Coming to God

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Herald

    Herald
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    Can a sinner come to God independent of God's calling? Those who say "yes" will point to passages such as Acts 10:1-2; Deut. 4:29; Psa. 34:10; Isa. 55:6; Acts 15:17 et. al. No serious Bible student should disagree that men can seek God; even unregenerate sinners. I'm very upfront about my convictions. This is not an impartial post. I hold to the doctrines of grace and believe that regeneration precedes justification. But this thread has to do with whether unregenerate sinners can seek God on their own, i.e. without God first prevailing upon their heart through the person of the Holy Spirit. I believe the scriptural answer to that question is, "no." God must first act before man will seek Him.

    The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 is one of my favorites in all the Bible. The story begins thus:

    Acts 10:1-2 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.

    Cornelius' knowledge of God was based on Jewish custom at the time. He had not yet heard the Gospel, which would be proclaimed to Him later by Peter (vs. 34-48). If we are to accept the opinion that Cornelius was unsaved until he believed the Gospel message, are we to also conclude that he had sought God on His own without any preemptive act of God? The day after Cornelius prayed, Peter was receiving a vision from God:

    Acts 10:9-17 9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" 14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. 17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be...

    Here we see two separate incidents, yet both are obviously connected within the context of scripture. As the story continues Peter went to Cornelius' house, preached the Gospel, and Cornelius and his household believed. Peter's response to this whole affair is telling:

    Acts 10:34 34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality...

    Peter recognized that God was at work here. Neither he nor Cornelius were on their own. God was calling. In the next chapter this obvious work of God was told to the Apostles and brethren in Judea:

    Acts 11:1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

    And later, this same group realized that the purpose of God's calling of Cornelius, and Peter's preaching, was to inaugurate the Gospel going forth to the Gentiles:

    Acts 11:18 18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

    If we're to assume that Cornelius sought God independently, then must we not also assume that his seeking after God was the impetus for the Gospel going forth to the Gentiles and God simply took advantage of the situation?

    So, what do we make of scenarios in scripture that seem to indicate that a person can come to God independent of His calling? Well, we must balance such responses with what scripture clearly teaches. The Bible says:

    The above two verses establish man's total depravity; that man is completely fallen in all his faculties.

    These two verses establish the fact of man's total inability. Not only does man not seek God, man is incapable of seeking God on his own.

    In order for man to seek God, God must take unilateral action. In other words, He must act first.

    The condition of man prior to being saved is one of spiritual death. While the body may be alive, the soul of man is in a state of spiritual death. Left to his own devices that state will continue unabated for there is nothing within man (as we have seen in 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 8) that would cause him to seek God. It's God who must first take action, and that is precisely what God does for those whom He calls:

    Note that Ephesians 2:4 doesn't start off with, "But man..."; it starts off with, "But God..." Paul already made the point that the spiritual state of man prior to salvation is death. According to the pirate mantra, "Dead men tell no tales." It's true. Dead men are, well, dead; in this case spiritually dead, and therefore incapable of a positive response towards God. It is God who took the initiative in verse 4. God is the one who made the former Ephesian sinners alive.

    How does regeneration fit into the picture? One of the arguments against regeneration is that there's not a verse in the Bible that says man must be regenerate prior to justification. That's a hollow argument. The Trinity is also not stated in simple terms, but we believe it because of the preponderance of the evidence. A priori regeneration (before salvation) is God enlightening the mind/heart to receive the things of the Spirit of God. In other words God makes man capable of receiving the Word of God. If God did not do so then man would have no desire and no ability in respect to receiving the Word.

    Another thing, not everyone who seeks God is actually seeking God. Some people, still dead in their trespasses and sin, are seeking some type of spiritual plug to fill their spiritual void, but they are not all seeking God honestly. Those who are honestly seeking God are those whom God is calling, who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
     
    #1 Herald, Jun 10, 2012
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  2. kyredneck

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    34 And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
    35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him. Acts 10

    Do you think this was a 'brand new' tenet, or, did Peter utter an ancient truth, one from of old, one that had always been?
     
  3. Herald

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    Peter wasn't making a new teaching. Those who come to God have always come the same way - by faith; but we need to understand passages such as this within a larger context. If there are none righteous, and none who seek after God (Rom. 3), and if man is incapable of doing so (1 Cor. 2 and Rom. 8), then how is man capable of fearing God and working righteousness? I believe scripture teaches that it is the grace of God that prevails upon man's heart that makes man capable of fearing (obeying) and good works:

    Not only is salvation an act of grace, but it then makes the recipient able to do good works (v. 10) which God "prepared beforehand" (preordained) that we would walk in them.
     
  4. Winman

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    The problem is you assume a man is in a fixed state, when the scriptures do not show this.

    Eze 18:21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
    22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

    God himself shows that the unregenerate or wicked man can turn from his sin, he is not fixed in this condition. Does he do this without the influence of God? No, but this does not mean the man must be regenerated to turn. In fact, the scriptures show a man receives the Spirit after he repents, not before.

    Pro 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

    This verse shows the order that a man #1 repents or turns to God at his reproof, he #2 receives the Spirit, and #3 is taught to understand the scriptures.

    This is shown again in Acts;

    Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
    38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
    40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

    These men were already convicted by the preaching of the word of God (vs 37). Now Peter tells them they must repent and believe the gospel for the remission of sins (we are justified by faith). Only after repenting and believing the gospel would they receive the Holy Spirit.

    So, Peter's statement agrees with Proverbs 1, that a man can turn at God's reproof, and afterward receives the Spirit.

    I would agree with this statement.
     
    #4 Winman, Jun 10, 2012
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  5. Jon-Marc

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    Romans 3:11 says that "There is none that seeketh after God." Jesus came to "seek and to save the lost", but the lost do not seek after God. They want what He offers, but they don't want it God's way. They don't want to give up sin or make any sacrifices. They expect God to accept them just the way they are without expecting them to change their lives in any way. As the "man" said after propositioning me, "I believe that God accepts me just the way I am."

    However, God DOES expect change in our lives and makes it possible for that to happen. "Just as I am" does not mean we can come to God just as we are and expect to stay that way. Sin has to be removed from us, and we cannot do that by ourselves, and I thank God that we don't have to do it alone and by our own power.
     
  6. kyredneck

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    Agree. God doesn't change.

    ..God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him...

    Point 'faith', as you define it, out to me in the above passage.

    BEFORE Cornelius had ever heard the gospel he was described as such:

    ...Cornelius....a devout man....that feared God...who gave much....and prayed to God... Acts 10:1,2

    Do you honestly believe that Cornelius was a dead alien unregenerate sinner bound for hell before Peter was sent to him?

    Reminds me of the words of James, "I by my works will show thee my faith." Reminds me of Heb 11, 'the faith chapter', which is chocked full of examples of "I by my works will show thee my faith." Yea, "the righteous in his stedfastness liveth" [Hab 2:4] Reminds me of Jn 3:21, "He that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God."

    God had already wrought within Cornelius long before he had ever heard the gospel.

    Couldn't agree more.

    Yea, the Spirit prevails alright, He writes the law upon their hearts.
     
  7. Winman

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    Yes, but this is synergistic, the man must cooperate with God. God provides grace, but man must receive it by faith.

    Eze 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

    Mat 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

    Jesus starts this statement with the word "either" which shows man has the choice of choosing to be good, or choosing to be evil. Man is not fixed.
     
  8. kyredneck

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    No it isn't:

    13 for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified:
    14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves;
    15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); Ro 2

    Man's will has ZILCH to do with the birth from above.

    who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Jn 1:13
     
    #8 kyredneck, Jun 10, 2012
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  9. Herald

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    There certainly is a debate among theologians as to whether Cornelius was already saved before Peter preached to him. I fall on the side of Cornelius not being saved. In order to placate my curiosity I checked half a dozen commentaries as to opinions on Cornelius spiritual state prior to Peter's visit. Not surprisingly there was an even split between them. The only thing they both agreed on was the point that Acts 10 was the Gospel going forth to the Gentiles.

    As as faith not being mentioned in the passage, this is exactly the type of thing I cautioned against. Faith, belief, trust, or repentance is never mentioned in Chapter 10, although repentance is mentioned in commentary of the Cornelius story in Acts 11:18. But as far as faith, the larger context of scripture tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith.

    So, the only way God way a person can fear God and do works of righteousness is by faith. Of course, that's based on the veracity of Hebrews 11:6.
     
  10. kyredneck

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    You make the same common error as the many that hold to 'external means' regeneration, you make 'saved' [sozo] synonymous with the birth from above.

    This is wrong.

    I assure you Cornelius had the law written upon his heart BEFORE he heard the gospel.
     
    #10 kyredneck, Jun 10, 2012
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  11. psalms109:31

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    The wicked need not me to help them come up with excuses not to come, they can do it not from my words.

    They are not of God no matter how much good they do apart from Christ, they are dirty rags. They are a sinner one sin can never be taken away with how much good we do the one bad will out weigh every good deed we do. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of the one sin. No matter how much good they do.

    In Christ we can do much to bring people to Christ by our good deed, but good deeds will not bring us closer to God apart from Christ. In Christ, Christ gets the glory for the good we do, for apart from Him we do no good for His kingdom.

    So come to Christ eat of His flesh drink of His blood so you will have life through Him.

    Here a link if you have time to read it, Spurgeon does a better explanation how saints help the devil.

    http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0264.htm
     
    #11 psalms109:31, Jun 10, 2012
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  12. Winman

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    You left out verse 12;

    Jhn 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    Only God has the power to regenerate a man and make him a son of God, but God only does this to those who receive Jesus and believe on his name.

    You want this verse to read something like;

    But as many as he gave the power to become a son of God, these received him and believed on his name.

    Well, too bad, that is not what it says.
     
  13. agedman

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    But you left out the previous verse.

    Joh 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    John is showing by including the next two verses, that it is in no way a volition of human work or will that makes the reception possible but the total work of God.

    In context, John's recording of John the Baptist's words indicate that the "light" given to mankind in general are the ten commandments. In that light, all have the ability of moral righteousness (human righteousness), but that does not attain unto Godliness that only Christ can give. It is not attainable by humankind, nor can it be "accepted" as in reaching out and taking. It is "received" as one receives the flu.

    Here is the context of John 1:

    6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
    7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
    8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
    9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.

    10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
    11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
    14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
    15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
    16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
    17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
    18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
    ...
    26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom ye know not;​

    It is THIS LIGHT (the ten commandments) that both Ezekiel (for they had not the Christ) and Christ (for He had yet to die) spoke in the verses you quoted in saying:

    Winman's statement:
    Yes, but this is synergistic, the man must cooperate with God. God provides grace, but man must receive it by faith.

    Eze 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

    Mat 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

    Jesus starts this statement with the word "either" which shows man has the choice of choosing to be good, or choosing to be evil. Man is not fixed.​

    So there is NO "synergistic" cooperation. For "with the deeds of the law shall no man be justified" and "Christ is the author and finisher of our faith."
     
  14. Herald

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    I think it's quite clear from scripture that all men have an inherent knowledge of good evil. The law they have knowledge of is the moral law of God (i.e. Cain, Genesis 4:8); the ability to discern between right and wrong. However, this knowledge is not able to save. The same with natural revelation in Romans 1. It testifies that there is a God, but it's insufficient to save. Why? Because the unregenerate man doesn't have saving faith apart from God granting it. I don't understand how Christians can simply ignore 1 Cor. 2:14; Romans 3:11 and Romans 8:7. If the natural man is incapable of seeking God, then how can that change without the status quo being changed? If the status quo must be changed who is the One who changes it?

    As far as Cornelius, I probably should have picked a different example. I failed to take into account the disagreement (even among folks who hold to my position) over whether Cornelius was already saved. I guess that eliminates me from being pope!

    Off to take care of the days duties. Have a good day.
     
  15. kyredneck

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    Well I wasn't trying to be tricky. The plain threefold denial of any human involvement with regeneration [v 13] was my intent to highlight.

    No Winman, that's what you want it to say. For the correct perspective on this passage, look at it through the lens of Jn 3:21 (He that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.):

    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Jn 1

    And it becomes clear that God has already wrought within those that 'receive Him'. Pink is quite concise:

    “But who receive Him thus? Not all by any means. Only a few. And is this left to chance? Far from it. As the following verse goes on to state, "which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). This explains to us why the few "receive" Christ. It is because they are born of God.....”

    BEFORE one can enter into, or even see, the kingdom of God, one must FIRST be born from above. It is an absolute necessity. It behoveth you to be born from above [Jn 3:7].
     
    #15 kyredneck, Jun 11, 2012
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  16. Iconoclast

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    :applause::applause::applause::thumbsup:
     
  17. Van

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    I see we are at it again, repeating the same bogus assertions.

    What does it mean to come to Christ? Are we talking about God putting us spiritually in Christ? And God does that after He credits our faith in Christ as righteousness. And how do we put our faith in Christ without the revelatory grace of the gospel?

    Now the assertion, carefully hidden in the artful deception of Calvinism, is that we cannot hear and understand and respond affirmatively to the gospel. But Matthew 13 clearly teaches an unregenerate person did receive the gospel with joy.

    Calvinism is based on shoddy bible study. Its defense is all sizzle and no steak. Romans 3:11 does not say the unregenerate do not seek God at any time, that idea is added in by Calvinism.

    Romans 8:7 does not say an unregenerate cannot set his or her mind on spiritual milk, that idea is added in by Calvinism.

    Genesis 6:5 does not say an unregenerate person cannot seek God, even with a heart whose every intent is evil, because Genesis 6:8 tells us that Noah found favor in the eyes of God.

    They quote the same verses and make the same add ons over and over seemingly unaware of the lack of actual support.

    Total Spiritual Inability of all unregenerate men at all times is unbiblical. Men seek God all through the Bible, some by faith, some by works.

    Regeneration, being born again, made alive, all occur only when a person is spiritually placed in Christ. So together with Christ we are made alive, Ephesians 2:5.

    Therefore no OT Saint named in scripture was regenerated during their lifetime, they all died before Christ was crucified. See Hebrews 11:39-40. They had to wait in Abraham's bosom until Christ died.

    Therefore the whole Old Testament teaches faith before regeneration.
     
  18. Herald

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    Colossians 3:3 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

    I think that passage is clear enough that it doesn't need commentary.

    Romans 4:3 3 For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."

    Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

    We are justified by faith (belief; same Greek root), and once justified grafted into the root - Christ:

    Romans 11:17 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

    No one can put their faith in Christ without being exposed to the Gospel message.

    1 Corinthians 1:21 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

    Acts 4:12 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

    James 1:21 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

    This is not an assertion of the doctrines of grace, it's what the Bible teaches:

    Romans 8:7 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

    1 Corinthians 2:14 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

    John 12:39-40 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM."

    2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

    No it doesn't. If a passage of scripture shows that a person has come to faith in Christ, it doesn't disprove that God regenerated him first. Those who believe in the doctrines of grace affirm that God saves all who will believe. Absolutely every single person who truly believes in Christ will be saved. We just happen to believe that it is God who makes it possible for them to believe:

    Ephesians 2:4-9 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 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, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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.

    I love Eph. 2:4 - "But God..." You don't read, "But man..." Man was dead in his trespasses and sins and unable to come to God. God had to make the first move, and He did that by regenerating the dead sinner "made us alive" (v. 5). Once alive we believed with our own free will (v.8)! Yes, you read it right. The doctrines of grace teach man believes by his own free will, it's just that man's will needs to be liberated first from the bondage of sin.

    You're right. Romans 3:11 doesn't say any of that. What it is says is:

    Romans 3:11 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;

    None. No one. Not one single person. No one understands the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14), nor can they. No one seeks for God, nor can they (again, 1 Cor. 2:14). The unregenerate are part of the "no one." Unbelievers are excluded - prevented even (c.f. John 12:40) - from coming to God on their own. No shoddy bible study is needed to see what is as plain as the nose on your face.

    See above.

    See above...again.

    You're guilty of hypocrisy. You're attacks against the doctrines of grace, and your defense of your own position, is the same each and every time. You're like a broken record. I think you need to go look in a mirror before you make statements like this.

    The verses have been cited ad infinitum, ad nauseaum and still you will not admit that they make a biblical case. Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.

    I agree completely, 100%. You're proof that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    I won't even get into debating against hyper-dispensationalism.
     
  19. Winman

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    Oh, I completely agree that God has worked in the heart of any man who receives Jesus and believes on his name. The word of God convicts and enlightens a man to know his need of a Savior, and to instruct him to trust in Christ to be saved. I have never denied that it takes a work of God's grace to bring any man to Christ.

    But that does not mean a man must be regenerated to believe. A man can be convicted and taught by the word of God to believe.

    It is impossible to be spiritually alive before you believe. Until you believe you are dead in trespasses and sins. Why can't you understand this?

    Only after believing is a man forgiven his sins and justified. Only then can he have spiritual life. All scripture supports this. I could probably show you at least a dozen verses that say a person must believe to have life. There are absolutely no verses in the Bible that says a man can have life before faith. You can't show it, and you know it, for no such scripture exists.

    I would love for any of you Calvinists to explain how a man can be spiritually alive before he believes and his sins are forgiven. How does that work?
     
  20. Winman

    Winman
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    We KNOW Cornelius was not saved, because the angel told him to send for Peter where he would hear words whereby he and all his house would be SAVED.

    Acts 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
    14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
    15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

    Not only was Cornelius not saved, he also did not have the Holy Spirit until Peter preached to him and he believed.

    Yet Cornelius was a devout man who feared God and did many good works which God recognized.

    The Philipian jailer was not regenerate when he burst in on Paul and Silas and desired to know how to be saved. He had never believed on Christ, he was absolutely dead in sins when he did this. Yet he sought God. It was only after the Philipian jailer took Paul home where he preached to the jailer's household that he and his household believed. Only then were his sins forgiven, only then was he spiritually alive.

    Unregenerate men can seek God, and they can believe. Cornelius believed in God before he was saved.
     

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