God's Sovereign Choice and Man's Natural Condition

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Archangel, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. The Archangel

    The Archangel
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    Friends,

    This is a catch-all thread to address something I see as a flaw in the logic expressed in the following thread's OP:
    All of these threads were started by Skandelon so it my seem like I'm picking on him, I'm not. Perhaps what I perceive to be a flaw in his logic is in each thread's OP, but I do not intend to "beat up" on Skandelon.

    Now, on to the substance of this thread.

    The above threads seems to suggest that, in the Calvinist theology, man is willing to be saved and yet God is unwilling to save him. In other words, the non-elect (in Calvinist terms) are desperately wanting salvation only to their surprise to have God reject their pleas. (Think The Wizard of Oz--nobody gets to see the wizard, not nobody, not no how).

    We contend that this is an impossibility. Man, in his natural condition, does not desire the things of God. So, the non-elect (again in Calvinist terms) are happy to reject God and the general call of the Gospel.

    Opponents of Calvinism (and Reformed Theology) would have us believe that Esau, for one, was a really good guy--though probably misunderstood--and God chose his little brother Jacob in spite of Esau's righteousness. Further, these same opponents would have us think that the Pharaoh of the exodus was thinking "you know, I really think this slavery thing is bad. We don't need this slave workforce...I think I'll just let them be free" and Moses and God show up and God forces Pharaoh's heart hard. (Please understand the hyperbole of these examples)

    In reality, these two examples--Esau and Pharaoh--show man's unrighteousness and natural disposition against the things of God and in their lives are receiving their just deserts for their sinful condition--just as we all deserve.

    So, what say you? What is man's natural condition?

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  2. annsni

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    Amen!! I fully agree with what you're saying here. Scripture is clear that sinful man will not choose God. But we also know that anyone who comes to Him will not be turned away (John 6:37). There is not one person in the history of this world who truly desired to be saved but was not. Period. End of story. Amen.
     
  3. Robert Snow

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    Not true at all!

    Read "Cowboy Boots in Darkest Africa", by Bill Rice.
     
  4. Skandelon

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    I don't take your responses as "beating up" on me. From all I remember from our discussions you have always been a person of integrity and have interacted with my posts with substantive content. I respect that.

    Then you have misunderstood my threads. I don't believe that Calvinistic theology suggests that men are wanting to be saved and cannot. In fact, having been a Calvinists for many years, I fully understand that Calvinists maintain that men do exactly as they desire. They sin because they want to sin and they repent because the want to repent...however, they cannot want to repent unless their heart (or their nature) has been changed (regenerated). The inability of mankind is thus his inability to desire anything of God, unless God first changes the man's nature and thus his desires. Once that nature has been changed then he will most certainly come to Christ. I understand that and taught it myself for many years. I now disagree with that view for reasons expressed in these threads.

    I understand that is your view, as explained above.

    Well, this statement leads me to believe you don't understand my view. I believe and have maintained the doctrine of "Original Sin." All men, including Esau, was born an enemy of God and with a sinful nature. I've never argued or even suggested otherwise.

    Please go to the search feature on this forum and type in my name and the keyword "Pharaoh" and read all the posts explaining my view of Pharaoh. This is not even close to what I believe or have argued on this forum.

    I actually agree with this statement and the fact that you think I don't shows me you are not fully informed of the position with which you contend.

    Sinful
    Enemies of God
    Dead in sin
    In need of a Savior
    In need of Reconciliation
    Wicked
    Depraved
    Corrupt
    Selfish
    etc

    But, what is God's revealed solution for this condition?

    Answer: He sent Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Apostles, the Church and the Gospel...the message meant to bring reconciliation with God.

    My objection with your view is that your dogma insists that his revealed solution is insufficient. You insist that there needs to be more..there needs to be an "irresistible" or "effectual" inward calling before any of these means will be effective. That is biblically unfounded. Can you find one verse which tells us that men are unable to willingly respond to the life giving message of the cross? Just one verse that shows us that the divine powerful message of reconciliation is not actually able in and of itself to reconcile anyone? Just one verse.
     
    #4 Skandelon, Jan 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2010
  5. annsni

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    Since I have not read the book, would you care to enlighten me as to what it says?
     
  6. Skandelon

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    One more observation. In the thread, "Jacob I loved and Esau I hated = individual election?" You began engaging me in a good discussion but left it after the first page without answering any of my replies. Would you mind going back to that first page and replying? Maybe that will give you a better understanding of my views. Thanks
     
  7. Robert Snow

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    It is a touching story of a Pygmy who had been climbing a tree for quite a while looking in the sky and asking if God knew he was there. Later, when Bill Rice felt called to go preach in Africa, and sold his house to pay for the trip, he encountered this man and led him to Christ.

    It really is a good book, also it is not very expensive at all. Check it out at Amazon.com or BN.com. You will like it, I promise.
     
  8. The Archangel

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    I will try to do this later.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  9. The Archangel

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    I understand your view as I used to hold it. It seems you don't understand my view as I would never say that the Gospel is insufficient. The Gospel, as Paul says, is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The Gospel is certainly sufficient to save the elect. We trust that God has prepared good soil in which the Gospel will take root and will be deeply rooted while growing strong.

    To say in our view that the Gospel is insufficient is like telling a farmer who neither prepares, tills, nor irrigates his land that his seeds are themselves insufficient or defective.

    Also, you are suggesting that man, in his fallen state, has a desire to come to God--even through the Gospel. How does a desperately wicked, only evil continually heart desire God? How does dry, cracked soil become tilled, plantable, and productive ground? Does the seed do it? No, the farmer makes the ground ready for the seed.

    It would seem Acts 13:48 shows an indiscriminate Gospel presentation and that same Gospel taking actual root in a pre-selected group: "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed"

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  10. OldRegular

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    So Ann was correct. The man wanted to be saved and was saved???
     
  11. The Archangel

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    This sounds like a beautiful picture of God's sovereign grace--He caused the man to seek, He provided the means of the Gospel reaching him, and the man was saved.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  12. annsni

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    So you're saying that the man was seeking God - and he found Him? Hmmm - maybe God called his heart and sent Bill Rice to give him the Gospel so he could find Him.

    I wish I had known about this book yesterday when I placed an order with Amazon! I think my son would really like it (and I always read his books - LOL)
     
  13. Skandelon

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    Then why did you accuse me of believing, "that Esau, for one, was a really good guy--though probably misunderstood--and God chose his little brother Jacob in spite of Esau's righteousness," or the other things already mentioned?

    I know you would never say it that way, but nevertheless it is true. For someone who is not elect the gospel is insufficient to save, which was my point. The sufficiency of all those means that I mentioned comes only through the "Effectual call" or what you also call "regeneration." Just because I word something differently than you would doesn't mean I don't understand your perspective. I think I have demonstrated that I understand your view.

    I understand. And the gospel is insufficient for the mass of humanity who continues in their unbelief...which was my point.

    Which would be true. Throwing seeds on to concrete, for example, would be insufficient to grow a plant, would it not? Your view assumes all men are like concrete unless God effectually makes them into good soil...which is the point I am attempting to contend all the while being accused of not yet comprehending it.

    How does soil become hard? It gets that way over time, in the same way a hand grows calloused. There are MANY passages that speak of men's hearts growing hard. For example:

    Acts 28:24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: 26 " 'Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." 27 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' 28 "Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!"

    Notice the condition of these people who would not believe Paul's persuasive message. They had GROWN hardened. It doesn't say they were born in that condition as your dogma suggests. It says they became like that over time. Additionally it goes on to tell us what their condition would have been OTHERWISE. They "might have seen, heard, understood and believed." In fact, Paul say Israel has grown hard, but the Gentiles will listen, proving that this "hardened state" is not the condition of all people, but only those who have heard and continually rebelled. How do you explain that?

    The word in greek for "appointed" is also interpreted as "disposed" meaning the Gentiles who were disposed or inclined to salvation were believing...they, like the Jews, were not being hardened. The Gentiles as a people were proving that God has chosen them all along. How, by the fact that they were accepting this truth. This was the big argument of that day. Were the Gentiles chosen by God like the Jew were? The answer is found in the response of the people...the Gentiles will listen..
     
  14. The Archangel

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    Please see my entire paragraph:
    Opponents of Calvinism (and Reformed Theology) would have us believe that Esau, for one, was a really good guy--though probably misunderstood--and God chose his little brother Jacob in spite of Esau's righteousness. Further, these same opponents would have us think that the Pharaoh of the exodus was thinking "you know, I really think this slavery thing is bad. We don't need this slave workforce...I think I'll just let them be free" and Moses and God show up and God forces Pharaoh's heart hard. (Please understand the hyperbole of these examples)
    It was an example of hyperbole. Nevertheless, Esau was not owed anything by God.

    But, you don't consider for a minute that God has not purposed to save the non-elect. Therefore to say the Gospel is insufficient to save them is a Red Herring. It is akin to the "can God make a rock so big that He can't move it" argument.

    Had God purposed to save everyone, instead of some, the Gospel would be sufficient to and in saving all.

    See above.

    I understand you comprehend the point, but the underpinnings of your understanding are based on wrong presuppositions.

    If there were no different types of soil, why would Christ use that parable and why would He explain it as He did?

    But, your interpretation and subsequent argument is flawed because of the word "Convinced." This word is passive and, because it is passive, it means the subject--in this case the people listening to Paul--were acted upon. This is usually, in many cases, referred to as the "Divine Passive."

    So, the picture is that their understanding was not of themselves, especially when you see that "disbelieve" is active (as opposed to passive). The ones who rejected Paul's message--their disbelief came from themselves. The ones who accepted Paul's message--their belief (or acceptance) came from outside themselves.

    The phrase "...heart has become calloused" is also passive. This means they did not harden their own hearts, but their hearts were hardened, presumably by God.

    Unfortunately, the grammar will not allow that reflexive conclusion. The word "appointed" is a perfect passive participle. That means that the appointment happened in time past and has implications in the present and the appointment was from outside the ones having been appointed. In other word, they did not appoint themselves. In other words, they were not neutral. They were the "good" soil made such by God Himself.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
    #14 The Archangel, Jan 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2010
  15. Skandelon

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    Whoa, that is a hard sentence to understand because you have used a double negative, so I'm not sure what you mean. Can you restate that?

    You will need to be more specific. What presuppositions have I made about your belief that is wrong? I would be glad to address individual comments that I have made but general statements like this are not helpful.

    I never meant to suggest that there were no different types of soil. I just believe one is responsible for the type of soil he is. Hardened soil, as the scripture I quoted and explained, become hardened over a time of continual rebellion against God's clear revelations. This is why Heb. 3 warns us not to allow our heart to grow hardened. We both approach the same parable with two different suppositions. Your presupposition is that man has no control over the condition of his heart (soil). My presupposition (which I have supported with scripture) is that man does have control over the condition of his heart (soil). He may allow it to grow hard if he continue to hear and reject the word of God.

    Funny, because my point didn't even have to do with verse 24. I'm fine with the idea of the subjects passively being acted upon. Paul is acting upon them by trying to persuade them, God is acting upon them too...so what? What does that have to do with the point I made?

    Again, I really don't have a problem with that. The gospel comes from the outside of myself and in the sense that faith comes from hearing I could see how one might see it that way, but again it wasn't the point.

    Exactly. And why would that be necessary if indeed they were born totally depraved? Why would God need to blind and man born already blind? If you had been reading my posts all along you would see that I affirm God's judicial hardening (blinding) of Israel. They have become calloused over time after hearing and rejecting the revelation of God, but now God has blinded them in that rebellion so as to graft in the Gentiles. This is why Romans 11 is important to understand the historical context of this debate.

    Yes, I took Greek too. My wife is a greek tutor in fact. There are MANY greek scholars much more qualified than you or I who support the interpretation I presented. However, I'm aware there are others who support your view as well. We could just go around and around on that point, but I think we have to consider the whole counsel of God's word to help us come to the correct conclusions. This is what I'm attempting to do by showing the historical context of Israel's being judicially hardened by God temporarily while the Gentiles are listening.
     
  16. The Archangel

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    It would seem you want do discount my argument by appealing to an unresolvable question. I am taking this as an attempt to obfuscate the discussion and to discount my argument entirely.

    I am not aware of the Greek scholars that support your position, although I am sure they exist.

    I find it funny that you appeal to the "whole council of scripture" while seeking to disqualify this part of the scripture.

    You have quite the conundrum here: On the one hand you could discuss this passage with me. On the other hand you can discount it completely and make it off limits. Is it possible you have chosen option #2 because if I prove right in my exegesis your entire argument will fall apart? I don't mean that to be offensive, I'm pointing out what appears to be a retreat from our debate.

    For the benefit of those reading along I'll press on with the discussion. In fact the word τασσω in the construction it appears (τεταγμενοι) is a perfect participle and it can be either middle or passive. Middle would mean that they appointed themselves; passive means they were appointed by someone outside themselves. Context, ultimately, is the determinative factor.

    The perfect requires this to be taken as a passive. The perfect denotes something that happened in the past which has effect on the present time. So, it does absolutely no good and makes absolutely no sense to take it as a middle. It is absurd to say "So-and-so in time past appointed themselves with lasting effect in the present." That interpretation is a logical impossibility.

    Because of the perfect, we must translate this as "So-and-so in time past was appointed (to eternal life) by someone and that appointment's effect is seen in their belief."

    There is no way around that.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  17. The Archangel

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    My original statement: But, you don't consider for a minute that God has not purposed to save the non-elect.

    To clarify: God's did not purpose to save everyone.

    This comports with the Old Testament in that not every nation was chosen and this comports with the Old Testament in that only Abraham was chosen and no one else.

    I was not suggesting you had wrong presuppositions about my belief. Rather, I was saying your own presupposition have led you in a wrong direction.

    In retrospect, I probably should have held my tongue on that issue for now, as we are dealing with textual things and facts in evidence, etc. Please forgive the opaque statement and the possibly offensive comment.

    How can the ground till itself?

    Again, in the case of Pharaoh as an example, this shows you are thinking Pharaoh as a neutral party that God made non-neutral in the direction of evil.

    Be that as it may, we do see God hardening people's hearts. But, we don't see God hardening righteous people's hearts. In other words, He doesn't harden the hearts of Abraham or David. But He does harden Pharaoh's heart and a myriad of others--for His own purposes.

    God seems to give the unrighteous exactly what they want--more unrighteousness and that leads to a further hardening of the heart. It makes their judgment and subsequent destruction far more reflective of God's glory and it makes God's saving of anyone unfathomably glorious.

    The entirety of the passage deals with talking to Jews and in it Paul is pronouncing the judgment on them that was given also to them in Isaiah (in Isaiah 6)--a judgment for unbelief. Which the unbelieving Jews were certainly guilty of.

    But, again the passive is helpful to understanding the passage--especially understanding an appointment to eternal life (Acts 13). The "convinced" ones were convinced outside themselves (surely it could have been Paul and it may be pushing to call it a divine passive). But, I think it is, perhaps, a divine passive because the ones who disbelieved did so actively--in and of themselves. If we were to discount the divine passive (or at least the divine appointment of Acts 13) we should expect disbelieve and convinced to be the same construction of the different verbs.

    Missing this--and Acts 13's appointment--skews the reading of the passage. Further, again, God hardens the unbelievers to magnify His judgment and therefore to magnify His glory.

    See above.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  18. Skandelon

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    Now, that is not fair. I don't accuse your explanations of 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim 2:4, John 3:16-17; etc etc as "seeking to disqualify" them. You interpret them according to your view, just as I am. There are more "difficult" texts for each of our points of view and to be objective you must be willing to view all sides as being potentially correct.

    I am discussing this passage with you. I just pointed out that even your explanations of the Greek didn't address the point I had made (with regard to the passage in Acts 28). I'm not dismissing your arguments, just showing you where they don't apply.

    And I noticed in your reply you never really address my points of debate. Instead you redirect to focus on the points you want to discuss and introduce text that seem to better support your views.

    Please objectively consider another viable understanding of this passage. If you approach this as just a debate you want to win, you will not understand my point, so please try to be objective and at least understand what I'm arguing. I believe this passage has to do with the national election or chose of the Gentiles. Let me explain fully:

    Remember that is the major debate at this time in history. Everyone at this time was debating with the apostles the point that Gentiles weren't chosen by God and that they weren't "appointed to eternal life" by God. The apostles were trying to prove that indeed they had been chosen by God and that eternal life was indeed meant for the Gentiles too. Thus, I believe that Luke is speaking about the nations, which is consistent with what he says just a 2 verses prior:
    Acts 13:46 NIV: Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

    Notice he is speaking to the Jews, as a nation. He says, "since you reject it," now obviously not all Jews are rejecting, thus proving he is speaking in GENERAL TERMS. Notice what else he goes on to say, "you do not consider yourself worthy of eternal life," again speaking GENERALLY ABOUT THE NATION OF ISRAEL, and then in contrast he refers to the GENTILES IN GENERAL TERMS. See my point?

    If we continue to understand the rest of this same passage in those GENERAL TERMS then we will read this verse to mean, "When the Gentiles (as a Nation in GENERAL TERMS) heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all (GENTILES IN GENERAL TERMS) who were appointed for eternal life believed."

    So, verse 48 MUST be understood in light of verse 46. They correlate perfectly. The Jews are not considering themselves worthy of eternal life, but the Gentiles are. The Jews are not believing while the Gentiles are.

    Other passages in Acts support this type of general understanding of the comparison of these two nations:

    • Acts 10:45 NIV: The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
    • Acts 11:1 NIV: [Peter Explains His Actions] The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
    • Acts 11:18 NIV: When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
    Acts 15:7 NIV: After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.
     
  19. Robert Snow

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    You are both correct. I misread what she said. I thought she said that no one will seek God on their own.
     
  20. Skandelon

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    I do believe that God does desire for all to be saved and I believe that he has provided all that is needed for anyone to be justified by faith and thus stand "without excuse."

    No problem. I appreciate your demeanor and approach.

    How does the ground share the gospel with others, pray, honor its father and mother? My point is that this is an analogy. We are like soil in that we might be fertile, hard, thorny or rocky, but as I pointed out and as the scriptures I presented (which you didn't seem to address) we have control over our "hardeness." Remember Heb 3: Do not let your heart grow harden? You become hardened when you hear and rebel over and over.

    Again, this is not what I think about Pharaoh. Do I need find my quotes about what I believe about Pharaoh and paste them here for you?


    You said "see above" to answer my question, "why would that be necessary if indeed they were born totally depraved? Why would God need to blind and man born already blind?" but I didn't understand any thing that you said to be an answer to this question.

    We both affirm that God blind unrighteous people. My question is "WHY?" Could it be that he blinded the rebellious Pharaoh so that the obvious truth being revealed through the plagues might have convinced him to free the slaves prior to the Passover plague? Could it be that God blinded the rebellious Jews because the obvious truth being revealed by the miracles and teaching of Christ and his disciples might have convinced them to believe before the real Passover and crucifixion? Think about it.
     

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