Understanding Galatians 1:15-16

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, May 15, 2011.

  1. Van

    Van
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    Paul writes: "But when if pleased God, who had set me apart, even from the womb" at the start of Galatians 1:15. The question is "in what way was Paul set apart?" For salvation? Nope. As a Hebrew? Perhaps. As a person who would become a prophet, a spokesperson of God? Probably.


    Paul continues: "and called me through His grace," refers to his Damascus road experience. So this refers to when God's Son revealed Himself to Paul and asked Paul why he was persecuting Jesus. This then refers to when God revealed His Son "to" Paul.

    And now to the heart of the matter, "was pleased to reveal His Son in me" refers to Paul receiving the "pure gospel," not from men but from God, for the purpose of Paul being God's agent to reveal His Son to others.

    "that I [Paul] might preach His among the Gentiles,"

    Nothing in this passage says or suggests God compelled Paul to believe, but rather the Lords startling appearance caused Paul to reconsider to direction and repent.

    Neither "irresistible grace" nor "prevenient grace" (if thought to supernaturally endow the capacity to believe) is in view.
     
    #1 Van, May 15, 2011
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  2. Greektim

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    Wow... a post-ascension resurrection appearance of Jesus was described with words like "startling" and then explained to be nothing more than for the purpose of "Paul to reconsider."

    For Paul to "reconsider" means that he had already considered Jesus. Not sure that the text even indicates as much. However, Jesus' appearance to Paul was definitely more than a reconsideration. It was Jesus' putting into action, again, the concept "you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." Certainly Paul's "call" was one characterized by "His grace." Why Paul? Not for any value in that Benjamite. It was planned out before the world was laid out. God would use this character named Saul.

    And Jesus was not appearing to Paul, hoping that Paul would accept him as his personal Savior. That kind of theology paints a pathetic Lord Jesus, standing at the door of his heart, knocking, and hoping they'll answer. I'm glad the LORD (you know... the one in control) has more power than us that he doesn't have to rely on our decisions for salvation.
     
    #2 Greektim, May 15, 2011
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  3. jbh28

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    [​IMG]
     
  4. Amy.G

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    I'm not really sure of the purpose of your OP, but I will say that no one can believe without God's grace.
     
  5. Van

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    I see three Calvinist responses!

    The first response offers a strawman, misstating my view. I did perhaps contribute with a typo, the sentence should have read, "Nothing in this passage says or suggests God compelled Paul to believe, but rather the Lords startling appearance caused Paul to reconsider his direction and repent."

    Next it is implied my position was not that God choose Paul. Yet another strawman.

    And finally it is implied my position was that Jesus was hoping Paul would accept Jesus. Yet another strawman. Anything to sidetrack the discussion.

    Neither "irresistible grace" nor "prevenient grace" (if thought to supernaturally endow the capacity to believe) is in view.

    And then rather than address my view, a picture of a fictional character is shown in dismay. One logical fallacy after another devoid of content.

    And finally the vague phrase, no one can believe without God's grace" is offered. What does this mean? You have to decode it, because Calvinists almost never speak plainly. What is implied is no one can believe without God's irresistible grace. Which of course is unbiblical fiction. So rather than state it and defend it, it is asserted in code.

    No one can believe unless (1) God bestows "revealing grace" to provide something to believe in. No one can believe unless (2) God allows the person to believe, because if God hardens their heart, i.e like Judas, they cannot believe. No one can believe unless (3) they have heard and learned from the Father. If you do not believe in the One who sent Jesus, you cannot believe in Jesus. No one can believe unless (4) they have been drawn by the Father, through the revelation of His lovingkindness.

    But none of these biblical truths refers in the slightest to "irresistible grace" or "prevenient grace."
     
  6. Martin Marprelate

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    But Van,
    You're missing the wood for the trees.
    When it pleased God to heal the ten lepers, they were healed.
    When it pleased God to cure Bartimaeus' blindness, he was cured.
    When it pleased God to reveal Christ to Paul, he believed. God is sovereign. He does what He wants. End of story.

    Steve
     
  7. ituttut

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    This is unique, not known before, for this man; Saul/Paul received a revelation apart from prophecy. It will bring astonishment to the Covenant people, and the world.

    Justification through faith alone. We believe God chose Moses to give the Law, and Ordinances to HIS PEOPLE by His Grace ? We believe I AM THAT I AM so we believe Him since we know His name.
     
  8. Winman

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    Amy, I believe what Van is saying is that God does not supernaturally give men the ability to believe. Men already have the ability to believe, yet they cannot possibly believe in Christ unless God reveals this truth to them.

    Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
    15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
    16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
    17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


    Paul does not mention any supernatural work by God upon a man's heart here. He asks very simply "and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" and "and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

    So, the deficiency in man is not a lack of ability to believe, but a lack of knowledge. Man cannot believe what he does not know. But when God reveals truth to man, man can choose whether to believe it is the truth or not.

    And in vs. 17 Paul makes it perfectly clear that faith comes by hearing the word of God. He does not mention any supernatural regeneration here or anywhere else in all of scripture. But some refuse to believe this simple declaration by Paul.

    Man was created in the image of God. We have the ability to believe, but no man can believe what he does not know and understand. It is the word of God that reveals Jesus to us. Without the scriptures, the word of God, not one man on earth could be saved. We would all be sitting in ignorance and darkness.

    2 Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    What do the holy scriptures do? They make us "wise unto salvation". They tell us of Jesus Christ and that he died for our sins and rose from the dead. They tell us if we trust in Christ we shall be saved. If the scriptures did not reveal this to us we would all be hopelessly lost.

    Hos 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

    Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

    Men can hear and believe God's words if they choose to do so. These men had rejected God's word.

    Man has the ability to believe, but man cannot believe anything without knowledge. It is the word of God that reveals knowledge of Jesus to us and thereby enables us to believe what we could not possibly have believed otherwise.
     
    #8 Winman, May 15, 2011
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  9. convicted1

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    Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

    12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

    13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

    Jesus healed these ten lepers, yes. But they called out to Him before He healed their sickness, leprosy.

    Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

    47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.

    48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.

    49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

    50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

    51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

    52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

    Jesus healed Bartimaeus of his blindness, but not until after he called out to Jesus to have mercy on him.


    I agree that God is sovereign. But He never healed anyone until they exercised their faith prior to Him performing a miracle. When He appeared unto Saul of Tarsus, Saul had to humble himself, not God humbling him. So God heals and/or saves with the faith of that person being active, and not push Himself on anyone.
     
  10. convicted1

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    So, is what you are saying, Brother winman, is that faith comes from man? Man can not believe in God until He reveals Himself to that individual. Now, I believe this revealation will come to all men, but only those who choose to believe, will be saved. I asked this question for some clarification.
     
  11. jbh28

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    Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't make them a Calvinist. I know Amy isn't one.
     
  12. Greektim

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    Here is a challenge for you then. Explain what a Calvinist means by "irresistible grace." If you don't like strawmen (which that was a weak fall-back btw), then demonstrate how you are able to avoid them yourself.
     
    #12 Greektim, May 15, 2011
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  13. Winman

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    All men have some knowledge and understanding of God and are therefore without excuse according to Romans 1:18-20. So, clearly God holds us responsible for what we know.

    Notice how God said, "because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will reject thee".

    He says the same in Rom 1:28

    Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    Again, we see because men willingly reject knowledge, God gives them over to a reprobate mind.

    Read how often knowledge is mentioned in Romans 1

    17- righteousness of God revealed

    18- wrath of God revealed, who hold the truth in unrighteousness

    19- that which may be known of God is manifest in them

    20- invisible things- clearly seen, being understood, no excuse

    21- when they knew God, they glorified him not

    22- Professing themselves to be wise, became fools

    25- Who changed the truth of God into a lie

    28- did not like to retain knowledge of God

    31- Without understanding

    32- Who knowing the judgment of God.

    These verses are speaking of lost, unregenerate men, yet it is abundantly evident they have knowledge of God. It is knowledge that enables a man to believe, therefore these men are without excuse because God has tried to teach them, but they refused to listen.

    Knowledge is not faith, but knowledge enables faith, that is why God says these men are responsible and without excuse.
     
  14. Winman

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    Further, look at the debates here. How do we try to persuade men to our point of view? We use the scriptures don't we? We attempt to persuade each other by explaining how we personally understand scripture. We try to impart what we believe is our "knowledge".

    And look what folks say caused them to switch from Arminism to Calvinism or vice versa. Don't they claim that the scriptures influenced their belief?

    So, knowledge enables belief, you cannot possibly believe what you do not know or understand.

    The problem is, we can fail to rightly divide the word and come to believe false doctrine.
     
  15. convicted1

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    Brother, unless God enlightens our understanding, we can not understand anything. If one was a "C" and then became an "A", or vice versa, it takes God to give the understanding. The scriptures are spiritually discerned, and not "acquired" by mankind on their own knowledge.
     
  16. Winman

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    The problem with this view is that all true Christians would believe exactly the same thing. I have never known even two Christians who are in perfect 100% agreement, have you?

    Now, I would agree that the Holy Spirit gives us those correct and right views of scripture. Trouble is, we allow our personal biases or presuppositions, or we do not study enough or pray enough for understanding and therefore err on some points.

    But take a cult like the Mormons. Isn't the reason that they believe what they do because of what they have been taught? There is true knowledge and false knowledge, but it is knowledge that enables and influences what we believe.
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    Tom,the drive-by poster, dropping in to observe that God's setting Paul apart from the womb necessarily involved a purpose to save him. I agree that the setting apart before he was born was for him to be a preacher of the gospel. There was no possibility that Paul would not be saved, and be exactly that, and it involved the "determinate counsel" of God, not just foreknowledge.

    God not only set Paul apart before Paul was born, he personally called him. This was action, not reaction.

    Further, God did the same thing to Isaiah and Jeremiah.

    Isaiah 49:1
    Jeremiah 1:5
    The call to each of these men took place in time. But in the mind of God, the call was a reality before they were a born; and so was their salvation.
     
  18. Skandelon

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    Just wanted to point out one aspect of the OP that wasn't mentioned. The means God chose to bring Paul to faith and apostleship were "normative" or "outward" means, not some inward effectual working.

    Could God have merely flipped a switch to make Paul want to follow Christ and be his apostle? Sure. But God chooses to work through means which allow people the ability to respond and make a decision regarding what they have experienced. The same is true of Jonah. God used a storm and a big fish, not some secret inward regenerative working to make Jonah want to obey.

    Secondly, it should be noted that God used these methods of intervention to set apart his messengers not individuals in their audiences. We must distinguish between God divinely appointed messengers and those who believe through their message if we are going to maintain a proper understanding of Apostolic Authority and the clear revelation of scripture.
     
  19. Van

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    As usual Skandelon, another great insight. Thanks.
     
  20. Van

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    The call to each of these men took place in time. But in the mind of God, the call was a reality before they were a born; and so was their salvation.

    Tom, I know this is Calvinist doctrine, but it is unbiblical. You are again telling us you know what was in God's mind but without any biblical revelation. Now if I asserted God put invisible pink elephants in orbit around Mars, you might doubt it, but the only way to argue against it would be to say no where in the bible does it say that. And I would counter that God made everything and so this figment of my imagination is what God did.
    There is no end to assertions based on extrapolation, conjecture, and enabling arguments to justify man-made doctrine.

    I said Paul was set apart, probably as a spokesperson for God, and if you look at Romans 1:1 you will see my view is consistent with scripture. Your assertion on the other hand is based on what the bible does not say, or in my mind, just a different elephant.
     

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