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Predestination Comments:

2000

In the following e-mail exchanges, the e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


>God shows no partiality, nor is a respecter of persons, but Calvinists believe that he is, this view is not biblical.

Brad
4/20/2000<

In context, the verse you are referring to (Acts 10:34) simply says God's "accepting" of someone is not based on their nationality (see verse 35). But the question remains, why does one person "fear God" and not another? Until you accept that we are all sinners to such a degree that can do nothing in regards to our salvation, then you won't accept Calvinism. It is the issue of our absolute sinfulness and God's absolute holiness that needs to be grasped.


>I read one of your letters on your site, you have some very good pts on Calvinism maybe what I disagree with is (determinism-were God makes people sin) is that one of your beliefs, you've never answered that question.<

You have a bit of a misconception of Calvinism. The Westminster Confession specifically states that "God is not the author of sin."

My conception is this, the desire to sin comes from within ourselves, so we are responsible for it. However, God can direct that desire in a manner that fulfills His purposes.

For instance, Joseph brother's desired to harm Joseph. That desire came from within themselves, not God. However, God mediated and directed that desire so that rather than killing Joseph, they sold him into slavery. As a result, years later, Joseph could say:

[Ge 45:5] "But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. [6] "For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. [7] "And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. [8] "So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Note the language, Joseph is very clear that his brothers did not send him to Egypt, God did. But when you read the story in Gen 37, there is no mention of God. It is Joseph's brothers that are doing the actions. And read the chapter carefully and notice all the "coincidences" that had to occur for Joseph to have ended up where he did.

For instance, was it "chance" that the Midianites "just happened" to be coming by at the time they did? And think of all the factors that needed to be affected for them to be passing by at that time (their time of departure, their speed of travel, etc.). If, as Joseph says, God was responsible for "sending" Joseph to Egypt, God had to be in control of all of these actions. 

Study this passage carefully, and maybe you'll get a better understanding of why Calvinists believe as they do. Then study the hundreds of passages referenced on my Scripture Study The Sovereignty of God found in my Scripture Workbook. And most of all, forget your own conception of how you think things should be; let the Scriptures teach you.

>  Also you sound like it's not debatable like (KJV-only people) and saying people will fall into bad doctrines is like saying your going to start using the JW's Bible.<

I have no idea what you're referring to here. I make it clear that the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is a "secondary" matter and not an essential of the faith. Of course there's a debate on it; that's why there's the two sides. But on my site I present the reasons for my position, just as Arminians do on their sites.

> I would never compare myself to God unless saying he is infinitely better than me in every way. See I believe nothing is out of God's sovereign will NOTHING, but his desire is not his will he didn't want Eve to eat the forbidden fruit but she did; oh and Eph 6:9 clearly says God shows no partiality to persons.<

As always, context is important. Here it says that God does not favor masters over slaves. The verse has no bearing on the Calvinism/ Arminianism debate.

> And many organizations are preaching some great-man gospel but it’s hard for me to see that a saved Christian (who knows what God did for them and how unworthy they are) would every fall for such bad doctrine. I know I couldn't even worship God without his help much less compare myself to him.

Brad
4/22/2000<


>There is no verse that says his grace is irresistible that is just your interpretation of the verse....

Brad
5/5/2000<

If by your comments you mean the words "irresistible grace" do not appear in the Bible, that is true. But neither does the word "Trinity," but that doesn't mean the Bible doesn't teach the concept of a three-in-one God. Similarly, the Bible teaches the concept of irresistible grace without using the specific words. See my Scripture Studies on the Five Points of Calvinism, and even the one on the Sovereignty of God in my Scripture Workbook for Scripture support for the concept.


>Someone's view on Calvinism boils down to two choices (1) we believe in Jesus because he makes us believe (irresistible grace)<

We believe because God changes our hearts so that we want to believe.

>or (2) believe we are ordained because of his foreknowledge of us.<

[Ac 13:48] Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

This verse clearly teaches that the "appointment" to eternal life precedes belief. See my two-part article Study of Acts 13:48 for a detailed exposition of this verse.

> While the Bible doesn't say foreknowledge is why he foreordained us it is suggested in Romans 8:29, and God can do nothing without having all-knowledge of events.<

It is "suggested" only because you are reading that into the verse. The verse does not say "whom He foreknew WOULD BELIEVE...."

> Second Eccl. 3:15 clearly shows God is timeless which means he is at all points of time at once. So this view is Biblical.<

Yes God is timeless. That point is not under dispute. But it is a big leap from this fact to what you believe.

> Irresistible Grace is nowhere in the Bible, it is only a must if you're a Calvinist.<

[Pr 21:1] The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

God "turns" the kings heart "wherever He wishes." That is "irresistible." If not, then please explain this verse to me.

> Also the Bible says the Grace of God has appeared to all men,<

It doesn't say "has saved all men" or even "given all men an equal opportunity to be saved." Again, you're reading what you want into the verse.

> I know all doesn't always mean all.<

You are correct there, as any study of the word "all" would show.

> But in Romans 3:23 it does, so sometimes all is not a generalization.<

Context, context, context. In this case, a string of verses makes the universality of sin clear, not just one word.

> Calvinist are forced to interpret it this way for their belief to stand, and many other verses for that matter.<

Calvinists give reasons for why they interpret verses as they do. Moreover, Arminians do the same. The question is, which interpretation best fits the context? That each person must answer for himself.

> But the most important point against Calvinism is why does God care about our faith if he makes us have it.<

He changes our hearts so that we desire to have faith in Him. And He does so for our benefit, not His.

> First off faith is not a sign you're saved, if you have faith you are saved for those who don't believe this they call Jesus a liar. But if God has already picked us before the world began and if he forces us to believe why does he even care about our beliefs.<

First off, God doesn't "force" us in the normal sense of the word. He changes our hearts so that we want to have a relationship with Him. And again, God changes our hearts for our benefit, not His. _We_ are the ones who need to believe in Him to be complete; He does not in any way "need" our faith.

>He could have just said look my son died to pay off sins, I'm going to use his blood to pay for the sins of the ones I've chosen but no one else.<

That's exactly what happened. Christ death paid for the sins of His people. If His blood had paid for the sins of unbelievers, then God would be unjust to condemn them.

> And he could have done this why would he be so concerned with what we believe.<

Because He is the One who determines who things are done, not us. And He is concerned about our beliefs because, again, it is to our benefit to believe in Him. Our belief changes us for the better.

> Now you may be saying I tell others about Jesus because he tells me too, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it serves no purpose.<

The Creator of the universe tells you to do something, and you consider that to be insignificant? Moreover, evangelism most definitely does serve a purpose: it is the means God has predestined by which He brings His elect to Himself. God predestines the means as well as the ends.

> Those elected God is going to force to believe no mater what you do and those not-elected are not going to believe no matter what you do.<

Again, God does not "force" people but changes their hearts so that they want to believe. And again, evangelism is the means by which God's purposes are worked out. It is by His grace that He gives us the privilege of being involved in evangelism.

> So I agree you must do what God tells you, but God is telling you to do something that changes nothing.<

It changes everything, most especially you. Evangelism is one of the means God uses to cause us to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son and His Word.

> Also, the cross paid the sin debt (not faith or grace) but you must receive this gift though faith.

If the debt is paid, it's paid. Moreover, did Christ pay for the sin of unbelief? If so, then why are unbelievers condemned? If not, then Christ did not pay for all sins.

> But if you believe God had chosen you what difference does your faith have.<

Because it changes me. Moreover, faith is the natural result of God changing my heart. Throughout this whole e-mail, you seem to have left out the entire concept of conversion.

>In fact the gospel didn't even need to be spread Christ had already paid the sin debt and God had already chosen who he was going to allow to use it as payment, so really nothing else need to be done.<

Yes it does, because God has ordained the means as well as the ends. Another concept you seem to have ignored.

> But Jesus disagreed telling his disciples to preach to all nations.<

Jesus disagreed with your misconception of predestination, not predestination as it is taught in the Bible.

> Why is faith important if Calvinist says God forces us to have it?

Brad
5/6/2000<

Again, because faith the natural result of being converted. God changes our heart so that we want to believe and have a relationship with Him.

[Ac 16:14] Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

God opens our heart so that we believe.


>Some off the stuff you wrote I agree with, just hadn't thought about it. But you said that the verse didn't say (the Grace of God saved all men) but if its appeared to them and is irresistible. Why aren't they saved is the question.<

Because "appeared" doesn't mean "believed." I am taking the verse as referring to the proclamation of the Gospel. Not everyone who hears the Gospel believes.

> Second if his Grace is irresistible then it is forced because if he gives you his grace you have no choice but to believe, so how isn't this forced?<

My point is, in human terms, "forced" refers to causing someone to do something against their will. This is not is what is meant by irresistible grace. God does not force people to believe against their wills; He changes their will so that they want to believe. There is a big difference between the two, and if you don't get it, I don't know how better to explain it.

> Also, of course its very significant if the Creator tells you something; what I'm saying is God isn't going to tell you something that serves no purpose.<

And I explained what the "purpose" was, several in fact. Again, if you don't get it, I don't know how better to explain it.

> And timelessness is a concept that is about how God has worked in time, so it does have bearing on statements dealing with Predestination.<

The question is, what "bearing" does it have? You have shown me no verse that demonstrates God's predestination is based on His foreknowledge; meanwhile, I quoted verses such as Acts 13:48 that show His predestination, not foreknowledge, is the basis of our salvation.

I also quoted you verses like Prov 21:1 that show God can and does change people hearts, "wherever He desires." And many, many more verses are referenced in the studies on my site. You have not replied to these as well.

> just like all his qualities (e.g. in Sunday School a girl and our teacher think that God changes is mind, because it looks that way in Scripture, to a human), but there are not considering that God knows everything, so it is impossible for him to change his mind. He never needs to.<

True; but again, it has no bearing on this subject.

>Also in 2Samual 15:7 the KJV and NKJV have forty years when it should be four, why do they not change it and how do KJV-onlyist explain this verse because if it was translated right., the bible is in error and its contradictory.<

It's a textual variant, and is footnoted as such on the NKJV. I don't know how KJV-only people deal with it; you'd have to ask them.

> Anyway I'm by no means am I criticizing your beliefs. I respect them, but I also believe that if someone cannot defend their beliefs there not very strong, and you should be open to discussion about your views.<

I have defended my views, responded to the verses you quoted to me, quoted many verses to you, and have hundreds of others referenced on my site. But you're the one who has not exegeted the verses I have quoted to you in a manner that would "fit" your preconceived notions. I'm not sure what else I can do for you except to keep telling you to look up the hundreds of verses referenced on my studies and carefully consider them.

> Thankfully you have this qualities and sorry for so many questions, but it is a good way to go over important issues. Hopefully I do not take up too much of your time.

Brad
5/7/2000<

Well I am very busy, and can't keep repeating myself. So I'll just refer you to the many articles, studies, and e-mail exchanges on these subjects posted on my site. If they do not "satisfy" you I'm not sure what else I can do.


>Subject: Rude

>First your reply was rude.<

You have sent me a barrage of e-mails in the few weeks. I have tried to answer as best as I could the more important questions you have asked. But I have also repeatedly told you that my time is limited and have politely, on more than one occasion, asked you to read the material on my site before asking more questions as I already address much of what you ask there. But the barrage of e-mails has continued.

> Christ wouldn't have behaved in such a way. What you do not seem to understand is if God changes our wills we still have no choice but to believe, how is this not forced. You're using circular-reasoning.<

I was pointing out that the word "force" has a specific connotation in human terms that would not apply to God. Moreover, you might consider the following Pauline exchange:

[Rom 9:19] You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” [20] But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”

>Second I completely understood the purpose of our faith. You were saying I thought when the Creator tells us to do something it is insignificant. On your site you call this (poisoning the well). I agree with Proverbs 21:1; it says the heart of Kings (not everyman).<

Kings were considered to be in a special class in Biblical times, having near absolute power. So the point of the verse is, if God can and does change the heart of a king, then He can change the heart of anyone.

> You also take that verse to mean everyone has heard the Gospel. Be serious only Mormons believe the Indians had the Gospel preached to them, not everyone has heard the Gospel. My girlfriend met people in Mexico who had never heard the name of Jesus.<

In the context of Paul's writings, he considered the Gospel to have been preached "everywhere" since he and the other apostles had spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. That is why he was planning on going to Spain (Rom 15:24). "All the world" in Biblical times often refereed to the Roman Empire (Luke 2:1).

>Lastly 2 Samuel 15:7 is more than just a text variant, it is an error. I was not criticizing the NKJV, just wondering how KJV-only people say it is perfect, sorry I asked.<

It *is* a textual variant. That is an important point. And since I am not a KJV-only person I do not know how they would answer it, and I am not going to try to speak for them.

> It is hard to communicate properly this way, but I realize you are intelligent and have much Biblical knowledge. If my questions seems repeated its because of the poor way we are communicated. Try to keep this in mind when your teaching people instead of insulting them which is what you did to me.

Brad
5/11/2000<

I don't see how I insulted you. I have gotten frustrated for the reasons given above. If my explanations are not good enough for you, they are not good enough. I can only explain something so many times and in some many ways before it gets tedious.


>First if I ask about something that is on your site, just write back its on my site and say nothing else or don't reply it is a free country. Secondly it is an error, just say it is 40 yrs, then trace all the events in David's reign and it would be more than 40 yrs long. But 1Kings 2:11, says David was king forty years, so it would not just be a variant it would be an error. The events in his rule cannot surpass 40 years which is what this verse would. It isn't an error in Scripture if that is what you thought I meant but is clearly an error in the KJV.

Brad
5/13/2000<


>Just wanted to first, thank you for your article on pre-marital sex.  It wasn't really the subject I was looking for, but a corollary reference helped me out quite a bit.<

You're welcome.

>As I was exploring your site, I noticed your rebuttals of the Armenian arguments.  Though I used to be a Calvinist, I lean much more in the other direction since spending three years in missionary work.

Honestly, the arguments of both sides leave my head swimming, but I can get past the idea that if our salvation (or my damnation!) truly is predestined, why should I have bothered with missionary work?  Why should I send money to missionaries?<

Because God commands you to? Just one small reason. Moreover, God predestines the ends along with the means.

>  Why should I bother having a relationship with God?<

Because when God changes your heart, that is what you then desire to do. If you do not desire a relationship with God, then you have not been converted.

>  Does God even care about me if I'm not one of the lucky predestined?<

[Ac 14:17] “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

>Just some thoughts. 

Thanks.
Aaron
5/5/2000<

Just some quick answers.


>Dear Gary,

I really enjoy your site.  My name is Brian _____, and I am a freshman at Lee University.  I have been studying Calvinism for about a year.  I was raised Arminian, and go to an Arminian school, so I am confronted with a lot of questions and criticisms about Calvinism.  I was hoping that you could help me understand how foreknowledge and predestination operate.<

From a Calvinist viewpoint, God's foreknowledge is based on His predestination. IOW, God knows something is going to happen because He has predestined it to happen.

From an Arminian viewpoint it's the other way around. God "foresees" something is going to happen, so He therefore predestines His purposes based on his foreknowledge.

So in the Calvinist scheme, God predestined me to believe; therefore, He infallibly foreknew that I would believe. And based on that predestination and foreknowledge, I am saved.

In the Arminian scheme, God foreknew that I would believe, so He predestined I would be saved based on His foreknowledge of my belief.

So the ultimate cause of my salvation in the Calvinist view is God's predestination; in the Arminian view it is my free-will decision to believe.

>  Also, how would you explain texts such as 1 Timothy 2:4, where the Bible says that God desires all men to be saved?  I realize that you are busy, and probably get a lot of e-mails, but a response would be greatly appreciated.

Chosen in Him,
Brian
4/12/2000<

I address this and related verses in my Scripture Study, Arminian Arguments Against the Five Points found in my Scripture Workbook.


>Subject: Reply to Calvinism/Arminianism Arguments Scripture Study

>Gary

I was impressed by your biblical work on this area of theological inquiry.  Actually, I have found a good deal more creative work coming from the other side of the debate all the way from the strongly "openness of God" thesis to the less aggressive materials generated by Grant Osborne challenging Calvinistic texts.

Question.... Would you honestly say after your extensive studies here that Scripture is more than paradoxical on this issue.  Having studied with people like I. Howard Marshall and Grant Osborne etc. I find compelling arguments on either end of the debate.  Can we not acknowledge that our opponents do reveal what are for us "problem texts" that do not fit our systems and that we must accept.

Working this one out,
Ben
4/23/2000<

Yes, there are "problem texts" for the Calvinist viewpoint. But personally, all I can say is I have reconciled them with the Calvinist position to my own satisfaction. Now if my explanations would satisfy an Arminian would be another matter.

Secondly, I do believe there are more "problem texts" for the Arminian to deal with than for the Calvinist. But then again, I am sure the Arminian would disagree with that assessment also.

But as Christians we can agree to disagree on secondary matters. Let each person be fully convinced in his own mind.


Note: After answering the above e-mails, I “just happened” to start reading a book titled The Power in Prayer containing sermons by C.H. Spurgeon (Whitaker House, 1999). The following excerpt is from a sermon on Luke 11:9-10 titled “Guaranteed to Succeed.” It reminded me of some of the above questions. Now Spurgeon is dealing with prayer, not evangelism. But his comments would be appropriate to the latter as well.

Another objection has been raised that is very ancient indeed, and it has a great appearance of force. It is raised not so much by skeptics as by those who hold a part of the truth. It is this: prayer can certainly produce no results because the decrees of God have settled everything and those decrees are immutable.

Now, we have no desire to deny the assertion that the decrees of God have settled all events. Certainly, it is our full belief that God has foreknown and predestined everything that happens in heaven above and in the earth beneath. I fully believe that the foreknown station of a reed by the river is as fixed as the station of a king, and the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. Predestination embraces the great and the little; it reaches to all things.

The question is, Why pray? Might it not as logically be asked, Why breathe, eat, move, or do anything? We have an answer that satisfies us; namely, our prayers are in the predestination, and God has as much ordained His people’s prayers as anything else. So, when we pray, we are producing links in the chain of ordained facts. Destiny decrees that I should pray—I pray. Destiny decrees that I will be answered—the answer comes to me.

But we have a better answer than all this. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes forward, and He says to us, “My dear children, the decrees of God need not trouble you; there is nothing in them inconsistent with your prayer being hear. ‘I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you” [Luke 11:9].

Now, who is the One who says this? Why, it is He who has been with the Father from the beginning. “The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2). He knows what the purposes of the Father are and what the heart of the Father is, for He has told us in another place, “The Father loveth you” (John 16:27).

Now, since He knows the decrees of the Father and the heart of the Father, He can tell us with the absolute certainty of an eyewitness that there is nothing in the eternal purposes in conflict with this truth that he who asks receives and he who seeks finds. He has read the decrees from the beginning to the end. Has He not taken the book, loosed the seven seals thereof (Rev 5:5), and declared the ordinances of heaven? He tells you there is nothing there inconsistent with your bended knee and streaming eye and with the Father’s opening the windows of heaven to shower upon you the blessing that you seek.

Moreover, the One who promises to answer prayer is God Himself. The purposes of heaven are His purposes. He who ordained the purpose here gives the assurance that there is nothing in it to prevent the efficacy of prayer. “I say unto you.” You who believe in Him, your doubts are scattered to the winds; you know He hears prayer (pp.13-15).

One point I would add, when Spurgeon asks, “Might it not as logically be asked, Why breathe, eat, move, or do anything?”—a more satisfying answer might be, we eat because we get hungry. We breathe because we need to. Similarly, to the one truly converted, we pray because God gives us the desire to do so. Prayer is as much of a need for the Christian as breathing is. And similarly, we evangelize because God gives us the desire to do so, and we need to do so:

1Cor 9:16:  for if I should proclaim the Gospel, it is not [grounds for] me to be boasting, for necessity is laid upon me; but how horrible it is to me if I should not proclaim the Gospel! (ALT).

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