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Jul 17, 2007


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Now that we know what you don't believe, what do you believe? You mention the first option is attractive, but don't exactly embrace it.

Regarding God taking credit for the good that I do, how do you think Ephesians 2:10 relates?




i agree with boyce and mullins on this. you have described very accurately and clearly what founders friendly calvinists believe. i really enjoyed reading this....and, i learned from it. thanks.


Debbie Kaufman

I personally adhere to the 1689 London Baptist Confession. Look at scripture such as Job 42:11:

11Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil[b] that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money[c] and a ring of gold.


Scott: don't know if we've met, and I know I'm not Peter, but can I venture my own simplistic view of that verse?

I see the "good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" as good works (all of the works) that God would have ALL of us walk in. Just as we are to love God with all our hearts, souls, bodies and minds, some of us choose to only abandon a portion of those portions of ourselves to the Lordship of Christ. Therefore we don't all walk all the time in all of the "good works" which God prepared (his precepts and commands) beforehand.

And if we all DID manage to walk in ALL those prepared good works, then there would have been no need to command us to walk in them, would there? It would have been a given that we "elect" would do so, no?

I think too much, sometimes and sometimes my simplicity confuses even me. selahV


PETER: dear brother, this post is a wonderful discussion forum. However, I do wish you'd have broken down some of your wonderful thoughts into bite-sized chewies for us to comment on. I just Know I'm gonna get lost in this. whew. love it though. Will read with deep interest at the comments int he stream.

You quoted Mullins' Q&A as saying, "Can we reconcile the sovereignty of God and human freedom in his electing grace? The answer is in the negative."

I'd agree that WE might not be able to reconcile it in our finite human minds, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of it being done by God in His sovereignty over All things, ideas, understandings and intentions, does it? What man cannot reconcile, God can reconcile. Even His sovereignty and our free will, no? selahV


Peter, this is a thought provoking post and as I began to comment, I noticed the length and exercised my free will to stop at once. I am posting on my blog my thoughts and linking to this post.
Thanks again,


Peter, I'm wrestling with this idea that when I read what Calvinist write they seem to view God as waiting for time to unfold and the only reason He knows the future is He ordains the future and if He left us with free will then He would somehow have to either look in a crystal ball to see what our actions are or He would just wait for our actions as they happen and deal with them. I know not all Calvinist believe this but this is how they deal with what we believe. That God would somehow be wringing His hands if He allowed us to have free will. To me that is an incrediabley small g god. Completely destroys His omniscience.

I love this Oswald Chambers quote: "When we become advocates of a creed, something dies; we do not believe God, we only believe our belief about Him."

Richard Coords


Suppose that a particular husband discovers that his wife has been cheating on him, and in a fit of rage, hires a hit-man to murder his wife. Now suppose that upon being caught, during an intense interogation, the hit-man coughs up the name of the husband, as having hired him. Do you suppose that the husband (the Conspirator) will be held LESS culpable if he uses the "secondary causes" defense?, in that he didn't actually carry out the crime himself, but rather, did it through "secondary causes"? In our society, the hit-man would plea-bargain for a lesser charge in order that the Prosecutor may bring his most serious charge against the primary agent.

Therefore, if God was to carry out sin through "secondary causes," how would that make Him less culpable of sin?


G'day Peter,
Thanks for so succinctly putting the material from Mullins and Boyce (I didn't realise Mullins agreed so much with Boyce and that was "encourageing").
I particularly liked that quote "We are dealing here with ultimate forms of experience and of thought."
Now there is a statement worth diving into!
However, I do disagree with you on the reasons you perceive behind the 1689's statements on secondary causes.
I do not see the 1689 Confession in any way at odds with Boyce's statement.

I think, (like the statement of the Executive committee at the 2007 convention) the 1689 statement says what it says. It doesn't go further than just stating God's sovereignty over "secondary causes"
as the original Westminster Confession of faith states
"I. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

The 1689 Baptist Confession takes each of the statements of the WCF and slightly expands them ( I guess we Baptists needed it explained a little more).

The WCF presents these statements not as "methods" by which God acts explaining His Sovereignty (which is what we practical Baptists would like .. when we need our practical sermons on "how to ... whatever") but rather the WCF (and therefore the 1689 BCF) is phrased in legal terms as clauses that rather restrict the degree to which the doctrine of the divine decree can be taken.

It is actually saying exactly what Boyce said in your splendid quote
"The Scriptures recognize both the sovereignty of God, and the free agency, and accountability of man. Consciousness assures us of the latter. The nature of God, as has just been shown, proves the former. The Bible makes no attempt to reconcile the two... The two facts are plainly revealed. They cannot be contradictory, they must be reconcilable. That we cannot point out the harmony between them is a proof, only of our ignorance, and limited capacity, and not that both are not true." (Abstract of Systematic Theology, p.118).

The WCF (and therefore the 1689 BCF) are stating what Boyce said, no more really.

It is rather saying exactly what you Peter are saying, that God in His Sovereignty is sovereign over all, but at the same time we recognise that day by day you and I make decisions that indicate our own human responsibility.

It is probably on the issue of "free will" that we would differ.

Now Peter, please note, I personally do not use the term "free will" because there is a sense in which no decision any one makes is ever truly free from external influences.
Those influences may include a host of items both sacred, sinful, secular or ... give me another "s" word.. I'm a Baptist preacher... I wont sleep till I get another s for this!!.. the influences: family of origin, nation of origin, culture of origin, education in all its forms and varieities throughout life, life experiences, sinful desires, sinful personality traits, non sinful personality traits (if we have any), desires,etc etc etc, all of which make us who we are, and thereby influence the decisions we make, so that in fact no decision is a free decision if you are over the age of 1 month... because every decision is influenced and thereby biassed.
The BCF says of this as you have quoted: "nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away,"
The BCF is saying that we do make conscious decisions. And those decisions feel "free". They are not "free", but we are responsible for them. Yet God is still Sovereign over all... (now I sound like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.. "First Base!!"
God is Sovereign, but man is responsible! Can we go further than that? Not in this life buddy! :) We just wind up right back there at first base! God is Sovereign, but man is responsible!
And I suppose we all wind up just breathing a sigh and saying.. "Well , let it be", and then smiling as we recognise our human limitations, and the wonder of God's grace in His Sovereignty.
And thankfully one day although I will remain Steve, we will have fuller knowledge in glory.


OK explain me to me how there is any such a thing as secondary causes if God ordains everything (is that "the Single Degree") which would mean God ordained the sinful nature of man. God caused man to have the nature that would sin. If man only has a will to choose evil it is because God made it so.

Richard Coords

Calvinist, John MacArthur, comments: “Antichrist’s self-serving, satanically inspired actions are, however, precisely in the scope of God’s sovereign plan. In fact, it is God who will put it in the hearts of Antichrist’s followers to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast. God’s power is behind the destruction and consolidation of the evil empire; as always, Satan is the instrument of God’s purposes.” (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11, p.172, emphasis mine)


Good thoughtful comment Richard,
I think the answer to the question you raise is
"Because He is God" and because we are His creation we have responsibilites to Him, that He does not have to us.
(I know that is simplisitic and irritating in its simplicity but I do believe it is a Biblical answer)


Now, the log jam of scripture proofs:

EPH 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. ROM 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! HEB 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. ROM 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

JAM 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 1JO 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

ACT 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. MAT 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. ACT 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. JOH 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. PRO 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Richard Coords


I love simplicity, and I very much do appreciate your "straight answer." One Calvinist also once candidly said to me, "Well if God is not worried about it, then why should I?"

Richard Coords

However, Steve, remember that Jesus is the "spotless Lamb," and He could not be spotless if He carried out sin through "secondary caueses," or at least, that is why I presume. It is because of this that many Calvinists rigorously deny that God is the "author of sin."


Mary: I love that Oswald quote, too.

In making reason on a point you wrote, "If man only has a will to choose evil it is because God made it so."

That is exactly how some folks see it. I choose to believe God allows us to choose to do good or evil, otherwise, why say we drawn into sin when we can resist it. Isn't "resist the devil and he shall flee" a point made that we have the choice to resist or the choice to give in? That's my way of thinking. But I'm just learning here. selahV


Absolutely richard,
again a very good comment,
ANd all I can say is


I think that's why the WCF and BCF just give limitations, without explanations.. I don't think the problem is solvable in this life with our limited capacities..
Its sort of like having a difficult legal case; You can't state the reasons behind an activity, you can only state what the activity was.

I think the Westminster guys have donejust that. They say what can be said and then go no further. They are even happy to state things that to our minds may even seem contradictory truths! Because, in the end, that's all we can do. All we can do is just state what the Bible appears to be saying, whether it fits our theology or not.

Richard Coords


Realize, however, that the Arminian solves the riddle of God's Sovereignty and the Free Will of man very simply, and in THIS lifetime, though not in a way that is, at all, appealing to the Calvinist, which to the Calvinist, believes that it ultimately SACRIFICES the Sovereignty of God. The Arminian, on the other hand, believes that if God were to lay a man's destiny in his own hands (Heaven or Hell), that it would not detract from God's sovereignty UNLESS God wanted for some person to go to heaven (beyond others), and could not do otherwise to save the one that He really, really, really wanted. Arminianism essentially says, "Steve, by yourself, you're no better than anyone else, and for you to experience God's grace, you must find shelter in the Noah's Ark of Christ, which is the sole place of God's grace."

So for the Arminian, God's Sovereignty and the Free Will of man is as easy as pie. God is always in control, without necessarily controlling everything that everyone does. God sets the boundaries for what man CAN choose, and determines the consequence, Heaven and Hell, for what man WILL choose.


Yes I understand that, however then we don't have to grapple with those verses that says that God is Sovereign and does elect.
Bye the way I do think "Steve, by yourself, you're no better than anyone else, and for you to experience God's grace, you must find shelter in the Noah's Ark of Christ, which is the sole place of God's grace."
is absolutely true.
I just don't think I could make that decision on my own. I absolutely need God's help.

Richard Coords


Arminians acknowledge the utter necessity of "God's help" by way of Prevenient Grace, nevertheless the issue that Arminius really took issue with, that got him in so much hot water, was the fact that he refused to speak of Election "in the abstract," as you have. In other words, God is a Sovereign God who elects...and He elects in Christ. That's the Christocentric nature of election, as per Eph 1:4 and 2Tim 1:9. To the Arminian, we have no grace, and we have no election, apart from our grace and election in Christ, in whom we have been chosen.

peter lumpkins


My, my. Such fun we are having I see. The only rule is to play nice. Not nice is, well, not nice. And we in the South have a way of dealing with not nice: NO SOUP FOR YOU! {:^)

I stand especially privileged Alycelee left us a foot print. Though I have not frequented her blog, she posted an exquisite response at her site. Do not fail to take a look-see.

Alycelee, I've found from Wade Burleson's site, is quite capable of offering challenging engagement. Mary, I think, may have found a new sparring partner. Sorry, Timotheos...Indeed she's already gloved-up and punched. Check it out:


Grace. With that, I am...



Thanks Richard,
I do have a question though... ( I hope this sin't off track, and I am asking out fo a sincere desire to know, not as an arguing point, but wasn't that Barth's view of election, rather than Arminius'?

Was that also Arminius' view?
I would be grateful to know, so that I don't presume.

And yes I do see the point of that, I just don't think it deals adequately with Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Election seems to involve God's appointing or ordaining some people to something. ("and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. KJV")

Richard Coords


To the Arminian, in terms of Acts 13:48, God's ordination of a person to "eternal life" occurs when they are made Born Again, and the new birth instills a desire to "want" to serve God. In other words, what that passage says to me is that everyone who was saved on that day, from that message, became part of a group of truly sold-out believers. In fact, Acts 13:44-48 reminds me of Acts 2:37-47.

However, if you take the Calvinist perspective, then you'd have to assume that Luke received special knowledge of WHO was among the alleged, "eternal flock of the Father," and that they all SIMULTANEOUSLY believed, which presumes, therefore, that there were no "second chances," in that ALL of the eternal flock of the Father believed. So if they didn't believe on that occasion, then they never would, and that's not where Luke was taking that discussion, nor hints of it. Instead, what we have is a group of Gentiles who heard & rejoiced, and were ordained and believed.

As for Jacob Arminius, here is what he wrote: “God acknowledges, as His own, no sinner, and He chooses no one to eternal life except in Christ, and for the sake of Christ. ‘He hath chosen us in Him,’ (Ephes. i. 4); ‘wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved,’ (verse 6). ‘Nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Rom. viii. 39). ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.’ (2 Cor. v. 19).” (Works of James Arminius, Volume 3, emphasis mine)




Thanks for your engagement. Yes, I am not at all uncomfortable speaking in terms of "mystery" to understand the relationship between Sovereignty and free will.

And while Mullins seemed to be comfortable embracing it, I honestly do not think Boyce possessed such comfort--and I say that in the face of the quote I offered from Boyce that seems to the contrary.

Indeed I think Boyce, like virtually all Calvinists nowadays who are committed unconditional determinists, cannot leave the issue in mystery's safe-deposit box for very long. Nor, to a large extent, can either Arminians or any other NonCalvinist for that matter. Why?

One reason is curiosity I'm sure, but a larger, more indicative reason is the virtual impossibility of escaping the question on a daily, practical level. We live our very existence on the basis of choices, desires, will, etc. which ever flings this issue before us. We cannot not think about choosing.

That said, most Calvinists who are unconditional determinists--"whatsoever comes to pass ones"--almost inevitably end up with what is known as a "compatibilist" position of free-will. That is, the mind chooses what it most desires. R.C. Sproul is a champion of this position.

By the same token, most all NonCalvinists, including Arminians, view free will as the ability to choose otherwise. At face, this obviously flies in the face of Calvinism's irresistible grace doctrine, for a person who possesses the ability to choose otherwise may obviously choose not to follow Christ when the Gospel is offered. C.S. Lewis may be the best, most accessible advocate of this position.

I probably spoke more than you asked for, Scott. At any rate, in short, I am comfortable at one level talking the mystery position, but inevitably break my silence vow and insist upon defining free will as the ability to do otherwise. This places me a substantial distance from traditional, five point Calvinism.

Thanks Scott, once again. With that, I am...



"God sets the boundaries for what man CAN choose, and determines the consequence, Heaven and Hell, for what man WILL choose,"

Can this also say that God determines the consequence, life or death, for what man will choose?

I ask this because it answers a question for me if you agree with that tiny change. selahV

Richard Coords

Hey SelahV,

Sure, in fact, here is a good verse on this point:

Deuteronomy 30:19-20: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you *life and death*, the *blessing and the curse*. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

As far as God setting the limits on what man CAN choose, I reference 1st Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will *not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able*, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

Keith Schooley


The real question is how God chooses to exercise His sovereignty. I think we all agree that He could, if He chose to, micromanage everything, from every event to every decision to every thought. The question is, is that how He chooses to exercise His sovereignty? Because many Calvinists (not all) will insist that if you believe that He did not determine every event, you are denying His sovereignty. And that's where the question arises.

Jonathan Edwards's formulation of free will is interesting. He essentially defines the will as "that which chooses," and then asks the question, "What determines the will?" to which his answer is, "the passions." You may have noticed that he begged the question, "Is the will determined?" which of course is the whole focus of debate. He makes the *assumption* that the will is determined, which leads him to the compatibilist position. On an earlier thread, I made the point that if this is an abstract, universal truth, then it should apply to God and His will as well, but none of us much like the idea of God's will being determined in this way.

Steve, you wrote, "Yes I understand that, however then we don't have to grapple with those verses that says that God is Sovereign and does elect. :)" I've dealt with the sovereignty issue above. God is sovereign even if He doesn't choose to micromanage. With regard to the election issue, to elaborate on what Richard is saying with regard to election "in Christ," what is happening in the NT is that the old apparent signs of election--descent from Abraham and observance of Torah--is being supplanted by a seemingly new, real sign of election: faith in Christ. Paul's point is not that Steve, Richard, Peter, and SelahV individually have been chosen to participate in this cool new covenant. His point is that all who believe in Jesus have been chosen by God--chosen from the foundation of the world, because that's when the criterion of election was decided: it wasn't an afterthought--and need to view themselves as just as chosen as Israel was chosen. (Remember, the overall point of Ephesians is the gathering together of Jews and Gentiles into one people of God, and the overall point of Romans 9-11 is to explain what happened to the promises of God to Israel if salvation is really to be found by faith in Christ.)

As to the mystery idea, I respectfully reject it. Yes, there are things we may not fully grasp in this human life, but to run one's theology into a logical contradiction and then sanctify it as "mystery" is, in my opinion, intellectually dishonest. Calvinists would never let Arminians get away with that: "How do totally depraved people get a free-will choice to believe the gospel, so that truly whosoever will may come? Who knows? It's a mystery."


Richard: thanks so much for the passages. I've read them before but to have them with your comment is great for me to study and chew on. Praying God blesses your day REAL good. selahV


Good Afternoon Peter,

I wonder if sometimes the conundrum created over the perceived relationship between God's sovereignty and man's free will is not more shadow than substance. By that I mean the two themes frequently seem to be held in sort of a dualistic tension, as if they were peers or equal, if not a little oppositional, concepts. This seems to explain the retreat to mystery, on the one hand, or the insistence, in practical terms, on preserving human autonomy on the other.

In spite of man's clear moral obligation and responsibility inherent in the law, I cannot see where Scripture ever views divine sovereignty and human free will as concepts either contradictory to, or on a par with, one another. The function and boundaries of man's will are of necessity, before time began, determined by the eternal will and purpose of the Designer. Otherwise, God created willy-nilly, and perhaps still may be flying by the seat of his pants. Sounds a little like "openness" theology, which I know you do not hold.

Add to creational design the fall - which plunges already finite men into darkness, death, blindness, ignorance, bondage, rebellion and self-deception - and free will, except in the most limited of fashions, sounds increasingly untenable.

Jesus, as I understand Him, did not view men as free in their abilities to choose otherwise, which is why He quoted and fulfilled Isaiah's prophecies in Luke 4:18-19, specifically referring to His messianic mission to preach, heal, set at liberty and give sight to those who were ignorant, sick, bound and blind in "nature's night."

When Jesus lamented over Jerusalem in its refusal to be gathered under his wing as chicks, He was not lamenting their freedom but rather their bondage. Why in God's name would God's city reject God's prophets and ultimately God's promised Messiah? True freedom would have chosen the incredible good of Messiah's open arms, but their will hindered them from choosing their own salvation. How utterly bound and insane is that? Why would a free will with the ability to chose otherwise, even for a nanosecond, chose otherwise to its own damnation? Is there any true freedom here, in the popular sense of that phrase? If there is, I confess, I must be blind to it.

Truth makes men free - truly free - but otherwise, Jesus declares, "[we] are of our father the devil, and the desires of [our] father [we] want to do..." John 8:44. The devil fancies himself autonomous, but even he is mistaken on that point. How much more us men?

"...But God, who is rich in mercy..."



"Why would a free will with the ability to chose otherwise, even for a nanosecond, chose otherwise to its own damnation?"

Because they don't see it as their own damnation. I've heard many Calvinist try to use this argument today "Why would anyone choose hell over heaven?" The answer is simply they don't believe in hell or damnation. Like Adam in the garden they will trust in their own selves rather than put their faith in God.


Perhaps, Mary, that might be more understandable for those of us removed so far from the events of the first century, but don't you think those to whom Jesus spoke understood the issues? Did the inhabitants of Jerusalem believe in heaven and hell? Didn't the ministry and teaching of Jesus make abundantly clear what was at stake?

In view of the fact that the Jews not only heard the truth from their Messiah but, more powerfully, saw the proof of His claims as he raised the dead, healed withered hands, cast out unclean spirits, etc., I don't know how much clearer their Savior and their salvation could be made.

If ever there was a people so thoroughly prepared and positioned to recognize the day of God's visitation, it was those to whom Jesus came, who received Him not.

In the face of this rejection of their own Messiah, their own redemption, their own Scriptures and their own obvious blessing, one is forced to conclude that something more than the mere freedom to chose otherwise produced this rejection. I believe the problem is found in their will - it is, in fact, not free.

"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." John 5:39-40. They knew, but they were not willing to come to Him - this is the common lot of Adam's race. That just does not look like a free will to me.

Grace and peace,



Mary - It may be me, but your comment is very, very confusing.

Are you saying people choose heaven because they don't believe in hell?

Sincerely, could you possibly reword your comment for me, if not others.

Does anyone else understand it? If so, please help me understand what Mary is saying here.

Thank you.



seems pretty clear to me what mary is saying. many people dont want to humble thier hearts before the Lord due to pride. they think that they're not going to hell...that they're going to heaven. like cain trying to come to God in his own way.



David, you seem to understand completely. Many people today do not believe in hell at all or that there are some kind of "rules" they have to follow to get heaven. They are choosing instead to believe the lies of men like Dan Brown and New Agers instead of the truth.

Timotheos, I see those in the time of Jesus as actively rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. They decided for themselves that Jesus was not the Messiah even though the evidence was right before their eyes. "but you are not willing to come to me.." I don't see where it proves at all that their will was not free. Today I believe where the gospel is preached that the Holy Spirit is there convicting sinners and sinners are still saying "No I don't believe it, I'd rather trust in my own self."


Thanks David. I'm glad it is clear to you, but it's not clarity for you I am inquiring about. It's clarity for me.

How you can get this...

"many people dont want to humble thier hearts before the Lord due to pride. they think that they're not going to hell...that they're going to heaven. like cain trying to come to God in his own way."

from this...

"I've heard many Calvinist try to use this argument today "Why would anyone choose hell over heaven?" The answer is simply they don't believe in hell or damnation."

...is simply amazing.

Anyway, can anyone offer some coherent help? Or Mary, could you possibly rephrase?

I actually understand the comment better since Tim has replied to it. Of course, he is a lot smarter than me and so the original comment was probably crystal clear to him. :)



Like David, I have no problem understanding Mary either.

Basically, I believe Mary is saying they do not come to Jesus because of stubbornness and pride. They do not want to come to Jesus because it would mean a giving up "control" of themselves. Like David said, many, in spite of what the Scriptures say, think they are good enough to get to heaven on their own. Just had an individual tell me that not more than 2 weeks ago. Very sad.



Okay, got it. Thanks Mary for replying.

Now, if this is your statement of "clarity"...

"Many people today do not believe in hell at all or that there are some kind of "rules" they have to follow to get heaven. They are choosing instead to believe the lies of men like Dan Brown and New Agers instead of the truth."

...then I say I agree with that statement.

However, I must admit I don't see what it has to do with free will or anything else discussed in the post or comments. That's what confused me, I guess. I was looking for a connection.

So, to sum up, I will take your comment as a subtle topic change and simply AMEN! your comment.

Take care.



I am sorry, I posted at the same time you were clarifying what you meant. Mary is saying according to your quotes that she has had Calvinists tell her that no one would ever choose to go to hell if the choice was up to them. Mary is taking issue with what she has been told saying, oh yes they would choose hell. Not as recently as my other scenario, I have had some men tell me they understood about Jesus/heaven and that they would rather go to hell even knowing what they know. I'll just have to take 'em at their words. Of course, we both know that once in hell, no one wants anyone else to come join them but by then, it is too late. Hope this helps to bring clarification.



OK Slim, let me see - I've seen some people make the argument which similar to the one I see Timotheos making, ""of course everybody is going to choose heaven over hell and since we know that not everyone is going to end up in heaven their must be some reason why some are in hell and that reason is because it's not up any us but up to God to choose some for heaven and some for damnation."" Timotheos in effect seems to be saying "They had Jesus right there in front of them and they rejected Him. The only reason anyone could possibley reject the living breathing physical Son of God in the flesh who has given them signs that He is indeed the Son of God is because they have no will but to reject Him unless God first regenerates them to accept Him." I don't buy it because I think they rejected Him then for the same reason He's rejected now - human pride. I love the verse in John, I think where Jesus says to Thomas "You believe because you see, blessed are those who believe without seeing." something like that.


Slim, I was responding to a statement made by Timotheos.


I agree with what you have written Luke. The devil is really in the details (no pun intended) surrounding many of the reasons offered as to why people don't come to Jesus for salvation. As you say, stubborness and pride, and they are just two of the more popular obstacles for sure.

Getting away from those details and speaking generally for a second, I think a good "wrap-up" of why people don't come to Jesus can be found in scripture.

"There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God."

As well as this tidbit,

"...there is none who does good, no, not one."

So moving away from those who don't choose Christ to those who do choose Him, could I ask this question? What would you say is different about the individual that makes it possible for him to make this most important decision correctly, one that most others fail to make correctly?




""What would you say is different about the individual that makes it possible for him to make this most important decision correctly, one that most others fail to make correctly?""

Well, Slim, that's the $64,000 question isn't it? What I do believe though is that everyone has been given the same ability to respond. The Bible is full of verses as to why men don't seek Jesus, but I haven't seen the verse which says that they have an inability to respond when He's calling and in fact I see it teaching the direct opposite. Loads of scripture which imply that man has an ability to respond Acts 17:30 "He commands all people everywhere to repent." I take the Bible literally and so the necessary implication of that verse is that you have the ability to repent. Thus the reason we are truly responsble for repentance is because God supplies the ability to everyone to repent.


Great interaction folks, I appreciate the comments and thoughts.
Repentance Mary?
Like in 2 Timothy 2:25 ?
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

I guess that means every apostate and heretic will repent?

But then
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

I think God grants repentance as He wills, according to His purposes.

peter lumpkins


The interaction on this post has been incredibly positive. It bears the spirit concerning that for which I long--both civil and christianly conversation between honorable brothers and sisters in Christ. With only minor exception, motives have not been questioned nor people's integrity maligned.

Thanks to all for making it so. Finally, I realize I did not get around to all questions posed to me personally. Know I did not purposely overlook your contribution. Be comforted to know, tomorrow comes...

Grace. With that, I am...



Interesting response Mary. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

If I may share as well. Please know that I am just sharing. If you take anything away from what I am sharing, that is awesome. If what I say is meaningless to you because you have heard it all before...or any other reason, please know that I am well familiar with that response as well. So no worries.

You said, "What I do believe though is that everyone has been given the same ability to respond. The Bible is full of verses as to why men don't seek Jesus, but I haven't seen the verse which says that they have an inability to respond when He's calling and in fact I see it teaching the direct opposite."

Let me say that I agree with you here in that everyone has the "same" ability. However, I would submit this "same ability" you mention is, in fact, no ability without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

Why do I say that? Well, I'll just share two verses here, but I would encourage you to investigate further, just as the Bereans did. But only if you desire to know further, of course. Could I implore you not to just skip over or even fly through these verses because you have read them so many times? I only say that because I have a bad habit of doing that. I have emboldened a few words that may help clarify what I am saying.

First, Ephesians 2:1-7 - "And you hath He quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of our flesh and of the mind; and were by NATURE the children of wrath, even as others. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were DEAD in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; (by grace are ye saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus."

On a personal note, my favorite part of those verses is "BUT GOD". I love that. Read it again and see if you know what I'm saying. What a great God we serve!

And secondly, John 6:65 - "And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man CAN come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father."

When you said, "Loads of scripture which imply that man has an ability to respond", this verse from John immediately came to mind because it speaks directly to this word of "ability" when it uses the word "can". i.e. No man "can", or has the ability, just as the word "may" would speak to permission. Agree? Disagree?

I must say that I was a little confused by the evidence you offered for your view as Acts 17:30, "He commands all people everywhere to repent.". You said, "I take the Bible literally and so the necessary implication of that verse is that you have the ability to repent. Thus the reason we are truly responsble for repentance is because God supplies the ability to everyone to repent.

This verse doesn't speak anything to our ability, your own "necessary implication" not withstanding. Please know that I don't want to chase a rabbit here. Grosey addresses this for you, but I would also submit that this commandment by our Lord can be viewed as a nail in our coffin of damnation without the Savior. We need a Savior, even if we think we can do "it" ourselves.

Food for thought: Does He command us to keep the Law, even though we can't? I am a Christian, but I'm also a liar, adulterer, murderer, thief, coveter...ugh! I'll stop there.

Praise God for the One who took our place in the Law.

Thanks for reading and for sharing.



here are some verses which show God's desire to save all men...every person....and some will not come to Jesus. i believe that these verses fly into the very face of five point calvinism, and no amount of spin can take away what these verses show us...imply to us...and clearly make known to us. read them, and then let the spin begin.

ezekiel 33:11
luke 13:34
1 timothy 2:1-4
2 peter 2:1



Luke was asked:
" could I ask this question? What would you say is different about the individual that makes it possible for him to make this most important decision correctly, one that most others fail to make correctly?"

One is willing, the other is not.John 5:40
One is thirsty, the other is not.John 7:37
One says he sees, the other is blind.John 9:41

I'll stick with my previous answers, stubbornness and pride. But that isn't what this thread really is about, yet if you would like to continue this trail, you can visit me on my blog and I'd be more than happy to continue with this direction.




Something tells me, brother, that any explanation of these verses which does not accord with your understanding of them will be considered "spin." Parading verses - even difficult verses - does not necessarily vindicate your assertions nor indicate that you are "spin-free" yourself.

I have studied all but the Ezekiel passage in some depth, attempting to apply sound principles of interpretation in the context of biblical theology, and I think it can be demonstrated (though it would not be appreciated in a blog format) that you have perhaps overstated your case.

Maybe in your own study of these verses, you have interacted with good, solid exegetical and hermeneutical sources on either side of the issue? You are familiar with some of the difficulties encountered with passages like those you mention on either side of the theological divide? Or is it just so much spin to you?


In the verses you cite in your answer to SL1M's question, I am wondering:

~ in John 5:40, of the people to whom Jesus is speaking, who was willing? The statement Jesus makes seems to indicate that no one to whom He was speaking at that point was willing to come to Him, even to have life. Also, when saying that "one is willing, the other is not," do you mean that some men to whom Jesus spoke possessed an ability that other men did not?

~ in John 7:37, is thirst something that one chooses, or a condition that is created?

~ in John 9, do you understand the point of the passage to be that some choose to see and others choose not to see? Or does the point of the passage hinge upon the fact that the man was born blind, and did not have the ability to choose to see but was dependent upon Jesus to give him sight?

I ask these questions because I'm having difficulty seeing how these verses address the question SL1M asked, which seems to me to connect with Peter's original post on how free the will is. Obviously you can see by my questions where my thoughts lie. Thanks.

Grace and peace,




Interesting post and discussion. Allow me to add my two cents. When discussing determinism, which is really the discussion here, you have only three choices..God determines, man determines, or the universe determines. Each view has implications, but each still remains a determinism. If the universe determines, then there is no such thing as "free will." You are determined by your surroundings, biology, chemistry, parents, friends, school, economic situation..and so on and so on. There is no freedom in this view.

Well, of course, no one here believes that the universe is the determiner, but many here apparently believe that man is the determiner. However, the logical conclusions of this view are really not different from a universal determinism. For instance, I am determined still by my parent's "free" will. I am determined by the "free" will of the oncoming traffic 18" from me on the other side of the road. Each choice has consequences that determine my choices. Each choice that I make has consequences that determine others' choices. I may be the determiner, but I'm still not free. In fact, with this view, specifically applied to Christianity, then a totalitarian Christian reich is completely understandable, and perfectly appropriate. This view produces Hitler. It suggests that the ones that "choose" correctly are more intelligent. And finally, I ask those of you who hold this view....What about the guy in Central Asia who never hears the Gospel? Where is his choice? Who determines?

Now, simply put God is the determiner, even the predeterminer of man's fate. This view maintains man's will, but doesn't offer autonomy, which is what many seem to strive for when discussing "free will." For, our options are still determined. I can't choose to be a different race. I could paint my face a different color, but that would not change who I am. No matter how much I practice, I will never have the talent on the golf course that Tiger Woods has. I will never be big enough to be a lineman for the Carolina Panthers. I did not make these choices for myself. God did. So according to your definition of "free will,"...."being able to choose otherwise"..then I'm not free. There are some things that are not available for me to choose, and according to Scripture, salvation is one of those things. This is God's choice. The Bible plainly teaches that God is sovereign over all and can do as He pleases, and that He is right to do so. I could quote numerous verses to substantiate this point, but I will not. I will let a pagan king speak for me, and I will bid you adieu.

34 "But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'
36 "At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me.
37 "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride." Daniel 4:34-37

God Bless,


I believe that John 5:40 is about as clear as can be. It does not speak any whit of their "ability" but their "unwillingness". Verses 46 and 47 both again speak not of "ability" but of "willingness".

Thirst is something man is born with. Just what will he choose to quench that thirst is the question. Jesus' invitation is for all who thirst to come to him. As far as your question concerning the man blind from birth. Please note that if we are going to use his condition as the "hinge" upon which to interpret vs 39-41, then you have to admit that it wasn't due to sin that the man was born blind(verse 3). As pertaining to the pharisees that were with Jesus, verse 41, Jesus' on words are clear that even though they said they could see, they were really blind but because in their blindness they said they could see, their sin remained.

As you so clearly stated, it is obvious where your thoughts lie and I think it is equally obvious where my thoughts lie. If we use the healings of Jesus as examples of ability, a cursory glance will indicate that some people, in their sickness, had the ability to approach Jesus while some did not. Those who did not have the ability were brought by those who did. In even a few cases, Jesus made personal visits to address the situations. Based upon the Gospels as a whole then, to me it is clear that there are varying degrees of ability to come to Jesus. The question of ability to me is not the issue. The question from my vantage point is are you willing? Please know Timotheus, while I believe a man may have the ability to respond to Jesus' invitation, I do not believe that a man may, even of his own will, save himself. Salvation comes through Christ alone.

Now, since this thread seems to be open to the idea of ability on all levels. Let me pose a simple question. Is this "ability" of one's will limited only in the areas of salvation or is the man in such a state he has no will of his own period? The reason I ask is that I Cor 7:37, although having nothing to do with salvation, does raise the interesting idea of a man being able to decree something in his own heart and it is also asserted that he also has power over his own will. Since I've never seen this addressed in light of the discussion that is presently taking place. I certainly think that it is germane to the discussion but I reiterate, I also understand clearly that the passage is not talking about salvation.


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