Exalting the view of man

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Skandelon, Aug 3, 2013.

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  1. Skandelon

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    What doctrinal views actually exalt the nature of fallen man? Most seem to think that those of us who affirm man's free will (responsibility) exalt the nature of man. They argue that because mankind is born unable to respond that somehow means he is worse and if he is able to respond that somehow we think too highly of men. But which is actually worse in our own system of justice?

    1. A man born with a mental disability making him violent, prone to rage and unable to control his behavior who murder others?

    OR

    2. A man born sane and healthy who rationally deliberates and chooses to murder another out of greed, jealousy or spite?​

    Obviously the latter is considered much worse in our system of justice. We might put the first guy in a hospital instead of a jail as 'innocent by reason of insanity,' but not the second guy. He is RESPONSIBLE...CULPABLE. So, lets apply this analogy to our doctrinal perspectives. Which view actually has a higher view of humanity?

    1. A man born hated by God, total unable to even respond to God's appeal to be reconciled, enslaved by his inborn nature to sin, unable to willingly repent of his sin even when asked to by God's own words, sealed from birth in this totally depraved and hopeless condition for all of eternity.

    OR

    2. A man born fallen, yet love by his Creator; sinful, yet being pursued by a loving merciful Savior genuinely appealing for his return to what he was originally created for; enslaved, but provided a means for escape; an enemy, but given the hope for reconciliation. And in the face of this truth, this love, this merciful and gracious provision, he chooses of his OWN free and sane will to deliberately walk away from the creator who loves and provides for him.​

    I don't know about you but the second dude seems a lot worse and more deserving of punishment than the first. Sure, the first, due to the federal headship of Adam, does deserved hell, I'm not arguing otherwise, but in light of the second guy, you almost just feel sorry for the first guy. I mean, he was born like that. He had no way out. I know, I know, I'm not saying he deserved a way out, don't get caught up on that, as that is not my point. I'm saying that a free will view of mankind is not higher, but its much much lower than the alternative.
     
  2. Winman

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    I would disagree, I believe this person WOULD deserve a way out, he did not choose to be born sinful, it was imposed on him simply because he was born.

    This person would be a victim, not a criminal. This would be like a baby born addicted to heroin because his mother used heroin when she was pregnant, no reasonable person would condemn a baby for this addiction.

    As for the Federal Headship theory, there is no evidence for this at all.

    A. H. Strong (a Calvinist) on the Federal Headship theory; (Systematic Theology: A Compendium and Commonplace, Volume 2 pg. 615)

     
    #2 Winman, Aug 3, 2013
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  3. Herald

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    I agree that there are sins that are worse than others. Those that are presented with the truth and reject it are worse off than those who never hear the truth (Luke 10:13-14). But somehow degrees of guilt and punishment seem inconsequential to us if a person dies in their sins. After all, they will be spending eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). Even if one person is punished at a lower degree of flame it is still eternal punishment.

    The reason why those who hold to total depravity believe those who do not believe in total depravity exalt their view of man (wittingly or unwittingly), is because those who do not believe in total depravity do not see man as completely fallen. When the sinner is not completely sinful (because there remains within the sinner the ability to believe) the door is open to make comparisons between sinners. The "who is worse off" question has some validity in that schema.

    Of course we should not believe a doctrine simply because it is easier to comprehend. One can make the argument that modalism is much easier to understand than the trinity, yet the majority of Christians believe in the triune God even if they are not able to comprehend its reality. We are always brought back to our understanding of holy scripture; with some of us believing in total depravity and others not.
     
    #3 Herald, Aug 3, 2013
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  4. webdog

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    Agreed:thumbs:
     
  5. InTheLight

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    Hmmm....Mischaracterizing an opponents position. Classic Calvinist tactic.
     
  6. Revmitchell

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    Yep.......................
     
  7. Herald

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    Are you deliberately obtuse, or do you just stumble into it?

    Skandelon asked:

    I carefully, and with respect, provided an answer. In fact, I think I was very gracious at the end of my post when I said:

    I acknowledged that, in the end, it all comes down to how we interpret the Bible.
     
  8. Herald

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    What I told your twin.
     
  9. Revmitchell

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    This statement :

    Is neither true nor gracious any more than it is necessary. If you want to know what people believe ask rather than impose.
     
  10. Herald

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    Impose - to establish or bring about as if by force (Webster's dictionary).

    I did not impose. I explained according to my understanding. If you disagree with my explanation you are free to say so and make your own case.

    And yes - if a person believes a sinner can exercise faith without first being regenerated, then it is my conviction that they do not believe the sinner is completely fallen in his faculties.
     
  11. The Biblicist

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    Inability is derived from animosity toward God. Man cannot because man will not and the will not expresses the enmity of "the law of sin" (Rom. 7:15-17). So it is total depravity generates total inablity. You cannot love what you hate and you cannot submit to what you resist. So man is not "born unable" but born "unwilling" and that is the source of being "unable." Jesus said "you WILL NOT come unto me....."



    From whence does this condition at birth originate? Does it originate with the human justice system? With this man? With God? With sin? Obviously those who deny total depravity can't pick the human justice system, or this man since he had no control over his own birth, nor will they select God as that would defeat this whole illustration. It must be "with sin"? Whose sin? The only possible option is the sin of Adam. However, would the human justice system condemn this man from birth with the crime of Adam? Isn't this the very reason your side quotes Ezekial 18 to deny that God could blame this man for Adam's sin? If that is true, there where does the source of this man condition at birth come from? If it comes from sin it must come as a wage of sin and so again whose wages earned this sin in this man born this way??

    Of course, the answer is that this man actually participated in the sin of Adam as the whole human nature consisted in Adam and Eve and "by one man's offence many were made sinners."


    The problem here is that "our system of justice" is flawed because it can only examine the exterior actions and speculate on the interior condition of a man. God's justice system BEGINS inside and finds "none that do good, no not one" in the sense of intrinsic goodness of nature. This is precisely illustrated by the response of Christ to the question of the rich young ruler who said, "GOOD master, what GOOD thing CAN I DO"

    He elevated His own intrinsic nature to the same level as Christ. That is precisely why Christ asked, "Why callesth thou me GOOD." It was not that Christ denied He was "GOOD" as he challenged any man to find sin in him and said that he "always pleased the Father." What he was challenging was this young mans INFERENCE that he was as "GOOD" as "GOD" who stood before Him. Jesus is talking about INTRINSIC GOODNESS of nature. This young man was declaring that he was capable of producing "good" actions which must originate with an equally "good" nature in direct comparison with the "GOOD Master" He as addressing. Jesus responds by a universal negative with but one exception to the rule - "There is NONE GOOD, but ONE, and that is GOD." He is addressing the intrinsic moral state of the nature of fallen man.

    In Romans 3:9-18 Paul is speaking about the INTRINSIC moral state of all fallen mankind. Notice he is describing his intrinsic moral nature, actions that flow from that nature, his tongue, his immoral characterization of his throat, mouth, tongues, ways, and intents of the heart.

    Thus our legal system is flawed as the same sin nature manifested in the first case is manifested another way in the second case but all from the same source - indwelling law of sin.




    It is amusing how you fellas reverse the Biblical description. The Bible describe it in opposite terms. The Bible states that it is man hating God from birth manifested shortly by actions. I have five children and ten grandchildren and I have yet to teach a single one to BE selfish, spiteful, unfair, etc., etc. IT COMES NATURAL by birth.



    Again, the very reverse of scripture. Inability is always the product of unwillingness never the reverse. It is the mindset of "enmity" (Rom. 8:7a)and unwillingness to submit to God's revealed will (Rom. 8:7b) THEN COMES INABILITY "neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7c).

    Nothing prevents the greatest sinner from coming to Christ but his own depraved will THAT HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR because he ACTED IN ADAM united in one nature in rebellion against God and the proof is that infants die but death is the "wages of sin."

    One cannot love what they hate nor submit to what they resist or choose what they reject. That must be changed and that change is called regeneration, quickening, saving, and it is a sovereign work of mercy while God purposely allows others to continue in their hatred, resistance and rejection JUSTLY. In both He is glorified by underserving mercy and by deserved justice. The first is amazing love since they no more deserve salvation than the others deserve mercy.

    Only because you reverse the Biblical order in all of your rationale and that is really the issue of your analogies and thought processes. It is based on the complete OPPOSITE order presented in scripture.​
     
    #11 The Biblicist, Aug 3, 2013
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  12. Skandelon

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    Okay, now this is a GREAT point of discussion. You have stated this very well. First, on what basis does man's ability to turn to God for help make him 'better' or 'more deserving?'

    Think about it. He is admitting his weakness and asking for help. By the world's standard that isn't better, it is WEAKER. That's the point. The ONLY reason WE (bible scholars) think of being humble, weak, needing help, etc as being 'better' is because we know the bible and thus know who God has chosen to show mercy.

    Humility wouldn't even be thought of as a 'better' quality unless we knew that God shows grace to the humble. It's a weak quality in the eyes of the world. That is why Jesus said the poor in spirit will be saved. Is that a better quality? No. Its POOR... God chooses the WEAK to shame the WISE.

    So, on what basis can anyone conclude the the characteristic of being weaker is 'better?'

    Plus, it's not as if the weak believer has EARNED or MERITED God's favor (grace). Someone who asks for forgiveness doesn't merit forgiveness just because they ask for it. The giver has to decide to grant forgiveness on the basis of grace, not merit. The prodigal son didn't deserve or earn the reception he got from his father on the basis of his willingness to return home in humiliation. That was ALL OF GRACE.

    ADDED: BTW, we would believe mankind is completely fallen, we just wouldn't define 'fallen' in the same manner. We wouldn't presume someone who is fallen can't get up even when being provided help from God Himself.
     
    #12 Skandelon, Aug 3, 2013
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  13. Skandelon

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    I understand that distinction, but it is a distinction without a difference for what is the point in even saying this except to attempt to subtly invoke some kind of sense of culpability on the part of the human agent because it is HIS unwillingness that gets him into this mess? What use is it even talking about the desire of man when those desires are determined by His creator?

    In other words, who cares the robot wants, when its the robots maker that determines the desires and thus actions of that robot?

    No, but neither does Christ, "I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. -- John 12

    Men aren't judged on the basis of what Adam did or didn't do. Men aren't condemned because they broke the law...Christ fulfilled that once and for all. They are condemned for unbelief...for not accepting the truth. That is why they perish...its the only reason they perish thanks to the provision of Christ. (2 Thess 2:10)

    God hated the non-elect before they were born according to Calvinists view of election (hatred). They were born non-elect and destined for eternal torture without hope of salvation...that is about the most hateful thing you could do to another person. You give men a really good reason to hate God.


    Define 'natural'

    Does "Mother Nature" cause that while God turns around? I'm not understanding what you think you're avoiding by saying this.

    I actually agree with this statement. Unwillingness leads to hardening.

    But I don't see how this is consistent with Calvinism considering that you believe men are born unable to respond willingly to God revelation. He must be 'enabled' or 'drawn' Calvinists argue, thus it appears you reverse this order by suggesting that men are unable to become unwilling because they are unable to see, hear, understand or turn to God unless first regenerated.

    The gospel is an appeal sent for sinners (those Fallen in Adam) to be reconciled to their creator. God holds men responsible for their response to that appeal. There is no biblical reason to suggest that a fallen sinner is unable to respond to God's appeal to be reconciled to him from that fallen condition. To suggest otherwise is like saying, "The cure for cancer doesn't work on those with cancer because they have cancer."

    It would be like chaining you dog to a post for disobeying and then calling him to come to you to be reconciled and then when he didn't come, you get up and kick him because he disobeyed you again.

    People are being held responsible, not just for breaking the law, they are being held responsible for their response to God's revelation. To suggest man is responsible for sin in Adam is one thing, but to suggest man is responsible for his response to God's appeal when he is unable to willingly respond to that appeal is a whole other...and the bible never teaches that.
     
  14. Winman

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    Romans 7:14-25 does not express this unwillingness that you say results in inability.

    Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

    Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
    19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

    Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
    22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

    Romans 7 does not express unwillingness, it repeatedly shows Paul is willing to do good and obey God.

    You will argue this passage describes a regenerate man. I would disagree for several reasons.

    Paul says he is carnal, sold under sin in vs. 14.

    Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

    This contradicts what Paul said in chapter 6 and 8, Christians are FREE from sin.

    Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin

    Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
    18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

    Rom 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

    Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    Romans chapter 7 cannot possibly be speaking of Paul from the perspective of a saved regenerated man, because he indeed said he found himself under this "law of sin" in Rom 7:23, but in chapters 6 and 8 he repeatedly says Christ has made him free from the law of sin and death.

    Paul also says he is a servant of sin in Romans 7. No Christian is a servant of sin, as Paul repeatedly said in Romans 6.

    Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

    Paul had said our "old man" is crucified "with him", that is, in Christ, that we should no longer serve sin in chapter 6. Therefore Rom 7:25 cannot be speaking of a born again regenerate person as Paul said he was serving sin.

    In addition, Paul NEVER mentions the Holy Spirit even one time in Rom 7:14-25, but immediately speaks of the Spirit in Rom 8:1. Paul repeatedly speaks of the Spirit after 8:1.

    So Romans 7:14-25 cannot be speaking of a saved regenerate man. It is Paul describing himself as a lost unregenerate man under the law. He desired and willed to do good, he delighted in God's law, but he could not find a way to perform it. That does not mean he could not believe the gospel, as he clearly believed God's laws when he was lost.

    In addition, Matthew 26:41 also shows an example of unregenerate men being willing to obey God.

    Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

    The disciples did not have the indwelling Spirit at this point, they did not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit until after Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified, yet they were able to be willing to obey God. This verse matches up perfectly with Paul's description of himself in Romans 7, he was willing to do good, but he was obstructed by the flesh.

    We also have the example of Cornelius who was lost, and did not have the Spirit, yet he was able to fear God, and do many good works that God himself recognized and Peter called "worketh righteousness"

    Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

    Peter was speaking of Cornelius in verse 35 and confirms he feared God and worked righteousness, yet Cornelius was not saved at this point, neither did he have the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    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.

    Biblicist begins with the ASSUMPTION that Total Inability is truth, and then interprets scripture to agree with his assumption. The scriptures do not teach Inability as these many verses I have shown indicate. Men without the indwelling Holy Spirit and therefore unregenerate (Rom 8:9) are able to be willing to obey God, and can even do righteous works that are acceptable to God.

    Total Inability is a complete lie and false doctrine.
     
    #14 Winman, Aug 4, 2013
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  15. Herald

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    Skan,

    I like the way the Evangelism Exolosion program by the late D.J. Kennedy explains grace in salvation, "Salvation is a free gift. It is neither earned nor deserved. "

    A comment on your "ADDED":

    We (the Reformed view) sees that "help" as regeneration. Once God regenerates, the individual is able and desirous of accepting God's gracious gift.

    Have a blessed Lord's Day.
     
    #15 Herald, Aug 4, 2013
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  16. Skandelon

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    You have a blessed day as well brother!

    I was a Calvinist so I'm aware of this. But I'd like you to objectively consider two points:

    1. Why do Calvinists insist that a gift be irresistibly given in order for the giver to get full credit for giving it?

    2. Why do you believe new life (regeneration) is the means through which men come to believe when the scripture teaches just the opposite in many places?​

    Example: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:31

    While we all agree that God must initiate the process, we obviously disagree about the effectuality (irresistibility) of that initial working of God. Given that many passages also suggest God longing to save those who are unwilling (Matt. 23:37), holding out his merciful hands the rebellious (Rm 10:21), desiring none to perish (2 Pet. 3:9; 2 Tim 2:4; Ez 18:23), and sending out a powerful appeal for reconciliation to all his enemies (2 Cor 5:11-21; Mk 16:15-16); I think a strong case can be made for the initial working of God being 'enabling' but not necessarily 'irresistible.' I believe His calling enables a response. Why? Because God hold's man responsible for that response (response-able: able to respond, not totally inability). Why would anyone presume man is not able to respond if God holds him responsible?
     
    #16 Skandelon, Aug 4, 2013
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  17. agedman

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    In this post, I am attempting to explain the two views by pointing to examples of Nature and Nurture?

    Total depravity/inability thinking:

    To those hold total depravity would be to view a person born with a certain nature in which nurture is the primary catalyst. As the nature is nurtured it moves the person to total inability.

    An example - depravity with depraved nurturing:

    Accepting that a child is born with a depraved nature and is nurtured by neglect and anger. As the child grows, the lack of Godly discipline enlarges the depravity into selfishness, then overt gestures of meanness, and eventually into socially disapproving ways. Often the person becomes more angry, defiant, violent... and resistant to any attempts of external control and discipline. They are incapable of being harnessed, and therefore caged. Personally, I have seen children as young as five years old that were already highly narcissistic sociopath.

    An example - depravity with Godly nurturing:

    Accepting that a child is born with a depraved nature but is nurtured by righteousness and Godly authority. As the child grows, Godly discipline structures the nurturing environment so the child learns boundaries, what is socially acceptable behavior patterns, how to vent emotionalism in acceptable ways, and are pliable to external controls and discipline. They are capable of conformity and can function to a high level of social achievement.

    Results:

    Both of these folks are lost. Both have not only complete depravity, but totally incapable of self awareness toward the things of God.

    Scripture examples:

    The first would be like the man from Gadara who was demon possessed - and later clothed and in his right mind.

    The second is like the rich young ruler who was compliant and self righteous - but turned away from Christ.

    Unless God intervenes by presenting a new nature, neither one will be saved.

    View with the lack of total depravity/inability:

    Those who do not accept total depravity, are left with viewing nature and nurture as both neutral.

    Often there is a presentation of a child born "tabula Rasa" (latin: blank slate) and that nurturing alone is how the child develops. That the child has no innate sin nature that needs disciplined, and only learns to do evil by first being exposed to evil in the nurturing environment.

    As the child grows, attempts to fill a "god shaped void" with worldly "stuff" lead the person into all manner of "mistakes" and until "they find Christ." The person will continue to chase after the desires and pleasures until they realize that the only one who is shaped like the void and can completely fill it.

    Because, the person is by nature good, even desires that which is godly, the person only needs to be pointed in the right direction so the empty void in their aching heart can be filled with the presence of God.

    That person will by nature accept, of their own will and freedom of choice, Christ, by opening their own hearts, placing Christ into the void, and self determining how much freedom of expression and pleasures are righteousness and holy.

    Unfortunately, there are just no Scriptural examples to demonstrate this person.


    Summary:

    The "tabula Rasa" thinking has been dismissed by the professional community, that deals with mental/emotional conditions, long ago. Occasionally, some mention of it is made, but usually only from those who cling to it from some religious viewpoint.

    Often, the term "total depravity" is accepted - the struggle seems to be over total inability not the depravity.

    Every parent knows that a child is born with a certain amount of mental, emotional, and physical characteristics that predisposes the child to be depraved.

    No one has to teach the child to lie, steal, be selfish, disrespectful....

    A child is also born with a certain temperament - some are highly self willed, others more compliant. But neither predisposes the child to choose what is righteous and holy.

    There is only one testimony of a child who at eight years old would attract the religious ruler's in debate about Scriptures that lasted a day or more.

    The very tiny glimpse we have into the childhood of Christ shows the marked difference between one born by nature depraved and one born by nature Holy.
     
  18. Aaron

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    Always and anon, the cry is Why doth He yet find fault?
     
  19. Winman

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    Baloney, Cornelius is a perfect example of an unregenerate, unsaved man who feared God, prayed always, and did "righteous works" according to Peter himself.

    Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
    2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
    3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
    4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

    Was Cornelius saved? NO, because the angel told him to send for Peter whereby he would hear words and be saved. (Acts 11:13-14)

    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.

    It is indisputable, Cornelius was not saved, and yet he feared God, and did righteous works.

    Did Cornelius have the Holy Spirit before Peter preached to him? NO.

    Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

    Romans 8:9 tells us that any man who does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit is "in the flesh".

    Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    Cornelius did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit until he heard the gospel from Peter and believed on Jesus. Up to this point Cornelius was an unsaved, unregenerate man "in the flesh", yet he feared God, prayed always, and did many righteous works.

    So there is absolutely evidence that unregenerate man can seek God in the scriptures. It may be exceptional, but it is there.

    Another example of an unregenerate man who sought God is the Philipian jailer;

    Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
    30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
    31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    The Philipian jailer could not have been spiritually alive when he burst in and asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved, because he had not yet believed on Jesus. And until you believe on Jesus you are DEAD in trespasses and sins, yet he was aware that he was lost, and he sincerely desired to be saved.

    And Paul and Silas's answer tells us he was not regenerated, because they told him he must believe on Jesus to be "saved".

    So, here are TWO examples of unregenerate men who sincerely sought God in the scriptures.
     
  20. agedman

    agedman
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    John 20:30-31 is the concluding statement of John's account, he uses the word translated "may" or "might."

    Unfortunately, "May" does not work well with the Greek, in my opinion, because in the English it carries the connotation of asking permission ("Mother may I...")

    In the Greek "may believe" is actually one word that it is making a statement of one being able to trust the veracity of the testimony. "That you "may believe" (that you can trust what has been written as truthful) that Jesus is the Christ...."

    John is basically saying that what the account is accurate and true and believers have life.

    Again, in the second part, "that believing you may have life through his name," has a similar problem. The "you may have" is one word and shows ownership, relationship, or the condition of one. It is not asking for a decision or making a plea for one to come into a relationship, but stating that if in fact a relationship exists the results are life.

    It is unfortunate at times that the English is so weak.

    This is an excellent point, Skandelon.

    However, in my own opinion, I tend to think that sometimes when one stands against "irresistible grace" they are assessing the view that God would be unfair.

    Look at how God has historically worked:
    He selected Noah, killed the rest.
    He selected Abram, rejected the rest.
    He selected Isaac, rejected the rest.
    He selected David, rejected the rest.

    and on it goes.

    I don't pretend to understand why two thieves died, having committed atrocities that justified their death, both knowing the reputation and living of Christ, yet only one expressed belief.

    Historically, God has worked and chosen as He decides.
    He chose a people to be called by His name, rejecting the rest.
    He chose a family in which His Son was to be born, rejecting the rest.
    He chose individuals who would carry the gospel, rejecting the rest.
    He chose assemblies in which specific letters would be written for us to read, rejecting the rest.

    Do not be dismayed. the "rejecting the rest" doesn't mean they were cast out, but that of all the letters (for example) written, we have only what is given to us. That of all who were disciples, only twelve were apostles. That of all the families of Israel, David's was chosen.

    I suppose the question shouldn't be why does God choose and reject, but why should He choose at all?

    He has no obligation to choose anyone or anything.

    That He did/does and that it doesn't fit some preconceptions of human scheming is just part of history, too. Perhaps the best examples might be Mosses or Jonah. Neither had any desire to be chosen much less commissioned to the job.

    I would address one area in specific:

    The mention of the "desires" of God.

    Could it be that the human perspective of "desire" being a craving or need, actually NOT be that of what God has in mind?
    Christ expressed a certain level exasperation (Matt 23:37) but was that the Father's?
    Paul's desire for the Jews (Rom 10) was salvation, but was it in God's timing for it to happen in Paul's day?

    Christ said, "all the FATHER gives me will come to me..." but that did not include all of Jerusalem.

    Perhaps, in the consideration of the matter, God doesn't appeal to everyone and everyone doesn't appeal to God.

    But, God (as historically demonstrated) has reason and expectations for all decisions and choices He makes.
     
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