue in regard to our discussion.

    You said that Numbers 14 says that the other generations were wicked also. But like i said i can’t see that in the text. Not only that but the 2 Kings reference deals with Menassah not the people. I can’t see how you can just interpret it as all Israel in these passages?

    For example you said “The minute a person turns, repents and loves God, God breaks the sinful cycle. God is not unfair to the righteous.”

    But according to Numbers 14 this simple doesn’t work. In Numbers the nation is rebelling about going into the Land promised to them, yet in verse 20 we read that God did forgive them. How does this work in your view, when directly following it, God then saids they will not enter the land. These people were forgiven yet still punished for their rebellion.

    Again let me state that it seems far more consistent in view of all the relevant biblical passages to say that people do suffer the consequences of other peoples sins. The next generation did not rebel yet they still had to wonder in the desert for 40 years. They weren’t directly accountable for the sins, yet the repocussions still effected them.

  63. Now regarding the incarnation.

    I agree that i don’t understand the incarnation, and that is my point. None of us can!

    However to come to the conclusion as you have done that Jesus was theoretically able to sin i must reject. I totally understand why you feel that this reduces his humanity but i think you have thrown the baby out with the bath water.
    How can you say that Jesus being fully God could have sinned? Are you saying he left his ‘godness’ in heaven during his time on earth. I find it very hard not to see your view as heretical. This is the mystery of the incarnation, how one man Jesus Christ, can be fully human tempted in everyway, yet at the same time fully God unable to sin. Like i have said, it is a very difficult thing to understand yet explain. The fact that he had no father, therefore he had no sin nature, therefore Eve had no sin nature is too long a bow for me. THere is nothing in the bible to indicate this

  64. Now regarding Gen 3:15

    I dont think you have fully understood what i said. I did say that you can gain from other passages that Jesus conquered over Satan. I did say that Christians read Jesus back into Gen 3:15 or at least interpret it this way.
    My point though was simply that exegetically, reading the verse in it’s original language, context etc it is not about one ‘crushing’ the other. The actual language used is each bruising each other. This is simply pure exegetical fact.

    That said, i do not disagree that we as Christians like Calvin can understand this as the first prophecy of the messiah. But this is reading it in our position in salvation history. I agree with Calvin and you that this could be a prophecy, but exegetically the verse is not dealing with Eve’s seed ‘crushing’ the serpents.
    Have i explained this well enough?

  65. Greg,

    I agree with Cheryl that the verse you quoted does not support a rejection of original sin. Perhaps in the discussion of what is ‘good’ or good works, Romans 14 might help.

    Romans 14:23b “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

    So what constitutes as good? Only those things done in faith. So if a non believer cares for another (but it is not done in faith in Jesus Christ) it is sin. This is harsh but true. This is the nature of our rebellion to God. Nothing we do is good unless it is done in faith in Jesus. And no one can have faith unless God grants it to them.

    Until we understand the depth of our depravity and sin we will never understand the grace and mercy of God. We ALL fall short says Romans, no-one is good, not even one. This is where Augustine and the reformers got it right!

    a rejection of original sin, makes a mockery of the atoning work of Christ and the depravity of our rebellion.

  66. #66 Mark,
    I am just going to bed so I am going to pick just one of your comments for tonight and catch the rest as I can hopefully tomorrow.

    My point though was simply that exegetically, reading the verse in it’s original language, context etc it is not about one ‘crushing’ the other. The actual language used is each bruising each other. This is simply pure exegetical fact.

    I see now what you are getting at. Yes, the two words are the same but you are incorrect when you say that the actual language has nothing to do with crushing. I don’t know where you are getting this faulty information from but here are three lexicons followed by the Lexham Hebrew-English Lexicon and many translations.

    —(1) pr. (as was first seen by Umbreit on Job 9:17), i.q. TO GAPE UPON [see note], hence to lie in wait for any thing, Gen. 3:15,“he (the seed of the woman, man) shall lie in wait for thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for his heel,” he shall endeavour to crush thy head, and thou shalt endeavour to crush his heel.
    Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (811).

    8789 1. LN 19.43–19.54 (qal) crush, i.e., a downward pressing motion of an object (Ge 3:15a+), see also 8790;…2. LN 19.1–19.13 (qal) batter, formally, crush, i.e., a repeated striking motion which injures (Job 9:17+)
    Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament)

    qal: impf. sf. : crush Gn 3:15.
    Holladay, W. L., Köhler, L., & Köhler, L. (1971). A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament. (364).

    gen-3-15-lexham-hebrew

    I do agree that the same word should be used for both occurrences. After all satan did “crush” Jesus heel. When the nail was driven through the heel of Jesus the bone was crushed by the nail. So the term “crush” fits the prophesy far better than bruise.

    The same Hebrew word is used in Job 9:17 and it is translated “crush” in the NIV, NKJV, NCV, RSV, GW, and Darby. And ASV translates as “breaketh” which is what crushing does. I could go on to look for more translations but I got tired.

    Here is the Lexham Hebrew English where you can see the “crush”
    job-9-17-crush

    Job 9:17 (NIV)
    17 He would crush me with a storm
    and multiply my wounds for no reason.

    Job 9:17 (NKJV)
    17 For He crushes me with a tempest,
    And multiplies my wounds without cause.

    Job 9:17 (NCV)
    17  He would crush me with a storm
    and multiply my wounds for no reason.

    Job 9:17 (RSV)

    17 For he crushes me with a tempest,
    and multiplies my wounds without cause;

    Genesis 3:15 (DARBY)
    15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel.

    and

    Job 9:17 (DARBY)
    17 He, who crusheth me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.

    Job 9:17 (ASV)
    17For he breaketh me with a tempest, And multiplieth my wounds without cause.

  67. Cheryl,
    thanks for the info.
    But i think my point still stands regardless of how you translate the word. You can’t say that the woman’s seed (in the context) is victorious over the serpents-so whether you translate it crush, strike, bruise etc you must do the same for both. This is why the NIV is un helpful. It saids the serpent’s seed will ‘strike’ but the woman’s seed would ‘crush’. This gives the indication that the verse is saying one is victorious, but again i don’t think exegetically it holds. Whatever the translation is should be the same. Therefore that is why i think in the context the point is broken relationships not victory over another. The serpent will bruise his heel and he will bruise his head.
    I guess the other point could be whether the ‘head’ incicates something significantly more than the ‘heel’. That i suppose is open for speculation.

  68. Mark,
    You said:

    You can’t say that the woman’s seed (in the context) is victorious over the serpents-so whether you translate it crush, strike, bruise etc you must do the same for both.

    Yes, I agree that this is the really neat thing that shows how God planned satan’s destruction from the beginning.

    While God cursed the serpent, He also stated how the serpent through his seed will fight back at the seed of the woman and the very act of his fighting back will cause his destruction. The Hebrew term for “crush” is a prophesy that the serpent will crush the Messiah’s heel on the cross. Look here for new crucifixion evidence that shows that the heel was pierced with the nails:

    cross-nails-heel on Women in Ministry blog

    cross-legs on Women in Ministry blog

    Crucifixion evidence was found in June of 1968 at Giv’at ha-Mivtar. The discovery within a cemetery which dates to the first century time period shows evidence of a man who was crucified with nails through his feet and wrists. His legs were broken. The description is very similar to that found in the NT Gospels concerning the crucifixion of Christ. Josephus described crucifixion in the time of the Fall of Jerusalem as so great that “space could not be found for the crosses nor crosses for the bodies.” (JW 5.11.1) demonstrating that crucifixion was common during the time period of Jesus.

    Joseph Fitzmyer reviewed the evidence from Giv’at ha-Mivtar in his 1978 CBQ article entitled “Crucifixion in Ancient Palestine, Qumran Literature, and the New Testament.” He quotes the findings of V. Tzaferis (Israeli Department of Antiquities and Museums) who says: “This is undoubtedly a case of crucifixion.” The report continues describing what the picture above demonstrates a “large iron nail” fixed through heel bones.

    The man who was crucified was 24-28 years old and 5ft 5 inches tall. The nail had been driven into acacia wood and then bent down; so that it would not be worked out. The nail was so firmly into the wood that the feet were cut off in order to remove the body from the cross (“it was impossible to withdraw the nail and there was a post mortem amputation of the feet . .. “).

    Fitzmyer concludes that “the evidence for the practice is no longer solely literary in extrabiblical writings, but now archaeological as well.” Furthermore the evidence related to the Gospel of John which indicates they did not break the legs of Jesus shows a corresponding link between the typical practice (as John indicates and the evidence now demonstrates did occur) and what occurred to Jesus in the Gospels. Furthermore the relationship between actual piercing and also the cross/tree detail are both corroborated by the evidence.

    From http://davidritsema.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/crucifixion/

    So while God cursed the serpent in the garden because of his deception, the serpent tried to destroy God’s Messiah by cursing Him by the cross.

    Galatians 3:13 (NASB)
    13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—

    But God turned around and use the instrument that was meant to curse and kill Christ, into an instrument that would bring Christ the victory.

    Colossians 2:14–15 (NASB)
    14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
    15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

    The very cross that was used as a weapon against Jesus by crushing his heel through crucifixon became the weapon that destroyed satan’s power. The curse was complete against the serpent when Jesus triumphed over the serpent with the cross. God used the very weapon (the cross) that the serpent tried to destroy Jesus with and it was prophesied back in Genesis that the thing that would crush the Messiah heal would crush the head of the serpent.

    Psalm 68:21 (NASB)
    21 Surely God will shatter the head of His enemies,
    The hairy crown of him who goes on in his guilty deeds.

    And because Jesus crushed the head of the serpent at the cross, we too as His body will has satan crushed under our feet.

    Romans 16:20 (NASB)
    20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
    The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

    The beauty of the cross and God’s prediction in Genesis 3:15 is that what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. The cross was meant by the enemy to curse and to destroy. But the cross actually destroyed the destroyer.

    While the human author of Genesis likely never understood the words that he was penning concerning God’s words to the serpent, looking back on the prophesy we can see God’s plan made to destroy the serpent right from the beginning. The Word Biblical Commentary shows that even in the Septuagint and other Jewish writings back to the third century BC, the victory of the Messiah over satan was viewed in Genesis 3:15.

    Certainly the oldest Jewish interpretation found in the third century B.C. Septuagint, the Palestinian targums (Ps.-J., Neof., Frg.), and possibly the Onqelos targum takes the serpent as symbolic of Satan and look for a victory over him in the days of King Messiah. The NT also alludes to this passage, understanding it in a broadly messianic sense (Rom. 16:20; Heb. 2:14; Rev. 12), and it may be that the term “Son of Man” as a title for Jesus and the term “woman” for Mary (John 2:4; 19:26) also reflect this passage (Gallus; cf. Michl). Certainly, later Christian commentators, beginning with Justin (ca. A.D. 160) and Irenaeus (ca. 180), have often regarded 3:15 as the Protoevangelium, the first messianic prophecy in the OT. While a messianic interpretation may be justified in the light of subsequent revelation, a sensus plenior, it would perhaps be wrong to suggest that this was the narrator’s own understanding. Probably he just looked for mankind eventually to defeat the serpent’s seed, the powers of evil.
    Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary (80–81).

    I have no doubt that when Jesus rose from the dead and He met with some of the disciples on the road, that He took Genesis 3:15 and explained its meaning to them.

    Luke 24:25–27 (NASB95)
    25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
    26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
    27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

    Notice that Jesus started with Moses and from Moses’ writings He explained to them what had been written about Him and the suffering that He would experience. Genesis 3:15 is the very first Scripture that mentions the suffering of the Messiah with his heel crushed and it is also the very first Scripture that declares the victory on the same front as His heal was crushed. It is the cross and it is the sign of triumph over the serpent.

  69. Mark,
    You said:

    Therefore that is why i think in the context the point is broken relationships not victory over another. The serpent will bruise his heel and he will bruise his head.
    I guess the other point could be whether the ‘head’ incicates something significantly more than the ‘heel’. That i suppose is open for speculation.

    The context is not broken relationships because this is about a curse on the serpent not a curse on man. A curse is about destruction not about a broken relationships.

    Crushing the head is considered a death blow:

    Numbers 24:17 (NASB)
    17 “I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near;
    A star shall come forth from Jacob,
    A scepter shall rise from Israel,
    And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
    And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

    Psalm 74:14 (NASB)
    14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
    You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.

    Judges 5:26 (NASB)
    26 “She reached out her hand for the tent peg,
    And her right hand for the workmen’s hammer.
    Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head;
    And she shattered and pierced his temple.

    So the bottom line will be what is a curse all about? If broken relationships is the serpent’s curse, then man was cursed too. This can’t be true. The curse that was revealed by the crushing of the serpent’s head is a death blow to him and a cause for victory from the One who received the crush to His heel on the cross. This meaning of curse that brought defeat to the serpent and victory to the Messiah was seen centuries before Jesus was born. For us to reject this now is to lessen God’s purpose and plan to destroy the serpent and restore our fellowship with God.

  70. Mark,
    You said:

    You said that Numbers 14 says that the other generations were wicked also. But like i said i can’t see that in the text. Not only that but the 2 Kings reference deals with Menassah not the people.

    Here is what a critical commentary on this passage says about the failure of Judah to repent and the confirmation from other OT writings that these people were indeed wicked.

    26. Notwithstanding, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his wrath,—&c. The national reformation which Josiah carried on was acquiesced in by the people from submission to the royal will; but they entertained a secret and strong hankering after the suppressed idolatries. Though outwardly purified, their hearts were not right towards God, as appears from many passages of the prophetic writings; their thorough reform was hopeless; and God, who saw no sign of genuine repentance, allowed His decree (2Ki 21:12–15) for the subversion of the kingdom to take fatal effect.
    Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (2 Ki 23:26)

    You also said:

    For example you said “The minute a person turns, repents and loves God, God breaks the sinful cycle. God is not unfair to the righteous.”

    But according to Numbers 14 this simple doesn’t work. In Numbers the nation is rebelling about going into the Land promised to them, yet in verse 20 we read that God did forgive them. How does this work in your view, when directly following it, God then saids they will not enter the land. These people were forgiven yet still punished for their rebellion.

    They can be forgiven for their sin but the consequences will still happen. But this in no way says that God punishes the innocent which is what we were talking about.

    Again let me state that it seems far more consistent in view of all the relevant biblical passages to say that people do suffer the consequences of other peoples sins. The next generation did not rebel yet they still had to wonder in the desert for 40 years. They weren’t directly accountable for the sins, yet the repocussions still effected them.

    God does not punish the innocent. When the generation came out of Egypt they were punished by not allowing them to go in to the promised land. The punishment was not 40 years in the wilderness. They were there for 40 years not for punishment but to allow all of that generation to die. Once they were dead, the children of these wicked people were allowed to go into the promised land.

  71. I have one more comment for people to think through and you may want to comment on this.

    A sinless man was able to sin in the garden but he was also able to stay in the place of sinless as this was his nature. When man fell his nature changed so that he was unable to get back to where he had fallen from. He was now unable to live without sin and his new nature made it natural for him to sin just as it had been natural for him not to sin before he fell.

    If man was now living in the “natural fleshly nature”, he could no longer be trusted to obey God’s law. It would appear then that God’s words…

    Genesis 3:22…he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

    When God used the prefixed imperfect tense it shows that the action was in progress but not yet completed.

    Grammar (of a tense) denoting a past action in progress but not completed at the time in question.

    If Adam’s rebellion to God regarding the tree of life was in progress but not yet completed, then this reveals his sin nature in progress heading toward a direction that God wanted stopped before it happened?

    If Adam’s rebellion that is “in progress” at the time that God kicked him out of the garden, is not this the perfect definition of the “old man nature” or the “natural man” that we now call the “sin nature”?

    What do you think?

  72. Cheryl # 63,

    Thanks so much for the friendly reply!

    I can’t respond right now to my earlier comment (# 62) which you so graciously answered, but I fear that I didn’t represent myself as clearly as I would have liked to.

    Hopefully I can respond soon to my earlier comment with a caveat or two that might enhance clarity.

  73. Greg,
    I so appreciate being able to discuss these issues. I welcome any comment, question or challenge as I do believe these are important issues to debate over in Christian love. It is also easy to misunderstand a person’s comments and I am glad that you are going to try to make your comments even clearer. Thanks for joining in!

  74. >”God has placed us all under sin so that we would all be in a position to have faith in Him instead of earning our way to God.””My friend, let me say it this way. If Jesus was born with the same nature as the rest of mankind, then He couldn’t be the Savior. He had a different nature (sinless) but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t human.”“This is where Jesus was different than Adam’s end. Jesus never gave in to temptation and
    His temptations were “in every way just as we are” while Adam was tempted to rebel in only one thing.””We didn’t sin “in Adam” as if we participated in his sin. We were “in Adam” when he sinned so that the consequences of his rebellion would be felt by those who had yet to be born. We experienced the results of the poison and our DNA was changed from perfect to disposed toward sin.”
    “If there is no sin nature (or natural desire for sin) then the sin that Adam brought into the world didn’t go anywhere. It just died with him. But the Scriptures talk about a “spread” of sin that has spread to all. This natural desire for sin lives in each one of us and it comes from the rebellion of the one man.”<

    Romans 5:12 is one of the verses most often cited in support of inherited “sin nature.” However, that’s not what the verse actually says.
    “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”

    We didn’t all sin “in” Adam. Death spread to all men because all sinned. Adam, whose name means humanity, is the archetype for mankind.

    The nature of humanity was, in Adam, to die.
    The nature of humanity in Christ, to live.

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
    This is such an important part of Christianity. God who loves us, made us alive in Christ, freeing us from the wrathful rule of the prince of the power of the air and bondage to our passions, and created us anew for good works. According to Eph.2:3, we “were” children of wrath – we were subject to the wrathful rule of the prince of the power of the air, but now Christ made us live.

    Personally, as someone who by my early 20’s, was so bound up in the fear of my impending death and the futility of life (without God) that I saw no point in living, this was huge for me.
    Jonathan Edwards himself could have preached “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” to my face and not effected me, but knowing that God set me free did.

    So, I came to God because I found no point in living and then heard that He cares and went to great lengths to show it (“for God so loved the world…”) and He has a purpose for me. It wasn’t until after I was already in a relationship with God that the Holy Spirit began to show me the sin in my life. First, through grace and mercy, He loved me just as I was – lost in life and in need of Perfect Love. He loved me into a relationship. He did not condemn me into a relationship. Perfect Love that casts out fear. Sin is something that can only be truely understood from within a Christian vantage point. If you don’t know God, then it is impossible to see sin in its proper perspective.

    “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Eph.2:1-3

    This depicts the habitual style of life which had characterized these believers prior to their conversion. Had Paul intended to convey the notion of inherited sin nature at the time of their birth, he easily could have expressed that idea by saying,
    “you became by birth children of wrath.” But he didn’t.

    “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:4-6

    Christianity tells the story of a God who is about the business of rescuing mankind and all creation. We cannot rescue ourselves. Our God is not some distant deity. He is the Lord who comes near, the One who enters His creation as a part of it, who empties Himself. And by doing so, God is the one who destroys death and heals mankind, making relationship with God possible for us all. It was always God’s purpose for mankind to be joined in full relationship with God. And that is only ever possible through the action of God. We could never have joined ourselves to God unless he first joined his nature to ours. Otherwise, you end up with a God who is either overly concerned about defending His honor or a God who cannot forgive an offense without payment – a God without mercy and grace. Now, that does not correlate very well at all with the God I find in Scripture and it oversimplifies mankind’s problem and the measures necessary to save us. God paid His own penalty – that is forgiveness.

    “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

    Because I reject the “inherited sin nature” perspective does not then mean that I believe that any of us are somehow free from the myriad actions and choices of our parents and ancestors. Nobody starts life with a clean slate completely free from the influence of anyone but themselves. But the language for what we experience is not properly boiled down to “guilt or innocence.” It is the language of consequences as well.

  75. Anon y mous,
    Welcome to my blog and to this conversation!

    You said:

    We didn’t all sin “in” Adam. Death spread to all men because all sinned. Adam, whose name means humanity, is the archetype for mankind.

    The nature of humanity was, in Adam, to die.
    The nature of humanity in Christ, to live.

    I agree that we didn’t all “sin” in Adam. That is a common error that takes Adam’s guilt and makes it our guilt but that can’t be true. But we were “in” Adam when he sinned and our physical death is part of what we received through our first father. But Scripture doesn’t say that we die only because we are from a mortal, but it clearly links our sin to something that has been spread to us.

    But if the only “nature” of humanity through Adam is merely physical death, then how is it that sin “entered the world”? Remember the passage doesn’t say that “death” entered the world, but rather it was “sin” that entered. How did sin “enter” the world if sin involves only one man?

    The Greek term for “enter” means;
    a move into: 15.93
    b happen: 13.110
    c begin: 68.7
    d begin to experience: 90.70
    live with 41.24
    Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains

    The questions that don’t seem to have a logical answer are how one man’s sin could cause sin to move into the world? And how is it that death is “spread” to all men since this death is attached to the fact that all sin?

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
    This is such an important part of Christianity. God who loves us, made us alive in Christ, freeing us from the wrathful rule of the prince of the power of the air and bondage to our passions, and created us anew for good works.

    There are several questions I have with your interpretation, if we are freed by Christ to the bondage of our passions, then why do we still have these passions inside?

    If you don’t know God, then it is impossible to see sin in its proper perspective.

    I agree that the world’s view cannot see sin in its proper perspective.

    “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Eph.2:1-3

    This depicts the habitual style of life which had characterized these believers prior to their conversion. Had Paul intended to convey the notion of inherited sin nature at the time of their birth, he easily could have expressed that idea by saying,
    “you became by birth children of wrath.” But he didn’t.

    But Paul did say that we were “children of wrath”. Look at the interlinear print below:
    eph-2-3-children-of-wrath

  76. Anonymous,

    I can’t really understand what your point is. Can you re-state a little clearer your position?

    You said this “Otherwise, you end up with a God who is either overly concerned about defending His honor or a God who cannot forgive an offense without payment – a God without mercy and grace.”

    Now regarding your last statement that God cannot forgive an offense without a payment. I fear you don’t understand the biblical position on the sacrifice necessary before God’s forgiveness. Are you saying that God can forgive our sins without a sacrifice? Can you elaborate?

    I find it intriguing that those who reject the orthodox position think that orthodoxy presents a God without mercy and grace. Until we understand our sin properly we can never understand God’s mercy and grace properly. The fact is we all deserve to go to hell. It is only because of God’s mercy that he saves anyone. This whole notion that we are theoretically ‘good’ people is simply flawed. Let’s start judging our goodness in relation to a Holy God who can not tolerate sin, then we might begin to grasp the right perpective. This is why the gospel is so amazing that God would send his son to be a propitiation for us. The judgement we deserved fell on Jesus, so that we may be adopted and declared justified in God’s sight. This is the gospel. Anything else is simply false teaching.

  77. Cheryl,

    I appreciate your comments regarding Gen 3:15. Let me just say one final thing in case you missed it. I do agree with you that looking bcak at this verse in our position, we can see the prophetic nature of it. I’m just trying to look at the verse exegetically, that’s all- i think this is perhaps where we differ slightly.

    However i’m not sure i’m ready to accept that the nail through the heel is fulfillment of Gen 3:15. That’s a bit too allegorical for me. You may be right, but i’d hold to that one loosely.

    Thanks

  78. Anon y mous,

    You said:

    Because I reject the “inherited sin nature” perspective does not then mean that I believe that any of us are somehow free from the myriad actions and choices of our parents and ancestors. Nobody starts life with a clean slate completely free from the influence of anyone but themselves. But the language for what we experience is not properly boiled down to “guilt or innocence.” It is the language of consequences as well.

    The consequences that Paul is talking about are not because of the “choices” of our parents. It is about what is inside “us” that is a part of us.

    While Christ made us alive together with Him and paid the price for our sin, there is a battle that goes on inside us that we cannot win without Christ who enables us to live “in the Spirit” so that we do not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

    So the second question I need to ask you is what is the “desires of the flesh” that the Christian is not to live in?

    Galatians 5:16–17 (NIV)
    16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

    Here Paul is talking to Christians and he says that there is a sinful nature that is contrary to the Spirit. He also says that these two natures are in conflict with each other so that you (Christians) do not do what they want to do. What kind of nature is it that Christians fight with that is in conflict with the Spirit?

    Romans 6:12 (NASB)
    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,

    Romans 6:16 (NASB)
    16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

    In Romans 6:12 Paul is again talking to Christians telling them that there are lusts that want to reign in their mortal body and they are to not let this happen or they become slaves to this sin. If Christians are free from sin, then why is it that they are warned not to present themselves as slaves to sin?

    You also said:

    God who loves us, made us alive in Christ, freeing us from the wrathful rule of the prince of the power of the air and bondage to our passions, and created us anew for good works. According to Eph.2:3, we “were” children of wrath – we were subject to the wrathful rule of the prince of the power of the air, but now Christ made us live.

    You say here that “children of wrath” and you connect this together with the “wrathful rule” of satan. What makes you think that children of wrath means subject to satan’s wrath?

    The Scriptures don’t talk about satan’s rule as a wrath, but rather that we were accursed children subject to God’s wrath and our own nature of hostility.

    Colossians 1:21 (NASB95)
    21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,

    2 Peter 2:14 (NASB)
    14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;

    I don’t see satan’s wrath being listed but I do see God’s wrath against those who live in unrepentant sin:

    Romans 2:5 (NASB)
    5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

    Lastly, you said:

    Otherwise, you end up with a God who is either overly concerned about defending His honor or a God who cannot forgive an offense without payment – a God without mercy and grace. Now, that does not correlate very well at all with the God I find in Scripture and it oversimplifies mankind’s problem and the measures necessary to save us. God paid His own penalty – that is forgiveness.

    By “or a God who cannot forgive an offense without payment” do you mean that He would be a God who requires us to pay for the offense or do you mean that God forgives without a sacrifice that pays for our sin? I am not exactly sure what you meant by this. Could you explain this a little more?

  79. To all,
    We have a group of people meeting in our home on Tuesday nights and we have been going through The Truth Project http://www.thetruthproject.org/ Tonight’s lesson was on the nature of man and the sin nature that is a battle within us. The host compares the worldview of the world that says that there is no evil within us and that we are basically good, showing that there are two worldviews that are diametrically opposed to each other. It has been a really good series so far and lesson 3 is top notch for showing how this nature of the “old man” within us is an important doctrine to understand to properly fight the battle between the “flesh” and the “Spirit”.

  80. Cheryl,

    Have you read Calvin on the issue of original sin? Particularly Book 2 chapter 1 of his Institutes?

  81. Mark,

    I appreciate your comments regarding Gen 3:15. Let me just say one final thing in case you missed it. I do agree with you that looking bcak at this verse in our position, we can see the prophetic nature of it. I’m just trying to look at the verse exegetically, that’s all- i think this is perhaps where we differ slightly.

    One cannot properly do exegesis without understanding the type of writing that you are exegeting. When we are looking to a prophesied future event, where God says what the serpent will do in the future and what the woman’s seed will do, one cannot determine the meaning without an understanding of the prophetic. You cannot just provide a meaning to the time when God said the words. God is defining the ultimate cosmic battle that ultimately draws in God Himself. If we take Genesis and Revelation we will see a prophesy and a fulfillment of the cosmic battle between good and evil. The ultimate victory of Christ using the very cross that satan used as a weapon against Him gives us the very nature of God for us to see.

    God’s nature is to take evil and turn it around on its head to turn it into something that is good. And on the flip side God takes what is meant for evil and He gives back to the evil doer a measure-for-measure payment back.

    Do you remember the account of Haman and Mordecai and Esther? Haman was asked by the king what he could do to bring honor to a person that deserved honor. Haman thought who could the king want to honor more than himself and he set up what he wanted as an honor. It was a public honor with royal robes and a public declaration of the king’s favor and honor. But then he had to do this for Mordecai whom he despised. This event caused him to hate Mordecai so much that he devised a plan to kill all of the Jews. He planned to take away Mordecai’s public honor by a public hanging and Haman built a huge gallows 75 feet high to publicly humiliate and kill Mordecai. But if you remember the story, God turned the evil around in his own face and Haman and his sons were the ones hung on those 75 feet high gallows.

    This is God’s way. He takes the evil that is planned and He turns the evil around into the bosom of the evil doer. How did God turn the evil of satan around?

    Is it not true that He brought satan’s destruction through the seed of the one whom satan deceived? Is it also not true that satan devised a plan to kill Jesus with a curse of death by killing him on the cross? Remember that any who is hung on a cross is cursed. And is it not also true that God took this plan and turned it on its head and used the cross to defeat satan?

    Colossians 2:15 (NET)
    2:15 Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

    There are multiple prophecies of Jesus birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection in the OT scriptures. Where is the prophesy in the OT of God’s turning around the evil plan of satan to kill Jesus on the cross and to use this plan to make a public spectacle of the enemy triumphing over him in it (the cross)? All of this was prophesied the very day that satan deceived the woman. And the type of death was prophesied (crushing of the heel on the cross) before crucifixion was even invented. God gets the glory for all of this.

    However, taking your exegesis, all God is saying is that the serpent is going to be hated by people and he will try to bite men on the heel and they will try to kill him because they don’t like each other. And so the curse on the serpent becomes the curse on man with each after the other bruising one another. Does this interpretation fit with God’s way of turning the evil around and bringing the evil planned back on the head of the evil doer? Does this interpretation show that God is able to bring good out of evil? Or does this interpretation fail in bringing God the full glory that His Son brings Him through the destruction of the serpent?

    Comparing the two interpretations shows a serious lack of meaning to your view and the fact that the cosmic battle of good and evil and between the serpent and the Messiah was understood long before Christ was born to crush the head of the serpent, showing to me a consistent pattern of God getting the glory. If you choose to reject that after all I have shown and stick to an interpretation of curses between snakes and men giving no glory to God, then I guess you have the right to your interpretation. But I don’t buy it at all.

    However i’m not sure i’m ready to accept that the nail through the heel is fulfillment of Gen 3:15. That’s a bit too allegorical for me. You may be right, but i’d hold to that one loosely.

    What I find so awesome is that the more evidence archeology finds, the more of a God-pattern we see. When I first saw the pictures of the heel being crushed by the nail several years ago I was jumping inside by the incredible marvel of God’s Word. It wasn’t a “bruising” of Christ’s heel at all and this never seemed to fit. When did this allegorical “bruising” happen to Christ? But when I could see that it was a literal “crushing” of the heel on the cross, it all came together for me. The more I read the Scriptures the more they come to life for me and the more I came to trust the God who can predict the serpent’s plan before it ever entered the serpent’s head. The serpent never got it or he would never have crushed the Messiah’s heel on the cross. If he had really known the character of God that evil is put back on the head of the evil doer, he would have understood that getting Christ on the cross was his death knell. Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled on the day that they nailed Christ’s heel onto the cross and satan never even knew it was coming.

  82. Mark,
    You said:

    Have you read Calvin on the issue of original sin? Particularly Book 2 chapter 1 of his Institutes?

    No, I haven’t. I have kept my research mainly to the Bible and lexicon studies along with historical sources. Actually I have had quite a few Calvinists quote Calvin to me with obvious contradiction to the Scriptures, that I haven’t even had a desire to read his material. However I do have the Calvin 108 volume collection (http://www.logos.com/products/details/5170) in my trusty collection ready for any study that I need to do for my DVD on the Sovereignty of God. However getting into that has to wait until I finish my book this summer.

  83. Mark,
    You said:

    However to come to the conclusion as you have done that Jesus was theoretically able to sin i must reject.

    Then you are saying that Jesus was not the last Adam? That He did not have free will like the first Adam?

    How can you say that Jesus being fully God could have sinned?

    Because Jesus wasn’t just fully God. He was also fully human. And in God’s creation humans were given free will. Adam was able to sin even though he didn’t have to sin. He had the choice to obey or disobey.

    The Bible says that Jesus learned obedience. Did He have an ability to learn and an ability to obey? Then He had to have an ability to disobey otherwise He wasn’t the last Adam, just like the first Adam in his humanity before sin entered the world.

    Are you saying he left his ‘godness’ in heaven during his time on earth. I find it very hard not to see your view as heretical.

    No I am not saying that. I am saying that He laid aside his right to use His abilities as God independently and for His own benefit. He lived here on the earth completely as a human relying on His Father to give Him the okay to use His God powers. That is why He can read people’s thoughts at one time and yet another time He didn’t know who touched Him. He was not operating on His own but on full dependence on the Father. He was living as a human, as the last Adam so that He could be an example to us. How could He be an example if He had no temptation to sin? The Father could not be tempted, but Jesus could be tempted. Why? Because the Father is not human. Only Jesus took on humanity so that He could be our Kinsman Redeemer.

    This is the mystery of the incarnation, how one man Jesus Christ, can be fully human tempted in everyway, yet at the same time fully God unable to sin.

    There are two kinds of mysteries. One kind of mystery is that which has been revealed and is available for us to get to know and understand. The other kind of mystery is hidden and is not given to us. What has been revealed about Jesus Christ is for us to know as it is a revealed mystery.

    Like i have said, it is a very difficult thing to understand yet explain. The fact that he had no father, therefore he had no sin nature, therefore Eve had no sin nature is too long a bow for me.

    Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. I would suggest that you get some shorter arrows and then you won’t have a problem with this bow 😉 Okay, silliness aside, my next post will deal with the issue of the last Adam compared to the first Adam. It might help a little. God is an Amazing God who has revealed all kinds of pictures for us in the Scriptures if we are willing to diligently search and find them. Nothing is haphazard to Him as all has a plan. When we can see God’s plan revealed in the Scriptures, it helps us to know His Character better as we can understand better how He controls the outcome without controlling the people.

    I may be offline for extended periods of time during this Easter season as we will be spending time with our daughter and her family. I will be back here as I am able but my time away will start from later this morning.

  84. Cheryl,

    May i suggest that you at least read Calvin, because it is very clear when you make sweeping statements about ‘calvinist’ or ‘calvinism’ that what you are understanding is not actually what he taught.

    For example you gave the indication that Calvin taught that we are punished for Adam’s sin, because of perhaps what someone may have said.

    But if you read the reference i gave you, maybe it will help you actually understand the reformed position on original sin. Calvin did teach that every single person is tainted with a sinful nature from birth- that everypart of us is infested by sin. But he also clearly taught that each man is responsible for his own sins, not another’s.

    I just think if you at least read Calvin, then you will be in a far better position to judge on ‘Calvinism’ regarding original sin.

    More later on the incarnation aswell.
    Have a good break

  85. Mark,
    The people that are helping me in the Calvinist area are apologists for Calvinism. I was told that the Calvinist position is that we are “sinners” from the moment of conception because of Adam’s sin. This is far different than having a “sin nature”.

    I haven’t had a chance to see my grandkids yet as we arrived too late but the next few days should be wonderful. I will pop in here as I can.

  86. Re Cheryl #63 & #76

    1) When I argued that humankind also has the ability to fulfill the law of Christ, I was thinking in terms of Galatians 6:2.

    Restoring, helping, and doing good to one another does indeed fulfill the law of Christ, whether it is done by Gentiles outside the house of Israel, or done by the Jews within.

    If man’s default condition can only be evil by nature, how can he by nature (Romans 2:14) do the things contained in the law as Paul claims?

    I am simply affirming that humans are born with a spark of the divine (made in God’s image) and the free will to exercise that spark.

    caveat: This in no way says, nor does it imply that I can effect my own resurrection (apart from Christ) into a brand-new corporeal (flesh) body (Job 19:25-27) that does not wear out and die (Revelation 21:1-6). Only Jesus can do that for me.

    2) I do NOT agree for a moment with the world view of modern humanism (Rogers et. al.).

    But I do agree with the classical humanism of Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) as touching his call for moderation and tolerance in stark contrast to the dogmatism of the reformers (Luther & Calvin).

    caveat: The humanism of Erasmus is NOT the same as the secular humanism of today.

    3) I do not deny that we all wage an inner war between choosing to do good things or opting to continue in the pursuit of wickedness.

    And yes the heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); no contest, but the Bible also speaks of a merry heart and a clean heart.

    In context, Jeremiah 17 is about the sin, idolotry, and ill-gotten wealth of Judah, not the default condition of the human heart, because in verse 10, God says that he searches the heart to see what its real motive is and what the payout will be.

    4) I believe that we have inherited physical death from Adam in conjunction with the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17)

    Genesis 4:7 also tells me that I have been given the ability to do the right thing and slam the door in sin’s face.

    Unless this set-up has somehow been changed or abrogated in the remainder of scripture, I am having a difficult time finding an inherited trait that forces me to open the door, make nice with sin, and let it have its way with me.

  87. Greg,
    Thanks for taking the time to flesh out your view.

    1) When I argued that humankind also has the ability to fulfill the law of Christ, I was thinking in terms of Galatians 6:2.

    Restoring, helping, and doing good to one another does indeed fulfill the law of Christ, whether it is done by Gentiles outside the house of Israel, or done by the Jews within.

    If man’s default condition can only be evil by nature, how can he by nature (Romans 2:14) do the things contained in the law as Paul claims?

    I don’t believe that man’s default condition is only “evil by nature”. The Bible says in several places that we can do good. The gentiles can do good and even the Pharisees who were against Jesus could do good to their own children. The issue for Paul was not whether we can do good things but if the good that we can do is the basis of a “work” that will save us. None of us is sinless so the good that we do doesn’t create a “good” person who has no need for the Savior. So we both agree mankind is capable of doing good things.

    I am simply affirming that humans are born with a spark of the divine (made in God’s image) and the free will to exercise that spark.

    caveat: This in no way says, nor does it imply that I can effect my own resurrection (apart from Christ) into a brand-new corporeal (flesh) body (Job 19:25-27) that does not wear out and die (Revelation 21:1-6). Only Jesus can do that for me.

    I can also agree that we are capable of doing good by our own free will, however we do not have the ability to live a sinless life without the Holy Spirit’s power for our will has been tainted by the fall. Our salvation also is not just a new body and the resurrection but a restored relationship with God that has been paid for by the Lord Jesus. Only Jesus can do that for us too, right?

    Romans 7:18 (NASB)
    18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

    But I do agree with the classical humanism of Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) as touching his call for moderation and tolerance in stark contrast to the dogmatism of the reformers (Luther & Calvin).

    caveat: The humanism of Erasmus is NOT the same as the secular humanism of today.

    I believe that the truth is in the middle so that humanity’s free will is not completely free nor is it completely in bondage. If human will was completely free then we wouldn’t struggle with sin as Paul shared his struggle in the book of Romans. And if human will was completely in bondage then it would make no sense for Jesus to say that even the evil Pharisees could do good things.

    Also no matter how many good things we can do should we desire to do them, those good works can never wash away our sin for just one sin against God’s law makes us a law breaker.

    James 2:10 (NASB)
    10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

    You also said:

    3) I do not deny that we all wage an inner war between choosing to do good things or opting to continue in the pursuit of wickedness.

    And yes the heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); no contest, but the Bible also speaks of a merry heart and a clean heart.

    But would you also agree with me that God is the one who must clean our hearts since we are incapable of making ourselves pure?

    Proverbs 20:9 (NASB)
    9 Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart,
    I am pure from my sin”?

    What I see in the Scriptures is that the one who trusts in God is considered righteous. And that one who is considered righteous by God is able to consistently live by faith in his/her actions.

    4) I believe that we have inherited physical death from Adam in conjunction with the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17)

    Genesis 4:7 also tells me that I have been given the ability to do the right thing and slam the door in sin’s face.

    Unless this set-up has somehow been changed or abrogated in the remainder of scripture, I am having a difficult time finding an inherited trait that forces me to open the door, make nice with sin, and let it have its way with me.

    The inherited trait does not force us into letting sin have its way with us. Rather the trait causes us to desire sin naturally while God has also created us in His image allowing us the ability to refuse sin should we so desire. So just as Paul says that the gentiles obeyed the law even though they had not been given the law (just as we all have a God-given conscience) none of the gentiles kept God’s law perfectly.

    The issue with Cain is two-fold. First of all he did not give his sacrifice to God by faith thus only Abel’s offering is said to have been by faith:

    Hebrews 11:4 (NET)
    11:4 By faith Abel offered God a greater sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith he was commended as righteous, because God commended him for his offerings. And through his faith he still speaks, though he is dead.

    After Cain did not come to God by faith, he had his sacrifice rejected by God. It is interesting that Cain is told that he must master sin after he had already sinned by refusing to come to God in faith and sinned by being angry without cause.

    The way I see this is that the sin nature made it easy for Cain to sin by being angry without cause, but just because it was natural for him to feel hatred doesn’t mean that this sin had to have complete control of him. While Cain had the mandate to master the hatred within him so that it would not become murder, the fact that he had an internal hatred to begin with shows the sin nature.

    So the difference is that the sin nature causes us to have the internal inclination towards sin yet we are still able to make choices regarding what we will do with our sinful feelings. If we give in to the feelings that are already within, sin becomes our master and it becomes harder to fight just as practiced sin makes us a slave to sin.

    Greg, I am wondering if you can see the difference between what is within naturally and our actual acting out of the sinful thoughts? It seems to me that the cause of confusion is mixing the two up. Your answer didn’t deal with inner sin nor did you deal with Cain’s already sinful anger that had already happened. If you are willing to distinguish between the two (one sin that had not yet happened at the time God talked to Cain and one sin that had already been committed within him) that would be great.

  88. Our salvation also is not just a new body and the resurrection but a restored relationship with God that has been paid for by the Lord Jesus. Only Jesus can do that for us too, right?

    Cheryl, can you expound for me a little on the first statment in regards to the fall of Genesis. And on your second statement I agree with completely. Thank you.

  89. Romans 7:18 (NASB)
    18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

    Good verse that I need to keep in mind.

  90. Cheryl,

    I can’t see how your view is any different to Greg’s really. You say we are born with a sinful nature, yet you say that we have the ability to not sin. For example you said.

    “So the difference is that the sin nature causes us to have the internal inclination towards sin yet we are still able to make choices regarding what we will do with our sinful feelings. If we give in to the feelings that are already within, sin becomes our master and it becomes harder to fight just as practiced sin makes us a slave to sin.”

    What makes us able to make those choices? Free-will? IF you say free will then your view is identitical to Greg’s since he also believes that we have the ability to do good or keep God’s requirements by our own free-will.

    Problem is this contradicts with scripture. Eph 2 says we are dead in sin. Romans 3 outlines the nature of sin. No-one seeks God, nor does any do good. John 3 says that we need to be re-born before we can come to God. Many old testament prophecies of the new covenant talk of a ‘new heart’ that is needed becasue our heart is corrupt.

    Point is- until the Spirit gives us a new heart and opens our eyes we will never be able to act in faith in Christ. And Romans 14 says everything not done in faith is sin. So even those ‘good’ works are sin since they are not done in faith. Our free-will is corrupt since the fall. We will always choose sin over God, unless the Spirit intervenes in our lives.

    If faith is not itself a gift, can you explain therefore how then we are not adding to our salvation? EVen if God does 99% and we do the last 1% it is still works based salvation. THis is what Augustine and the reformers have been fighting against throughout all of Church history, yet people still wish to promote this false teaching.

  91. Pinklight,

    >Our salvation also is not just a new body and the resurrection but a restored relationship with God that has been paid for by the Lord Jesus. <

    Cheryl, can you expound for me a little on the first statment in regards to the fall of Genesis.

    When the fall happened man became mortal and subject to decay. The final part of our salvation is getting a new body not subject to death or decay.

    Romans 8:23 (NASB)
    23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

  92. Mark,

    I can’t see how your view is any different to Greg’s really. You say we are born with a sinful nature, yet you say that we have the ability to not sin.

    Since Greg doesn’t believe that we have an “old man” nature and I believe that we do, how is it that our view is not different? Also I didn’t say that we have the ability not to sin at all so that we are sinless. I did say that we have the ability to make choices when we are tempted, whether we will sin or not. For example many married men have had temptations to commit adultery but not all have committed adultery. The fact that many have not sinned in this way even if they are unbelievers shows that they had a choice to stay away from this sin.

    What makes us able to make those choices? Free-will? IF you say free will then your view is identitical to Greg’s since he also believes that we have the ability to do good or keep God’s requirements by our own free-will.

    God has given us the power to make choices. Otherwise it would be deceitful for God to tell us to “choose you this day…” if we had not power of choice. But at the same time we do not have the ability to keep the requirements of the law otherwise we wouldn’t need a Savior.

    Problem is this contradicts with scripture. Eph 2 says we are dead in sin.

    Eph 2:”dead people” can respond to God. They can also sin.

    Romans 3 outlines the nature of sin. No-one seeks God, nor does any do good.

    Romans 3:11 is a quote from Psalms 14:1-3 and the context about those who do not seek God, is those who say there is no God.

    Psalm 14:1–3 (NASB)
    1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
    There is no one who does good.
    2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
    To see if there are any who understand,
    Who seek after God.
    3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
    There is no one who does good, not even one.

    Yet throughout the Scripture we find those who seek and fear God. Deut. 4:29 is a prophetic word about those who will seek God.

    Deuteronomy 4:29 (NASB)
    29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

    2 Chronicles 15:4 (NET)
    15:4 Because of their distress, they turned back to the LORD God of Israel. They sought him and he responded to them.

    You said:

    John 3 says that we need to be re-born before we can come to God.

    John 3 doesn’t say this at all. It says that unless we are born again we cannot see the kingdom of God. It doesn’t say that we can’t come to God.

    Many old testament prophecies of the new covenant talk of a ‘new heart’ that is needed becasue our heart is corrupt.

    We are told to circumcise our hearts. We do this through repentance as we come to God and as we believe Him, He gives us a new heart.

    Point is- until the Spirit gives us a new heart and opens our eyes we will never be able to act in faith in Christ.

    Faith in God and receiving Jesus comes before we become children of God.

    John 1:12 (NASB95)
    12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

    The Bible never says that we are again first and then we are able to have faith.

    And Romans 14 says everything not done in faith is sin. So even those ‘good’ works are sin since they are not done in faith.

    Romans 14 is talking about believers not unbelievers. The context is eating something that you believe to be sinful. It is going against our conscience. The chapter has nothing to do with unregenerate men doing good works.

    Romans 14:22–23 (NASB)
    22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
    23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

    You said:

    Our free-will is corrupt since the fall. We will always choose sin over God, unless the Spirit intervenes in our lives.

    As I said before, our free-will is not completely free. However God has chosen to give us the freedom to seek God as He requires this from all of us.

    If faith is not itself a gift, can you explain therefore how then we are not adding to our salvation?

    Salvation is the gift of God and the vehicle is by grace through faith. The faith that is listed as God’s gift is not given to all of the saved just as not all have the same gifts.

    EVen if God does 99% and we do the last 1% it is still works based salvation.

    If we “work” even 1% for our salvation then it is a works based salvation. However faith is not a work.

    Galatians 2:16 (NASB)
    16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

    Romans 4:2–3 (NASB)
    2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
    3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

    THis is what Augustine and the reformers have been fighting against throughout all of Church history, yet people still wish to promote this false teaching.

    Augustine the Father of Catholicism and any brother who separates from their brothers in Christ by calling their faith a work is harming the body of Christ for we are not to separate from our brothers in the faith or to call their faith a heresy merely because they are not Calvinists.

  93. Cheryl,

    I understand that you believe in a sin nature from Adam and Greg does not, but the logical conclusion of what you are saying leads to the same path. You say we have the ability as unregenerate people to come to God. You say that we have the ability as unregenerate people to not sin. If this is true, then theoretically we could be sinless. If I am able to avoid sinful behaviour because of my free-will, this should apply to all sin, therefore theoretically I could avoid sin even though I have a sin nature. This then leads to the problem you pointed out with Greg that we then no longer need a saviour. I can’t see how you can worm your way out of that one. Either we will by nature always sin or we won’t, and we can keep God’s commandments. The view you are presenting doesn’t make sense.

    You used the example of an adulterer. Problem is Jesus up’d the anti. Anyone who looks lustfully is committing adultery. Are you willing to say that we can fulfil this requirement by ourselves, without the intervening of the Holy Spirit.

    I agree that God gave us the abililty to make choices. God calls on us to follow him. The problem is that after the fall our nature was corrupted by sin. We by nature reject God by sinning from the moment we are born. I’m sure you can see Cheryl after having children, that we as parents have to teach our children how to be good. They will by nature be evil. You don’t teach a toddler how to lie, he/she will do it automatically. Thus our ‘free-will’ is totally corrupted. We will always choose sin over God In our natures. This is why we need a saviour, we can’t do it by ourselves.

    I would like to know how you think that ‘dead people’ can respond to God. According to the passage we were all dead people. We were all people under wrath- every single person. BUT, verse 4 says it was GOD who made us alive, not us. What you have said is completely contradictory to Eph 2, and it strips the glory from God. Only God can make us alive, we have no ability by ourselves.
    It is also interesting that you think the ‘faith’ in Eph 2 is not a gift for every believer. Then I guess you would also like to be consistent and say that the salvation that is by grace through faith (which is what the verse is about) is not for every Christian. You can’t have it both ways Cheryl. I’m afraid you have dug yourself into a hole with this one.

    Romans 3 is a quote from the psalms that is true. But to come to the conclusion that you have is misguided. We should ask the question- how is Paul using it here? What is the context? The verses before the quote give the answer.
    Rom 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,…

    It doesn’t seem like Paul is talking only about those who do not seek God does it Cheryl? No, Paul clearly states that all are like this, Jew and Gentile, even himself. I’m afraid Paul’s intention here, (noting that the first 3 chapters of Romans are dealing with everyone, Jew and Gentile) is that he is using this quote to support his view that every single person is like this. No one seeks God by themselves as dead in sin. I can’t understand why you would want to water our sinful nature down when the bible is so graphic about it. You can’t just dismiss the context of Romans 3 and Paul’s intention of using this quote to support his argument, as irrelevant and only rely on the Old Testament context. Paul is clearly using it here with another purpose.

    Your other old testament quotes do nothing to support your view of unregenerate man seeking God. The first one is a dubious translation, the NIV makes is a hypothetical by using ‘if’, that is “But if from there you seek the Lord”,
    In the 2 Chronicles verse, you forgot to mention the verse before which show God intervening through the Prophet Azariah. So the same principle applies, God has to work first before we can respond.
    Another point to note is that the Bible never talks about our own free-will, as if we can accept God by ourselves especially in the verses you quoted. These passages are silent on why the people turned to God, but we have other clear passage which show us why people do turn, namely, because God intervenes. Does Jesus not say that no-one can come to the Father unless the Father draws him? We are better understanding the silent passages from the clear passages, not assuming free-will into them.

    John 3- Cheryl, what is the kingdom of God, if not a relationship with him? What does Jesus mean by being born again? I would like to know your opinion? When are we born of the Spirit (verse 5)? You must believe that the Spirit of God does not enter our life until we respond in faith right?

    So if we can circumcise our own heart by our own repentance, why did we need the new covenant. Didn’t at least some of the Jews repent Cheryl? I think you are greatly misinformed. The whole purpose of the new covenant was that God would give us a new heart (Jer 31:31). The Jews broke God’s covenant because they had a heart of stone. In the New Covenant God promises to give us a new heart by his spirit internally. He promises to right his laws on our hearts through the Spirit. This is of such great importance. Your view makes the new covenant un-necessary. In our own strength we are nothing and can do nothing to save ourselves. Again I must protest that you are stealing the glory from God in HIS work. It is not our own doing.

    By the way Cheryl, repentance is also a gift of God not our own strength
    2Ti 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
    Who grants repentance here Cheryl, clearly God. Repentance and faith are gifts of God to his sheep, so that no-one can boast.

    You said “Faith in God and receiving Jesus comes before we become children of God.”
    Really Cheryl, I don’t think Romans 8 says this
    Rom 8:29 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.
    Rom 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    We were predestined to be conformed to Jesus image before we are justified according to these verses. And since faith is the requirement for justification we must conclude that no-where does faith precede God’s ordained plan. We were God’s children CHOSEN before the world was created according to Eph 1:4. If only you realised Cheryl, that you were God’s chosen child before you even knew about Him.
    It is true that John 1 says we become God’s child after we trust in Jesus. I believe that, but I also believe that bible clearly teaches that this was God’s plan for my life before the world was even created.

    You said “The Bible never says that we are again first and then we are able to have faith.”

    I’m interested to know how you pray for your unsaved friends Cheryl. Do you pray for God to open their eyes or to soften their hearts? Or do you not even ask God to help and just believe that their own free-will is good enough? I sure hope you do the former and not the latter! You see everyone believes in the sovereignty of God when they pray and ask God to intervene, even if you deny it when you speak to me. Being ‘born-again’ is God opening their eyes to the message of the cross. We in sin are dead people according to Eph 2 therefore we need to be re-born and made alive, and like i said ealier, EPh 2 tells us that it is God who makes us alive not oursleves. Being born again definitely comes before faith. It is the work of the spirit in unregenerate man so that he can accept the message of salvation.

    Roman 14- I agree with the context, but the verse still says what it says. Everything not done in faith is sin, whether you’re a believer or unbeliever. The reason being that everything is to be done for the glory of God. IF it is not done in faith in God how can it give glory to God, it simply can’t. I can’t see why you would deny this biblical verse. Do you believe that you can do things that are not in faith in Christ and it not be sin?

    You said “As I said before, our free-will is not completely free. However God has chosen to give us the freedom to seek God as He requires this from all of us.”

    Where does it say this in the bible? God demands that we follow him and no other, but I haven’t seen anywhere where the bible says we have the ‘freedom to seek God’. Aren’t we as fallen people living in the darkness, suppressing the truth, until God opens our eyes? Please show me verses talking about our freedom to seek God and our free-will in doing this?

    “If we “work” even 1% for our salvation then it is a works based salvation. However faith is not a work.”

    I agree that faith is not a work, it is because it is a gift of God so that none can boast. If faith is something we do without God, then it is a work of ours because it doesn’t stem from God, therefore you have works based salvation. This is the problem with your view. You can’t skirt around the issue. You need to do better at convincing me that you are not promoting a works based salvation. Like I said Pelagianism (Augustine) and semi-pelagianism (reformers) were both condemned. How is your view not semi-pelagianism Cheryl? Unless we accept that every single piece of our salvation is from God, it will always be works based. That is simple truth.
    I do pray that God will reveal that to you, in the same way he did to me a few years ago. It totally changed my understanding of the grace of God. He is so merciful.

  94. By the way let me be clear that i do not think that non-calvinists are not Christians. I myself was not always convinced of reformed theology but i would never have said i wasn’t saved. Nor do i think that others are not saved.
    I simply believe that as i have grown in my walk we God he has been gracious to open my eyes to new hard truths of the bible even when they seem unfair.

    I will however always protest when i think the gospel is at stake, and i believe it is at stake when we deny that faith is a gift of God for all believers. A works based salvation is contrary to scripture and i know Cheryl agrees. This is a false teaching on justification by faith and must be said so.

    We must be willing to always seek to honour God and not ourselves and to always be faithful to scripture even when it seems hard. Hope this helps you understand my stance.

  95. Mark,
    You said:

    I understand that you believe in a sin nature from Adam and Greg does not, but the logical conclusion of what you are saying leads to the same path. You say we have the ability as unregenerate people to come to God.

    Hold on there, back up that boat! I didn’t say that unregenerate people have the ability to come to God. I said that unregenerate people can seek God. These are two completely different things.

    God cannot be found unless He allows Himself to be found. God has given the promise that He will be found under several circumstances. One circumstance is that the person seeks for God with their whole heart.

    Deuteronomy 4:29 (NASB)
    29 “…you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

    Seeking God and “coming to God” are not the same thing.

    You have an interesting misunderstanding of my position as you said:

    You say that we have the ability as unregenerate people to not sin. If this is true, then theoretically we could be sinless.

    I didn’t say that unregenerate people have the “ability” to not sin. It is impossible for a person with a sin nature to never commit one sin. That is one of the reasons why Jesus had to be born without a sin nature.

    What I did say was that unregenerate people have the ability to choose to not follow the temptation to sin. While the “old man” nature within us propels us into various levels of sinful behavior, this nature cannot force us to sin. We are left with the choice, but our “free will” is not completely free since the “old man” naturally tends toward rebellion. A person can fight the “old man” but never master this “old man nature” without the help of the Holy Spirit and even then we are fighting a battle that will never be won perfectly until the “old man” within this mortal body is put to death and we take on our new bodies with our perfect new nature made in the image of Christ.

    If I am able to avoid sinful behaviour because of my free-will, this should apply to all sin, therefore theoretically I could avoid sin even though I have a sin nature.

    Nope. It is not even possible. The “old man nature” is not an after thought of God’s but part of His Sovereign plan to make us all alike in need of Him.

    Romans 11:32 (NASB)
    32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

    Because all have one nature (the old man nature given to us through Adam) all are shut up in disobedience through our human nature. God did this by making sure that there was not even one single offspring of Adam that was conceived before the fall. All of us are shut up together in this nature for the purpose of making us all equally in need of a Savior and all equally in need of God’s mercy.

    This then leads to the problem you pointed out with Greg that we then no longer need a saviour. I can’t see how you can worm your way out of that one.

    I don’t need to worm my way out of anything since I affirm the Scriptures. Our “old man” nature has made sure that all of us are in the same hot water. All of us need a Savior and my view can never be twisted to say that we can be sinless and work our way to Heaven.

    Either we will by nature always sin or we won’t, and we can keep God’s commandments. The view you are presenting doesn’t make sense.

    Actually it is your view that doesn’t make sense. While I am saying that it is impossible for a person with a sin nature (old man nature) to stay sinless, it seems to me that you are saying that it is impossible for a person with a sin nature to fight a temptation. If that were true then there would be no faithful marriages and no truth could possibly be told by any unregenerate person. But this is obviously not true. is it?

    You used the example of an adulterer. Problem is Jesus up’d the anti. Anyone who looks lustfully is committing adultery. Are you willing to say that we can fulfil this requirement by ourselves, without the intervening of the Holy Spirit.

    What I am saying is that no unregenerate person is forced to commit adultery because of his/her sin nature. And some have even dealt successfully with lust. After all it helps to be an unregenerate person who is a eunuch 😉 However all of us are bound up in this common nature that brings rebellion out in us in one area or another (or in all areas!) We all need a Savior.

    I agree that God gave us the abililty to make choices. God calls on us to follow him. The problem is that after the fall our nature was corrupted by sin. We by nature reject God by sinning from the moment we are born.

    Nah. That is overstating your case. You may have sinned the first day you are born, but most babies are unable to break the 10 commandments until a little later.

    I’m sure you can see Cheryl after having children, that we as parents have to teach our children how to be good. They will by nature be evil.

    Nah again. Jesus said that even those who are by nature evil people, can also by nature do good things. Young children can just as easily reach out to comfort another child as they can smack the nonsense out of an irritating sibling. No one has to teach them how to comfort a hurting child or how to smack down a nuisance. Even babies can do good out of their human nature as they still have enough of the God-image within them to do good things. That image has not been destroyed.

    You don’t teach a toddler how to lie, he/she will do it automatically.

    Most toddlers will naturally lie, but some will not sin as easily in this area. Their weakness may be in another area even though they will all be bound under sin.

    Thus our ‘free-will’ is totally corrupted.

    If this was true, then Jesus did not tell us the truth when he said that evil people can do good. And they can do this good freely of their own free-will without coercion

    We will always choose sin over God In our natures. This is why we need a saviour, we can’t do it by ourselves.

    We don’t need a Savior “because we always choose sin over God”. We need a Savior because we are all sinners and without the price that Jesus paid on our behalf, we would be lost in our sin and alienated from God.

    I am having trouble with my internet tonight so I am going to see if these comments go through and I will get to the rest as the connection allows me to.

  96. “God cannot be found unless He allows Himself to be found. God has given the promise that He will be found under several circumstances. One circumstance is that the person seeks for God with their whole heart.”

    How can an ungenerate person seek God with their whole heart when their heart is corrupt? I don’t think they can. Genesis 6:5 is very clear on the condition of the human heart.
    Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Our heart by nature is corrupt, it is stone. This is the importance of the new covenant. It is God who gives us a new heart according to Jeremiah. We need a new heart to seek after God. Our new heart isn’t given to us after we seek God. The human heart is evil and does not seek God. The spiritual heart on the otherhand will. That is why we need to be re-born (a new heart) before we can accept the message of salvation. That is why we need to be born again BEFORE we can see the kingdom of God
    Joh 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    Seeing the kingdom is to be saved, therefore being born again is before we are saved, before faith not after. Jesus again repeats himself that we CANNOT enter the kingdom of God (be saved) unless we are born of the Spirit and water.
    Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    Your fighting against the Bible by stating that we can seek God when our heart is stone and not re-born. Being born again is something that happens before faith not after. The bible is clear on that. PLease show verses stating otherwise.

  97. By the way can you differentiate between ‘seeking God’ and ‘coming to God since you seem to make that an important distinction.

  98. Hey Mark,
    Can’t keep up with you, man. We just got back from our Easter time out and my head is pounding besides the internet problems.

    Let’s see what I can do before I head off to bed.

    How can an ungenerate person seek God with their whole heart when their heart is corrupt? I don’t think they can. Genesis 6:5 is very clear on the condition of the human heart.
    Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    God has graciously given us both the ability and the mandate to seek Him. While you gave Genesis 6:5 as proof that all men had only evil in their heart continually, that verse is not without exception.

    Genesis 6:9 (NASB)
    9 These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

    Genesis 7:1 (NASB)
    1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.

    Noah and Job and many others were seen as “righteous” and not ones with an “evil heart”. We cannot take a generality and make it a rule without exception. That isn’t good Biblical exegesis.

    Our heart by nature is corrupt, it is stone. This is the importance of the new covenant. It is God who gives us a new heart according to Jeremiah. We need a new heart to seek after God.

    Um, where does the Bible say that we need a new heart in order to seek after God?

    Our new heart isn’t given to us after we seek God.

    Oh yeah? In Deut. 10:16 God commands the people to circumcise their hearts before He does His work of circumcision that produces a new heart.

    Deuteronomy 10:16 (NASB)
    16 “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

    Deuteronomy 30:6 (NASB95)
    6 “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.

    This circumcision by God is the removal of the foreskin of sin on our hearts and it is necessary for us to love God with all of our hearts and live in His love. God fulfills the complete act of what man is required to start. Man is required to repent and to circumcise his own heart through a turning away from evil and a turning toward God, while God does the miracle of a brand new heart. There is nothing at all in the Scriptures that I have seen that says God must give us a new heart before we can seek Him.

    The human heart is evil and does not seek God.

    I have already dealt with this in context. It is the fool who says there is no God who does not seek God. Those who do seek God and who fear God are called righteous. They are never called evil.

    The spiritual heart on the otherhand will. That is why we need to be re-born (a new heart) before we can accept the message of salvation.

    That is a human tradition and human reasoning but it is not Scriptural. Where does the Bible say that we have to be born again before we can accept the message of salvation? Where does the Bible say that Cornelius was born again before he heard the gospel?

    That is why we need to be born again BEFORE we can see the kingdom of God…Jesus again repeats himself that we CANNOT enter the kingdom of God (be saved) unless we are born of the Spirit and water.

    Mark, Mark, Mark, how long will you change the Scriptures? “entering” the kingdom of God is not being born again “be saved”. One is born again a long time before one enters the kingdom of God and into eternity. It is a fact that one cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God without being born again, but to equate being born again with “entering the kingdom of God” is mashing the Word of God.

    Acts 14:22 (NASB95)
    22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

    The disciples did not claim to have “entered” the kingdom of God. It was something that was future to them and not the same thing as their being born again.

    Your fighting against the Bible by stating that we can seek God when our heart is stone and not re-born.

    My friend, it appears that you are the one who is in need of understanding the Scriptures. First of all, not every heart is stone. Those who harden their hearts against God’s call will eventually turn their heart to stone, but not all harden their hearts. Many will respond with gladness to His call.

    Secondly God commands the unregenerate to seek Him.

    Isaiah 55:6–7 (NASB)
    6 Seek the LORD while He may be found;
    Call upon Him while He is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake his way
    And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    And let him return to the LORD,
    And He will have compassion on him,
    And to our God,
    For He will abundantly pardon.

    It would be a cruel act for God to command men everywhere to seek Him if He was the One deliberately stopping them from seeking Him.

    Our God is a gracious God, filled with loving kindness and abounding in mercy.

    I will get to the other questions/comments next day, God willing.

  99. Oh, I forgot to get to this one.

    Being born again is something that happens before faith not after. The bible is clear on that. PLease show verses stating otherwise.

    You first. Please show me where born again happens before faith and once you have shown me the supporting verse(s) we can discuss your challenge.

    I will be waiting with baited breath 😉

  100. “By the way let me be clear that i do not think that non-calvinists are not Christians. I myself was not always convinced of reformed theology but i would never have said i wasn’t saved. Nor do i think that others are not saved.”
    Mark,
    Many of your comments do not lend themselves to that impression. Just sayin’…

    “Either we will by nature always sin or we won’t, and we can keep God’s commandments. The view you are presenting doesn’t make sense.”

    If this was true, then it would be life threatening to walk down the street, shop for food, picnic in the park or do any other normal task.

  101. “Our God is a gracious God, filled with loving kindness and abounding in mercy.”

    I really appreciate the concept of ‘hesed’ demonstrated throughout the OT.

  102. Mark,
    You said:

    I would like to know how you think that ‘dead people’ can respond to God.

    “Dead” is a metaphor. We know that “dead” people can bury the dead. They can eat, drink, be merry and they can respond to God. Cornelius was not born again when he responded to God’s call to hear Peter. He was also not born again when he was said to “fear God” and as a “devout” man he “prayed to God continually”.

    Acts 10:1–2 (NASB)
    1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,
    2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

    We were all people under wrath- every single person. BUT, verse 4 says it was GOD who made us alive, not us.

    Of course. Who is teaching that we ourselves can accomplish the miracle of re-birth? Who is teaching that we make ourselves alive? It isn’t me.

    What you have said is completely contradictory to Eph 2, and it strips the glory from God. Only God can make us alive, we have no ability by ourselves.

    This seems to be a consistent problem with Calvinists. They misunderstand what non-Calvinists believe. To say that I believe that we have the ability to accomplish the miraculous work or being born again of our own effort is a serious misrepresentation that is common amongst Calvinists. My question – why do you do that?

    It is also interesting that you think the ‘faith’ in Eph 2 is not a gift for every believer. Then I guess you would also like to be consistent and say that the salvation that is by grace through faith (which is what the verse is about) is not for every Christian.

    Hold on here and back this truck up again. You are messing with the text again and making the gift in this passage as a noun instead of a action verb.

    Ephesians 2:8–9 (NASB)
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
    9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    The “gift” is salvation which is completely a work of God. It is a verb that is tied to verse 9 “not as a result of works”. The Greek term for “works” is:

    work
    ? that which displays itself in activity of any kind, deed, action
    ? in contrast to rest Hb 4:3, 4 (Gen 2:2), 10. In contrast to word: freq. used to describe people of exceptional merit, esp. benefactors
    Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (pg 390).

    The verb of God’s action in verse 8 (salvation) is contrasted with the “works” of man in verse 9 so that the action of salvation is “not of” yourselves and the action of salvation is not a result of (or out from) our works so that you can boast of what? So that no one can boast of working for a right standing with God. It alone (the work of God is the verb “salvation”) comes by grace (the cause of the work) through faith (the vehicle through which the action is delivered). There is no doubt at all that by the wording that “salvation” is the accomplishment that is done for us and given as a gift. See Wuest’s fine work here:

    (2:8–10) The definite article appears before the word “grace” here, pointing the reader back to the same statement in verse 5, and informing him that the writer is to elaborate upon this previously mentioned statement. The reader of this exposition is urged to go back to the exegesis of verse 5 and refresh his memory as to the total meaning of Paul’s statement, “by grace are ye saved.”
    The words, “through faith” speak of the instrument or means whereby the sinner avails himself of this salvation which God offers him in pure grace. Expositors says: “Paul never says ‘through the faith,’ as if the faith were the ground or procuring cause of the salvation.” Alford says: “It (the salvation) has been effected by grace and apprehended by faith.” The word “that” is touto (?????), “this,” a demonstrative pronoun in the neuter gender. The Greek word “faith” is feminine in gender and therefore touto (?????) could not refer to “faith.” It refers to the general idea of salvation in the immediate context. The translation reads, “and this not out from you as a source, of God (it is) the gift.” That is, salvation is a gift of God. It does not find its source in man. Furthermore, this salvation is not “out of a source of works.” This explains salvation by grace. It is not produced by man nor earned by him. It is a gift from God with no strings tied to it.
    Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Eph 2:7–8).

    Mark, you said:

    You can’t have it both ways Cheryl. I’m afraid you have dug yourself into a hole with this one.

    I find it amazing that Calvinists see Christian brothers and sisters in holes where no such holes exist. I am on solid grounds exegetically and the “gift” is not “faith” but the action verb “salvation” of which action only God can be source of.

    Romans 3 is a quote from the psalms that is true. But to come to the conclusion that you have is misguided. We should ask the question- how is Paul using it here? What is the context? The verses before the quote give the answer.
    Rom 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,…

    The translation of the verse that you quoted does not give the full flavor of the Greek. It is an us vs them where we are righteous but all of them (Jews and Greeks) and not righteous. All of them are unrighteous (but believers are called righteous in the Scriptures) all of them do not understand (but we have been given understanding from God) none of them seeks for God (but those who accept God’s Word will seek for Him), all of them are deceivers (but Christians are not deceivers even though we are called this – 2 Cor. 6:8), none of them does good, but those who trust in God will do good, they are filled with cursing and bitterness, and destruction is in their path (but those who know their God will do exploits and they are on the path or righteousness), and they have not known peace (but we know peace as we have peace with God). This is not talking about all those are unregenerate as many have come to fear God and to seek for Him just as He commanded. But the fool who says there is no God is just like this. He curses and has bitterness in his heart because he doesn’t believe that there is anyone to be held accountable to.

    No, Paul is not making the quote from the Psalms to say something that is the complete opposite of the context of atheist fools who have no peace, goodness, or righteousness. Rather Paul is comparing both Jewish and Gentile fools who do not fear God, to us who do fear God and who seek Him and find Him.

    It doesn’t seem like Paul is talking only about those who do not seek God does it Cheryl? No, Paul clearly states that all are like this, Jew and Gentile, even himself.

    Yes, Paul is talking about exactly what the writer of the Psalms was talking about. He was talking about the fools who refuse to obey God and who even deny His existence. They neither seek Him nor seek His righteousness. And no, not all are like this. Abraham was not like this, Noah was not like all the others and neither was Job. Even God’s own testimony is that Job was not like so many others.

    Job 1:8 (NASB)
    8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

    You said:

    I’m afraid Paul’s intention here, (noting that the first 3 chapters of Romans are dealing with everyone, Jew and Gentile) is that he is using this quote to support his view that every single person is like this.

    If every single person is like this, then God lied because God said that Job is not like that. Are you really going to make God into a liar or will you admit that Paul isn’t using the quote from Psalms out of context and in a whole different meaning than the author of Psalms meant?

    No one seeks God by themselves as dead in sin. I can’t understand why you would want to water our sinful nature down when the bible is so graphic about it.

    What I don’t understand if why you want to make us incapable of seeking God when God shows very clearly that unregenerate people can and must seek Him. Why do you do this?

    You can’t just dismiss the context of Romans 3 and Paul’s intention of using this quote to support his argument, as irrelevant and only rely on the Old Testament context. Paul is clearly using it here with another purpose.

    So it seems to me that you are trying to make Paul dismiss the context of the Psalms quote and to illegally use it out of its context and to twist it to mean that Job, Abraham and Noah were all ungodly men who spoke evil things and did not seek God or have any good actions? That is impossible. Paul could not rip a Scripture out of its intended context and twist it to mean something else. God doesn’t do things like this and if I had to get my theology that way by twisting Scripture, then I would think twice as this is unlawful and not the way of the Master who uses Scripture in context.

    I will get to your further comments later as I have time.

  103. Cheryl,

    Thanks so much for your moderate and amiable reply!
    Although we may not agree on every point concerning the nature of fallen humanity, we can certainly agree that civility and the free exchange of ideas without rancor goes a long way as a positive example to the non-Christian world.

  104. Greg,

    …we can certainly agree that civility and the free exchange of ideas without rancor goes a long way as a positive example to the non-Christian world.

    This is important to me too. I have seen way too much of Christians accusing their brothers of heresy over minor differences in doctrine or calling them names because of these disagreements. While we are free to defend our own doctrine with passion, when we turn around and deride the character of our brother merely for disagreeing with us, or assign them to hell for taking a diffewrent position on a debatable matter that is not essential to the gospel, we look like a bunch of misfits in the Christian family. But when non-Christians can see us accepting each other in love while having our differences, it is one of the best ways to show the difference that Jesus makes. Eventually I hope to see us all united. If it doesn’t happen in this lifetime, it will in the next.

  105. Cheryl,

    I’m quite astonished really. What makes Noah righteous? His own free-will? No I don’t think so. Was it not his faith?
    Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

    You see, it was his faith that made him righteous. And like Eph 2 says faith is a gift. By the way you have not dealt with why the faith in Eph 2 is only for some believers. Gen 6:5 can be taken to mean everyone-it should. We are all by nature corrupt and evil. It is only faith in God which makes us righteous. This whole idea that humanity are essentially good people is non-sense. We are sinful and we have a Holy God who does not tolerate sin.

    “Um, where does the Bible say that we need a new heart in order to seek after God?”

    Here is one passage
    Eze 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
    Eze 11:20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

    This is at the heart of the new covenant. A new spiritual heart enables us to obey God.

    I can’t see your point in referencing Deut because it actually proves my point. In Deut 10 God calls on the people to circumcise their hearts, but they can’t by themselves.They don’t actually do it. Deut 30 (if you actually looked at the context) is a prophetic word about what is going to happen after the exile. It will be God who does the circumcision of the heart. This is the new covenant. See Jer 31:31ff also. So you have just proven my point. We can’t give ourselves a heart of flesh, only God can and only God does with the new covenant.

    “There is nothing at all in the Scriptures that I have seen that says God must give us a new heart before we can seek Him.”

    Look more at the context of Deut as a whole. Look at the failure of the Jews to keep the covenant in their own strength. Look at Jeremiah 31, Ezekial 11, and also Ezekial 36.
    Eze 36:24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
    Eze 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
    Eze 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    Eze 36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    This is another prophecy of the New Covenant. God gives a new heart of flesh. God gives his Spirit so that we can obey God’s statutes. This was the problem with the Jews, they did not have a heart of flesh. They did not have the outpouring of the Spirit to enable them to keep covenant. We do only because God acts first.

    “Where does the Bible say that Cornelius was born again before he heard the gospel?”

    You can’t keep copping out and saying everything is human tradition Cheryl, it’s hardly convincing. Now about Cornelius, did God do something before he accepted the message of salvation from Peter? Did he have a vision, did he see an angel of God? Did he not experience all this before he heard the gospel. Yes he did. This is God working before the message of Jesus was even preached. This is the issue. Does God intervene in people’s lives before they hear the message so that they may believe. According to Acts 10 yes, aswell as the rest of the New Testament. Although the words ‘born again’ are not used here by Luke does not mean that God did not work in Cornelius before he accepted the message.

    The kingdom of God is twofold Cheryl. It came in Jesus, but it is still yet to come until the final consummation. This is the now/not yet tension. I would have thought you would have learnt that in your studies. So we enter the kingdom of God when we are saved into Jesus name, but we are still waiting to enter it entirely when we go to eternity. You have not dealt with John 3 at all. John 3 is clear that we are to be born again BEFORE we see or enter the kingdom of heaven. How can this be if it is after salvation?

    “First of all, not every heart is stone. Those who harden their hearts against God’s call will eventually turn their heart to stone, but not all harden their hearts. Many will respond with gladness to His call.”

    So what is Ezekial 36:26 referencing then if not everybody? I’m afraid you are going to have to deal with the fact that God hardens hearts aswell.
    Rom 9:18 So then he (God) has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    I agree that many will respond with gladness, but I reject that they do this on their own without God opening their eyes to the message.

    “It would be a cruel act for God to command men everywhere to seek Him if He was the One deliberately stopping them from seeking Him.”

    Unfortunately Cheryl I hear this a lot. And the reason people say it is because they want God to fit into their picture of what God is. The Bible though is radically different. Romans 9 is clear on God’s election and calling. Paul even expects an objection like the one you just stated. What is his answer?
    Rom 9:13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
    Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
    Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    Rom 9:17 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.”
    Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
    Rom 9:20 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?”
    Rom 9:21 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?

    There are a few very important points here. Our salvation DOES NOT depend on human will or exertion, BUT on God’s mercy alone. God hardens whom he wants and has mercy on whom he wants. When people object to this (like you Cheryl), Paul’s answer is simple, who are you to talk back to God. We have no right to say what is just and unjust, we are the clay and God is the potter.
    So maybe you do therefore think God is cruel. That is for you to work out, but you can’t keep trying to fit God only into your own box of what love and mercy are. I challenge you to think that one through a little more. And please don’t attempt to say that Romans 9 is not saying what it seems to be saying. Exegetically it is, and those scholars who attempt to change it’s meaning simply look ridiculous.

  106. Cheryl,

    “Dead” is a metaphor.”

    I don’t disagree that dead is a metaphor and that they can do all those things listed. Our focus though, is can people who are ‘dead IN SIN’ seek or come to God according to their own free will without the grace of God to draw them? No they can’t, because they need to be ‘born-again’!We are dead! We need to be made alive again and Ephesians saids that only God can do that, not us.

    “Of course. Who is teaching that we ourselves can accomplish the miracle of re-birth? Who is teaching that we make ourselves alive? It isn’t me”

    But you are saying that being re-born comes after our salvation which is done ONLY in OUR faith. Therefore you are saying we as humans do something BEFORE God makes us re-born. This is reject because it is making salvation based on our work of faith, not God’s gift of faith.

    “My question – why do you do that?”

    I have never said that you believe that the work of being re-born is not a work of God. Where my problem lies is that you think that faith is not a gift of God for all believers. Therefore when people accept Christ, it is their faith not God’s gift of faith that saves them. This is works salvation. Perhaps you can clear it all up. Is faith something we add to salvation in that it is not a gift of God, or is the faith that saves us a gift of God? Which do you believe? Being re-born is a side issue really. I have no doubt you believe it is God’s work, but that is because you seem to be saying it happens after faith. I believe it happens before faith and John 3 teaches that. Is the faith that justifies us God’s gift or is it our own free-will? This I want to know?

    Here lies the problem- you say
    “The “gift” is salvation which is completely a work of God”

    I agree that salvation is the complete work of God. But how is it that we are saved? Like you said- through faith, yet you are not including ‘faith’ in the complete work of salvation, namely this ‘gift’. Therefore you are not seeing salvation as the complete work of God, because the very means by which we are saved (faith) is not a work of God but man. You confirm your mishap by saying

    “I am on solid grounds exegetically and the “gift” is not “faith” but the action verb “salvation” of which action only God can be source of.”

    So it appears that you are giving lip service to the complete salvation of God, yet are actually denying it by saying the very means by which we are saved is not a work of God. Salvation is not a complete work of God by what you have said. Sure you believe God saves people but only if they add to it by their faith. Can you also address whether repentance is our own work or is it something God grants? These are vital questions because this is at the heart of the gospel.

    “If every single person is like this, then God lied because God said that Job is not like that. Are you really going to make God into a liar or will you admit that Paul isn’t using the quote from Psalms out of context and in a whole different meaning than the author of Psalms meant”

    How long will you misinterpret the Bible Cheryl? You are pulling chickens out of hats to come to the conclusion that Romans 3 is not talking about Original Sin. The problem with your understanding is that you think people can be rightous apart from the work of God. This is the core of the issue. You think Noah, Abraham, Job are righteous people because in their own free-will they seek and worship God. If Noah was ‘righteous’ according to your definition why did he get drunk? If Abraham was righteous in his own free-will why did he lie and deceive people? If Job was righteous because of what he did why did God rebuke him at the end of the book. After all Paul says that if we break just 1 law we break all the law. How can these men be ‘righteous’ when they are sinful? I don’t think you understand what the old testament means when someone is righteous at all! It is faith which justifies us- declares us righteous. It was faith which made these men be called ‘righteous’. Now faith is either a gift of God or it is a work of man. It has to be the former otherwise we preach a works based gospel. This is simple fact. Unless faith is a gift that God bestows on us it is something we add to our salvation. How can you skirt around that massive issue.

    “What I don’t understand if why you want to make us incapable of seeking God when God shows very clearly that unregenerate people can and must seek Him. Why do you do this?

    I don’t want to say anything except what the bible teaches. It teaches that we are incapable of saving ourselves by seeking God or having our own free-will faith. I agree that we are called to seek God but we are sinful, we live in darkness, we love the darkness, we suppress the truth, and therefore we are judged for it. It is only in God’s mercy that he opens the eyes of his sheep to the message of salvation in order to save them.

    By the way I don’t think Paul twisted scripture at all. He expanded on the nature of our depravity to the Romans. Abraham, Noah and Job were ungodly men because they were children of wrath as descendents of Adam, yet they were declared righteous by faith- they were not perfect people. You also have to remember that the Old Testament looked forward to the coming of Jesus. Jesus himself applied many scriptures to himself away from the original context, but I’m sure you don’t accuse him of twisting scripture. You are inconsistent Cheryl with your concerns and comments.

    Greg and Cheryl,

    I am amazed that you think that the nature of sin is a non essential in our scriptures. It affects everything- what we understand about God, grace, salvation. I’m sure this is clear by the conversation we have been having. What we understand as salvation is adversely affected when we don’t understand the nature of sin. I disagree with both of you. This whole political correctness stuff is culture not bible- it is postmodernity. Paul is very clear in Galations 1 that anyone who preaches a different gospel will be eternally condemned. Let’s start taking the bible a bit more seriously and the warnings in it. This is at the heart of an essential in the Christian gospel

  107. one last note…

    i really would like you to explain to me how you pray for non-believers. Do you believe it is God who opens their eyes and softens their hearts or not?

    P.S I am only going to discuss these issues for as long as you want to Cheryl since i am fully aware of your earlier comments about it all. When you no longer wish to discuss it, that is fine, just let me know. I know we are a fair way from the original topic of this post.

  108. #97 Mark,

    By the way let me be clear that i do not think that non-calvinists are not Christians. I myself was not always convinced of reformed theology but i would never have said i wasn’t saved. Nor do i think that others are not saved.
    I simply believe that as i have grown in my walk we God he has been gracious to open my eyes to new hard truths of the bible even when they seem unfair.

    I will however always protest when i think the gospel is at stake, and i believe it is at stake when we deny that faith is a gift of God for all believers.

    I am going to answer the above comment first because my answer should help Mark and others to know the background of where I am coming from.

    Mark, although you said that you believe that non-Calvinists can be Christians, in actuality you deny that by the above remarks. You see, the gospel is not a secondary issue of faith. It is an essential of the faith. If you create an addition to that gospel by saying that one must believe that saving faith is not our own faith in God’s Word but a gift that God gives only to the elect, then you are dividing the body of Christ by making anyone who does not agree with you as ones who do not believe the gospel. And if we do not believe the true gospel, which apparently only Calvinists can believe, then we how can we be true Christians? It is inconsistent to that one can be a true Christian and yet not believe the gospel.

    This division is a sin that Calvinists bring against their brothers and sisters in Christ. By defining the gospel as something other than what is clearly stated as the gospel, Calvinists set their Christian brothers and sisters outside of the Christian camp and in need of conversion to Calvinism in order to believe the gospel and be saved.

    In the past I was a part of a church that was split because of the issue of Calvinism. The church I belonged to was not a Calvinist church but the new pastor who came into the church was on his way to being a full blown Calvinist and when he decided that only Calvinism was the truth, he pressured the church to accept his doctrine. Those who balked at his teaching that God justly sends unborn babies go to hell to pay for their “sins” by suffering for all of eternity, those ones were singled out as dangerous to the church for not going along with “the truth” that is embodied in Calvinism.

    It wasn’t long before mature Christians were threatened with letters to kick them out of the church for not accepting Calvinism. There was no longer love for the brethren in their differences. It was his way or the highway. Since God was taught as arbitrary in His decision on who would be created to go to Heaven and who would created to go to hell, this pastor had no hesitation to act like an arbitrary “god” in removing brothers and sisters in Christ merely for quoting Scripture in the Bible studies with verses that did not agree with his Calvinistic viewpoint. After all, if they didn’t accept Calvinism were they really one of the elect? That is the reasoning that this doctrine ends with when pushed to its logical conclusion and it was acted out in my old church. Without any appearance of conscience the pastor broke all the rules of the constitution in order to try to remove from fellowship mature Christians, some of whom had been there when the church building was first built in the 1970’s. The additional truth that he had accepted as necessary for the “gospel” divided brothers and sisters in Christ.

    God hates this division. Those attenders whom the pastor convinced that they were now Calvinists because they believed that God pulled at their heart and brought them to the place of faith were confused. They didn’t even understand the basics of Calvinism nor the volumes of work written to explain the entire system of Calvinism, but they were taught that the believers who would not be converted were the enemy and unless he removed them from the fellowship, God’s “truth” could not progress.

    I have seen the destruction of Calvinists first hand who destroy their brothers for the sake of their love of a doctrine. I refuse to say that Calvinists are not brothers in Christ or that Calvinists do not believe in the gospel, but I also refuse to allow them to divide the body of Christ and destroy those for whom Christ died. Some of the church members were so traumatized by the lack of love by the pastor and the tearing apart of the church for the sake of a “doctrine”, that a handful of people ended up in the hospital with various types of stress related diseases and symptoms that took months to resolve.

    So, Mark, while I welcome you here and I will allow areas of Calvinism to be debated when they deal with the issues of women in ministry (i.e. Adam and sin nature), I will not tolerate the charge that the gospel that I believe is not the Biblical gospel. The gospel that I and other non-Calvinists believe is not different than what you believe because there is only one gospel. If you want to add Calvinist distinctives to the gospel, then you have stepped out on a limb – a very precarious limb.

    1 Corinthians 15:1–4 (NASB)
    1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
    2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
    3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

    It is the death of Jesus, his burial and resurrection that is the heart of the gospel. We can debate the issue of whether faith is a gift of God or a response of man, but it is not listed in the gospel as an essential belief. If you divide over this and accuse your brothers and sisters of not believing the gospel because we do not believe that saving faith is a gift of God given to only a select few unregenerate people, then you are going to have to answer to God one day for what you have done. Jesus Christ takes a dim view of those who divide the church over the non-essentials.

    Titus 3:9–10 (NASB)
    9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
    10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,

    A factious man is literally a “heretic” one who causes divisions in the body.

    hairetikos: denoting loyalty to a separatist group heretical, factious, causing divisions
    Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament.

    And Romans 16:17 warns us to keep an eye on those who bring divisions into the body of Christ:

    Romans 16:17 (NASB)
    17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

    The term “dissensions” means division.

    dichostasia: strictly standing apart; hence disunity, dissension, division within a community
    Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. (pg 118).

    So once again to repeat, I will allow any challenge of my position regarding the issues of women in ministry including issues of Calvinism on the issue of sin, but I will not allow division by calling Christian brothers and sisters in Christ as non-believers in the gospel because they are not Calvinists. I am doing what Scripture advises me to do to keep any eye on those who are divisive and who bring harm to the body. Argue passionately, sure. But don’t attack your brothers and sisters in Christ and demand that they become Calvinists or else they don’t believe the gospel.

    I am trying to be as gracious as I can while drawing a line in the sand and I hope I have made myself clear. Thoughts?

  109. Mark,
    You said:

    Your other old testament quotes do nothing to support your view of unregenerate man seeking God. The first one is a dubious translation, the NIV makes is a hypothetical by using ‘if’, that is “But if from there you seek the Lord”,

    Deuteronomy 4:29 (NASB)
    29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

    The NASB is far from a “dubious” translation. Let’s have a look at the Andersen-Forbes phrase marker analysis to see what the actual Hebrew says:

    deut-4-29-seek

    It agrees with the NASB so your point does not stand.

  110. Cheryl,

    I appreciate where you are coming from. But first of all i have never deemed myself a ‘calvinist’ because simply it puts me into a theological bucket i don’t want to be in. Nor have i said that you are from a differing theological tradition e.g Arminianism. I’m more interested in the Bible rather that which side we sit on.

    I truly do believe that non-calvinists are Christians. Like i said, reformed theology is something i have studied and over time been thoroughly convinced of, but i would never have said that i wasn’t a Christian before then. We all grow in our understanding and walk with God over our life times. However i do have a problem with so called ‘scholars’ when they outright reject biblical authority and truth. We all need to be open to change, be teachable and to have a desire to know the truth. My problem lies when people sit on the fence and simply say it is a matter of hermeneutics as if we can’t search for the truth.

    In my experience most Christians i know would not be labelled as calvinists, but i love and respect them as the family of God. My issue rises when the people who should know better (scholars) outright reject or re-interpret the bible and lead people astray. Most people on the pews wouldn’t even know the difference, but it’s the leaders who do. Sure we all agree that Jesus is the only way to the Father, but what we believe about faith will radically change our perceptions of everything else. We need to get the gospel right first before we can get anything else right. I have yet to be convinced how we are not adding to our salvation by saying faith is not a gift of God. SInce this is the core of our beliefs as protestants i think it is vitally important to discuss. You cannot simply say that faith is not a gift without explaining why therefore it is not a works based gospel. Like i said, Paul is very clear on false gospels so we should work very hard at making sure we get it right.

    Division is not the ideal i agree, and i’m sorry you have suffered with your church, but you can’t therefore label all calvinists in the same basket with the same issues and motives. As someone who is openly expressing your views on a blog, you should be willing to be thoroughly challenged. You are teaching people whether that is your intention or not, and when i feel that you are wrong i will say so. When i feel the gospel is at stake i will say so. If that makes you uncomfortable, then there is nothing i can do. With what you have said i feel strongly that the core of the gospel is at stake. You say you believe in a non-works salvation, then please show me why and how.

    Also please notice that the warnings about division in the church is becasue of false teaching. We are urged to be sound in our doctrine and guard it. We can’t succome to every single doctrine just to keep unity in our churches. There is only one gospel, one message of salvation and we ought to keep it, not be wishy washy about it.
    Look forward to your answers to my questions.

  111. P.S

    I’m wondering what you do with Psalm 51 Cheryl in relation to original sin, particularly verse 5.

    Psa 51:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
    Psa 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
    Psa 51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
    Psa 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
    Psa 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

  112. Mark,
    You said:

    In the 2 Chronicles verse, you forgot to mention the verse before which show God intervening through the Prophet Azariah. So the same principle applies, God has to work first before we can respond.

    I didn’t need to “forget to mention” the previous verse because I am not disputing that God uses many things to make people reconsider their need for Him. But the issue is not whether God works, but whether unregenerate people can see God.

    2 Chronicles 15:4 (NET)
    15:4 Because of their distress, they turned back to the LORD God of Israel. They sought him and he responded to them.

    So once again the Scriptures I quoted stand unrefuted.

    Another point to note is that the Bible never talks about our own free-will, as if we can accept God by ourselves especially in the verses you quoted.

    That is another thing where Calvinists misunderstand non-Calvinists. Who on earth is claiming that we can come to God without His drawing us? Not me. No one can come to God without Him drawing them. The difference between us is not that one believes man has the power to come to God on his own terms, because I don’t believe that. The difference is that I believe God is willing to draw all men to Himself while you believe that God predeterminately selects only a few unregenerate to draw them to Himself without any conditions and without any faith on their own behalf.

    These passages are silent on why the people turned to God, but we have other clear passage which show us why people do turn, namely, because God intervenes. Does Jesus not say that no-one can come to the Father unless the Father draws him?

    This is not the issue since I have already agreed that God must draw people. The issue is whether one must be born again first become one can seek for God. The Bible never says that a person is changed from an unregenerate person into a born again person and then and only then can he seek God.

    John 3- Cheryl, what is the kingdom of God, if not a relationship with him?

    A relationship with Jesus is never called “the kingdom of God”. It is called “knowing” Him.

    John 17:3 (NASB)
    3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

    On the contrary, the term “the kingdom of God” is something that Christians will enter into in the future. It is not a term of relationship. I do notice that many times you give your own ideas but you don’t quote the Scriptures. I submit it is because there are no Scriptures to support your view and so you have nothing to document from the Bible.

    What does Jesus mean by being born again? I would like to know your opinion?

    Born again is a supernatural act of God where ones heart is changed from the nature of the “old man” to the nature of the second adam.

    James 1:18 (NASB)
    18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

    When are we born of the Spirit (verse 5)? You must believe that the Spirit of God does not enter our life until we respond in faith right?

    We are born of the Spirit when we are saved. The Jailer asked how he could be saved and Paul and Silas didn’t say to him that he must be saved already (born again) if he is asking the question. Rather they told him that he must believe in order to be saved.

    Acts 16:30–32 (NASB)
    30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
    31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
    32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.

    So if we can circumcise our own heart by our own repentance, why did we need the new covenant. Didn’t at least some of the Jews repent Cheryl?

    We circumcise our own heart by our repentance but this doesn’t save us. Only God’s work that is done by condition of our repentance and faith will bring salvation. Those who repented and believed God in the OT were promised that they would be given God’s covenant.

    Psalm 25:12–14 (NASB)
    12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
    He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
    13 His soul will abide in prosperity,
    And his descendants will inherit the land.
    14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
    And He will make them know His covenant.

    For the OT saints who feared God, they were promised that the son of righteousness will arise for them on that day that the Lord is preparing and for those who fear Him, they will belong to God as His own possession.

    Malachi 3:16–Malachi 4 (NASB)
    16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.
    17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
    18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

    Chapter 4
    2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
    3 “You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.

    All those who belonged to the Father through their fear of Him and their faith were promised the covenant and they were given to Jesus.

    John 6:37 (NASB)
    37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

    Everyone who belongs to the Father will come to Jesus.

    Your view makes the new covenant un-necessary.

    No, not at all because the new covenant is fulfilled in Jesus. All who belonged to the Father in the OT would be brought into the new covenant through Jesus.

    In our own strength we are nothing and can do nothing to save ourselves. Again I must protest that you are stealing the glory from God in HIS work. It is not our own doing.

    Who is stealing the glory from God? You again greatly misunderstand. We cannot save ourselves. The new birth is the miracle working of God alone and we cannot work this miracle. It belongs to God alone.

    To continue…

  113. Mark,
    You said:

    By the way Cheryl, repentance is also a gift of God not our own strength
    2Ti 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
    Who grants repentance here Cheryl, clearly God. Repentance and faith are gifts of God to his sheep, so that no-one can boast.

    Repentance may be “granted” but it is granted by allowing, enabling or helping one to repent.

    if-perhaps God may-give (b) them repentance to acknowledgment of-truth,
    LEXICON—
    b. aorist act. opt. (LN 13.142) (BAGD p. 192): ‘to give’ [BAGD, ICC; KJV, NJB], ‘to give the opportunity’ [TEV], ‘to grant’ [BAGD, Herm, HNTC, LN, NTC; NASB, NIV, NRSV, REB], ‘to allow’ [LN], ‘to enable’ [NAB], ‘to help’ [TNT], ‘to get to give’ [Lns].
    An Exegetical Summary of 2 Timothy (2nd ed.) (pgs 81–82).

    Okay, that is all I can get to tonight. Will try to pick up where I left off sometime tomorrow providing God grants me the time.

  114. Okay, I just happened to read this:

    With what you have said i feel strongly that the core of the gospel is at stake. You say you believe in a non-works salvation, then please show me why and how.

    …so my answer should allow me to go to bed.

    Faith is not a work. Faith is contrasted to works.

    Galatians 2:16 (NASB)
    16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

    Romans 3:28 (NASB)
    28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

    Now show me where in the Bible that man’s faith is called a “work”. If you cannot do that then would you please stop calling your sister in Christ one who believes in a works salvation. A works salvation is a heresy and no one who believes in works for salvation is saved.

    If you need more I have some drawings I did for another Calvinist pastor that I can try to reproduce here. But first of all, do you job and either put up or shut up (a term used here in North America for proving your case. It isn’t meant to be offensive.) Prove that faith is considered a work in the Scriptures if it is not a “gift” of God. Go ahead. I will be waiting with baited breath.

  115. It is another day and we will see how much we can get through today.

    Mark,
    You said:

    You said “Faith in God and receiving Jesus comes before we become children of God.”
    Really Cheryl, I don’t think Romans 8 says this

    Romans 8 does not contradict this at all. If you think it does, please show me where it says that we are children of God before we receive Jesus.

    Does the Bible say that those who received Him are given the right to become children of God?

    John 1:12 (NASB)
    12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

    Does the Bible say that we are sons of God through faith? Or are we sons of God without any regard to our faith?

    Galatians 3:26 (NASB)
    26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

    Now I ask you to show me one verse that says we are born again without faith. You have not done so and if you can please do. show it to me.

    We were predestined to be conformed to Jesus image before we are justified according to these verses.

    Sure. But we are not “born again” before have faith. That isn’t scriptural.

    We were God’s children CHOSEN before the world was created according to Eph 1:4.

    Sorry, but this isn’t true. We are not “God’s children” before the world was created. Before we came to faith we were enemies of God not children of God.

    If only you realised Cheryl, that you were God’s chosen child before you even knew about Him.

    I already realize that. The question is not what I was before I was born, but why. What was the condition that God foreknew me in Christ? We won’t be debating this because it goes off the topic of women in ministry, but know for sure that I agree with the Bible when the Bible plainly says something and when we need philosophy and human reasoning to give reason for things that God is silent on, I do not accept man’s reasoning.

    It is true that John 1 says we become God’s child after we trust in Jesus. I believe that, but I also believe that bible clearly teaches that this was God’s plan for my life before the world was even created.

    But that is not what we are discussing. We are discussing whether you are born again before you have faith. And the Scriptural answer is “no”.

    I’m interested to know how you pray for your unsaved friends Cheryl. Do you pray for God to open their eyes or to soften their hearts? Or do you not even ask God to help and just believe that their own free-will is good enough?

    This shows a clear misunderstanding of the Sovereignty of God outside of Calvinism. You won’t find me saying that man is able to will himself as a Christian and doesn’t need God to draw Him. It is too bad that Calvinists think so little of our common Christian faith but seem to want to see other Christians as having a man centered gospel. It is a pity.

    You see everyone believes in the sovereignty of God when they pray and ask God to intervene, even if you deny it when you speak to me.

    Oh brother! Why on earth you keep saying that I deny the Sovereignty of God is beyond me. It is like I say one thing and you turn it around to say I am denying the very thing I am fighting for. I am really curious. Why do you do that?

    Being ‘born-again’ is God opening their eyes to the message of the cross.

    No it is not. Being born again is a miraculous work that transforms and renews and brings God’s life to a heart that was separated from God and lost in sin. It is opening of the eyes. It is a transformation.

    We in sin are dead people according to Eph 2 therefore we need to be re-born and made alive, and like i said ealier, EPh 2 tells us that it is God who makes us alive not oursleves.

    And like I said, of course it is God who makes us alive in Him and it is not ourselves at all. But is this miracle something that happens before faith? Not according to the Scriptures.

    Being born again definitely comes before faith. It is the work of the spirit in unregenerate man so that he can accept the message of salvation.

    You have said that before. Show me from the Scriptures that Cornelius became born again before he heard the message. And why would he need to hear the message if he was already born again?? He doesn’t need the message to be saved if he is already saved? Why is this reasoning so contradictory to the Scripture and never found explicitly in the Scriptures? I don’t accept it because I want Bible only not human reasoning.

    Roman 14- I agree with the context, but the verse still says what it says. Everything not done in faith is sin, whether you’re a believer or unbeliever.

    Show me where it says that everything that an unbeliever does that is not in faith is a sin? And how can an unbeliever do anything in faith? Wouldn’t that make him a believer? The context never mentions unbelievers so you just slip them in. Now show me a context that talks about unbelievers and how everything they do is sin even if it is a good work. Go ahead. I will wait patiently for your verses.

    The reason being that everything is to be done for the glory of God. IF it is not done in faith in God how can it give glory to God, it simply can’t. I can’t see why you would deny this biblical verse.

    You haven’t shown me a verse that includes unbelievers. And can you imagine Jesus saying to the Pharisees, that even though they are evil, they can do good, but they shouldn’t even try to do good, because any good they do is really just sinning more and more. So maybe Jesus would be telling these Pharisees to keep on sinning more and more because it is less offensive to God than if they are helpful and kind to their families. God just hates kind unbelievers, right?

    Where does it say this in the bible? God demands that we follow him and no other, but I haven’t seen anywhere where the bible says we have the ‘freedom to seek God’.

    God gives us two options and never just one. We can seek Him or we can reject Him.

    1 Chronicles 28:9 (NASB)
    9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

    And Jesus promised that those who seek will find.

    Matthew 7:7 (NASB)
    7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

    Now show me a verse that says that God will only allow some to seek Him and Him and most He will purposely stop them from seeking Him and purposely stop them from finding Him although He demands that they seek Him? Go ahead and show me where only some are enabled to seek God.

    Aren’t we as fallen people living in the darkness, suppressing the truth, until God opens our eyes?

    No. Romans 1:18 doesn’t say that all men suppress the truth. But the passage says that those who deliberately suppress the truth, God gives them up. Here is a description of them:

    Romans 1:26–27 (NASB)
    26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

    Are you in this group? Were you given up to degrading passions and did you burn in your desire for other men? No? Then this passage is not about all people, but about those who purposely suppress the truth. I didn’t do that and likely you didn’t either.

    I agree that faith is not a work, it is because it is a gift of God so that none can boast.

    If faith is not a work, then man’s faith is not a work either.

    If faith is something we do without God, then it is a work of ours because it doesn’t stem from God, therefore you have works based salvation.

    You just contradicted yourself. You said that faith is not a work, then you said that our faith is a works based salvation. Either faith is a work or it is not.

    Secondly we cannot have faith without God for we cannot even have faith in God without Him drawing us. I don’t know anyone who is teaching that faith exists independent of God working on us an drawing us to Himself. That is true faith. It is a response to God’s work. It is not a gift that God gives arbitrarily to a few. It is a response not a gift.

    This is the problem with your view. You can’t skirt around the issue. You need to do better at convincing me that you are not promoting a works based salvation.

    I am not skirting around the issue. I am answering every one of your questions. Before I take a stab at convincing you that I am not promoting a works based salvation, please show me from the Scripture where a man’s faith is a work. i.e. Abraham believed God is Abraham’s faith in God’s revelation. The text doesn’t say that God gave Abraham the gift of faith, but rather Abraham believed God’s word. Where is the accusation that Abraham was making this a works based faith?

    The fact is that faith is the direct opposite of works. Every place it is mention in conjunction with works, it is in opposition to works except for the book of James where our works are necessary to show our faith to others. But our faith is never ever called a “work” to God.

    Like I said Pelagianism (Augustine) and semi-pelagianism (reformers) were both condemned. How is your view not semi-pelagianism Cheryl?

    Once again you are implying that I am a heretic and not a sister in Christ. Why do you do that?

    I do not believe that works are required for salvation. In fact I believe that relying on works removes our faith. Our faith is the exact opposite works and not a single Scripture says that our faith is looked on by God as a work for salvation.

    I am honestly tired of being called a heretic and then you trying to say that I am really a sister in Christ. You are confused at the seriousness of heresy.

  116. Continuing on…
    Mark, you said:

    Unless we accept that every single piece of our salvation is from God, it will always be works based.

    Look Mark, every piece of our salvation is from God. But regarding our faith, we are required to believe God. When God speaks and I believe God, how can I be considered to be working for my salvation? Scripture doesn’t say that faith is a gift of God to unbelievers. If so, please show me where it says this.

    Rather, the faith that is a gift is always given by the Holy Spirit to believers.

    I do pray that God will reveal that to you, in the same way he did to me a few years ago. It totally changed my understanding of the grace of God. He is so merciful.

    I did an interesting study concerning Calvinism and I asked Calvinists how they got the “truth” of Calvinism and I was told in each case that it came from studying the works of Calvinists/Reformers. They didn’t just “get it” from reading the Word of God. Apparently some think that men’s books are necessary for God’s revelation because God’s Word isn’t plain enough without addition “helps”.

    What I have seen from reading these books is a God who has mercy on so few yet the Scriptures tell me that God is rich in mercy.

    Psalm 103:8 (NASB)
    8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
    Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

    And another thing I notice about the Scriptures is that God freely gives His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

    Psalm 103:11 (NASB)
    11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

    I have not seen anyplace that says that God gives the “gift” of fear to some men. Rather, people respond to the revelation of God with godly fear and God responds with His awesome lovingkindness.

    Should we say that those who “fear God” are doing a works based salvation? Should we say that God gives the “gift” of fear to some? No. Fearing God is faith in God and it is our response, not a gift reserved for an elite few.

  117. Cheryl,

    It appears that we disagree on being born again. Let me just state what i think it is and what i think it isn’t.
    Being born again is not being saved. Being born again is being made alive when we are dead in our sins, so that we may have faith and believe in Jesus and then be saved. Being born again happens before salvation not after. John 3 shows this like i said. It is the supernatural work of God opening our eyes when we are dead in sin to enable us to accept the message of salvation.

    I’m glad you believe that God draws people to Himself. But i can’t understand how you believe God draws every single person to himself. You quoted Jn 6:37 which says that all the father gives to Jesus will come to him. Does the father give every single person to Jesus? or a limited number? You have already said you reject a doctrine of universalism so what is Jn 6 saying? What about Matt 11:27, when Jesus says no-one knows the Father except the Son and those whom the Son CHOOSES to reveal him. This is not for everybody. God only draws those whom he chooses to reveal his Son too.

    Now about the kingdom of God- this amazes me since you say that the kingdom is only future. And you criticize me for not giving biblical references infering there is none. Well here we go…
    John the baptist saids
    Mat 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    Now is he talking about heaven Cheryl?

    Jesus after giving the parable of the sower saids to his disciples
    Mat 13:18 “Hear then the parable of the sower:
    Mat 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
    What is the word of the kingdom? Is it only something future?

    Again Jesus saids
    Mat 13:24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,

    Again with the parable of the mustard seed
    Mat 13:31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
    Mat 13:32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
    Mat 13:33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

    I could go on and on. Just look at Matt 13. The kingdom of Heaven (God) has come in Jesus, but is still waiting to be fully revealed at his second coming.
    See Matt 18:23; 19:14, 23-24; 20:1
    There are so many references to the kingdom of God that I simply cannot go through them all, but to say the kindom is only future is a big mistake. Therefore that is why Jn 3 is so clear that we need to be born again before we can even see or enter the kingdom. You have a wrong understanding of the kingdom and a wrong understanding of being born again.

    Finally iwould just like to address the issue of faith.
    I agree 100% that faith is not a work contrasted to works. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone. Now you asked me to show you where the bible says that faith is a work. Now this is just silly, because we both agree it isn’t. If I believed faith (as outlined) in the bible was a work we wouldn’t even have this conversation. What I believe is that those who say faith is not a gift of God are making saving faith into a work.
    Now saving faith is a gift says Eph 2. It is a gracious gift of God, so that no one can boast. You have made a bold claim in saying that the faith outlined in Eph 2 is not for every believer and I have asked you to show me why, but you haven’t. Therefore to deny that saving faith is in itself not a gracious gift of God necessitates that it is something we do without the help of God. This therefore is a work since it comes from our doing and not God’s.
    You cannot say that the faith that saves us is not a gift of God, unless you can prove biblically how this is not a work of man to earn salvation. If we say that it is our own faith (with no gift from God) then we have every reason to boast since we have chosen wisely when others have not. This I reject. I have done nothing greater than anybody- God has simply shown me grace in giving me his gift of salvation and faith. I have nothing to boast in of myself, I can only boast in God’s mercy. Now also since repentance is required for salvation and as 2 Tim 3 says even that is a gift of God, no-one can repent nor have faith unless God grants it to them otherwise they have room to boast of their own salvation.

    Cheryl please show why the saving faith outlined in Eph 2 is not for every believer. Please explain how you can have faith (which is not a gift from God) and it not be a work. If it does not stem from God then it is something we do correct?

  118. Mark,
    You said:

    By the way can you differentiate between ‘seeking God’ and ‘coming to God since you seem to make that an important distinction.

    Seeking God is searching for Him and wanting desperately to know Him. Coming to God is having a relationship with Him.

    John 14:6 (NASB)
    6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

  119. Mark,
    It looks like you and I are online at the same time for once. Welcome buddy! I am going to answer your last set of questions now and catch up on the others just because you are here…now.

    You said:

    It appears that we disagree on being born again. Let me just state what i think it is and what i think it isn’t.
    Being born again is not being saved. Being born again is being made alive when we are dead in our sins, so that we may have faith and believe in Jesus and then be saved. Being born again happens before salvation not after.

    Mark, it isn’t a matter of what we “think” being born again is, but what the Scriptures say it is. Is being born again making a corpse live?

    John 3:6–7 (NASB)
    6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
    7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

    From this scripture, we can see that the birth that Jesus is talking about is the birth “of the Spirit”. It is something brand new. Something that wasn’t there before, but is now born “of the Spirit”.

    Jesus is talking to an unsaved man and reasoning through the Scriptures with Him. Jesus didn’t say to him that he can’t believe in Him until he is born again. He doesn’t say that there will be no faith until you are born again. And Jesus doesn’t say to him that you are dead. Jesus reasons with him as one who is capable of understanding. In verse 7 Jesus says “do not be amazed”. Jesus said “truly truly I say to you…” If the dead man could not hear Him, it was a waste of Jesus time to preach the gospel to him. Jesus was given this unregenerate man reason to believe in Him.

    Another great passage is in 1 Peter 1:

    1 Peter 1:3–5 (NASB)
    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
    5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    Here we see that being born again is tied into the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and being born again makes one an heir of God. We can also see in verse 5 by being born again is tied to salvation through faith. It is never something that belongs to an unregenerate man. No person is born again who is not an heir of salvation at their rebirth. No person is born again who is not there “through faith”. Being born again is inseparably connected to our salvation and our inheritance so that it is absolutely impossible for an unbeliever to be born again.

    This is the heart break of Calvinism that teaches that unsaved people are “born of the Spirit”. Those who are unbelievers cannot know the new birth nor can they know the One who gives the new birth.

    John 14:16–17 (NASB)
    16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
    17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

    Mark, I ask you, was Jesus wrong? Can the world (unbelievers) receive the Spirit of truth through the new birth? He said that the Holy Spirit cannot be received by the world. An unbeliever cannot know the Holy Spirit or experience Him (which is knowing Him). It is impossible for the new birth to come through unbelief. It is only by faith by believing God because an unbeliever cannot know the Holy Spirit.

    Also:

    1 Peter 1:22–23 (NASB)
    22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
    23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

    Being born again is not bringing to life a dead person, but it is a new life through a new “seed”. It is reviving the old, but giving something new. The “seed” of God is never within an unbeliever.

    And lastly:

    1 John 3:9 (NASB)
    9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    Here John talks about being born again as one “born of God” as His “seed” within us. John makes a big deal about this “seed” of God within us so much so that those who are “born of God” with His seed cannot continue to sin because he has been reborn. Does this fit unbelievers? Do they have God’s “seed” within them?

    Now I ask you – where does it say that those who have God’s seed within them are not saved? Where does it say that they are just brought to life but without faith and without salvation?

  120. Mark,
    You said:

    John 3 shows this like i said. It is the supernatural work of God opening our eyes when we are dead in sin to enable us to accept the message of salvation.

    No, Mark, God reasons with us with His own word and this enables us to believe. God reasoned with Nicodemus. Why did He do this? Can a dead man believe according to Calvinism? Was Nicodemus already born again? Then why did he show that he had not yet believed?

    Mark, have you been born again? Did this happen while you were an unbeliever? If so, then how did you know that you were born again?

  121. “Show me where it says that everything that an unbeliever does that is not in faith is a sin? And how can an unbeliever do anything in faith? Wouldn’t that make him a believer?”
    😉

  122. Mark,
    You said:

    I’m glad you believe that God draws people to Himself. But i can’t understand how you believe God draws every single person to himself.

    Drawing is not the same as “coming”. God draws all, but He doesn’t make all come.

    John 12:32 (NASB)
    32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.

    Is there any reason why I should doubt Jesus? If He said that He will draw all men to Himself, then He certainly didn’t fail to do what He prophesied.

    You quoted Jn 6:37 which says that all the father gives to Jesus will come to him. Does the father give every single person to Jesus? or a limited number?

    No. The Father does not give every single person to Jesus. The Father only gives those who belong to Him. He gives none that don’t belong to Him. They are the ones in the Father’s hand.

    John 10:29 (NASB)
    29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

    They belonged to the Father and they kept the Father’s Word:

    John 17:6 (NASB)
    6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

    Now, Mark, I would like to reason with you from the Scriptures. Did God give believers in God or unbelievers to the Son? And did God give those who hated God to the Son?

    You have already said you reject a doctrine of universalism so what is Jn 6 saying?

    John 6 is a repeat of something that the Father already prophesied in the OT.,

    Psalm 25:12–14 (NASB)
    12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
    He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
    13 His soul will abide in prosperity,
    And his descendants will inherit the land.
    14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
    And He will make them know His covenant.

    Jesus is God’s covenant. Those who fear God will be brought to the new covenant in Jesus.

    John 6 says that all those who already belonged to the Father (those who feared God) were given to Jesus. It is all about believers. God gives these believers into the safe keeping of Jesus and He will lose none of them.

    What about Matt 11:27, when Jesus says no-one knows the Father except the Son and those whom the Son CHOOSES to reveal him. This is not for everybody.

    Sure. And who does Jesus choose to reveal the Father to?

    In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, Jesus reveals who He chooses to reveal the Father to:

    John 17:8–10 (NASB)
    8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
    9 “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;
    10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.

    John 17:20 (NASB)
    20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

    John 17:26 (NASB)
    26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

    Jesus reveals the Father only to believers.

    God only draws those whom he chooses to reveal his Son too.

    No. God draws all, but He only gives those to Jesus the ones that belong to Him. Don’t you see the difference, Mark? How can God give to Jesus those who do not belong to Him?

  123. “Mark, have you been born again? Did this happen while you were an unbeliever? If so, then how did you know that you were born again?”
    Cheryl,
    Perhaps you can unmuddled something for me – if a person believes in calvinist “total depravity” of the human intellect, how can they ever be certain that they are actually born again? How can they even be certain about their own “total depravity?”

  124. 1. “No. Romans 1:18 doesn’t say that all men suppress the truth. But the passage says that those who deliberately suppress the truth, God gives them up. Here is a description of them:
    Romans 1:26–27 (NASB)
    26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    Are you in this group? Were you given up to degrading passions and did you burn in your desire for other men? No? Then this passage is not about all people, but about those who purposely suppress the truth. I didn’t do that and likely you didn’t either.”

    Why stop at verse 27 Cheryl…let’s keep going
    Rom 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
    Rom 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
    Rom 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
    Rom 1:31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
    Rom 1:32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    Surely you and I have both coveted, surely we have both been slanderers and gossips and boastful etc. This is the nature of humanity not just one specific group. Sexual sins are just one aspect of our fallen humanity. We are depraved creatures- totally. You are wrong to say this is just one specific group of people. Isaiah 53:6 sums it up nicely- we all like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own ways.

    I can’t show you that Cornelius was born again- I don’t deny that. But not every conversion in the bible says ‘and they were born again before they believed’. We don’t always have every detail for every occasion. The problem is though to say that we don’t need to be born again contradicts Jn 3, and contradictions are not acceptable. You have swept it away be changing what born again means and what the kingdom is.

    Now about being a child of God. I have agreed with you that we are children of God once we believe. However like I said Romans 8 and Eph 1 also talk about this being God’s choice or plan before the foundation of the world. So although we were enemies of God before believing, we were always planned to be children of God. Our union with Christ has been layed down from the beginning. Do you understand what I mean?

    You still haven’t answered how you pray for your un christian friends- you dodged it. Also please explain your idea of God’s sovereignty? Do you believe God is sovereign in that he made himself vulnerable in creating the world like many do?

    You said “No it is not. Being born again is a miraculous work that transforms and renews and brings God’s life to a heart that was separated from God and lost in sin. It is opening of the eyes. It is a transformation.”

    Now the funny thing is I agree with this. We are lost in sin, we are dead. We are totally seperated from God. Therefore how do we accept the message of salvation. It is interesting that you say it is opening of the eyes. Look what I said just before you said ‘No it is not”
    Being ‘born-again’ is God opening their eyes to the message of the cross.
    Inconsistency??? You can’t say to me I’m wrong and then in your definition say the same thing. I’m confused. If you truly believe your description how then can people still accept the message of salvation without being born again? You keep saying that being born again before faith is unscriptural yet you have not dealt with Jn 3. Perhaps we should discuss that more?

    Let me get something straight. You agree that Romans 14 is saying in the context of believers that everything not done in faith is sin? Yet you disagree that unbelievers (who have no faith in Christ) are not doing everything in sin. Here is my opinion for what it is worth. Everything any of us does is sin unless God gives us grace. It is only be grace that unbelievers do good things. It is only by grace that believers do good things- this is common grace to all of us. People can do good things (like the Pharisees) because God is gracious to them. However it is still not done in faith in God.

    “God just hates kind unbelievers, right?”
    I don’t believe God hates unbelievers. Ezekial 18:23 tells us that he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. But we must remember God is Holy. When we sin, we sin against a infinite Holy God. If we do not do things in faith then it is sin. This is why the fall of Adam and Eve was so disasterous.

    1. “Now show me a verse that says that God will only allow some to seek Him and Him and most He will purposely stop them from seeking Him and purposely stop them from finding Him although He demands that they seek Him? Go ahead and show me where only some are enabled to seek God.”

    I have agreed with you all along that we are all called to seek after God. But how can we as sinners. Again Romans 3 says none seeks after God. This is why we are held accountable. God demands that we seek him, but in our sinfulness we don’t. This is why Jesus words are so important.
    Joh 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
    Only when God grants it, can sinners come to Jesus. We cannot seek God by ourselves. Now do you believe that God has granted EVERYONE in this verse to come to Jesus?
    Also think about why Jesus spoke in Parables
    Mat 13:11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
    Mat 13:12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
    Mat 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
    Mat 13:14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.
    Mat 13:15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
    Mat 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
    Mat 13:17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

    A few important things here. He spoke in parables so people WOULD NOT understand, lest they turn. Also many prophets and RIGHTEOUS people longed to hear the truth of Jesus but did not. Not everyone is giving the same grace by God to seek after him. I wait for your reply since the bible clearly answers your challenge.

    ‘You just contradicted yourself. You said that faith is not a work, then you said that our faith is a works based salvation. Either faith is a work or it is not.’

    Here is my conviction because you seem confused. Saving faith is a gift therefore faith is not a work. When we deny that saving faith is a gift, then we make it into a work. See the difference? Faith becomes a work for those who reject it as a gift of God.

    Semi-pelagianism was condemned, that is reality. It denied that our salvation was fully the work of God. It denied that faith, repentance etc are the gracious gifts of God. It maintained that we as fallen people still have the capacity (with a little bit of God’s help but not all) to come after and seek God. It is the same old problem that the church has faced. How free-will and God’s sovereignty go hand in hand. Maybe you can clearly outline how you see salvation works? Give me a clear step by step outline of how and when God works and how and when human free-will works. Perhaps then I will understand more your view.

    “Scripture doesn’t say that faith is a gift of God to unbelievers. If so, please show me where it says this.”

    Eph 2 says that we were dead in sin. BUT, God made us alive in Christ. How? By grace you have been saved through faith- AND THIS IS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, it is a GIFT of God.
    Faith is a part of our salvation process- it is the very means by how we are saved. If grace is a gift given to unbelievers in this verse, how is faith not also given to unbelievers?

    “What I have seen from reading these books is a God who has mercy on so few yet the Scriptures tell me that God is rich in mercy.’

    I agree that God is rich in mercy- none of us deserve to be saved, we have all fallen short of the glory of God have we not? But still only a limited number of people are saved. Even you believe this because you are not a universalist. You can’t discredit Calvinists because they believe that a limited number are saved. Any evangelical believes that, reformed or not.

    “And another thing I notice about the Scriptures is that God freely gives His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.”

    I agree!

    “Should we say that those who “fear God” are doing a works based salvation? Should we say that God gives the “gift” of fear to some? No. Fearing God is faith in God and it is our response, not a gift reserved for an elite few.”

    If we say that fearing God saves us and that it is in our own strength, then yes it is works based. But the scripture never saids that. David is a great example of all this. He was a God fearing man, he worshiped God, he loved God. Yet he continually asked that God would enable him to do this. See Psalm 119. Here is just a snipet
    Psa 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
    Psa 119:34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
    Psa 119:35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
    Psa 119:36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
    Psa 119:37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
    Psa 119:38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
    Psa 119:39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
    Psa 119:40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
    David didn’t trust in his own fear or faith or ability. He knew all these things were the gift of God. He prayed to his Father that God may continue to bless him with those things. This is the reformed position in a nutshell. We look to God for everything, not trusting in our own strength, and we recognise that God grants things in his sovereign will to some and not others. But we dare never look to our own strength and ability nor should we think we know who God bestows his gifts too. That is for Him to know not for us to judge.

    Anyway I need to take a break. I’l let you catch up before I comment again.

  125. Ok one last point since it regards universal language
    1. John 12:32 (NASB)
    32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
    Is there any reason why I should doubt Jesus? If He said that He will draw all men to Himself, then He certainly didn’t fail to do what He prophesied.

    I don’t think you should doubt Jesus. But I don’t think taking universal language the way you do is correct. After all Romans 5 says that Jesus justified ‘all’ men. Should we take that to mean every single person. Now I know your not a universalist so I’m sure you don’t, therefore why do you take Jn 12 to mean every single person in the world? Not only that but how does Jesus draw all the people in the world who have never heard about Him. Why should we bother reaching the unreached if Jesus has already drawn them? See the problem? We need to be careful when the bible uses universal language and not just pick and choose to fit our theology. For example here is a good one.
    Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

    Do you think John’s intention here is that every single person in the world did not recognize or know Jesus. Surely not because we know from the gospels that people did. This is the problem with basing a theology on universal terms- you come across so many contradictions.

    Now also about Jn 12:32 look closely at verse 33
    Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
    Joh 12:33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

    If Jesus said this about his death, how can he draw every single person unless his intention was that his death brought atonement and salvation for every single person. This simply is not the case because not everyone is saved. I don’t believe this verse supports your argument at all. John is particularly a writer who uses universal language a lot, and many people bring contradictions into the text by adopting wrong conclusions on universal language.

    After all we use universal language ‘all’ the time (that was a joke)

  126. Let me see if I understand your view.
    1. Jesus draws every single person in the world to himself
    2. But not everyone comes to the Father
    3. Those who come to the Father are those who are seeking/fear God and therefore believe.

    I have a problem with this. Even in my own experience this doesn’t work. When I was saved I did not have any interest in seeking or knowing God. I do believe I was drawn by God to where I heard the message, but I did not go there because I was looking to be saved. But yes I do believe I was born again before I was saved. I believe the Spirit opened my eyes to that message when I was saved, even though I had no intention of becoming a Christian. I was dead in sin, but the Spirit opened my eyes .This is how God works- he softens hearts, opens eyes. This is what i pray for God to do in other people’s lives so that they may accept Jesus. I do not pray that they will just seek a little bit harder than others.

    To me this is how God and grace works. God doesn’t reward those who are seeking him more than those who are not. This view gives us room to boast. I got salvation because I was seeking type of idea. I can’t by that. It’s contrary to the bigger biblical picture. We are saved purely by the mercy and grace of God. But maybe this isn’t how you see it/ Let me know

  127. Mark,
    You said:

    Mat 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    Now is he talking about heaven Cheryl?

    kingdom of heaven Sure seems like he is talking about heaven to me.

    Jesus after giving the parable of the sower saids to his disciples
    Mat 13:18 “Hear then the parable of the sower:
    Mat 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
    What is the word of the kingdom? Is it only something future?

    The “word” is another way to say the gospel of the kingdom.

    a statement: 33.98
    b speech: 33.99
    c gospel: 33.260
    d treatise: 33.51
    e Word: 33.100
    f account: 57.228
    g reason: 89.18
    h event: 13.115
    i appearance: 30.13
    Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains

    The “good news” of the kingdom is the message of the coming kingdom. The kingdom is still future, but the good news is spoken now.

    Again Jesus saids
    Mat 13:24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,

    Once again as your quote shows, this is about the kingdom of heaven. This is to come.

    Mark 13:31-33 is also about the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 18:23 is about a future coming kingdom where the accounts are “settled”. Sure hasn’t happened yet.

    Matthew 19:14 is also about a future kingdom.

    Matthew 19:23, 24 is about entering the kingdom of “heaven”. This is future again.

    Matt. 20:1 and following is about the kingdom of heaven and the reckoning that happens in the kingdom. That reckoning has not yet happened. Once again it is consistently in the future.

    There are so many references to the kingdom of God that I simply cannot go through them all, but to say the kindom is only future is a big mistake.

    Let me be clear: The kingdom is future, but the preaching about the kingdom is now.

    Therefore that is why Jn 3 is so clear that we need to be born again before we can even see or enter the kingdom. You have a wrong understanding of the kingdom and a wrong understanding of being born again.

    My friend, it is you who have a wrong understanding. No unregenerate person is ever said to be “born again” and no “unregenerate born-again person” is prepared for the kingdom of heaven. In fact the terms “unregenerate” and “born-again” are opposites. They cannot exist together.

    In a classic passage about the future kingdom, Jesus talks about entering the kingdom and it is future “on that day”.

    Matthew 7:21–23 (NASB)
    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
    22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
    23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

    I wonder why you didn’t quote these verses? Is it because they are so obvious about a future judgment and a future entering into the kingdom that they cannot even be twisted to be about the here and the now?

    And how about Matt 8:11?

    Matthew 8:11 (NASB)
    11 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;

    This is the time that the OT saints looked forward to and it is clearly in the future where the dead OT saints have been resurrected.

    In fact everything about the “kingdom of heaven” is so obviously in the future and not in operation on the earth.

    Two last verses that are of note:

    John 18:36 (NASB)
    36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

    If the kingdom had already arrived, then why did Jesus teach his disciples to pray for God’s kingdom to come?

    Luke 11:2 (NASB)
    2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
    ‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
    Your kingdom come.

  128. Ah Mark, my anti-spam word for this one is “friend”.

    Finally iwould just like to address the issue of faith.
    I agree 100% that faith is not a work contrasted to works. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone. Now you asked me to show you where the bible says that faith is a work. Now this is just silly, because we both agree it isn’t.

    Then, my friend, why do you continue to say that I believe in a works based salvation when I believe in faith alone and not in works? Why do you at one time say that man’s faith is a work and then deny that faith is work?

    I can only have a works based salvation if I am working for my salvation. Since I am saved solely by grace through my faith in God, it is impossible for me to have a works based salvation. How is it in your head that you can see faith=works and faith does not= works? This kind of reasoning is illogical.

    If I believed faith (as outlined) in the bible was a work we wouldn’t even have this conversation. What I believe is that those who say faith is not a gift of God are making saving faith into a work.

    This is illogical. Saving faith cannot be a work no matter where it comes from. Now it can be a very passionate discussion between us where saving faith comes from, but it is completely illogical to state that saving faith is a work. It is by definition incapable of being a work.

    Now saving faith is a gift says Eph 2. It is a gracious gift of God, so that no one can boast.

    Now Mark, I have carefully gone through this piece by piece to show that the action of God which is the verb salvation is the “gift”. The rest only explains how the action is gifted to us “by grace” and “through faith”. Why do you ignore what I have written to keep insistent that Ephesians 2 says that it is “faith” that is the gift? By what basis do you hang your hat on this and where is your second witness to this important doctrine?

    You have made a bold claim in saying that the faith outlined in Eph 2 is not for every believer and I have asked you to show me why, but you haven’t.

    Mark, you must be very busy, because you are not taking the time to carefully read what I have written. I didn’t say that the faith outlined in Ephesians 2 is not for every believer. Instead it is 1 Cor. 12:9 where the faith listed as a gift is not given to every believer.

    1 Corinthians 12:8–11 (NASB)
    8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
    9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
    10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
    11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

    Mark, I understand that you are busy, but it is important to read what I have written and not assign a statement to me that was never said. Do you want to go at this slower so that you can better absorb my comments? After all it is very wise to first understand and then defend. Otherwise it is easy to get caught in misunderstandings which lead to false claims of heresy.

  129. Mark,
    You said:

    Therefore to deny that saving faith is in itself not a gracious gift of God necessitates that it is something we do without the help of God.

    Who is claiming that our faith is “without the help of God”? It isn’t me. We are required to believe, but God is the one who draws us so it is never without the help of God. When you say things like this, I wonder why you do this? Have you accepted a false view of non-Calvinism from those who wish to separate from their brothers and sisters in Christ?

    This therefore is a work since it comes from our doing and not God’s.

    This is illogical. You are defining faith as having nothing at all to do with us. Faith then is God’s belief in Himself that He gives to us. But God can’t believe for us and He cannot respond for us. If faith were someone else believing for you, then why can’t our faith save our brother?

    I am defining faith as something that we do in response to God’s immense amount of work in our lives. It is a response that we give to God. It is demanded of us and only our own personal response is valid. God simply cannot believe for us.

    You cannot say that the faith that saves us is not a gift of God, unless you can prove biblically how this is not a work of man to earn salvation.

    Mark, we already defined saving faith as not a work. I don’t need to prove it isn’t a work because we have already both agreed that saving faith is not a work.

    If we say that it is our own faith (with no gift from God) then we have every reason to boast since we have chosen wisely when others have not. This I reject.

    This is where you are wrong because it is not “saving faith” that is the cause for boasting. It is “salvation” that could be a cause for boasting if one worked for it. But since we already defined saving faith as not a work and since there is nothing that one can do to earn salvation, your comments are illogical.

    One interesting note here is that Calvinsts often say that their faith in God’s gift of faith causes them alone to not have pride. Yet Calvinists regularly struggle with pride since their boast is that God picked them while rejecting others. In fact John Piper a famous Calvinist here in North America is taking 8 months off of ministry because of pride issues that have hurt his wife and others in ministry. My son met him last year and could see the pride in him while people were fawning over him. My son asked him about this and Piper poked his finger in my son’s chest. No pride there? Highly unlikely.

    But for me knowing that God has drawn me to Jesus, He has paid the price that I could not even lift a finger to pay and that nothing I could do could earn salvation, leaves me nothing to have pride over. I am a sinner saved by God’s grace alone through God’s requirement that I believe Him. I have done that because God has proven Himself faithful. I can’t help by believe because His character is so awesome, His love so amazing and His grace so freely given that I have believed his word and fallen in love with Him because of who He is, not because of who I am of what I have done. That is Sovereign grace.

    I have done nothing greater than anybody- God has simply shown me grace in giving me his gift of salvation and faith. I have nothing to boast in of myself, I can only boast in God’s mercy.

    But for Calvinists you can boast that God loves you and doesn’t love a lot of others – at least not with saving love. I can’t say that for God was willing to have saving love for all because He sent Jesus to die for all. You can look around and say that in a crowd of unbelievers that God loved me more than He loved them. I am special to Him for whatever reason. While you may not know the reason why He chose you, the fact that He chose you and you are one of the elite elect chose out of all humanity makes you have lots to boast amongst those that God doesn’t love. Don’t you see how that could cause many like Piper to be prideful?

    Now also since repentance is required for salvation and as 2 Tim 3 says even that is a gift of God, no-one can repent nor have faith unless God grants it to them otherwise they have room to boast of their own salvation.

    The Bible says that repentance is “granted” and God grants repentance to anyone who will fear Him. It is always conditional and it is always dependent on the faithfulness of God to make sure that no one who fears God is left without salvation.

    Please explain how you can have faith (which is not a gift from God) and it not be a work. If it does not stem from God then it is something we do correct?

    I can have faith because God has shown Himself to me and revealed enough about Himself that I believe Him. It is God’s work to reveal Himself and God’s work to draw me and God’s work to save me. My faith is not a work because saving faith is never a work. It is the very opposite of works.

    Mark, why have you been deceived to believe that saving faith is a work in some people when the Scriptures always set faith in opposition to works? Somebody has twisted your head around so that you do not even seen how you flip flop back and forth. “saving faith is a work” and “no, saving faith is not a work”. How could anyone accept Calvinism with this kind of inconsistency and illogical thinking?

  130. #127 Kay,
    You asked:

    Perhaps you can unmuddled something for me – if a person believes in calvinist “total depravity” of the human intellect, how can they ever be certain that they are actually born again? How can they even be certain about their own “total depravity?”

    No one in that mindset can really know for sure. The biggest problem is that there is the teaching that God allows some of the unregenerate to merely believe that they are saved but since He doesn’t give them the “gift” of faith, their belief is really a deception. No one can know for sure, in this thinking, whether the faith that they have is an actual “gift” or if they are one of the deceived ones who only think they have saving faith. This is one of the heartbreaks of Calvinism that causes many to question their own salvation.

    Frankly because of the teaching, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to say for sure if they are really one of the elect according to Calvinist doctrine. The only way that they will ever know for sure is if they persevere to the end. So until the day that they die or until the day that Christ comes, they can never really know for sure.

    I listened to a debate with James White a Calvinist apologist and he was asked about the assurance of his own salvation. He would not answer that question but spoke about the assurance about other people’s salvation. In other words he turned the question around to be how can he know for sure that other people are saved? But that wasn’t the question that he was asked. However I can see that those who really know Calvinism and its teaching very well, do not claim that they can know for sure that they are one of the elect. They can only hope that they will persevere and not be one of those whom God has chosen to mock by giving them a fake belief that isn’t a saving faith. How very, very sad.

  131. Mark,

    Until only recently I was a life long Lutheran.
    I go back far enough to remember the times when Lutheran Pastors wore the Cassock on High Holy Days, and you couldn’t tell Pastor Harzheim from Father Doyle the Jesuit.

    When I began to investigate for myself what the scriptures say and what they do not say in light of God’s whole counsel, I could no longer believe in the doctrine of original sin nor in Luther’s repudiation of free will.

    Religions of the Christian variety are nothing more than ideological belief systems based on varying intepretations of scripture, but they are certainly not “hills to die on”. When they become hills to die on, they strip us of our humanity.

    Cheryl has never preached anything here at her blog but the good news of Jesus Christ, so I’ll sign off with the words of Jesus:

    “…But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in…”

  132. Hi Greg,
    I didn’t remember that you were a Lutheran. What kind words you said on my behalf. Thank you!

    Indeed it seems that there are spiritual leaders whose main purpose in life is to keep people away from the kingdom of heaven. I find this incredibly sad.

    How did they do this? I will quote a couple of good commentaries on the sad state of the leadership of God’s people at the time of Christ:

    How did they “shut up the kingdom”? (v. 13) First, by refusing to receive the message of John the Baptist (21:25–27; 11:16–19). Second, by refusing to acknowledge Christ Himself (John 7:47ff). Third, by keeping the true meaning of the Scriptures from the people (Luke 11:52). By hiding “the key of knowledge” (Christ as seen in the Scriptures) behind their man-made traditions, the scribes and Pharisees actually locked the door to the kingdom of heaven! How tragic when “religious leaders” today shut people out of heaven by rejecting Christ, resisting His Spirit, and refusing to preach and teach His Word.
    Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (pgs 83–84).

    13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men—Here they are charged with shutting heaven against men: in Lu 11:52 they are charged with what was worse, taking away the key—“the key of knowledge”—which means, not the key to open knowledge, but knowledge as the only key to open heaven. A right knowledge of God’s revealed word is eternal life, as our Lord says (Jn 17:3; 5:39); but this they took away from the people, substituting for it their wretched traditions.
    A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Mt 23:13).

  133. Mark,
    You said:

    I’m quite astonished really. What makes Noah righteous? His own free-will? No I don’t think so. Was it not his faith?
    Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

    Noah was righteous in the same way that Job was. His faith made him righteous and his actions lined up with his faith.

    Job 1:1 (NASB)
    1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.

    Job 1:8 (NASB)
    8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

    Job as well as Noah had faith in God and feared God by turning away from evil.

    You see, it was his faith that made him righteous.

    But this faith was his response to God not a “gift” from God. Mark, let me ask you, is the fear of God a “gift” too?

    Gen 6:5 can be taken to mean everyone-it should. We are all by nature corrupt and evil. It is only faith in God which makes us righteous.

    Sorry, but it cannot mean everyone because one cannot have faith in God and fear God and act in a corrupt and evil manner. If this is universal, then please show me where Job acted in a corrupt and evil manner.

    This whole idea that humanity are essentially good people is non-sense.

    I too believe this is nonsense. But it is equally nonsense that unbelievers cannot do good deeds. We are not in bondage to the point that we cannot do good. If Jesus said that the evil Pharisees can do good deeds, then I chose to believe Jesus.

    “Um, where does the Bible say that we need a new heart in order to seek after God?”
    Here is one passage
    Eze 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
    Eze 11:20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

    This passage is not talking “seeking” God. It is talking about having a relationship with God and obeying Him. Those who seek God have not yet found Him. So do you actually have a passage that says that man must have a new heart before he can seek God?

    I can’t see your point in referencing Deut because it actually proves my point. In Deut 10 God calls on the people to circumcise their hearts, but they can’t by themselves.They don’t actually do it. Deut 30 (if you actually looked at the context) is a prophetic word about what is going to happen after the exile. It will be God who does the circumcision of the heart.

    Circumcising of the heart is a two act process. The first part is man’s repentance and the passage shows this:

    Deuteronomy 10:16 (NASB)
    16 “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

    Notice that God links their circumcision to no longer “stiffening” of their neck? This circumcision is repentance and turning toward God. It is then that God does the inward circumcision and actually removes their sin. Repentance and the removal of sin always go together. God cannot repent for us and so repentance is our obligation. We cannot remove our sin so this is God’s obligation to remove the barriers to fellowship with Him.

    This is the new covenant. See Jer 31:31ff also. So you have just proven my point. We can’t give ourselves a heart of flesh, only God can and only God does with the new covenant.

    You are right in that we can’t give ourselves a heart of flesh, but we can and must circumcise our hearts no longer stubbornly stiffening our necks towards God. When we repent, God is able and willing to give us that new heart. God never gives a new heart to unrepentant people for He cannot repent for us.

    “There is nothing at all in the Scriptures that I have seen that says God must give us a new heart before we can seek Him.”

    Look more at the context of Deut as a whole. Look at the failure of the Jews to keep the covenant in their own strength. Look at Jeremiah 31, Ezekial 11, and also Ezekial 36.

    Mark, you are failing to even understand my statement. I am not talking about keeping God’s law. I am talking about “seeking” God. I asked you where the Scriptures say that we must have a new heart before we can even seek God. You not addressed this and you are making seeking God as the same thing as obeying God’s law. It is not the same.

  134. Mark,
    You said:

    “Where does the Bible say that Cornelius was born again before he heard the gospel?”

    You can’t keep copping out and saying everything is human tradition Cheryl, it’s hardly convincing. Now about Cornelius, did God do something before he accepted the message of salvation from Peter? Did he have a vision, did he see an angel of God? Did he not experience all this before he heard the gospel. Yes he did. This is God working before the message of Jesus was even preached. This is the issue.

    No it isn’t the issue. We agree that for a person to come to faith in Christ, God has to work in their life. But where we don’t agree is that you say that the miracle of the new birth happens before one comes to faith in Christ. I asked you to show this miracle of the new birth that happened to Cornelius before he heard the gospel message. Seeing an angel of God hardly qualifies. The miracle of the new birth is the seed of God born in us. Where is that in the text? Please show it to me?

    Does God intervene in people’s lives before they hear the message so that they may believe. According to Acts 10 yes, aswell as the rest of the New Testament. Although the words ‘born again’ are not used here by Luke does not mean that God did not work in Cornelius before he accepted the message.

    Again, you are confusing God’s work in drawing a person with the experience of the new birth. Of course the text doesn’t say that Cornelius was born again before he heard the message because the new birth cannot happen before a person believes.

    The kingdom of God is twofold Cheryl. It came in Jesus, but it is still yet to come until the final consummation. This is the now/not yet tension. I would have thought you would have learnt that in your studies.

    My friend, you are mistaken. The kingdom is not twofold. The kingdom will come in “that day” of the Lord. Rather the king came, not the kingdom. Jesus is very clear about that. He told Pilate that he is king, but he also said that his kingdom was not of this world. No two fold kingdom at all. Just a coming kingdom and a present reigning King.

    So we enter the kingdom of God when we are saved into Jesus name, but we are still waiting to enter it entirely when we go to eternity.

    We enter the kingdom of God only through Jesus. Paul makes this clear. We are “in” Christ. We are buried with him in his death and made alive with Him. And we are “seated” in the heavenlies with him. So our are only in the kingdom now because the King is in heaven and we are His body. But physically on this earth, we have yet to enter the kingdom. It is consistently a future event.

    Ephesians 2:6 (NASB)
    6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

    We are indeed in the heavenly kingdom now — spiritually because our “head” is there and we are indeed “in” Him.

    You have not dealt with John 3 at all. John 3 is clear that we are to be born again BEFORE we see or enter the kingdom of heaven. How can this be if it is after salvation?

    I have consistently dealt with this passage showing that entering into the kingdom is future. But let me add one thing. If God had wanted this passage to say that we must be born again before we can be given the gift of faith and before we can be saved, He could easily have said that. He would not have had to mention a word about heaven for our salvation starts here.

    John 3:3 Hypothetical Calvinist edition
    3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you (Nicodemus, an regenerate man), unless one (including you Nicodemus) is miraculously born again first while they are still in the state of being an unregenerate reprobate man, he cannot be given the gift of faith and be saved.”

    But here is a big problem for you, according to your belief, being born again is not equal to being saved. So when the person is “born again” they are still unregenerate and unsaved. The next thing that happens is that God gifts this unrepentant person who is still not regenerated with the gift of faith. That means that God gives His gift of faith to an unbeliever and a reprobate man. They don’t have to believe God. They don’t even have to love God and they won’t because they are not regenerated through salvation. They are merely “born again”. So God puts His seed into this unbeliever and then He puts a gift of faith into the unbeliever and miraculously they are saved by God’s believing for them and God repenting for them???

    Okay that is all I could get to today. Not sure when I can finish. I have lots of other work to get to. And it is tax season. Oh joy!

  135. Cheryl,

    The kingdom of God/Heaven is the same thing, but just expressed differently, so although the term ‘heaven’ is used it is still the kingdom of God. And please don’t give the impression that I don’t believe the kingdom is not future. I have said it is, but it has also begun in Jesus first visit to earth. That is why in Jesus parables he talks about things growing, the mustard see growing into a tree. This has begun already has it not? Or are all Jesus parables only references on heaven? When John the Baptist said that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, what did he mean in your view? Obviously you don’t believe he was talking about Jesus. Here is another example
    Mar 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    And another
    Mar 4:26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.
    Notice it doesn’t say ‘will’ be like. This is present tense. Again…
    Mar 4:30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
    If the kingdom is ONLY future, it doesn’t make sense. Jesus is describing it then and there to his hearers. What about this one
    Mar 9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
    This doesn’t make sense if the kingdom hasn’t begun yet. There must be people out there 2000years old hey?
    Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
    Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    We are in God’s kingdom when we are justified. It has already begun, although we wait for it’s completion.

    You see Cheryl, the kingdom like I have said has begun, but not yet complete- the now/not yet tension. I understand your insistance to say it is future because you need to see it that way to understand John 3 and regeneration.

    ‘In fact the terms “unregenerate” and “born-again” are opposites. They cannot exist together.”

    I agree. An ungenerate person is one who is dead in sin. A regenerate person is one who has been born again. Your still looking at born again as only salvation, and this is where I think you are wrong.

    “I wonder why you didn’t quote these verses? Is it because they are so obvious about a future judgment and a future entering into the kingdom that they cannot even be twisted to be about the here and the now?”

    Wow, that’s a bit harsh isn’t it. You call me a brother aswell but say I twist the scriptures. Don’t criticise me when you do the same thing. NB. I have said all along that the kingdom is also future-please read me correctly. I disagree that it is ONLY future and was not inaugurated when Christ came.

    “In fact everything about the “kingdom of heaven” is so obviously in the future and not in operation on the earth.”

    I agree that the kingdom is heavenly not on earth. Maybe that is why you misunderstand me. If you think I am saying God’s kingdom is the earth, this is not what I believe. Let me try to say it plainly. God’s kingdom was inaugurated when Christ came, and will be fulfilled at his second coming. Everything in the Bible points to Christ, so when he came, God’s kingdom began. God conquered over sin and death and Satan then- his kingdom began, BUT it is still yet to be completely fulfilled. We live in the period beween the inauguration and the complete fulfilment.

    “Now Mark, I have carefully gone through this piece by piece to show that the action of God which is the verb salvation is the “gift”. The rest only explains how the action is gifted to us “by grace” and “through faith”.

    Cheryl, I disagree with your exegesis. Logically we must say then that ‘grace’ is not even a gift then. Is this what you believe? Do you believe that God does not bestow a gift of grace upon us. Is it just an abstract idea of God’s? Col 2:13 also talks about us being dead in our sins and uncircumcised sinful nature? If we are by nature because of our sinful nature passed down from Adam, dead in sin, how on earth can we possibly have the ability to have faith in God. It simply doesn’t make sense. We needed God to do something to make us not-dead. Why does Paul in 2 Thess thank God that their faith is growing if it is not God’s work?
    2Th 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
    Is it God who increases our faith or is it us? Answer that for me at least.

    “Mark, you must be very busy, because you are not taking the time to carefully read what I have written. I didn’t say that the faith outlined in Ephesians 2 is not for every believer. Instead it is 1 Cor. 12:9 where the faith listed as a gift is not given to every believer.”
    I’m not so sure you were so clear about that one. Look what you wrote…”Salvation is the gift of God and the vehicle is by grace through faith. The faith that is listed as God’s gift is not given to all of the saved just as not all have the same gifts.”

    You were clearly talking about Eph 2:8 in your first sentence, so why should I have assumed you switched in your second sentence. So what you are now saying is that the faith in Eph 2:8 is different to the gift of faith in 1 Cor 12. Maybe it was you who were not so clear, rather than me misreading you? Fair comment?

    “Who is claiming that our faith is “without the help of God”? It isn’t me. We are required to believe, but God is the one who draws us so it is never without the help of God. When you say things like this, I wonder why you do this? Have you accepted a false view of non-Calvinism from those who wish to separate from their brothers and sisters in Christ?”

    Ok I think I am getting closer to understanding your view…maybe! So God ‘draws’ everybody (however that works) and this is how God helps? But when the decision needs to be made then it is solely up to the person…correct? God does not help that person actually believe, he just draws them in however you understand that.
    No I don’t know anyone who wants to separate Calvinists from non-calvinists. I don’t think that is anyone’s intention in our churches. I simply want to know the truth. I want to know that if the act of saving faith is not something God gives to us, how can we say that we are therefore not adding something of our own to salvation? I’m yet to here a convincing statement on it. I can’t see how God draws every single person to himself when clearly not everyone knows about Christianity. I can’t see how as sinful people with a dead corrupt nature we can be expect people to accept Christ unless he opens their eyes to the message.

    “This is illogical. You are defining faith as having nothing at all to do with us.”

    No, not at all, but I think we are at least getting to the heart of the matter- how free-choice and God’s sovereignty work together. Faith is our action, it has to be since people who don’t believe are condemned. However faith is also something God grants to us aswell. Same as repentance in 2 Tim 2. God requires us to repent yet he is the very one who grants it. Look here is a clear example from Scripture that shows what I mean. Think about Joseph- who was responsible for him being sold into slavery in Egypt…his brothers clearly. Yet what does Joseph say.
    Gen 45:8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

    This is the tension in the Bible. We are responsible for our actions, yet at the same time God is at work aswell. It is wrong to go one way or the other. You can’t deny that God is involved in our saving faith, yet you can’t deny that we are the ones who make the decision. This is the tension. We believe because it is very much our decision to believe, yet we believe because it is very much God’s action to make us believe. This is where people stumble because they can’t handle it. But like I pointed out with Romans 9- it is not human will or exertion, but’s God’s mercy which saves us.

    “This is where you are wrong because it is not “saving faith” that is the cause for boasting. It is “salvation” that could be a cause for boasting if one worked for it. But since we already defined saving faith as not a work and since there is nothing that one can do to earn salvation, your comments are illogical.”

    I don’t think you can separate all these things all the time Cheryl. You seem to want to completely separate salvation from faith all the time. Eph 2:8-9 I don’t think allows for that. Sure we can boast if we work for our salvation, but surely there is room for boasting if I believe and you don’t, if faith isn’t a gift. There is heaps of room for boasting. The person who chose, made a better decision, they were wiser, understood more etc etc. This I reject. The verses do not lend themselves to such seperation like you have done. Salvation, grace, faith are all gifts, so that we may never boast of anything of ourselves.

    I think you had a cheap shot a Piper there Cheryl. Any of us are vulnerable to pride not just Calvinists. I’m sure if you or I are ever in a position like Piper or anyone like that we would struggle. It is a good thing that Piper has realised this, he takes sin seriously and I praise God for that. Being a Calvinist does not negate nor increase one’s possibility of being proud- this is something we all struggle with. Maybe it is something even both of us should look at within ourselves.
    But I reject that reformed theology increases people’s pride. That is just a cheap shot. It is illogical. If I believe that God’s elect are purely chosen by God’s choice and mercy (Rom 9) how can I boast- it has nothing to do with me. If however I believe that I am God’s elect because he foreknew what I would choose then I do have room to boast. Being God’s elect was dependent on something I did, something I chose not purely on the mercy and grace of God. I know which one I’d rather be on.

    “I have done that because God has proven Himself faithful.”
    So you chose God because he was faithful? Did you know he was faithful when you were converted or is that something you grew to understand? I sure didn’t know God was this great faithful God when I was converted. What if you wake up tomorrow and no longer believe God is faithful? What is stopping this from happening? Your faith or God’s faithfulness to you? There is too much reliance on myself in your view Cheryl for me to accept. Doesn’t Jesus say even if he raised a dead person people wouldn’t believe. What constitutes enough evidence to show God is faithful?

    “But for Calvinists you can boast that God loves you and doesn’t love a lot of others – at least not with saving love. I can’t say that for God was willing to have saving love for all because He sent Jesus to die for all. You can look around and say that in a crowd of unbelievers that God loved me more than He loved them. I am special to Him for whatever reason. While you may not know the reason why He chose you, the fact that He chose you and you are one of the elite elect chose out of all humanity makes you have lots to boast amongst those that God doesn’t love. Don’t you see how that could cause many like Piper to be prideful?”

    I don’t believe that God loves me more than others- reformed theology doesn’t believe that. We believe the Bible. God loves the world (3:16), he doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze 18). But God also chose to save some and not others according to his pleasure and his will. It has nothing to do with us or that he loves us more. You are misrepresenting reformed theology saying those sorts of things. Perhaps you should read Calvin! Please don’t also describe Calvinists as some sort of ‘elite’- this is unhelpful. If anything Calvinists affirm the total depravity of ALL people. We all deserve hell and punishment for our sin. I would never boast about being God’s elect because I know I have no place for doing that, I never deserved to be saved in the first place.

    1. “The Bible says that repentance is “granted” and God grants repentance to anyone who will fear Him. It is always conditional and it is always dependent on the faithfulness of God to make sure that no one who fears God is left without salvation.”
    This is interesting since you didn’t even deal with the verse I quoted. Let’s look at it
    2Ti 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
    2Ti 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
    2Ti 2:26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    I can’t see here that repentance is conditional to those who fear God. In fact isn’t Paul urging Timothy to pray for these men who are described as ‘opponents’ (not God fearers) so that they may come to a knowledge of the ‘truth’. Doesn’t Paul also describe them as captured by the devil and doing the devils will. These people that Pual says to ask God to grant repentance, definitely do not sound like they fear God.

    “Mark, why have you been deceived to believe that saving faith is a work in some people when the Scriptures always set faith in opposition to works? Somebody has twisted your head around so that you do not even seen how you flip flop back and forth. “saving faith is a work” and “no, saving faith is not a work”. How could anyone accept Calvinism with this kind of inconsistency and illogical thinking?

    You obviously have not understood me at all. Let’s try again. Saving faith is not a work ONLY because it is a gift of God. Once you remove the fact that it is a gift, it no longer is something from God, it is something from man therefore it becomes a work. I am saying the former, you the latter. Faith is opposed to works because it comes from God not man. IF it does not come from God it is from man. Your view( although you say you believe grace alone through faith alone) have made the ‘faith’ part into a man’s work because you deny it is something that God gives us. Do you see the difference. I have stated this several times now. Yes faith is a response, but even a response is a work (because it is something we do) UNLESS it is a gift of God. You are struggling to accept Calvinism because you don’t understand it. That’s why I keep recommending you read Calvin, not me, not any other ‘Calvinists’. Then see if what Calvin saids squares with the Bible.

    “Frankly because of the teaching, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to say for sure if they are really one of the elect according to Calvinist doctrine. The only way that they will ever know for sure is if they persevere to the end. So until the day that they die or until the day that Christ comes, they can never really know for sure.”

  136. Sorry this attaches to the end of the other post

    I disagree. I know I am one of God’s elect because everyday I wake up trusting in Jesus as my Lord. I rely on God’s faithfulness not my own assurance that I will believe to the end. God has promised that he will never let go of his sheep and I trust this. If I trust only in my own faith then I would be scared of my assurance. God is the one we can trust, he is the faithful one and he has promised to hold me. He has promised that the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing my eternal salvation. Calvinism gives assurance because we rely on God not ourselves to perservere. Again you misrepresent Calvin. Where does your security lay Cheryl?

  137. I’m wondering Cheryl if we should continue this feed via email since the posts are getting ridiculously long and hard to engage with every aspect. Let me know

  138. Greg,

    I must admit that my Lutheran knowledge is lacking. I guess you still hold to Luther reclaiming justification by faith alone. Perhaps you still are a Lutheran underneath.

    Can you explain why you reject the doctrine of Original Sin. You talked about the whole counsel of God’s word, which I think is great so we don’t just pull texts that we like which cause contradictions. Do you believe that people are born sinless? Or at least without a sin nature?

    I’m assuming you quoted that verse at me. That’s a big call mate! I hope your willing to back up your doctrinal beliefs. I look forward to hearing your response and seeing how it is you can reject such a big doctrine and yet still hold to Luther’s revival of the true gospel. I’m particularly interesting since I’m the one here trying to defend the orthodox position of the Church, and yet I’m the one labelled a Pharisee. Please respond giving a clear outline of your beliefs and the verses you believe support it.

  139. “I disagree. I know I am one of God’s elect because everyday I wake up trusting in Jesus as my Lord. I rely on God’s faithfulness not my own assurance that I will believe to the end.”

    Hmmm… what if you’re heart is still actually so “totally depraved” that it is deceiving (Jer.17:9) you into thinking that you are trusting in Jesus every day, but really you are not, yet in your “total depravity” you are unable to see it?
    Wouldn’t Jesus need to be doing the trusting for you? Otherwise, wouldn’t your trusting be a “work” to keep God’s assurance?

  140. Kay,

    It seems you do not understand total depravity nor regeneration. Our depravity is a big concept and too detailed for me to explicitly cover in a small post. I suggest you read Calvin’s first two or three chapters in book 2 of the Institutes. Then once you actually understand was is depraved we can discuss further. Until you actually understand it, what i say will be useless.

    You ought to be very careful how you wish to push free-will. Since this is not even a biblical concept we should be wary. Like i said earlier, the faith we have in Jesus is very much our decision and choice to make, yet without being regenerate will we never make it, therefore we need God to intervene to make us new.

    Kay, may i ask you the same question i have asked Cheryl, but have yet to get a reply. How do you pray for non-christians? If it is not God who opens their eyes and soften their hearts what do you pray for? You see when we pray for people we don’t expect them to ‘choose’ on their own do we? We ask God to help them, yet when i write that here it seems radical to people. This is where people’s theology never matches with their Christian walk.

    Cheryl has said that God will draw every single person to himself, so surely we don’t need to pray for that right? Cheryl thinks that saving faith is not the gift of God, so surely we don’t need to pray for God to give them that right? So what do we pray for? Really we are not expecting God to do anything in these people! They have prevenient grace- now it’s up to them right! Why bother praying at all? After all they are only the elect because God foreknew what they would choose- he didn’t play a part. I’ll leave that for you to answer. And please do read Calvin if you can, that way we will at least be somewhere closer to being able to communicate better.

    Maybe also you can tell me why you are so confident in your faith. What gives you assurance

  141. Kay,

    Does not the Bible say that the only way we can call Jesus Lord is by the Spirit? We are totally depraved, sinful creatures, deserving of wrath and punishment UNTIL- God in his mercy makes us new. If i was still totally depraved i would not be able to do that- totally depraved people do not care nor seek for God-they reject Him. Regenerate, forgiven, justified people call Jesus Lord because they are a new creation, they are no longer dead in their sins.
    Hope this helps.

  142. I have been following the thread with great interest but due to Mark and Cheryls frequent and lengthy posts it has been all I am able to do just to keep up my reading. I would like to propose an analogy to help convey what I believe is the biblical teaching here. I have probably borrowed bits and pieces from others along the way. It is only an analogy, I use it because I feel it can convey a complex concept more accurately than a longer post and is more easily understood. Please see past obvious faults with the analogy but test the understanding it conveys against scripture.

    In my analogy lets put a rotten carcus and a roast dinner side by side. In our sin nature we are like a vulture – we will choose to eat the rotten carcus. Our choice is made not because we don’t have access to a roast dinner – it is right beside the carcus but because we actually prefer the carcus – in our sin nature the carcus honestly seems like the right choice, the best choice. It is the choice we will always make as it is our nature to actually prefer the carcus over the roast just as the vulture does. Once God opens our eyes (Mark refers to this as being born again from my understanding) we see the carcus and the roast for what they are. We now can choose what is truly good – the roast dinner and we will choose it every time because in Christ it is now our nature to want the roast dinner. In both cases a free choice was made. In both cases the party chose what they perceived to be best. But while ever we are bound by our sin nature we are not able to choose the roast – we simply don’t want it. Once our eyes are opened we are unable to choose the rotting carcus – its very nature is revolting to us. I believe that this analogy helps as it shows that it is both our free choice to follow Christ and that we would never have been able to make that choice if God hadn’t of first altered our nature and shown us what we were really choosing. Once we understand the choice we choose heaven over hell but we needed to get past our sin nature before this was possible.

    I know that this is not biblical quotation but I feel that it is a picture that is helpful to convey my understanding. This stance can be defended from and its conception was based in scripture, indeed it is a balance of biblical truths of free will and divine grace but I am travelling this weekend so will be unable to elaborate further until next week.

  143. Hi Gazza,
    I am happy that you have found this topic to be of great interest to you. It is good to know that others are reading and following along. It has been a lively discussion and yes, it has had long comments. I need to figure out how to get them shorter, eh? 😉

    I am going to answer your comment before I return to Mark since it is good to have some variety, and you certainly brought that by your analogy.

    Let’s interact with your analogy. You said:

    In my analogy lets put a rotten carcus and a roast dinner side by side. In our sin nature we are like a vulture – we will choose to eat the rotten carcus.

    Would you allow me to change things a bit? I would say that in our sin nature, we naturally are drawn toward the rotten carcass as the rotten carcass stands for sin. But even with our sin nature we are not incapable of eating a roast dinner (with the roast dinner being doing good things). We can eat roast dinner with our family and we can treat them with love and respect, but even with the roast in our bellies, we still find ourselves drawn to that stinky carcass because it pulls at our inner desires.

    Our choice is made not because we don’t have access to a roast dinner – it is right beside the carcus but because we actually prefer the carcus – in our sin nature the carcus honestly seems like the right choice, the best choice.

    Here I would like to bring a bit of change too. We choose the stinky carcass not because it seems like the right choice, but because we just want to choose it. After all we have been given a gift from God called our conscience and our conscience tells us that the stinky carcass is the wrong thing to eat. It is not the best choice, but the choice that we crave despite our conscience telling us something different.

    It is the choice we will always make as it is our nature to actually prefer the carcus over the roast just as the vulture does.

    It isn’t the choice that we will always make because Jesus said that we are capable of choosing the roast, but it is a choice that if we are honest with ourselves, that we would choose if no one was watching and we would not have to suffer any bad consequences like stomach pains or someone watching us shamefully eating the bad meat.

    Once God opens our eyes (Mark refers to this as being born again from my understanding) we see the carcus and the roast for what they are.

    But if this is what our eyes are open to, then God has made the conscience to be of no use at all. No, I don’t think that being “born again” is opening our eyes to the stink of the carcass. We already innately know about the stink because of God’s gift of a conscience.

    What we need is for God to reveal our shame. It is like we have been privately gorging on the bad meat without anyone knowing and then the curtain we are hiding behind is pulled back and our shame is exposed. It is then that we see that we have a need for the Savior because of the light that shines in our darkness.

    But is the exposing of our sin the same thing as being born again? I don’t see how it can be for God has defined the “born again” experience as a new birth with the “seed” of God and the life it brings is eternal life not temporary life.

    Peter talks about our being born again as coming from the imperishable seed within us.

    1 Peter 1:23 (NASB)
    23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

    If we are given an “imperishable seed” at our rebirth, how can this new life be less than eternal life?

    Peter also tells us that the new birth is tied to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

    1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)
    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

    If the new birth is tied to Jesus’ resurrection, how can it anything less than eternal life?

    The new birth is also called “new creation”:

    Galatians 6:15 (NASB)
    15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

    The new creation is a miracle, not just a new way to look at things. It is literally becoming a brand new creation and it means that one is now “in Christ”.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
    17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

    When we are made alive in Christ, it is our salvation.

    Ephesians 2:5–6 (NASB)
    5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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,

    Never does the Bible say that the new birth is a time without Christ or without eternal life or without salvation. It is always attached to salvation, God’s “seed” (being a child of God), eternal life and grace.

    If the new birth is not becoming a child of God through His seed, then when does one become a child of God through what other seed?

    Why would God use words for new life and words that make us an heir of God by His seed if at our new birth there is no eternal life, no inheritance, no seed of God within us? Did God use there metaphors to confuse us about when we inherit eternal life? What other miraculous event happens after the miracle of the new birth that would make us an heir of God?

    The new birth is called the “washing” and “renewing of the Holy Spirit”. Titus 3:5 attaches this new birth to salvation.

    Titus 3:4–6 (NET)
    3:4 But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 3:5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 3:6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.

    Why is there a need for a subsequent miracle that would bring us into the family of God and save us when the “new birth” is already attached to salvation?

    The new birth shown in 1 Peter 1:3-5 is a new birth “into” a living hope and “into” an imperishable inheritance reserved in heaven. What else can God do to tell us that the “new birth” is our miracle that is salvation?

    1 Peter 1:3–5 (NET)
    1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1:4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 1:5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

  144. Gazza,
    You said:

    We now can choose what is truly good – the roast dinner and we will choose it every time because in Christ it is now our nature to want the roast dinner.

    You are right in that it is now our nature to want to do good (eat the roast dinner), however we still have the old nature hanging around and we unfortunately do choose it so that we do not choose the good dinner everytime. Even born again Christians are susceptible to sin.

    In both cases a free choice was made.

    Yes, a choice was made and in both cases we can make both choices, but the one who is the seed of God does not practice sin and the one who is the seed of Adam practices sin although he can do good too, his natural inclination is toward what is not good.

    But while ever we are bound by our sin nature we are not able to choose the roast – we simply don’t want it. Once our eyes are opened we are unable to choose the rotting carcus – its very nature is revolting to us.

    While this sounds like a good analogy, it doesn’t fit the Biblical picture for Jesus said that even the evil people can choose to do good to those who they desire to give of their best. They can give of their best to their children. And at times we who are have been born again will desire the rotting carcass because the old nature pulls us. Our way of life will be continually on the road of life, living by the Spirit’s power even if we do slip up, He gives us aid.

    I believe that this analogy helps as it shows that it is both our free choice to follow Christ and that we would never have been able to make that choice if God hadn’t of first altered our nature and shown us what we were really choosing.

    The problem with this analogy is that it comes across as a works based salvation while we are saved by faith, not by doing good.

    This stance can be defended from and its conception was based in scripture, indeed it is a balance of biblical truths of free will and divine grace but I am travelling this weekend so will be unable to elaborate further until next week.

    I would be happy to see your biblical proof of a “new birth” that has no eternal life, no God’s see and no salvation until later. Honestly, I haven’t seen that in the Scriptures.

    Have a wonderful travelling time!

  145. Mark,
    You said:

    Why stop at verse 27 Cheryl…let’s keep going
    Rom 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
    Rom 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
    Rom 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,…

    Surely you and I have both coveted, surely we have both been slanderers and gossips and boastful etc. This is the nature of humanity not just one specific group.

    This is not the nature of all humanity. The verses above say that they were “filled” with… The Greek term means to be filled up, completely full, come to completion.

    Is this a description of Job? Was God a hater of God? God said that he was righteous and turned away from evil. Job was not one filled up with evil but one who turned away. The verses are a description of those who know the truth and turn away from it.

    Romans 1:32 (NASB)
    32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    The context the passage proves that these are the haters of God and ones who will not turn to God. It is not a description of those who fear God. There are two kinds of humanity, not one. Job was a God fearer and there are many more like him.

    I can’t show you that Cornelius was born again- I don’t deny that. But not every conversion in the bible says ‘and they were born again before they believed’. We don’t always have every detail for every occasion.

    I am glad that you admit the failure of Scripture to show even one case where a person was “born again” before they came to faith. Cornelius would have been an excellent case since he was one who feared God. He was one of those who belonged to the Father and the Father promised those who fear Him, that He would bring them to the covenant. This is fulfilled in Jesus. Cornelius had a vision that prompted him to ask for Peter to come because Cornelius was not a God hater, but one who belonged to the Father as a God fearing man.

    The problem is though to say that we don’t need to be born again contradicts Jn 3, and contradictions are not acceptable.

    We need to be born again because even fearing God is not good enough. We have to have a miracle that removes our sin and makes us clean. It is the new birth that washes us clean.

    You have swept it away be changing what born again means and what the kingdom is.

    I haven’t changed what born again means as I have used the Scriptures to define it for itself. There is no Scripture that says that being “born again” is merely a dead man coming to life but without eternal life within him. Born again means a washing away of our sin through the miracle of regeneration.

    Perhaps you would like to revisit the Scriptures to find one that describes a born again man as one who is without eternal life and needing something else.

    That’s all I can do for tonight. It has been a full day for me. Will try to get through the questions again tomorrow. And I also have a new post I need to finish.

    Thanks Mark for continuing the lively conversation.

  146. Cheryl,

    Just a quick point to help you understand what i mean. I am not saying that those who are born again do not receive salvation and eternal life. Being born again is part of the process of salvation. No one will be born again yet reject salvation. Anyone who is born again is given a new heart. their eyes are open, they accept Jesus as saviour and Lord. I think we would agree on that, and i equally agree with the passages you quoted from Peter- i’m not denying any of that.

    The difference between us is you think people can accept the message of salvation while dead in sin. You base this on the fact that Jesus told the pharisee’s that they did ‘good’ things.

    I do not think people can accept the message while dead in sins. They need the work of the Spirit to open their eyes to the message. Although the pharisee’s did ‘good’ things that has nothing to do with salvation. Any ‘good’ in this world is the common grace of God poured out on believers and non-believers, but this does not mean that they can seek or find God while still dead in sin. There nature is still corrupt.

    From what i can tell you believe unregenrate man has the ability to seek God. I do not. I believe only regenerate man has the ability to seek God. This seems to be our difference. When regeneration occurs! (and perhaps what regeneration means)

    Cheryl, i would love to talk more with you about Job and other OT saints. I think that is a very important point. Can you answer a few brief questions relating to Job- why was he righteous? Or what do you believe made God call him righteous? Was it because he feared God?

    Finally one last question regarding this statement
    “He was one of those who belonged to the Father and the Father promised those who fear Him, that He would bring them to the covenant.”

    Are you saying that God bringing people to salvation or the new covenant is dependent upon them first fearing Him?

  147. “Hope this helps.”

    Mark,
    Given that during our last encounter it appeared you had written me off as a heretic, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the conciliatory tone of your remarks to me here.

    As to how I pray for those I think are non-christians – well this falls along the same lines as when you asked me about having authority over my children and I replied that I viewed it as responsibility to guide them, but not as asserting of authority. My prayers move along the lines of: Dear Lord, You know I’m very concerned about “Pat” so I’m lifting this up to Your care. I realize that You are well aware of the situation and I thank you for that.”
    I gave up a long time ago trying to conjure up specific solutions to suggest as if He needs my helpful hints. 😉

  148. Mark,
    You said:

    Just a quick point to help you understand what i mean. I am not saying that those who are born again do not receive salvation and eternal life. Being born again is part of the process of salvation.

    Mark, I think that you need to be completely forthright and admit that the Calvinist belief is that at the moment that one is “born again” that person is not saved. They are still unregenerate and still one of the reprobate until they believe. There is no “process” of salvation such that they are partly saved and partly regenerated and partly not a reprobate when they are “born again”. They are still fully unsaved at that point. The teaching is that being “born again” only makes them able to be saved by making them able to hear the gospel message.

    One of the problems that I have with Calvinism is that its followers have a hard time actually admitting to the hard teaching of Calvinism to those who are not Calvinists. They system is complicated and this is why so many tell non-Calvinists to go and read chapters of Calvin’s work instead of taking them into the Scriptures and showing the person what Calvinism is clearly and distinctly from the Scripture. Why is that?

    Now are far as how we pray, we ask God to do His work to save a person. A person has enough evidence of the Creator to seek for Him but many do not do that until God intervenes in a more direct way in their lives. We ask for Him to do that for our loved ones and those whom we desire to see saved.

    But it is a complete mystery to me why Calvinists would even pray for someone’s salvation. After all they are taught that God has already picked out the elect from the foundation of the world so no prayer to God would ever change that. If the one you are praying for is one of the elect your prayer is unnecessary. If the one that you are praying for is not one of the elect, your prayer is useless. Do you ever think about this when you pray?

  149. Mark,
    You said:

    No one will be born again yet reject salvation. Anyone who is born again is given a new heart.

    This is another problem area for you. The new heart that is given is one that has been cleansed from sin. How is a person who has a clean heart not saved?

    Psalm 51:10 (NASB)
    10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

    Acts 15:9 (NASB)
    9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.

    When we are given that new heart from God, that heart is cleansed of our sin and it always comes by faith and it always means salvation has come. It is completely baffling to me with the amount of teaching in Scripture about the new birth and the new heart that one could claim that the person is not saved who has that new cleansed heart. But for some reason the “system” of Calvinism doesn’t work without the denial that this is the work of God saving us. It has to be denied. For me, I would rather just believe God’s word that the new birth and the new cleansed heart is God’s work of salvation just as it says.

    their eyes are open, they accept Jesus as saviour and Lord. I think we would agree on that, and i equally agree with the passages you quoted from Peter- i’m not denying any of that.

    The problem is that you are actually denying it. You have to deny that the moment that the person is “born again” and has been given a “new heart” that is cleansed from sin, they are not saved. They will be saved at some point, according to Calvinism, but at that miraculous moment they are not saved. Rather than give God glory for the saving work that He alone does in our heart, Calvinism forces one to deny that this is a saving work of God. I am talking about the right now act of the new heart. You say it leads to salvation, but the Scriptures don’t ever say that. You have to read it into the passage, but I don’t even understand how you can do that. Give God the glory for what He has done. His cleansing work of providing new birth and a new heart cleansed from sin is the act of salvation. I will never deny God the glory of His act.

    Now where does it say that a new heart is not yet salvation? Why would God need to give further gifts to save a person when a heart cleansed of its sin has no ability to be reprobate?

    I will carry on in the next comment.

  150. “But it is a complete mystery to me why Calvinists would even pray for someone’s salvation. After all they are taught that God has already picked out the elect from the foundation of the world so no prayer to God would ever change that.”

    Cheryl,
    I have often wondered the same things.

  151. Mark,
    You said:

    The difference between us is you think people can accept the message of salvation while dead in sin. You base this on the fact that Jesus told the pharisee’s that they did ‘good’ things.

    No. I believe that evil people can do “good” because Jesus said so. I believe that unregenerate people can believe the gospel because God commanded them to believe and then Jesus reasoned with one who was unregenerate. Jesus didn’t say to Nicodemus that you must be “resurrected” to see the kingdom of heaven. He said that you must be “born again”. Jesus was giving him reason to believe. Jesus did not say that He had just resurrected him and had just given him a clean heart so that he could believe. That is foreign to the text.

    Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)
    “Let Us Reason”
    18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the LORD,
    “Though your sins are as scarlet,
    They will be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They will be like wool.

    God always reasons with unbelievers. But this would be completely useless if they had to be resurrected before they could hear.

    God reasoned with Nicodemus and He reasons with us. He gives us a reason to believe and when we do believe He cleanses our heart. But for the Calvinist way of thinking an unregenerate person cannot be reasoned with because they are unreachable because “dead” means they cannot seek for God and they cannot hear God.

    I do not think people can accept the message while dead in sins.

    But the Scripture doesn’t say this and we see God both in the OT and Jesus in the NT reasoning with the unregenerate. This would make God very unwise and unreasonable if unregenerate people cannot hear and accept the message. I want to rely on what the Scripture actually says not what I think the process should be. I want to give God the glory for working hard to reach the unregenerate.

    They need the work of the Spirit to open their eyes to the message.

    Yes, indeed, this is what I have been saying all along. But they do not need to be born again before they can respond and see.

    Although the pharisee’s did ‘good’ things that has nothing to do with salvation. Any ‘good’ in this world is the common grace of God poured out on believers and non-believers, but this does not mean that they can seek or find God while still dead in sin.

    I didn’t say that the good things would save them. But you said that unbelievers couldn’t do any good. I showed you how this is not true in the Scriptures.

    Common grace is indeed given to all. And that common grace is all that is needed for God to allow an unregenerate person to seek Him. In fact only the unregenerate can “seek” God. Once a person is regenerate they have “found” God and they are in His family. The seekers are always the unregenerate.

    From what i can tell you believe unregenrate man has the ability to seek God. I do not. I believe only regenerate man has the ability to seek God.

    Another problem that you have is that only the unregenerate are told to seek for God. The regenerate are told to live by the Spirit. They are not told to seek God because He is already within them. Don’t you see that? Only one who is not filled with God’s Spirit will need to “seek” Him. How can the regenerate be “seekers” when they are God’s family?

    This seems to be our difference. When regeneration occurs! (and perhaps what regeneration means)

    Yes, indeed this is one of the differences between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. I just don’t understand how you can believe that God causes one to be “born again” and put His seed within them and they are given a new heart that has been cleansed from sin and yet they are not saved. I have never seen God put His seed into a person without that person being a child of God. And no child of God is an unsaved person. Your inability to see that totally confounds me. I didn’t need a man’s book to show that to me. The Holy Scriptures speak volumes about salvation.

    Cheryl, i would love to talk more with you about Job and other OT saints. I think that is a very important point. Can you answer a few brief questions relating to Job- why was he righteous? Or what do you believe made God call him righteous? Was it because he feared God?

    I will answer your question from the Scriptures for they alone have the answers.

    Proverbs 1:28–30 (NASB)
    28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
    They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
    29 Because they hated knowledge
    And did not choose the fear of the LORD.
    30 “They would not accept my counsel,
    They spurned all my reproof.

    Job was a person who did not hate knowledge. He accepted God’s counsel and did not spurn God’s reproof. He chose the fear of the LORD because of the knowledge that God gave.

    Psalm 25:12 (NASB)
    12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
    He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

    When we respond to God with the fear of the Lord, He promises to instruct us in the way that we should choose. We are given both the opportunity and the requirement to choose God’s way.

    Job 1:1 (NASB)
    Job’s Character and Wealth
    1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.

    Job 1:8 (NASB)
    8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

    Job chose to fear God because it was a choice given him. He feared God and turned away from evil as God gave Him instructions on how he should live.

    Are you saying that God bringing people to salvation or the new covenant is dependent upon them first fearing Him?

    I am saying that according to the passage of John 6 that we were discussing the ones that were brought to Jesus, those ones, were those who feared God and had been taught by Him.

    John 6:45 (NASB)
    45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

    1 Thessalonians 4:9 (NASB95)
    9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

    All who feared God and chose to hear and learn from the Father were all brought to Jesus and thousands of them got saved in one day.

    Acts 2:5 (NASB)
    5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.

    These devout people were the God-fearers.

    John 9:31 (NASB)
    31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

    Acts 10:2 (NASB)
    2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

    Acts 17:4 (NASB)
    4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.

    The ones who feared God were open to hearing His word.

    Acts 2:37–38 (NASB)
    37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
    38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 2:41 (NASB)
    41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

    These ones who were lead to Christ were already God-fearing people and they readily accepted and heard the Word.

  152. Mark,
    Isn’t it true that genuine belief in Christ means that reward could not have been the motive for faith?
    To me, the reality of the human conscience and reasoning ability (Isa.1:18) makes it practical to assume that we do have free will. If I’m right in that assumption, fine; and if I’m wrong, then according to Calvin, I was pre-destined to be wrong and have lost nothing by my involuntary holding of an erroneous view.

  153. Kay,
    The Calvinists “inability” to understand that even though we are fallen people, we still have a measure of free will is puzzling to me. If all was predestined, then there is no ability to do anything that is truly “free” of the man since we have been preprogrammed to do what God wants. The ones programmed for salvation will respond when the right button is pushed (the Calvinist “born again” button) and the unregenerate or reprobate will respond exactly how God preprogrammed that person to respond. It is like a no-brainer. If I am predestined not to be a Calvinist, because God predestined everything, then why try to convert me? Wouldn’t that be going against God’s predestination? And wouldn’t there be no hope of conversion if God had predestined me not to be a Calvinist?

    I really ponder how Calvinists can not just throw up their hands and do nothing. After all what is, is what God planned and if God wants you to do something He will push a button and you will respond. Why try and fight against what is a set-in-stone issue by God’s own decree?

    It is really, really puzzling to me.

  154. “If I am predestined not to be a Calvinist, because God predestined everything, then why try to convert me? Wouldn’t that be going against God’s predestination?”
    Cheryl,
    I’m equally as puzzled. It reminds me of folks I know who during each presidential election try to convince everyone that one of the candidates is “the” anti-Christ – so do not vote for them. And I’m thinking: if you really believe that then why aren’t you standing in your front yard looking up??

  155. Mark,
    Some of your comments lead me to wonder if you are aware that Judaism was never a “works based” religion, but a Covenant-based relationship? The Covenant was established first. Torah obedience was seen as the outflow of the Covenant relationship, but not the means of establishing the relationship with God. “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” Gal.2:15-16
    I think we can agree that the New Covenant is the same way.

  156. I will work backwards.

    Kay,

    I totally agree that God’s covenant’s have always been covenants of grace. God chose Abraham first. God chose Israel from amongst the nations. God chose those who were to be in the new covenant. You are right that our works flow out from our salvation. I’m not sure which i my comments made you believe i meant something else.

    But isn’t it therefore intriguing that Cheryl believes that poeple must be God fearers BEFORE they can be saved. That doesn’t seem to fit with the pattern you outlined Kay. It seems to me that CHeryl thinks we must do something (or at least have a certain quality) before we are allowed to be saved. Maybe i haven’t understood properly- i dunno. BUt i guess it essentially changes the nature of evangelism doesn’t it- we need to make people fear God first!

  157. Mark,
    Again I think you failed to understand me. I said that those who were God-fearers belonged to the Father and He gave them to Jesus. Those who will be saved are those who listen to God and learn from Him. Those who refuse to listen and learn have no fear of God in them.

    I notice that you seem to ignore all the Scriptures I gave about God’s promises to those who would fear God. Is it because you believe that God brings those who hate God and who have disobeyed Him, to Jesus?

  158. Regarding #157,

    Cheryl and Kay,

    You have both clearly shown that you don’t actually understand reformed theology. It is clear by the comment “The Calvinists “inability” to understand that even though we are fallen people, we still have a measure of free will is puzzling to me.”

    No Calvinist denies we have free will. The question is how far has our free will been corrupted because of the fall. If you think Calvinist don’t believe in a free-will then you are wrong. We do! But as the bible saids our nature is now corrupt from the fall. Remember the threat of the garden if they ate- death! Both physical and spiritual. Spiritually we are dead, seperated from God as were Adam and Eve after the fall. We are in broken relationship with God. Our ‘free-will’ therefore is also dead. It no longer seeks after the right thing. It loves darkness, it loves sin. This is where the difference lies. Calvinist take Eph 2 seriously- we are dead in sins. Cheryl’s view makes us just sick not dead. If we are dead we need to be made alive and only God can do that. IF we were just sick, then sure we might have the ability to do it ourselves.

    “If I am predestined not to be a Calvinist, because God predestined everything, then why try to convert me? Wouldn’t that be going against God’s predestination? And wouldn’t there be no hope of conversion if God had predestined me not to be a Calvinist?”

    This made me laugh! Maybe you should read again Romans 9 when Paul expects these responses.
    Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
    Rom 9:20 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?”

    Maybe it will be helpful to also remember how Jesus taught us to pray- that God’s will will be done, not ours. The fact is no-one knows who God’s chosen people are except God. That is why we preach the gospel to every single person we meet. God’s uses the faithful proclamation of His salvation to draw his people to himself. There is a great difference between us. See I believe in the power of grace and the power of God. I believe that God can change any person. I do not just sit back and pray to God as an abstract figure, who will or cannot change the hard hearts of people. Yes I believe that God has predestined some to salvation and not others- the bible teaches that. But this does not negate the need for evangelism, it actually encourages it. If I did not believe that it was God who changed people then I would feel immense pressure on what I did. Did I say it right? Was I good enough, clear enough? This is the difference between a Calvinist and Arminian- who they rely on to change people.

  159. Mark,
    You said:

    Spiritually we are dead, seperated from God as were Adam and Eve after the fall. We are in broken relationship with God. Our ‘free-will’ therefore is also dead. It no longer seeks after the right thing.

    The Bible never says that our “free-will” is dead. This is something that is added to the text by the reasoning of Calvinists. The fact that those who are evil can do good things proves that their free will to chose what is right is not “dead”. If it was completely dead, they could not ever do anything that is good. But Jesus’ teaching on this is plain and when people contradict His word, they go off into definitions that are not Biblical.

    It loves darkness, it loves sin. This is where the difference lies. Calvinist take Eph 2 seriously- we are dead in sins.

    Calvinists misunderstand Ephesians 2 by saying that an unregenerate “dead” man cannot do good. If their foundation of understanding what it means to be “dead” in sins is flawed, the entire doctrine and its results will be flawed. You need to deal with what Jesus said and make that a part of the picture and quit denying that those who are unregenerate can do good things.

    Cheryl’s view makes us just sick not dead.

    Jesus said that He came for those who are sick. Where does He say that He came for those who are “dead”? Notice that Jesus calls sinners as “sick”.

    Mark 2:17 (NASB)
    17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”>

  160. Mark,
    You said:

    If we are dead we need to be made alive and only God can do that.

    If we are “dead” then we need a resurrection not a rebirth. Those who are sick need to have a new heart that is cleansed, not resurrected.

  161. Mark,
    You said:
    IF we were just sick, then sure we might have the ability to do it ourselves.

    Jesus said that the sick need a physician. They cannot heal themselves.

  162. Cheryl,

    I don’t disagree with any of your scriptures. I agree that we are to fear God. I agree that people fear God. Where i disagree is that we can do this before we are saved or before the supernatural help of the Spirit. This is the issue. None of your scriptures say anything about people having to be God fearers before they come to God. Cornelius was a god fearer as a member of the Old covenant. THis was the description for those who converted to Judaism but would not get circumcised. This was not a requirement for him to be saved. He was already a partaker in the Judaism of the day.

    You also need to keep in mind that the early chapters of Acts is when the message was spreading amongst the Jews. They already knew Yahweh adn his covenants. THis is not the same situation as Joe Blow down the street who has never heard about 1st century Judaism or Jesus Christ.

  163. Mark,
    You said:

    This made me laugh! Maybe you should read again Romans 9 when Paul expects these responses.
    Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
    Rom 9:20 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?

    Nope, you are wrong. This isn’t me. I am very happy that God made me like this and I do not see this as an injustice on God’s part.

  164. Mark,

    Maybe it will be helpful to also remember how Jesus taught us to pray- that God’s will will be done, not ours.

    This has always caused me confusion too with Calvinists. How can you pray for God’s will to be done if God’s will cannot not be done? This would only work if God’s will may not be done if men stiffen their necks to his work. I have no idea how you think that a prayer like this would make sense to a Calvinist who believes that all things are preordained from the beginning. How is your prayer going to change that?

  165. Mark,
    You said:

    The fact is no-one knows who God’s chosen people are except God. That is why we preach the gospel to every single person we meet.

    And God has no way to direct you to the elect and to stay away from the reprobate? Why would He be interested in you preaching the gospel to anyone who has not been picked by Him?

    Yet throughout Scripture we see God specifically sending His prophets to people who He knew would be lost. It is a godly thing to preach even to those who would harden their own hearts, but what good comes out of sending prophets to preach to those whom God predestined to be lost?

  166. Cheryl

    Do those people who do ‘good’ things get them in a right relationship with God? No of course not.

    We are talking about an ability to come to God and recieve salvation. In terms of our nature and sin we are dead. This is precisely what Eph 2 is talking about, not about doing good things, so i actually think it is ou who does not understand the passage.

    It is irrelevant if people can do good things because this has nothing to do with salvation which Eph 2 is talking about. IN terms of our nature and relationship to God, becasue of our sin we are Dead, not just sick.

    Jesus uses the term ‘sick’ because he is contrasting wiht the ‘healthy’. You are importing foreign ideas into Eph 2. Pauls interest is between being dead in sins, and alive in Christ, not sick and healthy. Also notice the last contrast of JEsus- he did not come for the righteous but the sinners. It is clear that healthy= righteous, and sick=sinners in Jesus account. You are completely distorting both passages.

  167. Mark,
    You said:

    God’s uses the faithful proclamation of His salvation to draw his people to himself. There is a great difference between us. See I believe in the power of grace and the power of God. I believe that God can change any person.

    Do you really? Do you believe that God can change any person if that person is a reprobate that was chosen from eternity past to be lost?

    I do not just sit back and pray to God as an abstract figure, who will or cannot change the hard hearts of people.

    It would be wrong to think that non-Calvinists believe that we are praying to God as an “abstract figure” or that God cannot change a person by creating events that will bring them face to face with their sin and God’s judgment. Paul had a change from an outside event on the road to Emmaeus. God did not push a button to create a new heart in Paul without Paul’s will desiring that. He created an event that caught Paul’s attention and made Paul fall down before God in submission.

    Yes I believe that God has predestined some to salvation and not others- the bible teaches that.

    Name me one person that the Bible says was predestined to salvation.

  168. Mark,
    You said:

    But this does not negate the need for evangelism, it actually encourages it. If I did not believe that it was God who changed people then I would feel immense pressure on what I did.

    Well you are relying on God but you have no idea whether he will change that person or not because you have no idea whether God loves them or not. I have a freedom to know for sure that God loves everyone and wants all to come to repentance. And I know that God is willing to draw them and that He will help me to say what needs to be said to make their heart condition clear.

    I don’t feel an immense pressure at all. I feel like it is a privilege and I know that the work that I do is not offending God by praying for them and studying to show myself approved unto God as a workman for their benefit. But you may be offending God by working hard at evangelizing someone who has been specifically chosen to go to hell. How does God feel about your work and how does He feel when He cannot help you to share God’s love with that man since God doesn’t love him? It seems like I am the one who has complete freedom knowing that I am doing God’s will and not fighting against it by praying for someone who God doesn’t love.

    Did I say it right? Was I good enough, clear enough? This is the difference between a Calvinist and Arminian- who they rely on to change people.

    Perhaps yo9u were relying on yourself to change people you were not a Calvinist, but I have the freedom to give my best and know that God is able to take my mistakes and use them for His glory. Even our mistakes can be used to win the lost. I do not worry, I do evangelism for God’s glory and then I leave Him with the results and praise Him for what He alone can do.

  169. “Nope, you are wrong. This isn’t me. I am very happy that God made me like this and I do not see this as an injustice on God’s part.”

    Cheryl, this is exactly you, because you think it is unfair that God’s ordains all things as you have said before. My guess though is that you have re-interpreted Romans 9 aswell to make it say something it isn’t.

    “And God has no way to direct you to the elect and to stay away from the reprobate? Why would He be interested in you preaching the gospel to anyone who has not been picked by Him?”

    We are told in the bible to make disciples of all nations- to tell all about Jesus. When people reject this they are condemned. We would all be condemned if God by His Spirit did not open our eyes and soften our hearts. By preaching, God’s elect are saved by belief and those who reject the message are condemned.

    You are right that God sent prophets to people who he knew would not repent. We see this with Isaiah early on. We see it in Acts when only those destined to believe are saved. We see it in 1 Peter when those who reject the stone, stumble because that is what they were destined for. Surely you believe that people are either destined to believe or not, unless of course you hold to some kind of open theology. Even if you are an Arminiam you believe this, because Arminians at least believe in God’s foreknowledge.

  170. Mark,
    You said:

    I don’t disagree with any of your scriptures. I agree that we are to fear God. I agree that people fear God. Where i disagree is that we can do this before we are saved or before the supernatural help of the Spirit.

    Show me a Scripture that says that one cannot fear God before they are saved.

    Let me show you a Scripture that showed that people did fear God before they were saved.

    Acts 10:1–2 (NASB95)
    Cornelius’s Vision
    1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,
    2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

    Are you going to say that this Gentile who fear God was already saved? If there is even one example of one who feared God before they were saved then the doctrine that no one can fear God until they were saved is false.

    This is the issue. None of your scriptures say anything about people having to be God fearers before they come to God. Cornelius was a god fearer as a member of the Old covenant.

    Cornelius was a Gentile. How was he a member of the Old covenant? And I didn’t say that people have to fear God before He calls them, but I did say that those who feared God were brought to Jesus and the new covenant. When they feared God and were taught by Him, they belonged to the Father. Which God haters belonged to the Father?

    It seems to me that you are making all people into one category when God has said that there are differences.

    Malachi 3:17-18 (NASB95)
    17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
    18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

    This is the passage that talks about those who fear God and that God promises to bring them to His covenant. God said that there is a distinguishing between these two kinds of people (the God-fearers and the God-haters) and you say they are all the same. Seems to me that you contradict the Word quite a lot.

  171. Mark,
    You said:

    THis was the description for those who converted to Judaism but would not get circumcised. This was not a requirement for him to be saved. He was already a partaker in the Judaism of the day.

    Again you bypass the fact that this one was a God-fearer before he was saved. This fact doesn’t fit with Calvinism.

  172. Mark,
    You said:

    You also need to keep in mind that the early chapters of Acts is when the message was spreading amongst the Jews. They already knew Yahweh adn his covenants. THis is not the same situation as Joe Blow down the street who has never heard about 1st century Judaism or Jesus Christ.

    We are once again talking about a person being a God-fearer before they are saved. Yet you say that one cannot seek God before one is “born again”. Does God say that those who fear Him will be brought to the covenant or does He say that He will take those who hate Him and drop something into them that makes them automatically fear Him? Is it a gift from God or is it a response from man?

  173. Mark,
    You said:

    Do those people who do ‘good’ things get them in a right relationship with God? No of course not.

    We are talking about an ability to come to God and recieve salvation. In terms of our nature and sin we are dead. This is precisely what Eph 2 is talking about, not about doing good things, so i actually think it is ou who does not understand the passage.

    We have not been talking about doing good deeds to get saved. We have been discussing whether an unregenerate person can do good things. We are talking about an inability to do good, an inability to seek God and an inability to fear God without being born again. I have shown you verse after verse where those who have not yet been born again fear Him, seek for Him, and even those who are evil and do not seek for God can do good. That is the issue and you have failed to prove your point from the Scriptures.

    When you became a Calvinist did you actually study this issue using an alternative view from the Scriptures or did you only receive influence from Calvinists? Have you read any books refuting Calvinism or dialogged with those who are not Calvinists in a respectful and passionate way before you became a Calvinist or did you just follow the path without any serious opposition?

  174. “but I have the freedom to give my best and know that God is able to take my mistakes and use them for His glory.”

    So you are expecting God to open the eyes of unbelievers, you no longer are saying that it is their own strength which saves them.

    “Name me one person that the Bible says was predestined to salvation.”

    Abraham was chosen purely by God’s grace. Moses was chosen purely by God’s grace. So was Isaac, so was Jacob. So was Paul since he was persecuting Christians until God changed him. IT sure wasn’t Paul’s concern for seeking Jesus.

    Maybe you can clarify if you at all believe that people are predestined to salvation? Oh I almost forget, it seems Paul thought the Ephesians were predestined to salvation.

    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
    Eph 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

    1. “Do you really? Do you believe that God can change any person if that person is a reprobate that was chosen from eternity past to be lost?
    Yes I do believ God can change any unregenerate person according to his will and purpose as Paul’s says. IF it is not according to God’s will, then no it will not happen. Everything happens according only to God’s will and mercy not our own as Romans 9 states.

    “It would be wrong to think that non-Calvinists believe that we are praying to God as an “abstract figure” or that God cannot change a person by creating events that will bring them face to face with their sin and God’s judgment.”

    Ok I see. So you only ask God to ‘create events’ that will bring these people into a certain position. So you ask God for an opportunity to say something, but you don’t actually ask God to open your friends eyes right?

    Final point, I have said and shown you from the bible why I believe God loves all people. Please don’t insistently keep saying God loves some more than others. You are hardly being fair to people who disagree with you. Don’t distort people’s views who disagree with you.

  175. Mark,
    You said:

    It is irrelevant if people can do good things because this has nothing to do with salvation which Eph 2 is talking about. IN terms of our nature and relationship to God, becasue of our sin we are Dead, not just sick.

    Sorry, my friend, you said that Eph 2 proves that the unregenerate are dead in sin and this means that they cannot seek for God and cannot do good. Now that your understanding has been challenged and proven wrong, you want to change the challenge.

    And why did Jesus refer to sinful men as sick? Would you be making fun of him for doing so? How do you deal with the passages where Jesus talks about sinful men as sick?

  176. Mark,
    I should have read a little further for your answer.

    You said:

    Jesus uses the term ‘sick’ because he is contrasting wiht the ‘healthy’.

    But Jesus also uses the term healthy to refer to the saved and “sick” to refer to the unsaved.

    Mark 2:17 (NASB)
    17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Look carefully at the above verse. Who is Jesus calling “sick”? It is the righteous or the sinners?

    Here is another quote:

    Luke 5:31–32 (NASB)
    31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
    32 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

    Are the righteous ones the well ones? Are the sinners the sick ones? Is it the sick ones that he is calling to repentance?

  177. Mark,
    You said:

    You are importing foreign ideas into Eph 2. Pauls interest is between being dead in sins, and alive in Christ, not sick and healthy.

    Is Paul contradicting Jesus? Jesus calls them sick. And His words are recorded twice. Where is a second witness that sinners are “dead” and in need of a resurrection?

    Also notice the last contrast of JEsus- he did not come for the righteous but the sinners. It is clear that healthy= righteous, and sick=sinners in Jesus account. You are completely distorting both passages.

    Yes, that is what I just said. Sinners are sick. They need to be made well, they don’t need to be resurrected. Sinners indeed are sick and Paul is not contradicting Jesus.

  178. Mark,
    You said:

    So you are expecting God to open the eyes of unbelievers, you no longer are saying that it is their own strength which saves them.

    I have never said that a sinner’s own strength saves them. Why can’t you see that? Don’t you realize that salvation is a miracle? Don’t you see that we are incapable of creating that miracle? Don’t you see that God alone can cause the miracle of the new birth, that He alone can put His seed in us and that He alone saves us. It is not of ourselves. It is 100% of God.

  179. Wow Cheryl i cant keep.

    Let me make a proposal because there are some real issues here. Why don’t we slow down and actually look at passages exegetically and in context rather than just proof texting.

    After all one cannot claim that we can seek God if Romans 3 is correct that none can (unless of course Romans 3 is not as clear as it seems as you suggest)

    Likewise one cannot say God has ordained some to salvation and others not, if there are passages which contradict that.

    At least maybe this way we will be more faithful to scripture rather than proof texting all the time, and that way we can slow down a bit and actually discuss the bible, not theologies or presupposed ideas.

    Ill leave it up to you. You can even choose the passage if you want. How’s that!

  180. Sorry, my friend, you said that Eph 2 proves that the unregenerate are dead in sin and this means that they cannot seek for God and cannot do good.

    No, my point was that good does not equal faith. Roman 14 says anything not done in faith is sin. Therefore it may be good becasue of God’s common grace, but it is still sinful because they are not doing it in faith in the God who enables them to do good- this is the difference. People of themselves are corrupt and evil (Gen 6:5), any good is becasue of God’s grace to them, but it is still sinful becasue what they do isn’t in faith.

    Here’s an example- When people build a hospital it is a good thing becasue it helps people etc etc (God’s common grace), however if those poeple who built that hospital do not build it in faith in God, they are sinning. THis is the issue and the nature of our humanity

  181. Mark,
    You said:

    Cheryl, this is exactly you, because you think it is unfair that God’s ordains all things as you have said before. My guess though is that you have re-interpreted Romans 9 aswell to make it say something it isn’t.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, if God has ordained me to be a non-Calvinist I don’t think it is unfair at all. I am happy and content and I belong to God. Why would I call God unfair to me?

    We are told in the bible to make disciples of all nations- to tell all about Jesus. When people reject this they are condemned.

    No they are not. They are condemned because God chose them for destruction without any conditions. ‘Apparently He made them to go to hell so it isn’t their rejection of the gospel that sends them there.

    We would all be condemned if God by His Spirit did not open our eyes and soften our hearts. By preaching, God’s elect are saved by belief and those who reject the message are condemned.

    Actually that isn’t true either. It is according to the Calvinist message that we learn that the elect are that way unconditionally. You can’t now say that their salvation depends on a condition. They were picked unconditionally, remember?

    Surely you believe that people are either destined to believe or not, unless of course you hold to some kind of open theology. Even if you are an Arminiam you believe this, because Arminians at least believe in God’s foreknowledge.

    Being “destined to believe” is not about God’s foreknowledge. It is about predestination by God’s unconditional election so no I do not believe that people are unconditionally destined to believe.

    You said:

    Abraham was chosen purely by God’s grace. Moses was chosen purely by God’s grace. So was Isaac, so was Jacob. So was Paul since he was persecuting Christians until God changed him. IT sure wasn’t Paul’s concern for seeking Jesus.

    Where does the Bible say that Abraham was chosen purely by God’s grace?

    Romans 4:3 (NASB)
    3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

    It was Abraham’s belief of God that was credited with righteousness. The Bible never says that Abraham’s salvation was only by grace without faith. It was never unconditional.

    Moses, Isaac and Jacob were not chosen for salvation. They were chosen for a task. Show me one verse that says that God chose them for salvation unconditionally without faith.

    Maybe you can clarify if you at all believe that people are predestined to salvation? Oh I almost forget, it seems Paul thought the Ephesians were predestined to salvation.

    I believe in predestination because the Scriptures teach it. But the Scriptures never teach a predestination to salvation of the wicked without the condition of faith. There is a predestination to earthly work but never a predestination to salvation without condition.

    Look at John the Baptist. He was predestined to become the fore runner of Christ yet he was not predestined to salvation. He expressed doubt that Jesus was the Messiah.

    Luke 7:19 (NASB)
    19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”

    You answered my question this way:

    1. “Do you really? Do you believe that God can change any person if that person is a reprobate that was chosen from eternity past to be lost?
    Yes I do believ God can change any unregenerate person according to his will and purpose as Paul’s says. IF it is not according to God’s will, then no it will not happen. Everything happens according only to God’s will and mercy not our own as Romans 9 states.

    Did you read my question? I asked if God can change a person who has been predestined from eternity past to be lost. Are you saying that God predestines someone unconditionally be lost and then later he conditionally changes that so that they can no longer be lost even when He had decreed them to be lost? That seems awfully weird. Are you sure that you believe that God can contradict Himself?

    Ok I see. So you only ask God to ‘create events’ that will bring these people into a certain position. So you ask God for an opportunity to say something, but you don’t actually ask God to open your friends eyes right?

    Sure I ask for God to open my friend’s eyes. Remember that the Bible doesn’t call this being “born again”. It is an opening of the eyes so that they can see their condition but it is not bring a dead person to life as a “born again” person. So yes, I regularly pray this way and I am expecting that God will answer yes, because it is His will to save. Unfortunately many whose eyes have been opened by God will refuse to believe by the act of their will. They reject Him with their eyes wide open to the truth.

    Final point, I have said and shown you from the bible why I believe God loves all people. Please don’t insistently keep saying God loves some more than others. You are hardly being fair to people who disagree with you. Don’t distort people’s views who disagree with you.

    If you follow Calvinism, I know what you believe about love. You believe that God loves all, but He has no saving love for those whom He has predestined to be lost. So while I can preach the gospel and tell all that God loves them and desires that they would be saved, you would not be able to preach that and assure them that Jesus died for their sins. If you actually believed that God loves all in a saving way, you would not be a Calvinist, so I don’t know how you can say I misrepresented you. Point blank – do you believe that God loves all with a saving love?

  182. Mark,
    You said:

    Let me make a proposal because there are some real issues here. Why don’t we slow down and actually look at passages exegetically and in context rather than just proof texting.

    After all one cannot claim that we can seek God if Romans 3 is correct that none can (unless of course Romans 3 is not as clear as it seems as you suggest)

    I have no problem with going through the Scriptures. But the problem that you mainly have is that you want to hold to a view that causes the rest of the Scriptures to contradict Romans 3. Paul is not adding to the Scriptures. If he was how could we be Bereans? The Bereans were more noble because they checked out Paul’s teaching by the OT Scriptures. If Paul contradicted the OT Scriptures like you believe he did, wow, that would make a real problem about whom to believe.

    Likewise one cannot say God has ordained some to salvation and others not, if there are passages which contradict that.

    God ordains believers to salvation. There isn’t one Scripture where an unbeliever is ordained to salvation. That is why I asked you. And I am still waiting for even one Scripture where the actual ordaining is of an unbeliever to salvation. Go ahead and prove me wrong if you can.

    At least maybe this way we will be more faithful to scripture rather than proof texting all the time, and that way we can slow down a bit and actually discuss the bible, not theologies or presupposed ideas.

    Well, my friend, I am the one who kept calling you to the context and showing you where it disagreed with your view. You are the one who tried proof texting. But if it will keep you honest, let’s go for it.

    Ill leave it up to you. You can even choose the passage if you want. How’s that!

    How about John 6?

  183. Mark,
    You said:

    No, my point was that good does not equal faith.

    Oh my, is that ever baloney. If that was what you were arguing for we wouldn’t have argued for I to believe that good does not equal faith.

    Roman 14 says anything not done in faith is sin.

    Context, my friend, context. Who does this apply to? It is “anything” not for “anyone”. You can’t just change the words around and make this apply to everyone. It is for Christians who go against their conscience and without faith. That is certainly a sin. You have failed to show from the passage where it refers to unbelievers since no unbeliever can do a single thing in faith. Remember we talked about this?

    People of themselves are corrupt and evil (Gen 6:5), any good is becasue of God’s grace to them, but it is still sinful becasue what they do isn’t in faith.

    Job wasn’t corrupt and sinful. He listened to God and he feared Him and turned away from evil. This was God’s witness. Why should I believe you when you are taking a text out of the context and disagreeing with what God said about Job?

    Sorry, but I will go with God everytime because I am and want to continue to fear God.

    Here’s an example- When people build a hospital it is a good thing becasue it helps people etc etc (God’s common grace), however if those poeple who built that hospital do not build it in faith in God, they are sinning. THis is the issue and the nature of our humanity.

    Not only is this not what the Scripture says, but let’s play this one out and see where it gets us. We go to those people who are looking to build the hospital and we tell them that they cannot build because they don’t have faith in God. So we go around the world and force everyone to stop doing anything good because we don’t want them to be bigger sinners. So less hospitals, less people helping other people. And this is what God wants?

    Here we would say “Give your head a shake!”

  184. ‘Is Paul contradicting Jesus? Jesus calls them sick. And His words are recorded twice. Where is a second witness that sinners are “dead” and in need of a resurrection?’

    I’m not sure why you are trying to play Jesus words off against Paul as if the red letter parts of the bible are more authoritative. But just so you are aware here is a second witness to being dead in sin apart from Eph 2:1

    Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

    John 6 sounds great. What parts? What have you got in mind?

  185. by the way, just a few more verses to show you that the kingdom was inaugurated in Christ’s coming

    Luk 17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed,
    Luk 17:21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

    Mat 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

    thoughts??

  186. “People of themselves are corrupt and evil (Gen 6:5), any good is becasue of God’s grace to them, but it is still sinful becasue what they do isn’t in faith.”
    Mark,
    Here’s what Genesis 6:5 says in context:
    “5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. 9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood…”
    7:13 “On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark”

    Notice verses 8-10 &14 and 7:13.

  187. Kay,

    I’m not sure i follow your point. Noah was a man declared righteous because of his faith. I would have thought we agreed on that?

    “By faith ?Noah, being warned by God concerning ?events as yet unseen, in reverent fear con-structed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of ?the righteousness that comes by faith.”- Heb 11:7

    It is faith that make some righteous not what they do. This is the case with Noah. This doesn’t mean though that we was exempt from the sinful nature of Adam and his offspring. By nature (Noah) and us have a sinful nature. Our hearts are stone, sinful. Sin is evil is it not? IF our hearts are by nature sinful, then we by nature are evil in relation to a Holy God. See also

    The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

    3 For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
    4 ? Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil ?in your sight,
    ? so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
    5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:3-5

    This is why we need a new heart (Jer 31:31ff). We need the law written on our heart, not stone. We need the indwelling of the Spirit. In other words we need God to give us something we can’t do ourselves. We cannot be righteous in and of ourselves (or our actions). If we as humans are not born corrupt in need of help, then what is the significance of the atonement, we would not need it.

    Finally a vital text

    “And even ?if our gospel is veiled, ?it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case ?the god of this world ?has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing ?the light of i?the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ?ourselves as your servants? for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, ? “Let light shine out of darkness,” ?has shone in our hearts to give ?the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:4ff

    Unbelievers are blind! The gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. But God has shown light in believers hearts. He has opened their eyes from darkness to light, from being dead to being alive. Just as what is promised in the prophecies of the Old Covenant.

  188. sorry about all the question marks in the texts, something went wrong there.

    Kay, can i ask if you accept or reject the doctrine of Original Sin?

  189. Cheryl

    “Job wasn’t corrupt and sinful.”

    Are you saying Job did not have the inherited sinful nature of Adam or that he was a sinful man?

    “therefore I (Job) despise myself,
    and repent? in ?dust and ashes.” Job 42:6

    Why repent if he wasn’t corrupt and sinful? Sure Job is described as righteous and upright, but to therefore conclude he was not sinful is wrong, the bible shows that. It is in precisely the same way that we as God’s people are declared righteous yet we sin continually and must repent and seek forgiveness. Being described as righteous does not mean that he wasn’t sinful or by nature had a corrupt heart in need of God’s enlightening.

    “But the Scriptures never teach a predestination to salvation of the wicked without the condition of faith. There is a predestination to earthly work but never a predestination to salvation without condition.”

    “For those whom he ?foreknew he also ?predestined l?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.” Romans 8:29:30

    Here we are presestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus (thus we must be saved) not an earthly work. Also note our predestination comes before justification (and therefore faith). Now where does the bible say we are predestined conditionally.

    “In love ?he predestined us? for ?adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” Eph 1:5

    Here again we are predestined for adoption through Jesus, by God’s will NOT because he foreknew what we would choose.

    Not to forget all of Romans 9 which is clearly dealing with individual salvation not just ‘earthly work’. After all the Jews would never have been offended by the truth of Romans 9 if Paul was simply talking about earthly work. Not only that but the whole premise of Romans 9 hinges on verse 6b, where Paul said that not all Israel (earthly communal election) are true Israel (those predestined to salvation). This he saids becasue the question is raised whether God’s word has failed with the Jews. So Cheryl, the Bible does clearly teach UNconditional election. THis is the sovereignty of God.

    I would seriously like to hear your definition of God’s sovereignty?

  190. Mark,
    I have been working on my next post so I didn’t get a chance to get to your last questions and comments. It is an extremely busy time for me so please have patience with me.

    If you are producing your comments in Word and then transferring them onto the blog, that may be why you are getting question marks. The formatting is better if you want to do you work in notepad instead even if you write in Word and then copy and paste to Notepad to remove Word formatting and then copy and paste from Notepad to the blog.

    I have time for only one comment this morning. You said:

    Finally a vital text

    “And even ?if our gospel is veiled, ?it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case ?the god of this world ?has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing ?the light of i?the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ?ourselves as your servants? for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, ? “Let light shine out of darkness,” ?has shone in our hearts to give ?the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:4ff

    So tell me why does satan have to “blind” dead people? If they are truly dead and cannot see of their own, why would he have to blind anyone? The fact that he needs to keep them from the gospel shows that without his working to blind them, they would be able to see. That is another great passage that shows that we are sick and blind but not “dead” and unable to respond to God!

  191. One other quick comment. To allow people to hear the gospel, does the Lord need to remove the blinders or resurrect them according to the passage that you quoted? If he needs to resurrect them to hear the gospel, then no blinders were ever necessary since it would be laughable to put a blind on a dead man. That wouldn’t make the passage make sense at all.

  192. Thanks for your response to my last post #146. Unfortunatly I was not clear enough – ever a danger with analogies. The roast dinner/ carcus was not meant to represent any individual sin but rather choosing between everlasting life (the roast) or death (the carcus). It was meant simply to highlight the fact that even our choice to follow Christ in faith is one that we are unable to make until He opens our eyes through changing our nature. Once He has done this there is no other choice for us to make, we still have free will to reject Christ and choose the carcus but we no longer desire to do so…

    In Post 185 you say
    No they are not. They are condemned because God chose them for destruction without any conditions. ‘Apparently He made them to go to hell so it isn’t their rejection of the gospel that sends them there.

    This is exactly the thinking I was trying to anticipate with my analogy. The choice of life is there right beside the choice of death but they reject it because of their sin nature. When someone tells them the baked dinner is better they regect them because of their sin nature(in our sin nature we do believe the carcus to be better). But they are still making the choice to reject Christ and they are liable for this choice. Certainly God did not open their eyes to show them the folly of their choice but this is at Gods discretion(indeed it is the corrupt nature of sin that they would not want God to do any such thing) – it is still a choice they have made and are accountable for it.

  193. Mark,

    By now I think you already know that I don’t hold calvinist doctrine.

    Personally, I would have a big problem following the interpretations of someone like John Calvin, who condoned the death sentence of people he deems are “heretics” or people accused of being witches. I feel no affinity with a person who could stand for that.

    To put that into familiar terms for you, imagine that Calvin was in your city and next Sunday the Dandenong Reformed Church is conducting a ‘beheading’ or ‘burning at the stake’ on their lawn. What would you think about that? Would you go to watch the heretics and witches burn? Would you help light the fires? Imagine the t.v. news crews showing up to film it!

    I think you would find that abhorrent, right? I truly think you would. But that is just the sort of thing Calvin condoned in Geneva and never once spoke out against. And if he was alive and well today in Melbourne it could be happening near you.

    Let’s say Calvin lived today in Melbourne and his ‘Consistency’ police had gotten hold of you the day ‘before’ you had converted to calvinism – *you* would have been condemned to die as a heretic. What a sad end for you Mark.

    Think about it – *your* head at the end of the chopping block because another fallible human being like yourself, decided they were the judge and jury of your non-elect “heresy.”

    Mark, have you ever wondered that about your own kids? Or, are you o.k. with the thought that if they are chosen ‘damned’ ones you’ve simply fulfilled God’s will by being their father?

    It is puzzling that I see numerous commentaries by John Calvin, but in the same breath he could not figure out the verse “love you enemy as yourself”. For a man to be considered a genius on everything in the Bible and somehow miss what the entire New Testament conveys is a ridiculous notion to me. However, somehow his ‘infallible’ theology allows him to get a pass to endorse the burning and the imprisonment of others because they disagreed with his Institutes, while Jesus went to the cross for us! Totally puzzling.

    If only God knows our status as His “elect”, how do you know that John Calvin was saved? I mean – really, how do *you* know Mark? What if Calvin wasn’t “elect” and you are following an entire theological system devised by a man not “of faith”? Calvin’s own paradigm contradicts itself on the fact that Calvin has no way of ascertaining his own elect-ness for you. It’s purely God’s own secret whether or not Calvin persevered to the end.

    Please, understand that I’m not writing any of this to be mean or to make light of this. Truly I only hope that you will reconsider all the angles of what you are buying into.

  194. Kay,

    I appreciate your comments and concerns. There are no doubt that Clavin made mistakes in his lifetime. No one denies that. In fact i don’t agree with all of Calvin’s teaching, that is why i don’t like being labelled or labelling myself a ‘calvinist’. I try to follow the bible not men. Calling people calvinists or arminians or any other theological brand name, really doesn’t help in good dialogue. It just puts us into little ‘buckets’ of pre-conceived ideas.

    However to deny the significance of the man’s teaching would be silly. His influence into reforming the Christian church back to it’s biblical roots was enormous. Following a doctrine of clavinism is not about following the man John Calvin. He of all people would be disgusted at the way we label people after his name. HIs concern was purely in magnifying the truth of the bible and glorifying God, not himself.

    It is sad that you reject anything the man said because of some things he did. I have had a man in my church say the same thing to me. However if we took the bible seriously we would see that all theologians and teachers are sinful people. After all looking at someone in unrighteous anger is equivalent to murder in Jesus eyes. I’m sure most of our modern theologians would therefore be murderers in God’s eyes. We need to look past those sorts of things. Calvin had a firm grasp on scripture and that is why i enjoy reading him. Although i utterly reject the way he dealt with Servetus and others.

    It might also help to remember the culture of his time. We should be wary being to criticle from our culture looking back. After all we have numerous references in the bible where things deserve the death penalty- even as small as a child disobeying their parent. THere are many things from other cultures which seem disturbing to us in the 21st century western societies.

    Also Kay about judging whether people are saved is not a helpful thing- i’m sure we would both agree on that, even if you diagree with the doctrine of perserverance of the saints. Calvin simply taught what the bible says- Jesus will lose none of his sheep, those who perservere to the end will be saved, the Holy Spirit is a deposit guarenteeing our salvation. I’m not willing to speculate on who and who isn’t saved. SImply put, those who repent, ask for forgiveness, accept the free gift of Jesus salvation are saved, and we know the sincerity of a person’s commitment by their sanctification in this life and ultimately there persistence in faith until the very end of their life. THis is what the bible teaches, therefore we should teach it, without speculating on who is saved and who isn’t- that is not for us to do. God has revealed the way to salvation, so we should simply preach it.

    Rejecting reformed theology causes many contradictions in the Bible, which simply can’t be explained exegetically as those who try to do. THis is why i believe much of what it teaches it true to the Bible. I am open to the Spirit teaching me otherwise, and i hope He does if it is not correct, but thus far in my Christian walk i have gone the other way- from rejecting calvinism to accepting it.

    Also about my children i agree with you that it is hard to comprehend- i have seriously struggled with that. But my hope lies in GOd’s faithfulness, not on my children’s ability. GOd is just and righteous and will never do any wrong either to me or my children. IF they choose to reject Him God will have done me no wrong to punish them eternally. However i pray desperately for my children asking God to be merciful on them as sinners. I also teach my children the truth of the bible- that they must accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I will never reject any hard truth of the Bible simply becasue it makes me uneasy about my family. After all Jesus has told us that if we love them more than Him, we are not worthy of Him. IF the Bible teaches unconditional election (which i think it does) then i would be far wiser to accept the Bible’s teaching, rather than reject it because of my kids. BUt that said i would be lying if the biblical doctrines of providence at times did not bring me to my knees in anguish.

  195. Mark,
    You said:

    However i pray desperately for my children asking God to be merciful on them as sinners.

    Please explain to me how this fits in with the 5 points of Calvinism? You asked me how I prayed for the lost and I told you. But how can a Calvinist pray like this knowing that all were chosen either for election to Heaven or election to Hell and nothing that we can do (or pray!) changes that? So help me to understand why a desperate prayer would have any meaning with the mindset of Calvinism? You haven’t answered this yet and I ask you to enlighten us.

  196. Another thing, Mark, that is unsettling is the issue about leaders such as Calvin who brought teaching into the church that has been followed by millions. You said:

    Also Kay about judging whether people are saved is not a helpful thing- i’m sure we would both agree on that, even if you diagree with the doctrine of perserverance of the saints.

    I think one of the main points that Kay was making is that it would be possible that Calvin was not one of the elect since we cannot know for sure until we get to Heaven. The point that she made had not crossed my mind. If Calvin was not one of the elect, then millions of Christians have followed his teaching and may be in serious error. Calvin taught that one could be deceived by God into believing that they are saved when the faith they have is not saving faith. If this is so, how could anyone know before death that they are of the elect and how many of the “leaders” are teaching error because they are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing? The doctrine lends itself to uncertainty and doubt. One simply cannot have an assurance today.

    I praise God that I do not follow a system that leaves me in doubt and worried that I might be deceived by God. I know that God never deceives people into believing that they have a faith in God while they are a false believer. It is the enemy who seeks to kill, steal and destroy. It isn’t God that has this position at times as Calvin taught.

  197. Mark, as far as discussing John 6, it would be a discussion in the complete context of the chapter. Context is very important. The last JW I witnessed to was an elder who tried to prove his point by proof-texting. I made him read the chapter before and the chapter after along with the chapter of the quote that he made. By the time we were done reading the three chapters, his point had completely dried up and he knew it. Apparently it was the first time that anyone had made him read the context. I praise God for the truth in context!

  198. Cheryl,

    You asked why i pray the way i do. To answer simply, because we are told to pray and care for people, both saved and unsaved. God has appointed prayer as the means to communicate with Him. He has aslo appointed prayer as the means to to bring his will to come about- we know this from Jesus example. It is amazing that God uses human agents to fulfill his will.
    It seems that you haven’t fully grasped what election teaches. Althought the Bible teaches Unconditional Election, that does not mean therefore that we do nothing- quite the opposite. God uses us to fulfill his purposes and will. When we preach the gospel faithfully, God will use that to bring people to himself. Likewise when we pray, God will answer our prayers (as long as it is His will of course) to fulfill His purpose and will. To sit back and do nothing (as some calvinists have done before) is not correct- that is not obeying the clear teaching to pray and witness.
    The reason i pray for my children is because i know that they are sinful. I know that because of their sin they are in rebellion to God and a broken relationship. I know that they can’t fix that, therefore i ask God to show His mercy upon them.
    That said the Bible teaches that God has mercy on whom he wishes and hardens whom He wishes, i’m not denying that. That is the harsh truth of the Bible which Paul outlines in Romans 9.

  199. Cheryl,

    If you think ‘calvinist’ are sheep in wolves clothing, you should say that outright.

    Maybe also you can outline further this comment and cite where Calvin saids this.

    “Calvin taught that one could be deceived by God into believing that they are saved when the faith they have is not saving faith.”

  200. No issue with John 6 and surrounds, but please don’t compare me to a JW. I have seen you over and over again proof text aswell- it’s just inevitable in this sort of dialogue on theologies. The issue is whether a proof text contradicts a clear teaching on scripture- that’s where it is dangerous.
    I’ll leave you to introduce the context if you like with John 6. You never know we might actually agree on something- let’s hope hey!

    By the way, i would also like to apologise if i have offended you or others in any of my comments in the past. PLeaer continue to rebuke me if you feel like i overstep the mark. After all, we should all be striving to holiness and sanctification and helping each other to do that.

  201. Mark,
    “After all, we should all be striving to holiness and sanctification and helping each other to do that.”
    Amen.

    I don’t have time for one of my longwinded replies today, (I hope you smiled) – however, just a couple of quick observations.

    I feel a “brethrenly” concern for you – as it appears to me that the theological views you currently hold about God are somehow robbing you of joy and peace.

    As to the stoning of a child you mentioned – I take it you meant Deut. 21:18-21. First, the person in view is a not a small child but a grown “son.” The Hebrew term for “son” (ben) employed here is indefinite. It is sometimes used of children of both sexes. Of itself, the word “son” does not give any indication of age. It can refer to a child or a young man (cf. 1 Sam. 4:4; 19:1; 1 Kings 1:33); age must be determined from the *context.* In this case, the son in view is not a child, for the sins named the in text to show his contumacious manner are *gluttony* and *drunkenness (v. 20); hardly the sins of the average 6 or 10 year old. The case also indicates that the parents have tried to restrain their son, but all their efforts have failed (vv. 18, 20); specifying that he is physically beyond their control. The parents bring their son to the magistrates to judge the matter (v. 19); hence, the son would have opportunity to speak on his own behalf. All of this indicates that the “son” in question is no mere child but, rather, a youth at least in his middle teens or older. The law is not talking about naughty children but about seriously delinquent young adults.

  202. Kay,

    Sure i agree about the passage in Deut. The point i was making though, was that for us- that is still a harsh punishment. Imagine now if countries introduced that kind of law- half of the Australian adolescents would be killed. But we know from the text that the reason that punishments were so severe is because the Israelites were to get rid of the ‘evil’ from among them. This is about a community of God honouring people. They were essentially to ‘kill’ any evil- we see the same thing with the conqering of the land do we not?

    Now in relation to Calvin, why did he do those things we consider ‘horrible’? He was applying almost the same principle. Now don’t here me wrong that i am applauding what he did- i do not. The Israelites had an imperative from the Lord to do such things, Calvin did not. Jesus shows us in the NT how we should live- based around love. However many in Calvin’s time were trying to sanctify the people. In order to do this they ‘purged’ the evil from the Church (in this case false teaching).

    So although i do not recommend we act the way Calvin did, i can see why he did it. Do you understand what i am trying to say?

  203. Also i appreciate your concern, however i do not feel like i am robbed of joy and peace. For me, once i grew in my understanding of sin, i grew in my understanding of grace. The more we realise what we deserve becasue of our sin, the more we appreciate and enjoy the gracious act of God to save us. To me, a weak view of sin= a weak view on grace.

    Also the doctrine of predestination (unconditional) also emphasises God’s grace. Nothing we do or can do will save us. It is merely according to God’s pleasure and will that some are saved.

    Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

    The problem i see with people who reject this doctrine, is that often the arguments come from what we (as sinful human people) think is ‘fair and just’. But we have to remember that we see ‘but a poor reflection’ of God, and some things are kept to his secret will. And also the doctrine of predestination is a glorious one according to the apostle Paul

    Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

    Exegetically a conditional predestination does not hold. So i feel it far better to go with what the Bible says rather than try to understand the mind of God and what we consider to be fair.

    I honestly can tell you that since i have looked into these doctrines, my faith has grown, my joy has grown, not the reverse. Although i know that some in this world are not of God’s sheep or elect i also know that God is fatihful, good and Holy in His actions. This doctrine brings us to our knees as it should. We ought to have fear and reverence for our God.

    If you reject this doctrine maybe you can explain for me how you view the Bible’s teaching on election and what scriptures bring you to this conclusion. See to me the test is in the scriptures, not in philosophical reasoning!

  204. I apologize for not being able to answer the comments in a timely fashion. There are several issues that have demanded my time including a building project. We are finally building a studio for filming videos and desperately needed office space for our production and printing equipment. Over the next few months we will be faced with many decisions that will determine how far our money stretches and the building crew and disruption of our living space will likely keep me gone for periods of time so I hope that all will have patience as I struggle to keep up. I know that I have several important comments to respond to and I will attend to them over the next couple of days.

  205. Mark,
    You said:

    The reason i pray for my children is because i know that they are sinful. I know that because of their sin they are in rebellion to God and a broken relationship. I know that they can’t fix that, therefore i ask God to show His mercy upon them.

    This is the kind of prayer that a non-Calvinist would pray. The problem that I have with it is that it doesn’t match up with the Calvinist world view. If it is true that God determines from eternity past who will and who won’t be saved and that his decisions have nothing to do with any human, and that His decisions are unchangeable as they are set in stone as “elections”, then it doesn’t seem reasonable to pray for the unsaved as if God would do something different than what He had already determined from eternity past.

    For example if one of your children was one of the elect, then God will have mercy on them whether you pray or not and certainly your prayers cannot be a reason for their election or else that would be considered synergism by Calvinist definition.

    Also if another one of your children was one of the elected as eternally reprobate, God will never answer your prayers on their behalf. And it would seem to be going against God’s will if you would pray for God to do something that He has arbitrarily decided not to do before your child was born.

    To answer simply, because we are told to pray and care for people, both saved and unsaved. God has appointed prayer as the means to communicate with Him. He has aslo appointed prayer as the means to to bring his will to come about- we know this from Jesus example.

    This seems to me to be a great problem because it would be the Calvinist definition of synergism. After all if we cannot even respond to God through our own faith or else it is defined as synergism, then how on earth can another human responding to God’s call to pray not also be synergism? For surely if our own faith that would move God to save us is called “works” and “synergism” by Calvinists, then the faith and prayers of another human on our behalf should also be called “works” and “synergism”. It is a flaw in Calvinism that makes the system inconsistent and prejudiced.

    Now I don’t believe this way myself, so I agree with you that we should pray for our children, but if I was a Calvinist I would want to be a consistent Calvinist, one who followed the system to its logical conclusion. It makes prayer a very inconsistent venture, making it a synergistic event while denying that God can change His mind on election.

    To sit back and do nothing (as some calvinists have done before) is not correct- that is not obeying the clear teaching to pray and witness.

    I agree that to sit back and do nothing is wrong, but many consistent Calvinists have done just that choosing to follow the logic of the entire system. After all if God has already chosen and no elect will fail to be saved whether anyone prays for them or not, why risk praying for one who is reprobate who cannot be saved, or pray for one who cannot fail to be saved? Prayer is made into a jolly good waste of time – thus the consistent Calvinist will sit by and do nothing.

    It is amazing that God uses human agents to fulfill his will.

    It is so amazing that the system of Calvinism teaches this synergism while calling non-Calvinists as synergistic and making fun of them as “working” for their salvation. It is an inconsistency that has not been answered successfully by those who embrace the system. Everything has to be relegated to a “mystery” when inconsistency is found. I find this incredibly sad.

    Like I said, I must certainly be ordained not to be a Calvinist if that system is true, because its inconsistencies do not show the glory of God.

  206. Mark,
    You said:

    If you think ‘calvinist’ are sheep in wolves clothing, you should say that outright.

    Believe me, if I believed this, I would say it outright. I do not believe that Calvinists are for the most part sheep in wolves clothing. I do believe that the system is false when compared by the Bible, and I do believe that my brothers and sisters that are Calvinists have been misled in this area, but I do not believe that they are not brethren in Christ. I count them as dear brothers and sisters in Christ and those who love the Lord Jesus as I do and who love the brethren as I do will enter heaven together so I dare not call my brother a heretic or a wolf in sheep’s clothing unless there was evidence elsewhere that my brother was not a believer but a wolf. I do not take that kind of judgment lightly.

    Maybe also you can outline further this comment and cite where Calvin saids this.

    “Calvin taught that one could be deceived by God into believing that they are saved when the faith they have is not saving faith.”

    Sure.

    XI. I know that it appears harsh to some, when faith is attributed to the reprobate; since Paul affirms it to be the fruit of election. But this difficulty is easily solved: for, though none are illuminated to faith, or truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, but such as are pre-ordained to salvation; yet, experience shews, that the reprobate are sometimes affected with emotions very similar to those of the elect, so that, in their own opinion, they in no respect differ from the elect. Wherefore, it is not at all absurd, that a taste of heavenly gifts is ascribed to them by the apostle, and a temporary faith by Christ:(d) not that they truly perceive the energy of spiritual grace and clear light of faith; but because the Lord, to render their guilt more manifest and inexcusable, insinuates himself into their minds, as far as his goodness can be enjoyed without the Spirit of adoption. If any one object, that there remains then no farther evidence by which the faithful can certainly judge of their adoption: I reply, that although there is a great similitude and affinity between the elect of God and those who are endued with a frail and transitory faith, yet the elect possess that confidence, which Paul celebrates, so as boldly to “cry, Abba, Father.”(e) Therefore, as God regenerates for ever the elect alone with incorruptible seed, so that the seed of life planted in their hearts never perishes; so he firmly seals within them the grace of his adoption, that it may be confirmed and ratified to their minds. But this by no means prevents that inferior operation of the Spirit from exerting itself even in the reprobate. In the mean time the faithful are taught, to examine themselves with solicitude and humility, lest carnal security insinuate itself, instead of the assurance of faith. Besides, the reprobate have only a confused perception of grace, so that they embrace the shadow rather than the substance: because the Spirit properly seals remission of sins in the elect alone, and they apply it by a special faith to their own benefit. Yet the reprobate are justly said to believe that God is propitious to them; because they receive the gift of reconciliation, though in a confused and too indistinct manner: not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the sons of God; but because they appear, under the disguise of hypocrisy, to have the principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I deny, that God so far enlightens their minds, that they discover his grace; but he so distinguishes that perception from the peculiar testimony, which he gives to his elect, that they never attain any solid effect and enjoyment. For he does not, therefore, shew himself propitious to them, by truly delivering them from death, and receiving them under his protection; but he only manifests to them present mercy. But he vouchsafes to the elect alone, the living root of faith, that they may persevere even to the end. Thus we have refuted the objection, that if God truly discovers his grace, it remains for ever: because nothing prevents God from illuminating some with a present perception of his grace, which afterwards vanishes away.
    Calvin, J., & Allen, J. (2010). Vol. 2: Institutes of the Christian religion (23–24).

  207. Mark,
    You said:

    No issue with John 6 and surrounds, but please don’t compare me to a JW.

    I am not comparing you to a JW. You have to understand one thing – my ministry since 1988 has been caring for JW’s and ex-JW’s and bringing them to the Lord. It is the experience that I live, so if I share the way I do things with the JW’s because the practice is an important one that brings to light the complete context, it is not because I see you as a JW. It is explaining why I do what I do in the context of my life work. You are even lucky that I can speak to you without talking about the JW’s with every second sentence.

    When I was first called to this ministry I had dreams of witnessing to the JW’s for 18 months straight. And that is every single night! And every night I would remember my dreams even sometimes waking up in the middle of a dream. In my dreams I would be chasing the JW’s down the street trying to share Jesus with them. Those were amazing dreams back then because I was SO shy, I could hardly look a person in the eyes.

    Even when the dreams finally stopped, my passion for the JW’s did not stop and I had to share with everyone, whether they wanted to hear or not, the joys of sharing Jesus with the JW’s. I am finally able to move on to other subjects, but I still see the reason why I do things as touching the ministry to JW’s. It isn’t meant to offend anyone. It is just the love for these people that comes out especially when I explain why I do certain things. Does this make sense to you?

    I have seen you over and over again proof text aswell- it’s just inevitable in this sort of dialogue on theologies. The issue is whether a proof text contradicts a clear teaching on scripture- that’s where it is dangerous.

    Sorry, my friend, but I don’t do that. You see “proof texting” is not finding a text that appears to contradict another passage, but it is taking one particular text outside of its context so that it is in contradiction to the passage where it resides. So that if one gives a meaning for a verse that is refuted by the context of the passage that the verse resides in, that is a “proof text”. That is why I push for the context, not just one verse. Greg Koukl an apologist has a teaching on this called “Never read a Bible verse”. He says that one must read the entire passage that the verse is in and if we did that instead of taking a verse outside of its context, much of the confusion would disappear.

    I’ll leave you to introduce the context if you like with John 6. You never know we might actually agree on something- let’s hope hey!

    Yup, I’m sure we can work on agreeing on several important things. I will try to get to that tomorrow.

    By the way, i would also like to apologise if i have offended you or others in any of my comments in the past. PLeaer continue to rebuke me if you feel like i overstep the mark. After all, we should all be striving to holiness and sanctification and helping each other to do that.

    What a great remark! I accept your apology and I appreciate the spirit with which you brought this up. Thanks! Hopefully any others who may have been offended will understand your heart a little bit better as we all strive to know and understand the Lord Jesus better so that we can be molded into His image.

    Bedtime for me. It is only 11 pm but the late nights have taken their toll. I’ll try to catch up some more as I am able tomorrow. I’ll answer the more recent comments first before I start John 6. Then maybe we could just go through that passage and leave aside the unanswered comments/questions until we have finished the passage. Is that a reasonable plan?

    G’Night 😉

  208. You are even lucky that I can speak to you without talking about the JW’s with every second sentence.

    lol

  209. Cheryl,

    I understand that you are busy, that is fine.

    I agree with you that context is important, but the question remains- how far do you take it? To me the context is the whole Bible. Does the verse or the passage contradict the rest of biblical teaching. None the less i look forward to engaging with John 6- it’s a great chapter.

    I have to disagree that you don’t proof text. For example you have often cited Hosea 6:7 without ever relating to it’s context in the book of Hosea. You have just used it as a ‘proof’ text to support your notion of only Adam being in rebellion and not Eve. In fact even in this post you quote stand alone verse not addressing the context in which they lay. You have by definition done the opposite of what your apologist friend says. So let me say again- we all proof text.

  210. Cheryl,

    Again you are convincing me more that you don’t actually understand the people you oppose-namely reformed Christians. No one i know who holds to a reformed doctrine would come to the conclusion that we don’t need to pray or that it is synergism.

    The issue you need to deal with is in relation to salvation. Sinful people by nature do not know God. THat is, their sin seperates them from God. Now can they find their way back to God? Reformed theology saids no. THey need God to show grace upon them. God has instituted prayer as one means by which faithful people can pray that God might open people’s eyes.

    Sure that person may not be elect, but we do not know that- only God does. But clearly God has told us to pray and witness to ALL people. If God chooses to use prayer to fulfill His will that is fine. ( but that is not synergism which said people have the ability in themselves to seek salvation)However God may choose not to answer a prayer because it is not in alighnment with His will. THis parody stands with every aspect of our christian life, not just salvation. We may ask God to make us well if we are sick, but he may choose not to answer that prayer- it’s up to His plan and will for our lives.

    Your point makes no sense- your conclusion doesn’t fit. Otherwise you think every time we pray God answers it- but that is simply not the case because we do not know what his will is. This is no different with the elect. We are to pray for people but if they are not God’s elect he will not answer our prayer since that is not in his will.

    That is why calvinists in the past have been wrong- that actually didn’t hold to the teaching of calvin nor the Bible. The logical conclusion of calvinism is not ‘do nothing’. THat is a wrong understanding of calvinism or as some say ‘high calvinism’.

  211. Mark,
    You said:

    Again you are convincing me more that you don’t actually understand the people you oppose-namely reformed Christians. No one i know who holds to a reformed doctrine would come to the conclusion that we don’t need to pray or that it is synergism.

    You did not read me right. I am not representing this as what most Calvinists believe. I am saying that this is the consistent outcome of the doctrine. You yourself commented that some Calvinists do nothing because of their beliefs. I am just grateful that most Calvinists do not take their doctrine to its logical conclusion. I have yet to hear anyone explain why our prayers for people could have any influence on God regarding their salvation. If God ordained all either to salvation or to reprobation before they were born and He did so without the influence of any human, then it is logical to say that people will either go to Heaven or Hell whether a single person prays for them or not since their destiny is already ordained. If my understanding of the “set” nature of the ordaining of the elect to Heaven and the reprobate to hell is not really “set”, then please explain where I see the conclusion in a wrong way.

    Again, I am not representing what normal Calvinists believe. I am thankful that most do not take their doctrine to its logical conclusion. But some have seen the hopelessness of praying for anyone’s salvation when they believe that it is already set in stone. Again, this is part of the inconsistency of Calvinism that makes me scratch my head.

    God has instituted prayer as one means by which faithful people can pray that God might open people’s eyes.

    Mark, if you are going to be perfectly honest here, you would need to say that God instituted prayer as a means that God uses to bring the elect to a place where He resurrects them so that they can have their eyes opened. But the fact is that prayer is essentially unnecessary in this situation if God has already ordained that that person is one of the elect and it is an affront to the Sovereignty of God in the Calvinist sense that God would “need” people to do His work.

    The things that you write are how non-Calvinists see God’s work and the importance of prayer. We believe in the importance of prayer because God has not unconditionally ordained all to either salvation or reprobation. Therefore we believe that God really does hear us and our prayers move Him.

    Sure that person may not be elect, but we do not know that- only God does. But clearly God has told us to pray and witness to ALL people.

    So if God knows that He has unconditionally ordained most to eternal destruction, then what reason does He have for us to pray for their salvation?

    If God chooses to use prayer to fulfill His will that is fine. ( but that is not synergism which said people have the ability in themselves to seek salvation)

    I don’t believe it is “synergism” either, but because the term “monergism” (Greek mono meaning “one” and erg meaning “work”) is one person alone doing the work, then isn’t our prayers as being necessary for the salvation of another person by Calvinist definition also a synergistic act? If not, please explain how your work is not synergistic in bring a person to faith, while a person’s own faith is called synergistic? It is another area that makes me scratch my head.

    However God may choose not to answer a prayer because it is not in alighnment with His will. THis parody stands with every aspect of our christian life, not just salvation.

    But this is not the issue. The issue is not whether God can choose to answer a prayer or not, but whether He needs our prayers for the salvation of another person. Does He needs our prayers or not? If He needs our prayers for a person to become saved, what is this not synergistic according to the Calvinist definition? And if God doesn’t want to appear to have a synergistic work with humans, and He alone unconditionally decides who will be saved and who will not be saved from eternity past, then why would He require our prayers? Please explain.

    Your point makes no sense- your conclusion doesn’t fit. Otherwise you think every time we pray God answers it- but that is simply not the case because we do not know what his will is.

    Again, this is not the question. The question is why God needs our prayers for the lost before they can become saved?

    That is why calvinists in the past have been wrong- that actually didn’t hold to the teaching of calvin nor the Bible. The logical conclusion of calvinism is not ‘do nothing’. THat is a wrong understanding of calvinism or as some say ‘high calvinism’.

    I do not agree with ‘high calvinism’ but I do see the logic of their conclusion. You have not explained how their logic does not follow the ‘facts’. For if God really has unconditionally ordained election either to salvation or damnation, then how is it possible for our prayers to affect any difference in the person’s outcome? It can’t change a single thing if Calvinism is correct. That seems as obvious to me as the nose on my face.

    Okay on to dealing with another comment.

  212. Mark,
    You said:

    I agree with you that context is important, but the question remains- how far do you take it? To me the context is the whole Bible. Does the verse or the passage contradict the rest of biblical teaching.

    A verse cannot contradict another verse elsewhere in the Scriptures, however the context can’t be the whole Bible as the Bible is not one book. It was written over a period of thousands of years and with many human authors. The context then has to be limited by the book it was written in at the most. Usually the complete chapter would be the immediate context but the context can spill over to the surrounding chapters since chapter division is not inspired. That should be sufficient but there are times when the entire book needs to be the context. I do agree with you that one passage will not contradict another passage in the Scripture, but defining the entire Bible as the “context” is overstating the definition of context.

    context: discourse that surrounds a language unit and helps to determine its interpretation

    the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.

    You said:

    None the less i look forward to engaging with John 6- it’s a great chapter.

    Me too!!

    I have to disagree that you don’t proof text. For example you have often cited Hosea 6:7 without ever relating to it’s context in the book of Hosea.

    Again, you seem to clearly misunderstand what proof texting is. Here is a definition:

    the use of individual scripture texts to produce apparent support for a doctrinal position without adequate regard for the contexts of the individual texts which may indicate differences and nuances.

    To charge me with “proof texting” you would have to show that my exegesis of the verse is opposed by the text surrounding the verse. In my explanation of Hosea 6:7 I have not claimed that it said anything that can be refuted by the verses surrounding the text. This is very important to understand, for if you cannot understand what is being claimed and you do not understand what qualifies as a “proof text” that is contrary to the surrounding text, then how can we even communicate?

    You have just used it as a ‘proof’ text to support your notion of only Adam being in rebellion and not Eve.

    Hold the bus on this one, buddy. I have not used Hosea 6:7 to prove that Eve was not in rebellion. Eve is not even mentioned in the passage. I have used Hosea 6:7 to prove that Adam was in rebellion. I have used other passages to prove that Eve was not in rebellion. Therefore there can be no charge of “proof texting” unless you can prove from the Hosea passage that Adam’s rebellion is not found in Hosea 6:7. Is this what you are claiming?

    In fact even in this post you quote stand alone verse not addressing the context in which they lay.

    Oh really? Where is your proof? It is not illegal to quote a stand alone verse. It is only illegal if what one quotes a verse to say something when the passage refutes the application of the verse.

    So let me say again- we all proof text.

    Well, my friend, I would hope not. Are you saying that you take a verse out of its context by applying a meaning to the verse that is contrary to the meaning of the passage? Is you do, why do you do that? Is that the way that God wants His Scripture used? Proof texting is bad. Again – quoting a single verse that is quoted accurately and interpreted accurately from the passage is not bad. Quoting a single verse is only bad when one is misusing the quote.

  213. Kay,
    You said:

    All of this indicates that the “son” in question is no mere child but, rather, a youth at least in his middle teens or older. The law is not talking about naughty children but about seriously delinquent young adults.

    Good work!

  214. Gazza,
    You said:

    Thanks for your response to my last post #146. Unfortunatly I was not clear enough – ever a danger with analogies. The roast dinner/ carcus was not meant to represent any individual sin but rather choosing between everlasting life (the roast) or death (the carcus). It was meant simply to highlight the fact that even our choice to follow Christ in faith is one that we are unable to make until He opens our eyes through changing our nature. Once He has done this there is no other choice for us to make, we still have free will to reject Christ and choose the carcus but we no longer desire to do so…

    While I do understand that Calvinism teaches that one cannot answer the call of God to choose unless God first resurrects them to life and gives them a new nature, the question is whether this is Biblical or not. Yes, analogies can fail to represent what we believe, and this is why I try hard to stick to Scripture as much as possible. I believe that if we do not have clear Scripture but only analogies, then it makes me wonder why Scripture is not clear.

    The Bible is clear that there are people that God chooses for leadership and for certain tasks and/or privileges.

    Numbers 17:5 (NASB)
    5 “It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.”

    In Numbers 17:5 God clearly states that the leader of the people is one that He Himself has chosen. So is it clear in the OT that God must resurrect a man to life before he can choose life?

    Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB)
    19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,

    In Deut 30:19 God clearly “sets before” Israel life and death, the blessing and the curse and He tells them to “choose” life. If they couldn’t choose life without being resurrected to life first, then God made a serious error in actually setting before them both life and death. It would seem rather that God is mocking them because they did not have a choice.

    Also in Jeremiah 8:3-5 God shows that there is a choice, but that the “evil family” has chosen death, not that God has chosen for them that they have no power to fail to chose or fail to chose the other option.

    Jeremiah 8:3–5 (NASB)
    3 “And death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family, that remains in all the places to which I have driven them,” declares the LORD of hosts.
    4 “You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD,
    “Do men fall and not get up again?
    Does one turn away and not repent?
    5 “Why then has this people, Jerusalem,
    Turned away in continual apostasy?
    They hold fast to deceit,
    They refuse to return.

    When I test the teaching that one must be resurrected to life before one can choose to seek God, this teaching just isn’t found in the Scriptures. It is well articulated by Calvinists, but a good story that is not substantiated by the Word is just a good story.

    You said:

    In Post 185 you say
    No they are not. They are condemned because God chose them for destruction without any conditions. ‘Apparently He made them to go to hell so it isn’t their rejection of the gospel that sends them there.

    This is exactly the thinking I was trying to anticipate with my analogy. The choice of life is there right beside the choice of death but they reject it because of their sin nature.

    But that is not what I was saying. I wasn’t saying that they chose destruction because of their sin nature. I said that the choice was made for them by God. If they were chosen unconditionally to go to hell, then their rejection of the gospel isn’t want sends them to hell. They go there because God pre-determined that they were one of the ones who would be created to go there. If they were created to go to hell unconditionally then it cannot also be said that they go to hell because of ….. (whatever reason) for God alone decides their fate without their own actions.

    When someone tells them the baked dinner is better they regect them because of their sin nature(in our sin nature we do believe the carcus to be better).

    Gazza, here you are dealing with a symptom instead of the direct reason why someone rejects good food. The rejection is because they were ordained to go to hell, if Calvinism is correct. The problem is that this teaching makes the multitude of passages about our own choice to fear God or not to fear God is nothing more than a sham and an intentional fraud for the cover of God’s pleading with the wicked to repent and turn to him, covers over the reality that He desires that they do not turn and repent for He has preplanned their journey to hell.

    Some Calvinists will take these inconsistencies and say that they are a “mystery” and God alone knows why His call for repentance can both be a true call and yet a determined-in-advance and unconditional rejection of the reprobate. How God can long for the lost to come to Him and at the same time not long for them to come to Him because they have been unconditionally determined to be rejected is a huge problem for Calvinism and why so many reject this theory for the solid truth of Scripture that God actually longs for all of the unregenerate to turn from their wicked ways and that He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked.

    Ezekiel 18:23 (NASB)
    23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

    You said:

    Certainly God did not open their eyes to show them the folly of their choice but this is at Gods discretion(indeed it is the corrupt nature of sin that they would not want God to do any such thing) – it is still a choice they have made and are accountable for it.

    The problem is that there are many who did turn and repent and nowhere in the OT does it say that God resurrected them to life first before they could turn to Him.

    Like I said, Calvinism has a great deal of holes in that theory and I choose to follow the consistent revelation of Scripture rather than a theory. At the same time I appreciate my brothers and sisters in Christ who are Calvinists for their love for God and their desire to live for His glory. I too have this great desire.

  215. To affirm God’s sovereignty is to affirm that God could sovereignly create *ANY* kind of world God wished, even one in which he would leave it to humans to exercise free libertarian choices. Less control is not the same as less sovereignty IF God *chooses* to have less control.

    Why should we limit God of this possibility? Just because Calvin or someone said so?

    It all hinges on your view of the character of God. Does divine compassion and love for his creatures serve as the primary template through which all the Divine attributes operate? Or does a notion that God somehow needs to protect His sovereignty serve that function?

    The basic issue here is which theological paradigm does a better job of representing the biblical picture of God’s character: which theological system gives a more adequate account of the biblical God whose nature is holy love? Why should His sovereignty need to be put above His love? Who decided that?

    What do we make of an offer that *cannot* be accepted even though the one making the offer knows this is the case or—to make matters worse—could in sovereignty make the receiver able to accept but does not? To say that God presents a bona fide offer of salvation to all but that He grants only to some the ability to respond to that offer is not a “mystery,” it is a logical inconsistency that no pious appeals to “God’s ways are above our ways” will mitigate.

    Again, to affirm God’s sovereignty is to affirm that God is very able to sovereignly create ANY kind of world God wished, even one in which He would leave it to humans to exercise free choices.

    Less control is not the same as less sovereignty IF God *chooses* to have less control. And who are we to decide that is not an option for Him? Hmm?

  216. “See to me the test is in the scriptures, not in philosophical reasoning!”

    Mark,
    I understand what you’re getting at, but I think we are allowed to use reason. (Isa.1:18)

    Let’s consider II Peter 3:9.
    “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    Does the context really limit the words “any” and “all” to only the elect?

    Earlier in the chapter, Peter begins by encouraging these Christians to beware scoffers, who would mock the Christians’ belief in Christ’s second coming and the destruction of the world (II Peter 3:1-4). He reminds that these scoffers are “willfully forgetful”(3:4-6) The difficulty for the Christians’ was that they were being mocked because fulfillment seemed anything but imminent, so Peter reminds them that time has a different meaning to God, and He will keep His promise (3:8). Finally, he also reminds them that God is patient, longsuffering, and therefore waits because He does not want any to perish (3:9).

    Now consider the implications of this context upon this question: Who are the ones to come to repentance?
    Peter mentions “us” in verse 9, but he also mentions the entire world and even “ungodly men” in the context. Let us consider that the words “any” and “all” are indeed general. Granting this, let us consider two interpretations and determine which makes the most sense with the context. Now if this verse refers only to the elect, then God is “longsuffering” for the elect to “come to repentance”. How is this possible if it is God who predestines all things, and if it is God who brings about their salvation through the direct operation of the Holy Spirit? Is God being longsuffering with Himself? What is He waiting on? Surely not the non-elect to come to Him, or to be willing, or to repent *because He knows He isn’t drawing them*? Right? Now, if God has already predestined these, with whom is He being longsuffering?

  217. “It just puts us into little ‘buckets’ of pre-conceived ideas.”
    Mark,
    Agreed – I’m not a fan of pre-conceived ideas either.

  218. Mark,
    I am just going through some comments/questions that I have missed catching in the last week.

    You said:

    Why stop at verse 27 Cheryl…let’s keep going
    Rom 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
    Rom 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
    Rom 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
    Rom 1:31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
    Rom 1:32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    Surely you and I have both coveted, surely we have both been slanderers and gossips and boastful etc. This is the nature of humanity not just one specific group.

    There is a huge difference between occasional sin and God “giving them up to a debased mind”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a debased mind and God has not given me up to live out these sins.

    Sexual sins are just one aspect of our fallen humanity. We are depraved creatures- totally.

    No we are not. The fact is that the ones that God “gives up” to a depraved mind are much more depraved than the rest of us. In fact even your next door neighbour who is not saved is likely a really likable guy who doesn’t act depraved, and helps out the neighbours who are in need. Most people have unsaved neighbours like that. We are not “totally” depraved creatures and the Bible never says that although I understand that it is a “theory” of Calvinism.

    Isaiah 53:6 sums it up nicely- we all like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own ways.

    Isaiah 53:6 sums up my view quite nicely. It says that we have all sinned and gone to our own ways. It does not say that all of us are totally depraved people. Man, if all people were totally depraved you couldn’t walk outside your door in the day time, let alone the night time.

    I can’t show you that Cornelius was born again- I don’t deny that. But not every conversion in the bible says ‘and they were born again before they believed’.

    The fact is that there is not even one conversion in the Bible that says that the person was “born again” before they believed.

    We don’t always have every detail for every occasion.

    That may be so, but you’d think that such an important detail as being born again before faith would show up at least in one place. But it is never there in any of the accounts. It is just another reason to see the “born again before faith” as a “theory” not as a Biblical fact.

    The problem is though to say that we don’t need to be born again contradicts Jn 3, and contradictions are not acceptable.

    My friend, I never said that we don’t need to be born again. I said that being born again comes after faith. I believe that all of us must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

    You have swept it away be changing what born again means and what the kingdom is.

    It is not me who has changed the meaning. The classical meaning of born again means:

    The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation. New birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). John 1:12,13 indicates that “born again” also carries the idea “to become children of God” through trust in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Throughout the gospel age the term born again has meant that the person has received eternal life and has believed the gospel and has become a child of God. To have a person remain as an unregenerate person and without faith and without being a child of God and call them “born again” is completely foreign to Christian terminology. Calvinism has taken classical Christian terms and re-written their meaning. I find that incredibly sad.

    More comments coming up.

  219. Man, if all people were totally depraved you couldn’t walk outside your door in the day time, let alone the night time.

    You ain’t kidden!

  220. I’d remove myself from the planet if that were the case! I’d be outte saying God beam me up!

  221. Mark,
    You said:

    Now about being a child of God. I have agreed with you that we are children of God once we believe. However like I said Romans 8 and Eph 1 also talk about this being God’s choice or plan before the foundation of the world. So although we were enemies of God before believing, we were always planned to be children of God. Our union with Christ has been layed down from the beginning. Do you understand what I mean?

    I understand your doctrine, but it a “theory” that has no Biblical basis. The Bible doctrine has us believing God and only believers are ever predestined to be conformed to Christ. It is God’s choice to offer salvation because only He can offer and only He can create new life. But God is not restricted so that He cannot offer salvation conditioned on faith. God has choices and He has shown us His choice in the Scriptures.

    You still haven’t answered how you pray for your un christian friends- you dodged it.

    I did answer that question in this thread although I didn’t answer it right away. Sometimes busyness causes me to be behind in answering questions. I don’t ever “dodge” questions. If I don’t know the answer, I just say so. I actually quite like questions. I am not saying that you “dodge” questions but you have so many questions that you haven’t answered, that if we were going to speculate on the dodger in our midst, I think you’d get a few votes. Now, I am not speculating on that. But perhaps you should have a little more patience with me too, eh?

    Also please explain your idea of God’s sovereignty? Do you believe God is sovereign in that he made himself vulnerable in creating the world like many do?

    I believe that God has full and complete Sovereign choice to do anything that He wants to do that is not against His nature. He can create a world where He gives man the ability to choice between several options that God sets up for man. That is God’s Sovereign choice and I am amazed whenever someone states that God cannot do certain things as if they can control and limit God. I don’t think that God can be controlled and limited by anything other than His own nature and His own choice. Do you agree?

    You said “No it is not. Being born again is a miraculous work that transforms and renews and brings God’s life to a heart that was separated from God and lost in sin. It is opening of the eyes. It is a transformation.”

    Now the funny thing is I agree with this. We are lost in sin, we are dead. We are totally seperated from God. Therefore how do we accept the message of salvation. It is interesting that you say it is opening of the eyes. Look what I said just before you said ‘No it is not”
    Being ‘born-again’ is God opening their eyes to the message of the cross.

    Sorry, I mistyped. What I meant to say that “No it is not opening of the eyes. It is a transformation.” I guess I should always reread what I have typed because sometimes the fingers are faster than the brain (or is it vice versa?)

    Being born again is a completely miraculous even where a person becomes a new creature and they are born of God’s seed and born from above into God’s kingdom. It is never called having their eyes opened.

    Inconsistency??? You can’t say to me I’m wrong and then in your definition say the same thing. I’m confused.

    Sorry about that bloke. I missed a word in typing. I wasn’t meaning to twist around your head. Still friends?

    You keep saying that being born again before faith is unscriptural yet you have not dealt with Jn 3. Perhaps we should discuss that more?

    John 3:6 …that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    Being born of the Spirit is the seed of God. I have already dealt with this and you have not answered. Having the seed of God is being in the family of God. It is impossible for a person at the moment of being born again to be unsaved. The Spirit does not give birth to one who is not a child of God.

    Let me get something straight. You agree that Romans 14 is saying in the context of believers that everything not done in faith is sin? Yet you disagree that unbelievers (who have no faith in Christ) are not doing everything in sin.

    The context is about a believer partaking in something that is going against his/her conscience. There is nothing in that passage that would make this being about unbelievers.

    Here is my opinion for what it is worth. Everything any of us does is sin unless God gives us grace. It is only be grace that unbelievers do good things.

    This is a hypothesis but it isn’t going through the Scripture to see what it says. Sorry bud, but opinions will never equal to the inspired Word. Why don’t you just go through the passage carefully and figure out what the text is exactly saying?

    I don’t believe God hates unbelievers.

    Well it is good to know that you have not believed the teaching that God has created people that He has chosen to unconditionally hate.

    More in the next comment box.

  222. Mark,
    You said:

    I have agreed with you all along that we are all called to seek after God. But how can we as sinners.

    God gives us all common grace to seek after God. He has promised everyone that if we seek for Him with all of our heart we will find Him. If this was impossible then it would make God a liar. The fact is that God wants all to seek Him so He enables all who will fear God and seek Him.

    Again Romans 3 says none seeks after God.

    But again I mentioned that Romans 3 is a quote from the OT where the context is the fool who says there is no God. Paul would not illegally use an OT quote to mean the opposite of what God inspired as Paul supported Scripture. He did not twist Scripture to his own use.

    God demands that we seek him, but in our sinfulness we don’t.

    There is a huge difference between we “don’t” and we “can’t”. The fact is that God enables us to do what He longs us to do and if we don’t it isn’t because we can’t. Many have repented and feared God and went on seeking Him. That is God’s empowerment. Otherwise it really makes God out to be one who really doesn’t mean what He says.

    Joh 6:65 And he said,…

    We will get to this shortly as we will be going through John 6 so I will leave it for now.

    Matt 13:11-17 is very similar to John 6 so I will deal with that shortly when we start talking about John 6 verse by verse.

    A few important things here. He spoke in parables so people WOULD NOT understand, lest they turn.

    Again this all relates to John 6. Just hold on a little bit longer and we will deal with this together.

    Here is my conviction because you seem confused. Saving faith is a gift therefore faith is not a work. When we deny that saving faith is a gift, then we make it into a work. See the difference? Faith becomes a work for those who reject it as a gift of God.

    We could say that a house is a dwelling place therefore it is a gift. I would say that a house is not a gift and you say that if I deny that a house is a gift then I must be denying it is a dwelling place. Your words are not logical and using this kind of reasoning doesn’t convince anyone. How about we stick to the Scriptures and use it to defend our view.

    So here is the deal. Calvin said that there would be those who would be given faith but not saving faith and God gives them this faith in order to condemn them. So please show me this kind of “faith” in the Scriptures that is not saving faith and since it is apparently not saving faith, please show me where the Scriptures calls faith as “works”. I will be waiting with baited breath.

    Semi-pelagianism was condemned, that is reality. It denied that our salvation was fully the work of God. It denied that faith, repentance etc are the gracious gifts of God. It maintained that we as fallen people still have the capacity (with a little bit of God’s help but not all) to come after and seek God. It is the same old problem that the church has faced.

    Pelagianism said that people can come to God on their own without God. They were able to work their way to God and it is considered a heresy. You have been sold a bill of goods that “semi-pelagianism” is what all non-Calvinists believe. Hog wash.

    In Semipelagian thought, man doesn’t have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then increases and guards that faith, completing the work of salvation. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Pelagianism

    However the Scriptures never say that man can make the first move toward God without God drawing him. Salvation is not a work between God and man. Salvation is a full work by God alone and man believes God after God has drawn Him and revealed truth to Him. Do you not see the difference? It is a real insult to call a Christian a semi-pelagian and I won’t let that kind of insult be committed on my blog. If this is not understandable, then perhaps do some reading on the internet and educate yourself on the difference between the heresy and orthodox Christian faith.

    How free-will and God’s sovereignty go hand in hand.

    They do not go hand in hand in works. Saving faith is not a work.

    Maybe you can clearly outline how you see salvation works?

    This is a very simplistic version: God draws the sinner to Himself and the sinner responds. When a person then comes to the place of repentance after God’s Holy Spirit has been working on his heart, he responds to God in faith and God then works the miracle of salvation in his heart. The miracle is done by God alone and is a work that could only be attributed by God. It is a miracle that takes a blackened heart of sin and cleans the heart and creates a brand new spirit within that person that is from God Himself. The person then is born from above as a child of God and God lives within him/her. The person has responded with faith but none of the work that takes to make the person a new creation, a clean heart or a new spirit, with the person as a child of God can be attributed to the person. We have no power or ability to do these things. They are done by God alone. All we can to is respond to the work of the Holy Spirit and repent and believe God. God says that this is faith and He says it is not a work. Mark, if you didn’t understand any of this before you became a Calvinist, it is no wonder that you went onto that pathway. You just didn’t understand the process of Salvation from the Scriptures.

    That is all I can do right now. Time for me to work on a few more things before I head off to bed. I’ll see what I can finish and whatever I can’t finish tomorrow, I’ll just leave for now as we work on John 6. Okay?

  223. go through the passage carefully and figure out what the text is exactly saying?

    I think this is a problem with compism, calvinism, and whatever other doctrines that bear out one inconsistency after another that are out there – they don’t line up with what the text is exactly saying. They lack precision.

  224. Kay,
    Thankyou for at least defining your definition of God’s sovereignty. I have heard this attempt before by those who reject the reformed position and frankly i am unconvinced.
    First of all, there is not one passage in Scripture that saids God ‘chose’ to limit himself when he created the world. Like i said this is philosophical reasoning and not based foremost on the Bible. Please highlight scripture to support a doctrine like this.
    Second, this makes God changeable. If God can choose to be some sort of ‘less’ God, what stops us from saying that God has chosen to make himself vulnerable, reliant on people and so forth. Oh, wait a minute, this is exactly were theology has lead with ‘open theology’ who use philosophy instead of scripture to say God doesn’t actually know the future! This is where an emphasis on free-will gets exaggerated and simply contradicts the scripture.

    Acts 17: 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

    Either God has determined the plan of this world (including us) or he hasn’t. This text along with a lot of others said God has determined everything in this world. Kay, I am willing to change my view, but only if scripture can show that to me. Please show me scripture to support your definition of God’s sovereignty or ‘chosen’ vulnerability.

  225. Cheryl
    “Isaiah 53:6 sums up my view quite nicely. It says that we have all sinned and gone to our own ways. It does not say that all of us are totally depraved people. Man, if all people were totally depraved you couldn’t walk outside your door in the day time, let alone the night time.”

    Here again you have not understood the doctrine. Total depravity does not say people will always do evil things. In fact i have said already about God’s common grace in which you agreed. Total depravity saids that every aspect of our nature has been corrupted because of sin, if i can try to summarise it. That is, our will, minds, soul etc are totally depraved in that they are corrupted by sin. Sin seperates us from God, does it not, therefore we in all our nature are seperated from God. You have again not represented the doctrine correctly. It’s hard to discuss with you, when you don’t understand what you oppose.

  226. ” To have a person remain as an unregenerate person and without faith and without being a child of God and call them “born again” is completely foreign to Christian terminology. Calvinism has taken classical Christian terms and re-written their meaning. I find that incredibly sad.”

    WHen did i ever say that Cheryl? I have never said a person can be born again and stay without faith. Being born again is part of the process of coming to faith is what i have said. Anybody who is born again WILL ALWAYS immediately follow it by faith. IF you like it is part of the ‘calling’. drawing process. A person will never accept the message until the veil is removed by the Spirit. Your attack on clavinism here again clearly shows me once more that you are not engaging wiht the actual teaching but your ‘view’ of the teaching. You need to be more careful to show me that you actually understand the ‘calvinistic’ position. Thus far it is clear you do not.

  227. “But again I mentioned that Romans 3 is a quote from the OT where the context is the fool who says there is no God. Paul would not illegally use an OT quote to mean the opposite of what God inspired as Paul supported Scripture. He did not twist Scripture to his own use.”

    Maybe after John 6 we can go through Romans and actually look at the context right from 1:18 through to the end of chapter 3. Then perhaps you might see Paul’s point in relation to sin. Paul’s argument flows from the pagan world in Chapter 1 to the jews. Just in case the Jews (or you Cheryl) think we are any better, Paul asks a thetoric question “Are we Jews any better off” His answer is NO, because both Jew and Greek are alike…he then quotes from various Psalms to prove his point. It seems plain here that you have not allowed context to determine the use of the quote. There is no hint what so ever that Paul is only addressing ‘the fool who saids there is no God’. Indeed, Paul includes himself in the quote using the 3rd person plural ‘we’. Your exegesis is flawed and wrong. The context in Romans denies the possibility of your interpretation.

    I wonder if Calvin had the parable of the sower in mind in the quote you gave. Don’t some grow for a period then die, where as the true seed grows and lives. Sounds biblical to me.

    It is interesesting that you do not believe that free-will and God’s sovereignty do not go hand in hand. Let me ask who sold Joseph and sent him to Egypt. OR again, who crucified Christ? With Joseph his brothers by their ‘wills’ sent him off. According to the gospel many people used their ‘wills’ to kill Jesus. But what else does the scripture, since we both want the Bible to speak

    “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
    8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God.

    22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    So Cheryl, you are wrong. Men were guilty in both cases for their free-will, but clearly in both cases it happened according to God’s sovereign will and plan. This is why it is indeed a ‘mystery’, but the raw facts of the Bible teach the tension.

    Pinklight,

    I really do want you or Kay or Cheryl to use scripture to show me your doctrines. Rather than just criticising what i am saying, how about you guys share your theology and see how ‘consistent’ with the Bible it is. Kay’s definition of sovereignty is not even in the Bible, mine is. Cheryl didn’t even give her definition, but i assume it follows Kay’s definition by what she wrote. I look forward to yours. No-one has dealt with Romans 8-11, Eph 1 or any other teaching on predestination. All i have heard so far is critiques of mine by humanistic reasoning, not the word of God. If any of you believe that our ‘predestination’ is governed by God’s foreknowledge of what we choose- show me the scriptures which say this. I’m hearing alot of critiques but not much alternatives.

  228. “Also the doctrine of predestination (unconditional) also emphasises God’s grace. Nothing we do or can do will save us. It is merely according to God’s pleasure and will that some are saved.
    Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

    Mark,
    What I find in Romans 9 when looking into the context, shows that Paul was explaining God’s right to predetermine and use the nation of Israel to produce the Messiah.

    The spiritual salvation of individuals, especially a predestined, unconditional election, is not the subject of Romans 9. Romans was written to a fellowship containing both Jewish and Gentile Christians. And their differing backgrounds presented problems for the congregation. Ch.9 is preceded by the encouragement, promise, and hope of security in the Lord of Romans 8:31-39. It was clear at that time, that as a nation, the Jews were rejecting God.

    Both Jew and Gentile Christian might ask, “Had God not elected and predestined Israel?” Paul seems to have anticipated this question.
    “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:1-5

    Ask yourself, “Who is Paul concerned about?” Is it not national, physical Israel? Paul, a Jew himself, states the subject as his “brethren” and “countrymen according to the *flesh”, not spiritual brethren in Christ.

    Paul seems to here address the appearance that God’s promise and efforts failed for the Jews, for he says: “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Romans 9:6-8

    Here we are introduced to the concept of “spiritual Israel” versus “flesh, physical Israel”. In 9:3-5, Paul discussed Israelites who were identified “according to the flesh”.
    “For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Romans 9:9-13

    Now, please ask yourself this question, “Up to this point, has Paul been focused on the election of *individuals* or *nations*?” Recall verses 1-5. Physical, national Israel has clearly been the topic of concern.

    Unfortunately, the Calvinist begins reading at vs14 – without the benefit of the previous context. Consequently, although the passage never mentions salvation, the Calvinist ‘assumes’ that the discussion pertains to the predetermined, unconditional election of individuals unto salvation.

    Did God’s choice of Jacob over Esau pertain to an election of *individuals* unto salvation? Or, did God’s choice relate to the roles of *nations* in God’s plan to fulfill the promises to Abraham and produce the Messiah?

    Some Calvinist’ may acknowledge that the context of Romans 9:1-15 is indeed dealing with nations, not individuals, and reply, “But, that makes my point even stronger! God is sovereignly saving or condemning entire nations, not just individuals!” This statement overlooks the second aspect of the Calvinist assumption: The context is dealing with a nation’s role in God’s providence and plan to bring forth the *Messiah*, not the *salvation of a nation*. Otherwise, we would be forced to conclude that all Edomites were condemned and that all the Jews were saved.

    From this point, he is arguing that God does not owe the Jews *spiritual salvation*, even if they are Abraham’s seed. People are saved according to God’s promise, not by virtue of their *ancestry*.

    “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” Romans 9:14-16

    Paul’s goes on anticipating a charge from a dissatisfied Jew – recall, it was Jews that Paul was grieving. It was Jews, who were not christians, despite being Israelites according to the flesh.

    Does this passage reveal the *basis* of God’s choice? That purpose is not even mentioned here! Only assumption can inject a basis into the passage. *Again, we must be careful not to assume Calvin’s connotation of election and predestination.*

    “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 ..” (22-23)

    Calvinists see the phrases, “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”, and “vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand”, and assume Calvin’s definition of preparation – an unconditional, individual predestination.

    We humans know how we must exercise longsuffering in following through on projects we start. We accidentally, or even deliberately dig a hole for ourselves and must labor to dig our way back out? But does God?

    How can a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent God ever exercise longsuffering with Himself? If He has sovereignly decided, decreed, and designed these wicked non-elect, then He is really being longsuffering with Himself! His efforts exerted upon these vessels that He alone prepared reduces to a struggle with Himself!

    How can He possibly exercise longsuffering with them, essentially Himself, unless He failed to foresee, control, or prepare for these exasperating beings? … *Or*, unless He gave them an option, and He now bears with their abuse of His *freedom*? … If this passage teaches Calvinism, then it contradicts Calvin’s view of a supreme God.

    “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Prv.28:13

    “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

  229. “All i have heard so far is critiques of mine by humanistic reasoning, not the word of God.”
    Mark,
    O.k. here’s a look at Romans 1:18. These verses show the attributes and symptoms of depravity when one’s conscience becomes seared.
    ” Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:17-19

    In Romans 1, we find a passage describing how the pagan Gentiles became depraved.
    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.” Rom. 1:18-21

    These verses credit certain Gentiles the same attribute of depravity, using the same words as in Ephesians, but how did they become this way? The passage says they knew God, *but* by their wickedness suppress the truth, did not give God the glory He deserves, were not thankful for lives, given to them by the Creator. How did they show this ingratitude?

    “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. For this reason God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Rom. 1:22-25

    When these Gentiles became idolaters, God gave them over to their “lusts”. The words “For this reason” shows that it followed *after their choice*. They descended into the depths of moral depravity because of their desire to distance themselves from God and His will, so they became what they desired. God gave them over to what they wished and the consequences. (Rom. 1:28)

  230. Mark,
    Almost forgot my disclaimer for using the word “calvinist” – I’m not calling you one, just using it as a short cut sub of beliefs similar to yours.

  231. Mark,
    One more thing –
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world , that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” Ephesians 1:3-5

    So, certainly God predestines certain events and outcomes, even that Jesus would die for our sins (I Peter 1:19-20). But it is a leap in logic to assume that God has predestined each Christian independent of their own free will. Unless you approach the verse with that as a prerequisite.

    This passage is almost entirely ambiguous as to the basis of this predestination. The only language which refers to how Christians were predestined are the phrases, “blessed … in Christ”, “chose … in Him”, and “predestined … by Jesus Christ”. Each of these modifying phrases indicate that it is by being in Jesus, or as a member of His group, that one receives these *blessings*. The only “predestined” activity is that those in Christ would “be adopted.”

    In Romans 11, Paul the analogy the olive tree to illustrate to Gentile readers the role of the Jewish nation in their salvation. “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them , and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
    “Because of unbelief they were broken off , and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off . And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in , for God is able to graft them in again.” Romans 11:16-23

    Not only from this passage do we see the actual severing and removal of those who were once original, or natural branches, but we also see different branches, who were not originally branches, being grafted in their place. Consider Rom. 9 in light of this also.

    If the election is ordained from before time, how is it possible that the ‘elect’ should become ‘reprobate’ and the reprobate could become elect? Moreover, how could “unbelief” be a condition of severance, while “continuing in His goodness” be a condition of blessing, if there are no conditions?

  232. Kay,

    Let me say first of all thankyou for actually addressing a text. But let me say I am unconvinced of your exegesis. After all if Paul here is talking ONLY about the nation of Israel being elect why does Paul expect backlash and ask those rhetoric questions. Why would what he says be offensive? The Jews know they are his elect nation.

    However, I disagree that Calvinists begin in verse 15. That is totally wrong. Let’s go back over it.
    At the end of chapter 8, this famous passage confirms something for the Roman believers “nothing can separate us from God”. If this be true (which I believe it is), then what has happened to the Jews? Has God seperated himself from the elect nation?

    Paul’s answer is no! He outlines all the blessings given to Israel (9:1-5). He says he wishes he could be cut off for their sakes. They had the patriarchs, covenants, promises… so how is it that these are the very people who have rejected Christ? The answer comes, to show how it is that God’s word has not failed.

    “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel”

    Now let me ask what does this mean to you? From the context it is clear that although the nation of Israel had all the things outlined in verse 1-5, that does not mean they received individual salvation. Only ‘true’ Israel receives salvation. This is the crux verse for the interpretation of Romans 9. If Paul is only interested in ‘nations’ it makes no sense of this verse. Paul is interested in showing how God’s word has not failed PRECISELY because not all of national Israel are true Israel (individual salvation). This themes is constantly expanded throughout the next 2 chapters aswell, when Paul is discussing the ‘remnant’- that is, those within the nation ho were actually saved into eternal life.

    Paul then uses 2 Old Testament example to prove his point. First, Abraham! Issac was chosen not Ishmael purely on God’s mercy. But of course the objection could be raised about these 2 children of Abraham having different mothers. So Paul uses example 2- Isaac’s children. Both of Isaac’s children have the same mother and indeed both are conceived at the same time, yet God in his sovereign mercy, chose Jacob and not Esau. Paul then quotes various Old Testament references showing his point from the scriptures- the older will serve the younger, Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.

    Now it is clear that this would upset people. If this is true about God’s pure sovereign choice of one over another, then how is that fair? In fact, how can we be judged if we are just fulfilling God’s predetermined plan for our lives (sounds familiar does it not?). Paul answers those objection in verses 14-21. God has mercy on who he wills. He hardens whom he wills. Election does not depend on HUMAN WILL or effort, but on the contrary, God’s mercy. It makes no sense to go with your interpretation and understand either verse 6 or verses 14-21. If Paul’s intention was purely ‘national’ verse 6 lies, and there would have been no objections to his teaching. After all the Jews already knew they were God’s chosen nation.

    Romans 9:27 deals with the remnant
    Romans 9:6 deals with the remnant
    Romans 11:5 deals with the remnant
    Frankly, nothing in these chapters gives the indication that Paul means nations, unless of course you want to say that the remnant is a nation!

    In chapter 11 Paul again asks the question whether God’s word has failed. On the contrary he quotes again from the Old Testament when God had a remnant of ‘faithful individuals’ when the nation was in apostasy during Elijah’s time. He further expands that what Israel sought to obtain it failed because salvation is by faith not works which is what the ‘elect’ recieved. He also further enhances from the scriptures again how God has hardened to Jews in the present age to bring in the gentiles.

    Again let me say that exegetically (and I only brushed through it all) the only possible way to read these chapters is what I have outlined. God has elected individuals purely on his mercy from both the Jews and gentiles. If this seems unfair to some, they need to come to terms that God is God. He is the potter, we are the clay.

    To read it purely nationally does not do justice to the text exegetically. Not only that, but how is it still not unfair that God chooses a nation over other nations. It seems hypocritical that you can say God can choose a nation but not individuals.

    Finally I totally disagree that the passage is showing how the nation of Israel brought forth the messiah. That is a massive interpolation into the text. Nothing in Romans 9-11 is dealing with how Jesus descended from Abraham. You have totally changed what the text is dealing with. Paul no where deals with ‘messiah’, ‘Jesus’, lineage or any other such notions. This is precisely the problem with rejecting the reformed view- it has to ignore the grammer, the intention of the passage, and include things that are not there.

    But again let me say, that at least you tried to deal with a text. Perhaps now you can attempt to show me where our faith is foreknown by God, therefore that is why we are predestined unto salvation.

  233. Kay,

    Again let me commend you for addressing Romans 1. Can you state though at what point you disagree with me. Are you saying you agree that Romans 1:18-3:20 should not be used to support total depravity?

    Let me ask you to read over the entire pericope, Romans 1:18-3:20

    After outlining the Pagan world in chapter 1 Paul opens chapter saying that ‘you’ (Roman Church) therefore have no excuse to judge others, why? Because as Paul says, you who do pass judgement do the SAME THINGS. Here Paul is addressing the ‘gentile’ CHRISTIAN audience of the Roman church because we see in 2:17, he switches to address the Jews about the law.

    In chapter 3 Paul asks if there is any advantage in being a Jew then above a gentile, now that Christ has come. By the time we reach verse 9 Paul has concluded that we ought not to increase our unrighteousness in order to increase God’s righteousness.

    Verse 9 is extremely important because Paul asks the questions “What shall we say then? Are WE any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written…”

    So just in case the Jews think that are somehow more superior than the gentiles or Pagan world, he tells them no. We are all under sin. He then uses various Old Testament quotes (to show the Jews from THEIR scriptures) the nature of them aswell.

    Now there is nothing in the surrounding contexts at all to tell us Paul is only addressing people who do not fear God. After all Paul s writing to a CHRISTIAN church not God haters.

    Also remember the more immediate context as Paul is addressing the law (2:17-3:20). And we know that no righteousness is obtained from the law. That is why Paul begins in 3:21 to address God’s righteousness found in faith not the law. Paul I sshowing the jews from their scriptures that 1) righteousness is not found in the law and 2) they are no better than the gentiles- that is we are ALL totally depraved.

    Therefore application of these chapters is easy. The whole pericope should be understood to apply to all people, because that is Paul’s conclusion. We are all alike under sin. Paul has simply used a gentile argument and then a jewish argument to come to the same conclusion. That is why I reject the claim of Cheryl’s that I am using of these verse out of context. If Paul’s intention is not meant to be understood universally, then of course there is no application to these chapters because it simply applies to these various groups. But since Paul is addressing a congregation of gentile and Jew Christians, and correlating these Christians to Pagan people, and Old Testament people, the conclusion is clear. The Romans are the same, as are we. Total depravity is true and correct.

    Again this is a brush through the pericope. You really need to study the context Kay as does Cheryl.

  234. Kay

    About Eph 2. Look again at what we are predestined for. It is not simply that the way to salvation is predestined (as Arminius taught) but us.

    We are chosen in Christ before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4)

    Now what are we chosen for? The rest of verse 4 tells us “to be holy and blameless in His sight”. Now let me aks you, how do we become holy and blameless in God’s sight. Hopefuuly we agree, that it is by being justified in Christ that we receive this status.

    Therefore this verse is clear that we are chosen before the world to be justified and thus made holy and blameless.

    Verse 5 expands this. We are predestined to be adopted as sons through Christ. Now again how is this done- justification is it not. So we are predestined to be justified. And to finish it off Paul says in verse 5 that this is done how? “in accordance with His (God’s) pleasure and will”.

    It is clear that we are chosen to be sons, to be adopted, to be holy and blameless ALL before the creation of the world and ONLY according to GOD”S pleasure and will. There is nothing at all here that saids because of our free-will to choose him like you said.

    It is you who is reading something into the text. I am letting the text speak for itself. This is clear in the fact that you say it “is a leap of logic’. I’m not interested like I said in philosophical reasoning. I’m only interested in what the Bible says. Please do justice to the text not your reason or logic on these issues.

    Now you also addressed Romans 11 and asked this
    “If the election is ordained from before time, how is it possible that the ‘elect’ should become ‘reprobate’ and the reprobate could become elect? Moreover, how could “unbelief” be a condition of severance, while “continuing in His goodness” be a condition of blessing, if there are no conditions?”

    You have missed the whole point of Romans 9-11. Let me refer you back to 9:6, not all Israel are Israel. Paul is not saying that the ‘nation’ of Israel receives salvation. ON the contrary it is the remnant. So the elect have not become the reprobate, because as Paul’s argument shows, they were never the elect to salvation to begin with. It is clear that you don’t actually understand Romans 9-11.

    Also no one saids that you don’t have to believe to become a child of God. Entry into the kingdom requires faith in the atoning work of Christ. The question is has God chosen before the world who he would give the gifts of faith and repentance too. The Bible says yes. So entry into the kingdom is of course conditional on faith, but election as recipients of this grace is unconditional on God’s choice before the world began.

    Kay, let me challenge you to actually accept what the Bible teaches although you think it contradicts with your ‘reasoning’. We are all post enlightenment people and the effects of humanistic reasoning have damaged proper interpretation of the Bible. Our job is not to use or reason to contradict the Bible, but the preach the truth of the scriptures. You need to look beyond philosophy. I challenge you to do that (this is also in brethrenly love)

  235. Mark,
    You said:

    I agree that God is rich in mercy- none of us deserve to be saved, we have all fallen short of the glory of God have we not? But still only a limited number of people are saved. Even you believe this because you are not a universalist. You can’t discredit Calvinists because they believe that a limited number are saved. Any evangelical believes that, reformed or not.

    I will agree that there are few who are saved, but this is because few put their faith in Christ and accept God’s free gift. It isn’t because God has predestined the majority to be created unconditionally to go to hell without the price paid for them by Jesus on the cross. But to charge God with deliberately and willfully and unconditionally creating people to go to hell, is not the God of love and the God who is filled with mercy to the many.

    If we say that fearing God saves us and that it is in our own strength, then yes it is works based.

    I have already told you that we cannot save ourself. Our fear cannot save us and our faith cannot do the work of creating a clean heart and giving us eternal life. Only God can save us as His work alone saves. However God who has free choices, has the freedom to give His free gift with a condition of faith. Claiming that faith is a work in this instance is akin to claiming that cashing a welfare cheque is work! One who cashes their welfare cheque is accepting a free gift and they cannot claim that they have worked for the money.

    David is a great example of all this. He was a God fearing man, he worshiped God, he loved God. Yet he continually asked that God would enable him to do this.

    David didn’t ask God to “enable” him to fear or “enable” him to worship or “enable” him to love God. Rather he asked God to teach him, given him understanding and lead him. The passage that you quoted does not say that fear is a gift. Instead David says that the ungodly don’t fear because of their own sin, not because God hasn’t “gifted” them with fear.

    Psalm 36:1 (NASB) Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.

    God acts so that all may fear Him, but never does the Scripture say that God drops fear as a gift in a person’s heart. Fear is what we do as a response to what God does.

    Psalm 67:7 (NASB)
    7 God blesses us,
    That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.

    David didn’t trust in his own fear or faith or ability.

    No one is saying that we are to trust our fear. What I am saying is that our fear shows our obedience to God and it is not a gift that God drops into our heart without any repentance on our part.

    He knew all these things were the gift of God.

    David never says that his “fear” is a gift from God.

    He prayed to his Father that God may continue to bless him with those things.

    The thing that David is asking God to bless him with is God’s promises.

    This is the reformed position in a nutshell.

    So the reformed “Calvinist” position is that the fear of God is a “gift”? How sad that although Scripture never says God gifts people with fear, that we are expected to wait for fear to be dropped into our heart as a “gift” instead of responding of our own free will. I have never seen such a system in Christianity that read so much into the words of Scripture in order to prove their own doctrine. It sure does remind me of Paul’s words to the Galatians in Gal. 3:1. I wonder how many books they had to read to believe in the additions to the Scripture? I am not trying to put you down at all. I am just amazed at how “gift” can be read into anything without so much as the word being used in the passage or the thought expressed. And where else is this “gift” of fear expressed? What man of God in the Bible ever called the fear of God a gift?

    But we dare never look to our own strength and ability nor should we think we know who God bestows his gifts too.

    God has clearly spoken that He has paid the price for all for salvation is an unmerited “gift” offered to all who will accept His condition.

    Anyway I need to take a break. I’l let you catch up before I comment again.

    Thanks! You must have more time on your hands these days as it has been difficult for me to catch up to you. I want to finish shortly and then start John 6 and we can stick with it until we are done.

  236. Mark,
    You said:

    I don’t think you should doubt Jesus. But I don’t think taking universal language the way you do is correct. After all Romans 5 says that Jesus justified ‘all’ men. Should we take that to mean every single person. Now I know your not a universalist so I’m sure you don’t, therefore why do you take Jn 12 to mean every single person in the world?

    What you fail to see is that Jesus paid the price for all men and justified all men by His sacrifice but the price had to be applied before that justification can be put on our behalf.

    Let me ask you…did Jesus pay for your justification on the cross? When was that payment made on your account? Was it made when Jesus died or was it placed on your account when you believed? Or when?

    Romans 5 shows that God reconciled all of His enemies through the cross. The justification happened at the cross. But the application was yet to be applied. The fact is that Christians are those who have had that payment and the justification put onto their account.

    I am sure that you also believe in a two part justification with the price paid and the price applied. Why should that be any different from those who had the price paid but who refuse the payment?

    Not only that but how does Jesus draw all the people in the world who have never heard about Him.

    Jesus is God. He is able to work in the hearts of people to draw them to Himself even if they do not know Him as God. He worked on my heart through the Holy Spirit before I became saved. He draws them to Himself through the revelation that He has already given them.

    Have you not heard of cases where God has drawn people in lands that have not heard of Him and yet they were waiting and ready for when the missionaries came and they received the gospel with joy. To say that God is limited in drawing people to prepare their hearts for the gospel would be a sad revelation of your view of the Sovereignty of God.

    Why should we bother reaching the unreached if Jesus has already drawn them? See the problem?

    Because drawing people doesn’t save them. They still need the gospel. What drawing does is prepare them to hear the gospel.

    We need to be careful when the bible uses universal language and not just pick and choose to fit our theology.

    May I respectfully say that we should be very careful when universal language is used and interpret it to mean only a few.

    Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

    Do you think John’s intention here is that every single person in the world did not recognize or know Jesus. Surely not because we know from the gospels that people did. This is the problem with basing a theology on universal terms- you come across so many contradictions.

    You have missed the point of the verse. John is saying that it was Jesus who was the Creator of the world and the world did not recognize Him as Creator. In fact it wasn’t until Jesus died and was resurrected that the disciples recognized Him as the Creator. The first clear response to His evidence that He was the Creator God was from Thomas after Jesus’ resurrection:

    John 20:27–28 (NASB)
    27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
    28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

    Where is such a clear recognition of the Creator made while He was here living as a mere human? They did not recognize Him. But they did recognize Him for all that He is after the resurrection.

    So once again the universal language shows that the Scriptures are true. We do not take universal language and remake the universality to mean just a mere few.

    Now also about Jn 12:32 look closely at verse 33
    Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
    Joh 12:33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

    If Jesus said this about his death, how can he draw every single person unless his intention was that his death brought atonement and salvation for every single person.

    He did bring atonement and salvation for every single person. But not all people accepted His gift. You see, this is where you and I differ. I accept the Bible for the inspired words and I work hard not to reinterpret these prophetic utterances to make them mean far less then the full truth.

    This simply is not the case because not everyone is saved.

    The price paid has nothing to do with how many people are saved. Jesus paid the price whether it was accepted by all or not.

    I don’t believe this verse supports your argument at all. John is particularly a writer who uses universal language a lot, and many people bring contradictions into the text by adopting wrong conclusions on universal language.

    This again is your problem. You do not believe. No offense meant, but I see that you have been bewitched to believe a doctrine that contradicts Scripture. The doctrine that you hold on to and love causes you to reject the prophesies of Jesus on the atonement.

    I could never love a doctrine that would force me to reject the clear teaching of the Scriptures in context and force me to reinterpret the teachings in order to make the doctrine true in my eyes. It is my sincerest desire to follow God and to lay aside my preconceptions to accept the Scripture’s testimony. I could never face God with such clear Scriptures saying that Jesus died for all men and that He draws all men and tell God that I just couldn’t believe that.

  237. Cheryl,

    i haven’t got time right now to respond to your last 2 posts, but i am eager too.

    Food for thought in the meantime. What is the atonement? Is it not Jesus taking the ‘punishment’ we deserve for our sin. If therefore Jesus took the ‘punishment’ for every single person in the world, how therefore are they sent to hell. After all their sins are ‘atoned for’, or in other words forgiven. Even if they choose not to believe, they are still atoned for that sin right? This is the problem.

    I limit the application of the atonement to the elect. You limit it’s ability to be a complete atonement.

    More soon

  238. Mark, Mark, Mark,
    You have got to let me finish catching up. Or how will we ever get to John 6?

    What is the atonement? Is it not Jesus taking the ‘punishment’ we deserve for our sin. If therefore Jesus took the ‘punishment’ for every single person in the world, how therefore are they sent to hell.

    They are sent to hell because they did not have the payment applied. But just because the payment wasn’t applied doesn’t mean the the payment wasn’t made.

    Two examples:
    #1. If I buy you a very expensive gift certificate for your favorite store and I give you that certificate, have I paid the price for it? Is the money out of my pocket and is my bank account now a lot lower? Of course! But what if you refuse to cash in that certificate? Will it benefit you? But if you refuse to cash in the certificate does that mean that I didn’t pay the price?

    #2. All of the examples of atonement in the OT are always two fold. The requirement was the death of the animal and the second part was the application of the blood. When God told Moses that the people needed to sacrifice the lamb at the first passover in Egypt, was it okay to kill the lamb and eat it without applying the blood to the door?

    The fact is that every example of the physical atonement was for the price to be paid and the blood to be applied.

    Let me ask you, why was it necessary for Jesus to apply His blood into the holy of holies in Heaven after He had already died for our sin?

  239. Mark,
    You said:

    I honestly can tell you that since i have looked into these doctrines, my faith has grown, my joy has grown, not the reverse. Although i know that some in this world are not of God’s sheep or elect i also know that God is fatihful, good and Holy in His actions.

    My faith has grown in the understanding of who God is and His revelation to us. His Word is so clear that He is love and merciful and that He gave Jesus for all. If I were to take human reasoning and say that I love people and deserve them to be saved while God Himself doesn’t desire their salvation nor does He have an speck of saving love for them, then I would have more love and mercy for that person than God does. How on earth we can accept a doctrine that makes us more loving in some areas than God and more merciful than God in some areas just beats me. It is amazing that the Merciful God can be outdone by a mere human all for the sake of a doctrine of men that is only clearly found in the books written by men.

    The sadness of this all amazes me. That there are people in the Christian world who are happy and content that they are of the elect and they do not care that their doctrine teaches that God deliberately and unconditionally creates people to go to hell.

  240. Mark,
    You said:

    First of all, there is not one passage in Scripture that saids God ‘chose’ to limit himself when he created the world.

    There are two parts to the equation. If God gives free will and free choice without making the choice for us, then God allows us within limits to act with freedom as He acts. The only way that He can give free choice is to accept our choice otherwise it really isn’t a choice but an ultimate decision made by Him.

  241. Sorry for butting in on your conversation with Kay, but your comments that God does not choose to limit Himself was to tempting to bypass. Jesus as God chose to limit Himself to become human. It is a God-thing to have choices. If we tell God that He cannot chose one way or the other, then we have limited God and taken away His Sovereignty.

  242. Mark,
    You said:

    “Isaiah 53:6 sums up my view quite nicely. It says that we have all sinned and gone to our own ways. It does not say that all of us are totally depraved people. Man, if all people were totally depraved you couldn’t walk outside your door in the day time, let alone the night time.”

    You have again not represented the doctrine correctly. It’s hard to discuss with you, when you don’t understand what you oppose.

    I wasn’t trying to represent Calvinism. I said that Isaiah 53:6 doesn’t say that all of us are totally depraved people.

    In fact “total depravity” is a very bad misnomer for your doctrine. Most choose to call it “total inability” because the other term doesn’t properly represent Calvinism.

    Let me quote from a position to see if you agree with it:

    That man could not obtain saving faith of himself or by the strength of his own free will, but stood in need of God’s grace through Christ to be renewed in thought and will.

    Is this what you believe?

  243. Mark,

    ” To have a person remain as an unregenerate person and without faith and without being a child of God and call them “born again” is completely foreign to Christian terminology. Calvinism has taken classical Christian terms and re-written their meaning. I find that incredibly sad.”

    WHen did i ever say that Cheryl? I have never said a person can be born again and stay without faith.

    Read again what I said. I didn’t say that you said a person can be born again and stay without faith. What I am saying is that Calvinism teaches that at the very moment that a person is born again he is without faith because being born again has nothing to do with faith. It is after that the born again experience that he is given the ability to understand the gospel and God gives him a gift of faith. It is an absolute fact that the moment of being born again the person is without faith. If you deny that, you are not reading your own Calvinist material.

    Being born again is part of the process of coming to faith is what i have said. Anybody who is born again WILL ALWAYS immediately follow it by faith.

    Faith in what? The person has to hear the gospel. Calvinists have admitted that it is possible that a person can be born again for a period of time before they hear the gospel and are given the “gift” of faith. Are you are saying that it must immediately be followed by the gift of faith?

    Your attack on clavinism here again clearly shows me once more that you are not engaging wiht the actual teaching but your ‘view’ of the teaching.

    Not true. The definition of being born again has always been that one is born with the seed of God and become a child of God. One cannot be a child of God without being saved. But Calvinism teaches that salvation is not accomplished until after the gift of faith is given. It is not an attack on Calvinism to reveal the revision to the term.

    You need to be more careful to show me that you actually understand the ‘calvinistic’ position. Thus far it is clear you do not.

    The Calvinist position is that a person must be born again in order to believe. A person then does not believe to be born again in the Calvinist position. So at the very moment of being born again, the person is not yet a believer but will follow with belief.

    The issue of which comes first is very important to Calvinism. It is not an issue of being born again and believing at the same moment or it could look like a person is born again by believing. Rather there is an order that has to come. So when is a person’s sins forgiven? Are they forgiven when a person is born again? Or are they forgiven when they believe?

  244. Mark,

    “But again I mentioned that Romans 3 is a quote from the OT where the context is the fool who says there is no God. Paul would not illegally use an OT quote to mean the opposite of what God inspired as Paul supported Scripture. He did not twist Scripture to his own use.”

    Maybe after John 6 we can go through Romans and actually look at the context right from 1:18 through to the end of chapter 3. Then perhaps you might see Paul’s point in relation to sin.

    I would be happy to do that. That might take us into the next year or so, eh?

    There is no hint what so ever that Paul is only addressing ‘the fool who saids there is no God’. Indeed, Paul includes himself in the quote using the 3rd person plural ‘we’. Your exegesis is flawed and wrong. The context in Romans denies the possibility of your interpretation.

    Sorry, my friend, but you are wrong. Paul speaks about we and they and you must be very careful to distinguish and know who the “they” are. Otherwise you won’t understand the passage. No, Paul did not contradict the OT by taking a passage that applies only to the fools who say that there is no God and applying this to Abraham, Isaac, Job etc. There is a difference between believers and those who say there is no God.

  245. Mark,
    You said:

    It is interesesting that you do not believe that free-will and God’s sovereignty do not go hand in hand.

    I didn’t say that. God Sovereignty gives Him the right to allow people to chose while He decides the ultimate outcome. It is God’s way.

    Let me ask who sold Joseph and sent him to Egypt.

    Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph, but God sent him to Egypt. God sent the men who bought Joseph and He Sovereignly had Joseph delivered there.

    OR again, who crucified Christ?

    God Sovereignly delivered Jesus up to be crucified.

    According to the gospel many people used their ‘wills’ to kill Jesus. >

    These ones wanted to kill Jesus many times, but Jesus merely walked away from their trap. It wasn’t until it was God’s time, that the God allowed them to finish what their evil hearts had started. God did not put murder into their hearts, but allowed them to do what He willed.

    So Cheryl, you are wrong. Men were guilty in both cases for their free-will, but clearly in both cases it happened according to God’s sovereign will and plan.

    What you have forgotten is that God uses evil for His purposes, but He does not entice people to do the evil. God is able to direct the evil so that it accomplishes His purpose.

    This is why it is indeed a ‘mystery’, but the raw facts of the Bible teach the tension.

    It isn’t a mystery now. It has been revealed.

    Pinklight,

    I really do want you or Kay or Cheryl to use scripture to show me your doctrines. Rather than just criticising what i am saying, how about you guys share your theology and see how ‘consistent’ with the Bible it is.

    It is an amazing thing that you don’t pay any attention to all the Scripture that I have used, and you have many questions you have not answered. To say that I don’t use Scripture to prove my point is really a bad move. It makes your eyes look like they have been blinded to everything but your own view.

    Kay’s definition of sovereignty is not even in the Bible, mine is. Cheryl didn’t even give her definition,

    I did give you my definition but since I have been behind, it may not have been as quick as you would like.

  246. Mark,
    You said:

    Let me see if I understand your view.
    1. Jesus draws every single person in the world to himself
    2. But not everyone comes to the Father
    3. Those who come to the Father are those who are seeking/fear God and therefore believe.

    #3 is not right. Although all those who fear God will be brought to the covenant, God still calls those who don’t fear God and they can obey God when He calls them.

    I have a problem with this. Even in my own experience this doesn’t work.

    You probably should have checked first before find a problem with your misunderstanding.

    God doesn’t reward those who are seeking him more than those who are not.

    Malachi 3:16–18 (NASB)
    The Book of Remembrance
    16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.
    17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
    18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

    Mark, it looks like you are contradicting God who rewards those who fear Him by making a difference between the righteous (those who choose to fear God) and the wicked who refuse to fear God. I choose to believe God.

    This view gives us room to boast. I got salvation because I was seeking type of idea.

    No room to boast since we cannot earn salvation. Those who fear God are not the ones who are boasting, but they are humbled by their recognition of their need for God.

    We are saved purely by the mercy and grace of God. But maybe this isn’t how you see it/ Let me know

    We are not saved by fear, but God promises to bring those who fear Him to salvation. It is purely by God’s grace. Read the passage above again and see what you think. What is God saying? Is God lying to us or does He really make a difference between those who fear Him and those who do not.

  247. Mark,
    You said:

    I agree. An ungenerate person is one who is dead in sin. A regenerate person is one who has been born again. Your still looking at born again as only salvation, and this is where I think you are wrong.

    Being born again has to be salvation since one has God’s seed within them and there is nothing else said to be needed after our rebirth. Our rebirth is our salvation. If you do not believe that it is, then show me how it is possible for God’s spirit to indwell a person who is not saved?

    I wonder why you didn’t quote these verses? Is it because they are so obvious about a future judgment and a future entering into the kingdom that they cannot even be twisted to be about the here and the now?”

    “Now Mark, I have carefully gone through this piece by piece to show that the action of God which is the verb salvation is the “gift”. The rest only explains how the action is gifted to us “by grace” and “through faith”.

    Cheryl, I disagree with your exegesis. Logically we must say then that ‘grace’ is not even a gift then.

    Grace is the means to the gift.

    Col 2:13 also talks about us being dead in our sins and uncircumcised sinful nature? If we are by nature because of our sinful nature passed down from Adam, dead in sin, how on earth can we possibly have the ability to have faith in God.

  248. Hi Cheryl
    I have a few questions mostly arising from 243:
    1. In your understanding of the sacrifice requiring acceptance was it possible that as He died Jesus could not be certain even a single person would accept His death?
    2. If you have purchased the certificate and not cashed it, it is worthless, despite the price having been paid. But if it requires me to cash it to have any value then surely that is works – I can now boast that I saw the value in the certificate while the non-believer did not cash theirs, can I not?

  249. Mark,
    You said:

    We needed God to do something to make us not-dead.

    We are buried with Christ and resurrected with Him. How many times are we dead?

    Ok I think I am getting closer to understanding your view…maybe! So God ‘draws’ everybody (however that works) and this is how God helps?

    God does draw everyone and we cannot come to Him without this “work”.

    But when the decision needs to be made then it is solely up to the person…correct? God does not help that person actually believe, he just draws them in however you understand that.

    Of course He helps them to believe by giving them the unadulterated truth.

    No I don’t know anyone who wants to separate Calvinists from non-calvinists. I don’t think that is anyone’s intention in our churches.

    I have met more than enough Calvinists who want to charge me with heresy (semi-pelagianism) and who want to push Calvinism as if one cannot be a mature believer without it. And wasn’t it you too who called me a semi-pelagian? Calling someone a heretic is how people separate believers.

    I simply want to know the truth. I want to know that if the act of saving faith is not something God gives to us, how can we say that we are therefore not adding something of our own to salvation?

    Salvation is a miracle work and we cannot work this miracle. It is God’s work alone.

    I can’t see how God draws every single person to himself when clearly not everyone knows about Christianity.

    It is because drawing is not the same thing as coming.

    I can’t see how as sinful people with a dead corrupt nature we can be expect people to accept Christ unless he opens their eyes to the message.

    Of course God opens their eyes to the message, but opening one’s eyes is not a resurrection. The only resurrection that we experience is where we are buried with Christ and we are raised with Him. Can you please show me more than one spiritual resurrection?

    “This is illogical. You are defining faith as having nothing at all to do with us.”

    No, not at all, but I think we are at least getting to the heart of the matter- how free-choice and God’s sovereignty work together. Faith is our action, it has to be since people who don’t believe are condemned.

    How can faith be our action if it is a “gift” given by God?

    We believe because it is very much our decision to believe, yet we believe because it is very much God’s action to make us believe.

    Believe is the action word. It is what we do. Where does the Bible say that God makes us believe?

    This is where people stumble because they can’t handle it.

    We can’t handle it because the Scripture doesn’t say that God makes people believe. If it isn’t Scriptural, then I am not going to believe it.

    But like I pointed out with Romans 9- it is not human will or exertion, but’s God’s mercy which saves us.

    And as I pointed out, our believing (our action not God’s), is not what saves us. Salvation is both the gift and the work of God.

    More to come.

  250. Cheryl In 245
    You say “The only way that He can give free choice is to accept our choice otherwise it really isn’t a choice but an ultimate decision made by Him.”
    David speaks of God knitting him together in his mothers womb (Psalm 139), God made David exactly who he was.He made David trust God right from the time he left the womb (Psalm 22). As our creator He makes us exactly who we are. I did not choose to love peaches and hate apricots – its simply who I am, my brother loves them both – that is who he is, it is how God has made us. In the same way was not the love of God part of who David was? Sure it was a choice he made – I am not disputing that David chose to stick by God in tough times when he could have turned his back. But why did he choose to trust God? Where did he choose to have such fortitude? Was it not part of who God made him to be- part of his character knitted by God Himself? This also fits with Romans 9 v20 “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ We are who God made us to be, our choices are our own, they are the choices we want to make, when and how we want to make them. Yet God made us who we are, He chose what we would like and dislike, He chose what we would choose to do and not do. WE DO CHOOSE our actions but they are only ever an expression of the nature God gave us. Thus we are accountable if we reject Christ – it is our free choice, but it is not a surprise to the God who defined our being as He created each of us our mothers wombs.

  251. Cheryl,

    First of all i never called you a semi-pelagian. I asked you to show me how your view is not semi-pelagian, there is a difference.

    From what you have written it seems that we somewhat are closer to agreeing than perhaps first thought. You have admitted that we need God to open the eyes of believers, which i think is good.

    So we both agree that God draws, calls, opens eyes, soften hearts all before people accept the message of Christ. But yet i guess we still disagree that faith is a gift. I’m quite surprised actually that you don’t even believe grace is a gift. But i guess at least you are being consistent with how you read Eph 2. But honestly it’s a bit far when you say that God’s grace to us is not even a gift, is it not? Can i ask is repentance a gift or not?

    Also you did not define your view of God’s sovereignty. You simply asked me if God had the ability to make choices. IF you believe as Kay does, show me from the Bible. If not, i suggest you stop promoting an unbiblical view of God’s sovereignty.

    Why is it people will go to such lengths when Romans 9-11 is so clear. You want me to reject the reformed position and accept a view that is not even found in the Bible. Come on now.

    With regards to the limited atonement, i wonder how you understand John 10, when Jesus himslef declares that he lays down his life ‘for his sheep’. Maybe you think God’s sheep is everybody, i dunno?
    I wonder if you feel that the OT sacrifices atoned for the whole world? Is this what you believe, or was it limited? Nothing in scripture teaches that Jesus atoned for the sins of every single person except the passages that use universal language. Now we can have a more thorough discussion on that terminology but i think we both know the danger in placing a theology on universal language. After all, this is precisely what universalists do.

    You can’t have Jesus saying he only died for his sheep (limited) and that he died for the whole world (unlimited). One of them must not be as you might think on the surface. Clearly universal language is the more ambiguous, since the analogy of sheep and goats is quite clear. Where as universal language is not. I have already shown one example from John to disprove the universal language assumption, but there are plenty more.

    Ok i will stop now, unless Kay or pinklight respond. John 6 here we go!

    Gazza,
    I agree, Cheryl’s analogy is worthless.(why is it Cheryl you used an analogy anyway after slamming Gazza’s earlier) That is precisely why i said her view of the atonement is also limited.

  252. Sorry one more

    Cheryl you asked me this and i can’t help but wonder if you were trying to trip me up with an anonymous quote.

    “Let me quote from a position to see if you agree with it:

    That man could not obtain saving faith of himself or by the strength of his own free will, but stood in need of God’s grace through Christ to be renewed in thought and will.

    Is this what you believe?”

    On the surface this might look ok but once you did deaper into the theology it is simply wrong. This is one of the points of the Remonstrance, so no i do not agree with it. Arminian theology only believes in preveniant grace and no more. Hence in there 4th point that outright reject the irresistability of God’s grace for the elect.
    Is this what you believe?

  253. Mark,
    You said:

    I don’t think you can separate all these things all the time Cheryl. You seem to want to completely separate salvation from faith all the time.

    No, I don’t want to separate salvation from faith, because there can be no salvation without faith. But what is separated is who does what. Salvation can never be done by us since it is a work that we are incapable of doing. But we can have faith just as we are required to have. If faith was merely God’s gift to us, then God would be unwise to command us to have faith. He would just give it to us.

    Sure we can boast if we work for our salvation, but surely there is room for boasting if I believe and you don’t, if faith isn’t a gift.

    There can only be boasting if I am capable of believing and you aren’t. If God created me with the elect position and granted me the ability to believe (after gifting me with faith) then I could boast that I am in and you are not and God planned me to be “in” from the very beginning. But the fact is that both of us have been given the ability to believe if we will turn from our sin and fear God.

    There is heaps of room for boasting.

    The only time that there is room for boasting is if one person is privileged and the other is not. If we are equal in our ability and neither of us can earn our salvation there is no cause to boast.

    The fact is that if we are not picked to be in a higher class than others, we have no reason to boast. Salvation is a free gift offered to all.

    The verses do not lend themselves to such seperation like you have done. Salvation, grace, faith are all gifts, so that we may never boast of anything of ourselves.

    Gift is singular not plural in the passage. It is salvation that is the gift (singular).

    I think you had a cheap shot a Piper there Cheryl. Any of us are vulnerable to pride not just Calvinists.

    It is the Calvinists who say that Calvinism is the only pride-destroying system. The fact is that it is not and those who claim the name of Calvinist have been some of the most arrogant people I have ever met. I am not saying this about you for you are here in a humble manner dialogging with me. I don’t think that Calvinists do well by claiming that their theology produces humility more so than non-Calvinism.

    I’m sure if you or I are ever in a position like Piper or anyone like that we would struggle. It is a good thing that Piper has realised this, he takes sin seriously and I praise God for that.

    Well I praise God for that too, but unfortunately Piper didn’t take time away before his pride over took him. There are many non-Calvinist pastors who have not fallen to this kind of pride. Maybe that’s why I am predestined not to be a Calvinist. If I thought that I had been created by God to be loved and saved, while the majority of humanity had been created by God to be hated and destroyed in hell, I am not sure if I could keep the pride down. It would be so good for the ego to know that one is in the special class picked unconditionally. How many people can really handle that? It seems to me that if this really was the truth, the best thing that God could do is to tell us when we are in Heaven when we are not subject to pride.

    Being a Calvinist does not negate nor increase one’s possibility of being proud- this is something we all struggle with.

    Man I have heard so many sermons about Calvinism being pride-destroying that one would think that it is practically impossible to have pride while being a Calvinist.

    But I reject that reformed theology increases people’s pride. That is just a cheap shot. It is illogical.

    It isn’t illogical. I would feel very tempted to be proud if I was a Calvinist. After all I am so special (for whatever reason) that Jesus died for me and all the other special ones that God loves.

    If I believe that God’s elect are purely chosen by God’s choice and mercy (Rom 9) how can I boast- it has nothing to do with me.

    Because I am one of God’s “choices”. It wouldn’t matter why He picked me. The fact that I am in the special class and most are in the hated class – well how wonderful.

    I don’t believe that God loves me more than others- reformed theology doesn’t believe that.

    It is a “special” love – a saving and special love. Goodness, we had to sit there and listen to our Calvinist pastor tell us how much God loves the elect and how special the elect and how much God hates the reprobate. And you say that Calvinism doesn’t teach that God loves you more than the reprobate?

    he doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze 18). But God also chose to save some and not others according to his pleasure and his will.

    This is a contradiction. To say that God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked but it is His pleasure not to save them (so that they die) is just plain contradiction.

    It has nothing to do with us or that he loves us more. You are misrepresenting reformed theology saying those sorts of things.

    If you say that this is a misrepresentation, then explain how saving love one given to one group and withheld from another group is not “more” love?

    Perhaps you should read Calvin! Please don’t also describe Calvinists as some sort of ‘elite’- this is unhelpful.

    I didn’t say that Calvinists are some sort of “elite”. I said:

    While you may not know the reason why He chose you, the fact that He chose you and you are one of the elite elect chose out of all humanity makes you have lots to boast amongst those that God doesn’t love.

    I was talking about all of the elect here as Calvinism describes them as being the ones loved from all of eternity by God. That would be an elite group – not just the Calvinists. Trouble is that I don’t believe that there is a group of people that God has unconditionally picked as a people to love while hating all the other reprobate people that He would create. You believe in this class. I don’t.

    Perhaps you should read Calvin!

    I am reading Calvinist literature as much as I can stomach. I prefer to get my spiritual nourishment from the Bible .

    You obviously have not understood me at all. Let’s try again. Saving faith is not a work ONLY because it is a gift of God. Once you remove the fact that it is a gift, it no longer is something from God, it is something from man therefore it becomes a work.

    The bible never says that saving faith is a gift and any other kind of faith is a work and not from God. Please prove your point from the Scripture, because I have never once seen faith described as a work. Please show it to me instead of just giving a philosophical answer.

    Your view( although you say you believe grace alone through faith alone) have made the ‘faith’ part into a man’s work because you deny it is something that God gives us.

    Prove this from the Scripture.

    Do you see the difference. I have stated this several times now.

    No. The Bible never calls any faith a work of man. It is not Scriptural.

    Yes faith is a response, but even a response is a work (because it is something we do) UNLESS it is a gift of God.

    This is where you greatly err. Doing something doesn’t make it a work. Cashing a cheque is not a work.

    This is a work:

    exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.

    It is impossible for believing God to be a work. If I am wrong, then stop arguing with me and show me this from the Scripture.

    You are struggling to accept Calvinism because you don’t understand it.

    I have some very good resources and explain Calvinism and I cannot accept something that contradicts the Scripture. The explanations that they give and what you give contradict Scripture.

    That’s why I keep recommending you read Calvin, not me, not any other ‘Calvinists’.

    If Calvinism is the truth, one would not need to read Calvin. One could be instructed by reading the Bible. Books on Calvinism that are recommended by Calvinists are sufficient. Calvin has been made out to be an icon that one cannot understand the Scripture without him. That really goes against the grain.

    Then see if what Calvin saids squares with the Bible.

    I have already quoted Calvin about the false faith that God gives to some of the reprobate. Where does that “square” with the Bible?

  254. Gazza #253

    You said:

    I have a few questions mostly arising from 243:
    1. In your understanding of the sacrifice requiring acceptance was it possible that as He died Jesus could not be certain even a single person would accept His death?

    No that is not possible. God is not confined to time so He lives with us in the past, present and future so there has never been a doubt about who or how many will be saved. And Jesus even living as a man had assurance that His disciples would not be lost. He Himself kept them.

    2. If you have purchased the certificate and not cashed it, it is worthless, despite the price having been paid. But if it requires me to cash it to have any value then surely that is works – I can now boast that I saw the value in the certificate while the non-believer did not cash theirs, can I not?

    The certificate is not worthless at all. Let’s look at another example to understand this. If you opened up your billfold and pulled out a hundred dollar bill, is it worthless? Who would say that it was? But if it stayed in your billfold and you never used it to buy what you want is it worthless? No. It is never worthless. It’s value is not dependent on whether you turn it in to buy merchandise. It’s value is still there even in your wallet. The fact is not that the bill is worthless, but that it is ineffective to you if you don’t turn it in.

    This is exactly what happens with the people in hell. Jesus died for them and the value of His death is not worthless. It is worth the same as when He died for them even while they are in hell. But for them His death is ineffective because they refused to meet God’s condition of faith to apply the price on their own behalf.

    Does this make sense?

    By the way I would like to thank you for the way you ask your questions. I do not feel attacked by you as a heretic or called names as if I was a semi-pelagian. You simply ask very thoughtful and gracious questions. I really appreciate this.

  255. Gazza #255,

    David speaks of God knitting him together in his mothers womb (Psalm 139), God made David exactly who he was.He made David trust God right from the time he left the womb (Psalm 22). As our creator He makes us exactly who we are. I did not choose to love peaches and hate apricots – its simply who I am, my brother loves them both – that is who he is, it is how God has made us. In the same way was not the love of God part of who David was?

    Yes, but David still had a choice. This is very much like another person who was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. This was John the Baptist. But even with being filled with the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist had a choice whether to trust or not.

    In Matthew 11:3 John expresses doubt about whether Jesus is the expected Messiah even though he had been filled with the Spirit from birth and his own birth had been prophesied in the OT.

    Jesus uses this doubt to teach a very valuable lesson to his followers. Jesus said:

    Matthew 11:4–6 (NASB)
    4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
    5 the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.
    6 “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

    Jesus not only gives the signs of His being the true Messiah, but he gives a message to John saying that the blessed ones are those who do not take offense at Him.

    Was John without faith at this moment due to his own choice? Jesus said that anyone in the Kingdom was greater than John at that moment. Why? Because someone who is without faith is not in the kingdom.

    Even though John had everything that one could get for earthly predestination – filled with the Spirit from birth, he was the messenger of the Messiah and he saw the Holy Spirit light on the Lord Jesus, still his earthly position and his being filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth was not enough to grant him faith as one who was given the “gift” of saving faith. He had to believe God for himself. And at that moment John was not believing.

    Sure it was a choice he made – I am not disputing that David chose to stick by God in tough times when he could have turned his back. But why did he choose to trust God? Where did he choose to have such fortitude? Was it not part of who God made him to be- part of his character knitted by God Himself?

    No. At some point it had to be David’s own faith. He could not inherit his faith from God.

    Psalm 37:5 (NASB)
    5 Commit your way to the LORD,
    Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

    The consistent message of Scripture is that we must trust in God and then He will do it. No matter how good our position is on this earth, no matter how privileged God has made us, we are still required to believe God on our own. If God could just put inbred faith into us as humans, so that we were saved without ever having to fight through our inner struggles between believing God or not believing Him, don’t you think that God would have created us all with ‘natural’ faith? God is a good God, not wanting to be unjust and so He has committed all of us to the place of sin so that all of us will be in the place of needing to trust Him. We are all equal in this way and God planned it that way.

    This also fits with Romans 9 v20 “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ We are who God made us to be, our choices are our own, they are the choices we want to make, when and how we want to make them. Yet God made us who we are, He chose what we would like and dislike, He chose what we would choose to do and not do.

    While this is true of our earthly position and each of us has no choice regarding whether we were born or not and to whom and where and how much privilege we got, it is not true of salvation. God never said that He chose Jacob to be saved and Esau to be dammed. Don’t you think that God could have made this plain in Romans 9?

    Romans 9:11–12 (NASB)
    11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
    12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”

    Why did God say that his purpose was that “the older will serve younger” instead of “the older will be damned and the younger will be saved”? The choice of God was their earthly circumstances, not their eternal destiny. If even John the Baptist had to choice his eternal destiny, then why should we think that God chose Esau to be damned from the time that he was a baby in the womb?

    WE DO CHOOSE our actions but they are only ever an expression of the nature God gave us. Thus we are accountable if we reject Christ – it is our free choice, but it is not a surprise to the God who defined our being as He created each of us our mothers wombs.

    But God has not defined our eternal destiny by our nature.

    What happened to John the Baptist?

    Matthew 14:10–13 (NASB)
    10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
    11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.
    12 His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.
    13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

    When Jesus heard about John’s death, he withdrew to a secluded place by Himself. Was He mourning? I don’t know. The Scriptures don’t tell us. But what I do know is that John was not born saved. Even though he was given the Holy Spirit in the womb, he still had to believe God for himself.

    This speaks a lot to me about not taking anything for granted. It speaks to me about being humble and knowing that what God has given us with privileges of having Christian parents and Christian families does not guarantee anyone’s salvation. We are like everyone else. We must believe God and fear Him and if we do we will be saved. If we don’t, it doesn’t matter that we were a prophesied person from the OT. John was born once as a baby with the Holy Spirit right there. But he too had to be born again of the Spirit to see the Kingdom of Heaven.

  256. Mark,
    You said:

    First of all i never called you a semi-pelagian. I asked you to show me how your view is not semi-pelagian, there is a difference.

    Mark, when you present my view as what is semi-pelagian and then ask me to prove that I am not a semi-pelagian, it means the same to me. And it isn’t something new to me. I have heard non-Calvinists called semi-pelagian all the time. Sometimes I honestly wonder why Calvinsts would even consider us brothers and sisters in Christ. It is so divisive and I have seen so many people hurt. I have been hurt by my old pastor more than you can even imagine. I developed a stress related disease that the doctors said would never go away – all because of the persecution of Calvinism by someone who was supposed to love the sheep not eat them. The fact that I can even discuss these issues with a Calvinist and call them a brother in Christ is a miracle of God’s grace after what I went through.

    From what you have written it seems that we somewhat are closer to agreeing than perhaps first thought. You have admitted that we need God to open the eyes of believers, which i think is good.

    I think you mean unbelievers. Yes God needs to do that.

    Here is where I feel very strongly. Please pardon me if I have already said this before….Some people think that they can delay accepting Jesus and putting their faith in Him until their last moments of life because, frankly, they want to live their lives for fun and for themselves and then take the escape hatch at the end. But what they don’t understand is that no one can come to God without Him drawing them. We cannot of ourselves conjure up saving faith. We cannot just snap our fingers and “decide” for God on our own. God said that now is the day of salvation:

    2 Corinthians 6:2 (NASB) for He says,
    “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
    AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
    Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”—

    The fact is that God has to let us find Him because we cannot come to Him on our own accord:

    Isaiah 55:6 (NASB)
    6 Seek the LORD while He may be found;
    Call upon Him while He is near.

    Those who do not fear the Lord will not put their faith in Christ, thinking that they can have His favour anytime they want. But that is not true. God is not mocked.

    Hebrews 12:15–18 (NASB)
    15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
    16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
    17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

    Repentance is not granted to someone who despised their birthright. For many there is no going back once God has hardened the heart. Today is the day of salvation for all but there is no guarantee of tomorrow if we harden our hearts today.

    More to come.

  257. Mark,
    You said:

    So we both agree that God draws, calls, opens eyes, soften hearts all before people accept the message of Christ. But yet i guess we still disagree that faith is a gift. I’m quite surprised actually that you don’t even believe grace is a gift.

    In the passage, grace is not spoken of as a gift. God’s grace or His unmerited favor is why He gives us the gift of salvation, but the passage has one gift alone. It is singular not plural. One gift, not three. I believe that God inspired the Word this way so that we would not become confused. Can you imagine that worry of a person who is not sure if the faith they have is their own faith or whether it is God’s gift? It would cause many to wonder if they are really saved. The fact is that if we have faith in God it is the only kind of faith that we need and it will be accounted to us as righteousness. If it was a gift of God it wouldn’t need to be “credited” to us as righteousness, it would be “gifted”.

    Can i ask is repentance a gift or not?

    No, rather it is an assignment, an authority to carry out a task, an entrusting, a grant, an allowance. If God does not assign or allow repentance, no repentance can happen. When God hardens one’s heart, there is no allowance for repentance.

    Also you did not define your view of God’s sovereignty. You simply asked me if God had the ability to make choices.

    I am sure that I defined God’s sovereignty, but honestly I am too tired to go through the comments to find it. But I don’t have a problem refining.

    God’s Sovereignty is the Divine Power to do whatever He wants to do that is not against His nature.

    Psalm 115:3 (NASB)
    3 But our God is in the heavens;
    He does whatever He pleases.

    Daniel 4:35 (NASB)
    35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
    But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
    And among the inhabitants of earth;
    And no one can ward off His hand
    Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

    Whatever God pleases will never be unjust or unrighteous for that would go against His nature as God cannot sin.

    Why is it people will go to such lengths when Romans 9-11 is so clear. You want me to reject the reformed position and accept a view that is not even found in the Bible. Come on now.

    And Romans 9 – 11 is so clear to me that God does not do anything that goes against His nature and He is kind and merciful. When Romans 9 – 11 is studied from the Bible alone without the mindset of Calvinism, this passage is breathtaking in showing God’s mercy, not God’s unjust hatred of babies. Maybe we can get to that passage at some point.

    With regards to the limited atonement, i wonder how you understand John 10, when Jesus himslef declares that he lays down his life ‘for his sheep’. Maybe you think God’s sheep is everybody, i dunno?

    I just take Jesus at His word with His inspired words. Jesus said that He lays down his life for His sheep. I accept that. But did Jesus say that I lay down my life only for my sheep? If He didn’t, why would we add that in?

    I wonder if you feel that the OT sacrifices atoned for the whole world? Is this what you believe, or was it limited?

    Any person from any nation was allowed to join with Israel and they could be a part of the covenant.

    Nothing in scripture teaches that Jesus atoned for the sins of every single person except the passages that use universal language.

    Then why don’t you believe this language? Do you think that God could not have inspired the terms “died for the few” or “paid for the elect alone”? Was God trying to confuse us by using universal language or should we believe Him that He said that He meant?

    Now we can have a more thorough discussion on that terminology but i think we both know the danger in placing a theology on universal language. After all, this is precisely what universalists do.

    The universalists do much more. They teach that the death of Jesus bought the application of the price that Jesus paid. They do not believe in a two-fold sacrifice & application. This is where they go wrong. I spent months dealing with a universalist years ago who had crept in unawares to a Calvary Chapel church where he was recruiting for universalism. My friends were having him do “bible studies” at their home and one of them was being sucked in to the lies. I took on the guy head on as if I was a mother lion protecting her young. That experience was very educational for me. And the universalist did not win. The study was dismantled and he was forced to leave the church and my friends were saved from his influence.

    You can’t have Jesus saying he only died for his sheep (limited) and that he died for the whole world (unlimited).

    Where does Jesus say “only” His sheep. You see, this is the problem of Calvinism. It teaches you to read into the text what is not there. Jesus NEVER said ONLY His sheep. If I am wrong, please show me.

    Clearly universal language is the more ambiguous, since the analogy of sheep and goats is quite clear.

    No, universal language is not ambiguous. It is the truth that Jesus came to testify to. And certainly we know that the goats will be separated from the sheep in the end, but where did Jesus say that He didn’t die for the goats?

    I have already shown one example from John to disprove the universal language assumption, but there are plenty more.

    And I have already disproved your example. Unfortunately one has to come to the passage with a preconceived idea of what it says before your interpretation can even hope to stand. It isn’t what the passage says.

    I agree, Cheryl’s analogy is worthless.(why is it Cheryl you used an analogy anyway after slamming Gazza’s earlier) That is precisely why i said her view of the atonement is also limited.

    I don’t think that Gazza said “worthless”. He was asking questions not “slamming” me. And why do we have to use such language as “slamming”? We are having a passionate discussion here and we don’t need to introduce fighting words, do we? Let’s just keep this as a discussion between brothers and sisters in Christ. That is unless you really don’t believe that I am your sister in Christ. In that case you may just want to pray for God to grant me repentance and just leave the discussion alone.

  258. Mark,
    You said:

    “Let me quote from a position to see if you agree with it:

    That man could not obtain saving faith of himself or by the strength of his own free will, but stood in need of God’s grace through Christ to be renewed in thought and will.

    Is this what you believe?”
    On the surface this might look ok but once you did deaper into the theology it is simply wrong.

    I am not asking you to go beyond the quote. There has been a history of misrepresentation of what non-Calvinists believe. I was just asking you if you believe what the quote said. Yet you said “on the surface this might look okay”. It seems like if something doesn’t come from John Calvin, there is not truth in it. I am just amazed that you have come alongside me and agreed with me a lot at the end of our discussions.

    Is this what you believe?

    I think that it is well said. We have a need for God to work in our lives to bring us to the truth. Then we need to respond to God in faith so that we can be born again to a brand new life for salvation is never of or from us but only the work of our God.

  259. Okay, I know I have something else to answer about a challenge I gave you, but I can’t find it right now an after spending all night answering questions and comments, I just want to get onto John 6 so that I can go to bed. It is after 2 am right now and I couldn’t go to sleep until I started what I promised. So the next comment will start the John 6 passage.

  260. John 6. I am going to start with only two verses because that should get this going. Mark, you can give your differing point of view as we go or you can go on to the next 2 or more verses.

    John 6:1–2 (NASB)
    1 After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias).

    There is a couple of important things that we can notice from the beginning of this passage. The first thing is that John says “after these things”. What things? We have to go back to chapter 5 to find out.

    At the end of John 5 we find Jesus dialogging with the Jews that wanted to kill him (see John 5:18, 19) Jesus told them:

    John 5:39–40 (NASB)
    39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
    40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

    We can see from Jesus’ words that these Jews were “unwilling” to come to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t say that God didn’t allow them to come, but that they were “unwilling” to come to receive life.

    Why were they unwilling to come to Jesus? We can see from the beginning of the discussion with Jesus that they hated Him enough to want Him dead and Jesus goes on to say:

    John 5:42 (NASB)
    42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.

    Jesus knew their hearts and Jesus said that in their hearts they did not have the love of God in them. These were the ones who did not fear God and did not love God. This important fact will come up again later in chapter 6.

    In John 6:2, we see the next important thing that we need to pay attention to:

    John 6:2 (NASB) A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.

    Here we see the reason why the crowd is seeking Jesus. It is because of the “signs” which He had been performing.

    Over to you, Mark.

  261. There is a few more important points to mote on John 5. The Jews want to kill Jesus becasue of two reasons- he broke the Sabbath and he claimed to be equal with God (5:18). Jesus expounds on his authority as the Son (5:19-29).
    Jesus tells the Jews that what he saids to them is so they may be saved (34). He also confirms that the Jews were ‘willing’ to abide in the light of John for a while (35). BUT (36), Jesus sais his testimony and works are greater than John the Baptist. He tells the Jews they have never seen nor heard the Father, and that they do not have God’s word in them, and the reason is important- becasue they do not believe the one he sent. He expounds how the Jews seek eternal life in the scriptures, yet fail to see how the scriptures point to Jesus [with particular ref to Moses (45-47)].
    I agree that Jesus knows their hearts (42).

    However i reject Cheryl’s point that these Jews have no ‘fear’ of God. THis is not in the text anywhere. These Jews were pious and religious. They searched the scriptures looking for eternal life. Where they went wrong is failing to recognise the prophetic passages ref to Jesus. 5:18 teaches us that the reason they wanted to kill Jesus was becasue he broke the sabbath (their religious laws) and claimed equality with God. They were ‘unwilling’ to come to Jesus because they did not love God. This was clear because they did not recognise the scriptures about him. To say these people had no ‘fear’ of God is not in the text.

  262. John 6
    Verse 1- ‘some time after this’ is indefinate. This means that the events of Chapter 6 may or may not have happened immediately after chapter 5. Some commentator think it could be as much as 6 months, but that is a side issue. What is important to note is the ‘crowd’ is not the same Jews addressed in chapter 5. We know this because the Jews of chapter 5 did not recognise Jesus authority. The crowd of 6:1-15 however were different. After feeding the five thousand they remark

    14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ? “This is indeed ?the Prophet ?who is to come into the world!”

    Also the theme of ‘bread’ will be common through out this chapter.

    Verse 3 and 4. The ‘hillside’ or mountain mentioned may be a parallel to the Sinai experience with Moses (see 5:45-47). The mention of ‘passover’ is theological not chronological. The themes of blood, sacrifice, lamb, unleavened bread are fresh on their minds. It seems evcident that the ‘crowd’ is looking for a new ‘Moses’ to deliver them from the Roman bondage. This seems true once we see the reaction of the people post miracle and Jesus response.

    15 ?Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus ?withdrew again to ?the mountain by himself.

    Back to you!

  263. “Both of Isaac’s children have the same mother and indeed both are conceived at the same time, yet God in his sovereign mercy, chose Jacob and not Esau. Paul then quotes various Old Testament references showing his point from the scriptures- the older will serve the younger, Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.”

    Mark,
    Let’s take a closer look at that.
    “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Rom. 9:9-13

    Notice that Paul quotes two Old Testament passages, which he believed to support his point (“for the children … it was said to her, … as it is written”). Therefore, we should be able to look at these two passages in their *context*. By reading them, as Paul would have read hundreds of times, maybe you can better understand my point.

    “But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her:”Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” Gen. 25:22-23

    Rebecca was carrying two individuals, yes. But, God foresaw two people groups, and He clearly tells Rebecca. It is from this vantage point that God foretells her that the “the older shall serve the younger”. In other words, the nation that descended from the older brother would serve the nation that descended from the younger brother.

    What part of “the older will serve the younger” has to do with eternal salvation?

    As individuals, did Esau (older) serve Jacob (younger), or did Jacob serve Esau?

    Wasn’t it Jacob who was terrified of Esau? (Gen.32)
    Wasn’t it Jacob who bowed down 7 times before Esau? (Gen. 33)

    In their lifetimes, Jacob came far closer to serving Esau, than Esau ever came to serving Jacob. So, if this prophecy referred to the individuals, it failed! And since God’s prophecies cannot fail, this prophecy of the younger’s supremacy must not be referring to individuals!

    Esau’s people, the Edomites, tormented the Israelites during their journey to Canaan (Num. 20:14-21). It was only after over one thousand years, when Babylon and Greece attacked Edom, that we see a significant distinction. Israel survives as a remnant, but the Edomites were virtually wiped out.

    “Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places,” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever. (Malachi 1)

    The Edomites, descendents of Esau, were a “people against whom” God’s wrath and indignation moved. They were “hated”, *because* they were *wicked*. This “hatred” is not absolute, but relative. The word, “hatred”, is only raised in contrast with God’s “love” for the people of Jacob. Remember that the Edomites were blessed with land and nation as well. Also, compare to Jesus’ usage of “hatred” toward family relative to the required “love” for Him, Luke 14:26. In this quoted context of Malachi 1, the ultimate distinction between Esau and Jacob was that God spared a *remnant* from Jacob’s seed, through whom came the Messiah, but Esau’s seed were destroyed because they became wicked. This context shows applicability to the role of the *nations* or people groups, not the *salvation* of the two original brothers.

    So, where in all this did God’s election of Jacob over Esau pertain to an election of *individuals* unto *salvation*?
    And again, what part of “the older will serve the younger” has to do with eternal salvation?

  264. Kay,

    I’ve heard all these arguments before. But what you are failing to recognise is why Paul used these references. It comes directly after Paul has told the Romans that God’s word has not failed because not all Israel is Israel.
    How has any of what you said relate to Paul’s original point. Or how does using the OT here help Paul’s argument. Paul’s use of these references relates directly back to his claim that all israel is not israel- so it is clear it is about individual election.

    Also why after Paul outlines Jacob and Esau, does Paul expect the Romans to be upset at what he has said. If it is just ‘nations’ then there is no reason to be upset- he is just outlining history.

    Also remember in Esau serving Jacob, Esau sold his birth right to Jacob, and Jocob recieved his father’s blessing not Esau. This is significant in the ancient cultures. Thus Esau lost his firstborn rights and his authority as the older brother.

    Also how can it be far that God chooses Israel over the Edomites or any other nation. Even if you want to take the ‘national’ approach, you still have the same problem. Only the Jews were able to obtain salvation and atonement and not other people groups. Because you need to remember that nothing here is relating to the messiah, so Paul’s point is not to show which seed the messiah came through. Paul’s point is election- God’s sovereign choice of some over others.

  265. Hi Cheryl
    In Post 259 you said “God is not confined to time so He lives with us in the past, present and future so there has never been a doubt about who or how many will be saved.”
    Yet in Post 244 you expressed sadness that people believe “that God deliberately and unconditionally creates people to go to hell.”
    I struggle to put these together. If God indeed had no doubt about who or how many will be saved then at the point he creates those who will rejet Him is He not knowingly creating someone who will go to hell?

    In post 260 you said “At some point it had to be David’s own faith. He could not inherit his faith from God.” I agree fully. I would put along side that statement that everything about David was created by God. David didn’t create himself God created Him. So even though the faith is Davids own faith, it is also and expression of who God created David to be. This is different to the blessings of growing up in a Christian family etc – three are plenty of examples where brothers and sisters grow up in a Christian home some reject Christ while some accept. Their different responses are due to the fact that God created them as different people. Each makes up their own mind but it will always be a mind that God created for them.

    You also said “The consistent message of Scripture is that we must trust in God and then He will do it.” I might surprise you at this point but again I fully agree with you. Indeed failing to trust in God is why people go to hell. Yet just because that is the right thing to do it does not mean that everyone will do it. What do you see is the difference between believers and non believers? To phrase it another way why do you believe some have faith while others do not?

    I really appreciate the way in which you foster an environment in which people of different stances can open the bible together and endeavour to better understand scripture in love. This is the way it should but unfortunately so often is not.

  266. Hi Gazza, and thanks for joining the discussion again.
    You said:

    Yet in Post 244 you expressed sadness that people believe “that God deliberately and unconditionally creates people to go to hell.”
    I struggle to put these together. If God indeed had no doubt about who or how many will be saved then at the point he creates those who will rejet Him is He not knowingly creating someone who will go to hell?

    Yes, God is knowingly creating people who will reject Him and go to hell. However this is far different than God creating people who unconditionally are created to go to hell.

    The difference is that in the first instance these people may have put their faith in Him and in the second instance they may not. If God unconditionally creates them to go to hell, then it is God who desires them to go there without any conditions including their sin. Their election to reprobation before they ever sinned and before they were created demanded their destruction. If we did this, we would be considered unfair and may I dare say monstrous? It would be like a judge who arbitrarily pre-decides cases brought before him without even looking at the case history or evidence. He could say that cases 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 will be sentenced with the death penalty and cases 2, 4, and 8 will set set free. His decision is made of his own will and without any conditions on the person or the crime. We would want that judge fired.

    But God bringing people into the world that have been given a free-will choice that He knows will exercise that choice to reject Him is not even in the same category. Everyday Christians bring children into the world who they know will be sinners, yet we still give birth to them. We know that they have a purpose and can bring glory even if in the end they reject Him.

    David didn’t create himself God created Him. So even though the faith is Davids own faith, it is also and expression of who God created David to be. This is different to the blessings of growing up in a Christian family etc – three are plenty of examples where brothers and sisters grow up in a Christian home some reject Christ while some accept. Their different responses are due to the fact that God created them as different people. Each makes up their own mind but it will always be a mind that God created for them.

    If that was the case then God really didn’t make us in His image. It would mean that we did not have a will as God has but a programmed response. And if we all have a programmed response, then it is nothing more than a game and God is not the good God that He claims to be since He purposely programs people to sin against Him and then delights to judge them for what He has programmed them to do.

    The only way that any of this makes any sense is for God to have made a creation like Him with a will and choices and an ability to love without coercion or pre-programming. It is this kind of creation that gives God glory. A pre-programmed variety would only say speak about a God that was a master manipulator and who was afraid to create anyone in His image with a real will and a real choice. It would speak of fear more than Sovereignty. In fact that is what the serpent hinted at in the garden. That humans could be like God but God was fearful and jealous that they might be like Him so He deliberately limited their choices.

    But the God of the Bible reveals Himself as one is prepared for every choice we make so that our decisions are intimately known. He sent the merchants to the area where Joseph’s brothers were long before the brothers arrived on the scene. Nothing is out of God’s ability to bring glory and honor to His name – even our free will choices.

    What do you see is the difference between believers and non believers? To phrase it another way why do you believe some have faith while others do not?

    That’s an excellent question and I believe the Bible gives us the answer.

    John 3:19 (NASB)
    19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

    There are those people who love their sin so much that they refuse to allow God to shine a light on that sin and they reject God rather than give up their sin and their idols.

    I have witnessed to a man for several years concerning coming to faith in Christ. He loves to be around Christians and he attends Christian functions but he refuses to become a Christian. He told me that he has no love for Jesus and can’t see that he needs a savior. The real struggle that he has is that he is a homosexual and he knows that he would have to give up this love of his to come to God. He is unwilling to do that.

    So I believe that it is a love of sin that causes people to turn away from God. I also believe that fear stops people from coming to Christ. These people are more afraid of man than they are of God so they don’t come to Jesus because of the stigma that being a Christian would give them.

    The book of Revelation talks about those who go to hell are “cowardly”.

    Revelation 21:8 (NASB)
    8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    I believe that cowardly refers to choosing he fear of man rather than the fear of God.

    Thanks for your comments about the environment here. I have been to blogs where they shut down comments and either discouraged dialog or berated people for having a belief that is not the same as the blog host and thus challenges were not allowed. I believe that the healthy way is to allow challenges and to encourage questions. All of us can learn including me. And I am so happy that the people who come here are willing to challenge, question and learn.

  267. One other thing that really helps to keep things civil here even though we are all passionate. It is the fact that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We can give our view in a passionate way but we don’t have to force our view on the other person. If our view is reasonable and well thought-out it may be considered and that is all that we could hope for. It is not a life and death matter and we can still have love and respect as we deal with these issues.

  268. Thanks for your participation Mark on our dialog on John 6.

    We did start with a little bit from John 5 to set the stage. You mentioned that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because he broke the Sabbath and He claimed to be equal with God. That is a good addition.

    There are several other things about the Jewsh Pharisees that showed why they hated Jesus. Jesus tells us. The conversations with these Jews that should be noted are also in John 5 & John 8. Here is what we know about them:

    1. They cannot hear Jesus’ Word because they are of their father the devil and as sons of the devil they want to do the devil’s work. He was a murderer from the beginning and they too want to murder. And because they are of the devil they cannot hear or understand Jesus’ words.

    John 8:43–44 (NASB)
    43 “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.
    44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

    2. They were ones who do evil and hate the Light. They were unwilling to come to the Light for fear that their deeds would be exposed.

    John 3:19–21 (NASB)
    19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
    20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
    21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

    John 5:40 (NASB)
    40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

    3. They were not from God.

    John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.

    John 8:47 “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

    4. They are not seekers of God’s glory but they seek glory from man

    John 8:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

    5. They did not believe God’s Word

    John 8:46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.

    6. They were not of the truth because all who would not listen to Jesus are not of the truth according to Jesus’ testimony.

    John 18:37 (NASB)
    37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

    7. Because of all of the things that are said about these Jews in John, we can know that Romans 3 applies to these men:

    Romans 3:10–18 (NASB)
    10 as it is written,
    “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
    11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
    THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
    12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
    THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
    THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
    13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
    WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
    “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
    14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
    15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
    16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
    17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
    18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

    They are of the ones who do not seek God, they are not righteous but are evil, they do not understand, their feet are swift to shed blood, they do not know the path of peace and there is no fear of God in them and because of of this, destruction is in their path.

    Yet even with all of this terrible stuff said about the Jewish Pharisees, Jesus still said that the words He was saying were said so that they may be saved.

    John 5:34 (NASB)
    34 “But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.

    The will of God was for the Jews to repent and to believe Jesus so that they could be saved.

    Mark, your words about John 5:39-47 were good. The one point of contention is this:

    However i reject Cheryl’s point that these Jews have no ‘fear’ of God. THis is not in the text anywhere.

    While it is not directly said in the text, the things said about these Jews match up exactly with what is said of those who do not hear God, do not seek for Him, whose works are evil, who do not understand and who are murderers and do not fear God. Romans 3:10-18 fits them to a tee.

    If you still believe that these Jews were ones who feared God, it would be helpful to show from the text where this fear of God showed up.

    Mark, you said:

    These Jews were pious and religious. They searched the scriptures looking for eternal life.

    They may have been pious, but they didn’t believe the Scriptures that they were searching and their pious outside was called a white washed tomb by Jesus.

    Matthew 23:27 (NASB)
    27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

    Under John 6, you said:

    Verse 1- ’some time after this’ is indefinate. This means that the events of Chapter 6 may or may not have happened immediately after chapter 5. Some commentator think it could be as much as 6 months, but that is a side issue.

    The preposition that joins the dialog of Jesus with the Jews in chapter 5 with the events of chapter 6 most certainly is joined together because the Greek word that is used to join the two means:

    3. marker of attendant circumstances of someth. that takes place, with
    Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (637).

    It is a an attendant circumstance that follows and so we can confidently know that what happened in chapter 6 is going to be related to the attendant circumstances of chapter 5.

    You also said:

    What is important to note is the ‘crowd’ is not the same Jews addressed in chapter 5. We know this because the Jews of chapter 5 did not recognise Jesus authority.

    But there are two groups in chapter 6. The first group is the “crowd” that was following Jesus because of the miracles. The second group shows up in verse 41 as having problems with Jesus. They are not called the crowd but “the Jews”.

    You said:

    The crowd of 6:1-15 however were different.

    Yes, the crowd of verses 1 – 15 were not the Pharisees who had challenged Jesus.

    You said:

    It seems evcident that the ‘crowd’ is looking for a new ‘Moses’ to deliver them from the Roman bondage. This seems true once we see the reaction of the people post miracle and Jesus response.

    Yes, good work.

    You said:

    The mention of ‘passover’ is theological not chronological.

    I am not sure I understand you. Are you saying that the Passover that was said to be near in verse 4 is really not a proper passover?

    John 6:4 (NASB)
    4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.

  269. Okay, Mark here is my comments on the next verses:

    John 6:5–6 (NASB)
    5 Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”
    6 This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

    This is the first reference to bread and Jesus sets the stage for his revelation about Himself by asking a question of Philip about feeding bread to the crowd. It is important to note that Jesus was not talking about feeding only His disciples. He was talking about feeding all of the people who were coming to Him.

    Jesus knew what He was going to do but He wanted to test him.

    John 6:7–12 (NASB)
    7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”
    8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,
    9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”
    10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
    11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.
    12 When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

    In this portion there are some very important things that Jesus did. The people were not sent away to buy their own food, but they were made to sit down to receive. Jesus then took of the bread, gave thanks and He distributed to the crowd as much as they wanted to eat. Then he told the disciples to “gather up the leftover gragments so that nothing will be lost.” This is a picture of what He is going to say shortly where the food is distributed to all and nothing is lost.

    Okay over to you Mark.

  270. Hi Cheryl,

    I’m a bit concerned about your 7 points. None of your references mention at all that the Jews did not fear God. You are bringing that into the text. Although alot of your points are correct (seek their own glory, not of God etc), none of them describe the Pharisees or scribes as not ‘fearing God’.
    I am especially concerned about point 7.
    You conclude that your points 1-6, therefore show that Romans 3:10-18 applies to them. On the contrary Paul is writing to
    the Roman Church, a group of Christians. I cannot agree with you on that point. You cannot take Jesus words applied to
    the Pharisees and scribes and interpolate that into Romans 3.

    Now i do not believe the pharisees were ‘God fearers’ in the sense that we generally associate the word. I was simply
    disagreeing with your discription of them as non God fearers. We agree they were pious. They sought to uphold the sabbath

    5:16 “And this was why the Jews ?were persecuting Jesus, ?because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.”

    They were zealous for the supremacy of God

    5:18 “This was why the Jews ?were seeking all the more to kill him, ?because not only was he ?breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God ?his own Father, ?making himself equal with God.”

    They followed in the light of John the Baptist

    5:35 ” He was a burning and ?shining lamp, and ?you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. ”

    They also searched the scriptures for eternal life (5:39). I do not think we can rightly label these men as those who “have no fear of God”. Also since we are looking at John 6 can we stay with that text and keep to it’s context.

    What i mean by the ‘passover’ being theological is that the context of the passage parallels with Moses. Jesus is the bread of life parallel to the bread in the desert. Moses rescued the Jews (under God) from the bondage of Egypt. Parallel that to the ‘crowd’ wanting to make Jesus their king. Jesus went up on a mountain as did Moses. Basically what i mean is that there is deep theology behind the narrative, so the passover is theological not only primarily chronological. The passover represented the escape from Egypt, and so too the ‘crowd’ want Jesus to rescue them from the Romans.

  271. continuing on…

    no problems with what you have said, but i would like to add one more thing. THe crowd is 5000 ‘men’. Now presumably there were women and childern aswell, so it was a substantial number to feed.

    John 6:13-15
    “So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ? “This is indeed ?the Prophet ?who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus ?withdrew again to ?the mountain by himself.”

    THe 12 baskets emphasise that the miracle provided ‘more than enough’ food for everyone.

    It appears the crowd understood something of this miracle. THey new Moses had fed their forefathers, and rescued them from
    Egypt. THey obviously knew Moses prophecy of ‘the prophet’ greater than him coming after him (Deut 18:15), however they misunderstood Jesus’ miracle. His ‘kingdom’ was not political but spritual. Before Jesus can be ‘king’ he had to complete his father’s
    will and be the ‘sacrificial lamb’. Jesus knew their intentions so he withdrew by himself. The detail of ‘by himself’ becomes important futher into the passage.

    back to you

    P.S- in the coming weeks i may be slow to respond, as we are expecting our 3rd baby in a week or so. Please bare with me.

  272. “P.S- in the coming weeks i may be slow to respond, as we are expecting our 3rd baby in a week or so. Please bare with me.”
    Mark,
    How wonderful. Congratulations!
    I’m having a slow down of sorts as well – yesterday my husband accepted a retirement package …so we will be preparing for a move to our home state (close to grandchildren) over the next few weeks.

  273. Mark, you said:

    I’m a bit concerned about your 7 points. None of your references mention at all that the Jews did not fear God. You are bringing that into the text.

    I am actually quite shocked that you would contradict this point. After all you were the one who said that Romans 3:10-18 applied to all unsaved people so that all people (except those who are “born again”) do not seek for God, none of them does good and none fears God. Now you are trying to say that this passage does not apply to the Pharisees? Common now. What is making you afraid to agree that the Romans 3 passage applies to the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus?

    I very carefully went through the passage to show that the Jewish Pharisees were not seeking God, they were not righteous but evil, they did not understand, their feet were swift to shed blood, they did not know the path of peace and thus there could be no fear of God in them.

    Now, Mark, my friend, if you are going to say that Romans 3:10-18 does not apply to the Jewish Pharisees, then how is it that you are maintaining that all unsaved people are included in the passage except for the Jewish Pharisees? Huh?

    I am especially concerned about point 7.
    You conclude that your points 1-6, therefore show that Romans 3:10-18 applies to them. On the contrary Paul is writing to the Roman Church, a group of Christians. I cannot agree with you on that point. You cannot take Jesus words applied to the Pharisees and scribes and interpolate that into Romans 3.

    Oh dear, are you now trying to say that Romans 3:10-18 only applies to Christians? That it is Christians who do not seek for God, Christians who do not do good and Christians who do not fear God?

    Now i do not believe the pharisees were ‘God fearers’ in the sense that we generally associate the word. I was simply disagreeing with your discription of them as non God fearers. We agree they were pious. They sought to uphold the sabbath

    So you don’t believe that the Pharisees were “God fearers” but you do not agree with me that the Pharisees did not fear God?

    Please explain yourself. It appears to me that you are contradicting yourself big-time.

    So let’s settle this right now. Do you or do you not say that Romans 3 has Paul saying that no one seeks for God and no one fears God until one is born again? What say you? Are you going to be rethinking your disagreement with me on point #7?

    They were zealous for the supremacy of God

    Oh really? Then why is it that Jesus said that they did not believe God’s word? No they were not zealous for the supremacy of God. Rather they loved making rules for others that they didn’t keep and they loved to have others look up to them. But they were not zealous for God. Jesus said:

    Matthew 23:2–4 (NASB)
    2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
    3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
    4 “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

    You said:

    They followed in the light of John the Baptist

    5:35 ” He was a burning and ?shining lamp, and ?you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. “

    They rejoiced only because they wanted to be noticed and John drew a crowd so they were there, but they were not coming to the light. Jesus said:

    Matthew 23:5 (NASB)
    5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

    Yes they came to John but they were not repentant.

    Matthew 3:7–8 (NASB)
    7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
    8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;

    You said:

    They also searched the scriptures for eternal life (5:39). I do not think we can rightly label these men as those who “have no fear of God”.

    They are not searching the Scriptures to learn what God has to say. They didn’t believe God. Jesus said:

    John 5:39 (NASB) “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;

    The grammar here is present tense. They are searching the Scriptures ” because” they think they already have eternal life right now. Check out the grammar for yourself. They were not looking to get eternal life in the future. They believed they had it. After all they thought all they needed was to be children of Abraham. No, Jesus did not say that the Pharisees were looking to hear and learn from God. They weren’t. They were proud and self-righteous and they did not fear God.

    Also since we are looking at John 6 can we stay with that text and keep to it’s context.

    It is important to the context to know why the Pharisees did not come to Jesus since John 6 reveals that they were not followers of Jesus. This is where the Scripture’s revelation of who and what the Pharisees were will help us understand the passage better. I won’t be going outside the passage unless it directly corrolates to John 6.

    Now the crowd was another story. They were not the same as the Jewish Pharisees.

    What i mean by the ‘passover’ being theological is that the context of the passage parallels with Moses. Jesus is the bread of life parallel to the bread in the desert.

    Okay. Sure, I agree with that too. However the Passover that is first mentioned in verse 4 is the actual event. Just so that we can agree on that too.

    Basically what i mean is that there is deep theology behind the narrative, so the passover is theological not only primarily chronological.

    Yes there is deep theology behind the narrative. But the passover that was mentioned in verse 4 was the actual passover celebration and this is what made the backdrop of Jesus’ words so powerful.

    no problems with what you have said, but i would like to add one more thing. THe crowd is 5000 ‘men’. Now presumably there were women and childern aswell, so it was a substantial number to feed.

    Yes, this is a good point. It was a very large crowed of people with many more than 5,000 there when we include the women and children.

    THe 12 baskets emphasise that the miracle provided ‘more than enough’ food for everyone.

    Yes, excellent point.

    Jesus knew their intentions so he withdrew by himself. The detail of ‘by himself’ becomes important futher into the passage.

    I will comment on this shortly in my next comment.

    P.S- in the coming weeks i may be slow to respond, as we are expecting our 3rd baby in a week or so. Please bare with me.

    How wonderful! Congratulations, Mark! Looks like you will have your hands full. We will just go at the pace that we can both handle responding. If either one of us is not able to respond for days or longer, neither will think that we have left the discussion, agreed?

    I hope that you will keep us all informed when the blessed day arrives. Please give my regards to your wife.

  274. Now to cover a few more verses.

    John 6:14–17 (NASB)
    14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
    15 So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
    16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,
    17 and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

    In verse 14 when the people said that this is the “prophet”, they were not looking for a Savior who would save them from their sins. They were looking for a leader who would save them from the Romans just as you said.

    In verse 15, Jesus withdrew to the mountain by Himself. The mountain is the place where Jesus would often meet with God and talk with Him. It was symbolic too because it was on a mountain where Moses was destined to meet with God and where God communicated with man. Jesus needed to spend time with His father as He was coming up to a very important time in His life and it was time to make sure that He knew and followed His Father’s will. It was another “mountain” time for Jesus.

    Jesus also went by Himself to the mountain for another reason. By being alone His disciples would experience a revelation of who He is that would help them to understand the soon coming revelation that He is the God of creation. It would also prepare them for the words that He would say later about Himself being God.

    It is not exactly apparent why the disciples left without Jesus, but perhaps they expected that Jesus would come later as this may have happened before where Jesus sent them off ahead of Him. Yet