Sunday, September 14, 2008

Will God Choose Not To Save My Loved Ones?

I received a letter from a delightful believer in our church who is originally from Italy. She was an executive with a manufacturing firm that sells goods to the Far East, including Hong Kong and China, but she gave up her career to marry and raise kids. She is a graduate of the University in Venice, Italy, and she and her United States Air Force officer are stationed in Enid, Oklahoma with their two small boys. This young lady became a believer as an adult and she credits the writings of C.S. Lewis for leading her to an understanding of what it means to be a Christian. She is a vociferous reader, multi-lingual, and quite intelligent. She emailed me a question about the salvation of her boys, one that I thought worthy of a detailed response which I share below.

Pastor Wade,

I've been meaning to ask you a question for a long time - it concerns one of the books you gave me, "Chosen for Life" by Sam Storms. I understand what it says, and it makes sense to me; I absolutely believe I was chosen by God vs. choosing God myself, because nothing in my (non-religious) nature and of the circumstances of my life and upbringing justify my search for Him. However: the thought that those whom God has not chosen to be saved won't be saved is frightening; for as long as it's up to a human being to change their mind, that can happen, even in the last moments of their lives; but God's will does not change; and if my own child or my parents have not been chosen, nothing, not prayers, not offering information about Jesus and salvation, will make a difference. This seems very sad, that someone can't choose God because God has not chosen them.

Granted, we don't know who the un-chosen are (save for a few notable ecceptions, I imagine: Hitler, Ted Bundy), for God may call someone the split second before their car crashes under a truck. But the fact remains that it's perfectly possible someone we love may not be chosen, and that's irrevocable.

How do you come to terms with this?

Thank you for your thoughts.


Dear M---,

You write, "This seems very sad, that someone can't choose God because God has not chosen them."

It would seem very, very sad to me too – if it were true as you describe it in your letter. You write as if people will one day decide to trust Christ, but they will be unable to be saved because God did not "elect" them. That scenario just can't happen. It is impossible both biblically and logically. Let me explain.

“Choosing God” is a matter of the heart. Human beings are "free moral agents," which means we humans are always free to choose whatever it is we desire. Nobody, nothing, not one thing, even God, impinges on that freedom. This "freedom" to choose between moral good and evil is chiefly what it means to be created in "God's image." So, it is simply not true that a human being "cannot" choose Christ or become a follower of Christ if he desires it - if he desires Christ, he can choose Christ.

This freedom to choose what you desire is self evident. For instance, if you were on a diet and you walked by the ice cream store, you would be faced with a choice. “Do I continue my diet or do I turn into the store and buy ice cream?” I can tell you what you will choose - and for that matter what every single other human being will choose when he or she is faced with the same decision - every single time. I'll do it right now. I will tell you what you will choose the next time you are on a diet and you walk by the ice cream store and this question comes to you: "Do I turn in and eat ice cream, or do I keep on walking and pass it up?" You will choose to do that which is the strongest desire in in your heart.

Human beings always choose what they desire the most. The chooser always follows the heart. If the thought of eating rich, creamy ice cream (and the enjoyment of it) is greater than the desire to lose weight, you will turn in and eat the ice cream every time. Nobody forces you to choose what you choose. This is what it means to be "created in the image of God." You are a free moral agent and you choose what is your greatest desire. That’s true even when a robber holds a gun to your head and says, “Your wallet or your life!” The robber cannot FORCE you to choose to give your wallet without him shooting you. If you have a great desire to live, you will give up your wallet, but frankly, if your desire to die is greater, you may very well choose to hang on to your wallet. The robber is NOT in control of your choice. You are.

So it is with God. He tells all men everywhere to repent. He commands sinners to “embrace His Son.” And whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord, repents of his sin, and embraces Jesus Christ will be saved. That is a promise!

Yet, the Bible says that all of us like sheep have gone astray. There is nobody who desires the things of God. God's things are “foolishness” (tasteless) to our natural minds because of selfish, sinful hearts. Therefore, no man naturally chooses God (Romans 3:11) – but that is not God’s fault, it is man’s fault. We made ourselves rebels. We desire our sin. We desire our independence from God. We desire to hang on to the things of this life. We do not desire God. We love our sinful, selfish, idolatrous ways because the desires of our hearts are always sinful, selfish and idolatrous. We see no beauty in Christ, and we will not naturally choose Christ.

Election teaches us that unless God were to choose to give us His grace – to open our eyes of understanding – cause us to see the beauty and glory of Christ – then none of us would ever choose Him. But when His grace truly descends on our hearts and we see Christ's beauty, then we freely and willingly choose to come to Christ. Nobody forces us - we desire Christ because of God's active grace in us. We choose Christ because of God's work in softening our heart (or, in biblical language "turning the heart of stone into a heart of flesh," or "changing the leper's spots"). The Bible calls this gracious act of God in changing a sinner’s heart “regeneration,” or “the new birth,” or “the gift of the Spirit.” The work of the Spirit in the heart of a sinner precedes the free choice of that sinner to embrace Christ, for without a change of heart, we would never desire Christ. Therefore, if a sinner chooses Christ, he must give God the credit; but if a sinner rejects Christ, he must take all the blame because of his own sinful heart. A man's heart is hard by his own choice. God did not initially create man sinful. Man chose that path. We hardened our own hearts. It began with Adam, but every human being since then has loved his sinful state, believing nothing to be wrong. A sinner will only desire Christ when his hardened, blind heart is softened by God's amazing grace.

A lost man might read what I wrote above and say, “But that is circular reasoning. I don’t know Christ. I don’t desire Him. I don’t want God – but you are saying that I can’t desire Him, I can’t choose Him, I can’t love Him because of my natural sinful heart that loves my sin and hates God - and unless God takes care of that in me, I will be forever in my sin.”

That’s right - in so far as it goes. You, a lost man, can't choose God because you don't desire Him, and your lack of desire is your fault. You refusal to choose Christ is simply the natural consequence of your chooser following your sinful desires. But you COULD choose to follow after Christ if you desired to!. You have a mind, a mouth, an intellect, a chooser, a feeler - you are a human being; you are a free moral agent. The problem is simply that the sinful desires of your heart cause you to love your sin and hate the God who created you.

Again, the problem is your sinful desires, and that is YOUR problem. Human beings are the cause of that sin, not God. Adam was the originator of it, and you are willing participant in it. You are freely, willingly and continually choosing to embrace your sin and reject Christ.

Now for the million dollar question for you, the person: “Do you - as a person separated from Christ – do you desire God to give you the Holy Spirit, to cause you to see the beauty of Christ, to enable you to hate your sins and love Christ, to empower you to be the kind of man God created you to be? Do you want God in your life and Christ to be the Lord of your life?”

If you, the lost person, say, “Yes!! I do!! That is precisely what I desire” then we respond to you, “Then ask Christ into your life and He never turns a deaf ear to the sinner who calls to Him.”

But if that lost man says, “NO!! I don’t want Christ. I don't desire Him in my life.” Then we respond, “Then why in the world are you upset with God. He is leaving you alone. He is doing precisely what you want. He is not giving to you a love for Christ.”

The lost man may respond, "But if I believed what you are saying, then I can't desire Christ until my sinful, wicked heart is changed so that I can desire Him." Yes. That's right. So tell me, do you wish for God to remove the wickedness and sin from your heart, turn it soft toward the things of God, and implan within you the desire for Christ to enable you to choose Him?


If you, a lost person, don't even desire for God to do the work of removing the wickedness in your life that prevents your from desiring Christ, then why are you blaming God for not giving to you the very thing you REFUSE TO ASK FOR?

But the good news is this. If a lost man, whose heart is hard, and whose mind comprehends his totally inability to see the beauty of Christ, gets on his knees and asks God to remove the wickedness that blinds him, to soften the heart that deceives him about Christ, and to create in him a DESIRE FOR CHRIST - that sinner will be transformed by the power of God, even without voicing 'the sinner's prayer.' There is no formula to this. The Spirit of God moves in power, without constraint and in a variety of ways among His people.

I'd like to give you a final word about your loved ones who do not yet know Christ, and seek to speak to your fears that God may not ever soften their hearts. This is where “the effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous person avails much.” There are some people, particularly loved ones and friends that are blind to Christ. But I believe the Bible teaches that when a child of God prays fervently (which speaks of a burdened heart) for that loved one or family member who is lost, then that lost loved one will effectually and ultimately be saved. The very fact that our Heavenly Father has put the soul of that person as a burden upon our hearts, and the fact that we are praying for that person’s salvation, is all evidence God intends to save. He burdened us to pray for it so we could get in on the rich blessing of seeing a loved one saved, and the reason He doesn’t save that loved one until we fervently and effectually pray is because if He were to save a loved one WITHOUT us praying for it to happen, we might actually think our smooth words, or our great intellect, or our ability to persuade convinced our loved one to choose Christ. Only the Spirit of God has the power to soften a heart and regenerate the sinner.

So, therefore, when sinners are saved – God gets the glory. When sinners die and are condemned – the blame for that condemnation falls on man, not God.

If you say, "But God could regenerate the hearts of every single person that ever lived if He wanted to!"

Yes, He could. And the universalist says he will. But the Bible says He won't. If you ask me why He doesn't regenerate the heart of every single fallen human being, I respond like Spurgeon, "What baffles me is not that God has chosen not to redeem every single sinner, but that He has actually chosen to redeem even one."

Thankfully, He has chosen to redeem "an innumerable company," a "sea of people," a vast "kingdom" - including those for whom you pray. I'm not referring to those old Wednesay night prayers that God would save the world (with no particular names of real individuals), but prayers that He would save that person or those people for whom you petition, by name, for God to save. You are His child. You are given the great treasure of pleading with the King to regenerate the hearts of your loved ones. Your heavenly Father will not turn a deaf ear to your petitions.

And, if you are a Christian who has no burden for the lost (but of course I know you do, but now I write for others), then I would urge you to begin praying that God would give you a burden for the lost. Since God is in the business of saving sinners, and since you, His child, are not in the practice of praying for the salvation of specific sinners, then it would seem evident to me that you are not that much involved in your Father's business.

Thankfully though, I know you are involved in your Father's business. And those prayers you have been offering up for your kids and family members qualify as having an interest in God's business of saving sinners. This is why I know your prayers will be answered. God is the one who burdened you with His business in the first place. He always answers the prayers that are prayed that begin in Heaven.

So, when your kids come to the time when they choose Christ, just remember I told you they would, and that the reason they would is because of God - and the evidence I have that He is choosing to save them is the burden their mom has for them.

Hope that helps.



Pamela said...

Thank God the word says in 1 Timothy 2 that God would have all to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth. It also says that Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all. All excludes no one. Each person must choose whether he will come to Christ. Many stubborn, rebellious folk that came to Christ usually thank someone that prayed for them. God wants none to perish. The price was paid for every person. I'm grateful. May all hear the good news. God has made His choice to provide the way for all to be reconciled to Him. After that each person will choose to accept or reject His provision. said...


Just a couple of quick questions for you. If, as you state, Christ paid the ransom for every human soul, then why is there even one soul who is condemned?

If you respond, "Because it is not the ransom paid that sets a sinner free, but the ransom must be accepted," then I ask you these questions.

"Why did you "choose" to accept the ransom and the one who is condemned did not? What makes you different? Are you smarter? Are you wiser? Are you more humble? What distinguishes you from the person who rejects the ransom?"

These are genuine questions asked without anything except a true desire from me for you to look within and answer them so I can understand your perspective.



Anonymous said...


That is one of the most incredible (and comforting) things I have ever read.

God Bless You

Darrell Treat

Anonymous said...

Wade - Your politics may be argued by some knuckleheads around here, but your theology is right on bro.

This might be a long and "fun" comment stream. :)

I'll help get it started.

Pam - I like you and have enjoyed many of your comments here and I write this with a smile, so please know that. I would also ask you to consider that your use of 2 Peter 3:9 is out of context to say that God wants none to perish. Why? Actually many reasons but mainly because most people do perish and the simple deduction is that God is disappointed most of the time as He doesn't get His will met.

For a deeper understanding of this matter (which we all need at some point), google John Piper and the two wills of God.

Take care.

Anonymous said...


This has to be one of the most convoluted, confusing, and circular arguments that I have ever heard.

First, you tell her no one can choose God unless God chooses them, and no one can desire God unless God gives them that desire. Then you say the lost man needs to ask God for the desire, which he can't do because he doesn't have the desire. Then you encourage Christians to pray for God to give lost people the desire, when He has already made His choice in eternity and that can't be changed?

Why did you not just tell her what you really believe? She asked you... "Will God choose not to save my loved ones?" It seems you could have saved us all a lot of reading if you had just given her the true Calvinistic fatalist response... Yes!

Eddy Williams said...

Excellent response to her question Wade!

Bob Cleveland said...

If we never understand quite how this all fits together, if we never nail it all down in our minds, I guess it'll just take a lot of trust in God, on our part, to bring any peace in this. That seems to be a good thing.

There's an old adage which goes along these lines: "A man's position on most things depends on which set of proven facts he chooses to ignore". I think that applies to this topic, too. I can assure you that the full-bore Calvinists can justify every detail of predestination and election, with solid scriptural backing, just as well as we can justify anything in our theological repertoire.

John Daly said...

This brings to mind one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I can't recall which one as there were soooo many. Perhaps it was Chicken Soup for my twice-removed, paternal step uncle. You may recall where this old man was watching this kid throw starfish back into the ocean. This was no small task as there were literally starfish strewn up and down the shore, as far as the eye could see. Finally, the seasoned-citizen, asks the young lad: "Son, there are hundreds of thousands of starfish that are stranded on the shore, you can't possibly hope to make a difference." Without saying a word, the kid picks up a starfish, throws it back into the ocean and said: "Well, it made a difference to that one."

To me that illustrated the Doctrines of Grace quite nicely.

John in St. Louis

Anonymous said...

spoken like a true politician, brother wade. I have a desire to vote for Obama but I know people are praying for me to vote for Palin, I mean McCain. What I choose to do, will be God's will, I reckon. Right? :)

Amen to Joe White.

Confused but saved for sure

Anonymous said...

Joe White,
I think sometimes it is better to provide reasons (biblical ones) for an answer, rather than just an answer. By virtue of the question she has asked, she understands the answer may be "Yes." However, by asking Wade, she is expecting an explanation to help her understand how this can be.

Wade has done a superb job of not only answering her question (which you must know that sometimes a "yes" or "no" answer isn't enough) but providing reasons...which she can now contemplate.


Unknown said...

A couple things we don't know:
1) definition of free will and the influence of nature vs nurture
2)what the total depravity of man constitutes, does that mean that man cannot desire God but can desire to desire God? We don't know.
3) Does God want none to perish? or only some? If you know the mind of God tell me.
4) God's perspective on "predestination" most likely is not our own, so why do we assume so?(e.g. why do we assume that God is confined to the present like we are?)

unfortunately, many people are the same as me.
At a certain point don't make anything up just say "I don't know"

Anonymous said...


There is just one problem with your analogy of the starfish and the doctrines of grace. God is not some little child running frantically along the corridors of time trying to save as many sinners as He possibly can.

Thank God... while there is a Hell for every sinner outside of Christ, there is a Christ for every sinner outside of Hell. said...

Joe White,

Please explain to me, from your viewpoint, what it is that makes you different from the man that will be ultimately condemned? I ask sincerely to understand.

What makes you different from the man who is in hell. According to you, you both are sinners, you both have a Christ who died for you, you both have a ransom paid, you both have a Savior, you both have everything EXACTLY the same, in the same proportion. So, what distinguishes you, Joe White - a man going to heaven - from the sinner who is condemned?

Is it faith?

Of course it is. So, where did your faith come from?

Did it come from you? Were you smarter, and thus believed? Were you wiser, and thus believed? Were you holier, and thus believed?

The Bible says Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith." What does that mean to you?

I would like to understand your perspective so I could help the mother who is in my church.

In your view, what should she do to make it "possible" for her boys to be saved, since obviously something happened in you, that did not happen in the lost man that had everything else the same as you.



Anonymous said...


I do not share you determinalistic or fatalistic view of God, the world, or of faith for that matter. I know that you think you are being humble when you make God the cause of every action (or at least the good actions, as I am sure you don't view God as the author of Sin or creator of Satan) but you are not. I believe in total depravity to the extent that man cannot save himself, but while I believe in total depravity I do not believe in total inablility. God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe. Will they all be saved? No. Could they all be saved? Yes. Does God have foreknowledge of this and every decision? Yes. Thus God chooses and we choose. We are chosen, but free (to quote Dr. Geisler).

In my view, she does not have to do anything to make it "possible" for her boys to be saved, Jesus did that. God the Father sent God the Son, God the Son paid our debt in full, and God the Holy Spirit testifies of this truth. Salvation is all of God, by His grace, and received by Faith. Tell her that if her sons will repent and believe they can be saved (give her the gospel message). But don't tell her that her sons have no desire for God, but if they desire the desire for God... then maybe if she prays hard enough God may just give them that desire to desire God. I can't even hardly type it, much less believe it. :)

Wade, I hear there is a good conference coming up in November called the John 3:16 Conference, you may want to check that out.

Anonymous said...

To Native Vermonter:
I remember the story of the kid and the starfish as I am, like most of us, a fan of "Chicken Soup".

After reading Wade's post, it occurs to me that the salvation illustration wasn't really all about the starfish. It was about the old man and the kid.

The old man says "why try?"

The young boy knows, in his child-like wisdom, the reason.

Maybe the salvation illustrated in this story is that God has shown to the young boy that which He has kept hidden from the old man. Maybe part of salvation is the courage, in the face of what is seemingly impossible, to keep trying to do what is right.

Long ago, while working in a drug rehab in Patterson, N.J., a sixteen year old asked me, "Why try?" Now, having no personal wisdom, I do not know where the answer I gave him came from, but I said: "You can ask 'why try?' but then, you owe it to yourself to ask the other side of that question: 'why not try'. Well, this must have been the right thing to say, because it led to a most productive discussion among the boys in the classroom.

Wade speaks about matters of the heart. The word "courage" means "of the heart".

In reaching out to do WHAT HE COULD TO HELP ANOTHER LIVING CREATURE; especially in the face of impossible odds, the young lad illustrates the fruit of his own salvation.

Thanks to Wade for helping me to see this story in an expanded way. Please know that I may not have expressed myself clearly, astt I come from a different faith tradition.

Unknown said...


Great article my Brother… well said!
I am tempted to try and help you out with Joe… but honestly you don’t need any help with Joe.


Wade has asked you some very “easy” questions… We are all waiting for your answer?

Grace Always,

Anonymous said...


You didn't answer Wade's question...What makes you different?


Cynthia Kunsman said...

What a precious post.

Bob Cleveland wrote: If we never understand quite how this all fits together, if we never nail it all down in our minds, I guess it'll just take a lot of trust in God, on our part, to bring any peace in this. That seems to be a good thing.

I think that's what messes everyone up on this limited atonement business-- in our natural human hubris, we cannot comprehend the idea that we lack God's perspective. We have the mind of Christ through the study of the Word of God, but His ways are still higher than ours.

I am reminded of a discussion that I had with my pastor a few years ago... In the midst of a great struggle and illness, our expressions must have contained enough to fill a million volumes of books -- all boiled down into one simple phrase: "Trust God." And that is what is required and what God desires to see in us concerning even our understanding of grace, faith and trust in Him.

If we had His perspective, we would have no need of faith. We likely would think that we did not need Him either.

Beautiful, Pastor Wade.

God is God and we are not (and thank Him that we are not).

Anonymous said...

To Confused, But Saved For Sure:

Go ahead and vote your choice: this is still America, the land of the free.

I am going to vote Democratic, because, in our neighborhood, if I were to put up an Obama sign, we would be vandalized badly.

Until I can put up a political sign in my yard, without fear, I refuse to vote Republican again.

Our country wasn't always like this. I hope and pray for real change soon.


Writer said...


Excellent article. I'm sure the comments will obviously come down along the lines of those who are Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

Since I am a Calvinist, I believe that Christ actually accomplished something at the cross (redemption of the elect), not just the possibility of redemption.

God's grace is amazing in that He provides salvation for one, much less the innumerable ones who will gathered around the throne (Rev. 7:9).


Anonymous said...


I did answer Wade's question? My choice, my faith, and my Lord make me different.

Anonymous said...

Dear Les,
Do all Calvinists KNOW that they are among the "elect"?

I have trouble understanding what is going to happen to the OTHER GUYS.

Very confusing: do you speak of a God who is bound by a decision He made at a certain time? I always thought that God was eternal and not bound by time.


B Nettles said...

Thanks for the post. Chosen for Life is an excellent book; good recommendation.

I was right there with you in your explanation until you wrote But I believe the Bible teaches that when a child of God prays fervently (which speaks of a burdened heart) for that loved one or family member who is lost, then that lost loved one will effectually and ultimately be saved.

You never specified where the Bible teaches that, and your explanation could easily be applied to anything we pray about whether wealth, health, profession ("Lord, I pray that my child becomes a physics professor." :) ) It seems to me that you're improperly stretching a Godly burden to pray into a guarantee for an "affirmative" answer. I don't see a Biblical backing for that "yes."

Anonymous said...

Suppose a farmer posts a sign in front of his pond that says "No Swimming". Yet, two boys end up ignoring that warning and swimming in his pond. What the boys did not understand about the warning was that the pond was full of weeds. Both boys get caught in the weeds, in a mess of their own making. The farmer comes upon the two boys in this situation. In his wisdom, the farmer decides to save one boy and show his love and mercy. At the same time, he decides to let the other boy drown to display his wrath and anger for the boys breaking his rules.

I am sorry, but the farmers love in this story is not representative of the love of God that I know or that the Bible presents.

Wayne Smith said...

Will God Choose Not To Save My Loved Ones?
She is a vociferous reader, multi-lingual, and quite intelligent.
Wade, You can say that again. My Prayer would be that all churches would be full of Believers like the Lady.

She writes, "This seems very sad, that someone can't choose God because God has not chosen them."

This Lady, As a new convert who sees and understands the Love and Truth of God’s Word. The Lamb’s Book of Life Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,The Lamb’s Book of Life

Title: The New Park Street Pulpit Volume One
“He hath from the beginning chosen you unto sanctification of the spirit, and
belief of the truth.” How many men mistake the doctrine of election altogether!
and how my soul burns and boils at the recollection of the terrible evils that have
accrued from the spoiling and the wresting of that glorious portion of God's
glorious truth! How many are there who have said to themselves, “I am elect, ”
and have sat down in sloth, and worse than that! They have said, “I am the elect
of God, ” and with both hands they have done wickedness. They have swiftly run
to every unclean thing, because they have said, “I am the chosen child of God,
irrespective of my works, therefore I may live as I list, and do what I like.” Oh,
beloved! let me solemnly warn every one of you not to carry the truth too far; or,
rather not to turn the truth into error, for we cannot carry it too far. We may
overstep the truth; we can make that which was meant to be sweet for our
comfort, a terrible mixture for our destruction. I tell you there have been
thousands of men who have been ruined by misunderstanding election; who have
said, “God has elected me to heaven, and to eternal life”; but they have forgotten
that it is written, God has elected them “through sanctification of the Spirit and
belief of the truth.” This is God's election—election to sanctification and to faith.
God chooses his people to be holy, and to be believers. How many of you here
then are believers? How many of my congregation can put their hands upon their
hearts and say, “I trust in God that I am sanctified”? Is there one of you who
says, “I am elect”?—I remind that you swore last week. One of you says, “I trust
I am elect”—but I jog your memory about some vicious act that you committed
during the last six days. Another of you says, “I am elect”—but I would look you
in the face and say, “Elect! thou art a most cursed hypocrite! and that is all thou
art.” Others would say, “I am elect”—but I would remind them that they neglect
the mercy–seat and do not pray. Oh, beloved! never think you are elect unless
you are holy. You may come to Christ as a sinner, but you may not come to
Christ as an elect person until you can see your holiness. Do not misconstrue
what I say—do not say “I am elect, ” and yet think you can be living in sin. That
is impossible. The elect of God are holy. They are not pure, they are not perfect,
they are not spotless; but, taking their life as a whole, they are holy persons. They
are marked, and distinct from others: and no man has a right to conclude himself
elect except in his holiness. He may be elect, and yet lying in darkness, but he
has no right to believe it; no one can see it, there is no evidence of it. The man
may live one day, but he is dead at present.

If you are walking in the fear of God,
trying to please him, and to obey his commandments, doubt not that your name
has been written in the Lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the

Wayne Smith

Anonymous said...

Once again I ask, do we believe that God can do what He wants, when He wants, how He wants, to who He wants on any issue at any time?

Only God knows all about all at all times.

thanks again Wade.

ps....To unsigned Anonymous, if we vote for a person who supports the murder of the unborn, are we not as guilty as the Dr. performing the murder?

The Bible has a lot to say about shedding innocent blood.


Anonymous said...


Please don't be led astray by what these people are telling you. They are Calvinists, and their doctrine is based on philosophy and logic, not Scripture.

You are the correct one. The Bible does declare that it is God's will that all be saved. It does say that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the "whole word." The word "world" there (which is I John 2:2) is the Greek word "cosmos," which means the "whole world" - it means everybody.

The Bible also says that God calls all men to repent and believe in faith. If a person is lost, it is because they have not believed (John 3:17), not because God did not choose them. We must proclaim the gospel because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17).

This is a Calvinist website, and they teach a doctrine of election that must reject the plain meaning of these Scriptures. They do this, among other ways, by fabricating a doctrine called "God's two wills," which one person told you to search by looking up John Piper. Piper, too, is a Calvinist.

What they are not telling you, Pamela, is that contrary to what the Bible teaches, God has in fact chosen people for damnation. This is the doctrine of reprobation (the Calvinist flip-side of election) and all of these men believe it, although they aren't telling you about it.

They do believe that God may not have chosen to save your loved ones. They seek to confuse and cloud the issue by saying that a sinner can ask God to remove the blindness, but they have already told you that a sinner cannot desire this unless God regenerates them first.

That is entirely unbiblical. Anyone who reprents and believes can be saved, because the Bible promises that "everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

After I post this, someone will reply by saying that I believe we are saved by "works" or that we "cooperate" with God's grace. They will resort to name-calling by using their favorite designation "Arminian."

But make no mistake about it - God is the one who saves, entirely by his grace. No one deserved to have Jesus die for their sins, but that is what He did - for everyone. I can accept anyone's invitation to save me, but I won't be saved thereby unless the person has the power to save. When we accept God's gift, we are saved - not because we accepted, but because God has the power to save.

Keep the faith, Pamela. And for the woman with the original question, God has not chosen to condemn your loved ones. They must repent and believe, but Jesus has paid the price for their sin.

Anonymous said...

I think the best illustration of this post is the story of Lazerus. We also have the conversion of Saul/Paul and Lydia in Acts.

Anonymous said...

"Once again I ask, do we believe that God can do what He wants, when He wants, how He wants, to who He wants on any issue at any time?"

NO, we do not believe that. True, God is God. However, He is bound by His own character and word. God cannot lie, God cannot contradict Himself, God cannot deny Himself, etc. Why? Because of the holiness of His character, therefore God cannot and will not do many things.

g. alford,

I appreciate you wanting to help Wade with me, but it would be better if you could help me and Wade with this hurting mother. Just saying; some things are more important than being declared the winner of a theological quandary.

And just so you know, I answered (or at least attempted to) Wade's questions. What made the good angel that God created fall? Choice. What caused Adam and Eve to sin and fall in the garden? Choice. What seperates lost men from saved men when the offer is available to all? Choice.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Wade for hogging your blog. I will hang up now and let the next caller have a say.

Anonymous said...

B Nettles: I'm not Wade, and I hope he answers your question concerning prayer, but my answer is this:

"And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (I John 5:14).

"the Spirit of God intercedes for us according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27).

I think it's along the same line as how will they hear without a preacher. Prayer is a God-ordained way to bring a person He has burdened us with to Christ. Health and wealth is not necessarily God's will for us, but we know that salvation is. There is no doubt about that.

Wayne Smith said...


For thoses that don't understand this. please read the Bible Passaees Below.

This is an ectract from
Author: Arthur W.Pink

The great Architect of the universe drew up His plans before ever a creature
was brought into existence. Everything concerning Christ and His Church was
firmly settled beyond possibility of alteration. All that concerns the being and
well-being of His people is done according to God’s covenant-enactment. As
Eph. 1:11 declares, God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
Yes, "He will ever be mindful of His covenant" (Psa. 111:5). There were no
contingencies, no uncertainties, no peradventures. All the affairs of the elect were
settled by the mutual consent of all the persons of Deity. The Father made choice
of the elect (Eph. 1:4), the Son accepted that choice (John 17:10), the Spirit
recorded it in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 13:8). The Father decreed salvation,
the Son consented to purchase it, the Spirit pledged Himself to the
communication of it.

Wayne Smith

Anonymous said...

I might add to my above comment Romans 15:18.

John Daly said...

In discussing this very subject George Whitefield states: "But I would be tender on this point, and leave persons to be taught it of God. I am of the martyr Bradford’s mind. Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance, before he goes to the university of election and predestination.”

Hopefully all of us are striving to learn more of our Savior. I agree with George that we should be tender on this point and allow God to reveal His character and attributes to us as we study His Holy Word.

Anonymous said...

To W.Treat:

I am voting Democratic. I do not support "child murderers", my religion forbids abortion. I must say that we see things very differently. You see the issue of when life begins from John McCain's perspective. I see that our early Church fathers and rabbis of old did NOT have a consensus on when life began in the womb OR, more specifically, when God gives the new life a soul,
so, of course, I can vote my conscience.

My conscience tells me that when a political party fields an administration that fosters torture of prisoners, that that political party is un-American and needs to be told, "enough".

I want my country back.

I am voting Democratic, but I give YOU this: that as an American, I respect that you can decide for yourself. And no, I don't think ALL republicans approve of the torture of prisoners.

Jenn's Mom

Anonymous said...

"Once again I ask, do we believe that God can do what He wants, when He wants, how He wants, to who He wants on any issue at any time?"

NO, we do not believe that.

I do. Job: 42:7;Romans 9

Mike said...

I am struggling with not being my usual sarcastic self here and trying to be positive....but for folks who feel that we have finally settled the age old question of free will and election in this short blog please think again. When we feel like we have all of the answers (particularly to issues like free will vs, election, or why does God allow evil?) we are in dire straits. Let's just admit that we don't understand it from our human point of least it is honest (which I find a rare commodity among Christians)

Mike K

Anonymous said...

I do not want to change the subject, this will be my last post on this page.

Our forfathers and church fathers did not have the science we have, therefore, their opinions are moot here.

We know that life begins at conception.

God has known it all along.

Remember what he did to those who burned the infants?

The Soul is not an issue here. Life is. The Creator of life knows when life begins.

there will be a day of judgment on this and you can argue with Him.

I didn't say I was voting for the Republicans. I think I will write in Wade's name!

My last post this time


Mike said...

To Jenn's mom

Amen to that! How can support a political party that has unjustly led us into a war that has caused the death of >90,000 innocent Iraqi civilians...It amazes me how Repubicans feel so righteous by standing against abortion? issue by the way that they are really going to do nothing about....and they know it.

I am not for the killing of the unborn yet a pro-life stance is so much greater than anti-abotion. It is for life at all stages....

Mike K

Anonymous said...

It is kind of funny to hear people (like Joe and others) rattle off all the standard free willie nonsense regarding this old debate.

I'm way passed that.

What's not funny however is when people start saying things that contradict the bible and they think they are still right thinking. UGH! These people have only proven they have not read the bible and they are relying on their TRADITION.

Like someone above actually admitting that God is one unhappy sovereign Creator because His will keeps getting missed most of the time.

You really can't believe that our God is that weak...can you? He means and even WILLS that everyone be saved...and yet most aren't?...and that's okay with you?


Wow! If that's me, I say I'm finding me a new god.

Joe, you might want to check your god of love in scripture as well.

Do you know this is the same God that killed a man on the spot because he kept the ark from falling in the mud?

Do you know this is the same God that killed a husband and wife because they were deceitful about how much they gave to the church?...Killed them both right then and there. BAM!

Do you know this is the same God that killed every single person - that's men, women, and children Joe - in the flood? (save Noah and his crew).

Do you know this is the same God that killed every first born child in Egypt where the blood was not applied? Ummm, that's KILLED Joe. That's children! Little babies! Intentionally Joe!

Are you familiar with these stories?

You also said, "...But don't tell her that her sons have no desire for God, but if they desire the desire for God... then maybe if she prays hard enough God may just give them that desire to desire God."

Joe, seriously, do you have any idea how your ideas of God contradict scripture?

Do these words sound familiar?

There is no one good, no not one.

There is none who seek after God, no one.

We are all at enmity with God.

Do you know what enmity means Joe? It means deep rooted hatred. Thats hatred for God Joe! Can you believe that? Before God changes our dispostion toward Him, we hate Him! Did you know that Joe? I know I hated Him before He changed my heart. I wanted nothing to do with Him brother.

Do you know what propitiation means?

Assuming you do, then if the "wrath of God was turned away" from every person in the "whole world", then why is anyone in hell?

Context is king people.

Why does the bible say that He died as a ransom for many? Why doesn't it say all? One less letter even? All would have been so much easier to write.

My rant could go on forever with all these silly suggestions of a weak, helpless, hopeful and passive god that are occuring here.

My point is that my traditions weighed heavily on me at one time as well as I sought to understand why I was smart enough to make the choice to be saved and my good friends were not. So I'll end with a question. At least think about it.

When you pray for the salvation of your friends and / or family, how do you pray? What do you pray? What do you ask of God?


Anonymous said...

Is this possible:

A political party comes to power with the support of the church on one issue: for example, the abortion issue.

Then, the SAME political party, begins to foster evil: such as torture.

Then, the evil RETROS, and infects the church leadership: this would be evidenced by the church leadership supporting torture by rationalizing the need for it.

Is this possible?

I'm not sure that we are supposed to raise the Republican Party to such a position of Authority. If we do this, based on faith, are we then bound to accept and defend this party, no matter what?

I begin to think of a parallel with the "Christian" Nazi party in Germany, many years ago. Politics WERE mixed with the term "Christian". As a result, evil entered, corrupting the "Christian" German nation in those days.

How much faith should we ever invest in any political party? Should we ever allow a political party to manipulate the Church?

Please help me with this?


Anonymous said...

Dear W.Treat,
I fail to see how science has made the subject of when life begins a "moot point". I am a science teacher (retired from a public school system, but also have taught in a religious school); my brother is a medical doctor (a pediatrician); his wife and one daughter are pediatric nurse practitioners. Another daughter is a Navy nurse. My nephew is in medical school.

I say all this, because we do NOT see scientific verification that it IS clear as to when life begins.

Perhaps you are privy to information that we do not have.

I have an open mind, being a science teacher. As a woman of faith, I do NOT know if life begins at conception.

Jenn's Mom said...

B. Nettles,

You wrote:

I was right there with you in your explanation until you wrote But I believe the Bible teaches that when a child of God prays fervently (which speaks of a burdened heart) for that loved one or family member who is lost, then that lost loved one will effectually and ultimately be saved.

You never specified where the Bible teaches that, and your explanation could easily be applied to anything we pray about whether wealth, health, profession ("Lord, I pray that my child becomes a physics professor." :) ) It seems to me that you're improperly stretching a Godly burden to pray into a guarantee for an "affirmative" answer. I don't see a Biblical backing for that "yes."

My church member, Debbie Kaufman, answered the question for me. The texts:

And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (I John 5:14).

"the Spirit of God intercedes for us according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27).

We have no indication that is God's will that "my son will become a physics professor," (your illustration) and no indication of God's will in other matters that are not stated clearly in the Scripture.

We do know that it is clearly God's will to save sinners. "And this is a faithful saying worthy of all acceptation, Christ came to save sinners" said Paul to Timothy.

The question is, "Which sinners?"

Well, I propose that if you take the verses that Debbie gives (and others) there is warrant to believe that God saves those sinners whom He is petitioned to save. When His people (the righteous) have a burden for a person to know Christ, and they pray for it to happen, it happens. Why?

Because God is the one who burdened His people to pray for the salvation of that person. God is the one who caused us to kneel before His throne to request salvation.

But, if there is no burden that God save a particular individual, and if God's people never pray that God save an individual, then why would anyone ever complain about God not doing that which we did not ask.

It would seem to me that the only person who might be sad in heaven is that saint who fervently prayed for the salvation of someone, only to be told it never occurred. But the Bible says "The EFFECTUAL, fervent prayers of a righteuos man availeth much."

In other words, like Spurgeon, I believe God saves the people that His people pray He saves!!

Spurgeon once was greeted by a woman who told him that she had been praying for years and years that her husband would come to know Christ and she had just received a telegram that her husband had died in a ship accident in the Atlantic as he was coming home to England from America. Spurgeon gently told the lady that on the authority of the Word of God, she would see her husband in heaven, because God would never burden His children for the salvation of a loved one with no intention to save that loved one.

The only people that ought to be concerned about not seeing their loved ones in heaven are those who never pray that God save their loved ones. Parents with no concern for the souls of their children, or wives with no concern for the souls of their husbands, or pastors with no concern for the souls in his community, all ought to be concerned that they will never see God move in salvation in their midst.

So, if there is no burden to pray for the lost, we as God's people better begin at the start and ask God to give us a burden. Then, when He burdens us with lost people who need Him, and we start praying for them, He moves in power. By the way, this is how revivals always begin.

I don't know if you will feel I answered your question, but I have always believed that God answers the prayers of His people when they are praying (not just saying they are praying, but really praying) for the souls of those they love.


Unknown said...


“What separates lost men from saved men? Choice.”

So that settles it then; you believe in “Decisional Regeneration” --- A man/woman is Regenerated (Born Again) based upon their Decision/Choice alone.

Joe, are you a Southern Baptist? Because that is not what our confession of faith, the BFM2000, teaches concerning the doctrine of salvation.

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice that our confession of faith teaches that “the sinner responds” to the work of the Holy Spirit… and not that the Holy Spirit responds to the work (choice) of the sinner.

Salvation is much more than a mere choice… it “is a work of God’s grace… it is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit”. Any denial of this truth, or omitting of this truth, is Humanism pure and simple… I am saved because of something I have done and others are lost because of what they have not done. Yes, Jesus may have made salvation possible, but it is man who saves himself by making the right choice and not God who after making salvation possible is now only a bystander in the salvation of man. This is Humanism.

So you believe men are saved by simply making the right choice do you? Please explain to us what happens to all those countless millions that will enter eternity who have never even heard of the name of Jesus Christ? What will be their fate? And what choice did they have?

There are only three categories of men who have ever, or will ever, live upon the earth.

1. Those who hear the gospel and repent.
2. Those who hear the gospel and do not repent.
3. Those who never hear the gospel.

Humanistic doctrine/arguments can be constructed to handle numbers 1 and 2, but it is in dealing with number 3 that all Humanistic arguments fall apart. How do you explain what happens to those who never hear the gospel? What is their fate? And who decides their fate?

Grace always, said...

G Alford,

Great question to Joe.

Without impinging on his answer, let me say, in my opinion, anyone who has a problem with God holding accountable a sinner who never hears the gospel doesn't understand the Law of God and His demand that man perfectly obey Him.

Anonymous said...

"So that settles it then; you believe in “Decisional Regeneration” --- A man/woman is Regenerated (Born Again) based upon their Decision/Choice alone."

G. Alford,

You have either misunderstood me accidentally or you have purposefully sought to misconstrue what I have written. I have plainly confessed on this blog that salvation is all of God, by His grace, and through faith.

Yes. I am a Southern Baptist, and I agree 100% with our confession. Where you and I disagree is on the interpretation of this phrase... "the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." I believe it is indeed the sinner responding, though totally depraved, yet not totally inable.

Over and over again in the Bible, God says... "Choose." In Deut. 30:19 the alternatives of life and death are given by Moses to Israel and God says... "Choose life". Joshua said to his people... "choose you this day whom ye will serve." Morally and spritually responsible alternatives are set before human beings by God. Over and over again mankind is commanded to believe and to choose. Belief then is our responsiblity, and it is rooted in our ability to respond.

Thus, I am in complete agreement with our statment of faith and fully believe that "the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ"... You would have us believe that the Lord responds through the sinner in repentence and faith to Himself.

Who gets to decide the eternal fate of men when they die? The Lord of course. To which I ask with Abraham... "Shall not the jusge of all the earth do right?" said...


You give the following illustration:

"Suppose a farmer posts a sign in front of his pond that says "No Swimming". Yet, two boys end up ignoring that warning and swimming in his pond. What the boys did not understand about the warning was that the pond was full of weeds. Both boys get caught in the weeds, in a mess of their own making. The farmer comes upon the two boys in this situation. In his wisdom, the farmer decides to save one boy and show his love and mercy. At the same time, he decides to let the other boy drown to display his wrath and anger for the boys breaking his rules.

I am sorry, but the farmers love in this story is not representative of the love of God that I know or that the Bible presents."

In the scenario you give, I too, would have trouble believing in a God as described by you. There are, however, several problem with your illustration in representing Biblical truth.

(1). In your illustration, you have two sweet, innocent boys out for a swim and represent them as biblical "sinners." The sinners against God are described as "vile, haters of God, wicked, evil, etc . . . " - in other words, we are not talking about God refusing to rescue the innocent, we are talking about God punishing the wicked. Your illustration seems to fall short of the representation of wickedness.

(2). The sign, "No Swimming" is supposed to represent God's law. However, a farmers sign on a pond falls far short of representing God's eternal law.

For instance, what is the difference between a man drawing back a bow and firing an arrow through the heart of a deer and being praised as a hunter, and a man drawing back a bow and firing an arrow through the heart of a human being and being condemned to death as a killer? The nature of the living thing which was pierced by the arrow. There is a huge difference between a man and a deer.

So it is with God. There is a great difference in the nature of a man and the nature of God. There is a great difference in violating the law of a man and the law of God. One offense against the eternal God who created the universe demands eternal death. One offense against a farmer by crossing the boundary he established demands a five second scolding.

(3). Finally, the farmers' 'wrath and anger' to which you refer in your illustration, that which caused the farmer to not save the drowning boy, falls far short of "the wrath and anger" of a holy God in punishing sinners.

The wrath of man is always tainted with sin and selfishness. God's wrath is pure and holy. Man takes pleasure in punishing those who wrong him, but God takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner.

Then why punish a sinner? Simply because grace would never be comprehended unless the absence of grace were real. Just as there is no understanding of light without the absence of it (darkness).

So, I would wholeheartedly agree that the illustration you give does not represent the God we serve in any form or fashion.

Anonymous said...

Joe - You said, "I believe it is indeed the sinner responding, though totally depraved, yet not totally inable."

Scripture says that no man CAN come to me unless the Father draws him.

"Can" describes ability.

Scripture says you are wrong. No man has the ability to come to Christ...

unless Christ comes to the rescue and makes him able.

Praise Him.

greg.w.h said...

One itsy bitsy comment to those tilting against the windmill: Wade's point may very well be that you disagree with him. The question is how long you'll make a public scene out of the disagreement instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with your soteriology next to his and working with God and with Wade to reach the whole world you claim God is willing to save.

If you believe that your soteriology is so superior that you can't stand next to Wade, you kind of prove his point about God choosing who will be drawn to him, aren't you? Or do you not recognize that your pride is destructive and is causing division in the Body of Christ? After all, no one is saved based on soteriology alone, but instead based on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. So the obligation of both the Calvinist and the Arminian is not to fight with each other, but to proclaim the faith that has been handed down to them.

God can save regardless of the soteriology, but he will only save using the blood of Christ, and never using the soteriology itself! That's why I don't proclaim soteriology, I proclaim Christ Jesus.

Similarly, Wade speaks to a woman who asks a question and is not seeking to evangelize her, but rather to disciple her in her post-evangelized and -baptized condition. That he is faithfully telling Scripture as he understands it is true. Whether you agree with him or not doesn't change his calling or the revelation he is discussing. And the fact that you disagree with him merely proves that some of this is a mystery that none of us has a sure revelation on because we know faithful Christians that take each view!

For instance, I think there is a mystery at the point of decision that might be a little more ambiguous than either Calvinism or Arminianism or variants between the two allow. Regardless, only God can save and only those that call on the name of his Son for salvation--his Son is named "Yah Delivers"--can be saved.

And it isn't the prayer for salvation or any magic incantation that provides the opportunity for deliverance. It is solely faith in Christ Jesus. And in spite of our penchant for disagreement, all of this is GOOD NEWS!

Greg Harvey

Unknown said...


Yes. I am a Southern Baptist, and I agree 100% with our confession. Where you and I disagree is on the interpretation of this phrase... "the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." I believe it is indeed the sinner responding, though totally depraved, yet not totally inable.


I did not know that the BFM needed “any” interpretation... Words and sentence structure have exact meaning in any language and I think the meaning of the BFM is very clear and unambiguous in what it says in plan English. However it is clear that you think it says something other than I think it says concerning the work of the Holy Spirit “preceding” the response of the sinner... so could you please rewrite/rephrase it so that I can read it as you understand it? Just put in words what you believe the BFM is saying concerning the doctrine of salvation... but please try and keep it as short and precise as you can.

By the way... you still have not even attempted to answer my question concerning those who have never heard the gospel... what shall become of them?

Greg Harvey,

Good words brother...
I was saved a full throttle Arminian, but alas I soon began to read my Bible.

Grace Always

Bob Cleveland said...

We'd have a monumental job trying to explain Australia to a flea crawling around on a dog. Imagine trying to explain the universe.

And even that can't hold a candle to the gulf between man's puny understanding, and God. It's a testament to man's arrogance and self-opinion that we think we can understand anything beyond what God has told us.

1) He says that we can be saved if we will repent and turn to Jesus and do a few other things. So we can. So be it.

2) Some maintain He selects who will be saved. If the bible says that, so be it.

#2 in no way negates #1.

In a manifestation of the same desire to comprehend all things that got Adam and Eve in trouble, and presumably so we can use and control that knowledge, we think we can grasp how we can have free choice, yet God can know in advance. That's our problem, not God's.

We simply can't. We're not God. That job is already filled.

If the basis for evangelism and missions was a universal burden for souls, Jesus wouldn't have had to give the great commission. But He did, which tells me our efforts should be guided by our obedience to his commands, and not by our own opinion on how things ought to be.

Or not. What do I know?

Only By His Grace said...


Excellent article.
The Predestination and Free Will argument will be debated until Jesus comes back to settle the matter.

I think it was in C. H. Spurgeon's sermon, "Why I Am a Calvinist" that he said (not exact quote), "A man standing in the middle of a railroad track looks to his left and then to his right; as far as the eye can see in either direction the rails never merge together. It is the same with the truth of 'chosen in Him before the foundation of the world' and 'whosoever will, may come.' The two tracks may be contradictory and never merge in our finite minds, but that does not mean they do not merge in God's infinite mind."

All I know is that He sought me before I ever sought Him.

I appreciate what the Apostle Paul said to the Philippian jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved AND YOUR HOUSE." Just words? No, God's word.

Phil in Norman.

B Nettles said...

Thanks for the response. We still have much to talk about on that topic, but I won't hog the bandwidth about it, even though it is on topic, UNLIKE THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

Come to Union for a conference this year. We'll have supper together.

Anonymous said...

"They are Calvinists, and their doctrine is based on philosophy and logic"

I sure hope so:

"In the beginning was the Logic and the Logic was with God and the Logic was God."

"I am the way, the truth (in accordance with with divine logic and reason) and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me"

I think I like Jesus' philosophy!


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Wade, in spite of the well reasoned response made to the lady's question, missed the Bible totally. He speaks of God's choosing as if it were contemporary. Ephesians speaks of it as having been made in eternity past, saying, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."(Eph.1:4-6)

Anonymous said...

To Phil in Norman:

You said "All I know is that He sought me before I ever sought Him."

Of course He did. In of all places, the book of Jeremiah, these words of comfort are written: "I have loved you with an everlasting love."

Imagine that! In our poor human weakness, He has chosen to love us. What does He ask of us? That we love Him with all our heart, and soul, and mind; and that we love our neighbor as ourselves. And, oh yes, one more thing: that we walk humbly with Him.

I think a lot of us stumble on that "humbly" part. Jesus had no trouble with it.

ezekiel said...


“Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
- Eph_1:11
Our belief in God’s wisdom supposes and necessitates that he has a settled purpose and plan in the work of salvation. What would creation have been without his design? Is there a fish in the sea, or a fowl in the air, which was left to chance for its formation? Nay, in every bone, joint, and muscle, sinew, gland, and blood-vessel, you mark the presence of a God working everything according to the design of infinite wisdom. And shall God be present in creation, ruling over all, and not in grace? Shall the new creation have the fickle genius of free will to preside over it when divine counsel rules the old creation? Look at Providence! Who knoweth not that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father? Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. God weighs the mountains of our grief in scales, and the hills of our tribulation in balances. And shall there be a God in providence and not in grace? Shall the shell be ordained by wisdom and the kernel be left to blind chance? No; he knows the end from the beginning. He sees in its appointed place, not merely the corner-stone which he has laid in fair colours, in the blood of his dear Son, but he beholds in their ordained position each of the chosen stones taken out of the quarry of nature, and polished by his grace; he sees the whole from corner to cornice, from base to roof, from foundation to pinnacle. He hath in his mind a clear knowledge of every stone which shall be laid in its prepared space, and how vast the edifice shall be, and when the top-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings of “Grace! Grace! unto it.” At the last it shall be clearly seen that in every chosen vessel of mercy, Jehovah did as he willed with his own; and that in every part of the work of grace he accomplished his purpose, and glorified his own name.


No stone at any time chooses to extract itself from the quarry and become a part of the Temple. The Temple is built by the very hands of God, each stone chosen, each stone cut, polished, and laid by His hands and his hands alone.

Ramesh said...

Oswald Chambers in one of his daily devotional of My Utmost for His Highest, writes that when there is spiritual confusion, you cut through it not through intellectual reasoning, but by obedience to the word of god.

In lot of cases, for me, it's through faith.

Whenever I do this, I get a sense of peace that I know is not of this world.

I am not saying reasoning or understanding is bad, but that lot of times in spiritual issues, clarity comes through faith and obedience.

Kevin said...

I'm still not a Calvinist, but as long as people are preaching Christ crucified and repentance, Calvinism vs non-Calvinism just isn't that important to me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade, think of how mothers put a light in the window for their child who is serving in Iraq and in harm's way. What does that light represent?

Mothers always want their children to find their way Home; the mother you write about is no exception.

Anonymous said...

G. Alford,

I agree with you, I to think the BFM is clear and precise. I also think my response was equally clear and precise, so I am not sure how you missed it. There is no need to rephrase anything in the sentence your reference. God is the initiator and man the responder. Calvinist just can't seem to get their mind around the idea that man can actually exercise the freedom of choice and respond. The BFM says differently. It says... "In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race."

Please answer me one question. What caused the "good" angel Lucifer to become the Devil... and what caused the "good" people in the garden of Eden to fall into sin... and what sends people to Hell for all eternity? If is not the freedom of choice... then God is the author of sin, to blame for the fall, and a giant cosmic puppet master. None of which can be true of our Holy God.

The Bible says that God chooses AND that we choose. It might we good for some of my Calvinist leaning brothers and sisters to read Romans 10. Believe it or not, the book of Romans does ideed go past chapter 9.

Personally, I don't particularly like the fact that you question whether or not I am a Southern Baptist or not. I thought we had this topic settled, that there are brothers on both sides of this issue. No. I am not a Baptist in the mold of Mohler or Burleson... I am more in the mold of Rogers and Vines.

Rex Ray said...

Excellent…and excellent comments. Wish I had time to read them all. If this point’s been covered, I’m sorry for the repetition.

I believe in a nutshell, the way that God chooses man is in the words of Christ: “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw ALL men to me.”

Some may think that means “lifted up” on the cross of Calvary, but I believe it means hearing the Gospel.
How much ‘hearing’ it takes for each individual is not known and will vary with the hardness of their hearts caused by the amount of sin they love.

The younger person usually has less sin as shown by older men were first to drop their rocks and walk away when Jesus said, “The one without sin may cast the first stone.” Of course it may be they were wiser in knowing they’d been defeated.

Most ‘old songs’ lift Jesus up by telling what He did for us; while most ‘praise songs’ tell what we do for Him. Which is best in changing a sinner’s heart?

Just thought I’d throw that last part in. said...


You ask: Please answer me one question. "What caused the "good" angel Lucifer to become the Devil... and what caused the "good" people in the garden of Eden to fall into sin... and what sends people to Hell for all eternity? If is not the freedom of choice... then God is the author of sin, to blame for the fall, and a giant cosmic puppet master. None of which can be true of our Holy God."

Once again, a great question. I can tell you take these issues seriously and complement the way you work through difficult problems without dismissing them as unanswerable.

Let me seek to answer your question about Lucifer and Adam (man), their sin, and punishment. as succinctly as possible. Lucifer, just as you said, was created "good." So from where did Lucifer's sin come? Simply put, it came from Lucifer's desire to be like God, which is a "good" thing, in and of itself. Adam's sin originated from the same "good" desire - to be like God.

So their CHOICE to cross a boundary that God had established for them orginated in the good, Godly desires God created in them. They both beheld the beauty of God and desired to be like Him.

We see a superior athlete, we want to be "like" him (as in the old Michael Jordan commercial, "Be like Mike"). We read a brillian author, we want to be "like" him in our writing. Beauty draws from us a desire to be like that which we behold as beautiful.

But, God is God - and nobody can be Him. Therefore, He gave to both Lucifer and Adam a simple prohibition (or boundary) that reminded them that God was God and they were His creatures. Both Adam and Lucifer fell because their good desires led them to choose to be like God - and they did the very thing God told them not to do believing it would bring them God's beauty.

Thus, Lucifer and Adam sinned without God being the creator of it - for that which He creates is perfect and good.

The punishment for rebelling against the Creator is separation from His mercy and goodness and becoming the recepients of His righteous wrath. Lucifer and those who fell with Him are punished for their rebellion to God's law - that is what is being punished.

So, too, man is punished for rebellion to God's law. He is God and He tells His people what they can and cannot do.

So, what sends a man to hell is rebellion.

What saves a man from hell is redemption.

Man is responsible for the former.

God is responsible for the latter.

In His Grace,


Mike said...

The Calvinism-Arminian debate will continue on because we have ascribed our eternal destiny as the primary question of our question to the readers of this blog that the ultimate question we should be asking when we are talking about our relationship with God? our relatively recent (in terms of church history) evangelical background has defined it as such, but the ancients did not...why not?

Anonymous said...


Did God give Lucifer a greater desire to be like Him than He did other angels? Why did some angels follow after Lucifer, where did that desire come from? Why do some men accept Christ, while others reject Him?

In my mind these questions are all related to the freedom of choice.

I have one other question for you. I am very confused by your explanation that the burden on the elect to pray for some hints at the possiblity that person may be elect. Is it impossible then for an elect person to be burdened and pray for someone who will be eternally lost. From experience I know I have and our church has felt the burden for individuals that were lost. Some of those individuals that we have been burdened for and prayed for, have died. Tragically, some died in their lost condition as far as we know. Question... are we not elect since we were burdened for a non-elect person. Why would God burden us about a lost person and then leave them in their sin?

Again, I believe the answer lies in the freedom of choice.

Bill said...

Joe: I don't think anyone is arguing against freedom of choice. But that freedom is limited by our nature. I am not free to like brussel sprouts because it is not in my nature to like them. I cannot change that part of my nature myself. But God could change my tastebuds and desires so that I begin to like them. That's what Calvinists believe about salvation. People are technically free to choose Christ, but their nature does not allow it. God quickens the heart of a person so that they become receptive to the Gospel.

Otherwise, what is the point of praying for someone to be saved? Specifically, what are we asking God to do?

Unknown said...


God is not the author of sin… we both know better than that. God is the author of the Law which defines both righteousness and sin. True, if there were no Law (which God gave) their would be no sin… However, to accuse God of being the author of sin because he defined what sin was is absurd. – See Wades response for a very excellent treatment of this subject.

Joe, I am not saying you are not a Baptist… what I am saying is that the BFM teaches that in salvation as you have now stated God is the initiator and man the responder. You appeared to be leaving out the fact that God is the initiator in your earlier comments. I am glad we agree on this import distinction and that until God chooses to “initiates” man will not choose to respond.

You said Calvinist just can't seem to get their mind around the idea that man can actually exercise the freedom of choice and respond. That’s not exactly true… Calvinists believe that man does indeed exercise the freedom of choice in responding to Gods offer of salvation. However, the Calvinist is always careful to preserve God’s freedom of choice as well. The Calvinist puts it this way: “Man’s will is a slave to sin, until God sets his will free (initiates regeneration/salvation) and as the BFM says “to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” This brings richer meaning to the words of Jesus “he who the Son has set free is free indeed.”

See Joe, we are not all that far apart in our understanding of salvation after all. The bottom line is this: If God does not initiate regeneration/salvation then man does not respond, and if God initiates regeneration/salvation then clearly he has “Chosen” to do so.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that we all ascribe regeneration as a total work of a Sovereign God, Yet we seem to give angelic and humanistic credit for degeneration. God created the angels and Adam and Eve without sin. They were in a "pre-fall" state--no curse. How then did Lucifer and Eve then change their souls to a state of degeneracy if there is no death before sin?
The ability to sin, indeed the entire concept of sin had to come from an agent above the creation itself else we buy into the idea of humanistic and angelic self-evolution.
Additionally, the Covenant of Redemption was not to save mankind from sin but to glorify the Holy, Sovereign King of the Universe: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Through sin and death, the Glory of The Christ is more magnificently revealed (to non-divine humanity) by His sinless nature and His nature which dictates His love to save some through Sovereign Grace.
If the Covenant of Redemption was God's response to man's sin, then God is not sovereign.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this most glorious truth,


Anonymous said...

Again, Joe misrepresents scripture by saying that "God is the initiator and man the responder."

Joe, God is not the initiator.

Here is more scripture for you:

God is the author and finisher of our faith. AUTHOR AND FINISHER!

You can keep going back to your tradition and I'll just keep going back to scripture.

Anonymous said...


I take very seriously the charge of misrepresenting scripture, which as it just so happens, is exactly what you have done.

In Hebrews 12:2... The word “our” is not in the original here, and obscures the sense. The meaning is, he is the first and the last as an example of faith or of confidence in God - occupying in this, as in all other things, the pre-eminence, and being the most complete model that can be placed before us. The apostle had not enumerated him among those who had been distinguished for their faith, but he now refers to him as above them all; as a case that deserved to stand by itself. It is probable that there is a continuance here of the allusion to the Grecian games which the apostle had commenced in the previous verse. The word “author” - ἀρχηγὸν archēgon - (marg. beginner) - means properly the source, or cause of anything; or one who makes a beginning. It is rendered in Act_3:15; Act_5:31, “Prince”; in Heb_2:10, “Captain”; and in the place before us, “Author.”
It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. Thus, He is at the head of all those who have furnished an example of confidence in God, for he was himself the most illustrious instance of it.

The expression, then, does not mean properly that he produces faith in us, or that we believe because he causes us to believe - but that he stands at the head as the most eminent example that can be referred to on the subject of faith. We are exhorted to look to him, as if at the Grecian games there was one who stood before the racer who had previously carried away every palm of victory; who had always been triumphant, and with whom there was no one who could be compared.

The word “finisher” - τελειωτὴν teleiōtēn - corresponds in meaning with the word “author.” It means that he is the completer as well as the beginner; the last as well as the first.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I think we will see Him more and more clearly after this earth passes away. In the meantime, as Kevin in the Philippines says, let's preach Christ and Christ crucified!

Anonymous said...

So, the confusion is between just these two possibilities:

1. That Christ died for the sins of some men only (the elect) or

2. That Christ died for the sins of everyone.

Do Baptist scholars disagree or agree that one of these options is the case? If so, which one?

Is there another possibility?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,

I pray that all might be saved. Does that mean that all will because I believe that I have a God-given desire for all people to come to Christ (Rom. 11:32)?

John Daly said...

There are times when someone might need to make an anonymous comment…this isn’t one of those times. If you’re afraid to put your name down in here, then how are you going to take a stand out there? Belly up to the grape juice bar son, don’t be yeller.

John Daly
St. Louis

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...


The blood of Christ is “Sufficient” payment for the sin debt of everyone. However, it is applied only to the debt of those who repent of their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore depending upon the context of the discussion both 1 & 2 can be correct.

Ultimately no one whose sin debt has been paid will find themselves in Hell, and no one whose sin debt has not been paid will find themselves in Heaven.

Anonymous said...

G. Alford,

We are in agreement on the blood atonement of Christ. I am curious, however, what you make of my answer on Hebrews 12:2. In its proper context and relation to chapter 11... does this verse not say that Christ is the "captain", "leader", "prince", or "auhtor" of faith; the supreme example if you will.What exactly do you, Wade, and other Calvinists believe this verse says.

I know I addressed these questions to Wade, but I am also curious what you believe and how this fits into your thology. "Did God give Lucifer a greater desire to be like Him than He did other angels? Why did some angels follow after Lucifer, where did that desire come from?"

Anonymous said...

uouooTo John Daly,
May I inquire as to why you object to an anonymous blogger on this issue? I can't see the harm, as, if a person is anonymous and is not personally insulting another (God forbid) ; then the focus is certainly kept on the issue being discussed.

Is there something about this issue which makes an anonymous comment upsetting for you?

I don't understand your reservation, but I appreciate the humor of your request to personalize our remarks and questions. So in that spirit, I sign as:

A Friendly But
Un-Timid Anony-Mouse :)

Anonymous said...

Wade, I am a friend of Danny R. and work with him at a university in the Dallas area. He said your blog was "interesting reading." I've had the URL for about a month, and I chose today--no, wait--God chose today for me to check it out. Man! "Grace and Truth to me" is an understatement. Thank you. I needed that word. Just a day or two ago, I voiced that spiritual homily, "We don't have because we don't ask." Of course, it was directed at someone else, not myself. I lament and lament over unsaved family members, but the truth is I don't continually carry the burden for them by way of prayer to God for their salvation, which means in brutally honest truthspeak, I'm not carrying a burden at all. Ouch! But thanks. I'll be checking back in. said...

Dark Blue,

Your comment was an inspiration to me today. Thanks for taking the time to let me know that the words of Grace and Truth to You have helped you in your life of faith in Christ.

Mike said...

I am amazed that no one here so far(smart as you all are) sees the problem here. The scriptures are contradictory...why won't anyone admit that? I think I know why no one will admit it...because you have taken it as a presupposition that they are not. Would encourage all to reexamine that presupposition in light of much discussion (even in the scholarly evangelical realm) of biblical inerrancy...which is a tenuous proposition at best.

Anonymous said...

"Elect" or "non-Elect" reminds me of theologians having serious discussions on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Does God play with us? Would He abandon those who never have a chance to learn of Christ? Would He turn away from any of His children?

Where shall we find the "elected"? Are they in churches or are they working to help the suffering and rejected of this world? There has to be some justice and mercy extended to all by our gentle Father, or I cannot believe that He would save someone like me.

Un-elected and Knows It

Anonymous said...

Joe - You are proudly proclaiming loudly here for all to hear (and using greek alphabet and everything) that God is NOT the author and finisher of our faith...

...and yet you supply not one blip of scriptural data on this nonsense about "God initiates and man responds".

I don't serve a god that initiates and then sits back with his fingers crossed hoping it wasn't all for nothing.

That well of tradition truly runs deep for you.

Do you know that under your scheme it could have actually been possible for God to send His son to die, but all for nothing?! What if everyone from that crucifixion day forward chose not to believe Joe?

In practice, it's not true. But theoretically it could have happened.

What a waste of the precious blood of Christ that would have been.

That's not my God brother.

Unknown said...


I cannot speak of Wade, but my take on Hebrews 12:2 is that we are to “look to (trust in) Jesus, (who is) the founder (author) and perfecter of our faith.” ESV - That is to say that our faith comes from Jesus… “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it (faith) is the gift of God…” (Eph. 2:8) And having given us a measure of faith he (Jesus) shall bring our faith to perfection. That is my take on Hebrews 12:2

Joe, I really don’t know what you are driving at with all the questions about the fall of Lucifer and the angles that followed him in the fall… clearly you believe there is some great theological significance in this but I am unsure of what you are trying to get me to see (my fault I am sure). They (the fallen angles) exercised their free will and choose evil over good, rebellion over submission unto God… they choose to sin and in doing so their nature was changed from good to evil. They are now evil by nature and are incapable of righteousness… interestingly they have now lost a measure of the free will they had at the beginning for they are now also incapable of “not” sinning. Their will is now enslaved to sin… Just as mans will has become enslaved to sin after his fall… Man and the fallen angles are now incapable of “not” sinning. So, that both the fallen angles and man are in possession of the same sinful/corrupt nature, both incapable of “not” sinning and both incapable of righteousness by their own works.

Interestingly the angles that fell by their “free will” are now incapable by their “free will” to undo the effects of their fall? They cannot now change sides again… they are forever evil and even if they desired to do so (which they do not) there is nothing their “free will” can ever do to change what they now are by nature. Also of interest is the fact that man who now has a measure of “free will” with which to sin, will loose that freedom of the will to sin when he gets to heaven.

Just a few things to think about…

Grace Always,

John Daly said...

One reason why I like to see people identify themselves is that you get to know folks after awhile. You start to develop some relationships and you begin to get to know people's writng style and opinions. Going anon takes all the fun out of it and you don't entertain their viewpoints as seriously. Maybe that's not right but that's the way it is.

For example, we've all gotten to know Mr. White over the past two days and that would have been super lame if he did the whole thing anon.

Anonymous said...


We must be careful that we do not let healthy debate lead to unhealthy doubt. I could very well be wrong, Wade could be wrong, but one thing is certain... the Bible is right. What seem to be a contradictory passage or great mystery is none the less absolutely true. The word of God is the sole authority for faith and practice.


Sorry you don't enjoy biblical exegesis as much as I do, but you were the one who made the appeal for me to be more scriptural. :)

G. Alford,

The point I was trying and failing to make about Lucifer and the angels speaks directly to the freedom of choice, and always doing what we desire the most, and... never mind.

I will encourage you to look closer at Hebrews 12:2... "the author and finisher of faith"... and also the text you quoted in Ephesians. In my view, both have been misunderstood. The gift of God is not faith (or faith only), it is salvation by grace. The obvious grammatical construction and the design of the passage guides us to understand the word “that” as referring not to “faith”, but to “salvation by grace.” So Calvin understands it, and so it is understood by Storr, Locke, Clarke, Koppe, Grotius, and others.

“God justifies the believing man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him in whom he believes” [Hooker]. Yet “faith” cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely, “hearing the word of God” (Rom 10:17), and prayer (Luke11:13), though the blessing is wholly of God (1Co 3:6, 1Co 3:7).

I agree, we are not far apart. We are however, not exactly on the same page either. To me, it is not a matter of election or freedom of choice. I affirm both, the Bible teaches both. God chooses AND we choose. It is not a case of either/or... but rather it is both/and.

Anonymous said...

Unless John Piper has changed, and he may well have for all I know, he disagrees with Wade on the nature of prayer for unsaved loved ones.
An article in the Reformed Journal about 1983, which I have lost, was my introduction to Rev. Piper.
I remember it well. He wrote of standing over the beds of his children at night, praying earnestly for their salvation, and yet believing that their salvation might not be in the plans of a sovereign God. And that he, Piper, had to accept that, in spite of his strong desires and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Native Vermonter,

Hi, I am "Anony-mouse".

Thank you for responding to my quest. I am not a Southern Baptist but I am a "legacy". My grandmother, of blessed memory, was a wonderful Christian and a Southern Baptist. My grandmother was Lucy Ausbon Stafford of Plymouth, N.C. and I honor her memory.

So it is that I have come to learn of my grandmother's religion.

It is not necessary that I be taken seriously. I come to this site to try to understand and it has been my very great pleasure to learn from all of you.

I will continue to click "anonymous" ; but, if it pleases you, I will sign as "Lucy's Grand-daughter" so that you know who I am.

Thanks again, and may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Lucy's Grand-daughter

Ramesh said...

Pastor Wade, let me add to what Dark Blue mentioned ... I find your blog a standard setter for ALL Christian bloggers. I have been regularly perusing your blog for the past month. I find your writing to have grace and style. You dissent in a Christian way. I am also learning what it's to be a baptist from your writings.

I did watch two of your church broadcasts. In light of that, I should say that I give glory to God that he is using you and through you and your writings, the light of God shines through.

Your church and your writings have similar qualities. God bless you Sir.

Unknown said...


I really don’t want to get into an unfriendly discussion here (I have done that far too often in the past)… I have carefully looked at both Hebrews 12:2 and Eph 2:8 and believe my understanding of both to be correct… I will just leave it at that.

Besides, it sounds like your mind is made up on this issue and I get the impression that you are not considering what I, or anyone else, have said here very seriously… so I will end our conversation by saying that to me you are placing an awful lot of confidence in mans will… which I simply have none.

Grace Always,

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,
I once heard faith described as a gift from God. I was told that you could pray for it, and if you did pray sincerely, that faith would be given to you.

Cannot the mother you write of pray to God to give the gift of faith to her children?

Surely, God would hear her. Surely He has the power to arrange intervention in the lives of the children that would lead to faith.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this tonight, in context of another blog post somewhere recently, about what a pastor says to the grieving family at the funeral of an apparently unrepentant person.
It seems to me that the earnest prayers of other family members would apply to this person, too. And that therefore the pastor would be able to tell the family their loved one is in Heaven.

I certainly would like it to be true, but I don't think there is such a Biblical guarantee. said...


Excellent insight.

Of couse, what saves is not faith, but God.

So, when a mother cries out to God to save her boys, then God responds to that petition by giving faith because He has already given to those boys His Son to die.

And the evidence of the latter is the burden of the mother and the gift of faith from the Father to those boys. said...


I, quite frankly, believe you may be on to something.

However, as I know you would agree, it is not the prayers for the dead that save, but the "effectual, fervent prayers of the righteous" for sinners - before they die.

Anonymous said...

G. Alford,

Thanks for the conversation, debate, and honest answers. I am sorry that you have gotten the impression that I am not taking your arguments seriously. I realize that sometimes I come across wrong, especially in written form. :) Please know that I take this subject very seriously, and not just what I write, but what others have to say as well.

My mind is pretty settled, as is yours. This is a good thing. It was said by Moody... "The power to convince and persuade others can only come when a person is both convinced and persuaded themselves."


Still not convinced on the praying for the desire to desire God, or the praying of the current elect for the future elect by God given burden.

Thanks for the forum and freedom to speak on your blog.

ezekiel said...

For me, Spurgeon says a lot here that applies to the age old Arminian/Calvinist debate. One is all hung up on the doctrines of grace, the other the precepts of the word. I will leave it to you to figure out which is which.

"Those weights with which we measure our doctrinal belief, are they quite fair? The doctrines of grace should have the same weight with us as the precepts of the word, no more and no less; but it is to be feared that with many one scale or the other is unfairly weighted."

You can read the rest in the Sept
4th evening devotional.


The WORD (John 1:1,14)doesn't contradict himself. If and when you run across what appear to be contradictions, it would serve you well to realize that it is your or our lack of understanding that is the problem, not an error or contradiction.


Sept 5, evening devotional.

“Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?”

- Job_38:16
Some things in nature must remain a mystery to the most intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has bounds beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for God alone. If this be so in the things which are seen and temporal, I may rest assured that it is even more so in matters spiritual and eternal. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain with speculations as to destiny and will, fixed fate, and human responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to comprehend than to find out the depth which coucheth beneath, from which old ocean draws her watery stores. Why am I so curious to know the reason of my Lord’s providences, the motive of his actions, the design of his visitations? Shall I ever be able to clasp the sun in my fist, and hold the universe in my palm? yet these are as a drop of a bucket compared with the Lord my God. Let me not strive to understand the infinite, but spend my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can possess by affection, and let that suffice me. I cannot penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthful breezes which sweep over its bosom, and I can sail over its blue waves with propitious winds. If I could enter the springs of the sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or to others, it would not save the sinking bark, or give back the drowned mariner to his weeping wife and children; neither would my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit, for the least love to God, and the simplest act of obedience to him, are better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the infinite to thee, and pray thee to put far from me such a love for the tree of knowledge as might keep me from the tree of life."

Anonymous said...

Joe said, "My mind is pretty settled, as is yours. This is a good thing. It was said by Moody... 'The power to convince and persuade others can only come when a person is both convinced and persuaded themselves.'"

But Joe, isn't that exactly what you are trying to do is to get people to change their mind (their will) whenever you witness to them? You need to convince them and they must make the right choice right? You need to have all your stuff together and you need to speak very clearly so as to not influence their choice in a negative way.

You way is mostly about man and what he should do.

My way is all about God...period!

Jon L. Estes said...


Thanks for your thought out responses, both from your heart and your interpretation of scripture. It is obvious that we mere humans see this subject in at least two lights. I can live cooperatively with that.

IU do want to ask one question, in relation to many blog entires on this blog by Wade and responses by others.

Would you support the election and service of other Southern Baptists who are reformed theologically to serve in areas of leadership within our great convention?

Johnny W. Collett said...

Great discussion. I'm really not sure if I can add anything of value, but I would offer the following.

To deny God's sovereignty in salvation is heresy. To deny humanity’s responsibility to choose in response to God's prior choice is also heresy. To deny either is heresy because the Bible teaches both.

We do, by an act of our will, choose Christ. If this were not the case, John 1.12 would be meaningless. There we read, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” If this were not the case, Acts 16.31 would also be meaningless, as would many other passages. The Philippian jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Now, there was nothing he could "do" to merit salvation as if it was by works, but there was clearly something he had to "do." Paul said, "(Here's what you have to do. . . you have to) believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

To be sure, we do - by grace, through faith - choose to receive Christ and believe in him (Eph 2.8-9). However, we do so only because it is God’s will. We looked at John 1.12 above, but what about the very next verse? It says, “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1.13, ESV). This birth was not of blood; that is, we have no right to claim to be children of God on the basis of our ethnic, religious, or any other heritage. This is a spiritual birth that did not come about due to the will of the flesh. Furthermore, this spiritual birth did not come about by the will of any man – including ourselves.

Though we receive him and believe in his name; that is, we acknowledge that Christ is who he says he is, place our trust in him, and yield our allegiance to him, we do so only because it is granted us by the good will of God for his glory and purpose (See Eph 1.4-6; 2.10; Titus 3.). We must never forget that we were dead in trespasses and sins. Folks, dead people don't do anything! The only hope for a dead person is resurrection, and that is precisely what God did (Eph 2). When we were dead in trespasses and sins, God “made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved”(Eph 2.4, ESV). Now we can "do" something - we're alive! Now we can respond rightly to God's prior choice.

Mike said...


as you stated..."If and when you run across what appear to be contradictions, it would serve you well to realize that it is your or our lack of understanding that is the problem, not an error or contradiction."

Interested in why you have accepted this propositional truth? There are many contradictions in the Bible and to relegate these to the "non-understandable" is to close down a discussion that I think is worth having. Below is a quote from Nick Perrin, NT Prof from Wheaton College that says it much better than I can.

" ... must be wary of the faux pearl of great price, the sense of stability that accompanies the delusive conviction that we have thoroughly and decisively made sense of the world. When people succumb to that temptation of ignoring challenges to their faith, they are in the end demonstrating that they are more committed to the feeling of having a lock on the truth than to the truth itself. When Christians succumb to the same temptation, there is the added temptation of justifying their intellectual disengagement by appealing to faith or the Holy Spirit or something like that. Not only does this rationale shut down a discussion that is probably worth having; it also usually has more to do with intellectual laziness or megalomania than anything remotely biblical or divine. No one should be readier than the Christian to explore the truth..."

Anonymous said...

Jon Estes,

Good question, and thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak to this issue. Although I disagree with my Calvinists brothers and sisters on the nature of free choice, I don't want to give the impression that I can't work together with them in evangelistic and missionary endeavors. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree on a number of key issues -- such as the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of the Bible; the sinful nature of man; and the importance of the Great Commission. I also appreciate and understand that many of the early SBC's leaders were reformed in their theology.

So, to answer your question... it depends. I believe each leadership candidate must be judged individually, not just from the "camp" they represent. I would not rule out supporting a person just because they may be a Calvinist, nor would I support someone just because they are non-Calvinist.

I hope this courtesy would go both ways. Do Calvinists only support leaders who are reformed?

Jon L. Estes said...


I think Wade's blog is representative of most reformed thinkers within the SBC. I think most (all that I know personally) would be very open to work with non-reformed thinkers. This is not a dividing point for us.

I do think, from what I have read and observed there are some non-reformed thinkers who would not allow themselves to consider a reformed thinker into leadership.

I have wondered if SBTS were looking for a president today would Al Mohler even be considered? I really don't think he would. Just my opinion and for the most part I really like AM. I disagree on some things but think he has done a great job leading SBTS.

As a pastor, many of my people disagree with me on some issues but most of those are willing to sit down and talk about the differences without making them a dividing point.

Bob Cleveland said...

Every now and then, someone pops up in my SS class and wants to talk about their free will. I always ask them if I can pick on them and they always say yes.

So I get them up with me for a debate, and I ask them if they have free will. The right to choose. When they say yes, I ask them to float 2 feet off the floor, like a hummingbird. When they say they can't, I ask them to come next door with me, to the bathroom, and stick their head in a toilet and breathe water like a fish. When they say they can't do THAT either, I ask them if, perhaps, it's true they can choose to do anything allowed by their nature.

They usually answer yes, to which I respond that the natural man CANNOT perceive the things of the Spirit. Thus salvation, from before the inception of the desire, is all of God. The big difference I've seen among us Baptists is that we seem to feel that God so awakens everybody, and THEN we decide, whereas the Calvinists think He awakens only the elect. I'd rather acknowledge the maximum sovereignty to God, so I go with the latter.

Anonymous said...

It is a pleasure to read this post and all of the substantive comments.

The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the responsibilty of man. The post and comments discuss this in the context of salvation, but the tension found in those truths affects all of life.

There is no way to settle this because we are limited. We must affirm what the Bible teaches about both issues.

However we come down, I believe that most people posting comments appear to reject the extreme applications of calvinistic and arminian teachings. This reduces the practical barriers to ministry.

I heard Adrian Rogers speak at Southern Seminary one time. Dr. Mohler had invited him. They admired and respected one another greatly. Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson also get along quite well. They were able to disagree on some of these things, but they were able to cooperate in ministry.

My hope is that we will continue to be respectful in our dialogue toward one another.

And one last word for you people who started to move this into a political direction. I need to remind you that there's no need for you to vote this fall or pray about the election.

God has already chosen the next President of the United States!

Louis said...


One of the clearest explanations I've read.

I would like to add, if He awakens everybody (regenerates, the new birth, etc . . . ), then everybody will be saved. Seems to me that if one truly believes God saves, then He either saves everyone or His people.

I'll go with Scripture.

"You shall call his name Yeshua (Jesus) for 'He SHALL save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).



Anonymous said...

johnny w. collett,

I would submit to you that the Philippian jailer is a perfect example of regeneration before faith. If the Bible tells us that we are dead in our trespasses in sin (not just sick) and that no one seeks after God, then it is impossible for this spiritually dead jailer to desire the Divine. He has been given a measure of grace such that His eyes have been opened to receive the truth.

I used to buy into the synergistic viewpoint but could never really explain how it did not limit the sovereignty of God. He is limited by our choice and thus salvation depends on me and me alone (that is if God wills all to be saved and if Christ's atonement is efficient for all.) Kind of like a safety deposit box whereby God's key is always in the box and all I have to do is:

1. find a key
2. stick it in
3. turn it.

You see, I think there is really one key and we do neither the finding, the sticking, nor the turning.

I have no issue with the notion of the "will of man." But it is not free. Arminians, Arvinists, and some Calminians take issue with irresistible grace, but have no problem with irresistible sin. And so we see that man's will has never been free. We exist in a world created by Christ for His glory alone. So then are we puppets on a string?

I personally have no problem with this analogy. But then I hold to a high view of God and a low view of man. (low as in our place and standing) We are indeed His creation and we exist to glorify Him. I am proud to be a pawn in His game. " Lord move me so that you will win."

Now to the verbiage. We are called to spread the Gospel and lead sinners to the Lord. We compel them to "come" and "accept" the Gospel and "pray" to "receive" Christ and "mortify" their old self and "put on" the nature of Christ. To "repent" and "confess" and "believe." Yet we then, in our limited minds associate these actions with having something to do with our salvation. I believe that all of these actions are simply and magnificently a reaction to the Spirit's work within us and so to bring physicality to the experience, we use verbiage like that above and like the Apostle Paul uses in Romans 10:9-11, 13.


*Holding to the doctrines of grace requires one to re-learn most of what one has been taught regarding what is "fair" and what God's love and purpose really mean to humanity and indeed the elect. In doing so, one is propelled to the heights of Paul in their passion to reach every soul and "compel them to come." It makes one weep and tremble at the purpose of God through us to save sinners. 2 Cor. 5:20 should make us all want to become IMB missionaries today.

Johnny W. Collett said...

Mr. Crowder,

I'm not sure if you agree or disagree with me. Clearly, based on what I said in my post. . .

To be sure, we do - by grace, through faith - choose to receive Christ and believe in him (Eph 2.8-9). However, we do so only because it is God’s will. . . dead people don't do anything! The only hope for a dead person is resurrection, and that is precisely what God did (Eph 2). When we were dead in trespasses and sins, God “made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved”(Eph 2.4, ESV). Now we can "do" something - we're alive! Now we can respond rightly to God's prior choice.

. . . I agree with you that, "He (the jailer) has been given a measure of grace such that His eyes have been opened to receive the truth."

Tim Marsh said...

G. Alford,

You are mistaken on Heb. 12:2. "Our" is not in the Greek. Jesus is the author and perfecter of pistis. The exegesis deals with Heb. 11, that all these were commended for faith, yet never received what was promised. Jesus is the one who perfected faith itself, not our faith. He is the one who completed the narrative of faith, because he is at the right hand of God and had gone through suffering to get there. That is the Christology of Hebrews, especially 2:5-18 as it is spelled out.

I don't think you should hang Calvinism on the coat rack of Hebrews 12:2, because that verse does not support such a reading.


ezekiel said...


"Interested in why you have accepted this propositional truth? There are many contradictions in the Bible and to relegate these to the "non-understandable" is to close down a discussion that I think is worth having. Below is a quote from Nick Perrin, NT Prof from Wheaton College that says it much better than I can."

Thanks for asking. The basis for me accepting the WORD as Truth is:

Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We see from John 1 that the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus. We are also told that if we abide in Him, He abides in us and we will know Truth.

"Joh 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
Joh 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

From experience, from abiding in Him, through intercourse with Him every day, I can tell you there are no, NO, None, NONE, NOT ANY contradictions in the WORD.

Lack of understanding, certainly. But NO contradictions. That is why the Arminian and the Calvanist have to at some time reconcile the other's position. Both in my opinion are half right. Spurgeon seems to agree.

I don't comment to limit discussion but to get folks on both sides to look to the middle. That is where the answer is. Several commenters have said more or less the same thing.

Calvinists get all warm and fuzzy over a man's doctrine and focus on the doctrines of grace. When they get far enough out of balance they become hyper calvanists and the precepts of the word mean nothing to them. On the other hand, the armininians get all hung up in the precepts of the word to the exclusion of the doctrines of grace. Then you have all sorts of gyrations by both and distortions of the Truth so that they fight not for the TRUTH but for their own doctrine.

As Baptists we believe that man cannot lose his salvation. Going down the track of an arminian will lead to the belief that one can. The calvinist in us tell us that we can't reject His Grace and that we can't fall out of His hand. But to tell us that, they have to come up with all sorts of stuff to explain why Israel died in the wilderness. But they have to ignore the WORD to do it.

"Jud 1:5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe."

He did it again in Samaria, Judah and Jerusalem.

What makes all the scriptures that support these men's doctrine(Calvinist and Arminian) fit is to realize that Jesus died on the cross to deliver all men. Just like He did Israel from Egypt. But when delivered, man has to believe and accept the TRUTH, walk in him and obey the WORD to live.

Having said all that....

You appear willing to question the WORD, the translation of it and His accuracy. Sure enough, man's hands have been all over it for centuries but the Person we have today has't changed. The HOLY SPIRIT. We are told that HE will guide us into all TRUTH. (John16:13)

We can sit and pick it appart, find gramatical or translation problems or whatever. But I can guarantee you that if you seek, you will find and it doesn't really matter what translation you are reading. If it is the wrong one (NO Such Thing)(2 Tim 3:16), or it has a man's incorrect interpretation in it, HE will show it to you and will still guide you to the TRUTH.

See to it that you don't commit the sin it appears that you do. There is no cure for that.

2 Peter 2 is real. And Truth. Don't deny the WORD. Rather ask Him for revelation and understanding.

Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

See also Job 38:36, Prov 2:6,11 among others. Seek understanding and it will be given you. Mine it, buy it, get it.

Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
Rev 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Rev 3:22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"

buy gold: Pro_23:23; Isa_55:1; Mat_13:44, Mat_25:9

ezekiel said...


Another way to look at this from man's veiw point (seems you like that) is to put things in context of a man and his wife. Paul uses this relationship to make a point.

Eph 5:32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Eph 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The doctrines of grace all tell us what He has done and what He will do. Sacrifice Himself for her. And He has. But she has a role to play as well. He doesn't force her into the relationship any more than we can force our wives into the relationship. She has to say YES and respect Him.

I don't really think suggesting to people that He is full of contradictions or has been corrupted in some way is any sign of respect. In fact just the opposite.

To futher that thought, it isn't going to do you any good to question what He tells you, argue with Him or deny Him. The answer lies in understanding Him. The same thing kills that relationship that kills ours with our wives. Separation and lack of communication. Disrespect and failure to trust.

He has made His vow and His covenant. She has to make hers and keep hers. If she doesn't....

Samaria, Judah, Jerusalem.
Right now, he is working on the Gentiles..until their time is fulfilled.(Luke 21:24)

Not all of us are elect. Some just claim to be.

Rev 3:8 "'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you.

Jon L. Estes said...


*Holding to the doctrines of grace requires one to re-learn most of what one has been taught regarding what is "fair" and what God's love and purpose really mean to humanity and indeed the elect.

What is fair would be that all of us would remain lost and thrown into an eternal hell. I for one am so glad God is not fair.

Bob Cleveland said...

It will always be frustrating, I think, to pick one of the five points involved in Calvinistic doctrine, and debate it. They all make sense only in light of the other points.

The exception seems to be what we call the "Security of the believer". Us Baptists seem to agree (**gasp**) with the Calvinists on that part.

Mike said...


Thanks for the response. As a point of clarification, I did not say (not would say) that God was contradictory...I said the Bible was...there is a big difference.

In response to my question about biblical contradictions you stated. "The basis for me accepting the WORD as Truth is:

Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We see from John 1 that the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus. We are also told that if we abide in Him, He abides in us and we will know Truth."

I hope you can see that you verified your belief in the Bible as God's Word basically by saying that it says so. This is the thinking of most people who call themselves Bible-believing Christians".

I find it funny that we are willing to take a very rational, reasoned approach to biblical interpretation but when it comes to issues where there are apparent contradictions we throw out reason and make propositional claims to the bible being God's word without any such reason at all and say we "just don't understand it."

I find this approach very intellectually dishonest. And for those who would dismiss this line of thinking and simply say that "God's ways are higher than our ways" do you come to mentally ascend to that notion? I find this hard to put together. On one hand we appeal to reason until we feel it abondons us and then we dismiss it...but we dismiss it with the same reasoning that we used to get there...strange.

ezekiel said...

Bob Cleveland,

I will prolly get stoned for this but here goes. This is the way I look at security of the believer.

Rev 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
Rev 2:2 "'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
Rev 2:3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.
Rev 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Having one's lampstand removed seems to convey a lot less security than we lay claim to.

We rush to claim the salvation of Abraham through belief but Abraham's works played a part as well. (quick, catch that calvinist before he faints).

Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
Jas 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
Jas 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a friend of God.
Jas 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Jas 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
Jas 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

What sets these apart from Israel, Samaria, Judah and Jerusalem even some of the "church" today is that they believed and when tested, showed that belief by their works.

The rest all suffered from unbelief. Hebrew 3:19

There were loads of people, very religious people whose works never demonstrated their belief. Same holds true today. The calvinist would say that "he never believed and was never saved in the first place" to keep their doctrine alive. But that doesn't fit Abraham that proved his faith, nor that of Rahab that proved hers as well.

Faith plus nothing....

Tell that to those dead bones in the wilderness or those laid out in the streets of Jerusalem. If you could interview them today, I bet everyone of them would tell you they believed in God.

1Pe 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Faith plus obey....

1Jn 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

The way God knows we believe is when we love him and obey him.

Bob Cleveland said...


The lampstand reference is to churches, not believers. I don't believe in the security of the church. Just the believer.

Jesus used the term "born again". Some who has been born again can no more become unborn, than a baby has, the option to become unborn and return to what he was before conception.

ezekiel said...


"Thanks for the response. As a point of clarification, I did not say (not would say) that God was contradictory...I said the Bible was...there is a big difference."

Pardon me but the Texas just comes out every now and then...

Hogwash. The only way you know God is by what He says and by His spirit working in you. His Spirit can only say/do what His Word says.

Joh 12:49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak.

Joh 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

Joh 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

The only thing in the world that you have is the history of Israel that was recorded for our instruction and the documented eye witness testimony of Christ. The testimony of Christ says the same thing the prophets did.

Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Tit 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Tit 1:10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.
Tit 1:11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
Tit 1:12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
Tit 1:13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
Tit 1:14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
Tit 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
Tit 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Unless you have come up with some mystical way of abiding in Christ (The WORD) or Him abiding in you then the only way you have of making that happen is through the written WORD of God.

It is entirely up to you whether you believe Him or not. But the one thing you can't do is seperate God from His Word which is the BIBLE. Recorded history, prophecy and the testimony of Christ.

You would have us believe that God isn't what His word says He is. That is heresy. We can argue and debate our reading and interpretation but when we argue the accuracy or the innerancy of the written WORD of God, there can be no compromise.

Unknown said...


Thanks for your “opinion”… You are wrong, but thanks anyway.

Does Faith exist outside of the human experience/heart?

Faith “is the substance of things hoped for.” It is the substance of “Our” hope, and without the inclusion of the word “our” (which is most certainly implied in the Greek) the whole discussion is just an exercise of abstract debate and Heb 12:2 becomes cold and lifeless.

If Jesus is not the author and perfecter of “Our” Faith… then what Faith is he referring to? Hindu Faith? Muslim Faith? No Tim… without the “Our” in Heb. 12:2 you open yourself up to a world of false interpretations.

Tim, you said: “Jesus is the one who perfected faith itself, not our faith.”

So Jesus is NOT the one who brings your personal faith to perfection you are? Is that what you are saying? Please tell me then (in the Greek of course) what is the correct meaning of Phil.1:6?

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1:6)

Tim unless you began a good work within yourself, then I think this verse and Heb.12:2 is referring to the work of Christ in the heart of man and not the work of man within the heart of man? No? Please help out here Tim… where am I going wrong in all this?

Grace Always,

Johnny W. Collett said...

We speak of the so-called tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. However, this is our tension alone - the Bible knows no such tension. That is, the Bible is not at war with itself over the matter. Though our finite minds may see these truths as mutually exclusive, in the Bible they fit like a hand in a glove. The Bible never sets them apart from one another or even seeks to explain how they work together. This is our tension; created because our finite minds can never fully comprehend (much less explain) the depths of the riches of God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus (see also, Deut 29.29).

C.H. Spurgeon was once asked if he could reconcile the two truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. “I wouldn’t try,” he said, “I never reconcile friends.” Spurgeon was right! Commenting on Spurgeon’s words, J.I. Packer once said that, “In the Bible, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are not enemies. They are not uneasy neighbors. They are not in an endless state of cold war with each other. They are friends, and they work together.”

Though we can never fully comprehend or explain how they work together, is it really that difficult to understand, at least in basic terms, the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility? I think not.

Again, the Bible knows nothing of the so-called tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Though we may seek to explain the seamless relationship between the two for the sake of our own understanding, we have no need to attempt to reconcile them as if they were at odds. Clearly, they are friends.

Holy Father, thank You for Your mercy; for choosing me by Your grace, and for enabling me to choose You through faith. Amen.

ezekiel said...


Used to be the church was a body, made up of believers....

But we see they had problems with that all the way back to Sardis, Ephesus

Lampstands for the church, rocky ground and a saw for the individuals....

Mat 13:18 "Hear then the parable of the sower:
Mat 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
Mat 13:20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,
Mat 13:21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
Mat 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Joh 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Tim Marsh said...

G. Alford,

It is Jesus' faith(fulness).

"Faith" in the context of the theology of Hebrews is defined first as "faithfulness" not intellectual assent (though that may be part of it). Check your greek lexicons for definitions of pistis.

Second, Hebrews is a contrast between covenants from start to finish. The thrust of the book's argument is "how much more" in the relationship of the new covenant to the old. In Chapter 11 the author calls the readers/auditors to consider the faithfulness of the OT heroes of faith" as examples of faithfulness in the midst of suffering and persecution, who were under the covenant that did not deliver the goods that the new covenant did - i.e. resurrection and eternal life. They are then to consider Jesus as motivation, the archagos (pioneer, captain) and teliotes (perfector, completer). Inotherwords Jesus is the one who blazed the trail of faith and completed the race because He has been resurrected and exalted to the right hand of the Father. He did receive what was promised - resurrection. He is the one who finished the race that faith runs. This has little to do with predestination and the ability to believe, as you indicate in your exegesis.

The word "our" is placed in the translation based upon theological presuppositions of the translator. Your response proved my point. Your theological presuppositions state that any act of faith (intellectual assent - which is the incorrect use of the word) must be the work of God first to last (Rom. 1:16-17, NIV) rather than the possibility that Jesus possessed the virtue of faithfulness (steadfastness, confidence, fidelity). I am not saying your theology (though I am not a Calvinist) is incorrect, just your exegesis of Heb. 12:2.

Did not mean to sound ugly, but theological presuppositions hinder exegesis. I believe that it was Calvin who taught his theology to his students before allowing them to read scripture. Sounds like indoctrination to me.


Mike said... OK with a little Texan coming out. It is what makes us human and unique. I could continue this string but I think it is time to stop.

Speaking of human you might want to check out some of these suggested readings (and no these are not just "liberal" scholars but rather evangelical ones that are writing on this topic)

Inspiration and Incarnation by Pete Enns
God's Word in Human Words by Kent Sparks

These are challenging works and were difficult for me to digest (as I am not a Bible scholar) but at one time I had the same convictions about the Bible as you do. Would be glad to discuss further but perhaps not on Wade's blog. email is

ezekiel said...


No problem, thanks for the discussion. One parting shot....We'uns always have to have the last word.

"These are challenging works and were difficult for me to digest (as I am not a Bible scholar) but at one time I had the same convictions about the Bible as you do.

The only thing keeping you from being a bible scholar is what you are doing now. You are sleeping with another man....or an image of a man.

Just imagine what Christ, The WORD thinks every time you pick up that book that does nothing but create distance between you and Him...

2 Peter 2:20

Blessings to you and yours.

Mike said...


Last post on this I promise. I noticed in your response to me that you extensively quoted Titus which begins..."Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness."

Might be interesting for you to know that most bible scholars feel that Titus was not written by Paul. Even the most conservative scholars admit there is doubt (you can Google it if you doubt me).

So if we are open to admit that maybe Paul did not write it what can we say about inerrancy?

Tim Marsh said...

Sorry, I should have written that Jesus has completed faith's course, rather than simplifying it to Jesus' faith. However, translate the word faith as faithfulness or fidelity throughout Hebrews, and you arrive at this exegesis, without supplying "our."

Too, faith as the substance of things hoped for means this -
faithfulness or fidelity exhibited in the life of a faithful one (i.e., believer) is evidence that the hope has taken root. Hope is the virtue of trusting that God's promises though some have not come to pass are true. You live according to what has been promised, not what is seen (five senses). Therefore faithfulness is the evidence that one's hope is in the promises of God, that one is living according to the New Creation of God in the Last Days.

Thanks for your response.

Pastor Wade, intriguing post. I really appreciated the part about praying for your loved ones salvation.



ezekiel said...


If we have to consider authorship to establish authenticity then we have to throw Hebrews out.

Let's look at this another way. If you question some of it, how do you decide what parts are true?

Maybe Pete or Kent have the answer to that?

Maybe you can tell us just what the basis for your faith and the basis for your hope are.

In the words of Elijah,

"1Ki 18:21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word."

He either is the TRUTH and the WAY and the LIFE or He isn't.

1Ki 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
1Ki 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God."

That is good enough for me....

Mike said...

I am sorry...I lied, it was not my last post on this...but I think you are onto something important with this question you pose.

"If you question some of it, how do you decide what parts are true?"

my encouragement is to follow it..

Bob Cleveland said...


So, then, when a church "loses its lampstand", EVERY member is lost?


Unknown said...


“I believe that it was Calvin who taught his theology to his students before allowing them to read scripture. Sounds like indoctrination to me.”

Where in the world did that comment come from? OK… now I get it… you want me to believe you come to the interpretation of scripture without any “theological presuppositions” and you end your response with that comment?

Now that you have come out of the closet about how you view Calvin… and are so free with such an outrageous slander of Calvin… I feel much better about trusting you exegesis of Heb.12:2… NOT!

So your interpretation of the Heb.12:2 (based purely upon good exegesis) is that it is really about Jesus only being a good example… Ok, Tim… if you are willing to translate the word “faith” for “faithfulness” I can see how you might think that. You are still wrong… but I can see how, with your “theological presuppositions”, you would make that mistake.

Tim, what about (Phil.1:6)? “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I do not think any amount of exegetical gymnastics is going to make this verse say anything other than Jesus is the “author and perfecter of OUR faith”… But please do try.

By the way, Arminian had children boiled in oil.

Grace Always,

ezekiel said...


That is why I like to keep the warnings personal rather than corporate. In todays world, the church is full of believers and non-believers. Wheat and Tares.

But now that you ask, yes, Wow is the right response.

How many of God's people died in the wilderness before entering the promised land?

How many died when Samaria was crushed?

How many died when Judah fell?

How many died when Jerusalem fell to Titus?

It has been a long day, so please forgive me for not giving you all the scripture for each of these. But in all the previous cases, there was a remnant saved.

Eze 9:4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

They either wound up in captivity or in the case of Jerusalem the church was scattered into the "wilderness".

Put bluntly, we don't look that much different from our sisters. We have foreigners worshipping God and other gods, worshippers of Baal, and those that worship God and God alone.

God knows the difference, has them marked or reserved.

1Ki 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Rom 11:4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Yet I will leave, Isa_1:9, Isa_10:20-22; Rom_11:4-5

Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Not the whole church. But a lot of it.

Bob Cleveland said...


I don't know how extensive "free will" really is, but I do know that you're free to be as insecure, in your faith, as you want. So be my guest.You're free to believe whatever you want.

As for me, I'll rest in complete assurance of the verses in the Bible which tell me in no uncertain terms that I'm as sure for heaven as if I were already there.


ezekiel said...


I take it then that you are planning on enduring to the end like I do. Praise God!

Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray.
Mat 24:5 For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.
Mat 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
Mat 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
Mat 24:8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Mat 24:9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.
Mat 24:10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
Mat 24:11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
Mat 24:12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
Mat 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

See also:

Mat_24:6, Mat_10:22; Mar_13:13; Luk_8:15; Rom_2:7; 1Co_1:8; Heb_3:6, Heb_3:14, Heb_10:39; Rev_2:10

Let's hope that, like Peter, we get another chance like he did. Better yet, let's hope we have the presence of mind to repent like Peter did.

"Luk 22:32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Anonymous said...

Brother Bob, you said

"As for me, I'll rest in complete assurance of the verses in the Bible which tell me in no uncertain terms that I'm as sure for heaven as if I were already there."

Every time you write something, I grow.


ezekiel said...

Mrs M-

I thought this timely. More of the same counsel Wade has given you.

Spurgeon from his morning devotional dated today.

“Bring him unto me.”
- Mar_9:19
Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus’ word, “Bring him unto me.” Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one receipt for the curing of all their ills, “Bring him unto me.” O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, “Bring them unto me.” When they are grown up they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician’s words, “Bring them unto me.” Never must we cease to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives.
The Lord sometimes suffers his people to be driven into a corner that they may experimentally know how necessary he is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning’s need may be, let it like a strong current bear us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow, he delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to him while he waits to meet us.

Bob Cleveland said...


I John 5:13 tells me that what John wrote in the preceding verses, he wrote so that I might know (present tense) that I have (present tense) eternal life. If I have eternal life, and I were to lose it, it never would have been eternal.

Your reference to enduring to the end tells me where you're coming from. Thank, but no thanks.

I don't trust myself to endure anything. But then, I'm not holding on to Jesus. He's holding on to me.

And He's got a grip that nobody and nothing can break.

Anonymous said...


"I don't know how extensive "free will" really is, but I do know that you're free to be as insecure, in your faith, as you want. So be my guest.You're free to believe whatever you want.

As for me, I'll rest in complete assurance of the verses in the Bible which tell me in no uncertain terms that I'm as sure for heaven as if I were already there."

Never truer or better spoken. Spot on, rings clear. Thank you for your insight.

Lindon said...

How do people know they need a Savior? What happens to make them know that?

I mean, if it is as simple as making a decision, who wouldn't choose heaven over hell? One could even say, Yes, I believe. They could even go to seminary and become a pastor and still go to eternal damnation. Even demons believe that Jesus is God.

If salvation is NOT a supernatural act then what is it?

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion. But it mostly is the usual pro- or anti- Calvinist arguments.
No one seems to be addressing the thrust of the post, which is that your desire for someone to be saved and your earnest prayer for them, is evidence that God WILL save them.

I was reading Romans 10 last night.
Where Paul speaks of his extreme longing that his fellow Israelites be saved. If what Bro. Wade says in his post is true, they all were. Which is quite different from the usual belief about this.
That whole event that happened in 70 A.D. for example, was in SOME manner a judgment for unbelief, was it not?

Bro. Wade's concept seems to me not specifically related to Calvinism at all. And not all of you would tell parents of an infant who had died that their child was definitely in Heaven.
This whole comment stream is kind of ignoring the post and is about what everybody wanted to say anyway, which is that A. Calvinism is right. or B. Calvinism is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

It might be said by some here that they, in fact, couldn't tell a parent their dead infant is in heaven. To be honest with you none of us could guarantee that if you are depending on that babies free will decision. In fact, he most certainly isn't it heaven.

However, if one holds to a God-centered salvation, then one can rest assured that the baby was chosen by God before the foundation of the world and is resting in His arms.

God is always perfect and He always does the right thing. Even in spite of our stupidity sometimes.

p.s. I predict an unbiblical diversion to some "age of accountability" non-sense coming down the shoot.

Bob Cleveland said...


Isaiah 7, twice, mentions that there was a time in Jesus' own life, that He (God in the flesh) did not "..know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right..". I can think of no reason for God to point out that fact, unless it had spiritual significance in His life. If it did, I believe it does in our lives, too.

Reading that changed my opinion on the matter.

ezekiel said...


1Jn 5:2 precedes 13."By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."

Looking back at the scriptures from Genesis and James we have to realize that faith without works is dead faith. Abraham was justified by works as well when he demonstrated his love for Christ by obeying his command to sacrifice Isaac. God provided a lamb then and later provided himself on the cross so that all might be saved.

If we claim the salvation of Abraham as our basis for faith, we mustn't leave off the obedience/works of Abraham any more than we can leave of his faith.

Churches today are full of folks and preachers that tell us that all we have to do is "accept Jesus into our hearts" come down and be baptised and bang, you are saved. Forever. And you can't lose it.

You use the imagery of being in His grasp. I have heard that many times in the past. And you can come up with scripture to prove it. Proof texting I think they call it.

But the history of Israel in the wilderness, in Samaria, Judah, and Jerusalem would indicate differently.

Rom 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Rom 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
Rom 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Security of the believer today removes any and all fear and most if not all reference to keeping his commandments. The church has read and picked out the parts they like and then teaches them while discarding or throwing out the parts that require holiness and righteousness.

When you have a long time member of a flagship SBC church tell you that they don't have to have any works to be saved then we know they have discarded anything associated with fruits of the spirit, holiness or any attempt to walk in His righteousness. How anyone can claim salvation without any fruit, any santification, walking in His righteousness and performing His works is totally beyond me. But these folks are rock solid absolutely sure of their salvation and one dare not question their salvation.

One of the consequences of the whole calvinist/arminian debate has been the confusion that it has spread amongst the brothers.

Preachers rail on the belief of Abraham and fail to teach the sacrifice of Abraham.

I would argue that the whole invitation sequence in churches these days is convaluted. A church founded on calvinistic beliefs, invites people to repsond (accept Jesus into thier hearts)(arminian) and then pumps them up with the security of the believer (calvinist). Would that we stop halting between two man's doctrine and start teaching the whole counsel of God rather than man.

I leave you with today's Spurgeon morning devotional that says it better than I. Sounds like you have the foundation set pretty well, I hope your house is a big one!

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
- Gal_5:25
The two most important things in our holy religion are the life of faith and the walk of faith. He who shall rightly understand these is not far from being a master in experimental theology, for they are vital points to a Christian. You will never find true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life which has not for its root a living faith upon the righteousness of Christ. Woe unto those who seek after the one without the other! There are some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; these may be very high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in condemnation, for they hold the truth in unrighteousness; and there are others who have strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said, they were “whitewashed sepulchres.” We must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure. Of what service is the mere foundation of a building to a man in the day of tempest? Can he hide himself therein? He wants a house to cover him, as well as a foundation for that house. Even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt. But seek not a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house which can afford no permanent shelter, because it has no foundation on a rock. Let faith and life be put together, and, like the two abutments of an arch, they will make our piety enduring. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessing. Like the two pillars of the temple, they are for glory and for beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two lamps lit with holy fire; two olive trees watered by heavenly care. O Lord, give us this day life within, and it will reveal itself without to thy glory."

Too busy today to comment further. Not sure anything would be accomplished anyway. The answer lies in the middle, in the whole counsel. The arminian/calvin debate is fruitless and one that I don't have time for today.

ezekiel said...

Can't type or spell either today. Another good reason to stay off blog.

roger said...

I am not trying to be a jerk or confrontational but I do have a serious question for those who are "Calvinist". Does it bother you that he burned Servetus at the stake with green wood? Even though I'm not a TULIP follower - I know of many men and women of God who are humble servants. I fully respect their positions and beliefs.
I also have a question on election that maybe you (group) can help me understand. I am the father of a severely retarded both physically and mentally teenage daughter. She is 18 years old and functions on an 18-24 month level. God has shown and taught my wife and other 2 children many wonderful things. I have a hard time beleiving that God would not elect these children into eternal life with perfect new bodies and minds. Quite honestly I dream of swimming in the Jordan River with her after a rather touching moment at Special Olympics performance.
Wade - I have been following your blog for a 2-3 months - I really appreciate the boldness and tenderness God has given you. I struggle to make sense of church the older I become. You continue to make me think about the important issus versus man-made rules.

Tim Marsh said...


I think that you hit the nail on the head as far as your ananlysis of this thread, except that Pastor Wade's response to this question is informed by his Calvinism, or understanding of God's sovereignty over salvation. If God predestines, then God's arousal of desire for someone to be saved, our prayers are God's ways that his process of working irresistably in the life of the one who will become a believer is part of that process. The logic of his response all follows Calvinism.

As one who is not convinced by Calvinism, I do believe that we ought to pray for God's work in their life. But in the end God respects the decisions of His creatures. CS Lewis said it best: "There are those who say to God 'Thy will be done' and there are those to whom God says 'Thy will be done.'" Its not God's fault if your loved one is not saved.



Bob Cleveland said...

EZ (I read your blog),

My relationship with my church (and with other people, etc etc) is a result, and outgrowth, of my relationship with Jesus. Not the other way 'round.

My deeds here on earth, imperfect as they may be, are a result of my relationship with Jesus. Not the other way 'round.

If I had to depend in any way on my deeds here to prove my salvation, I'd be right down there with Paul, when he lamented what he did about his tendencies. I lean totally on God's unfathomable grace, as reflected so accurately in the life and the Person of Jesus.

That's it. My last. The field is now yours.

Tim Marsh said...

G. Alford,

After reading your blog, I hope that you know by my degree from Beeson Divinity that I am not anti-Calvinist, though I disagree with your positions on Calvinism as a whole as well as your exegetical methods. I am not familiar with the strain of anti-Calvinism in SBC life, though I am originally from Bham, AL and know of Steve Gaines.

Unfortunately, I believe that eventually Calvinists and Arminians in Baptist life will eventually come to conflict.

I hope that instead we can do much better than Calvin and Jacob Arminius did.

As for Hebrews, try Craig Koester's Commentary.



John Daly said...

"I do believe that we ought to pray for God's work in their life. But in the end God respects the decisions of His creatures."

If our most Holy Lord is simply going to bow His "knee" to man in the end anyway, then why am I praying for God's work in their life. Maybe I should help God because He seems powerless to overthrow man's will.

Anonymous said...


You wrote... "If our most Holy Lord is simply going to bow His "knee" to man in the end anyway, then why am I praying for God's work in their life. Maybe I should help God because He seems powerless to overthrow man's will."

By the same token one could argue, if God is going to save all those that He elected in eternity past... why pray at all? This is where we end up with that kind of logic. Truthfully, if what has been espoused here by many confessing Calvinists is true... then this dear mother can pray everyday till she is blue in the face, but if God has not elected her children she is out of luck.

I think we must strive for a more balanced view of divine election and the freedom of choice. My opinion of course.

John Daly said...

Mr. White,

We are told to pray are we not? I'm not an expert in how prayer changes things but I would much rather have my prayers go to a God who is indeed in control of all things and rest in Him then to pray to a God that can only go so far and then must give up because of the strength of man's will.

I'm sure there are many parents who have prayed fervently for their kids (as I do), only to see them seemingly abandon everything you ever tried to instill.

But to think that my Lord is trying but my kids will is just to strong is laughable. When He saves, He does so perfectly and forever. Could my kids be of the non-elect...sure, it's scary as all get out to even ponder that thought. And I guess that's where the Faith comes in, and that's where the fervent prayers come in, the begging, pleading, hoping, weeping and how that works in His plan I have no clue but we wrestle still.

Unknown said...


I just hate having to “Eat Crow” especially in public, but integrity demands that one do so when one is so “clearly” wrong. You are absolutely correct concerning the proper exegesis of Heb.12:2. As much as I would like to make it say “our Faith”, it simply does not.

Honestly I had not looked at the Greek rendering of this verse before I wrote my original (hasty) comment, and now after carefully looking at this verse in the Greek and reading several trusted reference works I believe the best interpretation of this verse is “the Faith” and not “our Faith” as it appears in the KJV. My over-reliance on the KJV has let me down – Gasp!

Now that I am through “Eating Crow”…Yuck! I need to make it a point to say that I am yielding the point that I was wrong on the proper exegesis of Heb.12:2, however based upon the weight of scripture like (Phil.1:6), and many others, I am not at all changing my view that Christ is “the author and finisher of our faith”.

By the way, I have loved visiting Beeson Divinity School in the past. It is one of my favorite places to go whenever I can arrange it. I know of Steve Gaines, but I do not know him personally.

Is that Jacob Arminius guy related to Arminian? :-)

I will try Craig Koester’s commentary on Hebrews… thanks for the recommendation.



Anonymous said...

Wow--I've never considered myself Calvinistic at all. But this explanation by Pastor Wade is gonna make me think.

Why? Because I have always been taught to pray for sinners. Now, if that is going to be totally ineffectual--if God is not going to work in their soul lest He monkey with their free will--why pray?

Hmmm--sure wish I lived in OK. I would love to hear some clear preaching.


Tim Marsh said...

G. Alford,

Thank you for the kind words. There is much that supports a Calvinistic reading of scripture in Paul, John (even though he is the one that says God loves the world) and other places. I also think that other places can support a more Arminian (though I do not describe myself as one). Just know that I at least have an appreciation for reformed theology and like to discuss its "mysteries" with those who are Calvinist, but am not intending to be mean about it.

Just felt like Joe White was getting run over for his reading of Heb. 12.2. Koester I think is Lutheran, which means that he does not take the view lije that of Dale Moody, who used Hebrews to combat perseverance of the Saints. It is Anchor Bible, but I don't think that he has any view that would deny the inspiration of scripture.

Anyway, I hope that it does not come down to a conflict in Baptist life.

I do pray God's best for your ministry, and that of all Baptists regardless of theological stances on important, yet secondary, theological issues.

Arminius is the name from which Arminian is derrived, though I have never read his stuff. I am more familiar with Wesley's arguments against Calvinism.



Ramesh said...

To Linda:

You do not have to live in Oklahoma. You can watch and listen to Pastor Wade Burleson through their church (Emmanuel Bapstist Church, Enid, OK) broadcasts :-) said...


Your scholarship and humility are reasons why I enjoy reading your comments.



Bob Cleveland said...

For some reason, perhaps it's what we're taught in non-spiritual things, we seem prone to saying "what's the use?" when we don't think our efforts in something will produce the results we want or expect. I don't think that should apply to prayer.

We're all fond of claiming Romans 8:28, but are less fond of 8:26, which tells us we don't even know what we should pray for! But I get it, that He says come on & pray anyway, and He'll send the Holy Ghost to do the interpreting.

So the only question is: does God tell us to pray for the lost? Regardless of our lofty conjecture on whether He is going to save them?

People can ruminate and debate forever, but most of it seems, to me, like my grandma's rocking chair. It gave her something to do, but never took her anywhere.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the kind words…

Prayer is simply incompatible with the doctrine of “free will”.

Someone (I cannot remember who) once said; “We are all Calvinist on our knees.” If I am praying for God to save my child, I am asking God to violate his “free will”. It cannot be otherwise.

If I truly believe in the doctrine of “free will” then what exactly am I asking God to do for my child? Anything God does that will influence my child in the slightest way will be a violation of his “free will”. Anything God does that will influence the will of my child that he does not do for all children (no matter how small the influence) is an act of “Election”.

However, if I start with the understanding that the will is not free, but that the will of my unregenerate child is in bondage (a slave to sin) then that changes everything. Then my prayer to God for my child is that God will “free” the will of my child; so that my child may indeed, of his now “freed” will, choose to embrace the grace of God.

The best treatment of this subject is not Luther in ‘The bondage of the will’ but instead John Calvin’s ‘The Bondage and Liberation of the Will’, subtitled “A Defense of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice against Pighius” published by Baker Academic. Notice that subtitle! Calvin is defending the doctrine of “Human Choice”.

If you do not have this book and you are an honest seeker of truth then I highly recommend you purchase it and read it with Bible and pen in hand. You can get it from the following link.

Grace Always,

Anonymous said...

Prayer is simply incompatible with the doctrine of “free will”.

Exactly. Excellent point!

Anonymous said...

If prayer is incompatible with "free will", then how much more is it incompatible with the Calvinistic view of "divine election"?

Are we to believe that salvation is all of God when it comes to our salvation, but that after we get saved, we somehow get to influence the will of God with our prayers for the salvation of our loved ones? Are we to believe that God goes back and adds our loved ones names to the Lamb's Book of Life because of our praying? Is it God that saves, or our prayers? Is it God's sovereign choice alone, or are we helping him decide?

Please understand; I believe in the power of prayer, and its command in scripture is clear. I just want you to see the logical end of your soteriology. Our God knows the end from the beginning, including the free choices of all his creatures. Freedom of choice then does not diminish the sovereignty of God, rather it magnifies it.

I maintain that the scripture teaches that God chooses AND we choose. Judas was chosen by God as the son of perdition, yet he choose to betray the Lord Jesus. Peter said on Pentecost that Christ was delivered by the determinate council and foreknowledge of God, and yet he also tells the crowd that they had crucified the Lord and Messiah. God chooses AND we choose.

My last word on this subject unless asked a direct question.

Bob Cleveland said...

Has it ever occurred to anybody that we're not in Management? That we're in Sales?

ezekiel said...


1Co 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
1Co 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
1Co 7:22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.
1Co 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
1Co 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Servant doing His works fits a lot better with scripture.

Anonymous said...

Joe - If that was your last word on the matter then I'll make this my last.

Regardless of all that was said in this comment and con, good and bad, man centered and God centered, election and free will...What can certainly be declared that is not debateable is that one view here has a God that saves in spite of His creation, and one view has a God that saves with the assistance of His creation.

I'll rest in the first.

Enjoyed the dialogue.

GeneMBridges said...

I am not trying to be a jerk or confrontational but I do have a serious question for those who are "Calvinist". Does it bother you that he burned Servetus at the stake with green wood?

1. Calvin was out of favor in Geneva when this happened.

2. Calvin pleaded for mercy for Servetus.

3. Servetus was an anti-Trintarian condemned to death under existing law at that time. His death falls under the legality of the book of Romans - you know that book Paul wrote. I may not "like it" judging by our standards today, but considering the alternative - likely the end of the Reformation, I don't have a problem with it. Had they not done that, all of Geneva would have been accused of being a harbor for heretics of all stripes, and being an anti-Trinitarian was one of the worst sort. Geneva is on the border with France, then a Catholic state and Italy, home to Rome, is to the South. The German states were also largely Catholic. Not executing Servetus could well have resulting in providing the Holy Roman Empire, France, and the Papal States with an excuse to quash Geneva's reformation - then would come Zurich. That would have spelled the end of the Reformation in Scotland and many other places - which directly affects the history of Britain, which directly affects Baptist history. Tell us, would you prefer being a Lutheran (possibly) or a Catholic today?

If prayer is incompatible with "free will", then how much more is it incompatible with the Calvinistic view of "divine election"?

Scripture is incompatible with "Free Will" insofar as Scripture explicitly denies Libertarian Freedom. It is not incompatible with unconditional election, insofar as Scripture teaches unconditional election.

There is no exegetical argument for LFW (Libertarian Freedom). Indeed, I've seen lots of ethical and philosophical objections here to unconditional election but no exegetical arguments for "free will" here (defined as LFW).

Are we to believe that salvation is all of God when it comes to our salvation, but that after we get saved, we somehow get to influence the will of God with our prayers for the salvation of our loved ones?

This is a misunderstanding of our view of prayer. Prayers are an ordained means to an end. God responds to our prayers insofar as He has decreed these are means to an end.

But if man has LFW, then God can only do so much. He won't give man any desire to choose Christ, because, if men have LFW, men can act contrary to their greatest desires. Giving man such a desire would be a fruitless, foolish exercise.

Are we to believe that God goes back and adds our loved ones names to the Lamb's Book of Life because of our praying?

No, because God is not subject to time. The names have always been there. The covenant is eternal.

Is it God that saves, or our prayers?

God uses them as a means to an end.

Is it God's sovereign choice alone, or are we helping him decide?

God has chosen us. God gives us a desire to pray for our loved ones. God responds to those prayers, and those prayers are a decreed means to an end. God is therefore responding to His own decree, of which our prayers are a part. Our prayers reflect His will. On the other hand, our prayers can also serve as a means of reprobation, for, in responding our prayers, God sends the gospel to a person, that person rejects the Gospel and is thereby inculpated.

Please understand; I believe in the power of prayer, and its command in scripture is clear. I just want you to see the logical end of your soteriology.

Unfortunately, you've misunderstood our soteriology and our theology of prayer.

Here's the end of yours: God has given all men "free will." God won't interfere with "free will." You pray for God to do something that He is committed to not doing. So, you're asking God to do something fruitless.

Not only that, when you pair this with a doctrine of election - the one based on foreseen faith, you've got a bigger problem. If God could save U, then the number of elect, the fixed number that he knew, would grow, and God wouldn't be omniscient. He would have been wrong about the set of S as consisting of n number of people. Rather it, contrary to his claim to knowledge, now consists n + 1. Or, if it doesn't add to God's knowledge then we don't have a real member of U.

Our God knows the end from the beginning, including the free choices of all his creatures.

I agree, but if men have LFW, then how does God know the outcomes of indeterminate objects of knowledge before they are instantiated, or, perhaps better stated, without men instantiating them? The view that God elects based on foreseen faith requires us to make that decision, and therefore the object of knowledge (the "free will" choice) is a determinate, not an indeterminate object of knowledge. The controversy isn't over God's knowledge of determinate objects of knowledge, but it is over His knowledge of INdeterminate objects of knowledge.

And, if God requires us to instantiate those choices before they can be known, then God is subject to time - Open Theism is the end result.

In LFW, the outcome is CONTRAcausal in nature. This makes it indeterminate in nature, until it is instantiated. This is definitional to LFW. We can call this question, the question of "determinability," eg. the quality that attaches to an object of knowledge that is contracausal in nature. If an object of knowledge may change until it comes to pass, it is, by definition, indeterminate in nature.

So the Acting Agent (Agent A) is the only one who can have any relatively certain idea of the outcome until that time, for it is only in that agent's mind.

And it can only be made certain (eg. made determinate) due to the act of Agent A, eg. Agent A must choose in order for the outcome to be made certain.

Why? Because until and unless Agent A enacts the choice, the outcome can change. At that time, it becomes fixed, therefore, certain.

So - anything God might know about this object of knowledge *before* or *apart from* the action of Agent A act of choosing it is just a really good guess until Agent A makes his/her choice.

Put another way, God can only know the outcome of Agent A's act *as a result of the Agent's act of choosing.*

Why? Because the object of knowledge (Outcome A instantiated by Agent A) is an *indeterminate* object of knowledge until the moment it is instantiated.

So - The question is not "How does God know after Outcome A is instantiated?"

The question is "How does God know before Outcome A is instantiated, since Outcome A would be indeterminate in nature until it was instantiated?"

If something is knowable after or as a result of it's instantiation, it is a determinate object of knowledge, because it has been instantiated/it's instantiation; it is then fixed. In short, certainty corresponds with a determinate, fixed object of knowledge, not an indeterminate, unfixed object of knowledge. Only uncertainty obtains with respect to the knowability of an indeterminate, unfixed object of knowledge. In other words, an unfixed, indeterminate object is a moving target. You can guess, and you might be able to predict with great accuracy, but you can't know with infallible certainty where it will be every time you pull the trigger or shoot your arrow.

That's Open Theism.

Freedom of choice then does not diminish the sovereignty of God, rather it magnifies it.

Sure it does, for if God elects in a manner that depends on our LFW choices, that directly attacks the independence of God. God is made to depend on us for doing something.

I might ask you, why does one man choose Christ and not another?

I might ask you, where does Scripture define "free will" in Libertarian terms?

I maintain that the scripture teaches that God chooses AND we choose.

Nobody denies this. Rather, we teach we choose BECAUSE we were chosen.

Judas was chosen by God as the son of perdition, yet he choose to betray the Lord Jesus.

Yep. But why did Judas choose to betray Christ why John did not?

Peter said on Pentecost that Christ was delivered by the determinate council and foreknowledge of God, and yet he also tells the crowd that they had crucified the Lord and Messiah. God chooses AND we choose.

According to Scripture our choices depend on God's foreordination. Taken to its logical conclusion, your view of free will leads directly to Open Theism.

roger said...

Thank you very much for your response. If I may impose - can you please explain to me how Calvinism can or does give hope to a parent of a retarded child. I pray that I will be reunited with her in heaven. She can not communicate or understand basic life skills. Is there hope for her in Calvinism? I ask this question in all seriousness. Thank you in advance for your thoughtful reply.

Anonymous said...

Okay, one more time since you asked. :)

genembridges, you wrote... "According to Scripture our choices depend on God's foreordination. Taken to its logical conclusion, your view of free will leads directly to Open Theism."

This is simply not true. My view is summed up well by St. Augustine when he stated in his work, On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism... "we may not so defend grace as to seem to take away free will, or, on the other hand, so assert free will as to be judged ungrateful to the grace of God, in our arrogant impiety." Or as Dr. Norman Geisler states in his book, Chosen But Free... "God's presedestination and human free choice are a mystery, but not a contradiction. They go beyond reason, but not against reason."

There is no contradiction in God knowingly predetermining and predeterminately knowing from all eternity precisely what we would do with our free acts. God determined that moral creatures would do things freely. He did not determine that they would be forced to perform free acts. What is forced is not free, and what is free is not forced. We do not call forced love, love, rather we call forced love, rape.

In addition; to affirm both that God chooses and man chooses is not a contradiction, nor does this statement break the law of noncontradiction. In order to have a true contradiction one statement must affirm what the other denies. They must be logically opposite. This is not the case with Judas. The two statements simply say... (1) God predetermined it, (2) Judas freely choose it. These are not logical contradictions. What would be contradictory is this... (1) God predetermined it, (2) God did not predetermine it. Likewise this to would be a contradiction... (1) Judas freely choose it, (2) Judas did not freely choose it. But there is not a contradiction in saying it was predetermined from God's standpoint and free from Judas' perspective. To be contradictory it must be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense. Therefore, no logical contradiction exists between God choosing and Judas choosing.

Anonymous said...

Joe - I don't think anyone asked you to reply again. I thought you simply said that was your last comment and it was acknowledged as such.

However, I do understand how you can read a comment from someone like Gene and fill compelled to reply. Gene has a way of putting an end to debates. The length of his comments are unforgiving, but so is his exegesis. Awesome everytime.

Trust me, you don't want to debate with Gene. :)

Joe - It is simply my view that you are buried in tradition (relax, I was also at one time) and no amount of debate is going to change my mind or remove you from your tradition.

No worries. Let's just all keep studying!

Roger - In no way can I speak for Gene, but I will offer this tidbit since you sincerely ask.

I would submit that under the reformed view a retarded child has more of a chance to be held in the arms of God than if we were all sitting around trying to dumb down the gospel enough for him or her to make the right decision. No offense intended. I pray you understand what I mean.

In fact, I would say that all those that die in infancy or are mentally impaired as such are of God's elect. But it is NOT because they deserve it anymore than any of us "normal" people deserve it (Adam's lineage) and it is NOT because they made a miraculous decision as a mentally impaired person or an infant. But it is because God is gracious and loving beyond measure and He always, ALWAYS, does the perfect and right thing.

God Bless!

roger said...

Thank you for the time and thoughful reply.

Mike said...

"In order to have a true contradiction one statement must affirm what the other denies. They must be logically opposite. This is not the case with Judas. The two statements simply say... (1) God predetermined it, (2) Judas freely choose it. These are not logical contradictions."

I would agree that in order to "have a true contradiction one statement must affirm what the other denies"...and this example of God and Judas does...if you understand the presuppositions being made here. It is simply proving that which is already assumed...that is that Judas is not a free moral agent to chose differently than what God has predetermined. I do not find this argument convincing.

Glenda, saved by grace said...

If Christ died for the sins of the whole world, then poor god failed because there are lots of people in hell and lots of people going there, this god must be very sad :(
I see a very sad god, wringing his hands hoping some people will choose him. That picture , my friend, is not my Sovereign God. Daniel 4:35 speaks of my God: And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?