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#10693 Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:35 PM
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Hi
I have been having a conversation with someone who does not believe in ‘irresistible grace”. I am reluctant to answer what he last told me because quite frankly what he said is quite new to me. The following is what I am talking about.

“I believe that everyone is born with total depravity, and thus all persons are unable (at least temporarily) to choose Christ. I believe that God gives some people (not all) the ability and free will during a certain period of time to surrender to Christ in repentance and faith. All of the elect persons who live past the age of accountability will have this free will when they hear the gospel under the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit, and all these elect persons will freely surrender to Christ. Some of the non-elect persons will have this free will, but none of the non-elect persons will freely surrender to Christ. Other non-elect persons will never hear the gospel under the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit, and thus they will not have that free will.”

Any thoughts on how I should approach what he said?

Tom #10694 Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:59 PM
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Greetings Tom:

I'm rather new to this website, so please hear me out.

"Irresistible grace" is a term which applies only to the pre-determined elect of God. Those predestined were chosen before God created the world and they are the apostles and prophets. They're also the "few" when Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are chosen."

"Irresistible grace" does not apply to the many who are called unto salvation. For them, they can resist the calling of the Holy Spirit, the witnessing of believers and the testimony of Scripture.

This doctrine is more like what your friend is talking about when he says he does not agree with your doctrine.

Since both doctrines are correct, you won't be able to convince your friend he's wrong and he won't be able to convince you to change either. This also explains why Calvinists and Arminian Methodists have disagreed over this doctrine for centuries. Neither understood they both were partially right.

Tom #10695 Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:23 PM
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Tom,

What I see is a very confused response to his/her definition of "Irresistible Grace". This person speaks of "total depravity" but also of "free will". As you well know, depending of course how this individual defines free-will, there is no such animal.

Secondly, he/she speaks of a "limited time" within which a person who has been given "the ability and free-will" to respond to the Gospel. I think here we can see a major caveat in this view. The "ability" to respond to the Gospel is the result of one being regenerated. Regeneration is the recreating of the soul, whereby one's entire being is effected, e.g., the affections, intellect and will. Since the will (ability) is determined by one's affections/desires and knowledge of the truth, when one is regenerated, there is a radical change in the disposition/nature and thus those things which were hated are desired. Those things which were odious to the thinking are now something most wonderfully true. Consequently, the regenerated person chooses (wills) the things of God naturally, freely, impulsively. To set a time limit on how a regenerated person acts amounts to saying that a person can be regenerated (born again) and then after a certain period of time, they revert to a state of being unregenerate. Aside from the fact that Scripture nowhere even hints of this type of thing occurring, it contradicts the very essence of God's plan of redemption for the elect and the means by which He brings them to salvation in it's ultimate sense.

Thirdly, this person includes another error when he/she said:

Quote
All of the elect persons who live past the age of accountability . . .

This contradicts what he/she first affirmed, i.e., that all are born "with total depravity". What this person appears to be saying here is that before some arbitrarily determined physical age, the person is not under the wrath and judgment of God and is not in peril of eternal damnation. As you also know, men are born into this world with a double curse; 1) inherited corruption of nature (total depravity; aka: Original Sin) and 2) imputation of Adam's guilt. Thus, even if a person was born without a depraved nature, they are still liable to judgment due to the imputed guilt which they are accountable for. Atonement still needs to be made and applied, else they shall suffer damnation, they being guilty sinners before God. (Rom 5:12-18; et al)

Lastly, and the final error made is found in this statement:

Quote
Some of the non-elect persons will have this free will, but none of the non-elect persons will freely surrender to Christ.
How he/she ties this in with what was said beforehand, I can't really say, only that it is inconsistent with the doctrine of total depravity and regeneration. ONLY those who have been regenerated have the desire and ability to choose for God and believe upon Christ. It is to them alone (the elect) that the Holy Spirit draws them irresistibly to Christ. (Matt 11:25-27; Jh 6:36-40, 44, 65; 10:3, 4, 14; et al)

See more here: Efficacious Grace, by Loraine Boettner.

In His Grace,


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Pilgrim #10696 Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:05 PM
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I agree, Pilgrim!

Tom's friend's argument is inconsistent.

Today at the seminary's convocation, Dr. Mohler preached on the "profound simplicity" of the Gospel as found in John 3:1-21. He talked about the sovereignty of God in regeneration and how we are supposed to tell the Gospel to everyone, but that we cannot predict who will accept the Gospel and who will not because that is up to God's will and effectual calling.

I have a question on how to do with a potential question when witnessing. What if someone asks you, "Well, if it is up to God to regenerate my heart and open my eyes to the Gospel, then why is He not doing it? Awfully unfair of Him, don't you think" Should we given them John 3:8 as an answer?

John 3

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"
5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?
11 "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.
12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
14 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His (25) only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
20 "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
21 "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
MarieP #10697 Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:59 PM
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I have a question on how to do with a potential question when witnessing. What if someone asks you, "Well, if it is up to God to regenerate my heart and open my eyes to the Gospel, then why is He not doing it? Awfully unfair of Him, don't you think" Should we given them John 3:8 as an answer?
Of course someone who asks such a question has no concept either of their own sinfulness, guilt and position before God. Nor, does such an individual have an inkling as to the nature of the thrice Holy God whose eyes cannot even look upon sin. Nor, does this person understand the meaning of grace. But this is to be expected, no? (1Cor 2:14; 2Cor 2:15, 16; Eph 4:17-19)

Then, there is always the infamous Romans 9:14-24 passage. And, one of my favourites:

Matthew 11:25-30 (ASV) "At that season Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight. All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal [him.] Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."


In this wonderful passage of God's Word we have both the indisputable sovereignty of God in salvation AND the responsibility of man in the universal call to those who are burdened by their sins to flee to Christ Who will always and everywhere receive them most assuredly.

In His Grace,


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MarieP #10698 Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:19 PM
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Marie wrote:

I have a question on how to do with a potential question when witnessing. What if someone asks you, "Well, if it is up to God to regenerate my heart and open my eyes to the Gospel, then why is He not doing it? Awfully unfair of Him, don't you think" Should we given them John 3:8 as an answer?

Rom. 9:19,20: "You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?' On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this,' will it?"

EDIT: And something more, for which I am indebted to Blaise Pascal: "'Are you worthy [of God]?'---'Yes.'---'Then you are very presumptuous and thus worthy.'---'No.'---'Then you are just unworthy.'"

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:47 PM.

Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#10699 Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:24 PM
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"Irresistible grace" is a term which applies only to the pre-determined elect of God. Those predestined were chosen before God created the world and they are the apostles and prophets. They're also the "few" when Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are chosen."

The elect are all true believers, not just the prophets and apostles.

Quote
"Irresistible grace" does not apply to the many who are called unto salvation. For them, they can resist the calling of the Holy Spirit, the witnessing of believers and the testimony of Scripture.

In fact, "irresistible grace" refers to the grace by which we are made anew, are convicted of our sins, believe on Christ, and repent. That grace IS irresistible, and only the elect receive it.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
MarieP #10700 Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:44 PM
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Marie asked:
I have a question on how to do with a potential question when witnessing. What if someone asks you, "Well, if it is up to God to regenerate my heart and open my eyes to the Gospel, then why is He not doing it? Awfully unfair of Him, don't you think" Should we given them John 3:8 as an answer?
Ask him/her sincerely.."would you like for God to regenerate your heart and open your eyes to the gospel?"

If his answer is Yes!..give him John 6:37 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."

If his answer is No!..he has answered his own question.

Dave

Tom #10701 Wed Jan 28, 2004 8:54 AM
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Tom,
Your friend obviously believes in what is called prevenient grace. Though the Wesley's were the main promoters of the doctrine, it originated with Arminius and his followers. Prevenient grace was Arminius's means of affirming total depravity on the one hand, yet still maintaining a free, libertarian will on the other. Essentially, Arminius affirmed total depravity as the Bible teaches. He would even affirm that no man can believe savingly upon Christ, unless he is regenerated. However, in order to keep his freewill theism intact, he taught that God provides prevenient grace to all humanity so that they can hear the gospel and decide whether to choose it or reject it. The person is freed from his or her depravity to believe the gospel and come to Christ IF, and ONLY IF the person so choose to do so. Thus, proponents of prevenient grace believe God's regenerating work is not effectual, or that, in and of itself, will not assure salvation in a person. Only people believing savingly upon the gospel can be sure of their salvation, assuming of course that they endure to the end.

The problem with prevenient grace, or as some modern day Reformed Arminians call it, pre-regenerating grace, is that I find this no where taught in the Bible. I especially do not find this notion that a person can be regenerated, but walk away from that regenerating work. What I do find in scripture is that God's regeneration is always effective, that it will finish the purposes of bring a person to Christ. All given to the son by the Father will come and be raised up on the last day (John 6:37-45); He who begins a good work will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6), etc.

I was in correspondence with a Professor of NT at the Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, who has written a rather good work defending Reformed Arminianism. (I am currently writing a review of it for my website). I asked him to defend prevenient grace or pre-regenerating grace exegetically from the Bible, and he was hard pressed to do so. In fact, he even stated that much of his theology is founded upon presuppositions; presuppositions that he of course believe are scriptural. One thing I asked him during our corresponding stint was, when does God initiate prevenient grace? Did he do it at Pentecost to everyone in the whole world? Or, does he do it individually, or to a entire community of people at once? And, if God has provided prevenient grace for all mankind, and there are those who die, never hearing the gospel because they were geographically challenged in relation to the nearest missionaries, what was the point in God giving them prevenient grace? Those are some questions that he could not answer, and I would add, did not think it mattered to the consistency of his theology, though I believe it does. Again, when I review the Word of God, I see God initiating regeneration, because people are said to be born again, or have their eyes opened, etc, and they believe the truth unto salvation. Seeing that the biblical record consistently reveals to us that regeneration always accomplishes saving faith, it is unbiblical in my mind, to suggest that men can be regenerated, then choose to deny that divine work.

Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
CovenantInBlood #10702 Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:36 AM
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Greetings Kevin,

Saying something doesn't make it true. Quoting Calvin's doctrine doesn't make it true either. I will only accept the inspired Word of God as having any authority in doctrine.

The fact is, Scripture proves Calvin was only partially right in his doctrine on salvation. This can easily be determined upon close reading of Ephesians 1:4-13 and paying attention to the pronouns used by Paul to describe who he was talking about and who he was talking to.

I won't go into all the details here, but will provide more information after moderator "Joe" answers my private message to him concerning the very same matter.

#10703 Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:59 AM
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The fact is, Scripture proves Calvin was only partially right in his doctrine on salvation. This can easily be determined upon close reading of Ephesians 1:4-13 and paying attention to the pronouns used by Paul to describe who he was talking about and who he was talking to.

I would just love to hear what is your view is concerning this issue. Thus, please, "EXEGETE" the passage for us, since it appears that we, Charles Hodge, Peter O'brien, John Calvin, William Hendrisksen, and the vast number of other trained exegetes have been wrong, as it appears in your view. So how does Eph 1 prove us wrong? Please show us how the "pronouns" can easily prove calvin and others wrong?


in Christ,
Carlos


"Let all that mind...the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified"(Flavel)
#10704 Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:12 AM
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1Saved,
Are you sure you are posting to the correct thread? I am curious as to what irresistible grace has to do with the pronoun usage of Ephesians 1:4-14. Also, Kevin hasn't posted to this thread.

Fredrick b


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
#10705 Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:57 PM
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Greetings Kevin,

Saying something doesn't make it true. Quoting Calvin's doctrine doesn't make it true either. I will only accept the inspired Word of God as having any authority in doctrine.

My name is not Kevin, nor have I quoted anything (not even Scripture, actually), except your own words.

Quote
The fact is, Scripture proves Calvin was only partially right in his doctrine on salvation. This can easily be determined upon close reading of Ephesians 1:4-13 and paying attention to the pronouns used by Paul to describe who he was talking about and who he was talking to.

I won't go into all the details here, but will provide more information after moderator "Joe" answers my private message to him concerning the very same matter.

I suppose that, until then, I won't see your point.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
CovenantInBlood #10706 Thu Jan 29, 2004 11:30 AM
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Kyle,

Please accept my deepest apologies for calling you Kevin. This was my error and I admit I made a mistake. I will try to be more careful in the future.

Did you open your Bible to Paul's letter to the Ephesians and read the passage I cited paying close attention to the pronouns Paul used to describe who he was talking about and who he was talking to?

If you did, then maybe you will see my point. If you did not, then you will have to wait. It would not be fair for me to ask "Joe" to answer a question and then not give him time to answer it. Nor, should I go back on my word.

I will give "Joe" ample time to answer my question. If I don't hear back from him within a reasonable amount of time, I can only assume he is avoiding answering the question. This constitutes a "breach" of the "contract" between him and myself. At which time, I will no longer be held to what I told you earlier about waiting for "Joe" to answer.

Then, I intend to put the topic of this private message on the discussion board for open discussion. However, I cannot guarantee you will ever see it, since as I have just found out, a moderator can delete items placed on the board.

Again, please accept my apology for calling you Kevin. It was an honest oversight of mine and in no way was intended to offend you.

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1Saved,
I did pay close attention to the pronouns and I still am curious as to how the pronouns of Ephesians 1 affect the doctrine of effectual(irresistible) grace. You are not going down the road of a co-operate election into Christ similar to how quasi-theologian Robert Shank argues in his book "Elect in the Son" are you?

Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
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