"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

"How Long Have You Struggled with Pornography?"

In the few days Paul Young was here in Enid we had some very interesting conversations. I have complimented Paul before, saying I have learned more about interaction with people through observing him than any other person I know. Paul believes everything in his life--every experience, every heart-ache, every blessing, every moment--have collectively led him to the moment in time he speaks with the one who is in front of him. He is not looking over the shoulder to the next person in line, he is not worried about being late for supper or his next appointment. Paul Young takes time to interact with people and connect with them on a level deeper than the superficial.

Paul Young and I share a very high view of the power of the atonement. We both believe the grace of God saves through the Person and work of Jesus the Anointed One. We are repelled by the notion that a loving God tries to save the world through His Son. We believe God actually delivers sinners from themselves through Christ. We also share a common view of hell. It is not a torture chamber dreamed up in the mind of the midieval poet Dante, but rather a solemn, holy place of judgment where a loving God sentences rebels to a just imprisonment for their crimes.

Where Paul and I disagree is on the extent of the atonement. Paul Young believes Christ died for every human being who has ever lived or ever will live, those who are in heaven and those who are in hell. I believe Christ died for the elect. We both believe Christ died for the world, but Paul defines the world as every human being, whereas I define it as a particular people (the Bride of Christ) from every nation, every tongue, every kindred, and every family on earth. Paul Young treats every human being as a child of God, and thus connects with them in a deep emotional and spiritual level. I desire to connect with every human being in a similar manner to Paul Young.

In discussing the extent of the atonement, Paul Young told me a story of a couple of Calvinists who approached him to debate the subject. Paul observed that Calvinists typically approach him in pairs, one tall and lean the other short and plump. The tall one argued with Paul about the extent of the atonement and Paul responded, "So let me ask you a question. You have two boys, both of whom are your flesh and blood. One boy is saved because God chose Him, Christ died for Him and the Spirit regenerated Him. The other boy, however, is chosen by God to be a "vessel of wrath" upon whom judgement will fall as a demonstration of God's holiness and justice. My question for you is this: 'Does it bother you that you have one son who will be in heaven and one son who will be in hell?'" The tall Calvinist responded: 'It does not. God's purposes are good, and if my boy is a vessel chosen for the demonstration of God's wrath against sin, it will be fine with me."

Paul Young's next question was this: "How long have you struggled with pornography?"

I was shocked at Paul's question to the man. Paul explained to me that any human being who is so emotionally disconnected from their children's welfare that they can dispassionately speak of their eternal state without sorrow, tears or pleading with God for mercy, is a person who is disconnected from emotion in relationships. The tell-tale sign of a struggle with pornography, according to Paul, is an emotional disconnect from human relationships.

I may disagree with Paul Young about the extent of the atonement, but I can guarantee you I want to treat every person the way he does. I wish to believe like Charles Spurgeon  who once said "God, save the elect and elect some more" and I wish to live like Paul Young who treats every human being as a chosen recipient of God's grace. My view on the atonement has not changed. I believe it is a particular atonement for those who believe. But I can tell you without hesitation I would rather be around people who believe in a powerful, universal atonement and treat everybody like a child of God than a limited atonement person who is emotionally disconnected from the human race. I'm not sure what camp that puts me in, but its one which I do not wish to leave.

111 comments:

Ryan Abernathy said...

Amen. Powerful.

Kristen said...

You are repulsed by the idea that a loving God "tries" to save people. I am repulsed by the idea that a loving God deliberately refuses to save some.

You find fault with a man who would be emotionally disconnected from the human race to the extent that he wouldn't care if one of his children was a "vessel of wrath." But aren't you saying that you, as a man, are more emotionally connected to the the human race than God, who deliberately elected that child to hell? Why do you find fault with a man who feels towards his children as apparently God feels?

I don't get Calvinism. I just don't.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

"I am repulsed by the idea that a loving God deliberately refuses to save some."

I'm not trying to change your mind. I would simply ask you one question:

"Are you repulsed by the idea that a loving judge deliberately refuses to deliver the Boston Marathon bomber from his prison sentence?"

If not, then you might understand precisely why I'm not repulsed by a loving God refusing to deliver some from the just sentence for their sins. I am amazed He delivers anyone, much less an innumerable company of sinners from every tribe, kindred, tongue, people and family.

Again, I'm not trying to change your mind. If I did not believe the Scripture teaches a particular redemption I would embrace universalism in a blink. My point is I wish to treat everyone with the same grace I have received - not a judgmental, condemning arrogance that too many Christians display. If it is truly of grace, then there is no room to boast.

Anonymous said...

An interesting third point of view is that of the Primitive Baptist Universalists.

One can be a true blue Calvinist and believe Christ died only for the elect and still be a universalist.

What if God chose to elect all?

Linda

Kristen said...

Wade, you asked: "Are you repulsed by the idea that a loving judge deliberately refuses to deliver the Boston Marathon bomber from his prison sentence?"

I would be repulsed if this "loving judge" changed one bomber's heart and then given him full pardon, while hardening the other bomber's heart and then throwing away the key.

As for this idea that Arminianism amounts to God only "trying" to save people-- I must disagree. If I meet a homeless man and I buy him a full meal, set the table for him, and load his plate, and he refuses to sit down and eat it, does that mean I didn't actually give him a meal, but only "tried" to? No-- I completely and effectually gave him the meal. The only thing I didn't do was force him to eat it.

I appreciate your graciousness, Wade, and I'm not trying to change your mind either. But Calvinism just makes no sense to me. Jesus said, "If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father?" How can I, as a parent, have a view of how I should treat my children that's so much better than Calvinism's idea of how God treats His children? I would never give one child every possible advantage and a full inheritance while not lifting a finger to help the other. No matter how much they both deserved my wrath.

It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Forgive me for saying this but what makes no sense to me is expecting human beings without Christ to believe on their own in Christ or God. Someone they cannot see, taste or smell. Without God doing something supernatural in a person, do we really expect them to believe in someone they cannot see? I have a hard time with that one.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I should have used the words hear or touch as well.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

I do not know anyone who believes God actively hardens anyone's heart. Pharoah hardened his own heart. We can't blame God for evil. We are entirely to blame. We can credit Him for everything good in our lives.

Nonetheless, if you wish to believe God saves every human being, you will have no objection from me. I understand why you believe what you believe. I just do not see it.

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

I would be a universalist were I not a particular redemptionist. Period. No apologies.

Kristen said...

Debbie,

As an Arminian, I don't believe human beings without Christ can believe "on their own." Arminians agree with Calvinists that we can't come to God unless the Father draws us. The difference is that Arminians believe God draws everyone, but not irresitibly.

Wade, I'm not a universalist, but an annihilationist. I believe humans are able to resist the drawing of God, and insofar as they resist, are responsible for their own "hardening," as you discussed.

I thought, however, that Calvinists believed that the verse that says God "hardens whom He wills" means that He actively chooses some to be damned. But even if not-- honestly, in my mind there's not much difference between actively hardening someone, and refusing to soften them-- when it's entirely God's own choice to do either one, and humans have no say in the matter. Isn't that kind of like saying "It's your own fault you never got to Baltimore, even though there was never any possible way you could have gone"?

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

You ask great questions. I believe Romans chapters 1-4 clearly teach that if a person actually, continually and perfectly does the good and right thing-right in terms of self-giving, others-centered, God-glorifying actions of love and kindness--he or she is right with God. I also thing a person knows internally and intuitively the right thing to do and is able to do it. This is what I call free agency. The fact no human being does this is our fault, not God. I repeat: I have never met anyone who believes God actively hardens. We are the active ones in evil. Thank God for His grace of deliverance. I do not nelieve He owes it to any of us. If He did, it could not be called grace. But if He did grace us all, you would have no complaint from me. He delivers. He does it well. He never fails.

Christiane said...

“What has not been assumed
has not been healed”

(Gregory of Nazianzus)


The full meaning of the Incarnation has yet to be explored by Southern Baptists. But they are getting closer to it. :)

Christiane said...

there is a teaching in sacred Scripture that is often overlooked, this:
'EVERYONE
WHO LOVES
IS BORN OF GOD
AND KNOWS GOD'


"7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us.
( from 1 John 4)

part of the meaning of this Scripture to me is that you can have a lot of people publicly saying that they have accepted Christ and are saved
HOWEVER,
IF they do not love, they are wrong in that assumption . . .

Kristen said...

Wade, you said: "I also think a person knows internally and intuitively the right thing to do and is able to do it. This is what I call free agency. The fact no human being does this is our fault, not God."

I thought you believed in total depravity? This sounds like the opposite.

I agree that God doesn't owe us salvation. But here's the contradiction, in my mind: "I am an impartial and just God, who does not respect persons-- BUT for this person I will do everything necessary to salvation, and for that person I will do nothing whatsoever."

He doesn't owe us salvation- but if He is loving, He will not abandon us, and if He is just, He will give an opportunity for salvation to all. I believe He is just and loving.

Rex Ray said...

Kristen,

I agree—it looks like Wade has switched sides. At lease he said in essence if man doesn’t do what he knows is right, it is the fault of man and not God.

This says it all for me:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

This verse does NOT say that God gave his Son for a few, but for the WORLD; and that’s everyone.

The man in Hell will not feel angry in believing the Cross was not made for him, but his remorse will be ‘if only I’d said yes to Jesus’.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him…” (Rev. 3:20)

Megan said...

I just wanted to point out that Dante's Hell is not simply a sadistic "torture chamber". The key to Dante's Hell is that God does not so much inflict punishment; sinners pull down their own punishment on their heads In Dante, hell is self-created, the natural consequence of choosing something instead of God.

Take two of its most memorable sinners: Francesca and Paolo, damned for adultery. In their circle, sinners are blown about by hot winds; the two lovers are also forever bound together. The hot winds symbolize the effect of lust: As in life Francesca and Paolo chose not to control their lust, in Hell their lust controls them. They are completely in the power of the hot winds. They are also together, and because this is Hell, their togetherness is not a sop of romantic comfort. It too is torment, but it is torment self-imposed: Because they chose to be together in life in violation of God's expectations, they are together to torment each other in Hell.

Hell, according to Dante, is thus not a place that God tosses sinners into. Sinners toss themselves in (In fact, Dante pictures this by having some of the demons of Greek mythology consign sinners to particular levels of Hell.)

Dante is beautiful and important and good. I highly recommend reading the entire trilogy, not only Inferno but also Purgatory and Paradise. The Esolen translation is best.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen, (you write)

Wade, you said: "I also think a person knows internally and intuitively the right thing to do and is able to do it. This is what I call free agency. The fact no human being does this is our fault, not God."

I thought you believed in total depravity? This sounds like the opposite.


Answer: Kristen, I'm not sure where you get your idea of total depravity. My position is first and foremost (in my opinion, biblical) but it is also consistent with Jonathan Edwards and other theologians with similar views of man's sin. We are FREE AGENTS. God could never force anyone to sin because it is opposite of His character. To say "He hardens" is completely opposite of what Scripture says. If you quote Romans about God "hardening" Pharoah, I would respond that in the actual narrative of Exodus the Scripture says "Pharoah hardened his heart." Paul's argument in Romans is God's grace does not take an evil robot and turn Him into a good robot - not at all. We are FREE MORAL AGENTS. Paul's argument is that God effectually, effectively, and efficiently wins His people over with unconditional love, personal calling and radical deliverance from sins. This is confirmed by Matthew's gospel - "You shall call His name Yeshua because He SHALL save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

I agree that God doesn't owe us salvation. But here's the contradiction, in my mind: "I am an impartial and just God, who does not respect persons-- BUT for this person I will do everything necessary to salvation, and for that person I will do nothing whatsoever."

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen, you also go on and write:

God doesn't owe us anything - but if He is loving, He will not abandon us, and if He is just, He will give an opportunity for salvation to all. I believe He is just and loving.

Kristen, I put in bold letters the words that are confusing to me. God is just, and it is because of justice that there is a righteous judgment - not a sado-masochistic torture of the sinner, but a RIGHTEOUS, HOLY, and PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE JUDGMENT of the sinner. Justice has nothing to do with deliverance.

I also WHOLEHEARTEDLY believe (with you) that God is love. His love is like nothing you have experienced. The difference between you and me is I believe God has love for all His creation (even those who are sentenced for their sins by His justice), but He has a particular, distinguishing love for those who are in His Son (i.e. "the bride of Christ"). It's a little like me loving other men's brides. I do, but I can guarantee you I don't love them like I do MY bride. I believe those who are WED to Christ are an innumerable company of sinners from every nation, tongue, kindred, family and tribe--but not every sinner. I do believe God delivers more sinners by His grace (in terms of numbers) than sinners He sentences according to His justice.

Who are the recipients of His love?
Those who embrace Christ by faith.

You have. I have. We lead others to embrace Him too. In Christ, we can know that we have been loved by God from eternity, independent of our performance and we are immeasurably and eternally blessed by God because of HIM!

Again, don't expect you to either agree with me, nor am I attempting to change your mind.

I just find no comfort in any thought that something I've done, something I've promised, or something I've committed to God is the reason I have received God's grace. I am comforted in knowing it is all of Him and He loved me before I ever loved Him. It was His love that won me over.

Has He loved every sinner with this distinguishing, effectual love? He could if He wanted, because He is God. I'm simply saying I don't see Scripture to see He does.

"Kiss the Son, lest He judge you" says the Psalmist. I have kissed the Son, but I believe I have done so not because I am smarter, better, or greater than other sinners. I have kissed the Son because He kissed me.

And I tell any sinner who asks me that God never turns away any sinner who reaches out to embrace His son - Period.

Wade Burleson said...

Megan,

Great comment, and I concede your point. I may be referring more to the artistic renderings of Dante than Dante's words. :)

Kristen said...

Wade-- I agree with most of what you've written. I do have a couple of questions, still. Do you believe humans are in bondage to their sin, and cannot be free without God's help? Do you believe they are born into this bondage? If not, then this is not what I have ever understood Calvinism to believe. That humans are able not to sin is contrary to what I have understood as the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. So I'm still confused by what you're saying.

Second, with regards to your not understanding what I said about justice: do you believe justice includes the concept of equity? That is, that it's wrong to give one person special treatment that is denied to others? I believe this. I believe that though it may be just that we may deserve righteous judgment for our sins, it's not just to give some people a way out (through Christ's atonement) when that way out is not available to ALL. That's why I say it is unjust of God to only atone for some, and not all, of the humans He created. It would be justice if He consigned us all to judgment-- but it is not justice if He only atoned for some. Do you disagree?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade--I'm not arguing for universalism.

Just pointing out to some of your readers that some of the most ardent universalists are particular redemptionists also.

Linda

Wade Burleson said...

Once again, Kristen, your insights are perceptive.

You ask: "Do you believe humans are in bondage to their sin, and cannot be free without God's help? Do you believe they are born into this bondage? If not, then this is not what I have ever understood Calvinism to believe. That humans are able not to sin is contrary to what I have understood as the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity.

Jonathan Edwards, whom I hold in very high regard, made a distinction between natural ability and moral ability. Every human being, except for infants and what the ancients called imebeciles (politically incorrect term today) has a natural ability to do good. They have a mind that thinks, a conscience that reflects, a will that chooses, etc... Edwards says that every human being is capable in terms of his natural abilities to love God and people, do good, and live a life honoring to the Creator. Nobody lives like this, but if they did, they would be right with God. Why does nobody live according to their natural abilities? Because of a moral problem. This moral problem is not God's fault, it is man's fault. The Scripture says, "This one thing I know, God made man upright" (Ecc. 7:29). The problem with a human who does not do good, does not love God or his fellow man, and does not live a life honoring to God IS NOT GOD'S FAULT. That is man's fault.

So, God holds man accountable for his moral failures, and those failures are NOT DUE TO A LACK OF NATURAL ABILITIES, but rather, due to a heart that has deliberately chosen to live a life contrary to God. I stand firm with Paul's teaching in Romans that if a person consistently, repeatedly, and effectively chose to do the right and good thing in this life, he would be right with His Creator. There is nobody who lives like this though.

Except One.

Wade Burleson said...

You also ask: "Do you believe justice includes the concept of equity? That is, that it's wrong to give one person special treatment that is denied to others?

I believe this. I believe that though it may be just that we may deserve righteous judgment for our sins, it's not just to give some people a way out (through Christ's atonement) when that way out is not available to ALL."


Kristen, I find it admirable that you believe in total equity. However, if you just think for a moment, I believe you will agree with me that total equity is only feasible in terms of a relationship or a covenant.

For example, you do not treat me like you do your husband. I'm sure you have a will. I would imagine that my name is not in your will, but your husband's is. It is nonsensical for me to request you to treat me equally to your husband UNLESS somehow, someway, I am in a covenant with you that is similar (if not the same) to the one you have with your husband.

When I read the Old Covenant, I see God entered into an agreement with a nation He chose (the Hebrews). In the New Covenant, I see He has entered into an agreement with those He chose. This time, the covenant is NOT based on nationality, but rather it is a covenant "in His Son."

I DO BELIEVE IN EQUITY.

I just believe the equity of God's unconditional love, immeasurable grace, and eternal blessings are given equitably to all those who are wed to His Son. And I do not believe everyone is wed to His Son.

Fundamentally, if every human being is IN CHRIST, then I would be a universalist. Some believe every human being IS in Christ. If I believed that, I'd too, be a universalist.

I don't believe that though. I believe that an innumerable company of sinners from every nation, every tribe, every country, and every FAMILY - are IN CHRIST - far more than those who are NOT in Christ - and these are ALL treated equitably by God.

The million dollar question is "How did we get to be IN CHRIST."

Answer: We believed in Him.

"But how did we come to the place of believing?"

Answer: His love won us over.

"But does His love not win everyone over?"

Answer: No

"Why not?"

Answer: Because He pursues a Bride of His choosing, and in His role as righteous Judge, He will leave a few to judge in perfect justice.

"But why doesn't He save every person?"

Answer: How do you know He won't?

"Because the Bible speaks of a time of judgment when those without Christ are judged "according to their deeds."

Response: Then I must assume He does not deliver a few for the demonstration of His justice so that grace will be seen as grace.

"But I don't want any in my family to be judged!"

Response: Neither do I. And the good news is, we have a Father who will give us exactly what we ask. So, when's the last time you have asked the Father for the deliverance of your loved one? He will bring it to pass.

Guaranteed.

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

I understand (and understood).

You are spot on.

You understand the power of atonement. I'm finding far more people don't than do.

Kristen said...

Wade -- Ok. It sounds like the Edwards branch of Calvinism does not believe in total depravity. But this raises the following question: Why, if we are capable of living like this, do we not? Where does the "moral problem" come from? You say it is a "deliberate choice." Why does EVERYONE make this deliberate choice? Is there not an inborn inclination towards sin?

No, I'm not saying it's God's fault-- but it seems odd, if what you're saying is true and we are born fully capable of living lives without sin, that 0% of mankind has ever succeeded in doing so. Those kind of odds would indicate to me that the deck is stacked against us somehow-- not by God, but by ourselves, collectively. In short, I believe in the concept that we are born inclined towards sin. That's what makes sense given what I see.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

"Why, if we are capable of living like this, do we not? Where does the "moral problem" come from? You say it is a "deliberate choice." Why does EVERYONE make this deliberate choice? Is there not an inborn inclination towards sin?

No, I'm not saying it's God's fault-- but it seems odd, if what you're saying is true and we are born fully capable of living lives without sin, that 0% of mankind has ever succeeded in doing so. Those kind of odds would indicate to me that the deck is stacked against us somehow-- not by God, but by ourselves, collectively. In short, I believe in the concept that we are born inclined towards sin. That's what makes sense given what I see."


No words have been written which are more true, more disconcerting, and more expressive of our culpability before God than the words you write above.

This is why I, along with Charles Spurgeon, believe it is far more amazing that God gives even one sinner grace than if he were to judge every one of us for our rebellion.

The fact that He saves the world (an innumerable company of sinners from EVERY nation, every kindred, every family, every tribe) is superspectacular amazing! :)

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

Paul explained to me that any human being who is so emotionally disconnected from their children's welfare that they can dispassionately speak of their eternal state without sorrow, tears or pleading with God for mercy, is a person who is disconnected from emotion in relationships. The tell-tale sign of a struggle with pornography, according to Paul, is an emotional disconnect from human relationships.

However, this does not mean that all emotional disconnects are caused by "struggle with porn".

I have been emotionally disconnected as far back as I can remember (I suspect I may have always had low-end Aspergers). My peculiarity is I have always been able to emotionally connect with fictional characters much easier than with RL people.

Also, I have been exposed to porn in my life, and have an unusual reaction to it. I understand Porn exposure is supposed to turn you into a horndog; with me it's always been the opposite -- porn is a complete turn-off to me, leaving me with a residual disgust of sex in general.

I suspect I was vaccinated against the usual effects of porn by reading a lot of classic SF since I first learned to read. When I was first exposed to written porn, I found it completely boring. No story, no heroics, no Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before, just meat in meat, pump, rinse, repeat. No Story There.

Kristen said...

Wade, this is where I can't agree:

"But does His love not win everyone over?"

Answer: No

"Why not?"

Answer: Because He pursues a Bride of His choosing, and in His role as righteous Judge, He will leave a few to judge in perfect justice.

"But why doesn't He save every person?"

Answer: How do you know He won't?

"Because the Bible speaks of a time of judgment when those without Christ are judged "according to their deeds."

Response: Then I must assume He does not deliver a few for the demonstration of His justice so that grace will be seen as grace.


God is the Creator of the whole human race. The covenant He made with Israel was, as the Scriptures say, so that in Israel ALL nations could be blessed. Israel's covenant thus was never for themselves alone, but was intended from the beginning to become the blessing of the whole human race.

It's fine for me to treat you differently from my husband because I'm a limited human being and didn't create either you or my husband; thus, I have no moral obligation to enter into a covenant with any man.

But I maintain that God, in creating sapient, moral beings, does have an obligation to treat ALL of them equitably: that is, to give an opportunity for EACH ONE to enter into a saving relationship with Him.

If God chooses not to give some even a chance to be delivered, but judges them without equity in order to demonstrate justice-- then what He has actually demonstrated to me is that He is NOT just, by any measure of justice that I can comprehend.

Instead, I believe that those who receive justice, do so because they have resisted and refused to surrender to God's love. God's love did not win them over because they refused to be won over.

I also agree that this number will probably be very small in the end. I also believe that the Lake of Fire is a place of destruction, not eternal torment.

But the alternative-- that God's love is irresistible, so He simply doesn't choose to offer it to some of His sapient creatures, made in His image-- is simply untenable to me.

Kristen said...

Wade, with regards to this:

This is why I, along with Charles Spurgeon, believe it is far more amazing that God gives even one sinner grace than if he were to judge every one of us for our rebellion

I agree. It is amazing that God gives any of us grace. But if He is going to offer ONE of us grace, then He is playing favorites if He doesn't offer it to ALL. And playing favorites is morally unjust.

Anonymous said...

Kristen, please forgive this stranger for butting in like this... I hope you don't take offense.

For me it ultimately boils down to Matthew 20:15:

"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?"

Does God have the right to choose to do what He wants with what's His?

(Yes, I do realize that in the parable money is what the question refers to.)

Brindusa

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

You write: "If God chooses not to give some even a chance to be delivered, but judges them without equity in order to demonstrate justice-- then what He has actually demonstrated to me is that He is NOT just, by any measure of justice that I can comprehend."

I am confused by what you are saying. I freely admit that the confusion is on my part and not your inability to articulate your position. You are very bright and obviously very passionate.

Here is my confusion.

You wrote, "If ... God chooses not to even give some a chance to be delivered..."

I thought we agreed that every person has the natural ability to obey God? I thought we agreed that any rebellion against God was the sinner's fault, not God's? I thought we agreed that if a man consistently, persistently and personally loves God and others and does good that that person is RIGHT with God? Did we not agree on this? And, did we not agree that the reason NOBODY does this only compounds our culpability before God?

So I am confused about God not giving anybody a chance. Every human being has the ability to obey God. It is written in their conscience. It is written on their hearts. Conscience demands it. EVERYBODY HAS A CHANCE.

However, nobody does good, no not one.

So, if everybody has a chance of being right with God through their obedience to Him, and if nobody takes the benefit of that chance, then why is God to blame for sin and why is He attributed with wrongdoing when He justly, equitably, and righteously judge the rebel?

I have no problem with God judging the Boston bomber who died with a bomb strapped to his chance, intent on killing as many people as possible when he died. I'm confused as to why you say that bomber had no chance? He had every chance in the world to love people, obey God and do good.



Kristen said...

Brindusa-- God has the right do what He wants with what is His. But not everything He could do with them is equally moral or just. Since God created humans in His own image (I believe that means He made them self-aware, moral agents) then they don't just belong to Him, but to themselves. If I somehow became able to make an Artificial Intelligence computer, and it became a self-aware, moral agent (able to think, feel, know right from wrong) -- I may still have a right to destroy, but it would no longer be right for me to do so.

Kristen said...

Wade-- I'm sorry, but no. I didn't agree that every person has the natural ability to obey God. I said that it wasn't God's fault that we do not-- but I thought I was saying that if we did indeed have a natural ability to obey God, the percentage of people who actually did obey God would not be 0%, and the percentage of people who disobeyed God would not be 100%. And when I talked about how the deck was stacked against us and we are born with an inclination to sin-- you appeared to agree. So that's where the confusion lies.

I believe mankind as a whole is to blame for this state of affairs-- but that doesn't make the individual any less helpless to save himself.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer. I understand... But I wouldn't put it in terms of His "right to destroy". If God were to be merely just, He'd damn everybody (we all deserve it). Would He have the right to choose to just let some of His created beings get what they chose for themselves - namely to destroy themselves by refusing Him? I understand you to say that He doesn't have that right. So in essence we can dictate to Him, 'You either go out of Your way to save every one, or don't save any!'? Who in the world gives us the right to tell Him that? That to me means not allowing God to be God and to choose to do what He wants with what's His (His own favor). Most likely this is not a very good comparison, but I don't owe it to any charity out there to either help them all (each and every charity organization in the world) or not bother to help any of them. None of them have a right to *demand* that I do that. (And the comparison fails, I know... for one thing, the charity organizations are not my enemy, as sinners are to God, by choice...)

Brindusa

Wade Burleson said...

Brindusa,

You wrote: "'You either go out of Your way to save every one, or don't save any!'? Who in the world gives us the right to tell Him that? That to me means not allowing God to be God and to choose to do what He wants with what's His (His own favor)."

That resonates with me.

It feels like somebody saying to the judge before whom the Boston bomber stands: "Judge, YOU MUST release him because YOU MUST release all the guilty."

I just don't understand how that is justice.

Vanessa said...

Kristen, I hope you don't mind me jumping in the middle of your conversation with Wade.

Wade,
I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now, and I have been extremely impressed by the humility displayed in your posts and interactions with commentors. This exchange with Kristen is more proof of that. I must say that finding someone willing to calmly and humbly discuss these differences of opinion is rare these days. From most of my interactions, many Calvinists appear proud and arrogant, not willing to peacefully discuss other interpretations of Scripture - some even going so far as to question the salvation of non-Calvinists.

I thought it was interesting that you stated that you didn't know anyone who believes that God actively hardens some people's hearts. I'm not sure if you meant that you didn't personally know anyone, as in made their face-to-face acquaintance, or that you didn't know *of* anyone at all. I say this is interesting, because I *have* met people who do believe this, and read even more online. I'm sure it could be argued that these people don't represent the majority of Calvinists, but even so, they are certainly becoming the "loudest" of the Calvinist camp. I've met Calvinists who believe that if you spilled your coffee on your shirt this morning, that God *caused* you to spill your coffee on your shirt. They believe that the those who are not elect were specifically created to be the "trash" of the universe, that God caused them to be formed in their mother's womb specifically to go to hell, and that that brings God glory. This does not seem to align with what you are saying at all, and for that I am so very grateful, but I think it is important to state that there are people out there that do teach these things, and it is important to acknowledge that.

I would love to hear more about what you perceive to be the differences between Jonathan Edwards' version of Calvinism and what I have always assumed to be John Calvin's version of Calvinism. I'm sure I have a lot of misconceptions about Calvinism that could be set straight... but again, what you are stating that you believe, as a Calvinist, is not at all what I have *ever* heard Calvinism to be (even as Calvinism has been explained to me by several Calvinists). Which probably accounts for why I have always liked reading what you have to say! :)

Kristen said...

Brindusa, if you thought I said God didn't have that right, you misunderstood me. Nor did I say humans can dictate to God. What I said was that just because a legal right to do something exists, doesn't make it morally right or just to act on that right. Abraham said to God, "Shall not the Lord of all the earth do justly?" And God then allowed Abraham to influence God's choice! The same thing happened with Moses; God allowed Moses to influence His decision on judging Israel. God seems to think it's ok for humans to look at His actions in terms of whether or not they are just.

I agree with you that charities are an entirely different situation. I am not the God of all the earth, and my resources are limited. The existence of these charities is not in my hands. So "playing favorites" is not unjust for me, because I'm not in a position of Judge. But a Judge must not have "favorites" when it comes to justice. If he does, it isn't just. No matter what his rights are.

Kristen said...

Wade, the situation I'm describing is not someone saying to the judge of the bomber, you MUST release him because you MUST release all the guilty." It's more like if both bombers had lived, and someone said to the Judge, "You have determined that both are equally guilty. But you're putting one into a program of rehabilitation while sending the other to the electric chair. Where's your justification for that?"

Anonymous said...

Well, when I talked of having a right, I meant or assumed 'without being morally wrong if I use it'. I was talking of God having the right to do what He wanted *without* that making Him morally unjust.

I absolutely do believe that God is just... and where I don't understand the particulars of it (with all the suffering that exists, for instance...), I can trust His character, because He says He is truly good...

You know, I just do not see things at all in your terms... It is not a matter of a Judge having "favorites" when it comes to justice. That would mean sweeping the offenses of some people under the rug, and it would be wicked. God didn't do that. He didn't act corruptly and ignore the faults and sins of some people, while giving the others their due. That would be what showing favoritism would look like.

God chose to take upon His own Self the payment of the full penalty due for those offenses which He did not overlook in the least... and in doing that, did the others no unjustice, in letting them pay for their own acts. He gave them only what they truly deserved and chose, and punished Himself for what the others deserved, so He was right to let them go free after that... He enforced the full penalty all right and took it all upon Himself.

I probably am not expressing myself very clearly... sorry if so.

Brindusa

Anonymous said...

Dear Kristen,

You said, 'It's more like if both bombers had lived, and someone said to the Judge, "You have determined that both are equally guilty. But you're putting one into a program of rehabilitation while sending the other to the electric chair."

It would be more like this: if both had lived, and someone said to the Judge, 'You have determined that both are equally guilty. But you're sending one to the electric chair and choosing to go to the electric chair yourself instead of the other, so he can go free.' No injustice was done to the first person though...

Brindusa

Kristen said...

Brindusa, I agree that the Atonement of Christ makes it possible for God to then pardon sinners. But how is it not "playing favorites" to then extend that pardon only to SOME?

It's not playing favorites if God says, "I'm extending pardon to EVERYONE-- but if you refuse to receive your pardon, you're going to have to go to justice." That's what I believe He did. But "Some of you I have selected to never get the pardon extended to you at all" -- THAT's unjust.

Anonymous said...

What can I say, I'll agree to disagree. :-) I'll now resume my lurking and just go back to painting. I was taking a break. :-)

Brindusa

Kristen said...

Look at it this way. Suppose I was in prison, and the warden came and released everyone else in the whole prison but me. When I asked why, he said, "The Judge pardoned everybody but you." When I asked "Why? Was what I did so much worse?" he responded "No, it had nothing to do with what you did or deserved. Everyone else deserved to stay in prison just as much as you. He just decided not to pardon you. In fact, he took everyone else's sentences upon himself so they could go free. But not yours."

Would I be being treated fairly? And doesn't fairness have something to do with justice?

Anonymous said...

Assuming your question was at least partly addressed to me, I'll temporarily 'delurk' or 'unlurk' again to just ask something. In Matthew 20:1-16, the owner of the vineyard paid the first workers what they deserved... and then paid the late ones a whole lot beyond what was their due. The first workers got angry, even though they got the pay that they deserved, because they didn't get the same as the others (in proportion to the work they did). They felt there was no fairness in that. Was the landowner unfair, unjust, sinful?

You may get detailed about what the meaning of the parable was and say that it didn't have much to do with the idea of why God would choose and save some people and not all. But my point is our ideas of 'fairness' may not exactly fit God's. Does the behavior of the landowner actually seem fair to you?

Brindusa

Kristen said...

Brindusa-- in that parable, the owner gave some exactly what he'd promised them, and others he gave more, right? God's idea of fairness may be more generous than ours-- but at no point in that parable is the vineyard owner ever merely arbitrary. He doesn't go out to the market place and say, "Ok, none of you deserve work, right? So I choose these 10 workers, and you three over there have to go home. Yes, I have work enough for everyone, but I'm not hiring you. In fact, I'm going to come back in an hour and hire 10 more workers, but I'll just exclude you all over again. You aren't going to work in my vineyard. Ever. Period. -- Why? I'm not going to tell you. Just go home."

Yeah, the vineyard owner is acting within his rights. But I'm not going to shake his hand and tell him he's a wonderful guy.

In the real parable, though-- the vineyard owner is generous with everyone and exceedingly generous with a few. That guy-- yeah, I'd shake his hand.

Wade Burleson said...

Vanessa,

Thank you for your very kind comment. You are correct. I do not personally know anyone who believes God hardens human hearts. If I did, I would have nothing to do with them. They do not represent the God of Scripture. If someone responds, "But the Bible says God hardened Pharoah's heart" I respond, "Man hardens his own heart, and if grace is not given, the hardening continues - thus, the active hardening is from man for God is only passive and leave man's alone. This is why the Bible says in the narrative of Pharoah's life - "Pharoah hardened his heart."

Vanessa, I want to love every human being like God loves me. I believe God will save anyone I ask Him to save for "If you have an earthly father who, when you ask for a piece of bread, gives you exactly what you ask, HOW MUCH MORE will your Heavenly Father give you that which you ask."

Again, thanks for your comment.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

"You have determined that both are equally guilty. But you're putting one into a program of rehabilitation while sending the other to the electric chair. Where's your justification for that?"

Kristen, you are sharp. Very sharp. My objection with your argument is NOT your concern for the lost or the character of God (I share both with you), but rather, your language earlier that "God must give every one a chance." I do not believe salvation is a matter of chance deliverance. I believe it is an intentional, deliberate and effective deliverance accomplished by God on behalf of sinners. '

In the comment italicized above you seem to be saying the same thing as I (and Scripture) about the power of God to release sinners from their bondage to sin.

I understand what you are saying. I really do. I will offer a possible solution for you in the next comment (one I gave in my previous comment.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

Here is the solution (in my opinion) for upholding the character of God's love and the fact that some face eternal judgment:

(1). God chooses, Christ dies, and the Spirit regenerates all infants who die in infancy and other people without natural ability (i.e. the politically incorrect terms used by the ancients "imbecile"). This view is one held by many throughout the centuries (including me).

(2). God will save every single human being you specifically ask Him to save (not the prayer, "Save the human race," but the prayer "Father, please, in your mercy and grace and love for me, deliver my husband from his sins and save him.") God will always save those His children request Him to save - period. I believe this is a truth taught in Scripture in many places (see my comment two above).

(3). Become a universalist (I am not). Linda rightly points out that those who believe in an effectual atonement, but never can get past the God delivering many, but not all, become universalist.

I just wish to encourage you to not fall into the trap of believing something you said, something you did, something you committed, or something you perceived sets you apart from others who die in their sins.

Yours and my deliverance is all of grace, and for that reason we cannot boast before God nor condemn those who are not like us. By the way, once we get to know those who aren't like us in real relationship, we get to praying for them - and guess what God does when that happens ... :)

Have a great evening!

Kristen said...

Wade, I do believe that our deliverance is all of grace-- but I also think there's a difference between thinking something I did saves me, and simply receiving what has been done for me. But I do think humans are involved in receiving what God has given.

This doesn't make those who receive better than those who don't-- but I do believe human reception of grace is part of salvation. I am an Arminian-- I have come to that position after careful thought, and I don't believe it's a "trap." My position is set forth here in more detail:

Why I'm Not a Calvinist

There is no reason why we have to agree on this, but I hope you will see that I'm not an Arminian just because I haven't thought about it hard enough. I respect you very much, not least because you respect those with other views. And I must say I like your version of Calvinism a lot better than most Calvinism I have encountered.

One day when He returns and we know fully, as we are fully known, we will probably laugh together at our current mutual limitations in understanding something that will probably seem absurdly simple once we get an eternal perspective. Until then, we'll have to agree to disagree. Peace to you.

RRR said...

Wade said: "God will always save those His children request Him to save – period.”

What???!!!!

I continue to be totally confounded as to how we can both profess the same Jesus Christ as our God, Lord and Savior, study the same written Word of God and listen to the voice of God’s Holy Spirit and still have such opposite views on these fundamental and basic doctrines of God’s nature and the plan and process God has given for the salvation for mankind.

Rex Ray said...

RRR,
We have the same initials and the same confusion how Christians can disagree so much over the Bible.

I mean why doesn’t everyone agree with me? :)

I like your “What???!!!!”

I think the same when Wade said, “I believe that an innumerable company of sinners from every nation, every tribe, every country, and every FAMILY - are IN CHRIST - far more than those who are NOT in Christ.”

That’s the opposite of what Jesus said:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14 Holman)

Could the words of Jesus be twisted like the post on 1 Cor. 14:34-35? Remember what Paul said was twisted around to him quoting the Corinthians in saying women to be silent in church meetings.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

"He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

Charles Spurgeon once met a woman who was in tears because she had just received a cable that her husband had drowned on an Atlantic crossing. She had prayed for her husband for years that he would come to know Christ, but he died without ever making public his faith. Spurgeon assured her, based upon the verses I quoted above (and others) that her Heavenly Father never turns a deaf ear toward His children, and that God was able to move on the heart of her husband as he drowned in the waves of the Atlantic.

I hold to Spurgeon's high view of God's goodness and soveriegnty.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

This same Jesus who spoke of the narrow gate also gave many parables of the gospel spreading like leaven throughout a loaf of break, beginning as a seed that turns into a tree, and other images of the spread of the good news into the lives of an innumerable company from every tribe, nation, tongue, kindred and family (see Revelation 5:9).

I have a high view of God's grace and a belief that He will never fail saving His people - and I believe every infant who dies in infancy God chose to redeem, the Savior died for, and the Spirit regenerates. Do you have any idea how many people that is, Rex? :)

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

I read your post! Excellent work. You have joined John W. Stott in believing that judgment of sinners comes to an end at some point - based upon the severity and nature of ones sins. I have read Fudge and many others who make very solid arguments for annihilationalism from Scripure - arguments that I respect.

I truly am not seeking to change your mind. I see your love for Christ, for people, and a deep desire to defend the honor of God. How can you go wrong with those motives? :)

I, too, believe the grace of God is received. The Spirit is His engagement ring to us, and the evidence of the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, everyone who shows evidence of love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, etc... shows evidence of being redeemed.

Fundamentally, it boils down to "Who makes a difference between you, Kristen, and others who have not received Christ? What do you have, Kristen, that is not a gift?"

I say you and I are not smarter, not brighter, not more intelligent than others who have not received Christ. I say the Father won us over by His relentless, personal, unconditional, and effectual love. "We love Him because He first loved us."

I am also saying He will pursue the people we (His children) ask Him to pursue. He is that good; that kind; that gracious. Of course, I believe our burdens for anything "good" come from God.

I have enjoyed the conversation.

RRR said...

Brother Wade,

I am surprised that you used the two Scripture passages that you did to support your position that we can pray others into heaven. These passages seem to be some of the weaker passages for arguing this position and totally inept at supporting anything this specific.

If I was you I would have chosen to use some others that would be more difficult for someone holding my position to oppose; like:

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Or John 14:14 “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

But even those would not be convincing to me that lost people will be saved if I pray for God to save them without their having answered the knock at their “soul-door” themselves.

Of course you and I can begin the process of doing battle and throwing Scripture passages at each other all day and all night that could be used to support our perspective positions. We could begin to quote famous theologians like Spurgeon and others who maintain the positions that we take.

I could begin quoting the myriad of Scripture passages that support my position; i.e. that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven to all men and they are without excuse who deny Him BUT they CAN deny or accept Him. But I don’t think such an exercise would accomplish either of us changing our beliefs.

I respect you and like you and appreciate your blog site. I really enjoy it and often benefit from it. I think it is for that reason that I am shocked, dismayed and disappointed that you would take this position that you’ve chosen to take concerning these things. For someone like me, it is difficult to fathom how you could do that and be at peace with that position.

Then again, because you also care, perhaps you are equally disturbed by people like me who you must regard as being in error over something that is so fundamental to our relationship with our Creator, Father God.

I understand that these Calvinism issues may come up again at this year’s SBC annual meeting so I am grateful to you for providing a means to discuss it here.

Debbie Kaufman said...

RRR: I sincerely hope the Calvinism issue is not brought up in the SBC or is squelched.

I don't see God as a loser in scripture. No where at all. Also look at the context of the passage you gave and who Christ was talking to. That makes a whole lot of difference in light of the passages on prayer.

Yes, the Bible clearly states that God will answer our request. Guaranteed. Usually in a way we are not looking for.

Anyone who has ever been burdened strongly to pray for someone knows that God placed that burden there so that we could see him doing a work and like the women with the husband that drowned, know that our prayers have been answered. God is not going to torture born again Christians with no knowing there loved ones are in heaven.

I believe there will be many more in heaven than in hell. There is a reason that we are still here in 2013. God is patient and long suffering not wishing anyone to perish.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I really enjoyed this post and the comments on this blog. I do have a question, and I tried to search for it on your blog. Do you have any posts about this statement you make?

(2). God will save every single human being you specifically ask Him to save (not the prayer, "Save the human race," but the prayer "Father, please, in your mercy and grace and love for me, deliver my husband from his sins and save him.") God will always save those His children request Him to save - period. I believe this is a truth taught in Scripture in many places (see my comment two above).

I've never really heard this before. I've prayed for the salvation of some, but am interested in hearing more about this.

Ryan

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

You write: "I respect you and like you and appreciate your blog site. I really enjoy it and often benefit from it. I think it is for that reason that I am shocked, dismayed and disappointed that you would take this position ... (i.e. the position that 'we can pray others into heaven').

RRR, thanks for your comment. The position that shocks you is one of your own making. Nowhere have I ever said you can 'pray someone into heaven.'

What I am saying is that God is so good, so kind, so Fatherly, so loving, that if you have a burden for something good (as defined by God) and take it before the Lord, He will do exceedingly abundantly more than you can ask or think.

The salvation of a loved one is a good thing, right? If you are burdened for the deliverance of a loved one, God will deliver.

He gives you the desires of your heart.

Wade Burleson said...

Ryan,

I simply have a very high view of God's power, a deep belief in the abiding love of God for His children, and the long-standing view that true burdens in prayer originate with God. Those who say they are conncerned for the salvation of loved ones but never pray for them are not telling the truth (though they may believe their own lie). True burdens originate with God, cause us to fall on our knees, and always bring about effectual, fervent prayers that end in God doing signficantly more than we ever ask or think.

Naomi said...

^^ This kind of theological wrangling is exactly what drives multitudes, generation upon generation, away from a living Father God. Save it for another day and read Matthew 22:37-40. Hear Jesus. Then go find out which of your neighbors (as in actual neighbors), friends, or family members is staring into an empty cupboard, doing without needed medical care, facing the very real specter of unemployment, homelessness, or worse. It will take you about five minutes to find someone. Enough already.

Wade Burleson said...

Naomi,

I fully respect your opinion that it is theological wrangling. If the conversation is not edifying to you, by all means, don't participate.

However, most comments are directed to me, and I have not considered any commentator offensive, or in any way wrangling with me. I have sensed sincere questions, earnest desires to glorify God, love people, and encourage the saints.

I may just be wired differently than you--and remember there is respect for you--but I'm saying it may not be time to quit the conversation.

Again, thanks for your input, but I would encourage Kristen, RRR, and anyone else commenting that their words, views and comments are always welcome.

Kristen said...

Thank you, Wade. I agree with Naomi that we should care for the poor. But the poor should not be used as a reason to silence anyone. A respectful and mutually uplifting conversation between Christians needs no justification. :)

Paul Burleson said...

Kristen,

I must say that your last comment was a wonderful mixture of grace and class. I, for one, have enjoyed and benefitted from ALL the comments. Thanks to all.

Victorious said...

Noami,

I find exchanges of opinions and/or perceptions extremely edifying. I don't see them as arguing or wrangling primarily because of the civil tone and respect each has for the other regardless of their position. It's God's people getting to know Him, His Word, and one another. :)

Rex Ray said...

Naomi,
Ah! You’re taking all the fun out. Maybe we’d much rather wrangle with debate like Paul wrote:

“Everyone keeps telling me about the arguing that goes on in these meetings [blog] …But I suppose you feel this is necessary so that you who are always right will become known and recognized.” (1 Cor.11: 18-19 Living)

I worked a long time on a comment that I posted six hours ago, but I must have used Google. My comments only stay if I use Firefox, so forgive me if I post it again.


Wade,
Strange how you don’t attempt to explain “many” go to “destruction” and “few find” “the road that leads to life.”

Wikipedia gives the world population as 7,021,836,029 July 2012.
Muslim 22.74%
Catholic 18.85%
Hindu 12.8%
Protestant 8.15%
Buddhist 6.77%
Orthodox 4.96%
Anglican 1.26%
Sikh 0.35%
Jewish 0.22%
Baha’i 0.11%
Other religions 10.95%
Non-religious 9.66%
Atheists 2.01%

From this I see VERY FEW THAT FIND THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE.

According to UNICEF, 29,000 children under the age of five die everyday worldwide. That’s about 10 billion a year…not many compared to 7 trillion, but I don’t believe God’s plan was to fill heaven with babies.

My uncle believed only babies that died from Christian families would go to heaven. He based his belief that God knew who would grow up to accept his son.

You wrote: “Spurgeon assured her, based upon the verses I quoted above (and others) that her Heavenly Father never turns a deaf ear toward His children, and that God was able to move on the heart of her husband as he drowned in the waves of the Atlantic.”

A mother received word that her lost son was killed in World War II.
Later she received a letter from my father saying her son had asked him to tell her he would meet her in heaven because the day before he thought he was going to be killed and asked Jesus to save him. “He stepped into my heart and I was so happy I thought I’d live forever.”

Wade, if you were in the shoes of the women, which of the two stories had you rather receive?

On the news today, a two year old girl was not taken to a doctor and died after receiving days of prayer. Years earlier, her older brother died the same way.

I believe a lot of things including praying can become a cult.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

I ditto what my father said to you.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Croesus once told Cyrus the Great, "Count no man happy until his death" - meaning, you can't write a story until you know the end.

I would say, "Count no numbers of saved and unsaved until the end."

The parables of the gospel growing and spreading like a seed into a tree and leaven throughout bread are illustrative of the growth in numbers of the Kingdom.

Few there were that found it in Jesus' day.

Those few turn into "an innumerable company" by the end.

RRR said...

Wade,
Your response to my most recent comment gives me hope that maybe we're not that far apart regarding prayer for the lost. Thank you for responding.

RRR said...

Debbie Kaufman said:

1. “I don't see God as a loser in scripture. No where at all. Also look at the context of the passage you gave and who Christ was talking to. That makes a whole lot of difference in light of the passages on prayer.”

2. “God is not going to torture born again Christians with no knowing there loved ones are in heaven.”

3. “I believe there will be many more in heaven than in hell. There is a reason that we are still here in 2013”

I respond:
1. God forgive me if I EVER insinuated that He is anything other than the sovereign, Most High, Almighty God.

You’re right about things having to be put in the proper context and things like that are what makes communicating on blog sites so limited.

2. I believe that when we born-again children of God leave this world we will have a higher perspective on things than we do now and see/understand things more through the eyes of God. I believe we will be able to deal with those who are eternally separated from God the way He deals with it. Do you think His heart does not grieve over every lost soul even if you or I might not know them personally? Paul said he would even be willing to take the place of his Jewish brothers in hell if that was possible, but it wasn’t.

If you’re saying what it appears you’re saying in your writing then I guess you believe we can pray for those lost loved ones who have already left this world and gone into eternity and pray them out of hell but I can’t believe that is your position. Again, I imagine you and I would see things much the same if we could have a “sit-down” conversation.

3. I don’t get your reasoning about why Christ is delaying His coming. There are more lost people dying and going to hell every day than saved people.

I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on my earlier comment.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
To me, your, "Count no numbers of saved and unsaved until the end" makes as much sense as the guy falling off the Empire State Building saying as he passed the second story, ‘Nothing hurts so far.”

Wade have you added the percent of the world that are NOT Christians?

Were do you draw the line if you start saying what Jesus said doesn’t apply today?

And on this ‘God saying yes to our prayers’, do you think David prayed for Absalom? (Oh that I could have died instead of you)

How did God answer Moses’ prayer to go to the Promise Land, or Paul’s prayer to have his thorn removed?

I finished a marathon when I was 47. My only running was a computer, but I prayed to run all the way. After 15 miles I learned the greater praise in the Bible was not “They shall fly as eagles” but “They shall walk and not faint.” The answer to my prayer was not ‘No’, but ‘You got to be kidding.’

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Have you counted all the infants who have died in infancy since the creation of the world? :)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Let’s see---I asked four question, but you answered none.

You ask if I’ve counted all the infants who have died since the creation of the world.

My answer is no, but I believe we should think of Paul’s advice:

“Don’t get involved in arguing over unanswerable questions and controversial theological ideas…” (Titus 3:9 Living)

Did you hear about the young boy that died and met his sister in heaven who died before birth? I think his family was Christian. Have you heard of a similar experience of any non-Christian?

With that said, how would you discount my uncle’s belief that only babies in heaven would be from Christian families?

Did God have his chosen people kill the babies of their enemies so He could have those babies in heaven, or did he have them killed so they would not grow to intermarry?

That’s another four questions.

Steven Stark said...

Interesting post and comments.

A lot of it comes down to our view of what a just punishment is. Punishment for its own sake is not just. That's revenge.

A just punishment is one with a purpose - to rehabilitate - both the offender and the world at large.

So if one has the power to accomplish the purpose of punishment - to rehabilitate - and does not do it, then this person is not just. Is God just?

Also, I would argue that rehabilitation is the only way to get true punishment anyway - one must realize what one has done for punishment to even make sense, and this requires rehabilitation.

Most universalists I have read combine Arminian and Calvinist thoughts. God leaves us only one ultimate outcome, because we are created in His image and we must eventually find our way back. However, the amount of pain we experience on the way is our decision. And if morality is a real thing in nature - if it really IS better to give than to receive - than self-interest (as it becomes more enlightened) will lead all to God.

I am not an evangelical Christian, but I am super interested in the idea that this form of Christianity could be moral and inspiring. I hope it can be! :)

The book "Universalism: The Current Debate" is a fantastic collection of essays for and against. I highly recommend it to all. It focuses on biblical, philosophical and theological arguments. Great read. And Oklahoma State's own Eric Reitan has a wonderful essay in the book on "free" will.

Kristen said...

I have a few thoughts.

1. How can we be so sure that when Jesus said, "narrow is the way that leads to life," etc., that He was talking about eternal salvation? How are we so sure that He meant "only a few will be saved"? That isn't exactly what He said-- and He may very well have been telling a parable there, couldn't He?

2. When He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me," did He mean that people had to believe all the correct teachings about Him-- or just believe in Him? Isn't it possible for someone who never heard the name "Jesus" to still meet the living Christ? What about Paul's words that God's word has gone out to all the world through the glories of nature (Romans 10)?

3. Would God be just if He consigned the vast majority of the human race to hell because they never even had a chance to become a Christian? As Abraham said, shall not the Lord of all the earth do justly?

4. Is God pleased when we as Christians speak so easily and comfortably about the supposed perdition of huge numbers of people who don't happen to look or think or talk like us? If the idea of their loss doesn't really bother us, so that we can discuss it as an intellectual problem only-- do we really feel about them the way He does?

4. If a child in another religion in another country spoke of meeting his sister in heaven, how would we hear about it? And would we believe it even if we did? If not, what's our justification for so easily believing a little kid who tells us what we want to hear (who could actually have just had a vivid dream), while discounting the testimony of those who tell us something that doesn't fit our preconceptions?

My own experience of God so far is that He's bigger hearted and bigger minded than I could imagine. So I can't bring myself to believe in a god who is small minded and small hearted, who only loves Christians and the babies of Christians.

PS. Wade and Paul, I'm touched and humbled by your kind words.

Kristen said...

One more thing. My answer to this question:

"Did God have his chosen people kill the babies of their enemies so He could have those babies in heaven, or did he have them killed so they would not grow to intermarry?"

is "all of the above."

Debbie Kaufman said...

If you’re saying what it appears you’re saying in your writing then I guess you believe we can pray for those lost loved ones who have already left this world and gone into eternity and pray them out of hell but I can’t believe that is your position. Again, I imagine you and I would see things much the same if we could have a “sit-down” conversation.

No, I don't believe this which is why I am neither Universalist nor Catholic. I do believe that we can pray for those right now and God answers in the affirmative. That is the point. Read all the passages on our (only those who are born again by belief in Jesus Christ)relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Also read on how the Gospel spread and so many were saved that all the world(at that time) heard about it. I think reading all the passages in context, and with scripture interpreting scripture will make a huge difference. Too many have been taught(through using the news as their "bible") that God is losing but will win in the end. I believe through the study of scripture that God is winning right now and has been winning the whole time. Too many have simply been looking at the wrong thing, namely circumstances surrounding them and interpreting scripture through the circumstances. The Jews made this mistake, and Christians are making the same mistake.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

1). "Narrow is the way" defines THE WAY - meaning, there are not multiple ways to a relationship with God, only one - a very narrow way (faith in the Anointed One whom God gave in His love for sinners). "Few there be that find it" precisely describes the conditions of the early church - but in time an innumerable company from throughout the entire world find THE WAY.

2). I know some people who had NEVER heard the Scriptures taught, NEVER heard a gospel message, but they MET CHRIST in a vision. Our former radical Muslim friend, who is now our missionary in Africa, met Christ this way (and I've heard hundreds of similar testimonies). So, to answer your question - deliverance from sin is not about believing everything correctly about Christ - it is about trusting Him.

3). Would God be just if He consigned the vast majority of the human race to hell because they never even had a chance to become a Christian?

Kristen, I put your question in bold print because (to me) this IS the issue. I keep getting confused with your statement "never had a chance." Romans teaches that every human being is responsible to obey God - including those who have never heard of Jesus - for the light of God is seen in nature and particularly the human conscience. But rather than worshipping the Creator, people worship the visible creation, and rather than listening to the voice of God in their conscience, they violate their conscience and end up doing things that are selfish, lacking love for others, and destructive - the very opposite of the image of God stamped in them.

People have had their chance to obey God and live. The wages of sin is death. We are all without excuse. I get so confused when you say "even if they didn't have a chance." Everyone has had a chance and everyone has screwed up.

4). I agree with you about the big-heartedness of God. That's why I believe the numbers of the lost will NEVER outnumber the number of the saved. I do not believe in God's universe He will ever allow sin and corruption ultimately win in any category. He has chosen, according to Scripture, to save a vast number of people (too many to count though those who like the idea of a few want to argue this) from every nation, every kindred, every tribe and every family. God saves sinners and He does a very good job of accomplishing what He sets out to do.

Wade Burleson said...

Steven,

Thanks for the suggestion of the book! I will try to pick it up and read it. Your understanding of us choosing a moral path that causes pain and suffering is spot on (in my opinion). This is my big complaint with some Calvinists. They wish to make God the author of evil, and the Scripture teaches that He has power over evil, but is never the author of it. Because He has power over it, He can work it all for ultimate good.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Did you hear about the young boy that died and met his sister in heaven who died before birth? I think his family was Christian. Have you heard of a similar experience of any non-Christian?

I discount any stories of heaven from people who come back. In the New Testament, the man who died falling out of a window listening to Paul preach, and then was revived back to live, said nothing about heaven and Paul went right back to teaching. Paul Himself was FORBIDDEN to talk about heaven, though He himself had seen it. If the New Testament folks couldn't talk about it, I'm not buying a book by modern folks who do. :)

With that said, how would you discount my uncle’s belief that only babies in heaven would be from Christian families?

"Suffer the little children to come to me, for such is the kingdom of heaven" Jesus said. Those little children were not children of Christian families, they were children of the Jews.

Did God have his chosen people kill the babies of their enemies so He could have those babies in heaven, or did he have them killed so they would not grow to intermarry?

??? Babies don't go to heaven because they are innocent. They died. Babies go to heaven because God has mercy on them, Christ died for them, and the Spirit regenerates them. I don't understand the intermarriage question.

I am out all day, Rex. Will be unable to answer additional questions - :)

Wade Burleson said...

Debbie,

Great points. I concur God is winning right now. :)

Anonymous said...

The vexed question of God's sovereignty and man's volitional choice in the process of our salvation, will continue to stump us as long as we hold exclusively to one point of view or the other. The Scripture teaches both; they are parallel Biblical teachings. God has graciously and fully provided for our lost and dysfunctional spiritual condition. Mankind is alienated from God, from nature , from work, from his fellow men and from himself. The major situation we face is not so much our sins as our unbelief; our failure to take the remedy that God offers freely to all for solving this problem of alienation . No human schemes of economics, sociology, politics or education can turn us from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God. Salvation is all of God's free will and grace (Calvin's emphasis). He then gives us a choice, as He did with Adam and Eve, as to whether or not we will submit to his way through trusting in Jesus Christ alone(Arminius's emphasis). We have choice but only God has free will, which I see as the ability to conceive a plan and to carry it out to it's final conclusion. Whosoever responds personally to the offer of God's salvation-- not collectively or culturally by family, tribe or nation--will be saved. For us, the process starts with hearing the Gospel, by assenting to it, agreeing with the message, obediently accepting it by faith, repenting of the sins of unbelief, idols and ignorance. God helping our weak efforts, we personally continue to trust Jesus Christ with assurance, perseverance, patience and hope that He will be true to His promise of eternal blessing. To my mind we need the two oars of both Calvin and Arminius to row the boat straight. Maybe I can be call a 10 point Calminian ... one point for each to compliment that which the other is lacking, but I'd rather be true to the Bible than to my sense of logic.

Gordon

Anonymous said...

The one thing we are all doing is judging by what we can see, not by what we cannot see.

None of us knows whether or not God offers one final call for salvation to another person at the point of death, perhaps after the person is unconscious.

We don't know.

We just don't know.

Now, I'm not gonna take the chance. I have believed and am saved. I pray for the unsaved I know, and witness and share and teach and evangelize.

But I must admit there is scripture that says to not believe is to be already condemned.

And there is scripture that teaches Christ is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe.

So there is at least the theoretical possibility both of eternal hell filled with souls, and of universal salvation.

I stand with Pastor Wade in this: we don't know the end of the story until the end of the story.

I've always had the inkling from the parable of the workers in the vineyard that we might be surprised who made it in at the last moment.

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

Linda

Kristen said...

Wade -- again, with regards to your confusion: Did I say "never had a chance to obey God?" No-- I said "never had a chance to become a Christian. A "Christian" is someone who believes certain tenets about God and the work of Christ.

Regardless of whether you and I agree on whether a person is capable of obeying God fully on his or her own and thus being right with God without grace (which I do disagree with), I'm sure you can agree that there are vast numbers of people who never have the chance to believe the tenets of Christianity because they never, ever even hear them.

The question of whether Jesus always meant exactly the same thing when He used the word "way" is a different issue. I tend to believe that in this case, He was talking about the kingdom of God on earth, as He so often did-- and I think He was saying something similar to what Paul said when he said we could end up building on the foundation of Christ with "wood, hay and stubble" and finding that everything we did on earth is subject to destruction-- because we didn't walk in the "narrow way of life" which is the kingdom of God on earth.

Rex Ray said...

Jesus was tempted by the devil which means Jesus knew it was true what the devil said or otherwise it would not be a temptation.

Can we agree on that?

“The devil…showed Him all the kingdoms of the world…and he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matt. 4: 8-9 Holman)

The question arises: Were “the kingdoms of the world” buildings or people and was it just the present or forever? I believe Jesus knew it was people and forever.

Why didn’t Jesus say His Father could save anyone He wanted to instead of “…Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”? Verse 10

Paul Burleson said...

I have no conclusion about the debate on-going in this comments section. I know what I believe and I also think I'm understanding, to some degree, what those who seem to disagree with what I believe are trying to say as well.

Yet I can't come to a real conclusion about how to make what both sides are saying come together. But I do have a resting place. It may be over-simplified, but if it is, so be it. Here's my resting place.

Antinomy__"An apparent [with emphasis on 'apparent'] contradiction that may appear between two things that are said to be true." "Something different than a paradox but equally paradoxical such as God's Sovereignty and human responsibility."

Illustration.

If one stands between the two tracks of a railroad with one on the left and one on the right, each track is both real and yet totally apart. But looking off to the horizon and they "appear" to come together.

That is an optical illusion since they don't come together at all in reality, but, in eternity, an "antinomy" such as God's Sovereignty and man's responsibility, WILL, in fact, come together in reality.

I'm aware that not all theologians accept the view that antinomies exist in Scripture. Conservative Reformed theologian, Anthony Hoekema, writing in his book, Saved By Grace, says this..

"A God of truth is also a God that is rational, logical, and possessing self-consistent knowledge. To believe anything less is to reduce theology to skepticism. Thus, I (and others) firmly hold that the thoughts of God do not violate what His created beings call the laws of logic."

This is in no way to say we shouldn't discuss, investigate, and even disagree. Quite the contrary. All of us are blessed because of just that. But with my own fallible understanding in mind, in some things eternal, I'll just relax in my resting place.

John said...

Could God offer one final call to a person for salvation before their death or while on a deathbed? Of course!~ But, the effectual call of God would enable them to repent and act in faith, thus being saved. Without that regenerating gift from God, a man could live a thousand years and never come to Christ.

Steven Stark said...

Hey Wade!

I would have to say that God must be the author of all things. If there is a will opposed to God, where did it come from?

But this leads into complex waters. I have a more panentheistic view of things. We are all a part of God - so we have chosen a world of both well-being and pain so that difference experiences can exist. Our ultimate intention is good - but evil exists to be aware of the good. Romans 9-11 is a version of this view of things.

But all things must have their origin in God. Evil is not simply a lack of God, because suffering is a real tangible thing. And if we divorce evil from suffering, then it is arbitrary.

BUt yes - I think you would enjoy that book quite a bit! Lots to chew on! And representations of all sides of it.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
You said, “I discount any stories of heaven from people who come back.”

How about a person from Hell?

http://www.cbn.com/tv/1432634068001

About the man that fell from the window and Paul revived---how do you know he never told what he saw or even if he was a Christian?

He might have been like the man above that accepted Jesus three days after he died. Forty minutes after he was pronounced dead the doctor returned and prayed and asked another doctor to shock him one more time even though his face and hands were as black as the doctor’s Bible.

“Suffer the little children to come to me, for such is the kingdom of heaven.”

I believe there are no “little children” or babies in heaven. They will have ‘perfect grown-bodies’. “such is the kingdom of heaven” is the FAITH of a child.

“The intermarriage question” means God did not want Jews to marry foreigners which would be tempting if foreign babies grew to adults.

“The people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab…God’s anger burned against Israel…took a spear…drove it through both the Israelite man and the woman…the plague was stopped, but those who died…numbered 24,000.” (Numbers 25: 1, 3, 7-9)

Off topic: I didn’t know this and I’ll bet it’s NOT in the history books.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_labor_of_Germans_after_World_War_II

Anonymous said...

Rex - I think the figure isn't 7 trillion for the world's population, but rather 7 billion.

"he world population is the total number of living humans on Earth. As of today, it is estimated to number 7.081 billion by the United States Census Bureau (USCB).[1] The USCB estimates that the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012.[2] According to a separate estimate by the United Nations Population Fund, it reached this milestone on October 31, 2011.[3][4][5]"

Ken

Rex Ray said...

Ken,
You’re right. I copied the correct number but counted wrong when I listed the percent of religions in the world.

By those percentages you’d think anyone could see more are going to hell than heaven—but like they say, “My mind’s made up—don’t confuse me with the facts.” :)

This is written in the ‘Off topic link’:

“Civilians aged 14 – 65 in the U.S. occupation zone of Germany were also registered for compulsory labor, under threat of prison and withdrawal of ration cards.[37] “

In 1947-1948 our parents taught school to American kids in Germany. We were furnished free a German girl to clean house. She was moved to an American army officer’s house. The army did nothing when he raped her causing a black baby.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

I'm thankful that Paul B.had his say on the matter at hand, and applaud what he had to say!

That's wisdom!

Something to do with the passing of time, not human logic tainted by emotion. Everything to do with faith!

Anonymous said...

Hey folks, great discussion but did anyone see the part about the connection between "relational disconnect and pornography use?" Just wondering... :)

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

Laughing. I enjoyed the discussion. Some rabbit trails have some rabbits worth finding on them.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Wade,

I am with "Anonymous 6:37 AM" .

Maybe I am obtuse or simple minded but I find myself not wanting to get involved in such a interesting (and maybe necessary) discussion!

I only have a few questions that
I find myself asking.
1) When PY asked the Calvinist about the struggle with pornography what was his response?

2)If there was a struggle present in the life of the Calvinist, did the Calvinist believe he was one of the elect? (I have never met a "testy" Calvinist who did not!)

3) If the Calvinist did indeed have long term struggle with pornography, what that struggle pre-destined by God?

Seems to me that it is much easier to debate theology that deal with the issue of pornography in the life of a believer. The psychology behind that tendency is curious to me.

Anonymous said...

Wade
There will be those from both parties who will agree with Hoekema's loaded statement about God's rationality and logic. Both groups have come to reasonable conclusions, and they therefore presumptuously claim that God must be on their side alone. Some would even seem to impose their theological framework on God's thoughts. But God's ways and thoughts are much higher than our thoughts and our sense-bound experience.
The eminent philosopher, Immanuel Kant, pointed out the existence of antinomies in the field of metaphysics, and showed the inadequacy of pure reason to resolve these seeming contradictions. In a sense, we have to be antinomian and resist a narrow, one-sided take on the matter.
Indeed, "the secret things belong to the Lord our God,but those things which are revealed belong unto us". (Deut. 29:29). To me, this would be a loving and peaceful resting place with Bro. Paul, Oz John, RRR, et al.

Gordon

Jose Gonzales said...

The notion of limited atonement relies on the false idea that as soon as Jesus died everyone he died for was saved. But the Passover didn’t work like that. They killed the lamb and nobody was saved yet. Only those who put the blood on the door and stayed in the house were saved. Obviously, the atonement can be universal without its application being so. The atonement is universal in the sense that Jesus died for all and everyone it is applied to will be saved. The limiting factor is not who he died for, but who believes or does not. In my estimation, anyone who disagrees with something this simple and clear must be insane…or, I guess now, maybe struggling with pornography. So my question is “How long have you been struggling with pornography?” How can you teach that Jesus only died for some people while you admit that this very view leads to a disconnect from humanity and compassion? Its lunacy.

Rex Ray said...

Rodney,
Good questions, but don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer: :)

Jose Gonzales, your comparison of obeying the Passover and obeying Jesus is spot on! The Passover was for ALL but it required obedience.

But I disagree with you saying, “How can you teach that Jesus only died for some people…its lunacy” because “lunacy” is better described as one missionary said, “WHAT?”

Rex Ray said...

“Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. ALL who are bitten will live IF they simply look at it!”” (Numbers 21:8 NLT)

As Spurgeon said that God was able to move on the heart of the lost husband as he drowned in the waves of the Atlantic, would he say the same as those that died because they didn’t look at the snake?

I believe the snake on the pole was symbolic of Jesus on the cross.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Isn't it interesting that the passage of time doesn't cause mankind to change?

Rex's mention of Spurgeon's comment regarding the husband drowning in the Atlantic, caused me to think of the sinking of the Titanic, when proud men who couldn't accept the sovereign power of God, naively said, "God Almighty Himself could not sink this ship!"

Wade Burleson said...

Rodney,

I only have a few questions that I find myself asking.

1) When PY asked the Calvinist about the struggle with pornography what was his response?

Answer: He didn't tell me. I'm sure there was no response, because I think it was probably rhetorical.


2)If there was a struggle present in the life of the Calvinist, did the Calvinist believe he was one of the elect? (I have never met a "testy" Calvinist who did not!)

Good point! Again, I do not know the answer.

3) If the Calvinist did indeed have long term struggle with pornography, was that struggle pre-destined by God?

No. Sin is never predestined. The good that comes from sin is predestined. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Gordon,

Good word.

Wade Burleson said...

Jose,

How can you teach that Jesus only died for some people while you admit that this very view leads to a disconnect from humanity and compassion? Its lunacy.

I don't teach he died for some or a few, I teach He died for many and the world, but not every person. I teach this because I believe Scripture to teach it. Otherwise, I would believe in universalism.

As far as the blood being applied by faith - I agree! "The just shall live by faith!"

I simply believe the Scripture teaches faih is a gift of grace, just like repentance is a gift of grace, etc....

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
You said, “I simply believe the Scripture teaches faith is a gift of grace, just like repentance is a gift of grace, etc…”

The only trouble with that is simply it’s NOT simple because you have not explained why probably the most quoted Scripture in the Bible (John 3:16) does not say that at all, or even close to it.

“…everyone who believes in him…” (NLT) (Holman)

“…anyone who believes in him…” (Living)

“…whosoever believeth in him…” (KJ)

These verses do NOT say ‘…everyone who God chooses to believe in him…’

Until you explain that, it’s back to square one. :)

Rex Ray said...

I just listened to an old song on Google that I haven’t heard in many years.

“Whosoever Meaneth Me”

Glory!

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

“…everyone who believes in him…” (NLT) (Holman)

Amen!

“…anyone who believes in him…” (Living)

Amen!

“…whosoever believeth in him…” (KJ)

Amen!

"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (I Cor. 4:7)

Amen!

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
Ah! It’s like RRR said about swapping Scriptures all day to prove our points.

It’s true that Paul slapped the Corinthians in the face when they started bragging about who was preaching when they were saved as shown in (1 Cor. 3:21 4: 1-7 NLT):

“So don’t boast about following a particular human leader…whether Paul or Apollos or Peter…it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you…don’t make judgments about anyone…For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And everything that you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”

On the other hand there is (Revelation 3:20-21 Holman):

“Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me…I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne…”

Wade, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. All the pictures of this verse has the door latch on the inside; would your picture not even have a door? :)

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Reading Rex's comment reminded me of something an old pastor said regarding the "door".

On the outside of the door is written, “…whosoever believeth in him…”

Once inside, we turn around and read what is written above the door,"chosen before the foundation of the world".

Rex Ray said...

Aussie John,

I believe a better description of “an old pastor” would be ‘an old Calvinists pastor’.

Why would Jesus knock on a door of a person already “chosen before the foundation of the world” asking him to “Listen!”

What’s the purpose of Jesus knocking if the person is already saved?

Aussie John said...

Rex,

My apologies for not being clear with my words, and no,the old pastor would have been offended by your suggestion.

Jesus' words relayed by the angel intimated that it was the church of Laodicea at whose door He was knocking,not unbelievers.

By the way, it's only AFTER one has passed through a door that one can look back and see what is written above the door.

Chris Baumgart said...

Wade, the scriptures combine natural and moral ability. Any ability is driven by the will. And It is in this distinction that Christ serves as the righteousness of the regenerated sinner. It is through faith in Christ the desires of the body are kept in harmony with the Holy Spirit, thus sanctifying the person and bearing the fruits of virtue...faith is the action of the mind and spirit. Gods Spirit lays truth before us, as free agents we reason as to accept this gift or not. So you see God is doing it all, but we are still required to take hold and believe.

Eagle said...

In my life I am trying to get back on my feet after a 5 year spiritual crisis and have no desire to get sucked into the Calvinist-Arminian fight. My beef with the entire debate is that many Christians lack discernment and go from fad to fad. My take is that what really undermines modern reformed theology is the problem of evil. Since, as John Piper has taught, God has foreordained evil, than every evil act should be celebrated and worshiped. So when a child is molested, you take the molester out, buy him a beer and praise God that he was obedient. Since this theology links God to the problem of evil, and corrupts him. Since God pre-determines every act - including evil acts then you truly have a sovereign God. However that God is also corrupt.

But my beef with evangelicalism is how is goes from fad to fad. When I was new to evangelicalism the Left Behind series was the rage. Then I saw the Prayer of Jabez fad, followed by he Purpose Driven Life fad, etc.... I was involved in the early stages of the reformed fad as that penetrated some of the churches and ministries I was involved with. But the modern reformed fad is corrupt and driven more by celebrity than a purer desire to know God. From the SBC to SGM, to churches like CHBC and even parts of the EFCA have been corrupted. I'm going on a tangent so I better stop.