God’s Infallible Foreknowledge

Dear Reader,

This blog post is for those Christians that believe God sees/knows the future. It assumes that you also believe that is so. Of course,all are welcome to read this and respond in any way they see fit and proper.
fore·knowl·edge (fôr-nŏl′ĭj, fōr-, fôr′nŏl′-, fōr′-). n. Knowledge or awareness of something before its existence or occurrence; prescience

From Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary:

Foreknowledge

In his omniscience God knows what the future holds both for individuals and for nations. He knows and sees everything in advance and his will is carried out in accord with his plans and purposes. In the Old Testament God’s foreknowledge is usually represented by the verb yada[[;d”y], which is the normal verb for “know.” In the New Testament the main verbs are proginosko [proginwvskw], “to know in advance, ” andproorao, “to see what is ahead.” Foreknowledge is closely connected to election and predestination and to God’s sovereign rule of his universe.
As the all-knowing One, God knows everything about us, including “all the days ordained for me before one of them came to be” ( Psalm 139:16 ). He knows our thoughts and words even before they are expressed ( Psalm 139:4 ; Matt 26:34 ), and he can determine our life’s work before we are born. Jeremiah was set apart in the womb to be a prophet, chosen to minister to the nations ( Jer 1:5 ). The idea of choice is also evident in the call of Abraham to be the founder of God’s covenant nation. When Genesis 18:19 says “I have chosen him, ” the verb is literally “I knew him.”

 

From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy :FOREKNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL

First published Tue Jul 6, 2004; substantive revision Thu Aug 25, 2011
Fatalism is the thesis that human acts occur by necessity and hence are unfree. Theological fatalism is the thesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act makes the act necessary and hence unfree. If there is a being who knows the entire future infallibly, then no human act is free.
Fatalism seems to be entailed by infallible foreknowledge by the following informal line of reasoning:
For any future act you will perform, if some being infallibly believed in the past that the act would occur, there is nothing you can do now about the fact that he believed what he believed since nobody has any control over past events; nor can you make him mistaken in his belief, given that he is infallible. Therefore, there is nothing you can do now about the fact that he believed in a way that cannot be mistaken that you would do what you will do. But if so, you cannot do otherwise than what he believed you would do. And if you cannot do otherwise, you will not perform the act freely.
The same argument can be applied to any infallibly foreknown act of any human being. If there is a being who infallibly knows everything that will happen in the future, no human being has any control over the future.
The theological fatalist argument just given creates a dilemma because many people have thought it important to maintain both (1) there is a deity who infallibly knows the entire future, and (2) human beings have free will in the strong sense usually called libertarian. But the theological fatalist argument seems to show that (1) and (2) are incompatible; the only way consistently to accept (2) is to deny (1). Those philosophers who think there is a way to consistently maintain both (1) and (2) are called compatibilists about infallible foreknowledge and human free will. Compatibilists must either identify a false premise in the argument for theological fatalism or show that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Incompatibilists accept the incompatibility of infallible foreknowledge and human free will and deny either infallible foreknowledge or free will in the sense targeted by the argument.
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There is a fallacy there my friends in that it assumes that if God foreknows our choice, our choice is not free. Now many people called Calvinists don’t believe in free will, so they say, but in reality, they live and act and judge others as if free will exists. I am a 5 point Calvinist but I believe in free will.  So we have this choice, we can believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge and thus NOT believe in the freedom of will OR we can believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge and believe in freedom of the will and be >compatibilistsic< in our understanding.
Do you believe in God having infallible foreknowledge?
If so, then what follows is, I believe, something for you to ponder and pray about as the SBC seeks to find unity among ourselves despite divisions in important understandings of election and atonement.
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. [Acts 2]
Did these who nailed Jesus to the cross do so by their own free will? Did they betray Him and wound Him and gamble over His clothes and fulfill many other OT prophecies freely and willingly?
Yes? If so, the we are on the same page. Despite the truth that what was done was foreknown by God and His predetermined plan, it was done freely- by their own free will[s].
Lets continue.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, [1st Peter 1]
Now as a Calvinist, I might be drawn to the words “has caused us” but my goal here is unity on election and atonement and the HOW of salvation is not in my scope. Instead let us look at the phrase “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.
Now this passage in general poses no problem for my theology but it is used by  some to declare that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge and specifically they would postulate that it is His foreknowledge of our willfully chosen faith and trust in Jesus that makes us “chosen” or elect.
Now as a side note, there are those who see that no one is elect until they come by faith, as these understand from this passage from Ephesians 1:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him
The “us” are not individuals but are to be seen in a corporate understanding: as a person becomes “in” Christ they become elect because He is the Elect One..  Does this affect the thrust of my discussion?  No, as long as these also believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge. If so they are still in the same boat and headed the same direction.
Here then is a quick summary: God foreknows who will be saved and in that sense has always known who will be saved infallibly. if you have agreed so far but disagree with this, respond and explain why, if you so please. To add a little: God knows infallibly EXACTLY who will freely put their trust in Him and has known this from before the foundation of the world. These are, at least from the perspective of looking back in time from the second resurrection: the ELECT.
Still with me in the boat? I hope so. Now let us move out further into the sea, out where the waters can get quite choppy. Yes, let us move on to the Atonement.
We agree on God’s infallible foreknowledge, We agree that by that foreknowledge God knows from the foundation of the world who will be with Him in Heaven, the elect. And let us discuss Atonement.

in the many ways to look at atonement, one way is to look at when it happens. One might say it happens at the cross. Another might say it happens at the moment of faith. I think it happens at both places but with different definitions.

Until a person gets saved, the Bible is quite clear that the hate God, see Him as their enemy, are followers of Satan, and choosers of a sinful life. When a person gets saved, the Bible says that the love God, see Him as friend, follow Him, and choose a godly life. Their life is changed, the blood is applied, the Spirit indwells, they are forgiven, they are made new. Whereas before they were headed to Hell and deservedly so, they are now headed to Heaven. Thus it is fair to say that the atonement procured at the cross has been applied to these who have willing of their own free will put their hope and trust in Jesus.

And though we cannot see their heart, we can hear their testimony and see their changed life and give them the right hand of fellowship. From our perspective we see them as a new brother or sister in Christ. A year before Paul was met on the road to Damascus, it would have taken a prophet indeed to see Paul [then Saul] becoming a Christian one day. Who knew?

God. God knew.
He didn’t share it, but He knew.

God knew from before the foundation of the world the destiny of Saul of Tarsus. He knew infallibly that Saul would surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and willingly put his hope and trust in the crucified risen Lord.

I hope that the destiny of my daughters is to be in Christ, but I honestly do not know what they will choose. God does.

God knows if they will submit to Him or reject the Gospel and perish. He knows. He has infallible foreknowledge. He knows EXACTLY who, by name, by birth place, by fingerprint, by year, by country, by age, and by number, who will be saved. These and ONLY these will be saved, otherwise His foreknowledge is not infallible.

Assuming that it is, we can be bold to also say that God knows exactly who will not be saved, down to the number, and name by name., and that He has always known who these people are.

For a Calvinist, like me, that is simply a part of my understanding, even as hard as it is. For a non-Calvinist, you may be wanting to get out of the boat and put some distance from me in a theological sense. BUT WAIT… IF you believe that God has infallible foreknowledge, how can you not agree with what I have just said? Please respond and lets dialogue some.

Assuming we are in agreement so far, let us go back to perspectives and apply some ideas to the atonement. Remember i also said that one perspective of the atonement is when it is applied to a person, when they believe, but that another perspective is when it was procured there on His cross.

From our perspective and from the way the Gospel is to be preached, people are sinners in need of salvation that can only be found in Jesus and that until they do, they are lost; and unless they find salvation in Jesus they will remain lost and perish in their sins. And this Gospel we are  commissioned to preach to all men everywhere, so that in hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, they might surrender themselves to Him and be saved. We know not which are elect and which never will trust Him. Some we think are too hard and evil surprise us with their humility and their desire to bow before our Lord. In this sense, we have a general call, and we preach, in a sense, a general atonement, so that we do faithfully declare that all or any that call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike should preach that Gospel call to all. Every 5 pointer i know preaches that call to all. Even one that said that compared to our Calvinist leaning SBC church as opposed to another church down the road, said that they were the Free-Will Baptists and we were the unfree-will baptists happens to be a man who has gone many times to both Africa and South America to bring the Gospel to the poor, and has aided others financially to join him. He makes a general call and preaches a general atonement trusting in God to save.

But there is another perspective that we humans do not have but that God does. God knows exactly who in that crowd, if any, or if all, are of His elect [He has infallible foreknowledge after all]. When He decided to and when He did send His Son into the world, He knew exactly who would be saved and who would be lost, no more and no less. In that sense, and from that perspective, the atoning work of Jesus is particular, it is limited.

Now i am not speaking of God’s desires. I am speaking of what God knows, what He has always known, and what is pragmatic and sure: God knows that the blood of Jesus will only save a limited, specific, and particular number of people. No more and no less.

From God’s perspective the atonement is limited.
From our perspective it is general.

There is still a lot in these matters that we will disagree on, and should disagree on as our hearts lead us to truth. But if we agree on God having infallible foreknowledge, than these are things we can agree on, and should agree on.

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13 comments

  1. Doug Sayers

    Ken, first I would encourage you to strive for more clarity in your writing by using some quotation marks or somehow make it clear when you are stating your view or another’s view. The following are somewhat confusing and coupled with the length of your posts make them easy to ignore or dismiss. This would be unfortunate because you make some valid points.

    For example, in this post you say:

    “For a Calvinist, like me, that is simply a part of my understanding, even as hard as it is.” (comes across unclear)

    “There is a fallacy there my friends in that it assumes that if God foreknows our choice, our choice is not free. Now many people called Calvinists don’t believe in free will, so they say, but in reality, they live and act and judge others as if free will exists. I am a 5 point Calvinist but I believe in free will. ” (who is the 5 point Calvinist?)

    Contrasted to this statement on a recent Forum post it makes for some confusion on where you personally are coming from:

    “Thanks for the response, Dr. Ascol. I disagree with Calvinism on 4 out of 5 points, but I have learned more from studying Calvinists than I could ever learn from studying “that other group.”

    Maybe its me, (and no doubt the philosophical/ethereal nature of the subject) but I found your post hard to follow.

    I did get this, you say:

    “There is a fallacy there my friends in that it assumes that if God foreknows our choice, our choice is not free”

    I think many on both sides would agree with this statement and this shows the difficulty in settling the debate over Calvinism with the issue of how the mind makes choices (before and after the fall). My hope is that we would start using the term “power of contrary choice” instead of trying to give formal names to everybody’s position. (i.e. Compatbilism, LIbertarian). It isn’t long before a debate ensues over the “proper” definition of the formal names and that only serves to muck the thing up even more.

    The term free will is virtually useless now as both sides use the term and claim they use it properly.

    I maintain that the term “contrary choice” better describes the concept in question.

    As to God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, I’m no expert. I know that God, at least, appears to be ignorant of what Adam would name the animals, whether or not Abraham would offer Isaac, and how bad things had gotten in Sodom. Also, in His parables, Jesus often presented the God figure (Landowner, master, etc.) as going off into a far country and leaving the subordinates to act apart from His direct control and knowledge. There must be a reason that God presents Himself this way in Scripture and I don’t think the reason is that He wants us to be Open Theists! Just mention these biblical texts to a typical Calvinist and watch how quickly you get accused of being an embryonic Open Theist.

  2. parsonsmike

    Doug,
    Granted, Ken does most of the original postings on this blog, but on this post, it was not Ken, but me, Mike.
    I am sorry about the confusion this caused.
    If you look under the title of the original post, you will see my name under the moniker “parsonsmike”.

    You said..“For a Calvinist, like me, that is simply a part of my understanding, even as hard as it is.” (comes across unclear)

    Some doctrines are hard to grasp and understand and prove. Calvinists, for the most part, believe that God chooses to save some and to leave the rest to die in their sins.

    You said:
    (who is the 5 point Calvinist?)
    That would be me, Mike.

    You said:
    I think many on both sides would agree with this statement and this shows the difficulty in settling the debate over Calvinism with the issue of how the mind makes choices (before and after the fall). My hope is that we would start using the term “power of contrary choice” instead of trying to give formal names to everybody’s position. (i.e. Compatbilism, LIbertarian). It isn’t long before a debate ensues over the “proper” definition of the formal names and that only serves to muck the thing up even more.

    Actually what you are declaring as unambiguous, “the power of contrary choice” is both ambiguous and redundant. Choice by its definition and essence depicts more than one option. Contrary is too definite, for most choices are not strictly opposite in nature, direction, or meaning. Some are. But to limit our understanding of free will to that narrow word does a disservice to the subject.

    The real problem that causes division is not really in freedom of choice or a lack of it. No one is forced to believe the Gospel and no one is forced to reject it. The real problem lies in how the two different sides understand the why of accepting and rejecting.

    But discussing this ‘why’ is not the purpose of this thread.

    You finished with:
    As to God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, I’m no expert. I know that God, at least, appears to be ignorant of what Adam would name the animals, whether or not Abraham would offer Isaac, and how bad things had gotten in Sodom. Also, in His parables, Jesus often presented the God figure (Landowner, master, etc.) as going off into a far country and leaving the subordinates to act apart from His direct control and knowledge. There must be a reason that God presents Himself this way in Scripture and I don’t think the reason is that He wants us to be Open Theists! Just mention these biblical texts to a typical Calvinist and watch how quickly you get accused of being an embryonic Open Theist.

    This paragraph sir does nothing to throw light onto the subject and is divisive.
    You added nothing.
    You brought up problems you have had with others not on this website. Are you seeking to import an argument?
    For what godly reason?

    My guess is that you can not deal with the material presented. I have no need to dictate to you how you see God or understand His attributes. If you do not see Him as having infallible foreknowledge could you tell us what you do think? If you do not know what to think, then maybe you can tell us why you have a problem with my conclusions.

    Either way, may His peace be with you in abundance,
    -mike

  3. doug sayers

    Mike/Ken, I apologize to you both. Not for failing to fully understand God’s omniscience, and how He chooses to use it, but for missing the name on the post. Being new to this site, I assumed Ken was writing. My bad entirely. I should have realized the mistake.

    One caution though, I would be slow to build our soteriology based heavily on our limited understanding of God’s foreknowledge.

  4. parsonsmike

    Doug,
    No problem on missing who the author was. I am glad it is straightened out.

    Thanks for the caution. But my soteriology is not based heavily on my knowledge of God’s foreknowledge. Nor do I think most Calvinists do so.
    And of course not one of us fully understands God’s omniscience.
    So forgive me Doug if i think there is a problem with the way you respond.
    You do know that your responses are not required by other humans like those who post and read this blog, so I do not understand why you seem to have the attitude you do.
    No one expects you to fully understand God’s omniscience, yet you felt the need to NOT apologize for it.
    I began my post by saying that it was written for those who DO believe that God has foreknowledge: [“This blog post is for those Christians that believe God sees/knows the future. It assumes that you also believe that is so”]

    And when asked direct questions of what you do believe, you do not answer.
    I would love to dialogue with you, brother to brother in Christian love. But I do not see the need for the attitude you seem to be bringing to the discussion. The purpose of the post is to find unity despite differences, to find common points of agreement.

    Would you care to respond to what I have written and explain your views of election?

  5. rhutchinrhutchin

    “Now many people called Calvinists don’t believe in free will,…”

    We can be more precise. Calvinists do not believe that people have a free will with regard to the gospel. The unsaved person has a will that is dominated by the sin nature, and if that were not bad enough, Paul says that the unsaved perish because Satan has blinded them. Thus, the unsaved person has a will and chooses to sin but that will is not free to choose salvation – Calvinists say that the unsaved person is not free to choose salvation. When God intervenes in the life of the unsaved, He removes the hard heart of the sin nature and the blindness imposed by Satan thereby freeing the person to hear the gospel. It is this person who can be said to have a genuine free will. Anyone with a genuine free will naturally chooses to believe the gospel message. Only a fool would reject the gospel, but a fool is unsaved and not free.

    “…so they say, but in reality, they live and act and judge others as if free will exists.”

    Again, more precision. People live and act and judge because they have a will – people are not robots. Whether that will is free – or the extent of the freedom that can be exercised by the will – is the issue. I am not aware that it is possible to prove that the will is “free,” and I don’t think anyone has developed a proof of the “freedom” of the will. So long as a person can choose to do that which is desirable and acceptable to him, he is generally assumed to have a “free” will, but whether that will is truly free is probably impossible to prove.

  6. rhutchin

    In regard to Ephesians 1, “The “us” are not individuals but are to be seen in a corporate understanding: as a person becomes “in” Christ they become elect because He is the Elect One.”

    In the natural reading (I think), Paul uses the term, “us,” to include himself in the discussion. Thus, each person could read this to apply to himself individually together with Paul and read this as, “God has blessed me as well as Paul…” Later Paul writes, “In whom you also trusted…” Corporately, Paul means the Ephesians (and by extension, all believers) but the force of Paul’s point is on the individual – you believed.

    This idea that “they become elect because He is the Elect One” confuses me and I don’t know what you mean. Believers are elect by virtue of being chosen by God. You seem to want to explain the phrase “in Christ.” So, I think you wrote, “He is the Elect One.” Count me confused about your thinking here.

  7. parsonsmike

    rhutchin,

    You said, ” We can be more precise. Calvinists do not believe that people have a free will with regard to the gospel.”

    You probably meant that some Calvinists don’t believe in the kind of free will you believe in as regard to the Gospel.
    Everyone who rejects the Gospel, rejects it by their own free will, says this Calvinist, and everyone who accepts the Gospel, does it by their own free will. Since those who reject it do not want it and don’t believe it, then from the heart, they cannot embrace it as truth since it is foolishness to them.
    Likewise, to those who see the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation, do freely accept it, and are saved.

    What is freedom? Or can we define it as a life without constraints? But who lives without constraints? Thus when we modify will by calling it free, many mean that the will is not determined, or forced in its choices. In other words, people make choices based on their wants and desires. To that extent, the will is free. Some times the choices are not optimum, and sometimes they seem to demand that we choose the best of two evils, but if we choose in those types of situations, it is still done ‘freely’.

    As to corporate election, to which some people believe, they believe that Ephesians 1 was NOT speaking of individuals but only of Christ. They believe one is elect when one us ‘in Christ’, but not until then.

    The point is that as long as even these believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge, the amount who will be saved is set in stone, it is a ‘limited’ amount. Thus only these certain peculiar people will be saved, and only these. God knows EXACTLY how many people will be covered by the blood of Jesus, and knew that BEFORE He created. Any one who believes that God has infallible foreknowledge should grasp this truth and quit arguing that God is trying to save all He can.

    Could God have saved more? Woulda, coulda, shoulda, it doesn’t matter, for in this world, in our reality, there is ONLY that certain number, that only He knows, no more, no less. So in this very real and true sense the Atonement is limited. For when God sent His Son into the world to die for the sins of people, He knew exactly the amount of people Jesus would atone for.

    So when one speaks up for a general atonement, they fail to understand the implications of their own beliefs. The atonement is only general in that we humans have no idea or clue which ones of the general population will be saved, so we should obey God and implore them all to surrender to the Gospel. For in it we proclaim that Jesus is the crucified risen Lord of all and that people everywhere and in every time ought to submit unto His Lordship.

    peace,
    mike

  8. rhutchin

    “You probably meant that some Calvinists don’t believe in the kind of free will you believe in as regard to the Gospel. Everyone who rejects the Gospel, rejects it by their own free will, says this Calvinist,…”

    Under the concept of Total Depravity, the unsaved do not, and cannot, willingly seek out God – it is their nature (and natural desire) to reject the message of the gospel. The reason for this is that the person is enslaved to sin and not free. I think the consistent Calvinist, because of Total Depravity, cannot describe the unsaved as “free” with regard to issues of salvation. However, as the unsaved are not robots and have wills, they are “free” to engage in sin as they are not coerced to any sin – they do what their sinful natures desire within the constraints placed on them by God (as even Satan could do nothing to Job (or Adam/Eve or any person) except with the prior approval of God).

    Under the concept of irresistible grace, God removes the hindrances of sin (and a sin nature) that bind the unsaved that allows “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, [to] shine unto them.” Non-Calvinists mistakenly think that irresistible grace refers to some deterministic drawing of people to grace in opposition to their true desires and will. This is why they get regeneration backwards. Irresistible grace refers to God’s grace to remove the shackles of slavery to sin from the unsaved providing them genuine “freedom” to respond to the gospel. The grand infatuation of the non-Calvinists with “free will” has them imagining that an unsaved person in the grip of sin could actually respond to the gospel while still in the grip of sin ( still unregenerate).

    Later you write, “The point is that as long as even these believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge, the amount who will be saved is set in stone, it is a ‘limited’ amount….Any one who believes that God has infallible foreknowledge should grasp this truth and quit arguing that God is trying to save all He can.”

    The issue here is not so much foreknowledge (although that seems easy for people to deal with) but the manner in which God gains such foreknowledge. The Calvinists might say that God decides whom He will save and those decisions become His infallible foreknowledge. If we want to be hard core Calvinists, we can say, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” Regardless, either position drives the non-Calvinist crazy because they want God to save people only after those people freely decide that they want to be saved. Of course, this makes God’s knowledge dependent on people’s decisions and this prevents God being omniscient – even if He is a very smart god and still knows all things. God could have infallible foreknowledge and not be omniscient – the distinction being how God comes by His infallible foreknowledge.

  9. parsonsmike

    rhutchins,

    Is my will free to choose to high jump 15 feet? What it seems you [and of course others] are doing is seeking to redefine willfulness for only part of what people will or will not do. The question I think you should ask yourself is what is the difference between our will [when being saved] and the will of one not chosen? I say that the difference is NOT in your wills, not at all. Rather the difference is in your understanding of the reality that is before you when you and they hear the Gospel. That if they had the same understanding as you did, they would do as you did: submit to Jesus.
    1st Corinthians 1 puts it like this: The words of the cross are foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, they are the power of God. They, of course, who are of the perishing, of course they reject the Gospel WILLINGLY, because they see it as foolishness, and in fact, though some may try to live by it, they cannot since they do not believe it. But to those God has revealed Himself to in the face of Jesus [2nd Cor. 4] they,you and I, see it as God’s saving power, and thus we willingly embrace Jesus.

    Thus it is not a matter of will, not at all, but one of perception. We all deserve to be blind to God’s holy truth, but in His mercy and grace, He has opened our eyes to see what we could never deserve to see and to experience God both here and forever.

    But the reason I am focusing on foreknowledge is because it is a point of agreement with most non-open theists. It is a crack in their position, that maybe by exposing their inconsistency at that place, they might see their inconsistencies in other places.

    So I am not giving a full blown out doctrine of foreknowledge, nor do I need to, so as to get my ‘foot in the door’. I am using what they already ascribe to and hold fast to, to point out that there is something missing in their theology. And this is with the idea, that we might grow closer together in understanding. Whatever can be shaken, will be shaken, so there is profit in doing a little shaking now.

    peace brother,
    mike

  10. rhutchin

    “Is my will free to choose to high jump 15 feet? What it seems you [and of course others] are doing is seeking to redefine willfulness for only part of what people will or will not do.”

    One may will to high jump 15 feet. The physical ability to achieve that which one wills is another issue. The issue here is whether one is “free” to will to high jump 15 feet. At the least, people are not (at least, we think so) puppets on a string whose will is driven by something other than ourselves and in that sense, we are “free.” However, if our will is driven by a sin nature – that constrains the choices we face, are we “free” even when driven by a nature that is unique to each person?

    As you note, Paul tells us that the preaching of the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing and later that Satan has blinded those who are perishing. Can those who are perishing choose to save themselves when that which provides salvation is foolishness to them? Of course not. Thus, those who are perishing cannot be said to have a “free” will – where a free will identifies the ability to choose salvation. It is God who must act to give a person a “free” will that enables the person to choose salvation.

    If God chooses to give “free” will to any person today, then He knew He would do this before He created the world. Thus, God’s foreknowledge of the future is a foreknowledge of those actions He will take take in the course of time. The distinction between those who come to salvation (God’s elect) and those who do not (the reprobate) is found only in God’s actions towards those people. Even those who appeal to a “common grace” cannot escape this conclusion – to divorce God from the equation, in any respect, to allow the individual to be involved in that outcome would require that common grace be such that all are saved or not efficient to save any. If God’s grace results in some being saved and others not, then God has distinguished between the two and the persons actions are irrelevant in actively bringing about that conclusion.

    The non-Calvinist will sometimes ascribe foreknowledge to God being derived by God looking into the future to learn who accepts salvation. Such people seem blind to the foolishness they propose (I think). So, while Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that God has foreknowledge of future events, they can mean very different things – the inconsistency that you note.

    So, after all this, I am agreeing with you.

  11. parsonsmike

    rhutchin,
    well, we are both 5 pointers.
    In framing free will the C way, we lose any leverage in getting through to the general populace.
    in many paths of apologetics, making a point of contact in the other guy’s framework, can be just what is needed to allow truth to reign. Jesus did it all the time.

  12. parsonsmike

    Now let us consider what choice and righteousness have in common. To have a choice in a moral matter is to have the ability to do right or wrong. But if you had no choice, it could not be a moral matter for you. But what if your previous evil choice or choices had certain consequences that darkened your understanding and left you unable to see a truth? You would still be liable for your continued wrong choices because you, by your wrong ways, caused yourself to be blind to the truth now presented before you.

    So we read in Romans 11:
    For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

    and again in Galatians 3:
    Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    One consequence of sin is to be shut up in sin. This ‘shutting up’ is part of the plan of God in redeeming by faith.
    We read in Romans 1:

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    People choose sin over God and God chooses to shut them up in sin. They reject Him and His glory and therefore lose spiritual sight: their minds are futile and their hearts are darkened: they are shut up in sin.

    But it is not as if they fail to perceive the law of God. For we read soon again in Romans 1:

    And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    Not only do they know the law, they also have the ability to judge righteousness where the law doesn’t specifically report, as we read in Romans 2:
    Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

    Now this knowledge and understanding of rights and wrongs, because of their darkened heart and futile thinking mind, leads them not toward the Almighty Judge, but away from Him. Thus we see in every culture, and in every place,and throughout all of time, man seeking to raise up his own gods, these even with lower standards he can not meet. But man is conditioned by his own selfish heart to expect god to appear not only as the servant of man but also as a ‘yes man’ to man. In other words, a god after himself.

    Jesus came as a servant but He demands men be like Him and be servants as well, and serve Himself as Lord. So as long as He served them, he was tolerated, but when he did not perform as they hoped, they were happy to see him die. So is every man and woman in every culture, place, and time.

    Galatians 3 also tells us:
    For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    The Law covers all moral choices and is an unbreakable Unit. One must do ALL of it or one is cursed. It represents the Holy and Righteousness of God. To break any part of it is to fall short of both His righteousness and His glory. Romans 3 establishes that we all have sinned and fallen short and thereby we all stand cursed. Righteousness then can only be attained outside of the Law. And that means outside of moral choice, since moral choice is how free agents keep or break the law.

    Therefore to speak of a person’s inability to choose salvation [as most C’s do], or to speak of a person’s ability to choose faith [as most non-C’s do] is to frame the truth in the wrong way. Salvation is by faith, not moral choice. Since it is not by choice, one does not need to be regenerated before faith. And since it is not by choice, its not the most important decision you will ever make.

    Let’s look at it in another way, by looking at faith.
    It is obvious that before we are saved, and by that I mean before God begins His good work in us, that we are haters of the true God. We don’t trust Him, for as we read in Romans 1, we do not even acknowledge Him anymore. This includes His Law as being of God. So while our conscience continues to remind us of right and wrong, our futile minds attribute it to some other source, some to a collective conscious, some to one’s culture. and to other things as well. Combine this with the first step one makes, of repentance, and an acknowledgement of hell as one’s proper destiny, and you have a race that shrinks away from God, and rightfully so: before salvation we all earned hell.
    So how do we come to trust one we do not even acknowledge and if he is really real, has it in for us? -Because some preacher tells us we must?

    So think on how we come to trust. Or look at the OT record. did the Israelis trust in Moses’ and his god at first”? Nope!
    Look at the Psalms and other places where the Israelis praise God for His deliveramnceThe people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. The Lord drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

    Trust is gained. To trust someone with the heart means that the one so trusted has shown himself trustworthy. How does God show Himself
    trustworthy to a person that first does not acknowledge Him, and second, has cause to be in great dread from?

    We read:

    For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    God demonstrates His own love to us while we still in our sin, that Jesus died for us. He does this individually, so that we can say that, God demonstrated His love towards me, that when I was lost in sin, that Jesus died for me!
    And of course God continues demonstrating that love He has for us, that Jesus died for me, and it draws us back to repentance again and again!!!

    Why do we choose Jesus, but because of His great glory and because of His great love. We choose BECAUSE we believe.

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