Tag Archives: God

The Doctrine Of Predestination Does Not Hinder Effectual Evangelization, But In Fact Guarantees It

A common objection to the doctrine of God’s sovereign, free, eternal decree of predestination in the salvation of sinners comes along the lines of this:

“If that’s true, then why evangelize? What good would it do?”

Such an objection seems at first to be not only natural, but definitively logical. If God has eternally decreed who would be saved, then indeed, why evangelize? God will save them anyway.

The problem with the objection is that it is decidedly unbiblical. The doctrine of predestination does not stand alone apart from other teachings in the Scriptures concerning salvation. As clearly as the Scriptures state that there is a group of people known as”the elect” whom God chose in eternity, those same Scriptures also state that God has decreed the means by which the elect are brought to Himself. What means? The primary mean in evangelization. The proclamation of the gospel. Commanding sinners to repent – to “change their mind” – and believe the gospel, that gospel being the Person and work of Christ. Christ is the “good news.”

Where does the Scripture state that? Romans 10 states it very clearly. Romans 10, interestingly enough, occurs right after a chapter which gives one of the most clear descriptions of the doctrine of predestination (and reprobation, for that matter) in the Scriptures. What does Paul, writing not only his personal thoughts, but also the breathed-out words of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17) state concerning evangelization? Keep in mind Paul writes this hot on the heels of just having written what he wrote in Romans 9 – that salvation is absolutely, totally, up to the free, sovereign will of God and God alone, and that God also goes so far as to harden the hearts of men so they cannot believe – still holding them accountable for their unbelief, by the way, to which Paul states his classic, “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” in response to the one who dares accuse God of being unjust in doing said hardening.

In chapter 10, Paul states this – that ones confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, he will be saved. He says whoever does this will be saved – Jew and Greek, because the Lord bestows riches on all who call on Him, and that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But Paul had begun chapter ten by stating this his desire was “that they (his fellow ethnic Jews) be saved.” He says this right after he explained in chapter nine why all his fellow Jews would not be saved (9:6b-33) – and having done so to prove that the word of God has not failed (9:6a). Paul says that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved, whether Jew or Greek (10:12-13).

Paul then gets to the heart of the matter: how are these people (Jews and Greeks) saved? Paul calls upon a technique he uses extensively in Romans: the rhetorical question. Read the earlier chapters of Romans. He uses the rhetorical question as a teaching tool many, many times and he does so here again. How then will “they” (Jew or Greek) call on him (Jesus) whom they have not believed? That begins a chain of questions and let’s look at the chain as a series of bullet points because the visual will help us see the building of Paul’s argument – and argument he builds from the end to the beginning:

  • How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
  • And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
  • And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
  • And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

He then cites Scripture from Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Then he says that yes, not all believe – but those who do? By what means? “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

That is how people are saved. That is the means by which the elect are drawn to God – through the preaching of the good news.

That was all just introduction to the point of our post, referring back to the title. Here’s the question: does evangelization accomplish a purpose? If so, what purpose? If so, to what degree does it accomplish the will of God?

Yes, evangelization accomplishes a purpose – as our example from Romans shows, it is the means by which the elect are drawn to God. Then…what is the will of God in evangelization? Is God’s will that every single person be saved? If so, is his will “successful?’ Or better, is his will “effectual?” Does his will for evangelization accomplish his own will for the salvation of sinners – without fail?

If it is God’s will that his purpose for evangelization is that doing so will bring every single person without exception to Himself, then his will has failed miserably and will continue to fail. As Matthew wrote the words of Jesus, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:14) If this is his will – then his will only effects salvation for some and if so, then his will and evangelization fail most of the time.

However…however…if we affirm the doctrine of predestination, stating that God has an elect people chosen in eternity to whom the word of Christ comes as Paul wrote in Romans 10, and that every single one of these people whom God has chosen will indeed hear the word of Christ and will thus believe, then evangelization accomplishes the will of God perfectly. The will of God, for the believer in predestination, actually does effect – or cause, or result in – the salvation of those whom God has chosen to give ears to hear at some point in time and space.

I cannot tell you how many times I had colleagues in prison ministry ask me why I evangelized if I believed in predestination. My response? “I evangelize because I believe in predestination.” If the Lord wills, twice before month’s end a brother from Grace Community Church and I will enter a prison in South Texas and proclaim the gospel. Why do we go? We are commanded to go. Why go? Because how can anyone call on him in whom they have not believed? And, how can they believe in him of whom they have never heard? And, how can they hear without someone preaching? And how can we preach unless we are sent? The Lord says by doing so, our feet are acknowledged as being lovely. And, in doing so, we proclaim the word of Christ and those who hear will believe. Who will believe? Those predestined, those chosen before the foundation of the world. (Rom. 10, Eph. 1)

Do we know who the predestined are? No. We are to go and proclaim to every person – besides, perhaps every person we go to is one of the elect. Is that possible? Sure it is. We need not be frustrated or think we must do something more or make a “better argument” in order to convince our listener of the validity of our point. All we must do is proclaim, and pray. When we do so, God’s plan for evangelization will be accomplished and accomplished perfectly. Evangelization thus does “effect” salvation for those whom it is intended. We know not who the elect are as we proclaim – but we do know that they will hear and they will believe.

Therefore, that is why the title of this post is true: predestination is in no way a hindrance to evangelization, but it is the fuel for it. Such evangelization will accomplish salvation. It will “effect” the receipt of eternal life for whom it is intended in the divine, perfect will of God.

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What God Requires From Us, He Gives To Us

What God requires

What God gives

Repentance (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38) Repentance (Acts 5:31, 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:24)
A circumcised heart (Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4) A circumcised heart (Deut. 30:6)
Faith (John 3:16, 36, 6:29; Acts 16:31) Faith (Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 4:7; Eph. 2:8
Continuing obedience (Luke 6:46; Phil. 2:12) Continuing obedience (Ezek. 36:27; Phil. 2:13)
Perseverance to the end (Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Heb. 3:14) Perseverance to the end (1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 24)

What God commands, He gives. We cannot obey until He gives.

Does God grant these gifts to every single person without exception? No.
Does God hold every single person responsible for obeying His commands? Yes.
”That’s not fair!” you say. “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom. 9:20)

What does this mean? It means salvation is by God’s grace alone and is a gift He freely grants to those whom He has chosen to love in this manner. This is why the child of God who has received these as gifts – irrevocable gifts, as Paul calls them (Rom. 11:29) – should always remain humble and tremble at the fact that God chose to freely give these gifts to a person who otherwise deserves eternal condemnation.

Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Indeed, it is amazing.

John Piper: The Effects Of Studying Romans 9

Written in 2002. The book he was writing is available here.

I was on sabbatical from teaching at Bethel College. My one aim on this leave was to study Romans 9 and write a book on it that would settle, in my own mind, the meaning of these verses. After six years of teaching and finding many students in every class ready to discount my interpretation of this chapter for one reason or another, I decided I had to give eight months to it. The upshot of that sabbatical was the book, The Justification of God. I tried to answer every important exegetical objection to God’s absolute sovereignty in Romans 9.

But the result of that sabbatical was utterly unexpected—at least by me. My aim was to analyze God’s words so closely and construe them so carefully that I could write a book that would be compelling and stand the test of time. What I did not expect was that six months into this analysis of Romans 9 God himself would speak to me so powerfully that I resigned my job at Bethel and made myself available to the Minnesota Baptist Conference if there were a church who would have me as a pastor.

In essence it happened like this: I was 34 years old. I had two children and a third on the way. As I studied Romans 9 day after day, I began to see a God so majestic and so free and so absolutely sovereign that my analysis merged into worship and the Lord said, in effect, “I will not simply be analyzed, I will be adored. I will not simply be pondered, I will be proclaimed. My sovereignty is not simply to be scrutinized, it is to be heralded. It is not grist for the mill of controversy, it is gospel for sinners who know that their only hope is the sovereign triumph of God’s grace over their rebellious will.” This is when Bethlehem contacted me near the end of 1979. And I do not hesitate to say that because of Romans 9 I left teaching and became a pastor. The God of Romans 9 has been the Rock-solid foundation of all I have said and all I have done in the last 22 years.

Indian River Baptist Church AM Sermon, December 29, 2013 – Jeff Gwilt: Luke 2:8-20

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you:you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
 and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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Indian River Baptist Church AM Sermon, December 1, 2013 – Jeff Gwilt: Ephesians 2:1-7

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

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Greg Nichols: “The Doctrine of God” Free DVD Offer From Eternal Life Ministries

10/10/13:  Eternal Life Ministries is offering this series on DVD for free – no telling how long this offer will be available.

Greg Nichols is a pastor at Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an instructor at Reformed Baptist Seminary.  Audio and video from the series are available below.  The videos are in WMV format and will need to be downloaded to your computer first before viewing.  (From Sovereign Grace Audio Treasures)

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  11) God's Spirituality  
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  12) God's Simplicity  
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  13) Q&A; God's Ideality  
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  14) God's Aseity  
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  18) God's Omnipotence  
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  22) God's Sovereignty  
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  34) God's Justice  
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  35) God's Faithfulness  
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  36) God's Self-Esteem  
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The Bible On The Election

The election of sinners for salvation, that is…..courtesy of Nathan Pitchford’s categorized list of Scripture verses on the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace in saving sinners.

God elects [i.e. chooses, predestines, foreordains 

A)     His angels

1Ti 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

B)     His peculiar people, Israel

Exo 6:7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Deu 7:6-8  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Deu 10:14-15 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Isa 43:20-21 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

C)    Individuals to salvation

Psa 65:4  Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

Mat 24:24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Joh 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.

Joh 15:16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Act 13:48  And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Rom 8:28-30  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Rom 9:10-24  And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Rom 11:5-7  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

Eph 1:3-6  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Eph 1:11-12  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

1Th 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

2Th 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

D)    Individuals to condemnation

Exo 4:21  And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

Rom 9:13  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Rom 9:17-18  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Rom 9:21-22  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

1Pe 2:8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

3.      His motivation in election

A)     His own good pleasure

Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

2Ti 1:9  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

B)     The display of his glory

Isa 43:6-7  I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Rom 9:22-24 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Eph 2:4-7  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

1Co 1:27-31  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Pro 16:4  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

C)    His special love

Deu 7:6-8  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

2Th 2:13  But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

D)    His foreknowledge

Rom 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1Pe 1:2  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

  • Which means his special love

Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Amo 3:2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

Mat 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

1Co 8:3  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

1Pe 1:20 Who verily was foreordained [Greek, “foreknown”] before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

E)     But not:

  • Any good [nobility, wisdom, power, choice, seeking] he foresees in anyone

Deu 7:7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:

Rom 9:11-13 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Rom 10:20  But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

1Cor 1:27-29 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

1Cor 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

2Ti 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Vincent Cheung: The Sovereignty Of God

From “Ultimate Questions.”

A sovereign God is the necessary foundation for a sound theology. Any compromise in the doctrine of God generates a rippling effect that destroys the integrity of all other biblical doctrines. Once we accept a false view of God, the rest of the system cannot be Christian.

For example, a sovereign God contradicts the idea that man exercises free will when it comes to any matter, including salvation. The sovereignty of God and the freedom of man are mutually exclusive. To affirm one is to deny the other. Accordingly, a person who insists that he accepts Christ because of his own free will, and not because of God’s sovereign choice and direct action in his soul, cannot at the same time affirm a sovereign God. Since the only God presented in the Bible is an absolutely sovereign God, a person who affirms human free will cannot, without contradiction, affirm belief in God.

Some theologians perceive this dilemma, and so they choose to believe in a contradiction.  But this makes them look stupid, and some of them cannot endure the humiliation. So they invent a way out, and say that God’s sovereignty is “compatible” with human choice.  Sometimes it is even said that divine sovereignty is compatible with human “freedom” in the sense that the man who chooses is not coerced in his choice, but he chooses according to his desire.

Of course man chooses, but what makes him choose? What is the metaphysics of human choice? And what is the metaphysical explanation for his desire? If God is absolutely sovereign, then he also decides and causes human choice and desire. And if God is the one who decides and causes human choice and desire, then to say that divine sovereignty and human choice are compatible is only to say that God is compatible with himself. But we already know that, and man is still not free.

Human choice is irrelevant, since it comes under divine sovereignty. To say that man is not coerced is only to say that in this instance God does not cause one effect of his power to clash with another effect of his power, as he does when he causes two objects to crash into each other. But if there is no contradiction when God causes two objects to crash, then even coercion entails no contradiction. It would only mean that he causes a person to desire one thing but to choose another, and he remains compatible with himself. What would be the problem with that?

Indeed, the absolute sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man are compatible. Perhaps this is what the theologians are so worried about. But man is morally responsible only because God has decided to hold him accountable. This has no necessarily connection with choice or freedom. Even coercion does not eliminate responsibility. What does one have to do with another? The moral responsibility of man depends on the absolute sovereignty of God, and nothing else. Therefore, to say that man is responsible, once again, is only to say that God is compatible with himself.

It remains, then, that divine sovereignty and human freedom are incompatible. For man to be free in any relevant sense, he must be free from God, and if he is free from God in any sense and in any degree, then God is not absolutely sovereign. The God of the Bible is rejected.

Food For Thought: R.C. Sproul On The Meaning Of “Draws” in John 6:44

 John 6:44

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

In this clip, Dr. Sproul recounts the time he was asked to engage in a debate concerning this topic.  The word in question is ἑλκύω (helkuō).  It is found in the New Testament in the following verses:

John 12:32

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

John 18:10

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

John 21:6

He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

Acts 16:19

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.

Acts 21:30

Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut.

James 2:6

But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

Definitions of this word include:

a prim. vb.; to drag:—drag(1), dragged(2), draw(1), draws(1), drew(2), haul(1).  Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.

ἑλκύω hĕlkuō, hel-koo´-o; or ἕλκω hĕlkō, hel´-ko; prob. akin to 138; to drag (lit. or fig.):—draw. comp. 1667.  Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (27). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

ἑλκύω (helkuō): vb.; ≡ Str 1670; TDNT 2.503—an alternate lexical form based on the inflected form with an upsilon manifest, yet considered only a part of the inflection, MHT 2:236; see ἕλκω (helkō), just below ἕλκω (helkō): vb. [served by 1816]; ≡ Str 1670—1. LN 15.212 pull in, drag, draw, haul in (Jn 6:44; 12:32; 18:10; 21:6, 11+); 2. LN 15.178 lead by force (Ac 16:19; 21:30; Jas 2:6+)  Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

(impf εἷλκον, fut ἑλκύσω, aor εἵλκυσα, subj 3 sg ἑλκύσῃ)
a pull: 15.212
b lead by force: 15.178  Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (82). New York: United Bible Societies.

- Transliteration: Helkuo
- Phonetic: hel-koo’-o
- Definition:
1. to draw, drag off
2. metaph., to draw by inward power, lead, impel
- Origin: probably akin to G138
- TDNT entry: 10:23,2
- Part(s) of speech: Verb (Thayer)

tn Or “attracts him,” or “pulls him.” The word is used of pulling or dragging, often by force. It is even used once of magnetic attraction (A. Oepke, TDNT 2:503).
sn The Father who sent me draws him. The author never specifically explains what this “drawing” consists of. It is evidently some kind of attraction; whether it is binding and irresistible or not is not mentioned. But there does seem to be a parallel with 6:65, where Jesus says that no one is able to come to him unless the Father has allowed it. This apparently parallels the use of Isaiah by John to reflect the spiritual blindness of the Jewish leaders (see the quotations from Isaiah in John 9:41 and 12:39–40).  Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Jn 6:44). Biblical Studies Press.

Yes, before one objects, there could be other nuances in 6:44, so the dictionaries/lexicons are not absolutely definitive here.  One should, however, give theological thought to these definitions – they do present a rather compelling (no pun intended) argument for what Dr. Sproul says in this clip:

 

 

 

Eisegesis 101: Galatians 5:4

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

In the “If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard” category, this verse would be prominent in its placement.  The issue?  This verse is cited over and over as definitive proof that a person can “lose their salvation.”  Why?  “See?  It says right there – you can fall from grace.”  Well, it does indeed say a person can fall from grace – but is the conclusion to be drawn from that to be that a person who was, prior to this, born-again, brought from death to life by the Spirit, granted repentance and faith, was seated in the heavenly places with Christ, who cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ – is that person the one being addressed here?  Let’s see.

What is the big picture here?  Paul is writing a scathing letter to the church at Galatia.  He does not begin with his usual pleasantries.  he lights in the church from the git-go.  He declares anathema (damnation, being accursed) upon anyone who preaches a gospel other than the one he preached to them – the gospel he received from Christ?  That gospel?  Salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.  he goes so far as to say his fellow apostle Peter has joined in the hypocrisy of the Galatians Judaizers because Peter did what?  Demanded circumcision be required for salvation?  Said that the dietary laws are still in effect?  Taught that animal sacrifices were necessary as atonement for sin?  No.  Paul said this action by Peter endangered the gospel itself:  Peter switched seats at the dining table.  Yes, that’s what Peter did that Paul said endangered the gospel itself.

Gal 2:12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.
Gal 2:13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Paul also calls out Barnabas for joining in this hypocrisy, as he calls it.  Why such harsh language?  Because Paul wanted to make the very important point that justification is by faith alone – faith plus nothing.  Faith in Christ plus nothing.

In chapter three he goes on at great length about how a man is not justified by works, or obedience to the law, but by faith alone.

In chapter four he poses a serious question and questions whether his labor in that church may have been in vain, if they wish to return to the requirements of the law:

Gal 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Gal 4:10 You observe days and months and seasons and years!
Gal 4:11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

In brief, this is the setting for 5:4.  How does chapter five begin?  With a statement that for freedom Christ had set them free.  What had Jesus himself said about being set free?  If he is the one who sets people free – free from what?  Free from bondage, as he says in John 8, and the people set free are free indeed.  Those whom he sets free do not return to the bondage from which they have been released.  Paul tells them because of their freedom – in Christ – to stand firm and don’t go back to that from which they were freed.  Does this mean people can lose their salvation?  No, it doesn’t.  Those who would return to their bondage were never freed in the first place, but only appeared to have been free (cf. Hebrews 6 and a similar situation – people being tempted to return to their Jewish roots).  These warning passages are also the means by which God preserves his elect – those who fail, show them selves to be non-elect.

The Judaizers were demanding circumcision as necessary for justification – what does Paul say in verse two?  If that’s the case, then Christ is of no value.  He is reiterating what he said at the end of chapter two, in verse 21:

Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Think about it – if we could be justified by keeping the law, be it one point of law or the entirety of the law, then why did Christ come and die in our place, having obeyed the law perfectly himself?  he then adds this – if one wishes to say that circumcision is necessary, then not just one point of the law is necessary, but keeping the entire law is necessary.

Now, verse four.  “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”  What had Paul just said in chapter three, verses 2-6?

Gal 3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Gal 3:4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
Gal 3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—
Gal 3:6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

As Paul also did in the letter to the Romans, he states that Abraham was not justified by works of the law, but by faith (cf. Rom. 4).  in 3:10 Paul says everyone who relies on the works of the law are under a curse.  In 3:11 he says that no one is justified by works of the law, citing Habakkuk 2:4, as he did in Rom. 1:17, saying ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’  in 3:23 he says this law, which the Judaizers wish to add to faith, held people captive – that law didn’t free people, it enslaved them.

Paul says those who wish to keep the law in 5:4 are severed from Christ – they are cut off.  Does that mean they were in Christ to begin with?  No – by all the statements he has already made in the letter, it is clear that one who wishes to attain justification by the works of the law will never be justified at all.  John 1:14 says Jesus came filled with grace and truth.  If these people wish to believe that law-keeping of any sort is necessary as the basis upon which one is justified, Paul says they have fallen away from this grace.  These people who wish to place their faith in their ability to keep the law have created a problem which Paul says is very, very serious and is one that damns themselves.

Galatians 5:4, in closing, states nothing about those who have “lost their salvation.”  It says much, however, about those who were never saved in the first place.

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