Resetting the table of Predestination


Many people (Calvinist AKA Reform Theology) use Romans 8:29-30 as an anchor to the doctrine of Limited Atonement (Christ only died for those who will be saved) and the doctrine of Election (Only those who are selected by God will be saved). They contend that God foreknew who would be His because He in His sovereignty chose who was to be His elect and who were not. Put another way, those who are going to heaven and those who are going to hell and this based completely on God’s sovereign will and not on man’s free will.

So the doctrine goes like this. Those whom God foreknew in His sovereign election, He predestines to be conformed in the image of His Son. Not only this, those He predestined, God calls them to be saved. Naturally those He calls He will justify with the blood of Christ. Those He has chosen and justified He will glorify when He comes.

Rom 8:29-31 KJV 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. (30) 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. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Many try to grapple with this verse when they find the doctrine of limited atonement and the doctrine of Election not only offensive, but in contradiction to the rest of what they read in scripture. But yet these verses seem to say what the Calvinist say it says. Is there any other way to look at these verses under the light of other scripture so it does not contradict what so many people believe scripture teaches about free will and Christ dying for all mankind? I would like to propose a fresh look at these verses and reset the table Calvinist have laid before us. Continue reading

Why would God grieve if He knew man would sin?

I have been observing a conversation going back and forth between two individuals on another site.  One is advocating God foreknew that man would sin and the other that God did not.  The one who says God did not, contends that God is one who discovers and that His knowledge is not perfect.  He states, that God in His discovery of man’s utter wickedness was grieved that He ever made man, as stated in the book of Genesis.

Is this a biblical view of God?  Does this idea of God being so grieved that He made man, show God is not in the know?  Is God learning and discovering about us, in what we will do in our free will?

I am one who whole heartedly believes scripture teaches free will.  Anyone who reads my posts knows this.  But does free will mean God is discovering us and then reacting emotionally towards us as things are revealed to Him about us?

I responded to this person with the following:

I will tell you of a little tale.

I went and bought three little piglets.  I brought them home and gave them the names of Ham, Bacon and Pork Chop.  We loved those little pigs.  We cared for them, treated them kindly with fresh bedding, water and food.  They grew under our care.  We grew fond of them running up to the fence to receive treats from our hands.  We petted their snouts and called them all by name.  We delighted in our pigs.

But nothing would change in my heart the purpose I had for the pigs from even before I brought them home.  They were raised for the day of slaughter.  The names we gave those pigs did not make that day any easier.  We loved those pigs that were Ham, Bacon and Pork Chop. 

With grief in heart we did what we intended to do with those pigs.  With sadness we would visit an empty pig pen.  We would remorse the slop bucket now went to the chickens.  But when the day came we took our fresh bacon out of the frying pan, we were glad.  We did what we set out to do from the beginning, to raise pigs and eat them.

Now I am but a mere man that can have a purpose and foreknow in my little limited way the destiny of those pigs in my insignificant will.  But they were in my charge, they were my possession and I foreknew what was going to happen to them.  But it still grieved me when they were gone.  That is until they were what we intended them to be from the start.

Is God not greater than us?  Can He not have plans to make man for the purpose of showing us through all the ages the incomparable riches of His grace towards us in Christ Jesus?  Can it not be said that Jesus bore the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him?  The joy of His grace so lavishly shed upon us in His kingdom.  Is God not allowed to grieve over sin in man?  Is He not allowed to then rejoice in His joy when we become what He wants us to be in Christ? 

If I am allowed to have grief in my own little drama, until the purpose of my grief brings me the joy for which I set out in the first place, can not God?  Can not God grieve as more is at stake then just pigs?  Can He not feel pain as the objects of His affection reject Him and turn from Him to do utterly evil all the time?  Can He not experience this as He works in man the mystery of His gospel, even Christ Jesus?  More is at stake then a plate full of meat.  He has every right to grieve as much as He wants until that which He set out to do in the first place is complete.

His emotions have nothing to do with Him not knowing that man would be so sinful that He would wipe all but eight people off the face of the earth.  His emotions come as He interacts with the objects of His affection in the physical time and space we dwell in, not Him.  Why are you so eager to take away from God?

God is emotional.  Is it His grace and kindness you are under or His wrath?  Do you bring Him delight in believing what He says in His word or do you provoke Him to anger by your obstinacies in telling Him how He is?  By the way, you base your life off this as well you know.

Your education I can not hold a candle to.  You are so knowledgeable and I am but a simpleton.  But I ask you to become a fool like me and simply believe God at His word.  Be childlike in your understanding as you walk out your faith, not your knowledge, like a man of God.  Don’t you desire to be like Samuel?  Do you not want to be someone God will say, “You are highly favored?”  Don’t you want to have the faith of Abraham, so God will call you friend?  Doesn’t your heart burn to be like David who was a man after God’s own heart?  How are you a man after God’s own heart?

Illegitimate Children of the first and second Adam

There is a line of thinking in many churches that man does not have a free will.  We the elect are subject to irresistible grace.  But we never had the chance to reject God, since it is impossible for the elect to reject Him. 

Funny thing though, some of those who teach we have no free will state that Adam by his own free will sinned.  Speaking of Adam and the fall of man they state,

But when he was in honor he did not understand it^21 and did not recognize his excellence. But he subjected himself willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending his ear to the word of the devil. [1]

So is it that only Adam had free will or does this include Eve as well, since she took the first bite?  How is it that these teachers who advocate we have no free will state that Adam had free will?  What gives?

I know that as a sinner, being lost in my sins, I was related to the first Adam.

And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.[2]

So once again I find teaching proceeding out of the mouth of man that contradicts what I read in my Bible.  Not only this, these men contradict themselves by stating the first Adam had free will and we his offspring don’t.

The scripture goes on to say that now as believers we bear the likeness of Christ.  So is it that only the lost have no free will or is it the saved as well?  If we the saved have no free will either, than what likeness do we share with Christ?

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”[3]

We see that Jesus exercised His free will when He laid His life down. 

So now we have the confession from teaches of the “no free will’ doctrine, that the first Adam had free will.  I suppose they would agree that Jesus the second Adam has free will.  So now what, are we as past relations to the first Adam and now relations to Christ the second Adam illegitimate children, since we have no free will?  If we have no free will is there a third Adam we should get to know and call our spiritual kindred?

[1] Beltic Confession Article 14

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:49

[3] John 10:17-18

Free will or Free nil

In Yesterdays post “Be good, be good Johnny” I discussed the nature of man.  I asked if a sinful man who is so totally depraved if he can do any act of good?  The conclusion was that a sinful man can do good even though he is evil.  Keeping in mind of course, that all of the righteous man’s good deeds are as filthy rags. 

So an evil man doing good is not to his credit, rather to show that an evil man on his own can make the good choice to see and respond to God.  That he is not so totally depraved as some would want us to think.  These men advocate man has no free will and God forces on His elect an irresistible grace, because man can not make that choice for himself.

Let’s look at a phrase I have had the privilege to study from Irishanglican who is helpful in my understanding of what some others have concluded. 

“Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning man’s free will, since man is nothing but the slave of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is “given him from heaven.”[1]

These men reject that man has any free will to choose or reject God.  They reject that a man can make the good decision (Be good, be good Johnny) on their own.  Now since they teach that man can not choose or reject God, they have come up with other notions as well.  These being, God predestines some men to hell and others to grace.  Consequently they assume God is more abusive to men than the cast system found in India.  Where a man is born into a status and can never have any upward mobility to better himself. 

They also say the elect can not reject God because His grace is irresistible.  Consequently it would have to follow, since His grace is irresistible, that those predestined for hell never get the opportunity to say yea or nay to this grace.  But this is not what we see in scripture.

There is a lot of rejecting of God in scripture and scripture says so.  Don’t we all know this verse, even those of us who reject man’s free will to choose or reject God?

(Mark 12:10 NIV)  Haven’t you read this scripture: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ;[2]

Or how about the testimony of men who rejected God’s purpose for themselves?

But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.[3]

Would God be just if He held accountable the generation that asked for His Son’s death and for their rejection of the Messiah if they never had Him offered? 

And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.[4]

If they never had the opportunity to reject God (free will) how can they be guilty of rejecting him?  Yet we see in scripture Jesus saying this generation in their choice (free will) will reject Him.  There is a reason that they will be accountable, its called their choice.

But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.[5]

If you still struggle with man having a free will to choose God or reject Him, would it prove the point if scripture simple came out and said, “refused to obey?”  Why look, it does.

“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.[6]

Who refuses what has never been offered.  If these men were condemned to hell since they were not of the elect who have irresistible grace, how can they resist a grace that was not ever offered to them?  How can they refuse to obey if they never could do good outside of Christ?  But these men refused God in their hearts!

Somebody somewhere has been doing a lot of rejecting of God’s purpose for themselves.  Somebody in scripture has been doing a lot of refusing to obey as well.  Somebody somewhere had as lot of free will and in their hearts refuse or accept God, not the Free nil that some men advocate.

[1] Beltic Confessions Article 14

[2] Mark 12:10

[3] Luke 7:30

[4] Matthew 23:35

[5] Luke 17:25

[6] Acts 7:39

Be good, be good Johnny

Can Johnny ever be good?  If Johnny is born again everyone would say, yes Johnny can be good.  But what if Johnny was still lost in his sin?  Can Johnny be good then?

What is it in theologians heads that make them say Johnny can never be good if he is not born again? 

Can Jesus ever be good?  All of us would say yes, but for some theologians Jesus is not very well behaved.  In fact He is hard to control.

Jesus seems to forget to teach in accordance with some theologians teachings.  For instance Jesus isn’t very good when he disagrees with those who have theology degrees. 

Theologians teach Johnny can never be good if he is lost in his sin.  Jesus says the theologians are not very good at theology when they teach this.

Jesus says even evil Johnny does good by giving good things to his children.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him![1]

Oh how bad has this Jesus been?  Now be good Jesus, be good.  But Jesus does not pay attention to theologians, for he only does bad again.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?[2]

Can Johnny be good if he is lost in his sin?  Is a man lost in his sin if he observes the Law to obtain his own righteousness?  Why yes he is.  But can Johnny be good by observing the Law, or is the Law to the lost a sin too?

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”[3]

Certainly the observance of the Law does not do evil but good.  Even to those who transgress the Law, the Law is not sin.  So then the law is good and the commandment is good and righteous things are done even by the lost who try to obtain their own righteousness from the Law.

It is good, not a sin to observe do not murder?  It is good, not a sin to observe do not covet?  It is a good, not a sin to observe do not steal?  Even if done for the wrong reasons it is good, not a sin?

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.[4]

So can Johnny be good?  Can a lost Johnny do good?  Yes our Lord Jesus says he can, who is not so good for some theologians and Paul, Christ’s Apostle, is not so good to these same theologians.  For they teach a lost Johnny can do good apart from the saving knowledge of Christ.

It is bad theologians who teach Johnny can never be good if he is not a Christian.  Yet scripture teaches that many a good Johnny needs a savior too.

What do you think?  Do you think Johnny can be good?  Or do you believe in the total depravity of man?  Do you think a lost man has no good in him or do you think in your own experiences and the words of Jesus and Paul, that a good man who is lost still can die in his sins?  Or is it only the lost man who is evil in all things that he does that can die in his sins?

[1] Matthew 7:11

[2] Matthew 5:46

[3] Romans 7:7

[4] Romans 7:12

Hot off the presses!

Nothing new here

The Word of God became flesh and dwelt amongst men.  He was obedient to the Father even unto death.  Now raised to life and ascended into heaven, sitting at the right hand of God the Father.  With such a great testimony of how God redeemed mankind from their sins, what was the message that was being spread as fast as they could?  What message was so hot off the presses, they made haste to spread this good news?

Concerning us gentiles, did the delivery boys look for new sources to proclaim the gospel?  Did they sit down with eye witnesses to give an account of all they knew and could gather concerning what took place?  Or was that done latter so the believers in the message, hot off the presses, could have a better account of the events they believed.  Don’t we call these the four gospels?

So if the delivery boys with the greatest news to come to mankind didn’t travel with the four gospels hot off the presses as a testimony to what had taken place, what did these men deliver to those who heard their message.  It was old articles and from dusty old news that these boys were peddling.  Nothing new and pristine was commended to the people to put their trust in, but the old and stuffy.

Peter after speaking to the gentiles by giving a short paragraph of an eye witness account, whips out the old news print at the household of Cornelius.  He doesn’t quote anything from Mathew, Mark, Luke, John or even Jesus Himself.  Instead he invokes all the old news about what we consider a New Testament exclusive teaching.  He said all the old news already testified that everyone who believes in the messiah would receive forgiveness of sins.

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”[1]

In fact the news these delivery boys were tasked to spread was so old and common, this old news print lying around concerning what they had to say was read every weekend.  It was as if they didn’t have a fresh Sabbath morning paper, so they read the old stuff lying around instead.

The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath.[2]

Now we today who have fresh news at our fingertips at any moment of the day toss aside this old news as Old Testament.  Who wants that?  We reject it because who wants to get our hands dirty from the ink of the Law from this old print.  But it was not rejected by the delivery boys.  Instead when standing before kings we learn the old printed stuff even the Law agrees with the gospel.

However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,[3]

Who was prompting these delivery boys to carry around old news print to proclaim what is hot off the presses?  What newspaper editor would want that kind of news circulation?

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him–[4]

It was our eternal God who had commanded the revelation of Jesus Christ to come through the writings of the old news.  Not through something new hot off the presses.

Here at The Gospel According to the Gospel I advocate that we have a gospel that was first preached at Mt. Sinai as testified by our New Testament.  It further testifies that the message and hope of Jesus was found not only in the prophets but the Law of Moses.  I like to say, we put our hope in the faith of the Law not the Law of the faith.  Law of the faith is works and faith of the Law is our gospel of grace that all the prophets testify to. 

I advocate that we the church have wandered into many an error in our understanding of our gospel since we have made the assumption that grace started at the cross and not in the books of Moses.  See what the New Testament teaches about our gospel, that the church refuses to believe.  Please check out Uncommon Belief to see what our gospel really says.  After going there and reading you will conclude that I have not said anything beyond what the prophets and Moses said.

But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen–[5]

[1] Acts10:43

[2] Acts 13:27

[3] Acts 24:14

[4] Romans 16:25-26

[5] Acts 26:22

Throwing out the baby with the bath water

Many believers in the Christian world have been sold a bill of goods that gives unsuspecting believers an unfounded confidence of eternal security, when the whole of scripture does not teach this.

One of the cornerstone texts of scripture that the “once saved always saved” crowd uses to prove their positions is found in Ephesians chapter two.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,[1]

It is taught and believed by many a believer that since we are now in the present tense raised with Christ Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly realms, we are there positionally and can not be removed.  We assume that our sitting in heavenly realms with Christ guarantees this continuing position.

We toss out as irrelevant that scripture which talks of this same privilege as we abuse what it teaches.  Although we would never say of the unbeliever they share in the heavenly in Ephesians chapter two we do of this abused portion of scripture.  We toss aside this warning in scripture as for the unbeliever only or as some have said, to show as the impossible contrast of what a believer could never do.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.[2]

Can anyone tell me of any unbeliever who after having been enlightened and rejecting Christ tasted of the heavenly gift?  Are we to assume this same unbeliever shared in the Holy Spirit too?  Not withstanding they tasted also of the goodness of God’s word and the power of the coming age.  This is a tall order to fill for real believers who are diligently seeking God and yet some of us “once saved always saved” crowd ignore this text as pertaining for the fake Christian who leaves the faith and is exposed as an unbeliever.

It is ridiculous to the faith and sensibilities of common sense to what the text is speaking of to say this text is speaking of the unbeliever.  It is speaking of some who has tasted of the heavenly gift, the same heavenly position spoken of in Ephesians.  In fact the verses in Hebrews go beyond what is hoped in by the “once saved always saved crowd” by talking of sharing in the Holy Spirit and the power of the age to come.  The Holy Spirit is clearly teaching through faith we hae a conditional position in Christ based on our obedience.

The key word is IF.  The same IF that Jesus spoke of and the same IF Paul spoke of.  The same remaining is need that Jesus spoke of and the same remaining is needed that Paul spoke of.  Yet we toss out the baby with the bath water because it doesn’t fit our doctrine and we think we are obeying the word of God.  With such notions that ignores the word of God how does one know they are not the ones who haven’t already fallen away?

Scripture takes away all of our excuses for apathy when it teaches that only IF we remain in Christ to the end do we actually share in Christ.  Until then we have a hope of salvation. 

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.[3]

To learn more about what scripture teaches about our hope of salvation held out in the gospel and other teachings defended by The Gospel According to the Gospel please go to “Uncommon Belief” to learn more.

[1] Ephesians 2:6

[2] Hebrews 6:4-6

[3] Hebrews 3:14