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Featured Faith or Predestination

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by RisenInJesus, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Jennifer Rothnie

    Jennifer Rothnie Well-Known Member

    Matt 19:26 is about the difficulty ( the impossibility, actually) of anyone being saved by their own works and merits, and about the difficulty of the lure of riches.

    "...Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Matt 19:24-25 (Not, 'who can have faith?')

    Fortunately, God did make being saved possible where man could not- by making the method faith, and not works! No man can achieve salvation via works, but man can be saved by faith.

    "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." Eph 2:8-9
    What does it mean that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and that this is not of ourselves but is the gift of God?

    (Note that Jesus also says, "all things possible" not "all things inevitable." It's like saying, "you can't get to the top of the mountain by your own effort or riches, but the Father has made a ski-lift and is offering free rides up!")

    Faith isn't a dead work that humans do, but it is something that God requires of us. It is in every way contrary to boasting. Faith is not relying on our own actions, but thankfully accepting the gracious and merciful work of Christ.

    "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law of works? No, because of the law of faith." Rom 3:27

    What does it mean in Rom 3:27 that boasting is excluded because of the law that requires faith?
  2. Jennifer Rothnie

    Jennifer Rothnie Well-Known Member

    With any topic it is important to look at the harmony of scripture (scriptures will not contradict) on it, not just what a couple verses say alienated from the whole; as well as be careful not to go beyond the text and treating interpretations as explicit teachings.

    No man can come to Christ unless the Father draw Him - all Christians would agree. The drawing by the Father is a prerequisite to coming to Christ. But it is a step further beyond that to claim that all the Father draws will come, or that this refers to a special grace not given to all at Christ's death.

    Furthermore, what is meant by 'drawn' has to be found in scripture and not asserted or assumed. Does 'drawn' mean given faith? Made receptive to faith? Given the evidence for faith? Compelled to examine the evidence for faith? Attracted to the gospel message? Drawn in by the words of the prophets to understand their fulfillment in Christ? Drawn in by Christ's death and ascension? Drawn by the various proofs in the scripture? Etc.

    The entirety of John chapter six sheds light on this, for Jesus dives into detail as to what he means earlier in the chapter:

    "Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:35-40

    Jesus is equating those the Father gives, who come to Him, with those who have faith and look to the Son. It is those with faith who the Father wills come to Christ, that Christ not turn away, and that Christ raise on the last day.

    We see then that faith is a prerequisite to coming to Christ as well, not just being drawn by the Father, and that it is those with faith that the Father wills come to Christ and that Christ give eternal life.

    This leads us with a few logical possibilities for the passage so far:

    1) The Father draws some by giving a special grace to respond in faith to the revelation of Christ, those respond in faith by this special grace, and then the Father gives them to Christ so they come to Him.
    2) The father draws some by giving a special grace to respond in faith, some of those respond in faith, the Father wills the ones with faith to be given to Christ and they come to Christ.
    3) The Father draws everyone, but only some respond in faith, and those who respond in faith the Father wills to come to Christ.
    4) Prior to Christ's death the Father only drew some, some of those came to Christ by responding in faith, and those the Father willed to be given to Christ.
    5) Prior to Christ's death the Father only drew some, all those drawn responded in faith, and those of faith the Father willed to be given to Christ.
    6) Before Christ's death the Father drew some by the words of the prophets, but after Christ's death the Father draws all through Christ
    7) The Father draws some by giving them faith in Christ and wills that they come to Christ

    Etc. There actually are a few more variations, but the main thing to realize is that Jn 6:44 of itself doesn't mandate any one possibility as the only possibility. However, the rest of the chapter does narrow the options down:

    "“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (Note that it is the ones that are both drawn and come that are raised up. The verse does not say that all those drawn will come.) It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Jn 6:43-51

    Here Jesus sets up being drawn by the Father as a prerequisite to coming, and coming as a prerequisite to eternal life. Those who did come are described as 'hearing and learning' from the Father. Jesus describes those who come both as 'being drawn by the Father' and 'heard the Father and learned from Him.' He doesn't say in this paragraph whether those two things are synonyms or one follows the other, but 'Heard the Father and learned from Him' has close parallels with receiving the gospel message.

    This gives a few possibilities:

    - The Father draws all by speaking and teaching to them in some manner (the Spirit, scripture, etc.) and those who hear and learn come
    - The Father draws some by speaking and teaching in such a manner that those He teaches cannot fail to hear and learn, then they come
    - Some seek/hear the Father's words and teachings (such as prophecy, the words of Christ, etc.) and the Father draws them
    - The Father draws all through Christ, but only some hear and learn from the Father

    Eternal life is again linked with those who believe. The bread of heaven He does not restrict to only those drawn by the Father, but says anyone may eat it, and that is his flesh which He gives for the life of the world.

    (Could it be that the offering of the flesh given for the world is one way the Father draws?)

    "Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jn 6:53-58

    The Father *sent* the Son, and therefore the one who feeds on Christ will live. This seems to support the Father drawing people to Him through the Son. Jesus is also telling them that 'unless you eat the flesh of the Son you have no life' - again a reference to eternal life only coming through faith.

    "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it has been offered them by the Father.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
    “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him." Jn 6:60-67

    We see a few things in this section:

    - A link between Jesus' ascension and His lifting up before all men
    - A statement that the Spirit gives life, and that His words are full of the Spirit and life (not that one needs the Spirit to understand the words, but that the words are full of the Spirit!)
    - A reiteration that it must be given/offered/supplied by the Father to come to Christ - man doesn't come on His own
    - A statement that despite Jesus' choice, Judas was later to betray Him
    - A clarification that Jesus knew from the beginning (foreknowledge) that Judas would betray Him

    We see a clarification of -How- the Father gives the ability to come to Christ in the case of the disciples:

    "“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." Jn 17:6-8

    We see that in the case of the disciples (one of whom did not believe) that they were previously "The Father's" but the Father gave them to Son! (Could this be speaking of a transfer of dominion/authority?) The Father gave the Word to the Son, the Son gave them the words, and 11 of the 12 received the words and accepted them and believed the Father had sent Christ.

    Their faith/belief is specifically linked with receiving the words that Christ was given by the Father as true.

    But Jn 6 never says that those -drawn- by the Father will necessarily get eternal life. It simply states the fact that no one can believe or come without the Father drawing them.

    It is like the difference between the premise 'No one can reach the top of the mountain except by accepting a free ticket and taking a ride up the Father's ski lift' and 'The Father chooses a few people who He compels with no ability to refuse to take His ski lift up the mountain - but everyone else is stuck down below, and though they can see the ski-lift, will never ask nor seek to take it because the Father hasn't given them the ability to even want to take the ski lift.'

    The first premise merely sets up a baseline requirement, but doesn't ensure the end result. The second premise includes a dizzying array of assertions and is really a nunber of premises rolled into one. Yet the phrase "no one can come unless the Father draws Him" is far closer to the first premise than the second. It does not logically demand, of itself, that anyone drawn come, or that the Father only draw some and not all, or that the Father draw in the exact same manner throughout time, etc.
  3. 2tim_215

    2tim_215 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Not sure what you mean by that. Don't believe I've heard of that before.
  4. Jennifer Rothnie

    Jennifer Rothnie Well-Known Member

    Do you mean in the sense of rejecting the TULIP teaching of unconditional election? Views like believing that God elects taking His foreknowledge of all things into account, such as whether a person will respond in faith to the gospel or not?

    It is far easier to run a defined view through scripture (such as TULIP's unconditional election) to see how it stacks up/compares than it is to discuss all theoretical competing views which may not even use definitions the same way.

    Unconditional Election, in Calvinism, is based on the TULIP premise of Total Depravity, which in the TULIP view means that man in his fallen state cannot receive the gospel message and respond in faith.

    Unconditional election then starts from that premise that man, in His sin, cannot accept the free gift of Salvation. It builds off of this propose that God chose (elected) some to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit so they can believe and be saved. Those He chooses not to regenerate cannot believe, and hence they stand condemned. (Or in other variants, that God just gives faith to some directly.)

    However, scripture gives a different presentation of election: The nation of Israel was elect due to God’s own choice (Ezek 16:5-7). Israel entered the covenant with God to confirm this (Deut 29:9-15), but they still rebelled, and thought salvation was by works and not the promise. More importantly, in regards to salvation: God elected a people for Himself, the body of Christ, both Jew and Gentile. (I Pet 2:7-10, Rom 1:1-3, II Tim 2:1-13, etc). His calling this people is by His grace, not by any of our own works (I Pet 2:9-10, Eph 2:8-10, Rom 11:1-6). Noteably, His choice is affected by His foreknowledge, character, and will.

    Fundamental to the concept of election is that it is by God’s good pleasure that a people is chosen, not by works or the wisdom of man. Israel had nothing to recommend her, nor was Israel even a nation, when God chose her (Ezek 16:1-14, Deut 7:6) to be His treasured possession. God not only favored Israel as His people, but predestined the savior to come through Israel (Is 9:6-7, Jer 33:20-21). He chose Israel to redeem a people for Himself and to magnify His name (II Sam 7:23).

    Likewise, it pleased God to choose/elect His people not by anything works we have done or any favor with men, but rather to redeem us as a people through the blood of Christ alone (Eph 1:3-14). This way, it is by God’s mercy and not by man’s might or wisdom (I Cor 1:20-21, I Cor 2:5, Titus 3:4-6). By coming to God by the way He predestined for us - faith in Christ alone, we are redeemed by God as His people for the praise of His name (I Pet 1:1-10, Eph 1:3-14, Luke 12:27-33).

    The elect are the people of God joined together under the headship of Christ (1 Peter 2:4-9). We as individual believers do not actually know who all the elect are until Christ returns and we inherit what has been promised us; a glorified body, that we might have eternal life with Christ. (Rom 8:19-30, Matt 13:24-29, Heb 6:1-12, 1 Pet 1:3-9).

    Throughout the Bible, election has always been a testimony of God's sovereignty and eternal perspective. It is meant to be a comfort, to be a testimony of the fulfillment of prophecy, to show God's power and knowledge, and to show how none of God's good purpose is frustrated by the actions of man.

    We should continually examine ourselves to see if we are growing in relationship with Christ (II Pet 1:3-11); thus confirming our calling and election. No man or principality of the heir can take our hope away. If we are subject to Christ, then we are part of the people of God. God is purifying for himself a people all His own (Titus 2:11-14). This refinement process is hard, with many trials - but so long as we keep faith God's power will guard us, and we will overcome. (1 Pet 1:3-9, 1 John 5:1-5). Our abiding faith in Christ will lead us to grow (John 15).

    The important take away is that our hope is not based in an abstract concept of hoping we have been chosen in God, or faith in being among the elect vs. Being in Christ. Rather, our hope is a concrete assurance of the Ressurection. We know, *concretely*, that we are the elect of God due to our abiding faith. We rest in Christ alone as Savior and Lord! (1 Tim 1:1, 1 Tim 4:10, Eph 1:12, Titus 2:11-14).

    God predestined the process, Christ, by which He would choose and redeem a people for Himself, a plan for salvation that God chose in His foreknowledge and wisdom. As such, we become part of the people of God by faith - not because God looked to the future, or because God chose that we as individuals would have faith while others would not - but because through Christ God chose to give us the right to be His children (I John 2:24-29, I John 3:1-10, Rom 8:1-16, Rom 9; Rev 21:13, II Sam 7:22-24, etc).

    So then, as election is based in God's character, will, foreknowledge, and purpose, it is completely rooted in God. One of the factors, however, which *He set up* to be the method by which He would choose a people for Himself, is faith. It is God Himself who set up the condition of us needing to respond in faith to join His people (or enter through the one gate, Christ, to be part of the one flock), and so the election is not by man's will or choice, but by God's plan.

    Election can rightly be described both as unconditionally coming from God, and being conditional by the purposeful condition God set up according to His own will (faith.)

    Who are the elect of God?
    How does God's sovereignty work together with free will?
    How are predestination and election connected with foreknowledge?
    How do Christians make their "calling and election" certain?
    Are we predestined to know Christ?
  5. Jennifer Rothnie

    Jennifer Rothnie Well-Known Member

    Out of context verses do little to support your point. As mentioned previously, nearly any view can find verses out of context and exclaim that they 'prove' a viewpoint or support it exclusively. Yet any theory of man (on eschatology, Calvinism, etc.) needs to be harmonious with all of scripture. One way to check this is to see if there are verses that clearly disprove a theory, and to make sure any support verses are in context.

    Rom 9 is specifically about the grace of God in bringing salvation to the Gentiles and not restricting it to the descendants of Abraham, and not being unjust in the stumbling block set before the people of Israel.

    Israel, the nation, was blessed with the adoption to sonship; the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises; the patriarchs, and the human ancestry of the Messiah. (Rom 9:1-5) Yet God's promise "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son." was not specific to the physical Israelites, but for the 'children of promise.'

    The mercy and compassion God showed was in opening up salvation to the gospels. The hardening in part was towards Israel, the nation, so that His plan might be fulfilled.

    Paul even clarifies the statements for any that might want to misconstrue what God is doing:

    What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? (Such as not immediately killing The Israelites who rejected Christ) What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" Rom 9:22-24

    And note the conclusion of the chapter!

    "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:
    “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

    Rom 9:30-33

    Note that the people of Israel stumbled over the stumbling stone (Christ) because they were trying to achieve righteousness via works. Yet the Gentiles were not apt to stumble in the same way, since they were only now receiving the message that salvation was through faith in Christ. The people of Israel couldn't complain against God that he gave them this stumbling block, nor could they justly complain against God for showing the Gentiles mercy.

    The "Will" here God's sovereign will over the entire plan of salvation, which the chapter traces back to the promise given to Abraham. The nation of Israel is likened to Pharoah in that, 'I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."

    Applying this chapter to the lives of individuals and claiming it means some just can't come to Christ (vs. perhaps face a stumbling block) while others must misses the point of the chapter and over-extrapolates it to different scenarios.
  6. InterestedApologist

    InterestedApologist Member

    United States
    Unconditional election and conditional election are not Biblical terms, they are man made terms used in Calvinism to define the word elect. Still, what does my view on election have to do with your ability to defend your own? You are asking for a blanket definition to cover every use of the term, which is in my view flawed. The term needs to be examined in individual texts using its context in each,not just given a blanket definition so it lines up with an individuals preferred theology.

    Regardless, my argument transcends TULIP in a sense, because I am asking questions about the character and sovereignty of God rather than a pre-accepted 5 point chart on how salvation works. You keep trying to go at this from the U, I am asking about the implications of TULIP as a whole philosophy. Is the end result of TULIP consistent with other scripture on the character of God?
  7. Si_monfaith

    Si_monfaith Let God alone answer through us

    Word of Faith
    What is the problem of molinism which opposes predestination?

    It is feared that if the human will is free, and since humans commit acts of sins, this would render God as the originator of evil/acts of sin.


    God says that He creates evil (which refers to sinful acts also because Adam and Eve chose kge-knowledge of good and evil, which eventually led them to violations of the law and which is committing acts of sin. Nakedness was considered an act of sin after they chose kge) in Isaiah 45:7 because humans have the kge. Without kge, humans cannot know that something is evil or a sinful act.

    So if one is set free from the kge as per Romans 7:4,6, the kge is taken away from him (as knowledge of what an act of sin is, comes from the law-Romans 3:20) and he cannot know what an act of sin is, and therefore he will not be worried about God creating evil/sinful acts.

    Now, God says that He creates or authors evil/sinful acts to demonstrate to the elect the difference between the life under kge and the life under His grace. Under kge there is death whereas under grace there is eternal life.

    Thus predestination of the elect is proved and therefore faith is God given assurance.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  8. Jennifer Rothnie

    Jennifer Rothnie Well-Known Member

    God most certainly does not create moral evil! Please check the Hebrew term used in Is 45:7. Ra there is calamity or distress, not moral evil. The Hebrew parallelism also shows this. The KJV renders it 'evil' because that was once a common English synonym for calamity and disaster.
  9. 2tim_215

    2tim_215 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States

    Technical point: Original sin came from disobedience to God. There was no law until Moses and the Jewish nation. At the time of Adam's sin nakedness was not a sin, God created them with no clothes and again, there was no law. It was their own conscience that made it such. God made them clothes out of animal skins (the first animal sacrifice) because He knew they felt guilty and their newfound knowledge had poisoned them (why He told them not to eat of it). The main purpose for the clothes I believe however was the institution of animal sacrifice which would be a substitute for the sin of man and would become part of the Jewish tradition.
    The verse you reference here are with regards to the law, which was non-existent during this time.
    It was strictly about disobedience to God. God gave the law and the prophets to the Jew which He etched in stone due to the gross disobedience.

    Romans 3:19(KJV)
    19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
    Adam and Eve were not under the law in Genesis 3 when original sin took place.

    This may be true, but do you have a verse for that?
    I'm sorry, but based on what you've given thus far, I can't agree with that.
  10. SBC

    SBC Well-Known Member

    United States
    No, What you said

    was not true. Nor did I say anything about the elect not accepting Jesus.
    You simply was trying to speak for me....to which I said....

    You are not qualified to speak for me.
    Not then, not now.
    I am qualified to speak for myself.
    What I say is sufficient for my own speaking.

    You want to speak of your own "doubts" or "absolution's"... go ahead.
    THAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU "qualified" to decide what others think, and for you to speak for them.

    Use the quote feature, then you won't have to try and put YOUR WORDS in an others mouth!

    God Bless,
  11. Marvin Knox

    Marvin Knox Senior Veteran

    I don't subscribe to everything TULIP stands for. Having said that-----

    Calvinism teaches that God is not the author of evil. It couldn't be more clear on that subject.

    "God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

    "Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, (like the free will choices of men) either necessarily, freely, or contingently."
    While I don't use Romans 9 to support my presentation on the subject-----

    You are incorrect about this. God is said to be preparing to harden Pharaoh's heart before Pharaoh hardened his own heart.

    "And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go." Exodus 4:21

    This is much like the brothers of Joseph of who's actions it is said that it was actually God who did them.
    No doubt the well deserved giving over by God to a reprobate mind is one of the reasons for the depravity of fallen man reaching such a state that they are unwilling, and indeed unable, to understand and receive the things of God without His gracious intervention.
    They are way ahead of you on this point.

    He can be sovereign and still allow man free will. It is only anti-Calvinists who say that He can't.

    To quote again the passage from the most The Westminster Confession of Faith, the most authoritative source on what Calvinists believe and teach on the subject-------

    "God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

    There is absolutely no conflict between, for instance, the predestination of all things which happen in God's creation and the free will choices of men and angels. To say that there is goes against what Calvinists believe and teach.
  12. 2tim_215

    2tim_215 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    God's sovereignty and free will have nothing to do with each other.

    "God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."
    What scripture(s) does the above refer to?
  13. Jennifer Rothnie

    Jennifer Rothnie Well-Known Member

    Wait, what? Why do you think non-Calvinists believe that God's sovereignty is opposed to man's free will? (And really, the term "limited will" is better. Most Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike agree that man has physical, mental, and moral limitations. It's generally only strict determinists that believe that free choice is a complete illusion - I've met a few hyper-Calvinists who thought that, but it doesn't seem to be a common argument.)

    Being 'not Calvinist' is certainly a broad category, so there may be a few who believe the two are incompatible, but I have never heard any non-Calvinist make such a claim.

    I have frequently heard Calvinists make that claim, however. Not being a Calvinist I will grant you that there is likely wide variation even within advocates of TULIP (or 4 point Amyraldism) so perhaps not all Calvinists believe such. However, I wonder why so many debates between Calvinists devolve into the Calvinists declaring that man's will can't be free to respond in faith if God is sovereign if no Calvinist actually believes such a thing? And I wonder where you are meeting non-Calvinists who declare they are incompatible - not saying you couldn't have ran into a couple, but it certainly doesn't seem to be a common argument coming from non-Calvinists on general internet Bible forums. (I've often seen the accusation from Calvinists that non-Calvinists must not believe God is truly sovereign, but that is a far cry from non-Calvinists actually claiming or believing such a thing.)

    And if both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that there is no conflict, why does it keep coming up in almost every discussion on Calvinism I have ever joined - and by the Calvinists, not the non-Calvinists?

    However, it appears you may be using a different definition for predestination than scripture does, which could be contributing to the confusion. Predestination, though the English term looks like 'destiny' and calls up deterministic connotations, has no such meaning of 'destiny' in the Greek. It means to pre-horizon, or pre-limit - to set up boundaries beforehand.

    Predestination (as per the Biblical definition) means to set boundaries/limits/horizons upon something before hand. [Strong's Greek: 4309. προορίζω (proorizó) -- to predetermine, foreordain] The greek word (in Rom 8:29-30) is proorizó, which is from pró ("before") and horízō ("establish boundaries, limits"). Horízō is where we get the english term horizon.

    The word does not imply that every thought, action, and motion of a molecule is directly chosen by God! Rather, it shows that every thought, action, and molecule is bound to the limits and laws which God has set up
    (and that God can even supercede those laws as needed, such as Jesus calming the storm, since He made the rules and sustains the rules by His power.)

    The fact that God established rules and limits before time began is quite Biblical in regards to the physical universe, the path of salvation, the judgement for sin, the flow of history, and even rules regarding the operation of the church.

    In regards to creation:

    God predestined the physical creation, setting up the rules and limits by which it must abide (Prov 8:22-31, Job 38:4-41, Psalm 136:1-9). Even though He set up these rules, He is not bound by them, for He is more powerful and nature is merely a pledge/sign for the sake of man. (Mark 4:35-41, Josh 10:12-14, Jer 33:20, Jer 51:15-16, etc).

    In regards to salvation: God set up the plan/rules/covenant of salvation before time began, that we could be adopted as sons and justified through Christ. (Rom 8:18-30, Acts 4:23-31, I Peter 1:10-12, Titus 1:1-3, John 10:9, John 14:6, Rom 1:1-3, I Tim 1:5-6, Psalm 11:2-9, Heb 6:13-20, I John 3:1-10, Dan 2:44, Eph 3:7-11, II Tim 2:1-13, etc). Unlike with nature, God has bound Himself to this plan due to His own character and justice.

    This plan of salvation God also predestined to include the gentiles, not just the Jews (Eph 3:2-6, Rom 3:21-31, Rom 9:1-26, Rom 15:5-13, John 1:11-13, Isa 45:9-10, etc)

    In regards to our walk with Christ: God set up the process of sanctification and spiritual growth, that is how once we die to self/live to Christ we are conformed to the image of Christ and how we would be built up together as the body of Christ (the church), before time began: (Jude 1:24-25, I John 1:1-7, I Tim 2:1-15, Eph 2:1-22, Eph 3:7-13, I Peter 2:4-10, II Thess 1:11, I Cor 15:10, II Cor 1:21-22 etc)

    God also controls the flow of history, judges the nations, and fulfills his prophecies: (Hab 2:2-3, Rom 9:16-18, Rev 17:16-18, Jer 51; Job 42:1, Prov 16:9, Isa 30:27-33, Isa 45:13 etc)

    God predestinated the rules of law and judgement: (Jude 1:5-7, John 3:18, Mark 16:16, John 1:12, Psalm 1:1-6, II Thess 1:3-10, II Peter 2:1-22, etc).


    As to whether theories of men regarding predestination are biblical, they must each be examined via other scripture, as they may use predestination in a different manner than the greek definition. The theory that God arbitrarily pre-chose certain people to be saved and certain people not to be saved does not seem to be biblical, as scripture states clearly that in no way has God purposed some not to be saved, as He desires that all be saved, and consistently calls men to repentance and faith. (I Tim 2:3-4, II Pet 3:9, Ezek 18:32-33, Ezek 33:11, John 3:16-17, Isa 30:15-18, II Chron 7:11-22, Rom 11:25-27, Rev 2:4-5, Mark 6:11-13, Acts 3:18-20, Rom 11:13-15, Rom 2:3-5, etc) As God did appoint the plan of salvation before time, it would be counter-intuitive that He would act by a different set of rules (Isa 45:18-25, John 14:6, John 1:1-18). God does know the end from the beginning, however, and as such those who do not believe stand condemned, as is the eternal destiny appointed for all those who refuse to believe (John 3:18, Psalm 73:1-28, Phil 3:17-21, Psalm 49:1-20, Rom 2:1-11, I Pet 2:7-9.)

    Predestination is not opposed to man's freedom to respond to the gospel in faith or to reject faith, nor is God's sovereignty:

    A sovereign king does not have to remove the will of his subjects. Rather, he sets up boundaries/limits in which people can act. If they disobey, they are punished. The king does not even force the actions of his military or servants. Rather, the soldiers and servants have even stricter discipline and rules binding them than the civilians. If they disobey, they are court-martialled or punished. If they obey and do good service, they are promoted or rewarded. The king also delegates authority; his authority even over his highest ministers to guide, punish, and reward is a mark of his sovereign power.

    There is no contradiction between an all-sovereign King and a people that are capable of free volition.

    How does God's supreme sovereignty, in particular, play out?

    * He puts boundaries and limits on nature. (Jer 5:22, Job 38:4-41, Job 9:4-9, Psalm 104:1-13, Lev 26:3-5, II Chron 7:11-16, Jer 8:7, Jer 10:13)

    * He puts boundaries and limits on the life and history of man and the nations (Job 14:5, Acts 17:26, Num 34:1-12, II Chron 13:4-18, I Kings 9:5, Psalm 2:1-12, Jer 45:4, Luke 12:25, II Kings 7:1-20, Gen 22:8-14, Isaiah 45:9-13, Dan 4:34, Dan 2:21)

    * He makes provision for nature and man (I Chron 29:12-15, James 1:17, Psalm 84:3, Psalm 104:14-23, Psalm 104:27-30, Psalm 12:5, Matt 6:26)

    * He tasks us as His servants to perform His will (Acts 1:8, Rom 12:2, II Cor 10:13-15, Matt 14:13, I Thess 5:12-18, I Pet 2:15, Heb 10:36, I Cor 4:1, Rom 2:13)

    * He gives us power to perform His will (Ex 10:1-20, Rev 11:6, Acts 1:8, Heb 11; Phil 2:12-13, Ezra 6:1-12, I Peter 4:10, Mark 16:15-18, Isaiah 45:1-7)

    * He sets the standard of righteousness (Rom 1:17, Psalm 18:30, Eph 2:3, Psalm 119:3, Deut 32:4, PSalm 145:17, Isaiah 5:16, Isaiah 51:6, Dan 9:14, Jer 9:24)

    * He punishes the wicked and is the final judge of the fate of man (I Pet 3:10-12, Rev 20:11-15, Isaiah 13:11, Rom 6:23, Psalm 145:20, Rom 2:6-10, II Thess 2:8)

    * He sets the rules by which deliverance, forgiveness, and pardon are obtained (Num 25:22-29, Jer 26:1-6, II Chron 7:14, John 3:16, Heb 10:11-18, Luke 4:14-21, Heb 9:22, Matt 5:29, Isiah 45:22-25)

    * He makes righteous laws and decrees (Ex 19:12-23, Lev 20:8, Psalm 93:5, Num 23:19, Deut 6:1, Rom 1:32, Rom 5:18, Rom 10:4)

    * He appoints others to carry out His decrees [God delegates] (Heb 1:14, Matt 25:14-30, Hab 1:6, Zech 11:16, Amons 6:4, Acts 3:26, Gal 4:6, John 3:31-36, II Chron 18:21, I Kings 14:14, I John 4:10)

    *He punishes the servants that do not follow his decrees (Matt 25:24-30, II Pet 2:4-22, Mal 3:17-18, Matt 18:21-35, )

    * He binds even time and space to subject to His eternal plan (Heb 4:7, Rom 16:25-27, Rom 8:22-25, Rev 21:21, II Pet 3:3-10, I Cor 2:7, I Pet 1:20, Isaiah 46:9-10, Acts 2:23)

    * His kingdom is eternal and cannot be destroyed by man or Satan (Dan 7:13-27, Eph 1:15-23, I Chron 29:10-13, Rev 1:18, II Pet 1:10-11, Psalm 145:13, Dan 6:26, Dan 2:44, Matt 6:19-20)

    A fine example of authority and willful obedience working together is from Matt 8:5-18.

    A centurion approaches Jesus and asks Him to come heal his servant. Jesus asks "shall I (personally) come heal him"? The centurion says no, but asks for "Jesus' word" instead. The centurion is a man under authority (the king, higher officers) but is also over other soldiers. He tells them "Go", and they go. They do not go because they are forced by the centurion, but because they having willingly submitted themselves to the authority of the centurion. As such, the centurion has faith that if Jesus merely commands it, then it will be done (and it is!).

    In short: The ability for man to act in obedience under God's commands, or rebel and disobey and God's authority to punish, is actually a mark of God's supreme sovereign power. Believing that man has a free will to act and choose obedience in no way contradicts or minimizes God's power and kingship.

    Also: How does God's sovereignty and mankind's free will work together in salvation?
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  14. Marvin Knox

    Marvin Knox Senior Veteran

    Start with these and we can consider others as well if you like. I'm sure you will be able to find appropriate scriptures if you wish just as well as I could. That is of course if you are willing to employ that noble Berean character which so pleases God.

    Any good, thorough and fair systematic theology requires that or it becomes simply a way for people to dig in their heels and take a side on issues in which they have a vested interest (often times emotional - or based on what they think would be fair).

    One of the reasons the Westminster Confession of Faith is so respected is that it was compiled by some 150 Godly men considering all pertinent scriptures over a period of some 10 years. Of course arguments were heard from many sides, just as we do here. These debates we have here are nothing new after all.

    There have been many Godly men who have discussed these things over the years. And, by the way, there is a good reason why the vast majority of comprehensive systematic theologies compiled from the time of the Reformation on have come at things from a more or less Reformed point of view (even if not from a strictly modern day 5-point TULIP type of so called "Calvinist" viewpoint.

    EPHESIANS 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will.

    ROMANS 11:33 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!

    HEBREWS 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. ROM 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens.

    JAMES 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variable, neither shadow of turning.

    1JOHN 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

    ACT 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.

    MATTHEW 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

    ACT 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

    JOHN 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou could have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

    PROVERBS 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  15. Marvin Knox

    Marvin Knox Senior Veteran

    Because, even though I am not a 5-pointer, I encounter their "straw man" aruements all the time. For instance:
    No Reformed theologian, not even a full on 5-point Calvinist, would say that free choice is a complete illusion. It is only anti-Calvinists who make that false charge against them. I rest my case, as they say.:)
    The "non-Calvinist" (make that anti-Calvinist) makes the claim that the Calvinist teaching that sovereignty and free choice are completely compatible (see the WCF statement previously cited) is an oxymoron and that the two concepts can not both be true as expressed.

    They often give a bit of lip service about what sovereignty does or doesn't mean to them. For instance they talk about sovereignty allowing for natural processes etc. (as you have in the past). Why they do that I have no idea since Calvinists say the same thing.

    But they do say that Calvinists can't teach that God decreed and predestined everything that happens in His creation and at the same time allow free choices to men (or other natural processes or "2nd causes") and be consistent.

    I don't mind defending Reformed doctrine. But I chafe at people who consistently use "straw man" arguments against us.

    That's probably why I unloaded on you a while back. I apologize by the way.

    I just don't like it when people won't allow us to say what we believe and teach and want to tell us exactly what they believe we believe and teach.

    I have no problem with people asking how I can believe such things. I have a problem with people telling me I can't believe such things and then going on for a complete page to quote scriptures which I have long since consider at length in forming my theology.

    Anti-Calvinist rhetoric and scripture references are readily available. Pro 5-point Calvinist rhetoric and scripture references are readily available.

    What is not readily available IMO in a presentation which fairly considers both "sides" of the paradox of the sovereignty of God in all things and the free will of men.
    IMO Calvinists dig in their heels to an unwarranted degree on sovereignty vs. free will because they know that the anti-Calvinist view on the subject discounts what the scriptures say about the inabilities of fallen mankind. Thus they feel that they simply must stress one side of the equation.

    On the other hand I meet, all the time, non-Calvinists who claim that the Calvinist view on the compatibility of the two can't possibly be true.

    It is IMO not only unnecessary but unfair to set up "straw men" at the expense of the other side. Calvinists believe in both sovereignty and free will- or at least they should if they are orthodox Calvinists (i.e. proponents of the teaching found in the WCF). Non-Calvinists do not disbelieve in sovereignty and there is no reason for any Calvinist to say that they do.
    I agree with your definition and that is the way I have been using it.
    I agree and I have never said otherwise - nor has the Westminster Confession of Faith, the most authoritative document concerning Calvinist doctrine other than the Bible itself, from which it's brief statements on these doctrines were gleaned.

    That is - I agree so long as you agree to the omnipresence of God in that every molecule is held together and indeed consists in His Word as the scriptures clearly state. I agree so long as you agree that we live and move and have our being in Him and His Word.

    Whatever you feel about His providential activity in every portion of His creation - you simply must agree that He fills Heaven and Earth and that absolutely nothing occurs without His intimate involvement - at least in some way even if we can't understand it from our viewpoint.

    God is not only transcendent with His creation. He is also immanent. That's really basic Christians truth no matter how you think it plays out in any particular situation.

    I will also make this one particular caveat about your statement above. Every single thing which happens (or is allowed to happen if you will) is indeed chosen by God from an unlimited number of possible things which can happen depending on the actions He Himself chooses to do according to His overall plan for the ages and according to His altogether wise and perfect will.

    God has known, from before creation, everything which would happen in history if He did certain things of which there were innumerable choices available to Him. He chose certain things to do in the beginning and every second of history.

    Included in that scenario are natural laws which He put into place, including the free will of His creatures.

    Since God knew for an absolute certainty exactly what would happen if He chose to do certain things in the beginning and along the way - there was, in the beginning, absolutely no chance whatsoever that what He knew would happen would not happen.

    Every happening in history was predestined to occur from the moment that God chose to act in certain ways and not in others.

    Allowing for the free choices of men before the fall and turning fallen mean over to a reprobate mind are but two of the ways in which God has acted.

    Predestination and free will are perfectly compatible just as I and Calvinist doctrine teaches.

    You're in good company by the way. It appears to me that many Calvinists haven't thought these thing through and many non-Calvinists haven't either. They just seem to me to both spout the party line in most cases.
    Just as I and most Calvinists believe and teach.

    Did you think someone said otherwise?

    Unfortunately most of your long post, as usual, will go to seed. Why you feel that you must make long, cut and paste presentations on one particular side of subjects like this I really don't know.

    I and a great many Reformed theologians before me have gone through these concepts many times - some time ago.

    I've told you before that I don't have the time nor the inclination to go through a long cut and paste presentation either refuting or agreeing with each and every point and scripture you care to print.

    Therefore most of your post is wasted on me as usual. Undoubtedly there are good points in it. But I have made it clear in the past that a lot of your posts will be wased on me if you continue so.

    I've considered at length most of the Calvinist scriptures and arguments (including hyper Calvinists). I've considered at length most of the non-Calvinist scriptures and arguments (including anti Calvinists).

    What seems to often be missing in these "discussions" are the viewpoints of someone who holds the altogether scriptural idea that all of the scriptures presented by both sides are true and all that is needed is to show how they mesh perfectly and do not contradict one another.

    It seems to me that you have not considered things in this way. You aren't alone of course. Most people can't seem to get out of the "I am of Paul/I am of Apollos" rut when it comes to these subjects and display the Berean attitude which is so pleasing to God.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  16. 2tim_215

    2tim_215 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    I agree with you, but I believe that ones beliefs should be based primarily on truth and not on what one might think is "fair". This one of the ongoing arguments which claim that God isn't "fair". Even if He wasn't, He's God and He can do whatever He wants. Some may not like, and if so, they certainly have a right not to follow Him, just as if predestination were true and leaves a bad taste in their mouths, they are free to look elsewhere.
    I'm sure they were honorable and served God to the best of their abilities, but the fact is, that they were still men. The one infallible is God/Jesus. Men make mistakes and no matter how accurate they were on somethings, there are probably a few things they were off on. As great as some preachers out there are/were, I don't ever think I heard one who was right 100% of the time. If there is, tell me.
    Again, I'm sure much of what you say is true but I do not get my authority from men, but from God and that comes from His word, so we'll see when I get to the scriptures you've given.
    OK. So let's attempt rightly divide this verse. First off, does every time you see the word "predestined" in the Bible you are going to assume that this is referring to Calvinist predestination doctrine? If so, I would believe this to be a wrong assumption. So how else could this be interpreted that can be considered a reasonable interpretation? So we're in Ephesians, which is the Ephesian church which consists of Ephesian believers so what is he actually saying? First, we are predestined to God's purpose (I would say that means that when we become believers we will now follow God's will which we can determine from Scripture). This says nothing about being predestined for salvation.
    I totally agree with this verse above.
    unsearchable - G419 ἀνεξερεύνητος anexereunētos an-ex-er-yoo'-nay-tos
    From G1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of G1830; not searched out, that is, (by implication) inscrutable:—unsearchable.
    judgments - G2917 κρίμα krima kree'-mah
    From G2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against [“crime”]):—avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law, judgment.

    G421 ἀνεξιχνίαστος anexichniastos
    From G1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2487; not tracked out, that is, (by implication) untraceable:—past finding out, unsearchable.
    This says that His ways are "past finding out" but you apparently feel that you've found them based on Calvinstric doctrine.

    This doesn't say anything about predestination, it just speaks of God's sovereignty. This for those who would criticize God and His decisions, claiming that they were unfair and unjust as they have the knowledge and insight into why God makes the decisions that He makes.
    Yes, salvation is a gift from God, that's for sure but just because someone receives a gift doesn't mean that they'll accept (can't for the life of me figure out why, especially when it's a gift from the Almighty but sadly some people do)
    True too, but nothing I see about predestination in this verse.
    This refers specifically to Jesus, not mankind in general so yes, you've found one example of someone who was predestined in this case to suffer and die on the cross but this was the Son of God and I don't see this anywhere else in scripture.
    Again, refer to above. This is in reference to Jesus only.
    This is referring to God having sole authority to judge the wicked. He's the one who will just all on judgment day. If we've already been judged, why wait until then if it's a foregone conclusion?

    I'm going to stop here but if you want me to go over the rest, let me know and I'll do it at a later time. What I'm more interested in is what scripture says and am not intending to offend you. I just think that it's important for all of us to get too the truth whatever it might be. "It's the truth that sets us free" so be blessed.

    Just I am of Calvin, but that seems to be OK sadly.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
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  17. Marvin Knox

    Marvin Knox Senior Veteran

    I agree. And it is usually the anti-Calvinist who only consider the concept as related to the particular ideas related to our salvation.

    Most Calvinists would tell you that all things were predestined to occur (or more precisely "decreed to occur" so that the idea would not be unduly conflated with the volatile word election).
    I agree. I have never anything to the contrary. If I have - please show me where and I will take it back.

    However - it does say that earlier that we were predestined to adoption as Sons. That happened, according to scripture, before we were even in existence as we know it. Adoption only comes through belief on the Son of God. As any Calvinist would tell you - God uses means to bring about what He has predestined to occur. In this case those means are the decisions of the people predestined to become Sons of God.

    No proper Calvinist would say that, as is often charged, God "authored" their choice and "forced" it upon them - even though He did decree that it be allowed to occur just as He did all things which happen in history.
    A mind is a terrible thing to waste. I fear that many hard line Calvinists and hard line anti-Calvinists as well are wasting a lot of theirs by refusing to look at both sides and see how they mesh rather than simply digging in and spouting party line rhetoric.

    "The truth is out there" and it lies somewhere in between both party lines - although, IMO, leaning a bit toward the Reformed side of things - as most good systematic theologians would tell you.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  18. 2tim_215

    2tim_215 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Not to contradict you here, but I'd say "the truth is in there", there being the Word of God or the Bible. Be blessed. I'd say this thread may be just about done.
  19. Marvin Knox

    Marvin Knox Senior Veteran


    But it seems to me that, since there is an over abundance of cut and paste presentations online from Calvinists and anti-Calvinists alike, both you and Jennifer would want to get a little input from a source who believes and reconciles all of the appropriate scriptures rather than just half of them.

    By the way - by saying "out there" as opposed to "in there" I am referring to the input of theologians who have considered all appropriate scriptures "in" the Word of God and reconciled them in a systematic way.

    If everyone wants to look at scripture only without discussing it and getting input on ways to reconcile the many paradoxical doctrines found it it - then we might as well all just break out our personal Bibles and hunker down behind our own desks - rather than pretend we are seeking truth from the multitude of councilors we might find in forums like this one after a bit of screening to weed out those who don't know how to think for themselves or are simply tolling and looking for a fight.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  20. 2tim_215

    2tim_215 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Truth is, I have heard a great many scholars get it wrong (not to say that they are not more right than wrong). One of the great things about a true Christian is each and everyone have the ability to read God's Word and come to our own conclusions (whether they be right or wrong).

    I believe through the Word (the plumb-line of our faith) the Holy Spirit (which God gifts to all men, providing that they pay attention) and plenty of sources out there to confirm or deny our own thoughts. God made sure that we have all the tools we need to seek truth if that's one of the main things that we're in search of. I like the idea as a believer that I can communicate with God directly and don't need an intermediary (Jesus is our intermediary).