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#16556 Sat Jul 31, 2004 8:43 AM
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In the thread started by KoreaHog, I have returned, the belief that at some point all people come to a neutral position during their life was put forth. A moral equipoise, granted by God, where they choose from a clean slate. In this thread I would like to see the scriptures that uphold this.

The reformed view is against this assertion....

Total Depravity
The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality -- his thinking, his emotions, and his will. The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:1). This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability." The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God's making him alive through Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-5). We believe that all are sinners (Romans 3:23) and unable by human performance to earn, deserve, or merit salvation (Romans 9:16). We believe that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and that apart from God's grace, no one can be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). We believe that none are righteous, or capable of doing good (Romans 3:10-12), and that apart from the conviction and regeneration of the Holy Spirit, none can be saved (John 1:12-13; 16:8-11; I Peter 1:23-25). Mankind is clearly fallen and lost in sin. (John 6:44)

Any passages that teach a neutrality?


God bless,

william

#16557 Sat Jul 31, 2004 11:32 AM
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Hi Averagefellar. You said, “In the thread started by KoreaHog, I have returned, the belief that at some point all people come to a neutral position during their life was put forth.”

I didn’t say, “All people come to a neutral position during their life.” I think that some non-elect people do, and some don’t. Some non-elect people never hear the gospel and are never placed under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit. Elect people who die before reaching the age of accountability are never placed under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit.

You said, “A moral equipoise, granted by God, where they choose from a clean slate.”

Well, I didn’t say that either. For clarity, you might want to quote me rather than paraphrase me. I don’t think you are intentionally misrepresenting my position. (In fact, I think you are very well intentioned, and I enjoy discussing this with you.) Adam was in a “zero, zero” type of equipoise. In other words Adam did not have any evil inclinations before his first sin, and he did not have any good inclinations before he became biased toward sin. These days, when a non-Christian is under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit, he is allowed to form a bias from a “fifty, fifty” type of equipoise, not a clean slate by any means. In other words, before he forms a bias, his depraved, sinful inclinations are exactly balanced by the good inclinations worked through his conscience by the Holy Spirit during the time of special conviction. From this perspective, he can compare the clean with the dirty as Moses did, and like Moses, by faith and “as seeing Him who is unseen” (Hebrews 11:27) he can leave his old life behind. His depravity is temporarily counteracted during this special conviction (tasting) event, and if he is an elect non-Christian, he eventually makes an ultimate, final decision to surrender his life to Jesus in repentance and faith (to swallow the living bread). There may be several special conviction (tasting) events. A non-elect non-Christian eventually makes an ultimate, final decision to reject Jesus as Lord and Savior. This willful, unpardonable sin of rejection hastens a natural hardening process.

You asked for some Scriptures relating to equipoise.

1 Kings 18:21 – “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.”

Hebrews 6:4-8 – “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

Hebrews 10:26-29 – “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgement, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

Deuteronomy 30:19 – “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”

Joshua 24:15 – “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Hebrews 11:24-27 – “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.”

Mark 10:17, 21-23 – “And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’. . . . And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!’ ”

John 5:24-25 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.”

Psalm 34:8 – “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

John 5:39-40 – “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.”

Acts 17:11-12 – “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”

Acts 26:27-29 – “ ‘King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.’ And Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.’ And Paul said, ‘I would to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.’ ”

2 Peter 2:1, 20-21 – “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. . . . For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.”

I would be glad to discuss the above Scripture passages with you. I have already talked about Adam being in equipoise. Let me repeat Augustine’s words about that equipoise:

“We should ask what the first man himself was like when he was created, rather than how his descendants have been propagated. [. . .] They speak as if it were impossible for human nature to be endowed with some intermediate state, besides folly and wisdom, which could be called neither folly nor wisdom.”
(Augustine, “The Free Choice of the Will,” trans. Robert P. Russell, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, ed. Roy Joseph Deferrari, vol. 59, Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, Inc., 1968, pages 228-229)

Augustine believed that Adam’s rebellion from a position of neutrality (equipoise) brought a just punishment from God:

“Accordingly, if a man was created in a state where, though yet unwise, he could receive a command that he ought certainly to obey, it is neither surprising that he could be seduced, nor an injustice that he should suffer punishment for failing to obey. Neither is the Creator the cause of his vice, since it was not yet a vice for man to be without wisdom when he had not yet received the power to have it. Yet he did have something that would enable him to advance towards what he did not yet have, provided he was willing to make good use of it.”
(Ibid., pages 229-230)

Augustine repeated that there was a “middle state” (equipoise) from which Adam rebelled:

“This makes it clear that there is a middle state which cannot go by either name. So, too, when the first man passed from the heights of wisdom to folly, the transition was neither foolish nor wise. It is something like sleep and wakefulness, where falling asleep is not the same as sleeping and where awakening is not the same as being awake, but where there is a passing from one state to another. There is, however, this difference, that the latter generally happen involuntarily, while the former are always voluntary, which is why the punishments that follow are perfectly just.”
(Ibid., pages 231-232)

I’ll also repeat what John Calvin said about Adam’s equipoise:

“Adam could have stood if he would, since he fell merely by his own will, because his will was flexible to either side, and he was not endued with constancy to persevere. . . . Yet there is no excuse for man; he received so much, that he was the voluntary procurer of his own destruction; but God was under no necessity to give him any other than a mutable will, midway between sin and indefectibility (medium et caducam).”
(Calvin, Institutes I. xv. 8)

I’ll also repeat what Arthur Pink said about Adam’s equipoise:

“In unfallen Adam the will was free, free in both directions, free toward good and free toward evil. Adam was created in a state of innocency, but not in a state of holiness, as is so often assumed and asserted. Adam’s will was therefore in a condition of moral equipoise: that is to say, in Adam there was no constraining bias in him toward either good or evil, and as such, Adam differed radically from all his descendants, as well as from ‘the Man Christ Jesus.’ ”
(Pink, The Sovereignty of God, page 135)

You also discussed total depravity. Here’s an excerpt from my manuscript about total depravity that you may want to discuss:

Total depravity means that all human beings are born with an inclination to commit sin due to Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:19), and that every part of their being is tainted by sin. They are spiritually dead people until God makes them alive at the time of the regeneration event. A totally depraved person never wants to embrace Christ more than he wants anything else. Notice the depravity described in Ephesians 2:1-5:

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly
walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the
power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of
disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our
flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature
children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because
of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our
transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been
saved).”

The fact that all non-Christians are depraved would seem to indicate that all non-Christians are like passive puppets, manipulated by their innate, sinful desires.

Many Arminians admit that all people are born totally depraved, but Arminians also say that God “enlightens every man” (John 1:9) and that God draws all people to Christ (John 12:32). Thus, Arminians believe that the effects of total depravity are negated by prevenient (preceding) grace and that all people have true free will and are not passive at any point during their conversion to Christianity. According to John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John Calvin denied that prevenient grace was adequate for salvation; rather, he said that regenerating grace was necessary as he commented on the verse:

“Further, it ought to be clear that the Evangelist is speaking only of man’s natural endowments, and does not touch upon regenerating grace. [. . .] But since he has darkened the light which he retains by his stupidity and wickedness, it is necessary that the Son of God take on a new office, that of a mediator, and restore the ruined man by the Spirit of regeneration. Therefore, those who confuse the light of which the Evangelist speaks with the gospel and the doctrine which deals with our salvation, philosophize absurdly and in an irrelevant manner.”
(John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries, ed. and trans. Joseph Haroutunian, 1958, page 132)

Most five-point Calvinists believe that non-Christians as free agents can freely choose to sin but cannot freely choose to surrender to Jesus in repentance and faith until God changes their will during the regeneration event. Many five-point Calvinists refer to John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” They interpret the word “see” in the verse as “perceive” or “discern,” and they say that an unregenerated person cannot perceive the kingdom of God well enough to choose it. In contrast, Arminians and modified Calvinists interpret the word “see” in John 3:3 as “participate in” or “experience” as in the phrase “see death” found in Luke 2:26: “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

Five-point Calvinists believe that unregenerated non-Christians cannot repent because their will is inclined toward sin. Therefore, they believe that non-Christians are totally passive during the event where they are regenerated (born again, given new life). They use John 1:13 to show that regeneration is totally a work of God: “Who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Many Arminians and modified Calvinists agree that the regeneration event is totally a work of God, but they believe that faith is required for regeneration. The modified Calvinist Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, described faith as a condition for regeneration: “In the fourth Gospel we read that faith is not only a sign but also a condition of the new birth: ‘To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12).”
(Danny Akin, “1, 2, 3 John,” The New American Commentary, page 189)

Arminians and modified Calvinists believe John 1:12 indicates that the receivers of Christ were believing in Christ at the time they were born again. Many five-point Calvinists use the concept of adoption to interpret the phrase “He gave the right to become children of God” in John 1:12, and this view can be traced back to the 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith, the nearly identical 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, and Calvin himself. Thus many five-point Calvinists say that the phrase refers to adoption, not the new birth, and they see God as adopting children (John 1:12) to whom He has already given birth (John 1:13).

In describing the order of events in the salvation process—especially in regard to regeneration, justification, faith, and repentance—it is important to distinguish between the logical order and the temporal order of events. Sometimes events seem to occur at exactly the same point in time in terms of a chronological/temporal frame of reference, but one of the events may be a logical precursor or requirement for another event that occurs at the same point in time.

In contrast to Arminians and modified Calvinists, five-point Calvinists believe regeneration is a necessary precursor to repentance and faith. The five-point Calvinist R.C. Sproul, founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries and a theology professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, comments on regeneration:

“In regeneration, God changes our hearts. He gives us a new disposition, a
new inclination. He plants a desire for Christ in our hearts. We can never
trust Christ for our salvation unless we first desire him. This is why we said
earlier that regeneration precedes faith. Without rebirth we have no desire
for Christ. Without a desire for Christ we will never choose Christ.
Therefore we conclude that before anyone ever will believe, before anyone
can believe, God must first change the disposition of his heart.”
(Sproul, Chosen By God, pages 118-119)

Five-point Calvinists believe newly regenerated persons are capable of perceiving clearly God’s righteous standard, and as the conversion process progresses (often almost instantaneously), they surrender to Christ in repentance and faith. Five-point Calvinists also believe that repentance and faith are necessary precursors for justification (salvation from the penalty of sin) and receiving the gift of the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit.

On the contrary, both Arminians and modified Calvinists believe that repentance and faith are requirements for both the regeneration event and justification; thus, a spiritually dead person can repent and place his faith in Christ under certain circumstances. The modified Calvinist Millard Erickson, president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2002, described his view of the order of salvation:

“We are not talking here about temporal succession. Conversion and new
birth occur simultaneously. Rather, the question is whether one is
converted because of God’s work of regeneration within, or whether God
regenerates the individual because of his or her repentance and belief. It
must be acknowledged that, from a logical standpoint, the usual Calvinistic
position makes good sense. If we sinful humans are unable to believe and
respond to God’s gospel without some special working of his within us,
how can anyone, even the elect, believe unless first rendered capable of
belief through regeneration? To say that conversion is prior to regeneration
would seem to be a denial of total depravity.
Nonetheless, the biblical evidence favors the position that conversion is
prior to regeneration. Various appeals to respond to the gospel imply that
conversion results in regeneration.”
(Erickson, Christian Theology, pages 944-945)

Many modified Calvinists believe a non-Christian is a totally depraved free agent with no true free will until the time God begins the conversion process and brings him under the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit. Such modified Calvinists believe the non-Christian has true free will during times of special conviction and is therefore not passive during the conversion process. They also believe the culmination of the conversion process is the regeneration event when the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the person after the person surrenders to Christ in repentance and faith.

#16558 Sat Jul 31, 2004 12:18 PM
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OK. Too much stuuf besides scripture. I am looking to avoid your philosophical ramblings and I can quote scholars also. I will address the passages you posted.

One other problem I noticed is that you uphold a age of accountability, an old baptist teaching also not found in scripture. But we'll concentrate on the passages and the dilemma at hand.

Give me a few days as I will be out of town tomorrow and am preparing for that today. Thanks for your understanding.


God bless,

william

#16559 Sat Jul 31, 2004 2:20 PM
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Quote
1 Kings 18:21 – “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.”

Hebrews 6:4-8 – “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

Hebrews 10:26-29 – “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgement, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

Deuteronomy 30:19 – “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”

Joshua 24:15 – “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Hebrews 11:24-27 – “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.”

Mark 10:17, 21-23 – “And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’. . . . And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!’ ”

John 5:24-25 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.”

Psalm 34:8 – “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

John 5:39-40 – “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.”

Acts 17:11-12 – “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”

Acts 26:27-29 – “ ‘King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.’ And Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.’ And Paul said, ‘I would to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.’ ”

2 Peter 2:1, 20-21 – “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. . . . For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.”

I didn't see any of those passages explicitly teaching man can choose contrary to his nature. I never saw one explanation or even a hint of moral equipoise. Maybe you could elaborate?


God bless,

william

#16560 Sat Jul 31, 2004 4:13 PM
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This will be easier if we discuss one scripture at a time. I apologize if I misrepresent your true position. However, I still firmly believe you are a Wesleyan. I also disagree that Adam had no nature.

1 Kings 18:21 –
(KJV) And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
(NASB) Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word.

I honestly don't see anything in that passage to make me think the people chose from a neutral position. Because an offer is made does not necessitate the recipient have the ability to choose either correctly or at all, and they will still choose according to their nature.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
(KJV)


God bless,

william

#16561 Sat Jul 31, 2004 9:13 PM
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Averagefellar, I think you have chosen a good method. Let’s interact with each passage one at a time. You said, “I honestly don't see anything in that passage to make me think the people chose from a neutral position. Because an offer is made does not necessitate the recipient have the ability to choose either correctly or at all, and they will still choose according to their nature.”

Well, they had not yet made a choice even though they had been faced with the choice for some time. If I am about to watch a pro football game on television and one of my sons says, “Who are you for”? I usually say, “I’m neutral.” I have a favorite college football team—the Arkansas Razorbacks (hence my name, Koreahog), but I have not made a choice among the pros. (Personnel changes are made too often on pro teams, and I cannot keep up with which players are on which team.) Sometimes when I am watching a pro game I become interested in a particular player who is making a valiant effort, and I “take sides.” Similarly, after the people tasted the power of God when the fire fell, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, He is God” (1 Kings 18:39). Usually when I watch a pro football game, however, I remain undecided, uncommitted to either team. I watch players on both sides and appreciate a good play when I see it.

Paul House, a professor at The Southern Baptist Seminary, commented on 1 Kings 18:21:

“The prophet challenges the people to stop limping (pasah, translated ‘waver’) between two opinions—to decide who is God and then act on that decision. . . . The people are non-committal at best. They ‘limp’ along without conviction, wanting to follow halfheartedly one god and then the other.”
(House, “1, 2 Kings,” The New American Commentary, pages 218-219)

Charles Spurgeon commented on this passage in a sermon:

“Now, we have these three classes here this morning. We have, I hope, a very large number who are on Jehovah's side, who fear God and serve him; we have a number who are on the side of the evil one, who make no profession of religion, and do not observe even the outward symptoms of it; because they are both inwardly and outwardly the servants of the evil one. But the great mass of my hearers belong to the third class—the waverers. Like empty clouds they are driven hither and thither by the wind; like painted beauties, they lack the freshness of life; they have a name to live and are dead. Procrastinators, double-minded men, undecided persons, to you I speak this morning—‘How long halt ye between two opinions?’ May the question be answered by God's Spirit in your hearts, and may you be led to say, ‘No longer, Lord, do I halt; but this day I decide for thee, and am thy servant for ever!’ ” . . . . ‘How long limp ye, wriggle ye, walk ye in an absurd manner, between two opinions?’ In adopting either opinion, you would at least be consistent; but in trying to hold both, to seek to be both one and the other, and not knowing which to decide upon, you are limping between two opinions. I think a good translation is a very different one from that of the authorized version—‘How long hop ye upon two sprays?’ So the Hebrew has it. Like a bird, which perpetually flies from bough to bough, and is never still. If it keeps on doing this, it will never have a nest. And so with you: you keep leaping between two boughs, from one opinion to the other; and so between the two, you get no rest for the sole of your foot, no peace, no joy, no comfort, but are just a poor miserable thing all your life long. IV. We have brought you thus far, then; we have shown you the absurdity of this halting. Now, very briefly, the next point in my text is this. The multitude who had worshiped Jehovah and Baal, and who were now undecided, might reply, ‘But how do you know that we do not believe that Jehovah is God? How do you know we are not decided in opinion?’ The prophet meets this objection by saying, ‘I know you are not decided in opinion, because you are not decided in practice. If God be God, follow him; if Baal, follow him. You are not decided in practice.’ Men's opinions are not such things as we imagine. It is generally said now-a-days, that all opinions are right, and if a man shall honestly hold his convictions, he is, without doubt, right. Not so; truth is not changed by our opinions; a thing is either true or false of itself, and it is neither made true nor false by our views of it. It is for us, therefore, to judge carefully, and not to think that any opinion will do. Besides, opinions have influence upon the conduct, and if a man have a wrong opinion, he will, most likely, in some way or other, have wrong conduct, for the two usually go together. ‘Now,’ said Elijah, ‘that you are not the servants of God, is quite evident, for you do not follow him; that you are not thoroughly servants of Baal either, is quite evident, for you do not follow him.’ ”
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0134.htm

#16562 Sat Jul 31, 2004 10:20 PM
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koreahog,

I have already posted my interpretation and brief exegesis of 1Kg 18:21 and shown that the people to whom Elijah were addressing were not in any fictitious state of "moral equipoise", but rather they stood firmly in opposition to Jehovah God. Elijah's challenge was for them to repent of their dissimulation and return to the God of their fathers.

Secondly, C.H. Spurgeon, that great defender of historic biblical Calvinism never taught any such notion as "moral equipoise". He was a firm believer in the doctrine of Total Depravity and consistently taught that no man CAN choose Christ; more so, no man has the ability to incline himself to even consider "choosing Christ" lest he first be regenerated; born of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in the quote you provided that even hints that Spurgeon was preaching "moral equipoise". <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rolleyes2.gif" alt="" />

In His Grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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#16563 Sat Jul 31, 2004 10:22 PM
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The football illustration is invalid. The Bible says mankind doesn't begin from a neutral position but a sinful one. One other problem is that I have repeatedly asked for the discussion of scripture and you seem bent on offering everything but. However, I did note that neither of your quotes mentioned equipoise either. neither quote claimed man chooses from anything else than from his nature. Now, please try to interact with the passages.

Calvinists uphold free-moral-choice. We do make decisions but never from a state of equipoise.


God bless,

william

Pilgrim #16564 Sun Aug 01, 2004 2:04 AM
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Pilgrim, Spurgeon’s comments about 1 Kings 18:21 differ markedly from yours.

On the “I have returned” thread you said, “In short, they had already made up their minds to hang on to Baal and Elijah was calling for them to repent of that vain and idolatrous worship and return to the pure worship of the God of Israel.”

In contrast, Spurgeon described them as “undecided.” You must admit that your conclusion about the people was quite different than that of Spurgeon.

#16565 Sun Aug 01, 2004 3:00 AM
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Averagefellar, you said, “The football illustration is invalid. The Bible says mankind doesn't begin from a neutral position but a sinful one.”

Actually, when I first began watching pro football games I was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. When I played football on my high school team I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy. Later, however, at some point after they won their last Super Bowl, I lost interest and became neutral. I do believe that a non-Christian is born as a depraved individual. Thus, he starts from a sinful position, not a neutral one. When he is irresistibly placed under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit, he can then form a bias from equipoise, and he can surrender his life to Jesus in repentance and faith.

You said, “One other problem is that I have repeatedly asked for the discussion of scripture and you seem bent on offering everything but.”

Okay, let’s discuss 1 Kings 18:21: “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.”

The meaning of the verse seems very simple to me. The people were hesitating between two opinions. Spurgeon said they were undecided. They had not committed themselves one way or the other. They had not made an ultimate, final decision about whom to serve. Dr. House from The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville said that Elijah was challenging these non-committal people to make a decision. Spurgeon remarked that most people in churches are in this non-committal category. He said that some people are clearly committed to Christ, and some people are clearly committed to evil, but the third category is very large. In 1 Kings 18:38 the people experienced the power of God when the fire fell. In verse 39 they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, He is God.” Their experience with the power of God caused them to make a choice. They were no longer undecided.

You said, “However, I did note that neither of your quotes mentioned equipoise either. neither quote claimed man chooses from anything else than from his nature.”

Neither quote mentioned equipoise, but the quotes described the people as non-committal and undecided. Regarding your comment about choosing from their nature, consider this: If they were choosing from their sinful nature, then why would they commit themselves to serve God and even be willing to seize the prophets of Baal for execution, knowing that those prophets were favored by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel? They fell on their faces to confess that the LORD was God in front of Ahab. They seized the prophets in front of Ahab. They took Elijah’s side in front of Ahab. Remember that Ahab wanted to kill Elijah. The people who experienced God’s power and confessed Him were obviously changed people. Ahab was not part of that group. He saw God’s power but did not commit himself to God. Ahab was already committed to evil. He had not been part of the group that was hesitating between two opinions. Ahab’s opinion was already formed.

The apostle Paul said that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). These days, when God puts a person under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit, it is certainly a powerful thing. The person tastes the good word of God and the powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:5). By faith, like Moses (Hebrews 11:24-27), such a person can choose to endure ill-treatment with the people of God rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin.

#16566 Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:47 AM
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This question I'm about to ask may have been answered already, but here goes,
Why would GOD put imperfect peoples in the middle of his perfect plan? this neutrel state is like the tombs, that they whitewash, it looks good on the outside but when you go in it stinks to high heaven.

neicey

#16567 Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:57 AM
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Quote
In contrast, Spurgeon described them as “undecided.” You must admit that your conclusion about the people was quite different than that of Spurgeon.
Perhaps Spurgeon's comments were in regard to something totally different than mine? The issue is "moral equipoise", which has yet on your part to be shown even exists in Scripture. The point I was making was that the people addressed by Elijah were already guilty of idolatrous practices; externally expressing their corruption of heart. The worship of Jehovah had been corrupted by the combining of Baal worship with that of Jehovah. That is why Elijah asked the question he did; i.e., to choose either one or the other. The text says that the people remained silent; i.e., they were unwilling to give up their sinful worship because they desired to have what they considered to be the best of both "gods".

But regardless whether or not there is a difference in conclusions between Spurgeon and I, this has nothing to do with the topic at hand which Spurgeon's quote served for nothing in proving this imaginary "moral equipoise" of yours. As averagefellar has already stated, and which I have insisted upon, being in full agreement with historic Christianity and biblical Calvinism, men only have the ability to choose according to their natures and not contrary to it. There is not even a hint in Holy Writ about some "neutral moral condition" you call "moral equipoise" which is given temporarily as a means by which unregenerate sinners are able to incline themselves toward God and then create a saving faith within themselves and believe upon the Lord Christ. Sir.... the idea is pure fiction. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rolleyes2.gif" alt="" /> What the natural man needs most is not some fictional "moral equipoise" but a radical change of nature; regeneration of the soul from which faith and the ability to exercise it originates.

In His Grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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Pilgrim #16568 Sun Aug 01, 2004 12:50 PM
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Pilgrim, you said, “The point I was making was that the people addressed by Elijah were already guilty of idolatrous practices; externally expressing their corruption of heart.”

Ahab and Jezebel were obviously guilty of idolatrous practices (1 Kings 16:31-33), but how do you know that the other people there (1 Kings 18:19-21) besides Ahab and the prophets of Baal and Asherah were idolatrous? Who were the other people there? Was it every man, woman, and child of Israel, or was it heads and/or representatives? There were 7,000 people that were not idolatrous (1 Kings 19:18). Is the number 7,000 to be taken literally, or did it represent a very large number of people who formed a non-idolatrous remnant? I may be missing something here that you already know. I’m just wondering how you know for sure that everyone there besides Elijah was already guilty of idolatrous practices. I have seen no evidence of that.

As you know, Jesus said that no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). In other words, one cannot be totally committed to two Lords at the same time. Some people obviously try to “have their cake and eat it too,” but they are eventually revealed as people who never ultimately, finally surrendered their lives to Jesus in repentance and faith.

You said, “The text says that the people remained silent; i.e., they were unwilling to give up their sinful worship because they desired to have what they considered to be the best of both ‘gods’.”

Again, the text doesn’t say that they were ever involved in sinful worship. The people in fact wanted to know who was the true God. When Elijah made his proposal, the people said, “That is a good idea” (1 Kings 18:24). If they had been unwilling to give up their sinful worship, then I don’t think they would have been so eager to see the true God identified. Paul House, a professor at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, commented on verses 22-25:

“Only Elijah and, ironically, the prophets of Baal have any conviction. Both Elijah and his counterparts believe their god to be the solution to Israel’s problems. . . . Elijah wants to eliminate Baal from consideration whenever Israel decides theological matters.”
(House, “1, 2 Kings,” The New American Commentary, page 219)

neicey #16569 Sun Aug 01, 2004 12:52 PM
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Hi Neicey. I think half of it stinks, and half of it smells really good.

#16570 Sun Aug 01, 2004 1:31 PM
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I've put some more thought into this, and it seems to me that the main issue is the commitment level of the people in 1 Kings 18. Ahab and the prophets of Baal and Asherah were committed to idolatry. Apparently they had made an ultimate, final decision to serve false gods. Elijah had made an ultimate, final decision to serve the one true God. The people who fell on their faces before God had been uncommitted to any god prior to their experience with God's power. I believe that when a person experiences the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit, he eventually has to make an ultimate, final choice about whom he will serve as his lord. Elect non-Christians will make an ultimate, final decision to surrender their lives to Jesus in repentance and faith. Some non-elect non-Christians will also experience the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit, and they will make an ultimate, final decision to reject Jesus. Such a rejection is an unpardonable sin (John 12:48; Hebrews 10:29).

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