Hi again, Averagefellar. You said, “Still invalid. Were you born with an incurable disease for the Dallas Cowboys?”

Well, I was drawing an analogy. Analogies are rarely perfect.

You said, “Why does anybody choose God? Regeneration and irresistable drawing. Not due to anything in man. Yes, they still made a choice, and you haven't provided one scripture that says man chooses apart from his nature. Only those regenerated by the Spirit turn to God truly. I also noticed you're still quoting other sources.”

Is it bad to quote from other sources?

Why does anybody choose God? Why does anybody not choose God? Those are two good questions. We could ask these questions to Adam and Satan.

I agree that one necessity for our choosing God is irresistible drawing. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” The ones who come to Jesus have been drawn to the Father. There is no debate about that. I believe in irresistible conviction. God coerces some people to taste Jesus. God does not, however, coerce them to swallow Jesus.

Gerald Borchert, professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, commented on John 6:43-48:

“Debates have raged in theology concerning the significance of the ‘drawing’ power of God and the ‘learning’ from God in this text. Those who are persuaded of an Augustinian/Calvinistic interpretation emphasize the force of God’s supreme power in drawing persons to Jesus. Those who are committed to an Arminian interpretation emphasize that the drawing power of God is on individual persons and that persons need to believe (cf. 6:47). In this discussion the ‘you’ of the negative imperative in the text of v. 43 most naturally is addressed to the Jews who are the grumblers but goes beyond to address the reader as well. The ‘you’ of v. 47 is important here as well and introduces a general statement that relates believing to eternal life. The force of these texts, therefore, is really neither an affirmation of strict Arminianism nor Calvinism. The Calvinists attach this discussion to texts such as 10:25-29 whereas the Arminians unite this passage with other texts such as 12:32; 15:5-6. The solution to such problems normally is best found in a modified Arminian-Calvinistic position that maintains the biblical tension of the divine and human aspects of salvation found in this text. Salvation is never achieved apart from the drawing power of God, and it is never consummated apart from the willingness of humans to hear and learn from God. To choose one or the other will ultimately end in unbalanced, unbiblical theology. Such a solution will generally not please either doctrinaire Calvinists nor Arminians, both of whom will seek to emphasize certain words or texts and exclude from consideration other texts and words. But my sense of the biblical materials is that in spite of all our arguments to the contrary, the tension cannot finally be resolved by our theological gymnastics. Rather than resolving the tension, the best resolution is learning to live with the tension and accepting those whose theological commitments differ from ours.”
(Borchert, “John 1-11,” The New American Commentary, pages 268-269)

You said, “You haven't provided one scripture that says man chooses apart from his nature.”

I think you are saying that before a person is regenerated, all of their choices are determined by their totally depraved nature. Thus, you say that no person could ever ultimately, finally surrender his life to Jesus in repentance and faith because his nature would not allow it. Thus, God must do something to counteract the effects of depravity so that the person can surrender his life to Jesus in repentance and faith. I think you would agree with me that a person is not a Christian until he surrenders his life to Jesus in repentance and faith. Five-point Calvinists who hold the elongated view believe that regeneration happens before faith/repentance in both temporal order and logical order. Thus, they believe that a person can be regenerated before he is saved, before he becomes a Christian. An example of this is James P. Boyce, the first president of The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville:

“V. The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to be one of invariable antecedence.

Wherever the appropriate truth is at the time present its relation is almost that of producing cause, for the prepared heart at once receives the truth. Hence, as this is so generally the case, they have been usually regarded as contemporaneous and by some even as identical. But that regeneration is the invariable antecedent is seen,

1. From the fact that the heart is the soil in which the seed, the word of God, is sown, and that seed only brings forth fruit in the good soil. The heart is made good soil by regeneration.

2. Regeneration (as in infants) may exist without faith and repentance, but the latter cannot exist without the former. Therefore, regeneration precedes.

3. Logically the enabling act of God must, in a creature, precede the act of the creature thus enabled. But this logical antecedence involves actual antecedence, or the best conceptions of our mind deceive us and are not reliable. For this logical antecedence exists only because the mind observes plainly a perceived dependence of the existence of the one on the other. But such dependence demands, if not causal, at least antecedent existence. Here it is only antecedent.

VI. There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval.

1. This is true even of conversion regarded as a mere turning to God. Between it and regeneration must intervene in some cases some period of time until the knowledge of God's existence and nature is given, before the heart turns, or even is turned towards that God.

(1.) This must be true of all infants and of all persons otherwise incapable of responsibility, as for example idiots.

(2.) There is no reason why it should not be true of some heathen. The missionaries of the cross have been sought by men, who knew nothing of Christianity, but whose hearts, unsatisfied with the religion of their fathers, were restlessly seeking for what their soul was crying out.

2. It is still more manifestly true of full Christian conversion.

(1.) The Scriptures teach this in many examples of persons pious, holy, and fearing God, yet unacquainted with the full truth which secures union with Christ.

Ethiopian Eunuch: Acts 8:26-40.

Paul: Acts, chapter 9, 22 and 26. Galatians, chapters 1st and 2d.

Cornelius the Centurion: Acts 10:2.

Lydia: Acts 16:14.

(2.) The experience of ministers in all ages with persons seeking and attaining salvation confirms this idea. The attainment of conversion may be marked by stages. The sinner is at first totally indifferent. The word produces on him no effect. Then (1.) There is an evident willingness to give serious attention to the truth of God. God has opened the heart as he did that of Lydia. (2.) There is conviction of sin, sense of its vileness, and of its dangerous effects. (3.) The soul, oppressed by these, strives to do something by which to attain salvation, but finds all in vain. (4.) At last accepting the truth of God's word it rests in trust of a personal Saviour.

VII. The term conversion is not technically applied to any change, except that which follows upon regeneration, and consists in the Godward turning of one heretofore turned entirely away from God. The return of men who have backslidden, or fallen into grievous sin, is also called ‘a return to God,’ and such a return is possibly what is called ‘conversion’ in Peter's case. Luke 22:32. But conversion is theologically used exclusively of the first act.”

Five-point Calvinists who do not hold to the elongated view believe that regeneration precedes faith/repentance in logical order but not temporal order. I’m not sure which view you hold, but in any case five-point Calvinists say that regeneration counteracts depravity so that a person can ultimately, finally surrender his live to Christ in repentance and faith. My concept of the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit is somewhat similar to that of regeneration held by five-point Calvinists who favor the elongated view. I prefer not to use the term “regeneration” to describe God’s action to counteract our depravity because I think that term and the term “rebirth” imply salvation. I believe that salvation in logical order comes after faith/repentance, not before it. I believe we are saved at the moment we ultimately, finally surrender our lives to Jesus in repentance and faith. John 1:12 indicates that those who receive Him and believe in Him are given the right to be regenerated (to become the children of God).

Now, back to your question about choosing apart from one’s nature. I think 1 Kings 18:21, 38-39 is a passage that illustrates how people can make a freewill choice when their depravity is at least temporarily counteracted. Pilgrim and I earlier had a discussion about the composition of this group of people. They were not yet committed to Baal or Asherah, and they were not yet committed to God before they experienced God’s power. According to verse 19, “all Israel” had been gathered at Mount Carmel. This may have meant every man, woman, and child, or it may have meant people who represented every group in Israel. In any case, since every group was represented or present, the 7,000 who had not bowed to Baal (1 Kings 19:18) would also have been present or represented. I’m not sure what that phrase “bowed to Baal” means in 1 Kings 19:18. It could mean that they had never participated in Baal worship, or it could mean that they had never made an ultimate, final commitment to worship Baal. It is clear, however, that Elijah was committed to God, and the prophets of Baal and Asherah were committed to idols. The other people were not committed to either side. They were allowed to make a freewill choice between the one true God and idols. They were not forced to choose the idols by their depravity. They had been placed in a situation where they could make a freewill choice. In essence, they were being forced to make a choice, but the choice was theirs. Their freewill choice fit into God’s sovereign plan. The choice had lasting consequences. The prophets of Baal were seized by the people in front of Ahab, and the prophets were put to death.