Question for Calvinists: Acts 16:30-31

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by InTheLight, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. InTheLight

    InTheLight
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    I'm new here so please don't bite my head off. I'm trying to understand reformed theology.

    We all know the story of the Phillipian jailer. Here is a man that actually asks the question:

    "What must I DO to be saved?"
    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved..."

    This man, so far as we know, had no prior knowledge of the gospel. Yet in less than an hour after hearing the gospel he and his whole family became believers.

    34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

    How do you explain this nearly instantaneous conversion which required action on the part of the seeker? When was he regenerated so he could understand the gospel?
     
  2. preacher4truth

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    I believe God brings us to the dilemma, expressed as "what must I do!!!" or to the place of ultimate concern. Nothing we do saves us does it?

    He does all of the saving. :)
     
  3. BobinKy

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    InTheLight...

    Welcome to the Baptist Board.

    You will find we are Baptist in name only. It should be correctly named the Calvinist Board. :laugh:

    I am not a Calvinist, therefore I will step aside so the Calvinists, who have staked out this board, can answer your question.

    Have at it, Cals.

    ...Bob
     
  4. InTheLight

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    In this case the dilemma was that the prison keeper saw that his prisoners were loose and he would probably be put to death for it.

    "What must I DO to be saved?"
    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved..."
     
  5. preacher4truth

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    So what we've done has saved us, or His grace has saved us?
     
  6. InTheLight

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    John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
     
  7. moral necessity

    moral necessity
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    First, is the verse a Teaching Passage or is it a Historical Passage? In other words, is the purpose of the author a theology lesson or is it about describing an event in history?

    An Arminian or a Calvinist, studying Biblical Hermeneutics, would say that the author is not writing this passage for the purpose of giving a theology lesson. The chapter is not in the context of, "okay guys, here is the breakdown of how the order of salvation, regeneration, etc, occur". Therefore, the verse is misapplied if it is used in any such way.
     
    #7 moral necessity, Dec 29, 2010
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  8. preacher4truth

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    So what we've done has saved us, or His grace has saved us?
     
  9. The Archangel

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    This is a good point. However, I would caution all not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

    Is it an historical passage? Yes. Is it teaching didactic theological lessons? Probably not. Is it devoid of all theology? Absolutely not.

    The Archangel
     
  10. The Archangel

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    This passage is part of a larger whole. It would be important to note the entire account of Paul in Phillippi.

    Paul and Silas were engaged in a very public ministry that included the casting out of a demon--which is what got them into hot water with the magistrates in the first place.

    Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned by official function of the town. It is likely the Jailer was a part of their beating or at least witnessed the events surrounding Paul and Silas' time in Philippi.

    The question, then, is improper--the Jailer didn't come to Paul and Silas in a vacuum. It is almost certain that he some knowledge of them and their message.

    So, when Paul and Silas didn't run--as would be expected of persons who were common criminals--this piqued the Jailer's interest. So, their actions put testimony to their message. Since the demon was proclaiming Paul and Silas as worshipers of the Most High God, their actions made the Jailer want to know this God. How many of us can say that...that our actions have made people want to know God as opposed to having nothing to do with Him?

    Also, I don't think we should miss Lydia's conversion. Lydia, a God-worshiper, was converted because "The Lord ​opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul." So, given that the text says God is ultimately behind Lydia's conversion, it is easily understood that God is also behind the conversion of the Jailer--even orchestrating all the circumstances to beat Paul and Silas and to have them placed in jail. It is a divine appointment, but not in a vacuum.

    The Archangel
     
  11. Iconoclast

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    All unsaved men think they must do something in order to be saved...so he asks this question. He probably had some knowledge of saving truth,because he had learned enough to ask about how to be saved. Saved from what? You see what the text is presenting?
    He is told ....believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
    A person can only believe if The Holy Spirit enables them to. From other texts in the bible we learn how God saves sinners.
    Each salvation account describes the saving work of God, ie, Lydia whose heart the Lord opened.....God hath granted to the gentiles repentance,etc.
    It is always God's work....yet it works effectually in those God has purposed to save.:thumbsup:
    So the sinner believes, the sinner repents, the sinner exercises this God given faith as God works in Him Phil 1:6
     
    #11 Iconoclast, Dec 29, 2010
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  12. Tom Butler

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    You took took the words right out of my keyboard.

    Let us not assume that Philippian jail understood the right terminology or the right response to the earthquake (and to Holy Spirit conviction). If he had he would not have framed the question the way he did.

    It was up to Paul and Silas to correct him and point him in the right direction. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously his response was not to do something. It was as if the jailer said "okay, I do."
     
  13. zrs6v4

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    I will put what others have said in different terms.

    When we hear the gospel the "gospel call" to respond to is to repent and believe (both work with each other). We are called to turn away from sin, and embrace Christ for mercy.

    Now even though we are doing something (repenting and believing) it is not as though God is standing in front of us waiting for it. What is happening is that God is working within us bringing about repentance and faith by the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists would agree with me at this point. The issue is how far does God go and is the work He does within someone able to cause them to believe every time or is their a point where God leaves the decision to the sinner all by himself? In a sense the sinner does have a choice to make, but in the Calvinist view that choice is positively affected by God's internal work on the heart. A Calvinist would say that God works effectually. What that means is that God's work within a sinner is a work that will always result in belief if God has chosen a person to pour out His mercy on.

    I agree with the others that the passage you have chosen does not explain the depths of salvation because it really isn't intended to. The best one can do with this passage is to assume God worked in the hearts. Based on other Scriptures we can confidently assume that He did. Look at Acts 2:38 for example and read Peter's call to the people after he preached. You should notice that Peter called everyone to repentance, then said "all those that God has called to Himself." What this means is that through the human preaching and calling God is internally calling out those who He wills to save.
     
    #13 zrs6v4, Dec 29, 2010
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  14. quantumfaith

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    Archangel,

    I honestly do not think the question is improper. Both sides of the theological debate recognize God (orchestrates, prepares, woos, influences,initiates,calls, bekons etc.) but the question of the jailer still, in my mind says, "man must have a part"....that part being belief exercised through faith.

    The question might be, given the extraordinary circumstances that God brought upon him, "could" he have rejected?
     
  15. BobinKy

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    :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:

    ...Bob
     
  16. The Archangel

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    I see what you're saying. I think "improper" was a bit too vague on my part. The question was about an "instantaneous conversion." I don't think that the Jailer would have been totally ignorant of Paul and Silas or the events leading up to their imprisonment.

    So, if the question is "improper," it is only because it assumes things the passage itself seems to refute.

    As for your question, man must respond to God in repentance and faith. Of course, I would suggest that the faith is God-given in the first place.

    As for the option of rejecting...I don't think so.

    The Archangel
     
  17. psalms109:31

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    Trust in Jesus

    I have never thought that trusting in Jesus as a work or takes away from grace. I never heard God say that trusting in Jesus was a work, but man has. I do believe when we trust in Jesus it is He that works in our heart to believe. To trust in Jesus is to give ourselves over to the grace of God.

    Faith without deeds is dead.

    I love James question.

    James 2:14
    [ Faith and Deeds ] What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

    Did Martin Luther King want to remove the book of James from the Bible?

    I couldn't do anything until God had given me the ability through His word.

    His word gives us the ability to do two thing, continue in unbelief that leads to condemnation or believe(trust) in Jesus and be saved.
     
  18. zrs6v4

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    I think God's work within a human being cannot be boxed in, yet it can be generalized. What I mean by that is that God works in various ways and by different means to bring about His purposes. With that said, everyone who is genuinely saved experience conversion by the grace of God through faith.

    You said, "but the question of the jailer still, in my mind says, "man must have a part"....that part being belief exercised through faith."

    I think I see where your coming from although I would like for you to explain this a little further. When God is working on a man's heart is God being light? How far does He go? what is God able to do? Does God bring about this deciding factor and step aside or does He begin a work within a sinner and finish it? Your statement above seems to assume God does a little work by the Holy Spirit, then leaves it all up to the man to choose. I see it as God beginning a work through the Gospel and bringing it to completion.

    Its interesting because some make it seem like God starts speaking gifts to the sinners soul, but I have wondered if God's effectual calling is more to do with what He illuminates in a sinner and how He effects the heart by doing so. Although that is just one factor that alone can be powerful. The question is, how does someone who hears the Gospel see God in his heart? I have the pilgrims progress in mind. The character Christian by reading the word of God had a lightening bolt hit his heart. Although he was the one making choices, he could not rid of that burden of reality that was squeezing his heart until he found the way. The very same concept was in his life. He had many choices to turn away from God, but that grip on his heart always lead him back to the path of faith because He who began a powerful work brought it to completion.

    I believe this is why we don't see a huge focus on the time of conversions in the Bible. There is much more about the continual life of trusting God. God begins to work on people before He saves them, and never stops until they die, that is, those who He chooses to save.

    One more thing I would like to add is that without a clear view of sin, the doctrines of grace don't make any sense. Once one understands his condition on earth (A sinner) and what that really means it starts to change things quite a bit.
     
    #18 zrs6v4, Dec 30, 2010
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  19. quantumfaith

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    In all intellectual honesty, I do not think that Cals and Non-Cals are as far apart as the "heat" of our "debates may sometimes suggest. One point here, often discussed, the concept of regeneration is this.

    Tha Cal believes that it is a grace extended at a particular moment in which to make alive the person, and as a result, faith is then a secondary gift granted for the "believer" in order that they may believe.

    I, not speaking for all non-cals, remain convinced that this (gift or grace) of being able to have faith and/or believe is granted to all men everywhere.
     
  20. pinoybaptist

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    Consider the context of this event.
    A Roman Prison.
    A big earthquake.
    Prisoners that were jailed for preaching in a Name they were told not to preach.
    Is this age the age of scientific enlightenment, or is it an age of superstitions.
    Now you have a jailer who may have his head cut off if any of his prisoners escape.
    The prisoners were singing praises to a God the Philippian jailor does not know.
    All of a sudden an earthquake, and the prisoners loosed from their bonds, and the jailor about to kill himself thinking alas my wards have escaped and my bosses will have my head, better do it myself.
    His prisoners restrain him.
    What would you do and think in the jailor's stead ?
    Why, what manner of men are these ?
    What God is this ?
    Perhaps this God can save me from the wrath of my superiors: What must I do to be saved ?
    The answer: Trust in Jesus Christ.
    Is the Philippian jailor asking about salvation of his soul ?
    Apparently not.
    He is not a Jew who believes in the soul of man, he was a pagan, or a worshipper of many gods, and the Apostles' answers were simply logical to what they believed about Christ: He is God, trust Him and He will work things out for you.
    This is Paul and Silas.
    If they were alive today they would probably marvel at the Christ preached in many pulpits: a Savior whose work of salvation can only be powerful and effective if believed in.
    They would walk out, and start their own congregation.

    Am I saying this Philippian jailor is not one of God's own ?
    Far from it.
    Perhaps he is.
    But at this moment, in this Scripture, his concern was not for his soul as much as his continous life, seeing that ALL prisoners were loosed from their bonds though none ran.
    So because he and his household were baptized that is PROOF that they were eternally saved at that moment ?
    How many of you have had congregants walk up to your altar during altar call sniffing and crying convulsively and wanted baptism right then and there, and yet when things went good and the crisis passed could not be found anymore in church ?
    Intriguing that Paul no longer mentions this jailor in his letter to the Philippians when this could have been a "meaningful" conversion by today's standards ?
     

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