Sunday, June 3, 2007

Why tell the Jew, Nicodemus, that he must be born again?

Jesus could have said that Nicodemus needed transformation or regeneration, but instead used the term, Born Again. Nicodemus was already born into election by virtue of his physical birth, as a Jew, among the chosen race of Israel. (See John 3:1-8) However, in his secret visit with Jesus, he was stumped as to how a grown man could be born a second time, besides not understanding exactly why he would need to be born again, as Jesus said that he must. The point is that in order to enter the kingdom of God, he had to become something other than what he was. Simply being among the chosen race of Israel, was not enough. Consider Luke 3:8: "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham." As evidenced by the words of John the Baptist, many Jews had placed great confidence in their physical birth, and yet here at John chapter 3, Jesus had set aside the importance of physical birth in favor of spiritual birth.

Consider 1st Corinthians 6:16-17 which states: “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”

When a Jewish couple became “one flesh” in marriage, that which was born of their union was another Jew, and also a member of the chosen race of Israel. Deuteronomy 14:2 states of Israel: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” The Jews were a chosen people. But look at what 1st Peter 2:9 says about Christians of all races: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

When a person believes in Jesus, he or she becomes “one spirit” with God (1st Corinthians 6:16-17), and that which is born of that union is a member of the New Covenant, chosen race. That means that these uncircumcised, yet believing Gentiles are now among a chosen race!, that is, the chosen race of the redeemed in Christ. To summarize, you had to be born into the elect, Jewish race, and similarly, you have to be born into the elect race in Christ. You were physically born into Election in the Old Testament, and you are spiritually born into Election in the New Testament, through faith in Christ. If you are a member of the New Testament “elect,” it is purely so by spiritual, new birth.

In Christ, we are now free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), as the old creature in Adam was nailed to the cross with Christ. (Galatians 2:20) Once someone is in Christ through faith in Him and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, then by the principle of Mutual Inclusion, one must simultaneously therefore also be in the Father, because anyone who has the Son, has the Father also (1st John 2:24), because the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son. (John 14:11) To the Arminian, our legal adoption in the Father is purely on the basis of our position in Christ, whereupon the Holy Spirit cries out in our hearts “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15) In contrast, the result of Calvinistic, Unconditional Election is that your position in Christ is purely on the basis of an eternally hidden position in the Father with the ultimate end of being chosen to become in Christ. Arminian’s counter that Election does not end with being chosen to become in Christ, but rather begins with being chosen in Christ. (Ephesians 1:4) Calvinists place the foundation of Election in the Father while Arminians place the foundation of Election in the Son, and the only way to get to the Father, is through the Son. (John 14:6)

I’ve had a Calvinist tell me that he was predestined “to be” in Christ because the Bible says so. However, the Bible says no such a thing. Rather, the Bible teaches that we are predestined in Christ. That speaks of all that we have, and will ever have, in Christ, namely that in being a Christian, even being foreknown in Christ (Romans 8:29), we have a unique calling as Christians, as well as justification, glorification, and being conformed to the image of Christ, all on the sole basis of what God the Father has in store for those who are Christians in Christ, such that when God the Father sought a place for His grace, He found none other than His Son, and that all who are enjoined to His body through faith as “one spirit” with Him (1st Corinthians 6:17), may share in His grace. Therefore, Arminian Election and Adoption are hinged upon a foundation in Christ. In fact, the whole purpose of Ephesians chapter one is to expound upon all that we have in Christ, and not what we have in the Father independent of being in Christ.

If you are not in Christ, then you are not among the New Covenant elect. Unbelievers are condemned. (John 3:18) Believers in Christ are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1) The elect in Christ are also said to be free from condemnation. (Romans 8:33) Therefore, there is no such thing as a New Covenant elect, unbeliever.

Therefore, who are the elect? They are Christians who have been spiritually born again into a royal, holy chosen race of the redeemed in Christ.

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/Election.html

Summary: A Jew is physically born into Election in Abraham, while believers of all races are spiritually born into Election in Christ. This is the eternal plan of God in Christ, who, before the foundation of the world, has chosen us in Christ (Ephesians 1:4), in that we have been eternally foreknown in Christ. (Romans 8:29)

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

"To summarize, you had to be born into the elect, Jewish race...You were physically born into Election in the Old Testament..."

thought i'd check in again after a long absence. same old stuff...like most arminians, you should avoid quoting the OT as you seem to have very little exposure to it.

a non-jew could, in fact, take on the sign of the old covenant, circumcision, and in essence, become a jew and qualify to participate in jewish worship.

exod12:48 "An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD's Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it. 49 The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you."

this sign of physical circumcision was the way for gentiles as well as jews to demonstrate the more important quality of spiritual circumcision. (deut 10:16, 30:6; jer4:4)

not to mention women such as ruth, the moabite, and rahab, the canaanite, who were not "born into the elect" of israel but married into it. (and into the lineage of Christ as well.)

paul further explains in romans 9-11 that "not all (physical) israel is true israel." rather, gentile christians are united as one in faith with that remnant of believing jews (including those who believe in Christ after He came as well as those in prechristian times who looked forward to His coming (john8:56; heb11:13))

"and if you belong to Christ, then you are abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." gal 3:29

your explanation of jewish "election" or "chosenness" contrasts visibly with paul's considerably more inspired discussion. paul says God's choosing was never according to the flesh: rom9:8"In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring."

your imagined dichotomy doesn't exist in scripture...that should trouble you.

i'm surprised that you didn't make the standard claim that God claiming israel as His "treasured possession" merely meant that He was choosing them to be a missionary people (regardless of whether any of them actually had faith in Him or not, to hear some of you tell it.) as such, christians (the new "chosen race/people") could hope for no realistic promises of salvation...if being the "bride of Christ" offered no better hope than His OT "bride" then we would have to assume most of scripture, in fact, has nothing to do with salvation. it's pretty silly stuff but any confusion is your own fault. those questions are clearly answered in romans 9 if you'd only care enough to look...

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Comment moderation is off. You can post freely now.

Genesis 15:5: “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”

Was God telling Abraham that it was his physical descendants or his spiritual descendants, would be as numerous as the stars?

What point was God making to Abraham in that statement?

You wrote: “a non-jew could, in fact, take on the sign of the old covenant, circumcision, and in essence, become a jew and qualify to participate in jewish worship.”

Are you suggesting that the disciple, Luke, being a Gentile, became a Jew? You see, there is a difference between being a Jew, and converting to Judaism.

Ruth, for instance, was a Gentile, and marrying a Jew did not change the fact that she was still a Gentile. Nevertheless, her offspring was Semitic, being a physical descendant of Abraham. In another instance, Hamor of Shechem, and his people, though they were circumcised, were slain as Gentiles. However, if they had not been murdered, by the mixing of their offspring through inter-marriage, would have become “one people,” of Abrahamic physical descent, just as Jacob had said.

You wrote: “paul further explains in romans 9-11 that ‘not all (physical) israel is true israel.’”

Now you are talking about spiritual Israel. There aer some who use the basis of spiritual Israel, to negate the promises of God toward physical Israe,, and some even use it as a pretext to say that God is done with the Jew. I disagree.

Anonymous said...

"Was God telling Abraham that it was his physical descendants or his spiritual descendants, would be as numerous as the stars?

What point was God making to Abraham in that statement?"

as understood by abraham at that time and in that context was physical descendants. however, if you believe the NT to be inspired, it clues us in to a deeper understanding.

what is a "jew?" physically, it has one meaning...which is why paul has to spend several chapters in romans clarifying the situation. there is a larger group of God's covenant people who are taught God's ways in the OT...most of these were physical descendants of abraham...regardless, only some of these were true "children of abraham" and many were not. (rom. 9:7)

what you have failed to even begin to address, much less prove, is why you believe deut.14:2 is referring to physical descendants of abraham rather than his spiritual descendants. as a result, your essay is hopelessly muddled.

spiritually, "israel" has ALWAYS meant those chosen by God to be His people...(a remnant) set apart for Himself...to be His treasured possession. they are saved and, to that end, they are united to God (again, the promise was and still is: "you will be Mine and I will be yours.") though ruth and rahab were not physical descendants of abraham, they were grafted into the people of God (and they were chosen for that by means which were appointed by God.)

in a similar way, this new covenant IS NOT MADE WITH THE GENTILES. gentiles continue to be "grafted in." (rom 11) if luke the gentile belonged to Christ, then yes, he was then numbered among "abraham's descendants" (gal 3:29) but it is true that the "natural branches" are jewish, and we should continue to appeal to them to accept their Messiah and pray that God will change their hearts...primarily for His sake even moreso than their own. (ezek36:22)

but it was never about merely physical birth. while you errantly claim that "by the mixing of their offspring through inter-marriage, [they] would have become 'one people,'" we can look at ezra 10 and note that foreign wives of jewish men and their children were, in fact, to be put away and excluded from the nation of israel.

"There aer some who use the basis of spiritual Israel, to negate the promises of God toward physical Israe,, and some even use it as a pretext to say that God is done with the Jew. I disagree."

who is arguing that?

there are some who say that God saves the jews even if they continue to deny their Messiah...despite the clear evidence to the contrary in the NT. but there's no point in arguing points that no one here is raising...if you want, make a post later explaining what God's promises are to modern physical israel, and whether they can be considered obedient and keep any covenant with God while denying His Son...

for this post to make any sense, i'd like to see you demonstrate some understanding of God's relationship with abraham and subsequently israel as illuminated by paul's teaching in galatians and romans 4 and romans 9-11.

but at least you are very close to noticing the parallels in exod 19:6 and deut 14:2, and 1 peter 2:9. that's a positive.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

You wrote: “but it was never about merely physical birth. while you errantly claim that ‘by the mixing of their offspring through inter-marriage, [they] would have become “one people,”’ we can look at ezra 10 and note that foreign wives of jewish men and their children were, in fact, to be put away and excluded from the nation of israel.”

Through intermarriage, they would INDEED have become “one people,” and that’s what God did NOT want to have happen, because the foreign wives would have reinforced the problem of idolatry that had already existed among the children of Israel, just like how God warned Solomon not to marry foreign wives, who similarly persuaded Solomon to compromise on idolatry. The women and children were sent back for that very reason, to protect the children of Israel from corruption.

You wrote: “as understood by abraham at that time and in that context was physical descendants. however, if you believe the NT to be inspired, it clues us in to a deeper understanding.”

By your understanding, Sarah could have died childless, and it would have had the same effect, as per your understanding of spiritual descendents being as numerous as the stars of the sky.

You wrote: “what you have failed to even begin to address, much less prove, is why you believe deut.14:2 is referring to physical descendants of abraham rather than his spiritual descendants. as a result, your essay is hopelessly muddled.”

Where is your contextual support for a ‘spiritualized’ assertion?

You wrote: “spiritually, ‘Israel’ has ALWAYS meant those chosen by God to be His people...(a remnant) set apart for Himself.”

Rather, the Bible tells us that the name “Israel” was given to Jacob, such that Jacob’s descendents were called “Israelites.” Refer to Malachi 1:1-3, where Israel is distinguished from Edom, as being the children of Jacob vs. the children of Esau. Additionally, notice what the Lord told Ananais about Paul: “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel’ (Acts 9:15).” The “children of Israel” is here shown to be the Jewish people. According to Romans 1:16, the Gospel is to be preached to the Jew first, and then to the Greek. The intention is to provoke the children of Israel to jealousy when they see the Gentiles getting saved. (Romans 11:14)

You wrote: “in a similar way, this new covenant IS NOT MADE WITH THE GENTILES. gentiles continue to be ‘grafted in.’ (rom 11)”

Grafted into what??? We are NOT grafted into Israel. Rather, Gentile Christians are grafted into the Body of Christ, as are Jewish Christians. (Gal. 3:26-28)

You wrote: “if luke the gentile belonged to Christ, then yes, he was then numbered among ‘abraham's descendants’ (gal 3:29)”

A Christian Gentile being numbered among Abraham’s descendants is “spiritualized,” upon the condition that “if you belong to Christ.” (Gal 3:29)
The impact of this is simply to say that these BELIEVING Gentiles are more like Abraham than the UNBELIEVING children of Israel, because they are doing what Abraham did, which is to believe in God. This is how Abraham is a spiritual father of believers of every race, “that he may be the father of all them that believe.” (Rom. 4:11) Nowhere, and I repeat, NOWHERE, does the Bible say that we are grafted into Abraham, or grafted into the children of Israel, but rather that we are baptized into the Body of Christ.

You wrote: “if you want, make a post later explaining what God's promises are to modern physical israel, and whether they can be considered obedient and keep any covenant with God while denying His Son.”

A Jew cannot be considered obedient to God while denying His Son. Here is an example of the promise of God toward Israel: “‘If this fixed order departs from before Me.’ declares the Lord, ‘then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever.’” (Jeremiah 31:36) See also the Restoration promises of Joel 2 and 3, Amos 9:11-15, and Ezekiel 37:1-28. The multi-racial Church does not cancel out the promises of God toward the children of Israel. God has a plan for both, easily evidenced by the 144,000, each from tribes listed among the children of Israel. Otherwise, people like yourself would be trying spiritualize the tribes to mean something other than the children of Israel! The promises of God toward the children of Israel are fulfilled in believing Jews during the tribulation, and hence you have the 2 Witnesses during that time period when the Church had already been raptured. The believing Jews of the 144,000 are tribulation converts, saved DURING the Tribulation, and they become ministers during the Tribulation. Similarly, in Matthew 24, Jesus prophetically spoke of the children of Israel in the time of the Tribulation.

posttinebraelux said...

Good morning sir.
Long time, no visit - kind of got disinterested in the blog thing for a while. At any rate, you two are WAY above my head. :) I lost interest in most things eschatological about the time my sense of God's sovereignty deepened - not a justification, just an excuse. :)
To the post about Nicodemus, however, since I have become convinced of the doctrines of Grace, Christ's explanation to Nicodemus has made even more sense to me. As I understand physical birth, the baby has nothing to do with being born. He/she is simply a passive participant in the process. I think the parallel here is significant - as with any parallel made by Christ (assuming He really said that). I believe Christ was explaining salvation to Nicodemus in a way that Nicodemus would easily be able to associate with (as with most parables taught by Christ). As he (Nicodemus) had no control over his physical birth, so he could have no control over his spiritual birth. I don't see Christ as giving Nicodemus a command to 'be spiritually reborn' so much as He (Christ) was making a statement of fact - i.e. 'unless one is born again (spiritualy), he/she cannot enter the kingdom'. Does that make sense?

Greg Reynolds

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

Sorry it took so long to respond. Yes, that is an illustration that many draw from this analogy. However, the Arminian typically views this as a message to an Orthodox Jew as being, "You, Nicodemus, are not good enough to enter heaven. Being a Jew, or better yet, being an exceptional Jew, is STILL not good enough. You must change. You must be born again."

John the Baptist scolded many Jews, assuring them that simply being a Son of Abraham, would not save them. (Luke 3:8) They must be born again.

What if Jesus had said to Nicodemus, "Nicodumus, don't stress over it. There's literally nothing that you can do about it. You are completely passive in the matter. God must elect to regenerate you."

The Arminian argues that there is something that we can do about it. We must believe in order to receive new birth.

If believing in Christ was a meritorious deed of self-righteousness, from which we receive grounds to boast before God, then Arminianism would be overthrown. (Romans 3:27)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Greg,

One other thing, NO ONE here is above your head, let alone WAY above your head.

One thing that kills me, though, is that every time I hear the phrase, The Doctrines of Grace, what thought do you think runs through my mind?

The answer is, "Don't you mean, The Doctrines of Grace for some people"?

Ever since that thought entered my mind, I cannot get it out of my mind, every time I hear the phrase uttered. Anyway, maybe that's too much information.

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
I completely understand your kunundrum about 'doctrines of grace'. I hope you know that I meant no slight to those whose perception of grace differs from mine. I meant it simply as a means of conveying my particular doctrinal stance using a phrase that most (especially those familiar with the Calvinism/Arminianism debate) would understand as being the more Calvinistic position. My brother, who is a professor at a Baptist seminary, often feigns good-natured angst when I refer to Calvinists as sovereigntists. His response is that he, too, is a sovereigntist, just with a different sovereign perspective than I.
At any rate, in response to Christ's hypothetical Calvinistic response to Nicodemus, I certainly would think that the response would be doctrincally accurate, but would not convey the central message I think Christ was trying to get across - namely that works cannot save - one must be 'born again' in order to obtain salvation. None of us - however proud we are of our individual heritages - had a choice about what culture or race we were born into. So, my hypothetical alternate response from Jesus would go something like this: "Nicodemus, your birthright as a Jew cannot save you. I know you think that your birth as a Jew, although you had no choice in the matter, allows you entrance to the kingdom of God, but I tell you that, unless a man be born again spiritually - again, not through any choice of his - he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

Blessings today,

GR

Adam Cummings said...

Hey... apologies... I never saw your comment and question on my blog until today while I was randomly going through some old posts. You seem to have a very good grasp on Scripture, but I don't have the time to come and read right now (work at 5 am tomorrow; no fun).

I will link to you later so that others may see your arguments, if you don't mind, and perhaps I'll respond to some.

Nice looking blog. Thanks for commenting on mine, and look forward to future dialogue and, perhaps, a little bit of gracious debate. :)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

As for the Doctrines of Grace, I knew that you were not trying to slight anyone. I was just giving my personal reservation for the title.

Question: Does the Bible ever contrast "grace" with "faith," so as to say that we are saved by grace, not by faith, lest any man should boast?

Ephesians 2:8 seems to rule out lumping faith in together with works (i.e. the works of the Law), as well as Romans 3:27 excluding faith from giving a man grounds to boast.

Although it makes for a great argument to say that I was wise enough, clever enough and smart enough to believe in the right person, namely Jesus, but doesn't Romans 3:27 still explicitly exclude "faith" from any grounds for boasting? Doesn't that verse undercut that whole argument? I had a Calvinist Pastor once tell me that by believing in Christ, I think that I had a "hand in my salvation." But again, that sounds like a great argument, except for the fact that faith is not a work. Let me clarify, faith is not a meritorious work of self-righteousess. I make that clarification only because Jesus referred to faith as a work at John 6:28-29, though not as a meritorious work of self-righteousness. In that passage, the Jews were asking Jesus for a "work" that they could do, and Jesus offered them faith instead. So it's equally true that Jesus did not give an elaborate discourse on how faith was a work. Faith is actually the anti-work, and that seems to be the message to the Jews, who were seeking to do a "work" in which to
establish their own righteousness, instead of depending upon God's righteousness. This is why I really like Calvin's description of grace & faith, and it's really what the Arminian is tring to say as well:

John Calvin writes: “Now it may be asked how men receive the salvation offered to them by the hand of God? I reply, by faith. Hence he concludes that here is nothing of our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all praise, it follows that salvation is not of us. … When, on man’s side, he places the only way of receiving salvation in faith alone, he rejects all other means on which men are accustomed to rely. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.144, emphasis mine)

Do you see where an Arminian would jump for joy at such a quote? To the Arminian, this brilliantly illustrates how a "faith alone" salvation is a "grace alone" salvation.

Now you might still say that you still had to be smart enough, clever enough, ect., ect., but whether this is so, seems to be excluded from boasting as per Romans 3:27.

On a side note, tell me what you think that Romans 12:17-18 means. (I'm focusing in on the scope of "all men" in that verse). Does this verse only apply to believers or does it apply to everyone? (The direction that I'm headed with that is the "all men" of 1Tim 2:1-6.)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello Adam,

Feel free to join in this discussion and to add your thoughts. I just 1) expressed my reservation for the title "Doctrines of Grace," 2) explained why I do not believe that a grace-alone salvation excludes a faith-alone salvation, and 3) asked for an explanation of Romans 12:17-18.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Greg,

I forgot to add my 4th reservation, and that pertains to Nicodemus. If Jesus explained to him that either you are born elect-to-heaven or born passed-by, then don't you think that that might have raised some questions with Nicodemus? Think about how controversial Calvinism is. There is a pretty heated debate over this in the Church today. Now if Jesus went around teaching Calvinism, where's the controversy over it? Where's the controversy over it in the New Church history according to the book of Acts? How come no one asked Jesus, "Jesus, would that make God the author of sin?" Add Paul, for that matter. "Paul, does that make God the author of sin?" Think about it for second. Where is the tornado of controversy. Churches split today over it, but none in the early church? It seems to me that if Calvinism was taught back then, then at least there would have been a firestorm of controversy over it. To me, the facts just don't add up. Think about all of the things that DID raise a stir: eating meat sacrificed to idols, drinking blood, which holy days to celebrate, baptism, circumcision, ect. So everyone had accepted Calvinism without even the slightest buzz about it? Something is not adding up, here.

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
I'll go in reverse order. :) To the question regarding the deafening silence over the Calvinism debate in the early church, I would agree that there is not much recorded regarding any heated debates, but Paul does seem to allude to at least an expected disagreement in Rom. 9, when he says, "but who are you to reply against God, Oh man." (probably paraphrased as I'm not looking at a Bible right now). That seems to me to imply that he expected some disagreement over the extent of God's sovereignty over things soteriological. In addition, as I'm sure you're well aware, it is an argument from silence - granted, a logical argument - but from silence nonetheless. The other side of that argument from silence is that there would probably not be much 'eyebrow raising' - at least from the Jews - from hearing the doctrine that God created some for hell and others for heaven.
To the question regarding 'all men': I see the general context of Rom. 12, at least as it pertains to human interaction, as being toward other believers. That said, vs. 17 & 18 do tend to imply to me a kind of 'witness' to the world. In which case, 'all men' in this passage would indeed refer to believers and non-believers. The passage in I Tim. 2, however, is not that clear to me. The general context of that passage is prayer for 'everyone'. The same greek word for 'everyone' (or all men) is used in both vs. 1 and vs. 4. In vs. 1, Paul defines who the 'everyone' is that he is encouraging Timothy to pray for, namely 'kings and all those in authority'. So, then, we are left to decide if 'everyone' in vs. 4 is still within the context of 'kings and all those in authority'. If so, that doesn't really make sense because Paul probably didn't mean that salvation was for 'kings and all those in authority' only, but there is ample evidence that not only Paul, but other passages/writers as well, used inclusive terms (everyone/all men) as representative of 'men from all 'races/walks of life', as is obvious from the passage in I Tim. 4, where Paul says that God is the 'savior of all men'.
To the point about faith being a meritorious work, I would agree with you to the extent that I, too, believe that faith is not a meritorious work. You and I would probably disagree, however, regarding the ability to exercise that faith. I would submit that, until conversion, we do not have the ability or desire to exercise our faith (I Cor. 2:14).

GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Greg,

I'll read the rest of it in a second, but I have to comment on the first part. You have essentially made the "Arminian" the person that Paul was writing against. Is that what you think?, that Arminians disagree with Paul over that statement? As an Arminian, I 100% agree that "God the Potter" molds purely according to His sovereign good pleasure, and what is the basis for how God molds according to His soveriegn good pleasure?, except what is outlined at Jeremiah 18:1-13. There, you will find a conditional molding. If you repent, He will relent. If you turn from righteousness, He will think better of the blessing with which He was about to bring to you. So, it's a conditional nature of the molding where God then turns to Jeremiah and says: 'Go warn Israel that I am fashionining (molding) it for calamity.' And then God begins His discourse on the matter. But the whole point is how the Arminian could be made into the respondent to Paul when the Arminian never disagreed with what He said.

I'll check the rest of your post in just a moment. I'm at work.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Regarding the 2nd statement, I agree 100% with you that the Jews absolutely did indeed look down upon Gentiles, even as "dogs," as Jesus showed was the perception of His disciples, so I agree that they would not have raised too much of an issue, but that doesn't explain the Gentiles potential responses. Also, I agree 100% that it's an argument from silence, but ponder the situation. Consider Acts the meeting of the Apostles at (I'm at work, but I recall it being Acts 15) where the apostles discussed some of the controversies that entered the Church. Paul covered so many controversies, baptism, circumcision, the deith of Christ, Gnosticism, and on and on, and never once substantively dealing with a Calvinism vs. Arminianism controversy, and think about how big of a deal it is today. It's an absolute raging debate today, with churches being split up, but no recorded evidence of such occuring then?, or least there is no apparent evidence of it? James White, I think, would respond that it must have been such a foregone conclusion, that no one even questioned it, but it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered (at least to me :)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

On your 3rd point,

If you read "kings" into v.4, then it says, "desires all kings to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Do you think that that was Paul's intention? It seems to me that the scope of the passage is everyone, and an example of who everyone includes are kings and leaders. I don't think that Paul was trying to narrow the focus of everyone to mean 'only' leaders. I think that he was giving an example of who's included under the umbrella of everyone. My purpose was to draw a comparison of "all men" at Romans 12:17-18 and compare it to "all men" at 1Tim 2:1-6. It was my brother in law darrell who brought up the point that "all men" at Rom 12:17-18 meant everyone, but then gave a different meaning at 1Tim 2:4, to which I responded that 1+1=2 at Rom 12:17-18 and 1+1=3 at 1Tim 2:4. Anyway, that was my dispute at that passage.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

On the 4th point, what if God gave ability when He offered salvation to someone? Men, on their own, lack ability, which you and I fully agree. But the question is over whether God gives men ability when calling them to salvation and offering them salvation. At Acts 16:14, God opened Lydia's heart to respond to the Gospel. Notice that He did not swap out her unregenerate heart for a regenerate heart, but simply opened what I perceive was her unregenerate heart. This is the kind of divine enabling that I was referring to. In other words, the Holy Spirit kicks (Acts 24:16), pricks (Acts 2:37), convicts (John 16:8) and opens hearts to respond to the Gospel (Acts 16:14), while Jesus seeks (Luke 19:10), draws (John 12:32) and knocks (Rev 3:20). The question is whether or not these things, in conjuction with the power of the faith giving Gospel (Rom 10:17), enables a person to respond. Again, this wouldn't be about man enabling himself.

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
The OT poses a significantly greater kunundrum for Calvinists than does the NT with respect to conditional warnings (at least in my opinion). I do, however, believe that God's economy with a Theocratic nation has to have been a bit different than His economy with all others. In other words, it seems reasonable to me that conditional warnings offered by the prophets/judges/etc. to Israel/Judah may not be applicable in a universal sense. That's not to say that I am a dispensationalist, but merely to point out that those passages are easier to align with Calvinism when I see it from that context.
To the point about Rom. 9, I think you'd probably be in the minority of Arminian believers if you are in agreement with that passage (at least those with whom I've had interaction with). My brother reconciles that passage by applying it to the nation of Israel and not to individual people. So, yes - in general I'd say that the typical Arminian would be a perfect recipient of Paul's rhetorical question.
To the point about 'kings' - we are, I think, in agreement. I don't think vs. 4 refers only to kings either. My point was that in vs. 1 Paul seems to have been limiting 'all men', but that does not appear to be the case in vs. 4. It does, to me, seem to imply that 'all men' can often be used as an all-inclusive statement and can also, in other places, refer to individuals from 'all' groups - as evidenced by the term 'all men' in I Tim. 4 (God is the savior of 'all men').
To your response to point 4, it seems to me that God's calling is always effectual (Rom. 8:29 & 30). You and I would disagree that God's call can be rejected.

GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Greg,

In terms of Romans 9, if you feel that Paul was dealing with an Arminian-type controversy, then there is not enough data for me to cite to contradict it. However, keep in mind that if you asked for me to prove that there was an early church controversy over bapstim, like there is today, I could point to 1Cor 1:17. If you asked to point out a controversy of circumcision, I could point to the confrontation between Peter and Paul at Galatians 2:11. If you asked for me to point out a controversy over tongues, I could point to 1Cor 12. I don't want to rehash the same arguments already stated, but I just find it ironic that there could be such a heated debate over it today, but really nothing concrete (as these other issues) that I could point to. There has to be a reason for this. If there just happened to be perfect Calvinistic unity over, how come that unity broke down over those other issues, but not this one? Conversely, if there was perfect unity with Arminianism, then it would only be because no one was explicitly teaching it, at least not until Augustine brought it into further focus. That's my theory anyway.

As for 1Tim 4:1, I see "all men" in the same light of John 1:29, and John 4:42 especially. In other words, Jesus is the only Savior that all of mankind has. Again, I've simply taken the meaning of "all men" at Romans 12:17-18 and plugged it into 1Tim 1:1-6 and came up with an argument for Arminianism. Regardless, wehther there is agreement or not, at least you know my perspective.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

In terms of the calling, I beleive in two callings. First, you are called to receive the Gospel, after which you are called to for a particular role in the Gospel ministry (teaching, exhortation, prophesy, ect.). At Romans 8:28, I infer the "call according to His purpose" as the second calling, that is, the Christian's call. In other words, I believe that there is one call to live IN Christ, and the second call to live FOR Christ. For instance, DL Moody was first called to receive Christ, and after a time, received the second call to enter the ministry. That's all that I mean by two calls.

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
To the deafening silence as being ironic, I concur wholeheartedly. Lest we forget, however, soteriology is not the only issue which has been subjected to silent Biblical treatment & rather vocal contemporary treatment. Another good example is the issue of alcohol. Alcohol was not an issue for NT writers - in fact, in I Cor. 11 (I think), Paul says, in effect, "look guys, don't use the Lord's Supper as an opportunity to get drunk - you all have homes to do that in." And yet, today, we have SERIOUSLY strong debates - not about whether drunkenness is wrong - but whether even having a drink is sinful. I, too, am somewhat amused at how 'bowed up' we often get regarding topics that seemed to receive little attention in new church development.
I also agree wholeheartedly in the interpretation of 'all men' as Christ being the only way/salvation that 'all men' have. I just wouldn't agree that God wants all men to get saved. :)
GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Greg,

Fair enough, and one of the reasons why I think that sometimes people fly off the handle with these issues, and get really personal about it, is because they are reactors instead of listeners. You are a good listener. You have carefully listened and weighed the evidence. Although we may not agree, you at least listened, and understand my arguments. My dear brother in law, Darrell, is a classic reactor. As soon as he hears something that he does not like, he goes straight into filibuster mode and becomes very figity. So that's something that I try to be aware of. :)

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
I don't know your brother-in-law, but I do know that, in general, the more defensive we are of our beliefs/convictions, the less sure we are of them. I have found that those who are VERY convinced of their beliefs generally feel that they don't have much to prove to someone else. Those who are a bit unsure are generally the ones who are more defensive.

Have a great evening,
GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

You too. Have a great night.

Anonymous said...

you wrote: "However, if they had not been murdered, by the mixing of their offspring through inter-marriage, would have become “one people,” of Abrahamic physical descent..."

AND

"Through intermarriage, they would INDEED have become “one people,” and that’s what God did NOT want to have happen..."

you seem confused, as you are speaking in the future tense in the second quote for no apparent reason.

they WERE married in the second instance. they DID have children. yet they were NOT "one people of abrahamic descent."

you wrote: "By your understanding, Sarah could have died childless, and it would have had the same effect, as per your understanding of spiritual descendents being as numerous as the stars of the sky."

first, i'm a calvinist and i believe God is sovereign. things could never have happened differently than they did.

more to the point, your response is a false dichotomy, if not flat out dishonest. i conceded that the immediate application was physical, so it's deceptive to suggest that "sarah could have be childless." the issue is that the NT tells us that being a "descendant of abraham " is a benefit of being joined to Christ...so is there more to the promise than the physical results described in the OT or not?

hosea 11:1 says, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." hosea is, in fact, referring to the exodus. that this is true in no way invalidates or conflicts with the (higher) truth that hosea 11:1 is about Jesus. (matt2:15)

you wrote: "Where is your contextual support for a ‘spiritualized’ assertion?"

i already gave it. God was calling a people to Himself...and declaring His intention to be their God. this is the very definition of spiritual intimacy. does God make promises based on their being "His" people or just physical descent? this shouldn't be difficult.

you wrote: "Refer to Malachi 1:1-3, where Israel is distinguished from Edom, as being the children of Jacob vs. the children of Esau."

i'm obviously familiar with rom 9. why don't i just go there first...

as i've been saying, it's never been by birth alone.

you wrote: "Grafted into what??? We are NOT grafted into Israel. Rather, Gentile Christians are grafted into the Body of Christ, as are Jewish Christians."

there is ONE tree (or body) of believers. there has always been only ONE. if you want to argue that believing jews like anna, simeon, peter, john the baptist or mary were EVER cut off from their "natural" tree, i'd like to see your support. they had faith to see the kingdom right when Jesus came. they were part of the remnant of jews who believed God and accepted their messiah immediately...the only reason many of the jews were ever "cut off" was for unbelief.

"24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

haven't you read the scriptures? "Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt." (heb11:26) heb 11 is all about OT believers in Christ, even though it's true they didn't understand fully.

true israel as discussed in rom9-11 IS the body of Christ...going all the way back.

you wrote: "Nowhere, and I repeat, NOWHERE, does the Bible say that we are grafted into Abraham."

i'm glad you didn't add a promise to do something ridiculous if this weren't true. ;)

eph2:11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."

what have we been "brought near to through the blood of Christ" according to eph2? inclusion as citizens of israel AND, as a result, recipients of the promises made thereto.

eph 2 likewise teaches that there has only ever been ONE building, with a foundation of both OT prophets and NT apostles and the chief cornerstone has always been Christ.

since i'm stealing heavily - and i'm tired and don't need to repeat every point - here's a good essay:

http://credenda.org/issues/7-4similitudes.php

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Anonymous,

Let's focus in on that one issue: Are Christians grafted into Israel? You based your argument on Ephesians 2:11-13, so let's look at it, and then we'll also look at Romans chapter 11.

Ephesians 2:11-13 states: "Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called 'Uncircumcision' by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands--remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

You wrote: "What have we been 'brought near to through the blood of Christ' according to eph2? inclusion as citizens of israel AND, as a result, recipients of the promises made thereto."

The "what" is God Himself. We have been brought near to God, just as v.16 states: "...reconcile them both [Jew and Gentile] in one body to God through the cross." (Eph 2:16)

However, you are paraphrasing it to mean that we were brought near to Israel, as if the verse had said: "...you who formerly were far off have been brought near [to Israel] by the blood of Christ."

How could you even propose such unbiblical nonsense? The fact is that the tree is Christ Himself, and the branches are Israel and the Gentiles, which at Romans 11, Paul describes Israel as the "natural branches" and contrasts them with the Gentiles who are "wild branches." (Romans 11:7-24)

Here is Romans 11, in the King James Version: "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 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. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 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. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

In v.1, Paul asks, "Has God cast away His people?" This refers to God's people of Deuteronomy 14:2.

I repeat, the wild branches of the Gentiles are not grafted into the natural branches of Israel. Rather, the wild branches are grafted into Christ only to stilumate to jealousy, the natural braches, after a partial hardening, that they may ultimately be grafted back into Christ.

posttinebraelux said...

Good morrow Richard.
Now this is a topic which I've not studied to any great length, but do believe this may be my next great interest. Rom. 11 is really a difficult passage for me because of other passages which seem to indicate that 'true' Israel is not a 'bloodline', but rather of faith (i.e. Rom. 2:28,29). And, although Anonymous' comments are a bit terse for my taste, he/she does seem to have a point regarding Eph. 2; it seems that the logical rendering of the passage is that the gentiles have 'become near' to that which immediately preceded this verse - namely the 'commonwealth of Israel' and 'covenants of promise'. Yet, Rom. 11 is very clear about there being a 'bloodline' distinction. 'Twill be great fodder for our brainstorm SS class this Sunday.
GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

Here is what I gather:

1) According to Eph 2:16, what we are brought near to is "God," which states: "...reconcile them both [Jew and Gentile] in one body to God through the cross."

2) The "one body" is the body of Christ.

3) Our citizenship is of heaven: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:20)

So to suggest that we, as Christians, are grafted into Israel, ultimately equates the tree of Romans 11 as Israel, when yet the tree is Christ Himself. Even more odd is that such an interpretation would mean that physical Israel is grafted into the tree of spiritual Israel. The reality is that we are grafted into the Body of Christ as the Bride of Christ, having become one spirit with Him. (1Cor 6:17) The only reason why Abraham is my spiritual father is because Abraham is the father of all those who believe. This is not to say that, as a Christian, I am in Abraham. The debate of true Israel and false Israel is not a new one. For instance, In John chapter 1, you have Nathanael, whom Jesus address as a "true Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile." This recalls the guile of Jacob. When you believe God, you demonstrate the characteristic of a true son of Abraham, but that should not be pressed to mean that we are now in Abraham, when Paul unceasingly described our place as being “in Christ,” with Romans 8:1 being an example of many, and if you want to know what it means to be “in Christ,” know what it means for Noah to be in that Ark. (1Peter3:20-21). Salvation was "from the Jews," according to Jesus at John 4:22, to show that that's who God spoke to, and delivered His promises to, while not suggesting that only Jews can be saved. A better example is John 10:14 where Jesus points to those who are not of the Jewish fold:

John 10:14: "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

Jesus did not say: "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will join this fold with one shepherd."

Do you see the difference?

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

One thing that I might add, is that, yes, as Gentiles we were separated from the commonwealth of Israel, for salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22), but more significantly, and precisely to Paul's central point, we were cut off from God, and the cross is what brings us near to Him, and hence Eph 2:16. If you make the purpose of the cross, something that brings us near to the commonwealth of Israel, then Paul's point is lost, because otherwise, all you needed, then, is to belong to the commonwealth of Israel, and you'd be fine, and yet surely there is no salvation in merely being a Jew, as John the Baptist reiterated: "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham." (Luke 3:8)

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
Two questions:
1: is there a difference between 'believing' Jews and 'non-believing' Jews? In other words, were Jews like Ahab & Saul any different, practically, from Gentiles?

2: what do you gather from Rom. 2: 28, 29 where Paul labors the point that not all 'Jews' are Jews and that all Christians are 'Jews'. Doesn't that imply adoption into some sort of familial group?

GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

1) In terms of wicked Jew Ahab vs. a wicked Gentile Hanan, their ultimate end was no different, that being, Hell. However Ahab had an election, as a Jew, which Hanan did not have, and therefore Ahab will likely be held more guilty.

2) Would you agree that the mention of an “inward” and “outward” Jew refers to physical and spiritual Israel? To be a physical, outward Jew requires being born of the seed of Abraham, through Isaac. To be a spiritual, inward Jew requires being like Abraham, and believing in God. This deals with identification, rather than adoption. Paul was explicit when he referred to our adoption being “in Christ,” and never, to my knowledge, described Christians as being adopted “in Israel.” Merging the two would mean that Christ = Israel, and I’ve never read where Paul made that point. Consider the example of Nathanael. Jesus called him a true Jew, “an Israelite indeed.” (John 1: 47) Nathanael was born a Jew, of the seed of Abraham, through Isaac, but what made him a true Jew, an inward Jew, or an Israelite indeed, was the fact that he was a believer, and in whom through was no trickery. He was both a physical Jew and spiritual Jew. He was a physical Jew by blood-line, and a spiritual Jew by behavior. Such true Jews who died before Christ, died in Abraham, rather than in Christ and went to Sheol (Luke 16:19-31), while awaiting Christ’s resurrection, at which time they were gathered “in Christ,” in whom they now have access to the Father, in which we too, upon death, pass Sheol and go straight to heaven. That’s some of the difference between being in Abraham and being in Christ. We have a lot more in Christ, namely, we have access to the Father. This is why I say that being a spiritual Jew is identification whereas being in Christ is adoption. I have no desire to be adopted in Israel, which is so far inferior to being adopted in Christ, through whom I have one access to the Father. Abraham did not have such access (as per Luke 16:19-31), when he was in Sheol, waiting for Christ. In Christ, we have so much more than what Adam, Noah or Abraham ever had.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

I'm not trying to split hairs with Identification vs. Adoption, but I need to be precise in how I describe it, because the matter of physical Israel and spiritual Israel can, if misinterpreted, inadvertantly cause statements applying to the one type, be carried over to the other.

For instance, a 5-Point Calvinist, such as James White, typically views Matthew 1:21 as referring to spiritual Israel, whereas a 4-Pointer, such as John Calvin, interpreted it as being physical Israel.

In this discussion, there was a divergence of opinion between Anonymous and I, concerning who God's people are intended to mean, in the words of Deut 14:2, which states: "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth."

Who are those people? Is it physical Israel or spiritual Israel? Naturally, I point to a verse like Romans 11:28-29, to argue for an interpretation of physical Israel: "From the standpoint of the gospel they [the Jews] are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Going back to Matthew 1:21, I agree with the 4-Pointer, and cite John 1:11 as a basis: "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." So when I read Romans chapter 11, concerning the "natural branches," and the discussion of God's people, Deuteronomy 14:2 comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

you wrote: "How could you even propose such unbiblical nonsense? The fact is that the tree is Christ Himself..."

i wrote: "true israel as discussed in rom9-11 IS the body of Christ...going all the way back."

your lack of skill at reading comprehension continues to boggle my mind.

the "tree," which is also called "spiritual israel," has been Christ all along. that's why the NT tells us that abraham "rejoiced that he would see (Jesus') day. He saw it and was glad," (john8) - that isaiah "saw His glory and spoke of Him" (john 12) and that moses "regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt." (heb11)

heb 11 tells us while they had to wait for Christ to be revealed perfectly, salvation has always been through faith...and that faith has ultimately been "in Christ."

while you claim that the promises were made to "physical israel," scripture refutes you. as paul wrote, "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ." (gal3:16) it's a shame that you continue to deny it, but the promises have always been given to those "in Christ."

deut 14:2 and exod 19:6 are parallel in meaning to 1pet2:9. if you deny that God set apart (spiritual) israel in those verses for salvation, then i have no idea how you interpret peter's words to the NT believers.

you quote rom9 without attempting to answer its fundamental question: if israel (physically in your understanding) was set apart as "holy" and as "God's possession," then how could His promises not have failed when so many in physical israel were so clearly cut off from Christ? that is paul's whole point in directing our attention to the remnant of physical israel who also belonged to spiritual israel and thus did receive the promises...

you wrote: "John 10:14: "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

Jesus did not say: "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will join this fold with one shepherd."

Do you see the difference?"

no. you're stretching to find a difference that isn't there.

you wrote: "For instance, a 5-Point Calvinist, such as James White, typically views Matthew 1:21 as referring to spiritual Israel, whereas a 4-Pointer, such as John Calvin, interpreted it as being physical Israel."

speaking of dishonesty and stretching things, calvin the "4-pointer" was right in line with what i've been saying (and most likely what james white is saying as well.):

"By Christ’s people the angel unquestionably means the Jews, to whom he was appointed as Head and King; but as the Gentiles were shortly afterwards to be ingrafted into the stock of Abraham, (Romans 11:17,) this promise of salvation is extended indiscriminately to all who are incorporated by faith in the “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20) of the Church."

-taken from Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke - Volume 1 by John Calvin

in other words, calvin knew it was referring to "spiritual israel," which was to expand to include the gentile believers.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To Anonymous (in the Secret Service),

You wrote: “the ‘tree,’ which is also called ‘spiritual israel,’ has been Christ all along.”

To sum up your point, therefore, the “tree” = “spiritual Israel” = Christ.

Now let’s see what Jesus said at John 15:1: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” It seems that your argument would paraphrase Jesus’ words to mean that spiritual Israel is the true vine. So who are you suggesting that the branches are?, spiritual Israel too? To avoid confusion, let me emphatically say that the tree is NOT spiritual Israel, and let me say that Christ is NOT spiritual Israel. The tree is Christ, and the branches are spiritual Israel, consisting of physical Jews (natural branches) and physical Gentiles (wild branches), in which the natural branches of physical Israel having been, for a time partially hardened (Romans 11:25), in the end, all Israel will someday be saved (Romans 11:26), when the nation of Israel is converted to Christ. (Zechariah 12:7-14)

You wrote: “while you claim that the promises were made to ‘physical israel,’ scripture refutes you. as paul wrote, ‘The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.’ (gal3:16) it's a shame that you continue to deny it, but the promises have always been given to those ‘in Christ.’”

I've never denied that the promise of salvation has always been Christ-centered. What I’m rejecting is the notion that God has zero promises with the physical Jew, that is, the physical seed of Abraham, in which John 1:11 states, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” Now what am I supposed to believe with that, that Christ came into spiritual Israel?, and spiritual Israel rejected Him? How absurd is that? Hence, that is why I connect Deut 14:2 with John 1:11 and Romans chapter 11:1-32. "His own" were "His people." That was their election. For many, they squandered their election, in which Jesus often desired to gather them together as a hen gathers its chicks, as per Matthew 23:37. God had a specific desire for the Jewish people, which they squandered through rebellion, even when God had reached out to them all day long (Isaiah 65:2), which resulted in them being made blind and hardened lest the see and hear and be saved. (Isaiah 6:9-10) So when you try to spiritualize these many references to physical Jews, it makes a charade of the Bible, does it not?

You wrote: “you quote rom9 without attempting….”

Don’t mean Romans chapter 11? Was that a typo on your part? My argument was centered around Romans chapter 11, in which physical Israel underwent a “partial hardening” with the end result that someday “all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25-26; Zechariah 12:7-14) It seems that your argument requires that your understanding of Israel in that chapter, bounces back and forth between physical and spiritual Israel.

Regarding my quotation of John 10:16, you wrote: “no. you're stretching to find a difference that isn't there.”

Again, the verse states: "I have other sheep (who?), which are not of this fold (then what fold do they belong to?); I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock (what flock?) with one shepherd."

The other sheep are the Gentiles. They do not belong to the fold of the Jews (and for your clarification: physical Israel). The combined “one flock” is in Christ, comprise of physical Jews by birth & spiritual Jews by faith, together with physical Gentiles by birth & spiritual Jews by faith.

In terms of the quotation of Calvin at Matthew 1:21, you wrote: “in other words, calvin knew it was referring to ‘spiritual israel,’ which was to expand to include the gentile believers.”

When Calvin wrote “by Christ’s people the angel intends the Jews,” you have inferred that what Calvin meant was “by Christ’s people the angel intends the [spiritual] Jews.” I inferred that when Calvin said “undoubtedly…Jews,” that he meant physical Jews. Part of the reason why is because of his views on John 1:11, in which he comments: “I prefer the view of those who refer to Christ’s coming to the Jews only.” (Crossway Classic Commentary on John, p.21) I’m not an apologist for John Calvin. Rather, I was quoting him as a hostile witness, and if he intended a spiritualized reference to the Jews, then he could have been more explicit and said “spiritual.” In any case, when I say “Jew,” I mean physical Jew, unless I explicitly say “spiritual” Jew. If Calvin was less precise, then that’s his own fault.

Anonymous said...

you wrote: "The tree is Christ, and the branches are spiritual Israel, consisting of physical Jews (natural branches) and physical Gentiles (wild branches)."

fine.

for now, let's say the above definition is workable, given that we're dealing with figurative language.

you wrote: "...in which the natural branches of physical Israel having been, for a time partially hardened (Romans 11:25), in the end, all Israel will someday be saved (Romans 11:26), when the nation of Israel is converted to Christ."

what exactly do you mean here?

many, many jews have been hardened over the last 2000 years...and this hardening has resulted in their being cut off from Christ, correct?
if all of these jews have been cut off, we agree that they refused salvation when they died denying Christ, correct? (like ahab in your previous example...in our language he was a "covenant breaker" and i'd agree would be judged more severely for ignoring the scriptures and the promises of God that came with being born into physical israel...)

yes, it does make more sense to me to bounce around in rom11 (just as he did in rom 9: "all israel is not true israel") and conclude that paul is including the gentile believers who are brought in with the remnant of faithful jews when he concludes that "all (spiritual) israel will be saved."

OTOH, it is possible that it means that the hardening of those (physical ) jews who are alive at the end of time will be removed, allowing them all to accept Christ. but this interpretation raises several issues for you, doesn't it?

1st, if God has been hardening so many jews over the last 2000 years, how do you simultaneously claim that God "wants them to come to repentance" and "desires every single person to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth?"

2nd, if God releases His hardening once the full number of gentiles has entered into salvation, and the result is that every single physical jew turns to Christ, what does that say about their "free will?" they won't be "free" to refuse, will they?

you wrote: "The other sheep are the Gentiles. They do not belong to the fold of the Jews (and for your clarification: physical Israel). The combined “one flock” is in Christ, comprise of physical Jews by birth & spiritual Jews by faith, together with physical Gentiles by birth & spiritual Jews by faith."

john10:14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."

"for my clarification:" you are saying that the "sheep of this fold," in context represent physical israel? physical israel "knows Jesus just as Jesus knows the Father" and "listens to His voice?" i thought you just said that most of physical israel "squandered their election...rebelled...and were blinded"?

the "sheep" here represent only the remnant of spiritual israel within physical israel...and yes, the other sheep are the gentiles who will come to believe...who will be joined together with the faithful jews into one flock: spiritual israel.

you wrote: "In any case, when I say “Jew,” I mean physical Jew, unless I explicitly say “spiritual” Jew. If Calvin was less precise, then that’s his own fault."

honestly...

i had never looked at calvin's take on matt 1:21 till you made your implausible assertion and i decided to test your claims. imagine my surprise to find calvin using similar language to mine...and that you were somehow managing to misunderstand us both.

maybe reading the fuller context of the quotes you use would aid in your understanding...particularly when you are quoting someone like calvin, with whom you so readily disagree.

finally, i would still like to hear why you believe the section of 1pet2 below does NOT refer to salvation as it clearly seems to do so. if you think this "holy nation" is being saved, i'd like to understand how you contrast it with deut 14:2 and exod 19:6...will only some of these NT believers in Christ actually be saved? (and we're back to rom9-11, if these same salvation promises were made to the "physical" jews in the OT, on what grounds do you believe God's promises did not fail?)

"4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.

9...you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To Anonymous,

Relating to John 10:14-16, you wrote: “you are saying that the ‘sheep of this fold,’ in context represent physical israel? physical Israel ‘knows Jesus just as Jesus knows the Father’ and ‘listens to His voice?’ i thought you just said that most of physical Israel ‘squandered their election...rebelled...and were blinded‘? the ‘sheep’ here represent only the remnant of spiritual israel within physical israel...and yes, the other sheep are the gentiles who will come to believe...who will be joined together with the faithful jews into one flock: spiritual israel.”

My point is to contrast racial folds with the coming multi-racial flock. Certainly John 10:14 is speaking of believing Jews, that is, believing physical Israel, since it compares their knowledge of Christ with Christ’s knowledge of His Father.

You wrote: “i had never looked at calvin's take on matt 1:21 till you made your implausible assertion and i decided to test your claims. imagine my surprise to find calvin using similar language to mine...and that you were somehow managing to misunderstand us both. maybe reading the fuller context of the quotes you use would aid in your understanding ...particularly when you are quoting someone like calvin, with whom you so readily disagree.”

Let’s revisit Calvin’s quote: “Doubtless, by Christ’s people the angel intends the Jews, over whom He was set as Head and King, but as soon after the nations were to be ingrafted into the race of Abraham, this promise of salvation is extended openly to all who gather by faith into the one body of the Church.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol. I, p.65, emphasis mine)

I maintain that in the first portion of his sentence, he does not intend to include Gentiles. First, wouldn’t it seem strange to say, “Doubtless by Christ’s people the angel intends the Jews” only to really mean Jews and Gentiles? That’s why I cross-referenced Calvin’s usage of the term “Jews” at John 1:11, in which he reiterated the notion of physical Jews, which certainly did not mean believing Jews since the point is that they did not believe in Him. Second, Calvin adds “over whom He was set as Head and King,” which recalls the Romans title for Jesus, being “King of the Jews,” which could hardly be considered to mean “King of the [spiritual] Jews,” or King of the Jews that believe, since the Romans were not theologians. When Calvin adds that “soon after the nations were to be ingrafted,” you can see that now Calvin takes his initial premise of physical Jews and builds upon it, with the ultimate end of spiritual Israel in sight.

You wrote: “but this interpretation raises several issues for you, doesn't it? 1st, if God has been hardening so many jews over the last 2000 years, how do you simultaneously claim that God ‘wants them to come to repentance’ and ‘desires every single person to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth?’ 2nd, if God releases His hardening once the full number of gentiles has entered into salvation, and the result is that every single physical jew turns to Christ, what does that say about their ‘free will?’ they won't be ‘free’ to refuse, will they?”

Your first point is that God’s love for the physical Jews, and desire for the salvation of the physical Jews, would be inconsistent with hardening them. The perfect illustration for this is Jeremiah 18:1-13. As you know, God reached out to Israel, and they spurned His grace, as per Isaiah 65:2. The result is a spurned God, who according to Isaiah 6:9-10, blinds, deafens and hardens them, lest they hear and be saved. That’s the righteous indignation of a spurned God. Paul described this as a “partial hardening.” The Jews could not come to Christ until the spurned Hardener released His hardening of them, an example of which is found at Acts 2:37 in which some crucifiers became convicted of their sin and asked Peter what to do. It is a mistake to think that God is taking people and making them into unbelievers, but rather God is taking unbelievers, and fashioning them for calamity, just as He said that He would do, according to Jeremiah 18:1-13. Another good example is the fact that Pharaoh had hardened his own heart first, which is explicitly stated in the text, in which afterward, the text explicitly states that God is now the One hardening Pharaoh’s heart. So that’s the general concept with the Hardening. You have God reaching out His hand of love (Isaiah 65:2), with stubborn people resisting that grace, only for a spurned God to say, “Now I will fashion Israel for calamity.” (Jeremiah 18:11) But you, being well educated in this matter, already knew that this is what Arminianism teaches, so why present it as if it is contrary or problematic for Arminianism? In terms of your 2nd point, concerning the prophetic event of “all Israel being saved” (Romans 11:26), relating to their free will, let me reiterate Zechariah 12:7-14, which is basically giving a tremendous illustration of Romans 11:26. You can protest about a contradiction against free will, but that seems to be missing what’s going on in that passage. Jesus introduces Himself to Israel like Joseph introduced himself to his brothers. Was the free will of Joseph’s brothers violated? What if I had stated in advance that all of Joseph brothers would have been saved, does that violate their free will? Of course not. It would have been a prophetic message concerning a future event, and in this case, the pierced Messiah will introduce Himself to His people, Israel, and they mourn over Him, and they being “the tents/clans Judah” and the “house of David.” If you want to spiritualize Romans 11:26, don’t you think that you are going to have to spiritualize Zechariah 12:7-14, and what kind of bizarre path would that take you down?

In terms of 1st Peter 2:9, in order for me to know what you’re point is, I will say that the ‘holy chosen race’ is the multi-racial race of those who are in Christ, and that one is born again into that race, and I do not believe that someone can be un-born again, or born again and again and again, so yes, I do believe in the eternal security of the twice-born in Christ, and I add that this is God’s desire for all men, without any secret-will to the contrary. In terms of how this verse relates to Deut 14:2, I indicated in that opening paragraph that one was physically born into the chosen race of Israel, as a Jew, and in the New Covenant, one is born again into the chosen race in Christ. That’s how I contrasted the two. Again, I said that in the OT, one was physically born into election as a Jew, and in the NT, one is spiritually born into election as a Christian. That was the point of this post.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

One thing to add, if your assertion at Matthew 1:21 is that "My people" only means 'believing physical Jews,' then what do you do with the host of verses which indicate that God's people are NOT believing in Him? Is that where you create a distinction between physical Jews and spiritual Jews, even though the address is to the very same "His people"/"My people"?

Here are some examples:

Hosea 4:6: “‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.’”

Isaiah 65:2: “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts.”

Jeremiah 18:11: “‘So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.’”’”

2nd Chronicles 7:13-14: “‘If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’”

John 1:11: "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)

This is precisely why I maintain that Matthew 1:21 references the whole of physical Israel, believing & unbelieving, and that Jesus had come to save this people, whom He had long desired to gather as a hen gathers its chicks, but it had been unwilling. In light of these things, I do not see how your interpretation of Matthew 1:21 is workable, but I’m listening.

kangeroodort said...

Hello,

Just starting to check out your site. I like what I see so far. Stop by my blog when you get the chance. I would appreciate any input or interaction. Keep defending the truth.

God Bless,
Ben

Classical Arminianism said...

I understood what you were trying to convey about the Jews being pysically elect. Don't let stiff, cold-hearted Calvinists get you down! We know that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim. 2.4). Let them falsely teach that God has pre-selected some to be saved and not others . . . they will have to give account for what they teach (James 3.1).

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello William,

Thanks to you and Ben for visiting. You've been linked from my site and I look forward to checking your Blogs.

However...the two Calvinists here, Greg and "Anonymous" have been really kind enough to offer their feedback, which I've enjoyed tremendously. They are welcome here any time. Yes, there are some Calvinists that fit that description, but these two are certainly not it. One that might meet that definition is the one that recently posted that I was a "swine," along with some other lovely comments :) which I had to delete. When you visit different Blogs, you see some rough individuals, but these two are definitely Christians, and very much welcome here. In fact, if "Anonymous" would take off his cape, I would gladly link his site as well.

Thanks for stopping by, William and Ben, and I'll check out your Blogs this weekend.

Here is the contact page where you have been linked:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/contact_us.html

Classical Arminianism said...

Okay . . . that is good to know! I suppose that our passion for these subjects tends to paint a rather harsh picture of ourselves :)

I am glad to know that they are friendly toward you! I take back my comment toward them -- but not some others I have visited, lol.

Great Blog. I look forward to visiting you daily.

Billy

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Thanks Billy and I look forward to your contributions,

Let me summarize the discussion thus far:

At Deuteronomy 14:2, God spoke about a particular people, and it is the identity of this people, that is currently under discussion:

"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."

Question: Who are those people?

A) Jews
B) Jews and Gentiles
C) Only believing Jews
D) Only believing Jews and Gentiles

I said (A). Anonymous says (D).

This is an important question, because it has bearing on other texts, relative to Calvinism & Arminianism.

My argument is that God chose the Jews to people His particular chosen people, and that God numerously placed conditions upon the blessings that come from such an election. I named several verses above from the OT where God called His people out of Israel (Exodus), and said that if His people would humble themselves and pray, that He would forgive and heal them (2nd Chronicles 7:13-14). God lamented that His people perish for lack of knowledge of Him. (Hosea 4:6). God said that He reached out all day long to His people, which rejected Him. (Isaiah 65:2; Jeremiah 18:1-13). God then hardened His people. (Isaiah 6:9-10), just as He said that He would do, according to Jeremiah 18:1-13. Then shift gears to the NT. Jesus indicated that He long wanted to gather His people like a hen gathers its chicks, but that they were unwilling. (Matthew 23:37), in that Jesus came into His own, but His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11) However, God is not done with His people. He has partially hardened them for a time (Romans 11:25), in order to include the Gentiles, which would serve to provoke His people to jealousy, that He may show mercy to all (Romans 11:32), and that in the end, namely the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, Jesus would reveal Himself to His people, the Jews, just like how Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, and similarly, in that day, the Jews would bitterly mourn over Jesus, whom they had crucified, according to Zechariah 12:7-14. On that day, all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:26)

As for spiritual Israel, the blessing and the promise are received by those who believe, and hence Gentiles can share in that blessing promised to Abraham by doing like Abraham did, that is, by believing. Together, the fold of believing Israel will be gathered together with the fold of believing Gentiles into one multi-racial flock that is "in Christ," a term which Paul frequently used. You may refer to that as "spiritual Israel," as being branches grafted into the tree, or the vine, of Christ. (John 15:1-2)

My contrast with Deut 14:2 and 1Peter 2:9 is that just like in the OT, one was born into election, as a Jew, while in the NT, one is born again into election, as a Christian, such that God desires that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, to become born into the elect, redeemed race "in Christ," if they will meet His sovereign decree of salvation, according to John 3:16.

That's essentially the case that I had laid out.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

I've done a preliminary writeup for Deuteronomy 14:2, which summarizes the case that I've laid out:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/OT/Deut14_2.html

Adrian Rogers states: “I believe that God wants everybody saved. I believe that ‘whosoever’ is in the Bible, and the same Lord over all, whether you’re a Jew, or whether you’re Greek, whether you’re the chosen race or not the chosen race, whoever you are, wherever you are, if you will call upon the name of the Lord, He will save you....” (Salvation: Romans 10:1-13)

posttinebraelux said...

Richard,
This is deja-vu all over again. :) I just had a discussion with a good friend Sunday morning regarding this issue of omniscience, free-will, and sovereignty. It is my contention that, when events are seen from God's perspective, man has no choice - even if you believe in the doctrine that everyone is completely free to choose anything at any time. If God knows what the choice will be, then the event could not unfold any other way. In other words, there is really no 'choice'. The individual will always choose that which God knows he will choose, thus eliminating the possibility of any other choice. Obviously my beliefs regarding God's sovereignty are much stronger than the scenario I presented (i.e. it's not what God 'knows will happen' that takes place, but rather what God 'ordains' to happen that takes place), but regardless, in my economy of things, God's omniscience and man's complete freedom to choose cannot co-exist. If man truly has the freedom to choose, then that necessarily implies a limited omniscience which is Open Theism. Does that make sense?

GR

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Greg,

Good to hear from you. I was reading a book by Robert Picirilli, in which he described the way that I understood God's providence, which is that God has Middle Knowledge, which means that God knows all of the contingencies, meaning that God knows all of the "what-ifs". In other words, God knows what you could do, and would do, from an infinite number of variations in your environment. Turn to Matthew 11:21-24, where Jesus discusses Tyre and Sidon, in that IF they had seen Jesus' miracles, they would have believe in Jesus and repented and remained to this day. So that is what Arminians mean by Middle Knowledge. Another example is 1Cor 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." The question that is derived from that verse is this: How does God know what Greg Reynolds is able to endure?, if God does not have perfect Middle Knowledge. Therefore, God's knowledge extends beyond what actually does come about, but includes all of the what-ifs. Therefore, that would be on the extreme opposite of Open Theism. That would be Infinite Theism.

In terms of God's freedom, I feel like it's deja vu too, because someone else raised that point on another Blog (and maybe that's what you were referencing), and the way that I approached it is from the standpoint of limited self-determinism vs. Hard Determinism. In other words, if God knows the future, then you are 100% correct, in that the future would be fixed. Of that, there is no question. However, the question is whether "who" fixed it? In other words, could it be possible that our eternal God has foreknowledge of a person's future free choice? So, the way I see it, Arminianism is not illogical. In fact, neither is. The question is limited self-Determinism vs. Divine Determinism. (I say "limited" from the standpoint of 1Cor 10:13).

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To add to the last point, I would say that from man's perspective, the future is not fixed, but to an eternal God, who stands independent of time, the future would indeed be fixed, and it would be fixed, from God's perspective, because it would have already happened.

Here's an example: Tomorrow, you are going to make certain choices. Does God know what those choices are? Yes, and not only that, but God also knows what choices you "would" make, if God altered the things that will face you tomorrow. If God brings trajedy into your life tomorrow, He knows how you will face it. If He brings victory into your life tomorrow, He knows how you will face it. That's what I mean when I say that God knows every what-if.

So by God's perspective, the future is fixed, only because (to God), the future has already happened, and you have already made your choices, that is, from His perspective. In contrast, from your perspective, you have not yet made those choices, because tomorrow has not yet come.

This was discussed in the debate book by White & Hunt, in terms of limited Self Determinism vs. Divine Determinism. God could have easily written the "Script of Life," and everyone would be carrying out their parts in the Divine Play. That would involve a fixed future by Divine Determinism. On the other hand, limited Self-Determinism would be an open-script, but not necessarily Open Theism, if God stands independent of time. In other words, what if God dwells in all time, including the present and the future. What if God is right there on your death bed, hopefully far far into the future after a long prosperous life, and He is watching you and listening to you. In that case, you would have made a life-time of choices, that, from God's perspective, have already happened, while from your perspective right now in 2007, have not yet occurred.

Hope this helps,
Richard

Anonymous said...

you wrote: "Your first point is that God’s love for the physical Jews, and desire for the salvation of the physical Jews, would be inconsistent with hardening them. The perfect illustration for this is Jeremiah 18:1-13. As you know, God reached out to Israel, and they spurned His grace, as per Isaiah 65:2. The result is a spurned God, who according to Isaiah 6:9-10, blinds, deafens and hardens them, lest they hear and be saved. That’s the righteous indignation of a spurned God."

which is fine, except that the scriptures teach that all have fallen short and all are in rebellion. "no one seeks God...no not one." we're sinful from conception.

so God is "spurned" by all...such as by paul when he opposed the spread of the gospel...stephen told him about Jesus but he refused to listen and endorsed murder in order to silence stephen...the murder emboldened him further to attack the churches in damascus and kill or imprison those he caught there. God has doubtlessly hardened many for just that sort of "spurning," but paul was transformed rather than hardened.

the biggest problem i have with your comments was your silly notion that calvinists claim that "God is taking people and making them into unbelievers." we're all conceived as unbelievers. the only ones who become believers are those who by grace receive faith, like paul the murderer or jacob, the deceiver.

(or even john the baptist, who was given faith to recognize the Lord while still in the womb...how do arminians believe that little fetus made a conscious choice to believe in order to receive faith?)

"Another good example is the fact that Pharaoh had hardened his own heart first, which is explicitly stated in the text..."

actually the text first states that pharoah WILL NOT let them go until compelled to do so (exod3:19)...yes, multiple hardenings were mentioned later, but it's not as if there was any doubt how things were going to go down. (i.e. pharoah wasn't free to choose not harden his own heart.)

from what i understand of middle knowledge, it doesn't make a ton of sense. God knew in

Anonymous said...

continued:

from what i understand of middle knowledge, it doesn't make a ton of sense. God knew in Matt11:21-24 that He could cause those people to believe by miraculous means (much like the miracles it took to reach paul) but He chose not to (even though, again, you would claim that God wants "every single man to be saved." there were possible realities in which tyre and sidon would have repented and believed...but God sovereignly chose not to enact that reality, and instead chose to ordain our reality in which they were condemned. how is that arminian again?

...it looks like you're going to have to start another site about examiningcovenanttheology, since we're getting a lot deeper into this than i originally intended. but yes, there is a sense in which the physical jews were God's covenant people (or "His people") - but that number includes "covenant breakers" as well as the remnant of believers. the question is whether you believe a gentile could be saved in OT times with no connection to the jews and their (God's) teaching about Himself and His promised Messiah.

(although i really wanted to be a smart-aleck and point out that His own MUST have received Him since john 12:19 tells us that "the whole world followed after Him" and the word "world" must mean every single person. ;-) )

i also noticed you didn't seem to deal with gal3:16 and paul's teaching that the promises were ultimately to abraham and his "seed" and not "seeds."

BTW, i'm not linking to a site because i don't have one. i'm not trying to be sneaky...

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

You wrote: which is fine, except that the scriptures teach that all have fallen short and all are in rebellion. "no one seeks God...no not one." we're sinful from conception.

…and hence the necessity of Prevenient Grace.

A person who persistently rejects God’s grace (refer to Isaiah 65:2), will receive God’s rebuke (Isaiah 6:9-10). I felt that Jeremiah 18:1-13 (also being the context of Romans chapter 9, in terms of God “the Potter”), is a nice passage that puts it all together.

You wrote: paul was transformed rather than hardened.

However, the question is when was Paul transformed? I don’t recall that Paul ever taught that he was preemptively made Born Again (or preemptively regenerated).

You wrote: the biggest problem i have with your comments was your silly notion that calvinists claim that "God is taking people and making them into unbelievers." we're all conceived as unbelievers. the only ones who become believers are those who by grace receive faith, like paul the murderer or jacob, the deceiver.

Some Calvinists (perhaps the majority) teach that God “raised up” Pharaoh, from the perspective of having created him thusly, in contrast to Arminians who infer that God merely raised him up in the sense of bringing him to power. Your comments sound much more in tune to R.C. Sproul, than your supralapsarian brothers.

You wrote: (or even john the baptist, who was given faith to recognize the Lord while still in the womb...how do arminians believe that little fetus made a conscious choice to believe in order to receive faith?)

It’s possible that baby John was given a supernatural, adult’s understanding, but I had never imagined that it was John who was doing the leaping, but rather the Holy Spirit who was upon John, who was doing the leaping.

You wrote: Pharaoh wasn't free to choose not harden his own heart.

If we are not free to choose not to harden our own heart, then why did God warn at Psalm 95:8: “Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: harden not your heart”?

You wrote: God knew in Matt11:21-24 that He could cause those people to believe by miraculous means (much like the miracles it took to reach paul) but He chose not to (even though, again, you would claim that God wants "every single man to be saved." there were possible realities in which tyre and sidon would have repented and believed...but God sovereignly chose not to enact that reality, and instead chose to ordain our reality in which they were condemned. how is that arminian again?

Only Israel (and the neighboring Samaritans) received the grace of experiencing Christ’s earthly ministry, and hence comes great responsibility and great accountability, in which those nations will rise on Judgment Day to testify against those particular cities in Israel. Surely God desired the salvation of the heathen nations, or else why would God have sent them the prophet Jonah, and argued with Jonah about them? Not everyone will receive the amount of grace that Paul had received, in actually getting a personal visit from Jesus, but Paul states that the grace of God that had been shown toward him, did not prove in vain, because he, through God’s power, labored more than all of the other disciples. (1Cor 15:10) So the point is that not all receive the same measure of evangelizing grace, and that we will be held accountable, relative to the measure of grace that we receive, and hence you have a case for greater accountability (compare with Luke 12:48: “but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”)

Why does Middle Knowledge not make sense to you? I recall R.C. Sproul having essentially agreed with it (in that God knows all of the what-ifs, all of the contingencies. God knows what could and would occur, from an infinite number of perspectives). I’ll pull his quote later tonight.

You wrote: the question is whether you believe a gentile could be saved in OT times with no connection to the jews and their (God's) teaching about Himself and His promised Messiah.

Perhaps you could make a case for Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:37), but Jesus told the Samaritan woman that salvation was “from the Jews.” (John 4:22: “for salvation is from the Jews.”)

Concerning the point that you raised from John 12:19, “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are not doing any good; look, the [whole] world has gone after Him,’” that was the emotional perspective of the Pharisees, when they considered the impact of Jesus now raising the dead. Obviously, as we agree, the Pharisees were not including themselves. I treat it as a matter of speaking.

You wrote: i also noticed you didn't seem to deal with gal3:16 and paul's teaching that the promises were ultimately to abraham and his "seed" and not "seeds."

The seed is Spiritual Israel. The promise of salvation is to those who, like Abraham, believe. That’s why we agreed that the branches were Spiritual Israel, but that the tree/vine was Christ.

I’m surprised that you do not have your own Blog. You should make one because I think that you have a lot of biblical knowledge to offer, and to stimulate others toward growth. I, for one, have certainly benefited from your feedback. Perhaps you could at least tell us your first name.