The Truth Shall Set You Free

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Unconditional Election and Stargates...


I know -- after seeing the picture of the Stargate portal from the Sci-Fi show Stargate I’ve most likely lost what little credibility I might have gained with you the reader. But, if you will indulge me for just a moment, I think I can explain myself in a way that I hope makes sense – especially in light of the continuation of my post on extreme Calvinism. Today’s post will deal with the ‘U’ which stands for unconditional election.

To quote Dr. Geisler’s book Chosen But Free on p. 68, “The second premise of extreme Calvinism is unconditional election, by which is meant that there are absolutely no conditions for God’s electing some to salvation or for our receiving it. Strangely, even some extreme Calvinists seem to acknowledge this distinction, saying ‘We must be careful to distinguish between conditions that are necessary for salvation and conditions that are necessary for election…’ He adds, ‘There are all sorts of conditions that must be met for someone to be saved. [Geisler commenting on Sproul: A strange statement for one who believes salvation is by “faith alone!”] Chief among them is that we must have faith in Christ” (a quote from Chosen by God, 155

(The footnote from Geisler on Sproul’s book reads: The catch is that even faith is a result of “irresistible regeneration.” Surprisingly, Sproul even admits that “The Reformed view does, in a narrow sense, see obedience as a ‘condition’ (but never the ground) of justification…The real necessary condition is the presence of real faith which will of necessity yield the fruit of obedience” Willing to Believe, 179.”)

Now that we are all confused, let’s try and get to the heart of the matter. Moderate Calvinists agree there are no strings attached to the gift of salvation – it is unconditional. When election occurred – before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) – the elect were not even created yet. God elected on His own, with out any conditions that needed to be performed on the part of the elect. However, the question is not whether there are any conditions for God giving salvation; the question is whether there are any conditions for man receiving salvation. And here the Bible seems to be very emphatic that faith is the condition for receiving God’s gift of salvation. Quoted from p. 69 of Chosen But Free

In a nutshell, the error of extreme Calvinism regarding “unconditional election” is the failure to adhere to an election that is unconditional from the standpoint of the Giver (God), but has one condition for the receiver – faith. And this in turn is based on the mistaken notion that faith is a gift only to the elect who have no choice in receiving it.

As footnoted by Geisler on page 74 of Chosen But Free, ‘Some extreme Calvinists admit that faith is a condition that unregenerate humans must exercise before they can receive the gift of salvation. Sproul acknowledges that this is “the most crucial point of the debate between Dispensationalism [moderate Calvinism] and Reformed Theology [extreme Calvinism] (see Sproul, Willing to Believe, 198

Back to my picture of the Stargate – you thought I’d forgotten, or better yet you hoped I had forgotten! Here’s why I have the picture. I know this is a crude analogy, but I think in some ways it ‘pictures’ salvation. First, when the gate isn’t turned on there is no obvious or representative power available. In other words, man can not save himself and he can’t wake up and decide today he will make a decision to believe the gospel apart from the power of the gospel being present to convict and provide the means for salvation. So, the person who decides to walk through the non-powered Stargate goes nowhere. However when the power is activated, a person responding to that power could walk through it and be transported or transformed from one place in the galaxy to another place thousands of light years away – at least on television!

Now imagine the Stargate represents the ‘power of the gospel’ so that when a person hears the gospel the gate is activated as a result of the preaching of the Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The person hearing the gospel must respond in faith to the gospel and believe the gospel to be born again. To use the analogy, they would have to believe and walk through the gate to complete the mission of being born again. If the gate is turned on and you ‘choose’ not to go through it, you remain in the same place. Maybe you are afraid of the gate or what it might do to you so you reject the turned on gate and choose to stay where you are. The bottom line is the person must ‘choose’ to believe the power is there to transform them. In faith they step through the gate when it is turned on and they go to another place.

So it is with the gospel. When the convicting power of the Holy Spirit moves on the heart of a person through the preaching of the word and the power of the gospel is available to save that person (the gate is turned on), that person must believe the gospel to be saved (walk through the gate). As the Philippian jailer said, ‘what must I do to be saved?’, and the reply came, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…’

Back to the analogy of the Stargate – to steal from Spurgeon, the sign above the Stargate reads “Whosoever will…” and once you go through it the sign on the back side of the Stargate reads “Chosen before the foundation of the world”…

If any of you are Stargate fans, explain to me how those walkie-talkie radios work thousands of light years away from the person on the other end of the radio! Enquiring minds want to know…

In Him,

Eye

21 Comments:

  • Eye,

    You wrote: "The person hearing the gospel must respond in faith to the gospel and believe the gospel to be born again. ... If the gate is turned on and you choose not to go through it, you remain in the same place. ... The bottom line is the person must choose to believe the power is there to transform them."

    Ah, but there are two problems. One, the person outside the gate is dead. Dead people don't "choose" or "respond" or walk through a gate. Second, if that weren't enough, the natural man considers all this religious talk foolish (Rom 1:18-25; 1Cor 1:18; 2:14). Just as all your rational readers know that there is no such thing as a star gate (yet), all non-regenerate people "know" there is no such thing as salvation by faith through the atonement of Christ. Therefore, all people who are not regenerated by God will freely choose not to receive Christ.

    You wrote: "So it is with the gospel. When the convicting power of the Holy Spirit moves on the heart of a person through the preaching of the word and the power of the gospel is available to save that person (the gate is turned on), that person must believe the gospel to be saved (walk through the gate)."

    "The convicting power of the Holy Spirit" sounds to me a lot like irresistable grace. When the Holy Spirit convicts a person, does He just kind of push a person a little, or does He grab 'em and drag 'em? If everybody is dead (in their sins) and resisting because they hate God, I would hope the Holy Spirit grabs 'em and drags 'em into the kingdom, because they're not going to respond to a little nudge.

    So when "the convicting power of the Holy Spirit" regenerates a dead person, and that newly alive person sees Christ with his new eyes, and that person says "you are beautiful" and "I love you" and "I choose to believe," he walks through the door. Maybe he does not realize that if he had not been regenerated he would still be lying out there dead and hating God. If he had not been awakened by "the convicting power of the Holy Spirit" he would not have read nor been attracted to the sign on the outside of Spurgeon's door, "All Who Will May Come," and he certainly would not be there to read the sign on the inside.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 20, 2006 3:47 PM  

  • Eye,
    Thanks for your comments on the article, and for your feedback on the book. I will have to re-check it out, you've made me curious.
    As for where I got assumption #1, it was just always the argument that calvinists would throw at me whenever I talked with them or read their stuff.
    I'm curious though...you said something like "otherwise salvation would be dependent on man" in your comment to me...but this article makes it seem that you along with me believe that salvation is dependent (on his choice, not his performance) on man. Is that correct? Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Dr. Davy -
    I'm curious what type of doctor you are.
    As for your comments, you wrote: "Dead people don't 'choose' or 'respond' or walk through a gate."
    Would you say that dead people "choose" to sin? If they do choose to sin, then what do you think the word means - incapable of good choices, only bad? Or if they do not choose to sin, then why are they held accoutable for their non-choice? Does "dead" really mean inactive, incapable of anything, lifeless? If so, then was the rich man talking to Lazarus (and feeling hot) because he was dead, or alive? What does dead mean when used in Ephesians or every time it's used in the Bible, for that matter?
    Secondly, is Romans 1:18-25 talking about us before we were saved? Which style of hermeneutic were you using to apply that passage in this context? The same style that applies I Corinthians 2:14 to the gospel message? (Paul had already preached the gospel to the Corinthians, as he says in the first two verses of that chapter.)
    As for I Cor 1:18, it's sad that you read it that way. God desires all men to be saved, but as always, He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
    God's character is at stake when it comes to Calvinism, more so than His "sovereignty" is at stake when one leaves Calvinism.
    My apologies for any unnecessary harshness; it was not my intent.

    By Anonymous Mike, at July 20, 2006 4:27 PM  

  • Dr. Davy,

    Thanks for your thoughts! You said: "Ah, but there are two problems. One, the person outside the gate is dead. Dead people don't "choose" or "respond" or walk through a gate. Second, if that weren't enough, the natural man considers all this religious talk foolish (Rom 1:18-25; 1Cor 1:18; 2:14). Just as all your rational readers know that there is no such thing as a star gate (yet), all non-regenerate people "know" there is no such thing as salvation by faith through the atonement of Christ. Therefore, all people who are not regenerated by God will freely choose not to receive Christ."

    Dead, separated, lost, sick... The Bible uses many different descriptions for man's lost state and separation from God. Ephesians 2 is clear -- we have sin in our lives and we are not holy. The Philippian jailer was not holy (he was unregenerated) when he asked the apostle what he must do to be SAVED!

    The response to him was 'Believe/Faith on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou SHALT BE SAVED.

    Now let's see in this one example if I understand the order...

    1) Lost man who had heard the gospel and was under the power of the gospel (Stargate is open) to use my feeble analogy...

    2) Lost man like the prodigal in Luke 15 'comes to his senses' and asks what he must do to be saved -- he's still not saved at this point. You can't prove he was already 'regenerated' from the Scripture. It isn't there. Check out Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11 -- he wasn't saved either because the angel said so and the angel told him men would come and tell him words (THE GOSPEL) wherby he could be saved! (the lost person looks up at the stargate and sees the sign above it that reads whosoever will and he decides to faith the gospel)

    3) The jailer BELIEVED the gospel and was saved. (the lost person walks through the stargate and turns around and sees the sign on the other side that reads 'elect from the foundation of the world...')

    Dr Davy, as you said earlier: 'Therefore, all people who are not regenerated by God will freely choose not to receive Christ...'

    There in lies what I think is a horrible error with regard to YOUR doctrine of salvation! The preaching of the word and the power of the gospel makes it so a lost person can respond in faith to the gospel.

    The Philippian jailer defies your comment. He was clearly unregenerated when he asked what he must do to be saved!

    Dr Davy I take it you are an extreme Calvinist?

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 20, 2006 7:10 PM  

  • Mike,

    From the post: "In a nutshell, the error of extreme Calvinism regarding “unconditional election” is the failure to adhere to an election that is unconditional from the standpoint of the Giver (God), but has one condition for the receiver – faith. And this in turn is based on the mistaken notion that faith is a gift only to the elect who have no choice in receiving it."

    I see this as the major problem with extreme Calvinism.

    You mentioned this in your post and I quote: "I'm curious though...you said something like "otherwise salvation would be dependent on man" in your comment to me..."

    God elects for this is clearly taught in the Scripture, but man must believe the gospel to be saved and this is also clearly taught.

    Mike -- I tried to find this in my comments to you and I could not. Can you clarify for me.

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 20, 2006 7:32 PM  

  • From James White's Alpha and Omega website under the Statement of Faith tab:

    We believe that God, in His sovereign grace and mercy, regenerates sinful men by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by any action of their own, bringing them to new life. God grants to them the gifts of faith and repentance, which they then exercise by believing in Christ and turning from their sins in love for God. As a result of this faith, based upon the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, God justifies or makes righteous the one who believes. God's gift of faith, and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the elect, results in good works. These good works flow from true, saving faith; they are a necessary result of faith, but are not to be considered necessary to the gaining of justification, which is by God's grace through faith alone, so that no man can boast.

    This statement is 'extreme' in that man does not appear to be 'responsible' for exercising faith in Jesus as a result of the preaching of the gospel...

    This statement clearly has man being regenerated and given 'faith' so that they then can believe!

    Again, I ask for Scriptural support for this thinking...

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 21, 2006 2:32 PM  

  • Dr. Davy, I have responded to one of your posts here: Extreme Calvinism.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 23, 2006 3:51 PM  

  • I thought your Stargate analogy was pretty good. It made total sense to me. :-D

    Eye: "There in lies what I think is a horrible error with regard to YOUR doctrine of salvation! The preaching of the word and the power of the gospel makes it so a lost person can respond in faith to the gospel.

    The Philippian jailer defies your comment. He was clearly unregenerated when he asked what he must do to be saved!
    "

    Exactly Eye! The Bible is full of accounts that show that God is continually wooing us to Him. He never forces us to Him. He may make life difficult enough to where we WANT to run to Him, but He never forces us.

    And like you stated, the gospel is the POWER by which we are ENABLED to respond to God's calling. He FIRST calls us and He makes it possible for us to respond. He gives us the choice to choose life or death.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 23, 2006 5:19 PM  

  • Dawn,

    Hello! and thanks for the excellent post to Dr Davy -- well written and to the point!

    Dr Davy,

    I believe Dawn has done a superb job of expressing the Bible's truth regarding this topic. If you feel either she or I are not addressing your specific points, please let us know.

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 23, 2006 5:46 PM  

  • Dr. DavyAh, but there are two problems. One, the person outside the gate is dead. Dead people don't "choose" or "respond" or walk through a gate.

    When the Bible speaks of us all being dead it means many things: we are cut-off from fellowship with God; we don’t understand the deeper things of God; we’re blind to the truth; we are sentenced to die eternally; we have dead spirits before salvation, etc. It does not mean that we are incapable of making a choice to serve the Lord by placing our faith in Him. That is something that Calvinists have concocted and perpetuated through their system of theology. It is NOT the word of God.

    Most of the time the term dead is used as a metaphor.

    Like Mike said, do dead people sin? Can dead people do anything? I think it was Spurgeon who said that we are dead men walking. We are not physically dead, but we’re sentenced to death. We do have dead spirits, but that has NEVER meant that we are incapable of making the most important decision of our lives: salvation.

    The Bible also says we are dead in Christ. If we’re dead, we’re dead, right? How can we be dead and do the good deeds of the Lord? Does YOUR analogy still hold? You can’t have it both ways.

    Dr. Davy: “Second, if that weren't enough, the natural man considers all this religious talk foolish (Rom 1:18-25; 1Cor 1:18; 2:14).

    Have you forgotten what the rest of the Bible says? You can’t just take scripture out of context and build a doctrine around it. The Bible must be taken as a whole. There is a REASON there are 66 books which make up the Bible. The Bible must be read in context and in its entirety.

    1 Corinthians 1:18-21For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (emphasis added)

    Mike summed it up well. “God desires all men to be saved, but as always, He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” That’s what this scripture means. I’ll assume that you’ve read the Bible and that you know that men are blinded when they REJECT God’s truth. The more they reject the more they are blinded. The word becomes more and more foolish to them. Can God show mercy on whom He will and not blind them as much as they deserve? Can He allow certain circumstances in their lives that might cause them to seek Him out and beg for mercy? Yes, you’d better believe it. Only God knows the true state of a person’s heart.

    Romans 1:18-25For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    If a man is dead and cannot see, then why does this scripture state that man CAN see and is without excuse? This scripture shows us that man is quite capable of making the right decision, but when he thinks himself more wise than God or simply loves evil more than good then God will blind him. But we know that God is merciful and He gives men MANY, MANY chances to repent. Some do, some don’t.

    1 Corinthians 2:6- 3:4Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the DEEP things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

    This scripture is talking about the natural man not being able to understand the DEEPER things of God. Even these Christians were not able to understand the DEEPER things of God due to the deplorable condition of their hearts. They were walking as natural men and not as the Lord had called them.

    Dr. Davy:Just as all your rational readers know that there is no such thing as a star gate (yet), all non-regenerate people "know" there is no such thing as salvation by faith through the atonement of Christ. Therefore, all people who are not regenerated by God will freely choose not to receive Christ.

    I understood the gospel when I wasn’t saved, however, for a long time I simply chose to do my own will and not the Lord’s. There are MANY, MANY people who believe, but refuse to lay down their lives for the Lord. I know LOTS of them, unfortunately. Some of them say that they want to sow their wild oats first. The Old Testament is full of accounts of the Israelites refusing to follow the Lord, but they certainly UNDERSTOOD God’s word.

    Dr. Davy: “"The convicting power of the Holy Spirit" sounds to me a lot like irresistable grace. When the Holy Spirit convicts a person, does He just kind of push a person a little, or does He grab 'em and drag 'em? If everybody is dead (in their sins) and resisting because they hate God, I would hope the Holy Spirit grabs 'em and drags 'em into the kingdom, because they're not going to respond to a little nudge.

    The convicting power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t sound like irresistible grace to me at all. There is no such thing as “irresistible grace” taught in the Bible. In fact, it teaches quite the opposite. It teaches that God is ever drawing us and trying to get us to come to repentance. God has commissioned us to preach the gospel to every creature. If there were such a thing as irresistible grace, then everyone who hears the gospel would be saved since that is the main avenue of salvation. But we know that not everyone who hears the gospel chooses to believe it and receive it. Humanity is very much under conviction and, for some, the more conviction they feel the more they FIGHT God. We see it in our country all the time. There are many movements trying to delete God from the public arena. If that is not conviction, then I don’t know what is. It is what we do with that conviction that matters.

    I can agree that sometimes it takes more than just a little nudge for God to get our attention. But dragging doesn’t equate to force. It simply means God draws us ALL and drags us toward Him, however, we make the ultimate decision. God, in His sovereignty, has set it up that way.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 23, 2006 7:03 PM  

  • Eye, thanks for the opportunity to post.

    I hope we will get some scriptural support for James White's Statement of Faith from our Calvinist friends. :-)

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 23, 2006 7:23 PM  

  • Eye and Dawn,

    I never said that I was a Calvinist, but someone needs to challenge your readers with the Calvinist position. I can't just let Arminians pat each other on the back in this forum. Do you want me to argue the Arminian side for a while?

    Dawn scolded me for taking verses out of context. Under another topic Eye noted that many people are biblically illiterate. When I make reference to a single verse I am assuming that our readers will read it in context or that they know the context. But since Eye is correct that many people do not know their Bibles and do not know that they should always read at least a paragraph when they look up a verse, I should not assume. I do perceive that Eye, Dawn, and Mike know what they are talking about.

    Y'all keep on asking for biblical support for the Calvinist position, and I keep on giving what I consider biblical support, and you don't accept it. I suspect that entrenched Calvinists and Arminians aren't going to change their minds, but at least the theologically "young" readers will be apprised of the nature of the debate.

    Eye wrote: "Dead, separated, lost, sick... The Bible uses many different descriptions for man's lost state and separation from God." Dawn reminded us that these are metaphors.

    The fact that "dead" is a metaphor doesn't mean that "dead" does not mean "dead." Granted, it doesn't mean literally dead--that is, lacking brain activity and beginning to decompose. But if you were to take the whole dictionary definition of "dead" and all that it denotes and connotes, some part of that definition still pertains.

    A metaphor is where there is some way(s) in which two things are comparable. The question the Bible student has to ask is, "How is being a non-Christian like being dead?" The Calvinist claims the comparison includes the idea that he is incapable of responding to an invitation. (There is also the aspect that, like Adam after the Fall, he is condemned to spiritual death unless God intervenes.)

    Likewise, the Bible student has to ask, How is a non-Christian like someone who is lost, or someone who is sick?

    Dawn said, "I understood the gospel when I wasn’t saved, however, for a long time I simply chose to do my own will and not the Lord’s. There are MANY, MANY people who believe, but refuse to lay down their lives for the Lord. I know LOTS of them, unfortunately. Some of them say that they want to sow their wild oats first. The Old Testament is full of accounts of the Israelites refusing to follow the Lord, but they certainly UNDERSTOOD God’s word."

    There is a great difference between understanding the gospel and accepting the gospel. James reminds his readers that the demons believe "that" there is one God (Jms 2:19), but they certainly don't worship and trust "in" the one God. They're afraid of God, but they don't fear God. Those who think they believe but don't want to submit to God really don't believe "in" at all, they only believe "that" -- if they think they are standing with God they need to "take heed lest they fall" (1 Cor 10:12).

    Do we want to start a thread on lordship salvation? ;-)

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 27, 2006 8:42 AM  

  • Eye and Dawn,

    I never said that I was a Calvinist, but someone needs to challenge your readers with the Calvinist position. I can't just let Arminians pat each other on the back in this forum. Do you want me to argue the Arminian side for a while?

    Dawn scolded me for taking verses out of context. Under another topic Eye noted that many people are biblically illiterate. When I make reference to a single verse I am assuming that our readers will read it in context or that they know the context. But since Eye is correct that many people do not know their Bibles and do not know that they should always read at least a paragraph when they look up a verse, I should not assume. I do perceive that Eye, Dawn, and Mike know what they are talking about.

    Y'all keep on asking for biblical support for the Calvinist position, and I keep on giving what I consider biblical support, and you don't accept it. I suspect that entrenched Calvinists and Arminians aren't going to change their minds, but at least the theologically "young" readers will be apprised of the nature of the debate.

    Eye wrote: "Dead, separated, lost, sick... The Bible uses many different descriptions for man's lost state and separation from God." Dawn reminded us that these are metaphors.

    The fact that "dead" is a metaphor doesn't mean that "dead" does not mean "dead." Granted, it doesn't mean literally dead--that is, lacking brain activity and beginning to decompose. But if you were to take the whole dictionary definition of "dead" and all that it denotes and connotes, some part of that definition still pertains.

    A metaphor is where there is some way(s) in which two things are comparable. The question the Bible student has to ask is, "How is being a non-Christian like being dead?" The Calvinist claims the comparison includes the idea that he is incapable of responding to an invitation. (There is also the aspect that, like Adam after the Fall, he is condemned to spiritual death unless God intervenes.)

    Likewise, the Bible student has to ask, How is a non-Christian like someone who is lost, or someone who is sick?

    Dawn said, "I understood the gospel when I wasn’t saved, however, for a long time I simply chose to do my own will and not the Lord’s. There are MANY, MANY people who believe, but refuse to lay down their lives for the Lord. I know LOTS of them, unfortunately. Some of them say that they want to sow their wild oats first. The Old Testament is full of accounts of the Israelites refusing to follow the Lord, but they certainly UNDERSTOOD God’s word."

    There is a great difference between understanding the gospel and accepting the gospel. James reminds his readers that the demons believe "that" there is one God (Jms 2:19), but they certainly don't worship and trust "in" the one God. They're afraid of God, but they don't fear God. Those who think they believe but don't want to submit to God really don't believe "in" at all, they only believe "that" -- if they think they are standing with God they need to "take heed lest they fall" (1 Cor 10:12).

    Do we want to start a thread on lordship salvation? ;-)

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 27, 2006 8:47 AM  

  • Dr. Davy said:

    The fact that "dead" is a metaphor doesn't mean that "dead" does not mean "dead." Granted, it doesn't mean literally dead--that is, lacking brain activity and beginning to decompose. But if you were to take the whole dictionary definition of "dead" and all that it denotes and connotes, some part of that definition still pertains.

    Eye's response:

    Dr. Davy, I type this with a smile on my face and a chuckle in my throat...

    dead means dead like 'All' means a paricular all or 'World' means a subset of humanity... sorry, I couldn't help myself -- sounds like a SAT comparative question :)

    I hear you, but as I look at Websters Dictionary the number one definition is deprived of life. Now in the context of spritual and physical life I see this working beautifully. Man has physical life all the while being spiritually dead.

    That said, a man has a body, soul and 'dead' or lost spirit (James 2:26 -- notice the body without the spirit is dead) when he is separated from God. That's not to say this 'dead' man can not respond or comprehend the gospel as Dawn clearly wrote. I go back to ur friend the Philippian jailer. Could this lost man save himself? NO. Hey, under the power of the gospel he knew he was lost! That's why he asked the question about salvation.

    Could this lost man choose to repent and believe the gospel? YES. And thankfully he did and it was recorded for our edification.

    Scripture gives too many examples of this very thing to believe any other scenario.

    That's why in my latest post on 'regenration before faith' I ask my staunch extreme Calvinist brethern to give me one example of a conversion in Scripture where an apostle, prophet, elder, deacon or better yet, Jesus tells a person that -- hey, that faith part came as a result of the Spirit regenerating you beforehand so that then you could believe!

    I mean after all, if the Spirit regenerates someone -- aren't they saved? What's even the point of then having a 'gift of faith' to use to seal the deal???

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 27, 2006 12:02 PM  

  • Eye,

    BTW, sorry about the double post. My computer lied to me.

    Our question about regeneration before salvation is a little bit of a semantic question. We agree that God works an act of grace in the hearts of unbelievers.

    You said, "I go back to our friend the Philippian jailer. Could this lost man save himself? NO. Hey, under the power of the gospel he knew he was lost! That's why he asked the question about salvation." What is this "power of the gospel"? The Calvinist would say it is the power to regenerate a "dead" person, to open his eyes to the beauty of Christ. The Arminian would say that it is grace working in a person's heart, but it is not regenerating and it is not irresistible.

    What about Paul's commission, as he recounted it in Ac 26:17-18: Jesus was "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

    What was involved in Paul's mandate "to open their eyes"? The Calvinist would say Paul, as an ambassador of Christ, sometimes mediated the power of God to regenerate dead people so that they would believe.

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 28, 2006 8:11 AM  

  • Dr Davy,

    Please see the born again before faith discussion for my response to your questions.

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 28, 2006 1:40 PM  

  • Dr. Davy: "Likewise, the Bible student has to ask, How is a non-Christian like someone who is lost, or someone who is sick?

    Dawn said, "I understood the gospel when I wasn’t saved, however, for a long time I simply chose to do my own will and not the Lord’s. There are MANY, MANY people who believe, but refuse to lay down their lives for the Lord. I know LOTS of them, unfortunately. Some of them say that they want to sow their wild oats first. The Old Testament is full of accounts of the Israelites refusing to follow the Lord, but they certainly UNDERSTOOD God’s word."

    There is a great difference between understanding the gospel and accepting the gospel. James reminds his readers that the demons believe "that" there is one God (Jms 2:19), but they certainly don't worship and trust "in" the one God. They're afraid of God, but they don't fear God. Those who think they believe but don't want to submit to God really don't believe "in" at all, they only believe "that" -- if they think they are standing with God they need to "take heed lest they fall" (1 Cor 10:12).
    "

    Right, there is a real difference in believing "in" and believing "that", but Calvinists affirm that one cannot even believe "that", which is totally not the case, nor does the bible teach such a thing.

    By Blogger Dawn, at August 07, 2006 9:29 AM  

  • Dawn,

    You said: "Right, there is a real difference in believing "in" and believing "that", but Calvinists affirm that one cannot even believe "that", which is totally not the case, nor does the bible teach such a thing."

    I think you and I are not using our terms the same.

    If I wrote on a piece of paper, "Jesus Christ died for your sins," and set it in front of a totally depraved man, and asked, "Do you understand this sentence?" he might say, "Yes, I understand all those words. I know who Jesus of Nazareth was, I know what a Christ/Messiah is, I know what substitutionary atonement involves, and I know what sin is."

    If I asked, "Do you believe this sentence?" he would respond, "No! It's foolishness!" He believes "that" Jesus lived and died; he may even believe "that" Christ accomplished substitutionary atonement. But, as it was pictured to me once, he missed heaven by twelve inches -- it's in his head, but not in his heart. He believes "that" but he does not believe "in."

    Does this clarify my use of terms?

    Calvinists do not deny this possibility.

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at August 07, 2006 11:50 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Dawn, at August 11, 2006 3:04 AM  

  • Yes, Dr. Davy, I understand what you are saying. But haven't you have quoted I Corinthians 1 & 2 to say that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit to prove that they cannot understand that they need a Savior?

    Other Calvinists have purported the same thing to me. I.e., an unregenerate man CANNOT comprehend the gospel whatsoever. They are blind. It is foolishness to them.

    True, it is foolishness to them, but they have chosen to see it that way. But they certainly can understand it.

    I agree they have a head knowledge and not a heart knowledge, but I don't believe that God is the one who GIVES people heart knowledge sovereignly. The bible teaches that it is with the heart that MAN believes unto righteousness. (Romans 10:10) God simply seals the deal and gives us a new nature and writes the laws on hearts at a deeper level. (Remember we already have the laws written on hearts anyway.)

    So to clarify, I do agree that those who are not born again only have a head knowledge and not a heart knowledge, but it is all up to the individual and not by God regenerating them first. I've heard that same description as you..."missed heaven by 12 inches."

    By Blogger Dawn, at August 11, 2006 3:10 AM  

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