This is a letter I sent in the midst of a discussion with someone I know.
Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
psalm 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
To person X
Sorry I did not get back to you sooner.
To properly respond on this issue of freewill, pride, new heart etc. I am going to have to take longer. I intend to send more detailed responces on the various issues and scripture you have refered to as quickly as possible. However I would like to summarize a few of my current thoughts, in the context of what we have discussed. If you wish to send more on the issue we have been discussing, feel free. If you want, you can also address any of the other doctrines/questions I dealt with in my papers.
We are currently talking about the sub-part of God's character and man's character that has to do with will. All of the issues we talked about are basically related to this.
Being born again:
So the issue of that specific moment is what is the nature of God's involvement. Does he first make a person born again, and then they choose to accept salvation or not? There a several questions and needs for distinction.
I am fully aware of the idea that God makes someone born again, and only then can we "choose". I also am aware that we differ on God's sovereignity and our responsibiblity.
If being born again comes before a "choice for something" is made by a person, then:
- What is God's just criteria for doing this for some people and not others?
- What choice "is being made by that person" if that person is allready born again?
- If that person still has the "sin nature", can they indefinitely put off that choice after being born again?
- How is hyper-calvinism wrong? It is one thing to say it is wrong; what I do not understand in calvinism is how?
Also since this is supposedly related to the same power God gives for sanctification:
- If God gives the power in like manner as a person is born again, as stated above, what is the true distinction between his will and ours?
In other words how are we not like robots?
- for example: When a born again individual trusts God in a particular temptation, how can that trust be their's and not actually God's?
If free will is enabled by Christians having a cursed body only (and in eternity they have neither), then:
- Does God have free will?
- Do fallen and non-fallen angels have free will?
Calvinism is supposedly important because it is against man's pride, and glorifies God. However, if in fact God's name and glory have to do with his character, and calvinism is wrong about this, then it in fact does not give glory through such doctrine but distorts God's reputation/name. I plan to deal with this further. In fact personally, I derive my hope from God's name/who he is, and God knows this.
psalm 9:10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
psalm 54:1 Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.
I seek God because he first sought me. I did not seek God on my own. No man can. This is one reason he even cares what man thinks of him. Instead of just having anahilated people long ago, he has been longsuffering out of mercy and love, this is known of him in his name around the world.
Related to this is the calvinistic or hyper calvinistic idea that our sanctification is automatic because of the robot aspect of our nature. But my question would then be, why would a Christian sin at all? I know there are different flavors of calvinism, but these are fair issues to address.
So for me the issue is truth, and specifically even one said motivator for calvinism, God's name. But also of course is the issue of our responsibility. The Bible is full of references to God's pleading and warnings for man to take head and choose (does he do this for animals or angels?). In fact God is quite adamant about it, thus if calvinism is wrong, it may just be getting in the way of what God pleads for man to do. I do realize that then the issue of a new heart does apply, which I fully believe in, and it is very important. I will respond in more detail later to this also.
As I said before, I actually do believe in the depravity of man. A man should realize his need for God (by God's initiative/revelation) and admit that he is in BIG trouble as an unjustified individual, with no way out by trying to be righteous (trying to do "good" works do not make the bad works go away). In fact I truly believe that an unsaved individual does nothing but sin up until the moment they accept the way of God (if they do) no matter how white-washed they look.
from Proverbs 21:4 ... and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
The only work that an unsaved individual can do is admit their status in what is revealed to them, even in their heart, and trust God's provision. God convicts them it is true, and that they must obey the gospel. They acknowledge or do not. I believe the fact that they can do this is intimately related to our being made in God's image. While a person dead in their sin's can go to hell, they still are made in God's image and are thus responsible, and thus hell is just. Angels do not have this opportunity (they had their chance to avoid God's wrath upfront so to speak), and animals not only do not have this opportunity, they do not need it. We men are different. The only "robot theology" I believe in, is possesion by devils of animals. In that state the animals become coinhabited "robots" that have lost control, but not will. I do not understand all the issues around such things, but I strongly believe in the special responsibility of people. The doctrine of us being made in God's image is mysterious and special. God in fact does have free will, and so do we, being made in his image.
Deu 12:5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
Deu 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Yet God can not sin. This is not a contradiction, because freewill involves more than a choice between sinning in a particular temptation or not. I am going to have the opportunity to marvel in all of what God has made and done for all of eternity, choosing which of all the abundance of God's works to focus on, and respond to and then the next one/s etc., and give glory to God for it. Another possibility I am not fully sure of, is that as there probably are going to be levels of punishment in hell and the lake of fire for eternity, thus are there going to be different levels of ability to serve and enjoy God for eternity, depending on how someone lived in this life.
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
Gen 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Mal 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
Matthew 19:4-5 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
1Co 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
2Co 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Eph 5:17-33 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Col 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
I would like to mention one last thing. There is at least one sort-of-well-known guy (in his circles) who taught/still teaches that since Christians are members of Christ's body, then they are sort of deified, as actually little pieces of God. With calvinism/hyper-calvinism then, such doctrines can actually be helped as: new ageish "we are God" and we lose our identity as individuals ultimately, and all that we do is really God doing it. Strange. In such teachings, God is all that is left, as well as the sinners in hell (and beasts depending on one's belief). All that "choose God" (God doing the choosing) are actually anahilated as individuals (except for being pieces of God). This sort of thing is actually taught in "Christian mysticism" and is scattered throughout (at least) the modern American "house church/fake house church movement". In retrospect this makes me wonder about one fellow (in a "house church" I attended) who insisted adamantly to me that the Holy Spirit "prays through" Christians instead of helping ignorant Christians like the Bible says.
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
So in hyper-calvinism/mysticism/whatever people "lose real responsibility" because God is the doer and chooser etc. but in real sanctification a Christian is ignorant and is taught by God and conformed to the image of his son no matter what God has to do to that individual. I was born physically and was very ignorant, but today I can talk about Hebrew pronunciation, animal and plant husbandry, Biblical/ancient technology etc. because I learned. You also have learned quite a bit since being born physically. I also was born into God's household ignorant, but God the father is a great parent and will use teaching and chastening etc. to make me grow up.
Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Ephesians 2:18-19 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Unlike what that one man said, I have access through Jesus, not the Spirit through me.
You know that analogy of the easy chair? I realized a scripture of something real. Jesus commanded dead Lazarus to come forth from his grave.
John 11:43-44 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Person X, I love to discuss these issues because they are important, and I care; actually very rare is the professing Christian that will talk with me about the doctrines of the gospel, so I do much appreciate you taking the time to do this so far.