The Missing Balance in Calvinism

Any time that some truth which is held in balance in God’s word is given an emphasis on only one side, then misunderstanding and error result. It is true, as the Calvinists emphasize, that election in eternity past is unconditional. But the neglected Biblical balance is this: salvation in this temporal world is conditional, and God blesses no one with the saving, justifying, regenerating, life-giving union with Christ until they drop their rebellion, humble themselves, and come in genuine, repentant, fully surrendered faith. It is true, as the Calvinists emphasize, that faith is the gift of God; but it is just as Biblically true that faith is the requirement of God for salvation.

If this Biblical balance were not the case, then we would expect to see the Calvinist one-sided view reflected in Scripture, with only election put forth as the pivotal thing of salvation. But instead, we see throughout that it is faith/belief that is the pivotal thing on which salvation or destruction are decided. If the Calvinists were correct, we should expect that verses such as John 3:16 should read, “…that whoever was not going to perish but was going to have eternal life would believe in Him;” but instead we find, “…that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” Throughout Scripture, belief is pivotal to salvation. That is why we preach to men—to implore them to believe. Belief results in justification and forgiveness, it results in reconciliation with God and the life-giving, regenerating indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Belief results in adoption and spiritual rebirth into God’s family. On the other hand, unbelief results in a man dying in his sins, it results in the wrath of God, it results in eternal destruction. Belief cannot be simply one of the fruits of the Spirit given in some uninvited regenerational indwelling, else it would not have been given such an ostensibly pivotal role in whether a man goes to heaven or to hell.

This imbalance in the Calvinist understanding results in two things. First, it results in an overly transcendent view of how God works with men to accomplish His plan. Sinners are seen as locked behind obstacles to faith that are impossible to overcome, and God is seen as regenerating men without any regard to their own will in the matter. What I’m trying to get you to see is that such a one-sided, transcendent scheme is unnecessary—that there is a more Biblical and more immanent way to understand this. Belief is the pivotal thing precisely because unbelief is never mere ignorance of the truth but is always rebellion against the God of that truth—just as belief is never mere mental assent to the truth but must always be a repentant submission to the God of that truth. It is not necessary to an unconditional election that the responses of men be irrelevant. If God implores all men to come, and only saves those who do come, it fits perfectly with election if God is responsible for whether or not a man is ultimately persuaded to come. God knows all men completely, and knows exactly how much persuasion would be needed to bring any man to his knees in repentant faith; and God is in charge of all circumstances, including length of life.

The second result is the hidden assumption of an indifference in God toward the nonelect. It is assumed that if God had any desire toward saving the nonelect, then He would have elected them. It is an overly simplistic view of God that fails to consider that the exigencies of the justice in God’s nature may have required Him to accept what is repugnant to Him (the perishing of so many) for the greater purposes of accomplishing His plan for His glory. The simplistic view sees that God can simply do whatever He wants; but God cannot go against His own sense of justice, which would be to go against Himself. The fact is that if Adam had not sinned, then all men would have been elect. In order for God’s plan to include the sin of mankind in Adam, it would have to include so tragic the results of that sin. Sin must have results; and the sin of the race in Adam has the necessary result of only a remnant being saved in the end. “God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” and, “God is not willing that any should perish…” but God allows what is repugnant to His nature in order to accomplish what is to His greatest glory.

The difference between these two views of God is reflected in how God relates to the nonelect. If God is seen as having indifferently passed over so many for election, then He is seen as having little to no compassion toward the nonelect regarding any offer of salvation or any desire for their salvation. But if God is seen as a God who truly loves all, and who did not pass over so many out of any lack of love toward them, but only as a necessary judgment on the race as a whole, then God can indeed have compassion toward the nonelect and can indeed make salvation available in such a way as to make their destruction a matter of their own refusal and not merely a matter of God refusing to offer to save all who would be willing to come.

Ken Hamrick, 2013


- See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/compatibilism-a-more-immanent-grace-by-ken-hamrick/#comment-209879

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23 comments

  1. Bob Cleveland

    Spoken, once again, like someone who just doesn’t understand Calvinism. No Calvinist I know would dispute the need for repentance you indicate in paragraph #1.

    A classic straw man.

  2. Ken Hamrick

    In Calvinism, once God regenerates a man, everything else falls into place like dominoes. Repentance is not a requirement but a fruit of God’s saving regeneration. Read a little more carefully… —and maybe more than one paragraph :)

  3. dr. james willingham

    If the balance is missing, why did the Calvinists enjoy the benefit of the First and Second Great Awakenings, utilizing one of the great Evangelists of all time, George Whitefield, and launching the Great Century of Missions. In addition, have you ever heard of therapeutic paradoxes? Did you not know that the TULIP acrostic truths along with predestination and reprobation are invitations to take God on His terms, the Sovereign who in the Bible is called a despot, an absolute Lord and Master? Jesus asked the man to sell all he had, give to the poor, and come and follow him, and He told His disciples that what He asked of men like that was that they do the impossible (Mk. 10). The same goes for repentance and faith. The man with a demon possessed son was told, “If you can believe…” When the man realized that he could not, he cried for help to believe…Mk.9:23-24. If faith is a gift, and it is, if repentance is a gift, and it is, if salvation is a gift, and it is, your whole point is obviated by your failure to properly understand the theological viewpoint with which you are contending. It is like the Moderates who tried their best to define verbal inspiration as mechanical dictation, but eventually even some of them wrote works admitting that the right view of verbal inspiration was not mechanical dictation (cf. Coleman, Issues of Theological Warefar: Liberals vs Conservatives. You might want to read John Wesley’s letter to Whitefield in his journals in which he admits that some are chosen to be saved, that some reach a state from which they shall never fall, and that from the Arminian leader himself.

  4. Ken Hamrick

    Dr. Willingham,

    You asked, “If the balance is missing, why did the Calvinists enjoy the benefit of the First and Second Great Awakenings, utilizing one of the great Evangelists of all time, George Whitefield, and launching the Great Century of Missions.” God brings about revivals whenever He chooses to. His power to cause a great awakening is not limited by the theological foibles of men.

    You also asked, “In addition, have you ever heard of therapeutic paradoxes?” Yes, I have read some of your frequent explanations of this as your favored theory. With respect, I do not agree with the theory. Some paradoxes are manifestations of self-contradictory reasoning.

    You also asked, “Did you not know that the TULIP acrostic truths along with predestination and reprobation are invitations to take God on His terms, the Sovereign who in the Bible is called a despot, an absolute Lord and Master?” Yes, I know that the TULIP acrostic theories focus on that one-sided aspect of how God is described in the Bible. He is also the God who loved the world, who is not willing that any should perish, has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and who calls all men everywhere to repent.

    Until you substantively address the distinction, taught by Fuller and Edwards, between a moral and a natural inability, there is no way for us to go forward on the issue of what is “impossible” and what is possible. Maybe you could start here: http://sbcopenforum.com/2013/05/18/toward-southern-baptist-unity-part-5-unifying-propositions-on-the-inability-of-sinners/

    Wesley is irrelevant, since I am not an Arminian. As a Baptist Centrist, I am technically a one-point Calvinist (that point being unconditional election, in coordination with soft-determinism). But of course, more than one point is needed to qualify as a Calvinist. :)

  5. dr. james willingham

    If the beliefs do not matter as you indicate by saying His power to cause a great awakening is not limited by the theological foibles of men, then why do you bother to write as you have written? The question is not whether I have some theories; it is whether I had adduced such realities from the biblical facts. Consider how Jonah went into the city of Nineveh preaching the message that in forty days the city would be overthrown. Not one word of mercy, not one offer, not even the tiniest bit of invitation is given in his message. On another forum I am carrying on a discussion with a fellow who is sure there is no hope for America due to its rotten condition. He has ignored the reality of Nineveh as well as other passages. The message is the same as a therapeutic paradox as it brings about the repentant of the people, the old king setting the tone by asking, “Who can tell?” Yet we learn here that it is not the literal statement of a verse but the purpose for which it was written. Jonah was not surprised at what happened even though he wanted the city to be destroyed. In case, you are not aware, the failure of a prophecy according to the law meant that the prophet was to be stoned. Could that be why Jonah wanted to die, in addition to his anger over the sparing of the city?

    And then you talk about the TULIP acrostic truths as theories. But what about our Lord saying to His disciples which the woman heard, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”(Mt.15:24). Clearly a limitation on His mission, and yet the woman responds with worship. Does Particular Redemption constitute a therapeutic paradox, even an invitation to worship from a pagan idolater? Apparently so. And then our Lord gets even more blunt: “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.”(15:26). Dogs surely stand for total depravity and inability. It seems evident that dog stands for reprobation, too, as Peter comments on the fact that the dog returns to its own vomit (II Pet.2:22). The woman viewed such repulsive statement of the truth as an invitation to trust, to believe, even to argue with the Son of God Himself, saying, “Truth, Lord, but even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”(15:26) Seems to me that your argument is not with me, but with the Lord’s word, even with the Lord Himself.

  6. parsonsmike

    Ken,
    I am going to reply one part at a time.
    To your paragraph:
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>The second result is the hidden assumption of an indifference in God toward the nonelect. It is assumed that if God had any desire toward saving the nonelect, then He would have elected them. It is an overly simplistic view of God that fails to consider that the exigencies of the justice in God’s nature may have required Him to accept what is repugnant to Him (the perishing of so many) for the greater purposes of accomplishing His plan for His glory. The simplistic view sees that God can simply do whatever He wants; but God cannot go against His own sense of justice, which would be to go against Himself. The fact is that if Adam had not sinned, then all men would have been elect. In order for God’s plan to include the sin of mankind in Adam, it would have to include so tragic the results of that sin. Sin must have results; and the sin of the race in Adam has the necessary result of only a remnant being saved in the end. “God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” and, “God is not willing that any should perish…” but God allows what is repugnant to His nature in order to accomplish what is to His greatest glory.<<<<<<<

    Maybe you are trying to be kind to Calvinists by calling His feelings toward the non-elect as "indifference." Here is God on it:

    As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    What is then repugnant to God? We read:
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
    and,,,
    Do not envy a man of violence
    and do not choose any of his ways,
    for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
    but the upright are in his confidence.
    The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous
    .

    and…
    Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
    but he who pursues evil will die.
    Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord,
    but those of blameless ways are his delight.
    Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
    but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.

    When the Bible speaks of justice, it is speaking of the Law, and injustice as the breaking of the Law, And it is this Truth that people suppres by their evil deeds and thus rightly and justly incurs God's wrath.

    Now that would be every moral agent. But some escape their deserved punishment, for we read:
    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    So we must consider IF the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient to cover all the sins of all the sinners or not. IF it is, than " the exigencies of the justice in God’s nature" could be satisfied for all by the cross of Christ. But what we read is this: that people "are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." That even if the Cross is sufficient to cover all, God has chosen only to 'gift' some with justification. Back to the justification as a gift idea in a moment.

    But IF the " the exigencies of the justice in God’s nature" needs to punish whatever amount by which we should read as ANY amount of sinners, than that makes a case for limited atonement as it pertains to the sufficiency of the sacrifice seeing how justice CANNOT be fully satisfied by the cross of Christ for every sinner, in that God HAS to punish some since "Sin must have results; and the sin of the race in Adam has the necessary result of only a remnant being saved in the end." Even if that is true, it does not change justification as a gift God chooses to give.
    Now if we speak to the goodness of God, "“God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” and, “God is not willing that any should perish…” " we can ask, how many can a good God save and still satisfy His justice as it pertains to the race? And the ONLY answer would be: The-Most-Possible. So let us call these The-Most-Possible people by a Biblical term: the elect. Since God is restrained by His justice in only saving a remnant, and by His goodness is saving the most possible and justification is by God's choosing [He gifts it] than we are left with a limited number of sinners God can save and still be just. Any less and He wouldn't be good. Any more, and He wouldn't be just.

    Now sin is repugnant to God and His wrath falls on sinners. Except, we repeat:
    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    Except that God in His goodness can save some and still be just and this He does by gifting justification to the remnant. This justification is earned not by the sinners but by the Son on the cross, who suffered and died for their sins.

    continued…

  7. parsonsmike

    Ken,
    I continue to your next paragraph:
    >>>>>>>>The difference between these two views of God is reflected in how God relates to the nonelect. If God is seen as having indifferently passed over so many for election, then He is seen as having little to no compassion toward the nonelect regarding any offer of salvation or any desire for their salvation. But if God is seen as a God who truly loves all, and who did not pass over so many out of any lack of love toward them, but only as a necessary judgment on the race as a whole, then God can indeed have compassion toward the nonelect and can indeed make salvation available in such a way as to make their destruction a matter of their own refusal and not merely a matter of God refusing to offer to save all who would be willing to come.<<<<<<<<<<

    As I mentioned before, indifference is really too nice a word. Again, we read:
    As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    God is not indifferent to sinners. He sees them as an abomination. For those He chooses, He has mercy on and the rest, He hardens.
    The Word of God continues:

    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    Why are they vessels of wrath? We read that they in their ungodliness and unrighteousness suppressed the truth. Furthermore we read:

    For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    They are without excuse. God is just in condemning them and putting His wrath on them. But what about the others? They are called "vessels of mercy" not because they deserve to escape that great wrath but because God desires to use them to display His glory which would include His goodness and mercifulness. These vessels of mercy, we might call The-Most-Possible under one idea, but I prefer simply to call them the Elect. These elect people whom God is going to gift justification to are prepared beforehand. They were chosen by God from before time to lavished with His saving love and mercy.

    In your way of thinking, it is "necessary" that God passes over the vessels of wrath to satisfy judgment, but that God still has compassion on them, for you said: "God can indeed have compassion toward the nonelect and can indeed make salvation available in such a way as to make their destruction a matter of their own refusal and not merely a matter of God refusing to offer to save all who would be willing to come."

    This messed up thinking in two ways, one logical, the other Biblical.
    Biblically, we read that " So then he [God] has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills."
    We listen to the Psalmist:
    “Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
    Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
    Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
    and…
    The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
    He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
    He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
    For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
    as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
    As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
    and again…

    Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
    your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.
    For the Lord will vindicate his people
    and have compassion on his servants.

    but in the negative sense and directly against your argument, Isaiah tells us:
    For this is a people without discernment;
    therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them;
    he who formed them will show them no favor.

    But as to the elect, The One Who Formed them tells us via Isaiah:

    For your Maker is your husband,
    the Lord of hosts is his name;
    and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
    the God of the whole earth he is called.
    For the Lord has called you
    like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
    like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
    says your God.
    For a brief moment I deserted you,
    but with great compassion I will gather you.
    In overflowing anger for a moment
    I hid my face from you,
    but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord, your Redeemer.

    Everlasting love [salvific] and compassion go hand in hand. And Paul reiterates the contrast:

    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

    So while you wish to inform us that God has compassion on the ones He necessarily damns, the Scriptures paint the opposite picture altogether.

    Now as to the logical way that thinking is messed up. God knows that the 'providing' you speak of isn't sufficient to redeem them due to the hardness of their heart, Thus it is not compassionate in any way. It is as if God is doing a CYA for Himself [as if He need to which he of course does not.] Let us read your words again:
    "God can indeed have compassion toward the nonelect and can indeed make salvation available in such a way as to make their destruction a matter of their own refusal and not merely a matter of God refusing to offer to save all who would be willing to come."

    What does His compassion do for them? It makes "their [necessary for God's justice] destruction a matter of their own refusal"!
    Wow! Some compassion that is. What love!

    Their destruction is already a matter of their own refusal of God, [we read that from Romans 1 and the Psalms, among other places]. It is due them due to their sin and lawlessness and for suppressing the truth by that sin. They violated the Law and they have to pay for it. We read:

    And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
    Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
    But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed… for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek…
    For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.“None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    Ken, the imbalance here is what you are writing as truth. The truth is:
    Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    Next post: Pharaoh, the Egyptians. and the hardening of hearts.

  8. parsonsmike

    Ken,
    Before I engage your beginning paragraphs as i have done with your final two, i wanted to point out how the story of Pharaoh and the hardening of hearts is important to our understanding of God’s mercy and compassion or lack of it.

    You are under the idea that God seeks to show mercy to everyone and does show them compassion by providing a way of salvation for them that has the purpose of making their damnation [necessary for God's justice] a matter of their own refusal”! So since they won’t take up the offered salvation, they choose damnation.

    i have sought to point out to you that damnation and God’s wrath are not products of the Gospel but of the Law and man’s disobedience to it. So we read:
    Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    Now as a corollary to this we read:
    But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    Important in understanding salvation is to see that it is God who calls and that he has a purpose of election. And within this purpose is the negation of glory for man and the sole deserver of glory being God. We read in another place:
    For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus…

    Salvation MUST be by God’s choosing. So we read…
    Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

    All were imprisoned under sin. Is this just? When were they imprisoned?
    We read:
    What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

    He chose to covet, to sin, for we read earlier in that place:
    Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
    and in the Gospel of John:
    Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
    And the trouble with sin is this:
    For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness…
    That sin leads to more sin.
    But what is sin but unrighteousness and the hardening of one’s heart against God…
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
    Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    Man turns from God and thus is without excuse. Sinners then are futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts are darkened because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
    And so did Pharaoh.
    But so did the Israelites.
    But God had compassion on the Israelites and hardened the Egyptians and especially Pharaoh.
    And He tells us why:
    For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    God wanted Pharaoh to be stubborn. He wanted to show His power over kings and countries, over man, over vessels prepared for wrath so that He might make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles.

    Who are the vessels of mercy? Those He calls. Who are they He shows compassion to? Those He calls. Who are those He will bring to glory? Those He calls.
    Who are the rest? They are those He does not call. They are those he shows no saving mercy or compassion to. They are called vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.
    They deserve it. Even as we do. They will receive it but Jesus took the wrath due us upon Himself.

    God is not indifferent to sinners. As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

  9. dr. james willingham

    I would like to respond to Parsonsmike and to Ken in respect to the fact that the offer of the Gospel is sometimes stated in contrarian terms, that is, to say, God offers an opposite. Consider the message of Jonah to Nineveh: “Forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”(Jonah 3) There we have a prophet with a totally negative message without a word of mercy or hope or invitation in it. We also have a minister who does not want to see that city and its citizens spared even though he expects that is exactly what God is going to do with his totally negative message. Since the message is uttered as an unconditional prophecy and was not to be fulfilled, indeed, was not fulfilled, we might give some thought as to why the prophet wanted to die, when it was not. Could it have something to do with the rule in the law that if a prophecy was not fulfilled, then the prophet was to be stoned to death? There is also the fact that the King of Nineveh said, “Who can tell?” And he leads his people and even the animals in repentance. In Jonah 4 God and Jonah have an argument, where God stoops to calling the prophet’s attention to the fact that the latter was angry about the loss of the gourd that provide him with shade and had pity??? on it and then God reasons “And should not I spare, Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle.” Here we see the compassion of God being shown to a whole city of depraved people just because there were 60,000 babies who would be the likely candidates that knew not their right hand from their left, and then He extends it to the livestock also, the poor dumb animals.

    We might well add what our Lord said to the man with the demon-possessed son, Mk.9:23, “If you can believe,….” When the man replies, he cries, “I believe.” (9:24) Then it seems that he realizes that his belief is really a vile unbelief, for he had said to the Lord that which fully indicated his inability to believe and which was truly an insult to the Lord of glory, “If you can do anything; have compassion on us, and help us.” (9:22) So his last petition would be comical, if it were not so tragic in its pathos that demonstrates his problem of his inability to believe, “Help thou mine unbelief.”(9:24). The point I am making is that the offer of opposites is often the route of mercy with the Lord, that is, He commands and overs something so totally contrary to human expectations.

    This is exactly what we find about His offer to the rich young ruler, when He said, “sell whatsoever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”(Mk.10:21) Should there be any doubt about the matter, we need but look at Mk.10:27 where Jesus explains the issue to His disciples, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

    It is our theological filters that keep us from seeing these opposites as big with mercy. We just see them as opposites, not as treasure chests filled with great blessings. And yet if we could happen to grasp that as the desperate woman of Canaan did in Mt.15:21-28, we might well find the commendation of our Lord, His medal of honor, bestowed upon us: “Great is your faith. Be it unto you even as you will (as you wish and please).”(Mt.15:28). We need to be aware of the greatness of God’s sovereignty and His right to have mercy upon whom He will and whom He will He hardens. After all, our ideas of His mercy and how it should be set forth are really not very worthy of Him at their best. Consider the Centurion who said, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldier under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it,”(Mt.8:8,9) The Lord answered and commented to the people that followed him, “I have not found si great faith, no, not in Israel.”(Lk:7:9) I trust that these few remarks will suffice to elucidate the whole issue. I close with the thought of one Dr. Eusden in his translation of William Ames’ Marrow of Divinity in ’71 (which had been the first text book used by Harvard University back in the 1600s so I understand), “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage.” So with the other doctrines of grace with the biggest number of converts being reserved the seemingly most harsh doctrines of all, that is, the most powerful invitations, the most winsome, the most wonderful, so wonderful that no one will even want to resist them.

  10. parsonsmike

    Ken,
    Your first paragraph:
    >>>Any time that some truth which is held in balance in God’s word is given an emphasis on only one side, then misunderstanding and error result. It is true, as the Calvinists emphasize, that election in eternity past is unconditional. But the neglected Biblical balance is this: salvation in this temporal world is conditional, and God blesses no one with the saving, justifying, regenerating, life-giving union with Christ until they drop their rebellion, humble themselves, and come in genuine, repentant, fully surrendered faith. It is true, as the Calvinists emphasize, that faith is the gift of God; but it is just as Biblically true that faith is the requirement of God for salvation.<<<<<<<<

    It is obvious that you see salvation as God's response to faith. You believe in an unlimited atonement and God's salvific love for every person. Quite orthodox although not completely agreed upon in the evangelistic world. In my earlier post on this thread I showed you how your belief in racial justice actually limits the atonement and thus is an internal contradiction in your understanding. But in this post, i want to remark on your idea that salvation is a response of God.

    Let us look at the big picture. Before time God did not only choose to send His Son into the world to die for sinners but also chose which sinners He was going to gift with justification. Throughout time, before and after the cross of Jesus, God brought these very same chosen ones to faith in His Word and delivered them from the consequences of their sins and one Great Day will gather all of them forever to be with Him in Heaven.

    The means of the earthly relationship between a God who man can not see and finite man was to be faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith is also a submitting trust that leads one to obedient action. And faith is also a gift of God that He grants to all those He will justify.
    Now what about the person God does not grant faith to? Can a person without faith come to God?
    We read: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

    Muslims believe Allah exists and that Allah rewards those that seek him. Does Allah exist and does Allah reward those that seek him? nope. Allah isn't God despite what the Muslims believe. We read:

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
    Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    When man turns away from God [suppresses the truth by his sin] several things happen:
    1] Man becomes futile in their thinking.
    2] Man's foolish heart is darkened.
    3] Man becomes a fool [though he thinks he is wise].
    4] Man exchanges the glory of the immortal God for lesser things.
    5] Man exchanges the truth of God for a lie.
    6] Man worships and serves the creature rather than blessed forever Creator.
    7] God gives them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity and the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.
    8] God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
    9] God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
    10] They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    Now it seems that your contention is that these same people, without the mercy and grace of God, can by their own free will choices reverse the consequences of their sin, to wit: they can stop their thinking being futile, they can enlighten their own heart, they can stop being fools, they can exchange the lies they now believe for the truth, they can present themselves as worshipers and servants of a holy God, they can undo the actions of God who has given them over to lust and dishonorableness, and a debased mind?

    We also read:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    in their paths are ruin and misery,
    and the way of peace they have not known.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    And thus you must also contend that these without God's mercy and grace by their own free will can understand, can seek God, and have proper respect for God?

    We also read:
    For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    And thus you must also contend that a man without God's help and by his own free will can take his mind off of the flesh and stop being hostile to God and turn from himself and submit to God?

    You must believe that any person could do this because you say:
    "But the neglected Biblical balance is this: salvation in this temporal world is conditional, and God blesses no one with the saving, justifying, regenerating, life-giving union with Christ until they drop their rebellion, humble themselves, and come in genuine, repentant, fully surrendered faith."

    You believe that God gives some people [the elect] faith so that they can they drop their rebellion, humble themselves, and come in genuine, repentant, fully surrendered faith, but you also believe that the non-elect have it within themselves to also do the very same if they were only willing. Of course, their wills are a big part of the problem, But so is their nature. So is their understanding. So is their thinking. AND so is God's attitude toward them, for we read: So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    Can they also, these non-elect, overcome the hardening of God that He does to them?
    But what about the elect? Were we [and for some, are we] not just like the non-elect? We read:

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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— 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.

    Oh yeah, we were "like the rest of mankind!"
    How did we drop our rebellion, humble ourselves, and come in genuine, repentant, fully surrendered faith, so that God would react to us by blessing us with the saving, justifying, regenerating, life-giving union with Christ?
    We read:
    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    Short answer: God.
    God rescued us from our rebellious, unrepentant, proudful and selfish state and brought us to faith and and justification because of His great love which He loved us.

    The imbalance is yours. Calvinists come in many stripes and some lean way far that away or this away, but they mostly have a better grasp of salvific truths then you are showing here.

  11. parsonsmike

    James,
    The offers you spoke of, even the Gospel itself, does not lift man up but lowers him down. For even as the law was given to show sin was exceedingly sinful, so the Gospel shows just how terrible and how far man is from God: that God’s own Son needed to suffer and die and be forsaken to save a sinner.
    It is the realization of this awful truth of one’s own depravity and the realizing of that wonderful truth of God’s great mercy and love as demonstrated by the cross that shakes one up from his shared pig slop eating to desire a small place in the Father’s house and thus to turn and be saved.
    So one question is who comes to realize these awful and wonderful truths? My contention is that God reveals them to those he is saving as part of His saving them. We read:
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

  12. parsonsmike

    Ken,
    One paragraph of yours:
    >>>>>>If this Biblical balance were not the case, then we would expect to see the Calvinist one-sided view reflected in Scripture, with only election put forth as the pivotal thing of salvation. But instead, we see throughout that it is faith/belief that is the pivotal thing on which salvation or destruction are decided. If the Calvinists were correct, we should expect that verses such as John 3:16 should read, “…that whoever was not going to perish but was going to have eternal life would believe in Him;” but instead we find, “…that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” Throughout Scripture, belief is pivotal to salvation. That is why we preach to men—to implore them to believe. Belief results in justification and forgiveness, it results in reconciliation with God and the life-giving, regenerating indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Belief results in adoption and spiritual rebirth into God’s family. On the other hand, unbelief results in a man dying in his sins, it results in the wrath of God, it results in eternal destruction. Belief cannot be simply one of the fruits of the Spirit given in some uninvited regenerational indwelling, else it would not have been given such an ostensibly pivotal role in whether a man goes to heaven or to hell.<<<<<<<<<<

    Certainly some of those leaning way afar Calvinists do promotes election as pivotal for salvation. And it is pivotal in some ways, is it not? Do any non-elect people get saved? Nope. Even you agree that God provides faith ONLY to the elect so that He will save every last one of them. But you err in your Calvinist bashing in a logical way. For your Biblical balance is not the case. Faith has always been prominent and in the forefront for Calvinists and Reformed folk since there was Calvinists and reformed folk whose 'battle cry' was Justification by Faith from the first.
    Not Justification by Election as you wrongly imply as you seek to set them straight.

    Now Paul was preaching in Antioch and the Jews were rejecting the truth and we read:

    The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

    “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

    And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

    Who believed? As many as were appointed or elected. So we see that the Bible does see election as pivotal for salvation. Let us look at some other places:

    Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

    Who is the promise for? Everyone whom the Lord our God calls.

    …in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles…
    Who will be the vessels of mercy as opposed to the vessels of wrath? Those whom God calls.

    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
    Because they were chosen, they were appointed to go and bear fruit.

    So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened…
    What does the Scripture say? Does it say they were chosen because of their faith? Nope.

    Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
    Put on then as those with faith in God? Not what it says.

    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
    Here faith [full conviction] is evidence of what came before: that God chose them.

    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
    A chosen race. The emphasis is not on a faith based race.

    These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
    I seek not to disparage faith but to put balance into play. It is only those who are chosen and called who can also be of the faith.

  13. dr. james willingham

    Dear Parsonsmike: Proclamations are offers in one respect, and they are also empowerments to respond in another, the incentives to respond as well as the enablement. Jesus our Lord did say that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men unto Him. And that is what we do in preaching, lift up Christ, thus drawing sinners to Him. Our big problem today is finding sinners. A real sinner feels so drawn, like a fish with a hook in it, that as one lady said, “O it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” A friend of mine, whom I had just explained to him about the irresistibility of grace, said that what I had said popped into his mind. It took him 40 years to think about it, but change he did and about that time he found he was distant kin of the fellow with whom he bore the same last name, Spurgeon. There is also the assertion of Dr. Eusden that Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage, and I can find justification for such in the woman of Canaan in Mt.15:21-28 and in the case of our Lord’s fellow citizens in Nazareth, Lk.4:15-31 where the same approach of opposites is taken. You will not one treats the whole thing like candy or steak or what ever good food or sweet you might like, while the other spits it out as distasteful to the nth degree. Just look at Whitefield, if you want to see such approach taken in power. I know of people in NC who are descended from those converted under that great evangelist.

  14. parsonsmike

    Ken,
    The final piece, your third paragraph of five:
    >>>>>>>>This imbalance in the Calvinist understanding results in two things. First, it results in an overly transcendent view of how God works with men to accomplish His plan. Sinners are seen as locked behind obstacles to faith that are impossible to overcome, and God is seen as regenerating men without any regard to their own will in the matter. What I’m trying to get you to see is that such a one-sided, transcendent scheme is unnecessary—that there is a more Biblical and more immanent way to understand this. Belief is the pivotal thing precisely because unbelief is never mere ignorance of the truth but is always rebellion against the God of that truth—just as belief is never mere mental assent to the truth but must always be a repentant submission to the God of that truth. It is not necessary to an unconditional election that the responses of men be irrelevant. If God implores all men to come, and only saves those who do come, it fits perfectly with election if God is responsible for whether or not a man is ultimately persuaded to come. God knows all men completely, and knows exactly how much persuasion would be needed to bring any man to his knees in repentant faith; and God is in charge of all circumstances, including length of life.<<<<<<<<<>>>It is not necessary to an unconditional election that the responses of men be irrelevant. If God implores all men to come, and only saves those who do come, it fits perfectly with election if God is responsible for whether or not a man is ultimately persuaded to come. God knows all men completely, and knows exactly how much persuasion would be needed to bring any man to his knees in repentant faith; and God is in charge of all circumstances, including length of life<<<<

    This basically what Calvinist believe. Are you saying God is responsible for men not coming seeing:
    a] God knows each man completely.
    b] God knows exactly how much persuasion is needed to bring each person to their knees in repentant faith.
    c] God is in charge of circumstances, including length of life.

    The conclusion from these 3 points is that it is God who is responsible in whether a person comes or not. Both ways. Either way. God.
    So you need to really give more details to me so I can understand what you are trying to say.

    Or one might read you as saying that God implores all men to come, but knowing them so well, He knows they won't come unless He ups His persuasion which He is not willing to do, so they perish; or He does up His persuasion so they will come and He can save them.

    Please expand the ideas in this paragraph to either answer objections already made or to explain the ones made but that remain unclear.
    Thanks

  15. dr. james willingham

    Dear Parsonsmike: I would point out that your are very good at pointing to hard cold facts, but what about the caring part, the responsibility part, the compassionate part of the Sovereign Savior and Lord even with reference to those whom He purposes to leave to their own devices? You might find it helpful to read John Howe, a Puritan in the 1500s, and his sermon on Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, pointing out as he did, that our Lord even wept at their eternal tragedy. There is also the caring of George Whitefield, where he stopped in a sermon and began weeping for sinners, saying, “I must weep for you as you cannot even weep for yourselves.” And then there is Spurgeon praying for the conversion of the whole earth and every soul on it in his devotions in Evening by Evening on August 6 and December 24. While I am aware of God’s laughter at the calamity of the wicked, I am also aware of His statement that He gets no pleasure out of the death of the wicked. The great missionary movement/the Great Century of Missions as Kenneth Scott Latourette called it, began with Sovereign Grace believers, Calvinists, if you will, with a passion and compassion for souls, looking for the elect in those who made a response. If our Lord proclaims His Gospel to sinners in terms of opposites, paradoxes, contrary precepts, they are, nevertheless, opportunities for sinners to make a response to the Gospel message. One strong Calvinist II know preached a sermon on “Ten Things A Sinner Can Do To Be Saved.” Another preached a sermon in the Great Awakening on “Pressing Into the Kingdom,” while my ordaining pastor, a supralapsarian hyper Calvinist, preached on the subject, “Why Sit Ye Here Till Ye Die?” and on the “The Great Supper,” evangelistic sermons that were highly effective. Do you weep over the dead sinners to whom you proclaim the Gospel as the way of hope? Do you agonize in prayer for God’s honor and glory and the good of the souls, professing or unprofessing, to whom you are privilege to proclaim the great message?

  16. parsonsmike

    James,
    We, as proclaimers of the Gospel, proclaim several things:
    1] That Jesus, the crucified and risen One, is Lord of all.
    2] That all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard {which is His glory],
    3] That the only acceptance available by God is by surrendering one’s self to the Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Now some proclaimers of the Gospel do it out of derision, seeking to add misery to its proclamation, and yet God can save souls even by that kind of proclamation. Others are called to preach sermons to large crowds, while others are called to leave their homes and preach Christ crucified in a foreign land. But by whatever the calling and no matter how fervent the speaker, salvation happens because God moves in the heart of a sinner, and it is never and also not even possible that salvation could happen any other way.

    Thus when Romans 9 speaks that God has compassion on whom He chooses, it is in a salvific sense. Same as when it speaks on whom God chooses to have mercy on and whom He decides to harden, But that does not mean that He never has other types of compassion and mercy on people in general, in the whole, or in certain individuals. And although God sovereignly decides whom to save, never does He enjoy sin with its degradations to His creation, and nor does that not mean that he isn’t a good and righteous Judge who finds any pleasure in His condemning of the deserved for their rebellion and selfishness.

    And as to the Jewish people whom God gave much time and attention to, so that if it were possible for any people to love Him outside His salvific grace and mercy it would be they, of course there is a softness there and to put it into human terms, a hurt of sorts to see them choose sin and the world over their very own God.

    So as a sinner deserving hell myself, i do know the difference between what I have earned and what I have so wonderfully received and have been promised. My sin earns hell daily. Yet i work hard and seek to put others before myself. Yet I still earn condemnation though i will never experience His wrath. And this is because of that great sacrifice of my Lord and Savior Jesus. He suffered and died for me and in m my place so that i might enjoy life abundantly now and forever. But it is God who opened my eyes and softened my heart and drew me to Himself and away from evil and death, and it is God in our many and varied ministries that will continue to be the ONLY reason any one gets saved.

  17. dr. james willingham

    And your point is? After all, a sense of compassion. And Romans ( is Paul’s expression of the greatest of compassion, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”(Roms.9:3)) continues the same idea expressed by Moses, to the effect, kill me, but spare your people, and this was so that God’s name would be glorified and honored. And my point was that we should be after the conversion of the world (cf. John Brown’s work, The Intercessory Prayer of Our Lord). We should be praying for and expecting the conversion of the whole earth for a thousand generations, especially the Calvinists, seeing as how the whole missionary enterprise really got its start from Sovereign Grace folks, who sought to be win the whole earth with therapeutic paradoxes like Christ died for the elect or I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And our Lord also sought to win His fellow neighbors in Nazareth by the same approach that won the woman of Canaan in Mt.15:21-28. And why did our Lord press the fellow about faith in Mk.9:23, “if you can believe,” to the point that the man cried out about his own wherewithal to believe, “help thou mine unbelief.”(Mk.9:24). Yes, our Lord does even show mercy and compassion even to those who will never be saved. You might want to read the sermon by B.H. Carroll on Ps.65:2 where he cites cases of God hearing the prayers of lost people recorded in the Old Testament and, if memory has not failed, even some in the New Testament. A man once asked me, “Have your ever thought about the fact that at any one time, every last soul on the face of the earth could be the elect of God?” Seven years later that question along with Jonah 3 blew my eschatology all to pieces. God grant us all grace to take the whole earth the hard way, by His message and our suffering for it, if need be.

  18. parsonsmike

    James,
    But ‘to win the whole earth” is not our mission. Our mission is to be His witnesses to the whole earth. The individual’s mission is to walk in obedience to the calling wherewith he or she is called. We can and should desire that, even as Paul decried, that all were like him sans his chains, and in our obedience leave the results up to our sovereign Lord. So in obedience that will include suffering we each have a part and a role to play. But one part is combating false doctrine or doctrine that is ‘not quite right’ because if the trumpet sound is unclear, are we being called to eat or to fight?

  19. jimwillingham

    Parsonsmike: I have probably been at this matter of maintaining the faith from its detractors for several years beyond your sojourn in the ministry. Perhaps, if you knew what I know, you might realize that one of the main elements is compassion and that it is one of the most neglected. Compassion, caring, agape love, if you please, the very essence of our Lord’s being (along with the other attributes), is just as much a part of the mission as being a faithful witness. We, of course, cannot win anyone without the Father drawing them, the Holy Spirit convicting them, and the Son receiving them. That said, there is nothing worse than a cold dead doctrinalist, who cares naught except to jot the i and cross the t. Everything in the Faith involves balance. Compassion can be run into the ground, too, by seeming to care so much that one forgets the place of standards in the process, and the same is true for the standard bearers who care naught save for the seeming purity of their cause. I say seeming, because they miss a cardinal issue by their neglect of the caring aspect.

    I note that you have not addressed the realities to which I referred in church history, Brown, Carroll. O yes, add Edwards, even John Owen, John Gill, and John Calvin (and that inspite of his folly of continuing what he had brought over from Catholicism), the latter’s sending out of preachers to the nations of Europe. To hold to purity of doctrine without a corresponding emphasis on the caring that accompanies it and is an expression of it is to make the fatal mistake of the Pharisees. They believed in the resurrection, and our Lord even recommended their standards while condemning their failures.

  20. parsonsmike

    James,
    And what does your reply have to do with me? Are you accusing me of a lack of compassion?
    Are you calling me a cold dead doctrinalist?

    Here is the difference. i have been shown compassion and therefore should be compassionate to others.
    But in my replies, I am not talking about me, i am talking about God and what He Himself tells us in His Word.
    In His Word, He doesn’t choose to be compassionate to all. Period.

    And of course that is in a salvific sense.
    He blessed the Egyptians with riches but He didn’t save them from condemnation.
    He blessed the Philistines in many ways but destroyed them.

    And unless he wakes up the USA from its ungodly slumber, He will mete out punishment om them as well.
    But does that mean I should be like Jonah and desire its demise? Nope.
    It does not mean that I as an individual should not seek to proclaim the Gospel, continuing to pray for my family and neighbors and country, and encouraging my church to walk in obedience and passion for Jesus.

    The preaching of the Gospel divides people into two camps, one that is cut to the heart and asks the preacher what they should do, and the other that is cut to the heart and seeks to stone him. And what makes the difference? The Lord does. For He has shown mercy and compassion on the former and has hardened the latter. But to know that does not diminish the compassion of the preacher, or his desire to see people saved.

    The Pharisees on the other hand were seeking acceptance from God [a resurrection to life] by their own righteousness and that path promotes pride and a disdain for their ‘lessors’. But the Law is not compassionate, not even to Pharisees, who we are are told in John 5 are condemned by Moses the very one they put their hope in. Neither is the Law compassionate to the rest of the human race, who by violating one small dietary precept were removed from God’s presence, cursed and burdened with a sin nature that kills every last one of them and deservedly so. Only by the grace and mercy of the Lord do any escape.

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