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GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY/MAN'S CHOICE - ANSWERS

Was our salvation God's choice or our choice?  We will look at what the Bible has to say about God's sovereignty and man's choices.  Then, we will learn about the three main theological positions that attempt to systematize what the Bible teaches in these areas.
You are encouraged to come to your own personal conclusion about which position best describes what the Bible teaches.
What we know about God's sovereignty:
1.  All that takes place is God's choice:  (a) Nothing happens by chance (Prov 16:33).  (b) God is in charge even when we make decisions (Prov 16:9,33, 21:1,31).  (c) God is in charge even of the evil that takes place (Prov 16:4; Isa 45:7; Amos 3:6; Lam 3:38; Eccl 7:14; Lk 22:2,22; Acts 2:23).  (d) What God purposes, will happen (Isa 14:24-27, 46:11 48:3; Jer 49:20; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11).  (e) God determined that Jesus would die for us before the world began (Lk 22:2,22; Acts 2:23; I Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8).  (f) God purposed to choose a people for Himself from this sinful world (Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28-30; II Tim 1:9). 
2. God draws men and women to Himself (Jn 6:44)
3. God uses everything to draw men and women to Himself (Rom 8:28; Gen 50:20; Jer 29:11-14)
4. God desires all men to be saved (I Tim 2:3,4; II Pet 3:9)
5. God gives grace to the humble (Lk 18:9-14; James 4:6; Proves 3:34; Ps 18:27; II Chron 33;23; Matt 5:3-6, 23:12)
What we know about man's choices:
1. Men will be judged by God based on what they do in response to God's word and their consciences (Rom 2:6,14,15).  Therefore, we are responsible for our choices.  We can only be responsible if we have the ability to respond in the right way or the wrong way (respond-ability).
2. Men are limited in their choices: (a) men know God, but choose to reject Him (Rom 1:18-23,28; Jn 12:37,38) until they are unable to believe (Jn 12:39,40); (b) men are dead in sin (Eph 2:1-3; Isa 64:6; Jer 17:9); (c) no one seeks God (Gen 3:8-13; Rom 3:10-12); (d) men are unable to understand spiritual things (I Cor 2:14; Jn 1:5); (e) men are slaves to sin and unable to free themselves from it (Rom 5:12, 6:17, 7:23,24; Jn 8:34; (f) our flesh is hostile to God (Rom 8:7); (g) man's mind is blinded by Satan (II Cor 4:4); (h) Children are limited in their ability to know right from wrong (Isa 7:5,16; Jonah 4:11)
3. Men are able to make many choices: (a) men choose to reject God (Rom 1:18-23,28); (b) men are urged to choose to be wise and not foolish (Provs 8:1, 9:10-12); (c) men can choose to resist God's Spirit (Acts 7:51; Matt 12:32,32; Hebr 6:4-8); (d) sinful man can choose how sinful he is going to be (Rom 2:,14,15)(not all are criminals, adulterers, etc.); (e) men can choose how hardened to God they are going to be (Matt 11:20-24; Jn 12:37-40; Zech 7:12)(the "would not verses" Jn 12:37,38; the "could not" verses 12:39,40; they would not, so they could not!) (the 4 soils - Matt 13:18-23)
4. Men are given many invitations to choose God (Isa 1:18, 55:1; Jer 4:3,4; Hos 10:12; Ezek 3:4-11; Matt 11:28; Jn 7:3738 Rev 22:17)
4. We are saved when we choose a Savior (Acts 16:30,31; Jn 1:12; 3:36)

Three attempts to systematize what the Bible teaches on the sovereignty of God and the choices of man:

THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM (THE REFORMED VIEW)
(EMPHASIZES GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY) (IN SALVATION – GOD IS ACTIVE; MAN IS PASSIVE)

     Total Depravity (Gen 6:5; Rom 3:10-12; II Cor 4:3,4; Eph 2:1-3; I Cor 2:14)
          Man is dead and incapable of any response to God.
     Unconditional Election (Rom 9:15,16,20,21, 11:2; Eph 1:4,5; Jn 6:37, 15:16;
          Matt 20:13-15; Exod 33:19; II Tim 1:9, 2:19; I Pet 1:1,2)
          "God operates with such unapproachable sovereignty that his choices are           made with total disregard for the choices of moral men." Sproul
     Limited Atonement (Isa 53:5,18; Matt 1:21, 20:28; Jn 10:11; 17:9; Eph                5:25; Tit 2:14; Acts 20:28)
     Irresistible Grace (Acts 13:48; Eph 2:8; Jn 1:12,13; II Thess 2:13; Tit 3:5)
     Perseverance of the Saints (Rom 8:28-30; Jn 10:27-30)
Their worldview summarized: Total Depravity – Sin affects every of area of man's life.  He is dead in sin and is, therefore, completely dead to God.  Unconditional Election – God's election of us is not conditional on anything that we will do to merit His election of us. God elects a few to be saved for His own unrevealed, but just purposes (It is just for Him to be merciful to a few, for it would be just if He was not merciful to anyone.  It would be just for us all to go to Hell.  Also, if God did not elect some to come to Him, no one would come.)  Limited Atonement – Jesus Christ died for only the elect (If He died for everyone, He would have died for many who will never be saved.  So, His death would not really pay for their salvation.  His death only paid for the salvation of the elect.)  Irresistible Grace – God inwardly calls the elect to Himself in an effectual way (all who receive this inward call, are regenerated, and then believe in Christ).  Perseverance of the Saints – All who are chosen will be saved and will never become unsaved.

ARMINIANISM (EMPHASIZES MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY) (IN SALVATION – GOD IS PASSIVE; MAN IS ACTIVE)

(1) Man is a sinner.  Previenient grace makes it possible for men and women to respond to God (It sufficiently counteracts the effect of sin.) (the universal invitations – Jn 3:16; Matt 11:28-30) (Pelagius – man not born with Adam's fallen and sinful nature)
(2) God foreknows who will believe in Jesus Christ.  These are the elect (Rom 8:29; I Pet 1:1,2) (They see the Calvinistic view of election as fatalistic: The elect will be saved regardless of our actions.  It turns people into programmed robots.)
(3) Christ died for all men (I Tim 2:3,4; I Jn 2:2; Ezek 33:11; Acts 17:30; II Pet 3:9)
(4) Man can resist God's call (Acts 7:51; Zech 7:12; Heb 6:4-8;10:26-31;Matt 12:31,32)
(5) A man can choose to persist in sin and rebellion against God and lose his salvation (Gal 5:4; Hebrs 6:4-8; 10:26-31; II Pet 2:22; Rev 3:5; 22:19)
Their worldview:  (1) Man is sinful, but all men are enabled by God to reject or choose Jesus Christ.  (2) God has known from all eternity those whom would ultimately receive Jesus Christ and persevere in their faith.  These are the elect who are foreknown by God.  (3) Jesus died for all men, so God's invitation is made to all men.  (4) Those who harden themselves to the gospel will face damnation because of their sins and also because they have rejected God's grace to them.  (5) Because men do not lose their ability to choose or reject Christ even after they become Christians, they can still choose to reject Him after they become Christians.

BALANCED VIEW
(EMPHASIZES BOTH GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY AND MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY) (IN SALVATION – GOD IS ACTIVE; MAN IS ACTIVE)

(1) Men and women are dead in sin in that they have a propensity to sin (but, not a necessity to sin).  Men are sinful in their desires (Ps 51:5, 58:3; Isa 64:6; Jer 17:9; Rom 8:7), but they do not have to do every sin they have a desire to do (Man is sinful by nature, but each man chooses how sinful he will be.  Man is totally depraved, but not necessarily utterly depraved – Gen 6:5).  Though men are incapable of freeing themselves from their slavery to sin, they are able, with God's help, to despise their sinfulness and desire to be free from it – Acts 2:37.  Also, men are able, with God's help, to acknowledge their emptiness and hunger for God (Luke 18:13,14; Acts 16:30; Matt 5:3-6; 11:28-30; Jn 4:10, 6:35; Lk 15:17-21 – The Parable of the Prodigal Son describes the humbling process that God uses to enable a person who is enslaved to sin to come to his senses until he cries out to God for His help.)   Because the Bible talks about degrees of punishment for non-believers, we can be confident that man can choose how sinful he is going to be (Matt 11:20-24; Rom 2:6).  That is why non-believers are responsible for their choices.  Though they desire to sin, they do not have to do every sin they desire to do (Rom. 2:14,15).  The more the restraints on sin are removed in our world, though, the more likely it is that men will choose to sin.  Each time men choose wickedness over good, they harden and darken their own hearts (Rom 1:28; Eph 4:17-19; John 12:37-40).

(2) Just as before the world God determined according to his foreknowledge that Jesus would die by the hands of wicked men who would freely choose to kill Him (Acts 2:23), so God determined beforehand according to His foreknowledge to work all things together for good for those who would love Him and those who would ultimately become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-30).  God chooses and determines the end result.  Nevertheless, men make real choices.  God chose all that He would work together for good in our lives, so that we would be humbled and ultimately acknowledge our need for Him.  (How God is working to bring Israel to a place of humility is a picture of this humbling process – Dan 12:7; Zech 12:10. God's humbling of Israel in the wilderness -Deut 8:2,3; and the humbling of Jacob or "Israel" are examples of how God works all for good to bring His people to Himself.) (Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:4,5: II Tim 1:9)

3) Jesus Christ died for all men, though not all men choose his gift of forgiveness and eternal life (John 3:16-19; I Tim 2:3,4; I Jn 2:2; II Pet 3:9; Acts 17:30; Hebr 2:9; II Pet 2:1; Lk 23:34)

4) Men do not seek God, but God seeks men (Lk 19:10; Jn 3:17; Rom 10:20; Matt 23:37).  Nevertheless, men still can and do choose to resist God's seeking of them: Men can and do resist God's Spirit (Matt 12:31,32; Acts 7:51; Hebr 6:4-8; Prov 29:1; Jn 9:41).  Only a few choose the narrow path (Matt 7:13,14; Jn 6:66).  Only those who are willing to acknowledge their sinfulness before a holy God will come to Him who alone can save them (Lk 18:13,14; Lk 15:17-21; Matt 5:3-6).  God must open our hearts spiritually before we will understand the gospel message (Acts16:14; Matt 16:15-17; Jn 6:65).  Those who will die the second death are those who stubbornly resist God's seeking of them until the end (Zech 7:12; Matthew 23:37; Rev 22:11; Heb 6:4-8; II Thess 2:10-12; Rom 2:5; I Tim 4:2).  Those who choose to believe in Him are born again (Jn 1:11-13; Rom 6:17,18; Acts 2:38).  The Bible is filled with invitation verses to those who have been humbled, like the Prodigal Son, and are hungry and thirsty for a relationship with God: Isa 1:18; Jer 3:13,14, 4:3,4,14; 29:11-14; Ezek 18:31,32; Lk 13:3; Jn 3:16-18, 6:28,29, 37, 7:17,37, 38, 11:40, 12:36; Acts 16:31, 17:30, 20:21; Rom 3:22, 4:11, 24, 10:9,13; I Cor 1:21; Eph 1:13; Heb 11:6; Rev 22:17

5) Those who become truly born-again children of God will never lose their salvation (Rom 8:28-39; Jn 10:27-30)
Their worldview summarized:  (1) Men are slaves to sin and unable to free themselves from this slavery.  Men not only do not seek after God, but all men are opposed to God (Rom 3:10-12, 8:7).  But God draws us to Himself in many ways: (a) by lifting up Jesus Christ on the cross (Jn 12:32);  (b) with His love (Jer 31:3);  (c) through the conviction of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:8-10; I Thess 1:4-6); (d) through the discipline of parents (Prov 3:11,12, 6:23, 10:17, 22:6,15, 23:13,14, 29:15); (e) through suffering and the trials of life (Rom 8:18-22; Deut 8:3-5; Prov 6:23, 20:30; Jer 4:18); (f) through the Scriptures ( Heb 4:12; I Cor 14:24,25; Jer 4:3,4; Hos 10:12); (g) through God's law (Rom 3:19,20, 5:20,21, 7:13; Gal 3:24); (h) through the godly testimony of Christians (Matt 5:13-16; Jn 13:35, 17:20-23; Acts 2:47; Phil 2:14,15); (i) God's kindness (Rom 2:4); (j) through the preaching and sharing of the gospel message in the power of God's Spirit (Rom 1:16; I Cor 2:1-5; Col 4:3,4; II Cor 2:14-16); (k) through our emptiness without God (Eccl 1:2,3) (l) through the light of Jesus' life (Jn 1:9); (m) through jealousy when others come to Christ (Rom 11:13,14; I Cor 1:27-29); (n) through prayer (I Tim 2:1,3,4; Col 4:3,4); (o) through the stubbornness of God's spokesmen (Ezek 3:7-9; Eph 6:19,20; II Tim 1:7); (p) through the consequences of sin in others (Provs 21:11); (q) through government (Rom 13:4,5), and (r) through everything in life (Rom 8:18-22, 28).  Those who have chosen to humble and not harden themselves through all that God does to draw us to Himself are ripe for harvest (Jn 4:35,36) and are God's chosen ones (Acts 13:48).  (2) God has determined that His elect will become His children.  He will do everything necessary to bring them into an eternal relationship with Him.  (3) Jesus died for all men, so anyone can come to Him to receive eternal life (I Tim 2:3,4; I Jn 2:2).  (4) Though God seeks men, men can and do voluntarily choose to harden themselves to Him and to the conviction and work of the Spirit (Matt 12:31,32 23:37; Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-31; Provs 28:14, 29:1).  The elect are those who humble themselves and admit their slavery to sin and neediness without God (they come to God like the prodigal son came to his father).  God's part is all the things listed under (1) above and more (everything).  Man's part is to cry out for help (Lk 18:13,14; Acts 16:30; Lk 15:18,19; Jn 4:15; Matt 5:3-6), put in his faith in the Savior (Rom 10:9,10), and be willing to turn to God from his old life (repent) (Acts 2:38) .  This is not meritorious and it is not a work (Rom 3:27).  (5) Once a person believes and becomes a child of God he is reborn into God's family.  There is nothing in the Bible about a born-again Christian being unborn.

RESOURCES:  Reformed view: CHOSEN BY GOD, by Sproul; DOCTRINES THAT DIVIDE by Lutzer; THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL by Luther ; EVANGELISM & THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD by J. I. Packer (excellent).  Arminian view: GOD'S FOREKNOWLEDGE & MAN'S FREE WILL by Rice.  Moderate Calvinism: CHOSEN BUT FREE by Geisler; INTRODUCING CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE by Erickson; UNRAVELING THE BIG QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD by Boa; THE ONLY WISE GOD by William Lane Craig; THE DARK SIDE OF CALVINISM by Bryson; GETTING THE GOSPEL RIGHT by C. Gordon Olson

ASSIGNMENT:  Look over the list of issues and decide on which two you would like us to discuss in class.

God's Sovereignty/Man's Choices: The Key Issues!
(Which view provides the most biblical answers to these questions?)

1. Men begin with no desire to seek God (Rom 3:10-12), yet some eventually do seek God.  How, when, and why does this happen?

   2 possibilities: (1) There will be no desire for God until God regenerates a    person.  (2) God uses a process which includes everything in this present    world and the work of the Holy Spirit to humble us so that we have an    opportunity to see our neediness and need for a relationship with God (like    what happened to the Prodigal Son).  The desire for God is revealed when    we cry out to God: "What must I do to be saved?"  We can resist all of this.

2. Must God be just to all, but not gracious to all?

   He is not obligated to be merciful to anyone, but it is His nature to be    gracious just as it is His nature to be just.   Love does not keep a record of    wrongs; love forgives – God is love (Heb 2:9-10)  On the cross, Jesus said:    "Forgive them, they know not what they do."  He said that he longed to    gather rebellious Israel together like a hen gathers her chicks.  The    problem is not in God's desire to reach out to us, but in our resistance to    His love.  He is not obligated to reach out to us, but His love compels Him    to.

3. Why are most people going to Hell?  Is it because only a few are willing to choose the narrow road or is it because God is only willing to choose a few to regenerate and save?  Is it because they do not choose God or because God does not choose them?  If God really loves all men, then why does He not give to all men the desire to be saved?

   Geisler tells a story of a farmer who feels he is not obligated to save from    drowning children who ignored a sign that warned no one to swim in his    pond.  Instead, he chooses to save some of the children and leaves the    rest to drown.  He has trouble with that being why some will go to hell and    so do I.  I believe that God seeks to save all, but some refuse to be saved.     C.S. Lewis: Some say Thy will be done & others God says your will be
   done.

4. Why does not God elect everyone (Or, at least, why does He not elect more than a few?)

   If all that is needed is for God to regenerate a person and he will escape    hell, why does not God regenerate everyone? Sproul's answer is that he    does not know why God does not save everybody or why he chooses to    regenerate so few, though he admits that God obviously has the power to    do it.  Luther calls it "the dreadful hidden will of God."  Another answer is    more obvious, only a few are willing to humble themselves and admit their    sin and their need for God.

5. How can God judge mankind, if the non-elect have no choice but to sin and reject God?

   Though man has an evil nature, he still chooses to do the evil that he is    inclined to do; men choose how evil they are going to be.  For example, the    drunken driver is still held accountable for causing an accident though he    was in a lowered state of ability to drive because of the alcohol.

6. When a non-Christian sins, how much control does he have over that decision?  To what degree is he responsible for that decision?

   In Romans 1:18-32 we see that though a man desires to sin, he is not    forced to do it.  Even a Christian has the desire and the power to do what    is right, but he may not do it.  The non-Christian has the desire to do what    is wrong, but he may choose not to do it.  Even a crocodile is tender with    her babies.

7. Can a non-Christian make choices that are contrary to his conditioning, parental up-bringing, and fleshly desires?  Can he resist any impulse to sin?  Can he ever will to do something good?

   B. F. Skinner believed that we are a total product of our environmental    conditioning.  He did not believe that our choices determine who we    become, but our environment determines who we are.  Are we unable, as    Calvinists argue, to make free choices?  Listen to Norman Geisler's    response to this question:  "It is true that we are sinners by nature, but    that old nature does not make sin necessary any more than a new nature    makes good acts necessary.  The old nature only makes sin inevitable, not    unavoidable.  Since we are free, sin is not necessary.  Again, as Augustine    said, we are born with the propensity to sin, not the necessity to sin.  If sin    were necessary, then we would not be responsible for it, . . . which the    Bible declares we are (Romans 3:19)" "Taken from CHOSEN BUT FREE"     So, we are not predetermined by our family background.  People with    horrible family backgrounds have become both famous Christians and    infamous criminals.  They had a choice as to what they became.

8. Why did the devil choose to sin? (He was holy and pure at the time.)  Why did Adam and Eve choose to sin? (They did not have a sin nature at the time?)

   They were not slaves to sin, so they chose freely to sin without any innate    fleshly or depraved compulsion or desire to sin.  Lutzer gives Jonathan    Edwards' viewpoint as follows:  "Jonathan Edwards said that we always    choose according to the strongest inclination at the moment."  How, then,    did the devil choose evil when he was pure at the time?  The only answer    is that he was able to freely choose between good and evil, as Adam and    Eve also were free to make that choice.  They chose against their    strongest inclination.  Must fallen man, then, be unable to make a choice    against his strongest inclination?

9. Is it predetermined how much we will sin?  For example, was it predetermined that Charles Manson and Mother Theresa would be the type of persons that they  have become?  Or did they become the type of persons they have become by their own choices?  Or both?

   It seems clear that they became who they became as a result of their own    choices.  God, though, knew what their choices would be and chose to use    their choices to fulfill His purposes.

10 What is an actual free choice?  What is the difference between a voluntary and a coerced choice?

   "The degree of influence self-determinists acknowledge as to free action    will vary according to their accepted degree of "Calvinism" or    Arminianism."  The maximum allowable for a self-determinist is high    persuasion short of coercion.  The minimum is zero.  The range of"    persuasion allowed" ranges as follows:

   Some illustrations of acceptable and unacceptable influence will help make    the point.  If one decides to sit on his front porch where he can view the    mountains, and hornets come and chase him inside, this was not a truly    free choice.  He was coerced in doing it.  If one proposes to a lover and is    turned down, yet continues to court and woo her, this is compatible with    free choice.  However, if he attempts to force her to love him against her    will, this is not love. If one is offered a dangerous job for $40,000 a year    and turns it down, yet later accepts the job for $80,000 a year, this is    acceptable influence. . . . No matter how tempting or how persuasive an    overture may be, as long as it is not coercive of the will, the act is still    free." "Taken from Chosen but Free by Geisler

11. Does irresistible grace result in a voluntary choice or a coerced choice?  If it is not a voluntary choice, can it be a choice made in love?

        The Moderate Calvinists response:  "Suppose a young man (whom we    will call Jim) is contemplating marriage, and knows two young ladies    (whom we will call Joan and Betty) either of whom would make a good    wife for him.  As a Christian, he has three basic choices: (1) to propose to    neither of them; (2) to propose to Joan; or (3) to propose to Betty.  Bear    in mind that the young man is under no compulsion.  There is nothing    outside his own will that places demands on him to choose any one of the    three options (or any other one).
        Suppose further that the young man happens to know that if he    proposes to Joan she will says yes and if he proposes to Betty she will say    no.  Suppose then, in accordance with this foreknowledge of how she will    freely respond, that Jim chooses to propose to Joan.  Suppose even that    he knew that she would be reluctant at first but with persistent and loving    persuasion she would eventually---freely---accept his offer.  The decision    on his part was entirely free, uncoerced, and not based on anything    outside himself.  But it was also a decision that was made with full    knowledge of the response and which respected the free choice of the    person to whom he decided to propose.  This is analogous to what the    moderate Calvinists believe about God's unconditional election.
        In contrast, let's hold the same illustration up against extreme    Calvinists' belief.  They would say that if Jim foreknew that both would    refuse his proposal for marriage unless coerced against their will to do so,    he would not have to show his love to either of them.  Instead he could,    for instance, decide to force Betty to marry him against her will.  Would we    not say that "forced love" is a contradiction in terms?  And since Jim    represents God in the illustration, would not this make God into someone    who forces Himself on others in violation of their integrity?  It seems to me    that this is precisely what the extreme Calvinists are affirming." Chosen    But Free by Geisler (pp. 69-70)

   The Calvinist's response: "when God works in the heart of the elect to    bring them to faith, it is also not coercion, but 'the will, being changed and    sweetly breathed on by the Spirit of God, desires and acts not from    compulsion , but responsively, from pure willingness, inclination, and    accord.'  The bottom line, however, is that the will of man is not free, but    responsive to either the wickedness of the heart or the sovereign work of    God, which grants to some the ability to believe the Gospel." The Doctrines    that Divide by Lutzer quoting Martin Luther

   My Opinion: Luther's and  Lutzer's view sounds very close to the wooing in    Geislers' illustration.  In both cases there is a willing choice, made after the    working of God's Spirit.  In one case, God's Spirit works until the elect    chooses to respond (as God knew they would) (also God knew they would    not respond without Him drawing them) and in the other case God's Spirit    works in those who would never respond until God works in their lives.

12. What part does a man or woman have in their own salvation?  If he or she does not have a part, then why are there all the invitations in the Bible?

        The Calvinist argues that if we have any part in our salvation, then    there is some good in us.  Yet, the Bible teaches that there is absolutely no    merit in putting our faith in what God has done: "Where, then, is boasting?    It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on    that of faith." (Romans 3:27)  Merit goes to the giver of the gift, not to the    one who only receives that gift.  "“Therefore let all Israel be assured of    this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”    When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter    and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied,    “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for    the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.    The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all    whom the Lord our God will call.”" (Acts 2:36-39)  There is no merit in    being "cut to the heart," seeing our need, repenting, and receiving a gift.

13. Does Romans 9 teach that it is just for God to arbitrarily show mercy to some and not to others?

   Paul is responding in Romans 9 to those who are accusing God of being    unfair when He turned from Israel and made the church of mostly Gentiles    His people (See Romans 9:14, 20).  Paul first of all strongly deals with their    impudence at questioning God.  Romans 9-11 is Paul's defense of those    who were questioning God's right to choose the church.  His first response    is very appropriate: Who do you think you are to question God?  But, then,    in chapters 10-11, Paul does answer the question.  The answer is that the    nation of Israel, in pride, rejected God's grace.  Paul finishes his defense in    11:33-36: God's wisdom regarding how and why he chooses whom He    chooses is  way beyond man's ability to understand.  See my Digging for    Gold in Romans 9-11 for a thorough answer to this question.  Calvinists say    that in Romans 9, Paul is stating that whatever God chooses to do is right    because He chooses to do it.  It does, though, sound a little like a parent    saying when questioned by child, "you are to do it because I said so." 
   Paul does somewhat start out like that, but then he gives an explanation    of why God did what He did in Romans 10-11.

14. Does God predestine people to Hell?

        Jesus' warning to the Jews that they were near committing the    blasphemy of the Holy Spirit implies that they had a choice of whether or    not they rejected Him.  He warned them that they were close to going    over the line where it would be too late to undo their eternal choice    (Matthew 12).  This implies that those in hell could have chosen God, but    hardened their heart and refused His grace.
        We must choose between what C.S. Lewis said and what Martin Luther    said:  C. S. Lewis: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those    who say to God, 'Thy will be done', and those to whom God says in the    end, 'thy will be done'.  All that are in Hell choose it.  Without that self-
   choice there could be no Hell."  Luther: "As to why some are touched by    the law and others not, so that some receive and others scorn the offer of    grace, that is another question . . . He speaks of the unpublished offer of    God's mercy, not of the dreadful hidden will of God, Who, according to His    own counsel, ordains such persons as He will to receive and partake of the    mercy preached and offered.  This will is not to be inquired into, but to be    reverently adored, as by far the most awesome secret of the Divine    Majesty.  He has kept it to Himself and forbidden us to know it [where?];    and it is much more worthy of reverence than an infinite number of    Corycian caverns!"  Martin Luther in BONDAGE OF THE WILL

        People are either in hell because they spurned God's offer of grace    which they could have received or because God did not choose them and    they were therefore unable to have any destiny but hell (they were in an    eternally damned caste even before they were born).

15. Is the only difference between (1) Judas and Peter, (2) Saul and David, (3) Moses and the Pharaoh, (4) Herod and John the Baptist, (5) Cain and Abel, (6) Jezebel and Elijah that God chose one and not the other?

   In I Samuel 16:7, God says "to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or    his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things    man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at    the heart.”"  God saw something in David's heart that was difference than    what was in Saul's heart.  David was a man after God's own heart.  In    James, God says that He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  Jesus    said "Blessed are the poor in spirit." (Matthew 5:3).  Jesus described    people as being like different soils (Matthew 13:1-23).  All of this implies    that though we are all sinners by nature, there is a difference between    those who are humble enough to admit it and those who are too proud to    admit it.

16. Which comes first, regeneration or our choice to believe?

   Verses that are used to argue that regeneration comes first: Titus 3:5;    John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-10; II Corinthians 5:17; John 3:1-16;    Ephesians 2;1,5,6; John 6:63,65; and I Peter 1:3, 23  Verses that argue    that are used to argue that faith comes first:  Acts 2:28, 37-38; Ephesians    1:13; John 1:12-13 (used by both sides of argument); 6:29, 35, 40, 47, 64;    James 1:18; I John 5:1; Acts 2:28, 3:19.  See also Jeremiah 29:11-14; John    6:37 See Chosen but Free by Geisler pp. 235-40 for one side of argument    and Chosen by God by Sproul pp. 118-19 for the other side.

17. How were the Old Testament saints saved?  Were they first regenerated and then they believed?  If being born-again began in the Church, how were they able to believe?

   It is a critical issue, but it is also a difficult question to answer.  "Whether    Old Testament believers possessed the new birth is a difficult question.  No    Old Testament text explicitly states that Old Testament believers were    born again or regenerated.  There is a relative absence of a developed    theology of the Spirit in the Old Testament.  But, given the universality of    the need for the new birth, it can be argued that Jesus' teaching on the    absolute necessity of the new birth for entrance into the kingdom of God    analogically demands that Old Testament believers also had to have the    divine life imparted to them through God's Spirit. "Taken from Baker    Theological Dictionary of the Bible article on "regeneration." See Isaiah    57:15; Ezekiel 18:31; Psalm 51:10  In the Old Testament, God's Spirit did    not have the same relationship with believers as in the New Testament:    The Holy Spirit permanently indwells Christians.  "You, however, are    controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives    in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong    to Christ." (Romans 8:9)  "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s    temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)  The Old    Testament believers did not receive the Holy Spirit in this way:  "On the    last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If    anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me,
   as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within    him.”   By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were    later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus    had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)  The Old Testament saints    sometimes were given the Holy Spirit for a period of time, but He also    sometimes left them.  "Do not cast me from your presence or take your    Holy Spirit from me." (Psalm 51:11) "Now the Spirit of the Lord had    departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him." (1    Samuel 16:14)  Now, if regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit    are the same, then the Old Testament believers were not regenerate.     Then, they believed without being born again.  This, of course, is a    problem for the Calvinist who says that one cannot believe until he is born    again by the Holy Spirit.  It is no wonder that Calvinists teach that Old    Testament saints were regenerated also before they believed.

18. Could it be true that God choosing us and our choosing Him are both true?

Here is what happens when both would be true:  "What is an antinomy?  The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines it as 'a contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary.  For our purposes, however, this definition is not quite accurate; the opening words should read 'an appearance of contradiction.'  For the whole point of an antinomy---in theology, at any rate---is that it is not a real contradiction, though it looks like one.  It is an apparent incompatibility between two apparent truths.  An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side, seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable."  J. I. Packer in EVANGELISM AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (p 18)  In one of my older Bibles, every time I saw both being presented, I wrote GS/FW beside it (God's sovereign/Free will)  The following verses present both as being true: Acts 4:27-28; Luke 22:22; Jeremiah 18:1-12; John 6:37, 44-45; I Peter 2:8; Proverbs 16:9, 19:21; Philippians 2:12-13; Acts 2:23; 13:48; Genesis 50:20.  Romans 11:33-36, I believe, sums it up: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)  Since the Bible teaches both God's sovereignty and the responsibility of man, I believe it becomes a problem when someone emphasizes one side and deemphasizes either of the other sides.  Both are taught in the Bible, we should emphasize both, even if we cannot figure out how they can both be true.

19. Why should we pray and evangelize if it is already determined who the elect are?

An emphasis on God's sovereignty and a de-emphasis on our responsibility can result in the classic tale of William Carey, now called the father of modern missions, being discouraged from reaching out to the people of India. He was told that if God wanted to reach them, He would do it without his help.  William Carey ignored this discouraging guidance and chose to reach out anyway to the people of India with the gospel message.  Many more have followed in his footsteps.  Even though God tells us that those who are saved are God's elect, He also gives us the responsibility to seek to reach the world with the gospel message.  Also, an emphasis on our responsibility without the knowledge that God sovereignly has a harvest already prepared would put all the responsibility for saving people on our shoulders.  We are to pray for the salvation of the world, yet God has already determined who will be saved.  We are not to try to figure out how it all works, we are to pray for God's will to be done.  Somehow, our prayers and our efforts are an important part of God's will being done.  J. I. Packer, who is a Calvinist, has written an interesting book seeking to answer this question titled, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

20. Is it possible for a man to choose to receive God's gift without it being a meritorious work?

Receiving an undeserved gift is never seen as something that is meritorious.  When we say, "Look what someone gave me" we have no reason to get proud about it.  That is exactly what is said in Romans 3:27:  "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith."  Receiving God's gift by faith gives us nothing to boast about.  If one person refuses the gift and another receives the gift, does that make the second person better than the other?  No, it just means that he is willing to humble himself and admit that he has no reason for pride, and the other person is unwilling to humble himself.

21. Why are children of Christians more likely to be saved than those who are not raised in Christian homes? (Does how we raise our children have anything to do with it?)

Two possibilities: 1) Our choices make a difference: our prayers, our teaching, and our example actually make a difference and helps bring them to a realization of God's requirements, our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior.  The soil is better prepared for the gospel seed.  2) God more often chooses children of Christians to be His elect or they become Christians because they are part of His covenant with Christian parents.

22. Were Cornelius and the Ethiopian Eunuch hungering for God before Peter and Phillip talked to them?  When were they regenerated?  What about Rahab the harlot – When was she regenerated?  Are there those who are beyond the reach of the gospel right now who are hungering for God even though they have not heard the gospel and even though they are not yet born again?

     Cornelius was a God-fearing man before he received the Holy Spirit: "He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly." (Acts 10:2)  [Peter speaking to the Gentiles and Cornelius] "“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all [including Cornelius] who heard the message." (Acts 10:39-44)
     The Ethiopian Eunuch was interested in the Bible before he understood about Jesus.  Was he born again when he was seeking, interested in and reading the Bible or was he born again when He believed? See Acts 8:26-38.
     Rahab believed that God was blessing Israel without even having the Bible to guide her and because of her faith, she saved the Jewish spies. See Joshua 2:8-21 Was she born again before she believed.  There is nothing to indicate that she first was born again and then she believed.  "By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient." (Hebrews 11:31)

23. Are we dead to spiritual truth or do we become deadened to spiritual things by our choices?

The Bible states that we know the truth about God and harden our hearts and reject it. See Romans 1:18-32 (they chose to "suppress the truth" that they already knew about God-1:18; "they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God"-1:28); John 12:37-40 (they would not believe and then could not believe); Ephesians 4:17-19 (the minds of the Gentiles were darkened because they hardened their own hearts-they deadened themselves to spiritual truth); Matthew 23:37 (they were not willing to turn to Jesus; implying that they could come but wouldn't); II Thessalonians 2:9-11 (the delusion came on them because "they refused to love the truth and be saved.")

24. Can God predict infallibly the future choices of men (Mic 5:2; Acts 2:23; Isa 46:10; Dan 11)?

Yes!  Daniel 11 contains many predictions of future events that would happen because of a huge number of choices that people who were not believers were going to make, yet God predicts perfectly and exactly what was going to happen in the future.  Daniel 11 is a large list of what was going to happen before it happened.  See Acts 2:23; Isaiah 46:10  God's election of those who are going to be saved can include His predictions of the choices we are going to make.  God's election can also include what God is going to choose to do bring about our salvation. See Romans 8:28  Jacob was one who needed to be broken by God before he believed and was saved.  His life as described in Genesis includes God's interventions at key times. God even wrestled with him.

 

QUOTES

C. S. Lewis: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done, and those to whom God says in the end, "thy will be done.  All that are in Hell choose it.  Without that self-choice there could be no Hell."

"Perhaps the classic instance of this way of thinking was provided two centuries ago by the chairman of the minister's fraternal at which William Carey mooted the founding of [he asked them to assist him to start] a missionary society [to reach out to India].  'Sit down young man,' said the old warrior; 'when God is pleased to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine!'  J. I. Packer in EVANGELISM AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (p 33)

What is an antinomy?  The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines it as 'a contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary.  For our purposes, however, this definition is not quite accurate; the opening words should read 'an appearance of contradiction.'  For the whole point of an antinomy---in theology, at any rate---is that it is not a real contradiction, though it looks like one.  It is an apparent incompatibility between two apparent truths.  An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side, seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable."  J. I. Packer in EVANGELISM AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (p 18)
MIDDLE KNOWLEDGE: "In between God's natural knowledge [God's knowledge of all truths, which includes the knowledge of all possible things that He could choose to do] and his free knowledge [God's knowledge of what He has created, which includes the foreknowledge of everything that will happen in the future], in the second moment of omniscience, stands God's middle knowledge.  In this moment God knows what every possible creature would do ((not just could do) in any possibility set of circumstances.  For example, he knows whether Peter, if he were placed in certain circumstances, would deny Christ three times.  By his natural knowledge God knew in the first moment all the possible things that Peter could do if placed in such circumstances.  But now in this second moment he knows what Peter would in fact freely choose to do under such circumstances.  This is not because Peter would be causally determined by the circumstances to act in this way.  No, Peter is entirely free, and under the same circumstances he could choose to act in another way.  But God knows which way Peter would freely choose.  God's foreknowledge of Peter in this respect is not simple foreknowledge.  For maybe God will decide not to place Peter under such circumstances or even not to create him at all.  Middle knowledge, like natural knowledge, thus is logically prior to the decision of the divine will to create a world."    William Lane Craig in THE ONLY WISE GOD (p 130)
PREVENIENT GRACE – "grace that precedes human action---on all men, every sinner (though fallen) is able to believe the gospel…God gave each man enough grace to counteract the effects of depravity."  Erwin Lutzer in DOCTRINES THAT DIVIDE (p 179)

"As to why some are touched by the law and others not, so that some receive and others scorn the offer of grace, that is another question, which Ezekiel does not discuss.  He speaks of the unpublished offer of God's mercy, not of the dreadful hidden will of God, Who, according to His own counsel, ordains such persons as He will to receive and partake of the mercy preached and offered.  This will is not to be inquired into, but to be reverently adored, as by far the most awesome secret of the Divine Majesty.  He has kept it to Himself and forbidden us to know it [where?]; and it is much more worthy of reverence than an infinite number of Corycian caverns!"  Martin Luther in BONDAGE OF THE WILL
"I agree with the New Testament scholars who conclude that the unforgivable sin is to blaspheme Christ and the Holy Spirit by saying Jesus is a devil when you know better.  That is, the unforgivable sin cannot be done in ignorance.  If a person knows with certainty that Jesus is the Son of God and then declares with certainty that Jesus is the Son of God and then declares with his mouth that Jesus is of the devil, that person has committed unpardonable blasphemy." [But, how can the non-believer know that truth? I Cor 2:14  If Sproul is right, then, non-believers can know the truth about God by being illuminated by the Holy Spirit without being first regenerated!]  R. C. Sproul in CHOSEN BY GOD (p 202)

But the second death is not annihilation, but separation from God
regeneration must precede belief (but what then of the "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" where Sproul says it is when a person knows what and Who he is rejecting.  How can a person "know" without being regeneration; also Hebr 6:4-8 & 10:26-29 – either a Christian falls away or a non-Christian who understands and freely rejects; SO there must be a drawing to God that gives understanding, but can be resisted  (men at time of Augustine were forced to believe against their will-heretics)