WHY DON'T SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE WHEN THEY HEAR THE GOSPEL?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by William C, Mar 14, 2003.

  1. William C

    William C
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    Why don't certain people believe when they hear the gospel?

    Calvinist's answer:
    Because it hasn't been given to them to believe, for everyone is born totally depraved and unable to believe unless it is granted to them by God. (correct me if I'm wrong)

    Why didn't the people in the 1st century not believe when Jesus preached and preformed miracles?

    Let's see:
    37 Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him. 38 But this was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, who said: Lord, who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 This is why they were unable to believe, because Isaiah also said: 40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes or understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I would heal them.

    The obvious reason is not what Calvinists claim. It doesn't say that they born unable to believe because of the Fall. It specifally says God "hardened their hearts." Then strongly implies that if He hadn't they might see or understand and be converted.

    We learn from other passages that hardening is a result of people living in continual rebellion to God's ways. God then could actively harden someone if he was going to use them to accomplish a specific purpose, as we can see here with the Isralites of Christ's day.

    Are infants born living in continual rebellion to God's ways? Of course not, they don't even know God's ways yet. They have not been hardened, which is why God refers to children throughout the scripture as being ones fit for the kingdom of heaven.

    13 Then children were brought to Him so He might put His hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 Then Jesus said, "Leave the children alone, and don't try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this."

    Why would he say that about children if their salvation was completely sealed in God's individual election? Could it be that Christ was pointing to the fact that the child had not yet been hardened in sin and rebellion to God and is therefore more capable of choosing to follow Christ. They are not like rich men whom Christ speaks of as having great difficulty in entering heaven.

    Look at the stats: They show that most people (over 85%) who profess faith in Christ do so before they turn 18 years of age. Why? Is it because that's when God elected for them to be saved? Or could it be that its because children aren't hardened in their sin?

    What say ye?
     
  2. Johnv

    Johnv
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    Belief is not a light switch. More often, it's a seed, that takes a long time to sprout. The length of a person's spiritual germination is in the hands of God. We can only plant seeds. Too often, we try the "transplant" method, which often results in sedlings that don't survive.
     
  3. The Archangel

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    Hello BILL! I hope you're having a good day today!


    You said: We learn from other passages that hardening is a result of people living in continual rebellion to God's ways.

    But, are we not born in rebellion? I mean, isn't our sin nature at enmity with God even from birth?

    You continue: Are infants born living in continual rebellion to God's ways? Of course not, they don't even know God's ways yet. They have not been hardened, which is why God refers to children throughout the scripture as being ones fit for the kingdom of heaven.

    Do you mean to say that we are born without a sin nature and happen to pick it up later?

    You continue: Look at the stats: They show that most people (over 85%) who profess faith in Christ do so before they turn 18 years of age. Why? Is it because that's when God elected for them to be saved? Or could it be that its because children aren't hardened in their sin?


    While I agree it is much easier for a child to believe, I must confess I don't know why. This discussion is not a statistical one--It is a scriptural one.

    The Bible shows how we all have a sin nature that is in rebellion to God even from the start.

    Anyway, I'd love to hear your comments. I will look forward to discussing this with you further. However, tonight, I'll be out late--so it may be a while!

    Blessings,

    Archangel
     
  4. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    I say it could be something else... How many children under the age of eighteen understand when they get into the church... Or as you say accept Christ as their personal Saviour... Do it because they believe the gospel or because their friends are already there and want to belong?... How many do it for attention?... How many do it because Daddy and Mother belong or a host of other ideas one could come up with?... There are many reason children join the church and it's not because they heard the gospel and was converted?... How many after they are grown leave the church that they joined in their youth and join another?... Or leave church altogether?

    As far as children being hardened in sin... You need to check your statistics Brother Bill... How many girls end up in the family way now compared to when I graduated in 1964?... There we a few in my graduating class but now they are pregnant in elementary and jr. high school... Not to mention all the problems teenagers and younger face daily in the world... What I would like to know is where you get these innocent children that are ready to hear the gospel?... Those who have not been hardened?... Growing up now a days is not Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best... It's a battle for our young not to be hardened within their own struggles and temptation is around every corner :eek: ... Brother Glen :(
     
  5. npetreley

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    Must....resist....pun....
     
  6. 4study

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    I'm curious how this is explained in the light of Calvinism.

    Ez. 3:4-7 [4] And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.[5] For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel;[6] Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. [7] But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.

    I find it interesting that God continualy sends his prophet to a hardhearted people and simultaneously reveals that the "people of a strange speach" would, in fact, listen. Why does God continually plead with a people who reject Him?
     
  7. William C

    William C
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    Hi Archangel, its good to discuss these matters with you.

    Yes, we are born with a sin nature. Meaning that we are inclined to sin and that we are naturally selfish people, but I don't take that to mean that we are born already hardened. Hardening is obviously something that happen over a period of time. I believe hardening would happen to anyone and everyone if God did not intervene, but it is not from birth, it is from exposer to sin.

    Look at the Gentiles (who I don't believe God actively hardened as he did the Israelites) but nontheless were sinful to the core and were "turned over to the lust of their flesh." That could be a reference to a "self hardening" in that one hardens themselves, or makes up their mind so to speak to the point that God eventually "gives them over to that" possibly for the purpose of trying to bring conviction on them as we see in Corinthians when someone was living in sin they were told to "give them over" to their lusts so as to save them.

    Anyway, notice that in Romans it doesn't say that the people were born futile in their thinking or with darkened hearts. It says:

    21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. 24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.

    You see they weren't born with their futile thinking, darkened hearts and degraded bodies. It says they become fools, their hearts became darkened and their thinking became futile. It never says they were born with futile thought and darkened hearts it shows that their choices lead them to this.

    Notice the word "therefore" in verse 24. It tells us why God "gave them over in the sinful desire of their hearts." God doesn't "give them over" until after they have become defiled and foolish; or hardened, if you will.

    No, I mean to say that they have a sin nature but they don't become "totally depraved" until later. I think this is where Calvinist make their mistake. They teach that mankind is born "totally depraved" thus is the reason they can't believe. Scripture clearly teaches in John 12:37-41 that is not the reason the Israelites couldn't believe. And I think scripture is quite clear that the hardening process is a result of the exposer to sin.

    Let me give another example:

    "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!

    Now, how could a Pharisees make someone fit for hell? According to your view, doesn't the Fall do that?

    The reason a Pharisee makes them fit for hell is because they in a sense "hardened" them with their dogma making it very difficult for them to see the truth and believe. Kinda like the rich man that Christ speaks of being hardened by his love for wealth.

    Compare that to Jesus' words about how a child is fit for heaven and I think it is obvious that "totally depravity" is not a result of the Fall alone, but its a result of the man, who has a sin nature, being exposed to sin and living in sin for a long period of time. The Fall obviously plays a role because we do inherit a sin nature and the guilt of sin, but hardening (or depravity) doesn't occur until one has lived in that sin. Make sense?

    I agree, which is why I have presented so much scripture. The stats are merely showing that most believers become believers at a young age, I thought that was a given.

    You say "it is much easier for a child to believe." Why? If it's God working in an 8 year old child or a 45 year old man causing them to believe by regeneration, why would it be any more difficult for a man than a child? Hmmm.

    Have you witnessed to a 8 or 9 year old before? Do they come across as rebellious to God? Jesus obviously didn't think so in the manner in which he dealt with them and spoke to them. Yes, they are sinful and guilty and in need of a savior, but I don't think they are nearly as rebellous to God as your doctrine proclaims, they only become that way after a Pharisee dogmatizing them into believing a salvation by works of the law doctrine, for example. Or after they live in sin and follow the ways of the world for a time. Or become wealthy and develop a love for money or whatever master they choose to follow.

    I enjoy hearing your comments as well brother, I look forward to hearing from you again.
     
  8. William C

    William C
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    Great question, I'm interested in the answer to that as well. Let me repost this verse in a modern translation:

    4 Then he said, "Son of man, go to the people of Israel with my messages. 5 I am not sending you to some foreign people whose language you cannot understand. 6 No, I am not sending you to people with strange and difficult speech. If I did, they would listen! 7 I am sending you to the people of Israel, but they won't listen to you any more than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn.

    Kinda sounds like Acts 28:26-28, doesn't it? Hmmm :D
     
  9. rufus

    rufus
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    John 10:
    26. "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
    27. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

    rufus :)0)
     
  10. William C

    William C
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    How does one become a sheep?

    John 10:9: "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved."

    Can hardened Israel "enter through Christ" by believing in Him while they are hardened? Not according in John 12:37-41.

    Who can? The Remnant. These are Israelites who were chosen by God not to receive the hardening for the divine purpose of bringing the gospel of redemption to the world.

    In John 10 there are two groups of sheep that must come in. The first is the Remnant (unhardened Jews) and the second is the Gentiles as refered to in verse 16 (notice it says they will listen just like in Acts 28:28).

    The people he is talking to in verse 26 are not apart of either one of these two groups because they have been hardened until the full number of Gentiles have come in.

    So, Jesus is simply saying the same thing John said in John 12:37-41: "you don't beleive because you are not apart of the Remnant, you are hardened."
     
  11. The Archangel

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  12. Frogman

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    I see you still post your questions and your answers and summarily dispose anything else.

    Why don't people believe if they have a will that is free to beleive?

    Do not worry about what John Calvin said, but focus on what Scripture says.

    If man is not depraved, then he would be able to do as you claim. The fact is there is no man who has not chosen to partake of the pleasures of sin. Why? Is it because they simply do these things, is it no more than peer pressure? I know some people I went to high-school with who were in holiness churches, but were the wildest people on Saturday night you could know and would leave from these places and go straight to church. Why?

    Because you have already chosen your answer, I cannot answer you. Until the Holy Spirit convicts you of what is truth you will remain unconvinced.

    This does not mean I will discontinue posting, but it does mean all I see is a neverending story.

    Are you approaching scripture hoping to be able to know everything about it?

    I am satisfied to leave God Sovereign and man subject to His Will and Purpose.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  13. William C

    William C
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    Angel, I know this is only one small quote from the other thread you posted but it sums up the reason I started a new topic. You were discussing with Yelsew man's inability to do good on his own because of his nature to sin. I don't disagree with that.

    Like I have said time and again, I believe we are born sinful and in need of a savior.

    I am not talking about man's sinfulness or righteousness, I specifically talking about their ability to believe the gospel.

    John 12:37-41 clearly tells us that the reason the Israelites didn't believe Christ was because they were hardened. I'm proving through the text that men are not born hardened but become hardened after living in sin and in rebellion to God. The longer one lives in rebellion the more hardened he can become.

    In the case of Israel and Pharoah we see God's active hardening in which He hardeneds them by His will, rather than them just being hardened by their own unwillingness, and God does this for a divine purpose.

    In the case of Pharoah it was to demonstrate God's power (and probably to teach a divine lesson through history). In the case of Israel it was to demonstrate God's mercy as he grafted in the Gentiles.
     
  14. William C

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    I assume you are directing this post to me Dallas, but honestly I'm not sure becasue I have no idea what you are talking about. I haven't been quoting Calvin, so I'm not sure what you mean by this.

    As to your question: "Why don't people believe if they have a will that is free to beleive?"

    I think its a different answer with each person. That is like asking why do some men commit adultery and other don't. Each person makes his own decision for different reasons. Why did the rich young ruler walk away? He had great wealth (it doesn't say because he was not chosen). Jesus says its very difficult for a wealthy man to enter heaven, it shouldn't matter if they are "effectually called," now should it? So, I would say some don't believe because of their love for money. Others might not believe because they wouldn't want to change their sexual lifestyle. Others because they have been "hardened" in a sense by a false religion like Buddism, and have made up their minds. The list could go on and on.

    I agree that no man has not chosen to take in the pleasures of sin, but that is exactly my point. It is after they have made this choice and continue to make this choice even in the face of God's self revelation that they become hardened or "totally depraved." They are not born that way as your doctrine asserts. You haven't dealt with any of the scriptural arguments that I've presented.

    How do you deal with John 12:37-41 and the teachings of Romans 1 that say man becomes defiled when practicing sin, not that he is born that way?

    Translation: Your arguments are to difficult for me to actually address so I will accuse you of being unconvicted by the Holy Spirit, approaching scripture with the desire "to know everything about it," then claim that this debate is never ending and that I'm satisfied with my views regardless of what you say.

    Dallas, I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just telling you what you sound like to me. You seem to be avoiding my arguments with diversions.

    You went so far as to write: "Are you approaching scripture hoping to be able to know everything about it?"

    As if that is a bad thing. You don't think that God wants his people to know as much as we possibly can about his revelation to us through his word? This is no reason to dismiss clear teachings simply because the contradict our accepted system of belief. When I come across a verse that seems contradictory to my beliefs I don't just say, "Oh well, you can't expect to know everything about it." Then just pretend its not there. I seek out the answers.

    When a Calvinist presents a scripture that in contradictory to my statements, I seek to understand that verse, I don't just say, "We can't understand everything, so let's not discuss this anymore."

    That's called "diversion" in debate and it won't work here. But i still love ya [​IMG]
     
  15. 4study

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    rufus,

    John 10:26,27 is not an answer to my question. So I'll restate in terms of that context.

    Why does God continually plead with those who are not of His sheep?
     
  16. russell55

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    Yes it does. But Mark, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, quotes the passage this way: You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive, for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; Lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn again and I should heal them.

    If them closing their own eyes, and God blinding their eyes are not equivalent, then why did the Spirit move Mark to quote this passage this way?

    I believe that God's hardening is not God making things worse for someone than they already are. God's hardening (or blinding, or whatever you want to call it) involves letting someone be what they really are underneath the restraining power of the Spirit upon them. It is nonintervention, and perhaps a withdrawal of previous intervention.

    Here is why I think scripture supports that:

    1. What I call the equivalent quotes: </font>
    • "To this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear...." (Deut 29:4) vs. "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day." (Romans 11:8) Not being given a heart to know, eyes to see, etc (nonintervention--being left as you really are), is equivalent to being blinded or deafened.</font>
    • John 12:40 and Isaiah 6:9,10 and Matthew 13:14,15 and Acts 28:26,27. These verses equate "hearts rendered dull" with "hearts that become dull" with "hearts that are hardened"; and "closing their own eyes" with "rendering eyes dim" and "blinding of eyes".</font>

    Why can the authors of scripture be so loose with their quotes? Because they understand these things to be exactly the same--God's hardening is God not intervening to make things worse for them than they would be naturally, but rather letting people do what they have been wanting to do all along.

    2. Romans 1--People rejected God, so He gave them up to degrading passions, He gave them up to the lusts of their hearts, He gave them up to a depraved mind. "God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired" (NLT). This judicial hardening of Romans 1 is a letting people go, letting them do what comes naturally with no restraint of God upon their actions. It is letting them go ahead and act as depraved as they really are.
     
  17. tyndale1946

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    Brother Bill add this scripture to your so called innocent children... They come forth from the womb speaking lies :eek: ... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  18. William C

    William C
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    Russell,

    This doesn't help you dilema any. Hardening is still something that comes after one has continually rebelled, not something that comes from birth.

    (BTW, Glenn I've never once stated that children are "innocent" just that they are not "totally depraved" or "hardened.")

    You even said it youself Russell: "God's hardening (or blinding, or whatever you want to call it) involves letting someone be what they really are underneath the restraining power of the Spirit upon them. It is nonintervention, and perhaps a withdrawal of previous intervention."

    Hardening is a process that takes place in ones life that involves there dealings with God's intervention or "perhaps a withdrawal of previous intervention." It not something that is inate from birth as Calvinism asserts.

    It's obvious from John 12:37-41 that the reason that Israel doesn't believe is because their hearts have been hardened. Whether that is something God has done or they have done to themselves doesn't change the fact that they weren't born that way, but they became like that over a period of time.

    Though it really doesn't matter to this point I will say that I disagree with you concerning your interpretation of Hardening. You say that the authors are "loose" with their interpretation because they understand that hardening from God is the same as man's hardening himself.

    I disagree. Its not either or, its both and.

    Men hardened themselves by living in sin and rebelling against God's revelation of Himself. This is an act of self hardening meaning that one is hardened by his own will. In otherwords, he has become set in his ways. (I do believe that everyman will come to this point in their lives eventually if there is no intervention on God's part.)

    Now, the difference between that and God's active hardening is that God takes a man who has already "set himself in his ways" and hardens him to stay that way dispite God's further self revelation. In other words, a man who his hardened by his own will could be convinced by seeing some revelation from God, but if for some reason God didn't want them to be convinced he could either veil the revelation (as in use of parables) or He could actively hardened them by His will.

    Why would God do this? To accomplish a specific purpose. Pharoah is a good example. He did not want to let God's people go. He was set in his ways, he had made his choice, he was hardened by his own will. God wanted to display his power and teach everyone something about himself, so eventhough Pharoah was already hardened by his own will, God hardened Pharoah by His Sovereign will so that Pharoah's will could not change in light of what God was about to reveal of Himself. This is a hardening that is not done by man's natural will, but by God's sovereign will, in order to accomplish a specific purpose.

    So its both, men hardened themselves by living in sin and rebellion, and if God so desires he can hardened them further by His Sovereign will so that they won't see, hear, understand and believe in light of the miracles and other revealations of God at that time. He does this for the purpose of ingrafting the Gentiles which inturn will provoke hardened Israel to envy so that they too might believe and be saved.
     
  19. William C

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    Glenn, I already commented on this but I wanted to make sure you saw it. I never have once said or even implied that children are innocent, they are just more likely to have the ability to believe because they have not been hardened by the sin of the world.

    Calvinists teach that we are born already hardened by the fall, but that is not consistant with scripture.
     
  20. rufus

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    Read and study the context for yourselves and you will discover the answer, brother!

    rufus [​IMG]
     

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