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Against Universalism II:

Only Believers are Saved

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Question #1:  To whom it may concern, I belong to a group of believers that believe that the Bible clearly teaches that "ALL will be saved" by the sacrifice of Christ not just some. The reason I am writing is to let you know that we have Conference Call discussions on this subject with other believers that do not agree with this doctrine. The speaker or speakers on each side give their scriptural reason that supports their belief and after the discussion there are comments or questions from each speaker and the listeners. We can have up to 99 people on each call. Since we already have many speakers on "Salvation of All" we are always looking for speakers from the other side that are willing to participate. If you're interested or know of someone else that may be interested, please reply to this email and I will give you more complete details. BTW. These calls ARE NOT heated arguments but discussions so those listening so they can make up their own mind as stated in Acts 17:11:

"For they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so."

God Bless,

Response #1:  Just curious -- when you say you "believe that the Bible teaches" this, what is your rationale for explaining the various and sundry passages that speak of the eternal fate and the eternal state of those who reject God and His will that all believe in Jesus Christ? I mean, there is a "lake of fire" (Matt.25; Rev.20, etc.). Do you think it's only an allegory or that residence there is temporary?

I ask this because to my view taking away the biblically mandated fear of God seems to me to make a mockery of anyone trying to live a Christian life (i.e., you're telling everyone that, in effect, nothing is going to make any difference in the long run anyway according to this view).

In Jesus,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  Dear Bob,  We believe in the MYSTERY that Paul taught. Which is: ALL WILL BE SAVED through the sacrifice of Christ. If you would like to listen in on our next Conference Call, use the enclosed key. There will two speakers. One is for the "Salvation of All" and the other is the traditional belief that only some are saved. You may ask a question after the discussion. Keep in touch.

God Bless,

Response #2:  The mystery of the NT is that salvation has now been made broadly available to gentiles as well as Jews (as is usually explained in context where it is taught; e.g., Eph.3:6; see the link: "The Mystery of Christ" in SR #5). But just as being Jewish doesn't guarantee salvation, neither does this mystery. I'm not aware of any mystery passage that suggests this.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: Dear Robert, Eph. is a very small part of the mystery that was given to Paul. Here's just a few others:

Romans 5:18, Romans, 2:16, Romans 16:25, 1 Cor. 15:21-26, 1 Tim. 2:4, 1 Tim, 4:10 and many more.

Go to: http://www.graceevangel.org/GraceEvangel/Other/SaveAll.htm

and read a few more scriptures.

Join us tonight for our Conference Call.

God Bless,

Response #3:  I looked at these passages you referenced.

1) Romans 2:16: Speaks of God judging the true intentions of everyone's heart on the great day of the last judgment. No indication that one can be saved at that judgment without believing in Jesus in this life. The gentiles in context come in for praise for following the Law "written in their hearts", but "by the works of the Law shall no one be justified" (Rom.3:20; cf. Gal.2:16; 3:10). Even law-abiding people who refuse to come to Christ remain unsaved.

2) Romans 5:18: This passage does speak of the "justification of life" available to all mankind, and Jesus did die for all mankind (Jn.3:16 etc.). However, we know from the same apostle in the same chapter of this same book that this justification comes only by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom.5:1; 5:9; cf. Rom.3:28; 8:30), so that while this is available to all, not all "deem themselves worthy" and actually accept it through faith (cf. Acts 13:46).

3) Romans 16:25: As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, the mystery hidden from Israel in the past was the opening up of salvation to the gentiles in such large and unanticipated numbers. That this is so here is made clear in the very next verse: ". . .but (i.e., the gospel) now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith" (NASB).

4) 1st Corinthians 15:21-26: Physical death will indeed be done away with at the end of history, at the end of the millennial reign of Christ referred to here (i.e., when everything is "handed over to the Father" at the Father's advent in v.28). This is treated fully in Revelation 21:1-8, at the end of which passage we read "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." So while the final resurrection means the end of any possibility of further physical death, that fact, referred to in the passage under consideration here (1Cor.15:26), does not at all change the reality of the destiny of those who fail to come to Christ in this life, namely, the second death previously experienced by them, which is eternity in the lake of fire.

5) 1st Timothy 2:4: Yes, God wants everyone to be saved. And is He not all powerful? Indeed, He is. But the critical factor here, and, indeed, the critical factor in this whole discussion, is the issue of free will. Man was created to have free will, just as the angels were. And it is only for the purpose of our exercising our free will choice for or against God in the Person of Jesus Christ through faith that there is any need for "history" whatsoever. But it is not a pointless game. Otherwise, why did Jesus have to become a human being and die to atone for the sins of the world? Every decision we make is of eternal importance, and none more important than the fundamental choice which confronts every human being: to serve God the way He desires by using our faith to choose for Christ . . . or to refuse to do so. If God forced us to believe, we would ipso facto not have free will. And if He saved us regardless of what we decided, He would make a mockery of the cross -- heaven forbid! That is why this passage and the many like it are so important, for they tell us just how crucial the decisions we make for or against Him really are: we know what He wants from us in big things and in small, and yet we are able to turn away His will for us. This would never be possible in the case of an all-powerful and all-righteous God unless the issue of free will choice (exercised through non-meritorious faith) was the essential factor in human existence (which indeed it is).

6) 1st Timothy 4:10: God the Father who gave the Son and God the Son who died for the sins of the world is indeed the "Savior of all mankind". But to be saved, every human being endowed with free will has to exercise that free will -- in completely non-meritorious faith -- in order to partake of that salvation (i.e., we are saved by grace "through faith": Eph.2:8-9).

Generally speaking, it is not my policy to engage in discussions with those who send me unsolicited emails which, rather than asking questions, supply unsolicited answers. In this case I have made an exception because this particular heresy is so potentially damaging to your own spirituality and to those you may be able to convince -- because it does make a mockery of the cross. If God can completely overthrow all of His words and pronouncements in regard to the need for saving faith in Jesus and save all regardless, then why did Christ have to die in the first place? If God can play "fast and loose" with His own standards of justice in the way you suggest, then certainly He could also just have forgiven all sin without any need for an atonement that demanded the death of His one and only Son on the cross.

The other thing I find so dangerous about this false teaching is the two-edged sword it takes to truth generally in a broad swath. For at one stroke it encourages the unbeliever and the weak believer to think whatever they want, believe whatever they want, and do whatever they want -- because they will be saved in the end in any case; and at the same time it is tremendously discouraging and enervating to the faith of more positive believers striving to grow in the Lord and help others do the same through diligent ministry -- because all their hard work and effort is rendered essentially unnecessary.

None of this, of course, could be further from the truth. But it is a clear sign of the times that this deadly deception is currently making the rounds. We stand on the cusp of the end times, and one of the first major trends of the Tribulation's first half will be the rise of antichirst's eclectic false religion. The beast's religion will indeed be universalist, tempting and attractive in every way. It will also be a prime cause of the prophesied Great Apostasy wherein fully one third of believers will fall away from the faith. No doubt the evil one is very interested in softening up the church ahead of time with this particular false teaching, the better to have it accepted without opposition when that fateful day arrives. Do not be so quick to cast aside your faith or to under-appraise its value, for without it you are lost. It is our faith that marks us out as sons of God and heirs of eternity.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2 NIV

Now we are not possessed of cowardly apostasy which leads to destruction, but we have faith which leads to [eternal] life.
Hebrews 10:39

This is the victory which has overcome the world: our faith.
1st John 5:4

For more information, please see the following links:

Characteristics of Antichrist's Relgion (in CT #4)

The Tribulational Anti-Christian Religion (in CT #3A)

The Great Apostasy (in CT #3A)

 

In the love of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


Question #4:
 

Dear Bob,

It seems that you added the words FREE WILL. Can you tell me where that appears in the scriptures?

Jesus said: "Man shall live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God."

Once you do, I'll answer all of your questions.

God Bless,


Response #4:
 

Free will is another way of saying the ability to exercise faith (or to fail to do so). Exercising faith is a choice, just as failing to do so is a choice. We are all free to believe in Jesus, or to fail to believe. That is why we are here, and that is why all scripture appeals to us on a behavioral level. That is to say, all scripture encourages us through various means to conform to God and His truth, to believe what He tells us and to act accordingly. To do so is to be faithful, to exercise our God-given free will in response to Him and His truth in Jesus Christ rather than to reject Him and His truth by refusing to believe and conform to His will for us. I often express this idea with the phrase "free will", because our use of the word "faith" in this culture has been much obscured and misunderstood. For faith is not some sort of passive content, but an active process that involves conscious decision making. Faith is "believing and following" and that process requires personal decision making on the deepest level; it requires the involvement of our "will", and that will is "free" in that while God offers salvation to all, He does not compel all to "believe and follow".

You will notice that none of the scriptures I have translated (or quoted) use the phrase "free will" or "choice". As I say, these terms are explicative synonyms for what really underlies "faith" when one considers what that word actually means and how it is actually used in scripture (that is, "bending one's will to trust God"). I have employed them to make things more clear, not to be stumbling blocks. But if they are problematic for you in terms of this discussion, do feel free to read "faith" every place where I have written "free will" or "choice", because that really is what the exercise of faith entails, namely, the free will choice for Jesus Christ and the truth. If you will deign to do so, the objection you have raised can then be put aside and you will be free to answer the previous questions. For this is a very serious matter, and should not be allowed to be derailed by confusion over terminology, whether it be genuine or merely a diversionary tactic.

In Jesus Christ, the One who died that we might have eternal life with Him through faith (Rom.3:22; 3:25; 5:1; Gal.3:26; Eph.2:8; 3:12; Phil.3:9; 2Tim.3:15; 1Pet.3:5).

Bob L.


Question #5:

Dear Robert,

This is your quote:

" I often express this idea with the phrase "free will", because our use of the word "faith" in this culture has been much obscured and misunderstood. For faith is not some sort of passive content, but an active process that involves conscious decision making. Faith is "believing and following" and that process requires personal decision making on the deepest level; it requires the involvement of our  "WILL", and that will is "FREE" in that while God offers salvation to all, He does not compel all to "believe and follow."

Your right, God does compel all to believe and to follow. However, in Romans 3:11 it says: "There is NONE who seeks for God." Since this is true of all that are born of Adam, then how do we account for the fact that you believe and others don't at "this moment in time"?

Was it a FREE WILL choice on your part or did God choose you?

"Wherefore I give you to understand, that NO MAN speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that NO MAN can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. 12:3.

Let's continue on the doctrine of man's FREE WILL because I think that this is the wedge that divides those who believe in "The Salvation of All" and those who don't.

"Who WILL have ALL men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:4

"Therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who IS the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe. " 1 Tim. 4:10.

In spite of these true and dynamic scriptures, man has come to believe that his FREE WILL is greater then God's will. This kind of thinking makes man his OWN savior and puts man's FREE WILL on the throne.

Therefore, man's FREE WILL has superseded the cross works of Jesus and has replaced them with man's FREE WILL to choose!

WOW!!! God almighty states in his word that he has a will, desire and a plan to save ALL of mankind, then adds something that has the power to DEFEAT his own will, desire and plan!!! Namely, he gave man a FREE WILL. Well, it looks like God's will, desire and plan to save all of mankind has some flaws in it.

... Better luck next time!!! (my own sarcastic remark).

Also, I guess the Lord's Prayer has gone up in smoke as well: "Father thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Maybe Jesus should have prayed: "Father, I HOPE thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Then those who do not believe in "The Salvation of All" would have a leg to stand on.

Let's continue:.

"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one

ALL things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 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:". Eph. 1 :9-11.

God calls his will a mystery and that mystery is this: God will save ALL of mankind through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ WITHOUT their choice!!!

More mysteries:

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life." Rom. 5:18.

It's strange that everyone believes that ALL have been condemned by Adam's one act (without using their choice), but REFUSE to believe that ALL will be justified by the one act of Jesus.

WHY??? Because they say: "You must use you FREE WILL to choose Jesus as your savior.

Do we realize what this means if this is true!!!

Adam was greater then Jesus, because ALL were condemned by his one act (without their choice) but only those who use their FREE WILL to choose Jesus will be saved.

Think about it!!!

One more point about FREE WILL. Since these words do not appear in the Bible and was introduced by the Catholic Church over 1800 years ago, we can't find a Greek definition of these words. So the only choice is to use a dictionary to get a definition.

Webster's Collage Dictionary definition of FREE WILL.

FREE WILL: a will that is free from restraints, compulsions or any antecedent conditions.

Question: Did Adam and Eve use their FREE WILL (according the true definition) to disobey God or were they somehow influenced to make a decision? That is the question. Eve was tempted by the Satan and Eve convinced Adam to eat of the tree. This has been the same story ever since. No one born of Adam can say that they have a FREE WILL (according to the TRUE definition of that word) simply because we are ALL influenced in some way to make a choice whether it be good or bad.

Example: God's law, man's law, the fear of punishment, our spouse, boss, friends, relatives, pastor, our enemies, the Bible, The Holy Spirit, Satan and his angels, the world, money, power, success, failure, recognition, fame, glory, ego, revenge, greed, passion, lust, strife, anger, anxiety, disputes, jealosy, hate and any kind of excuse you can come up with just to name a few. OH WAIT ... I forgot heavy traffic too.

Think about this the next time you make a "so called FREE WILL" decision.

In closing, I praise God that I am able to dialog with you without you using the spirit of condemnation.

God Bless,  


Response #5:
 

Let me point two things out right at the start of this reply for the sake of emphasis (I shall return to them below):

1) It is wholly incorrect to suggest that because some other people have put man's will in place of God's will that I have done the same merely because I use the phrase "free will" (regardless of how they, or you, or "Websters" choose to define it). I explained to you what I meant by this: the exercise of non-meritorious faith in response to God's will (let's call it "free-will-faith"). I also explained that I would be happy, if you found it a stumbling block, to have you replace the phrase with "faith", understanding that by faith I mean the active response of choosing for God rather than something passive. The word "faith" doesn't appear in the Bible either, after all. This is an English word which, especially given the theological baggage that has been heaped upon it for hundreds of years, does not bear a perfect relationship to the Greek pistis which it translates, a verbal noun which no Greek reader would imagine in a passive sense, and built on a root whose active, verbal idea of continuation or "faithfulness / faithful following" is also often not abundantly clear to readers of the English Bible. Biblical faith, "free-will-faith" always involves choice.

2) In none of the passages you advance is there anything that even approaches a direct connection between the word "mystery" and the erroneous doctrine of universal salvation. This has been asserted by you on a number of occasions now, but no direct connection has ever advanced by exegesis. One would think on an issue of such importance that there would be at least some minimal direct biblical evidence for it, or at least some convincing case to be made from implication -- if it were true. The fact that this is apparently not so speaks volumes. Clearly, you are unhappy with the idea of a God who will hold us to account for all of our thoughts, words and deeds -- many are. But that is an essentially philosophical and completely insufficient basis for removing from scripture its essential meaning. Every page of the Bible speaks to our conscience. If we were truly unable to respond, what would be the point of God giving us His Word in the first place? Indeed, it is a "mystery" to me why in the world you would even be interested in scripture or in this discussion if you were truly comfortable with you notion of universal salvation: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die [and it won't matter what we have chosen here on earth once we are in eternity]". My guess is that one of two things is true; either this position truly is one designed to empower apostasy (and it is ideally suited for the same), or you and many like you find this position appealing for obvious reasons (indeed, possibly even out of noble motivations as in the concern for unsaved loved ones, e.g.), but are understandably nervous about it since your consciences testify that it is untrue. It is out of my hope that the latter is the case that I am continuing this discussion with you, attempting to help you to see the danger and the error of the course upon which you are embarked. However, if I am unsuccessful (and my powers of persuasion are quite limited), please understand that the Kingdom of God is not a debating society. If you win your argument against all human comers, that will not persuade God (Gal.1:10). The truth is the truth, no matter whose voice may carry the day in the public square (or on your conference calls).

As to the particulars, I do not agree that free will is the "wedge issue" here (as you put it). Clearly, there are plenty of hyper-Calvinists out there who are completely on the other side, believing in what amounts to a complete lack of any human input into the process of responding to God (advanced along similar lines as you argue in your e-mail) and yet who are at the same time fully convinced that only these special "elect" will be saved. For to your argument which, to summarize, suggests that it would be a weak God who could not ensure that all He wills to be saved are saved (and since we know that His preference is for all to be saved, all, in your view, will be saved), these hyper-Calvinists would reply that the Potter has every right to make vessels for dishonor as well as for honor, to demonstrate His power and righteousness by confirming in condemnation all those who have not been chosen for salvation (and since that is what His Word proclaims will happen, that is exactly what will happen).

The truth lies between these two non-biblical extremes. For while in human reasoning there may seem to be a contradiction between election and free-will-faith on the one hand, or between God's will for universal salvation and the biblical reality of hell on the other, even if in logical terms it seems impossible, in theological terms God can choose us before the creation of the world and yet still endow us with free-will-faith; and He can earnestly desire the salvation of us all, and yet still judicially condemn the many for lack of a free-will-faith response to Jesus Christ. This is because God cannot be put in a human box. He is greater than human logic and exists outside of the narrow confines of time and space which He created. He knew what we would decide, yet He gave us the ability to decide, to exercise faith or not, in each and every case. The fact that we are influenced is a flimsy excuse. There is always influence of some kind in every decision as you rightly point out, and yet while sometimes we give in to it, sometimes we do not. Speaking of influence, the creation of God sings His praises, and yet most of humanity has and will continue to ignore the influence of its testimony in favor of their own selfishness. So your definition, Webster's and that of all others who wish to reduce personal responsibility to such an impossible "total lack of influence" standard that it ceases to exist, will not wash with the Lord on the day of judgment. We know that we decide, and we know what we decide, and blaming the Potter is doubly ridiculous since He would be by definition be above reproach even if He made us decide -- which He most emphatically does not do. So neither the hyper-Calvinist position that God has taken away choice and we must live with the consequences, or your position that God has minimized choice and there are no consequences, has any biblical basis. On top of that, your claim flies in the face of every human experience. Generally speaking, that would be no particular argument, but when speaking of natural revelation as touching upon the issue of salvation it is relevant. For certain things are "obvious" to anyone experiencing human life, and they are so for a reason: God made them obvious that all might respond to the truth of God revealed in His creation and come to seek Him: "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27 NIV). Outside of evolutionists (who claim all we do is merely a subset of naturally selected behaviors), hyper-Calvinists, and universalists, everyone else seems to understand well enough that there are consequences for what we think and do and say, and that it is legitimate to hold us responsible for our all actions. It would be odd indeed if God had set up the entire universe to teach this lesson, and yet when it came to the most important decision of them all, namely, to come to God through saving faith in Jesus Christ, that in this case alone the lesson would prove wrong or unnecessary.

As to Rom.5:18; 1Tim.2:4; & 4:10, please see the previous e-mail where they are each discussed (and to which discussion you have yet to respond).

As to Romans 3:11: if "none seeks God" is meant to be absolute, then how can anyone say they have faith (since "all" would belong to that "set")? But in reality, of course, this is a Psalm of David who most certainly did seek God quoted by the apostle Paul who most certainly did seek God -- and both wrote in the Spirit so that many others would seek God. So that this passage expresses the very principle I am trying to elicit here, namely, God wants all to be saved but those who respond to Him are very few indeed.

As to the will of God in Eph.1:9-11, you have left out the end of the sentence, and the most important part when it comes to this discussion: "[who worketh all things after the counsel of his OWN WILL] in order that we who have previously placed our hope in Christ might serve the purpose of generating praise for His glory (in life), whom you also when you heard the Word of truth, the good news of your salvation, in whom [I say], when you believed, were sealed by the Spirit of promise" (vv.12-14). Paul thus makes it very clear that God's will has been responded to in the case of believers who have "placed hope" in Him and have "believed" in Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace "through faith"; emphasizing grace to the point of excluding faith, whether for hyper-Calvinist or universalist purposes, ignores the whole thrust of scripture which appeals to the hearts and consciences of mankind in every chapter and verse, influencing us toward the good as God works in the lives of all people leading them towards Christ -- but never to the point of taking away their fundamental choice. And as a side note here, the "mystery" of all things being summed up in Christ is a reference to the inclusion of the gentiles along with Israel "in Christ", and certainly not to any notion of saving the unsaved apart from their own exercise of free-will-faith.

We are all responsible for what we do. God holds us responsible, and the system He has given us to maintain freedom of action in this world (law and order, government) does as well. This is true even if we find ourselves influenced to do what is wrong or foolish or evil by all the various motivations you list, even heavy traffic. It is patently absurd to think that because you lose your temper in a traffic jam you can with impunity smash into the car of the fellow who cut you off. Try using that argument with the officer who comes to arrest you. He will certainly hold you accountable for your wrongful action, and so will the Lord.

In hopes of your eternal salvation through putting your faith in Jesus and walking faithfully with Him until the end.

Bob L.
 

Question #6:

Dear Robert,

It seems that the conclusion that you have come to is that you are your OWN savior and that YOUR free will faith is what has or will save you.

Sounds like you want to be a Co-Savior. The TRUTH is that you or no one else can do anything to save yourself. In fact, you can't even believe. Jesus had to believe FOR YOU.

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by THE FAITH of Jesus Christ (not yours), even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. " Gal. 2:16

"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through THE FAITH of Christ (not yours), the righteousness which is of God by faith." Phil. 3:9

"Looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12:2.

You need to get ALL THE WAY out of self and ALL THE WAY into Christ.

When you do, then you will realize that the same GOD that spoke everything that we see, touch, feel, smell and hear doesn't need you help to save you anymore then a lifeguard needs you to save anyone from drowning.

One very simple question that I would like you to answer with ONLY a Yes or No.

Is it's God's will (desire) that ALL of mankind be saved?

Yes or No. I'll wait for your answer.

God Bless,


Response #6:
 

To answer your final short question first, yes. Of course, it is God's will that all be saved -- scripture says so very clearly and I trust we can all agree on that. But the series of assumptions you have made based upon that truth are not only non-biblical but also spiritually dangerous. For example, it is clearly also God's will that no one sin, yet "all sin" (Rom.3:23). Now God clearly could make it impossible for us to sin, yet He does not do so, even though it is His will that we do not (e.g., 1Jn.2:1). Similarly He could force all to believe but clearly He does not do so (2Thes.3:2). Instead, He puts us in this world to believe if we so choose and leaves us here after we do so in order to test our faith and demonstrate the quality of that faith to the whole world. To avoid sin (to take the sanctification part of the Christian life) or to advance spiritually (to take the growth part) both require continual decisions made by us. These are completely non-meritorious decisions, mixing the free-will-faith given us by God with God's grace, precisely as is the case in salvation, but decisions coming from our faith-free-will nonetheless. Does God decide to avoid sin for us? Does God decide for us to choose to seek Him? Doesn't everything we see and hear and experience in this life tell you that there are consequences for action and inaction? Indeed, that is how God set up the world.

Thus your statement that "Jesus had to believe for you" is not only not scriptural (i.e., there is no verse which even suggests this), but contrary to every human experience (and thus counter to God's system of natural revelation inherent in the world, the system designed to turn mankind toward God and take away any excuse for refusing to do so: Ps.19; Acts 17; Rom.1:18ff.). Besides, if Jesus believes "for me", why doesn't He just believe "for everyone else" if God wants all to be saved? There is little discernible point in a system where some have faith and others don't but it doesn't make any difference one way or the other.  And it is certainly not a biblical system.

As to the passages you quote, the NIV, NASB and most modern versions correctly translate not "faith of" but "faith in Jesus Christ" at both Galatians 2:16 and Philippians 3:9. That is because both phrases are instances of the noun "Christ" being in the genitive case in what is called an "objective genitive" -- which means it is the object of the verbal idea of believing inherent in the noun faith rather than the subject as you seem to understand it (i.e., these genitive phrases say that faith is directed towards Christ rather than emanating from Him).

Hebrews 12:2 takes a bit more. But even if we were to understand this verse only in the sense of Jesus being the One who gives us the gift of faith and then brings said faith to completion, that does not ipso facto remove our free will from the process. In fact, the context shows precisely the opposite. We still see clearly here that Jesus is the object of the faith we exercise rather than operating it for us (which is why we are instructed to focus on Him "looking toward Jesus"). First of all, the first two verses in Hebrews twelve are protreptic, that is, they are designed to get us "to do" something, and that something is the (non-meritorious and grace-based) action of faith response: "let us run the race by putting off every burden and by fixing our gaze on Jesus . . .". Secondly, it must be noted that these verses come directly after the conclusion of chapter eleven which is all about the power of being faithful and the value of having faith, encouraging us to emulate those great believers of the past who exercised faith in exceptional ways. Thirdly, Jesus is the originator and completer of "Our faith", of "the [singular] faith" in the Greek (rather than the individual faith residing in each one of us as you seem to understand it), because without His death for us on the cross there would be nothing, no one, for us to believe in. That is why He is said to be faith's (note again the singular) "originator and completer". Thus this verse too, rather than teaching Jesus as the one who operates our faith, describes Jesus as the ultimate object of that God-given ability to believe. He is the one we are to "look unto" -- an exercise of faith. Indeed, this entire two chapter context has as its goal to encourage the Jerusalem believers, to get them to "have faith". Just as our Lord did not flag under the pressure but continued to have faith, so we too should like Him (Heb.12:3), and like the great believers of chapter eleven, hold fast in faith, exercise faith consistently and aggressively, and have faith and apply it in all the difficulties we face in life. That is to say, faith (i.e., free will) is indeed a gift, but we still have to use the gift ("let us . . ." [do so]), and this extended passage as all of the rest of scripture appeals to us to do so in a godly, biblical way, following the example of Jesus. Jesus is the example of how we are to act and what we are to do (v.3: "Keep in mind all the terrible opposition He endured against Himself at the hands of sinful men, so as not to grow sick at heart and give up"). Now since we are told repeatedly in this passage to follow Jesus' example, that surely means we are to use our free-will-faith in precisely the manner in which He exercised it. And if this in some way meant that we were really only automatons in so doing, how would that not make Him an automaton too, since He is the example and pattern we are to follow? Heaven forbid! Just as Jesus showed perfect faith and indeed is the One who provides us the object of faith in His Person and His work, so we are to emulate Him in the faith we exercise day by day "from faith to faith" (i.e., from salvation to the end, walking with Him day by day in faith: Rom.1:17).

Thus, the words originator and completer do not give any indication of Jesus believing for us, but rather they teach that He is the example of how to exercise faith and the object of that very faith we are being called upon to exercise: He is the be all and end all of faith, it's "Alpha and Omega", so to speak. As Jesus had faith, so are we to have it, a determined subordination of our will to the Father's will in all we think and do and say -- that is what free will faith really is, the opportunity to respond to God humbly in the way He would have us to do by trusting Him from the heart. He has given us everything we need to do so, including the ability to believe and to be faithful, but He doesn't do this for us, or it wouldn't be faith. This is clear to see from the world since "not all are of the faith" (2Thes.3:2); all are given the faculty of faith (free will); but not all choose to use it in response to God's gracious gift in Jesus Christ. We are given faith (by God), a great gift, and expected to use it (towards Jesus Christ). If we do, believing in and faithfully following Jesus to the end, we are saved; if we do not, we are not. That is "the big distinction" (see link) and the reason why we are here in this world. This is not about "helping God" or blasphemously proclaiming God as somehow unable to save. This is about responding to God His way and believing what God says in His Word. If He tells us that we have to believe, who are we to tell Him that He has already believed for us?

In Jesus,

Bob L.
 

Question #7:

Dear Robert,

Since you agree that it is God's will that ALL men be saved, then the next thought is: Did God have a plan to carry out his own will?

I believe God is a sovereign God. Mankind can do nothing that will be able to overcome God's will. Man can believe whatever he wants about salvation, but NONE of his actions can thwart God's WILL to save all of mankind. The salvation of all is going to prevail and God WILL get what he wants.

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I WILL DO all my pleasure." Is.46: 9-10.

God Bless,


Response #7:
 

With respect, as I pointed out in my last e-mail, God wills many things that do not take place, not because of any lack of power or planning on His part, but precisely because He has made the issue of faith-choice the dominating principle of human life and creature history.

God wills that we never sin. Yet neither of us, sinful human beings that we are, are capable of coming anywhere close to this clear principle of God's will. Yet God does provide a way for us to be cleared of sin both temporally and eternally. To be cleared temporally, as believers all we need do is confess our sins to God -- then we are forgiven and restored to fellowship (1Jn.1:9). To be cleared eternally, all we need do is put our faith in Jesus Christ to receive the redemption which is in Him (Eph.1:7). Neither the one nor the other involves any merit on our part -- both are entirely dependent upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in whom all merit lies and ever will. But if we do not confess our sin, we damage our spiritual lives. If we do not put our faith in Christ, we forfeit any eternal future. Our actions have consequences, and so does our inaction. God would merely have to speak the word and make it impossible for anyone to sin ever again; likewise He could say the word and immediately save everyone; He could bring time to a close today and usher in eternity in an instant. The fact is, however, He is not doing any of these things; rather He is continuing with His plan as scripture describes it. That plan desires the salvation of all His creatures given the gift of faith to be exercised in free will. God certainly did not desire Satan's condemnation; nor does He desire the condemnation of any human being. We go to hell, men and angels both, by willfully rejecting God's will for our lives.

God could have made us rocks or trees or insects. But His whole creation is designed to show that we are different in the crucial respect of bearing the image (we have a will, small "w", wherewith we have the ability to respond to God's WILL), according to the likeness (all human beings must decide as individual agents on the looser analogy of the Trinity) of God (please see the link: "The Image and the Likeness of God" in BB 3A). God will indeed do all His good pleasure, and it is very clear from scripture that it is His pleasure to offer salvation to all and to save all who will be saved. For all who will worship God for all eternity must do so out of their own choice in Spirit and in truth: "for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (Jn.4:23).

So as long as we are asking questions of each other (and as long as I have answered yours), tell me then, was it God's will for Satan to rebel against Him? And if not, how did God let it happen? Or was it God's will for Adam and Eve to fall? And if not, why did God let it happen? Ultimately, the only to reconcile creature disobedience and divine sovereignty is the universally obvious and biblically correct principle that God has given us the ability to choose. In all things regarding Him and His truth, that choice is without merit, since all merit resides in Him, but it is still a choice, and what we choose has lasting consequences for this life and the next.

And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
Malachi 3:18 NIV
 

In the One we love because He first loved us, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.
 

Question #8:

Dear Robert,

I will answer the above questions with these scriptures:

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL:I the LORD do ALL these things. "  Is. 45:7

"And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who makeththe dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?" Exodus 4:11.

"And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that LOVE God, to them who are the called according to his PURPOSE." Rom. 8:28.

I know what you are thinking. It says: "to those who LOVE God".

2 simple questions about Rom. 8:28:

1. WHY do you think you love God?

2. What is God's PURPOSE?

Please do not use your own words, but use the scriptures to answer these questions.

Thanks for the dialog.

God Bless,


Response #8:
 

First of all, this is about the sixth e-mail of mine to you in which you have chosen not to engage with the points made in my responses. This discussion is starting to get a little one sided. In discussions of this sort, generally speaking reciprocity is a good principle. As far as "answering in scripture only", that strikes me as not only very strange thing for you to ask given that have not held to that principle, but also unworkable. Why? Well, Paul and John and Peter didn't just quote scripture, and neither has anyone since when it comes to explaining what they mean in interpreting biblical principles. Our Lord could easily have used only Old Testament quotations in His public ministry, but of course He gives the most blessed explanations, and often explains the Old Testament passages He does quote in new prose rather than by quotation. Since our Lord has shown us the way, a way followed by his apostles and Bible believing teachers ever since, relying on quotations only, while it may at first blush seem to have merit, is clearly going a different way. I trust also that you realize that even in this short response to me you too have used more than "just scripture" in order to frame, explain, and conclude your response. And as I say, it is also unworkable. Just because I may know the point I am trying to make in quoting a scripture (which by the very nature of scripture is going to be loaded with information that while true goes to other points other than the one I am making), does not mean that you will necessarily understand what I am trying to say, explain, or prove. Case in point are the scriptures you give in your response. They do not seem to me at first glance to answer my questions. God is perfect, and yet He has made creatures who can and in far to many cases have disobeyed Him. Being omniscient and existing outside of time and space, He surely knew He was making the angels and us this way. The only way I can see to reconcile God's allowing of creature disobedience with His perfect righteousness is His desire to have His creatures make their own decisions to choose for Him. He was certainly capable of making us without any ability to choose. He was certainly capable of making human beings and angels who could do nothing other than be perfect and perfectly worship Him. But without a choice, we wouldn't be "us". Being who I am is important to me -- but more to the point it is obviously very important to God that we be who we are: He made us in His image, according to His likeness which is, by definition and explained in the prior e-mail (see the link: "The Image and Likeness of God") possessed of free will.

This biblical principle of God-given free will is proved by the fact of angelic and human disobedience, to wit, if we are free to choose for God ipso facto we have to be free not to do so, and, sadly, given a choice most human beings opt out of God's plan for their salvation (as is proven by human behavior throughout human history and documented in principle and by example throughout the Bible). That was the import of my two questions and it does not seem to me that your three quotations have any direct bearing upon them. So without further explanation, I honestly can only guess why you have chosen to quote them. Now it is certainly true that riddling responses can make a person look brilliant and mysterious to the uninitiated. As a possessor of two B.A.s, two M.A.s, and a Ph.D., I certainly had my share of professors who liked to play "guess my interpretation". I always felt this to be academically dishonest because if a person has anything important to say it is my feeling that they ought to say it. The technique of holding some mysterious hidden truth close to the vest and manipulating people with hints, making them gyrate back and forth in hopes of some signal or a knowing nod that "yes, now you have got . . . well, part of it, anyway" is the very stuff of which cult doctrine and cult indoctrination is always made (see the link: in Read Your Bible: "Cult Characteristics").

But I am sure that such was not your intention. I would happy to continue a true dialogue wherein you take into account what I write to you as well. Because, believe me, the principles of your theology are not obvious prima facie, even to those who might be inclined to accept your thesis. As I said in an earlier response, there are plenty of people out there who believe in a form of predestination such as the passages you quote may seem to support who most assuredly do not believe that "all are saved". After all, God is free to condemn the wicked, even if it were true that they really had no choice (and indeed they do have a choice; we all have a choice -- that is why we are here). And indeed, these hyper-Calvinists at least have the advantage over you of teaching a consistent justice of God: at least in their system, God always condemns the wicked and rewards the righteous (even if they obscure the true responsibility of each individual in choosing to be one or the other).

Some observations on your verses:

1) Isaiah 45:7: "Evil" is the Hebrew word ra' (the generic word for "bad" of any source or cause), and here the verse is referring to the disaster of divine judgment. Better translation: "I bring about disaster [on the wicked]". The thrust of this passage is that God does make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, bringing down upon the latter in due time the consequences of their actions (what we choose to do does make a difference).

2) Exodus 4:11: "who made man's mouth?" etc.; God is capable of overruling any and all material hindrances. Thus, even when things look bleak, we believers should remember that He is the One who is helping us. Moses lacked confidence; God's instruction is designed to make him rely on God rather than himself; notice, this discourse is designed to influence Moses' behavior, that is, like most scripture it is protreptic, designed to speak to our hearts so that we might choose what is good and right (rather than what is evil and wicked). What we choose makes a big difference.

3) Romans 8:28: "God works all things together for good". Everything He does turns out for what we would call "good" when we are submitting ourselves to His will. Everything that has or will transpire in human and angelic history will be "good" in its final disposition since it will be according to justice and will result in blessing for those who responded to God, and in just condemnation for those who did not. Even were I to believe that "we love God because He first loved us" (1Jn.4:19) implied that therefore there is no choice in our love (whereas the verse neither says nor implies this -- 1st John is written with the purpose of turning us away from sin and towards God; cf. 1Jn.2:1), even so that would not answer the hyper-Calvinistic objection that those who don't love God will still be condemned. In reality, we choose to respond to God or we choose not to, to love Him, or not to. The fact that we couldn't love Him without Him should not be news: we can't do anything without Him -- but we still have to choose what to think, say and do with the gracious opportunity of life He gives us. For those who do choose Him, God does cause everything to come out for good, whether or not we appreciate it all at the time.  And in regard to love, it is not only a choice, it is a commanded choice:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:28-31  NIV


Why I love God:

We love [God] because He Himself first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Comment: Without being given free will, we would be unable to truly "love" anyone or anything. Doesn't love always involve choice? 

God's purpose:

Everyone who is called by my Name, for My glory I have created him, I have formed him, indeed, I have made him.
Isaiah 43:7

Comment: It is to God's glory that we choose for Him, even when we are not compelled to do so. That is why we were made, and when we fulfill our purpose by freely choosing for God, it brings Him glory.

How to reconcile God saving everyone with the existence of sin and evil in the first place is a fundamental problem of your position. I don't believe this objection can be blithely put aside by answering a question with a question and asking for scripture quotations to answer questions that scripture does not itself directly pose (since it teaches the answer on virtually every page). Human and angelic history would seem to pointless if there are no consequences. The Bible would seem to be superfluous if what we believe makes no difference. And all of God's appeals to our consciences would appear to be a waste of time if our actions are essentially meaningless in the end. Why not just make a solid state eternity in the first place? Of course, God can do whatever He likes. But since He has set history in motion, since He has given us a wonderful book filled with all the truth we will ever be able to handle, since He does appeal to our consciences ever moment of every day, it is not unreasonable to think He has done and is doing so for some good and important purpose. Yes, it all does matter -- very much.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


Question #9:
 

Dear Bob,

Answer to your responses:

NO. Love is a gift, not a choice.

"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Rom. 5:5.

You don't have a FREE WILL:

"As it is written, There is NONE righteous, no, not one: There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God." Rom.3:10-11.

"But God be thanked, that ye were the SERVANTS of sin, but ye haveobeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." Rom. 6:17.

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But SIN (not your FREE WILL), taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead." Rom. 7:7-8

"Now then it is no more I that do it, but SIN that dwelleth in me." Rom. 7:17.

"Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in WILL WORSHIP, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." Col. 2:23.

Where's FREE WILL???

The whole revelation of Paul's letter was to teach us the true meaning of salvation, sin, redemption, faith, the Law, righteousness and self.

The truth is that ALL ALL ALL that God demanded from us was done FOR US by Jesus. WHY? Because we are born sinners and sinners CAN NOT live a life that would be pleasing to God.

Yes, we are members of the Body of Christ because God CHOSE us not the other way around. What about all those who are not members of the Body of Christ when will they be saved if indeed "ALL WILL BE SAVED"?

"Having made known unto us the MYSTERY of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself." Eph. 1:9.

This is what God says about our "so called" FREE WILL righteous acts:

"But we are all as an UNCLEAN thing, and all our righteousnesses are as FILTHY RAGS" Is. 64:6.

The MYSTERY of his will is this:

"Who will (not maybe) have ALL men (not some) to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:4.

" For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL men, specially (not only) of those that believe. These things command and teach." 1 Tim. 4:10-11.

*God's purpose:*

MY RESPONSE:

"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." Acts 17:24-25.

"For it is God which worketh in YOU both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13.

Notice that ALL of my responses were from Paul's letters. Study Paul's letters without any pre-conceived idea and you will KNOW that God will get what he wants and that is: "ALL of mankind WILL be saved.

God Bless,


Response #9:
 

If you check the Greek text of Romans 5:5 you will see that it has to be the Spirit which is "given to us", not love. That is because love is a feminine noun, but the definite article here (translated as if it were a relative pronoun) is in the neuter gender (so that grammatically the Spirit, a neuter noun, must be the antecedent of the word "which/whom", not love). Even so, this verse wouldn't prove we didn't have a choice. We are given faith, but we still have to use it. No matter what faculties God gives us, without our engaging in the use of them through our free will they do us no good. Every believer is given a spiritual gift(s), but not all use them, and no two believers make the same use of what they have been given (that is the reason behind the different levels of rewards in eternity, different crowns, gold silver and precious stones versus wood hay and stubble, 100, 60, or 30-fold, etc.). But that love involves choice is not only clear to any person living in this world -- it is also something about which scripture leaves no doubt whatsoever:

"The most important [commandment]," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (30) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' (31) The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:30-31 NIV

These are commands. God is telling us to do this. If it were automatic, what would be the point of Jesus saying not only that loving God is an order, something we are commanded to do, but that it is the most important order God gives us. If we had no choice in the matter, we wouldn't need to be told to do it.

Romans 3:10-11: Already addressed previously; written by David and quoted by Paul -- they were righteous . . . through faith, so that "no one" does not exclude the possibility of the existence of some who do respond to God.

Romans 7:7-8: Not sure why you quote this; I'm not a Pelagian; I teach universal depravity at birth; that is why we need a Savior; He died for all, but that not all respond as God desires is very clear from the fact that a minority of people even identify themselves as Christians and far less than that number truly are.

Romans 7:17: In the previous verse and in the following verse, Paul says "what I will". So the issue vis-ŕ-vis sin is not the lack of will, but the lack of the ability to carry out that will without God's help. That is precisely what I have been trying to explain all along. There is of course no merit in what we do -- all the merit belongs to God and to Jesus Christ who sacrificed everything to give us the choices we have. He has provided everything, in this dispensation even the empowerment of the Spirit. But we still have to "go along" with the Spirit's lead (Rom.8:14; Gal.5:16-17). We still have to make decisions not to sin. We still have to make decisions to pursue spiritual growth and production, and follow through on them with the free will God has given us. The Bible generally and the NT in particular are chock full of commands and imperatives. Why would that be if we didn't make choices every day? You make a choice every time you respond to one of these emails.

Colossians 2:23: The word you put in all caps is the Greek ethelothreskia. It means "worship you choose yourself" rather than what you seem to suppose it means, i.e., "worship of the will" (no such Greek word exists). When people set up for themselves systems of worship or false doctrine or religion which God has not approved, that is ethelothreskia. In my opinion, that is precisely what you are engaging in with this false doctrine.

When you say we cannot live a life pleasing to God, that is only true absent salvation and God's empowerment of our lives through the Holy Spirit. For we are most definitely commanded and told to live lives pleasing to God, something God would not command us to do if it were not possible:

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.
1st Thessalonians 4:1 NIV

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Now the thought-pattern of the flesh is [one of] enmity towards God, for it does not obey God's law, nor is it [even] able [to do so]. And [so] those who are under the control of the flesh (i.e., unbelievers enslaved to the sin nature) are not able to please God. But you are not under the control of the flesh, but under the control of the Spirit – if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, that person does not belong to Him.
Romans 8:7-9

Romans goes on to say that we have an obligation -- not to live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Rom.8:12). We have a choice; we can either give in to sin, or we can follow the lead of the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:14). And if we consistently make the wrong choice it will eventually put our faith to death and we will die spiritually (Rom.8:13; see the link:  in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

How do you explain the fact that all believers at one time or another find themselves like Paul in the situation you quote in Romans 7 of "doing what they don't want to do"? You are not blaming God for our sinful activity, are you? But if we do not have a choice, who is responsible?  Wouldn't God be choosing for us in that case?  God forbid!  For God cannot be the author of sin.

What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace [which abounded in Christ's sacrifice for our sin] may abound [all the more]? May it never be! We [are they] who have [in Christ] died to sin. How then shall we yet live [our lives] in it?
Romans 6:1-2

Excusing all sin by saying we have no way to choose against it is the same in effect as justifying sin (and blaming it on God, at least indirectly).  This approach, left unchecked, will eventually, through apostasy, make an unbeliever out of a believer. Beware lest this be true of you:

Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.
Romans 3:8 NIV

Ephesians 1:9: Already dealt with; again, you leave out the end of the sentence which stresses that through our response in believing in Jesus and in decisively following Him in faith in this life we glorify God (that is His purpose): . . . ."[He made known to us the mystery] . . . in order that we who have previously placed our hope in Christ might serve the purpose of generating praise for His glory (in life), whom you also when you heard the Word of truth, the good news of your salvation, in whom [I say], when you believed, were sealed by the Spirit of promise" (vv.12-14).

Isaiah 64:6: Again, you leave out the context. The previous verse says: "You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?" (NIV). Your verse describes the people in apostasy. It is very true that much of what is done ostensibly "for God" in human history will be shown in eternity to have been nothing more than self-righteous "filthy rags". For unbelievers, these are part of the "works" by which they will be judged when officially condemned at the Great White Throne just prior to being cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev.20:11-15). For believers, these "self-willed" acts which did not properly respond to God's WILL will be "burnt up" before the judgment seat of Christ (1Cor.3:10-13); but the legitimate production we have chosen to do in proper response to God's WILL will receive a wonderful reward (1Cor.3:14-15).

1st Timothy 2:4; 4:10-11: And many other passages too. As already said many times by now, our disagreement is not over God's first best will for His creatures, but over His overruling WILL and purpose of saving those who respond to that will; if we did not have the choice to do so or not, we could not be said to have been made in His image and likeness -- but we most certainly are as the scriptures so clearly affirm. I have yet to hear from you on this critical point (i.e., "image of God" = given the faculty of faith-free-will"; see the link:  "The Image and Likeness of God").

Acts 17:24-25: Again, you fail to quote the whole passage. In his speech to the Areopagus council, Paul then says why God has given all men "life and breath and all things": "that they might seek God, if perhaps they might even [deign to] grope after Him and so come to find Him – for He is not far from every one of us" (v.27).

Philippians 2:13: Again, you fail to quote the whole passage. Paul has just told them in the previous verse to "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling". I'd like to know how a person who believes that no effort of will is necessary finds comfort in these words. Of course it is not as bleak as all that for, as explained in the following verse which you do quote, God Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, energizing our will and our application of that will in order to accomplish all He desires us to do. Understand, we need to believe both halves of the above: 1) God expects much of us; 2) God provides much to us. He neither gives us an impossible task so that "no one can be saved", nor takes away our responsibility so that "all are saved". None are saved who do not wish to be saved. All are saved who respond to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.

I find it somewhat disturbing that, on the one hand, in none of your responses have you affirmed your personal faith in Jesus Christ (even indirectly), and, on the other hand, in this latest epistle you seem to suggest that sin makes no difference, so that even if you are not seeking to "blame it on God", you are at least in effect trying to exculpate all behavior. This leads me to wonder whether 1) you have ever truly been a believer in Jesus; or 2) if you (still) are, whether or not you have strayed into some form of outlandish behavior that you are now seeking to justify (in hopes that you will be saved nonetheless). For example, what, if I may ask, is your position on homosexual behavior?

In the love of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.
 

Question #10: 

Dear Robert,

LOVE is a feminine noun?

"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 1 Cor. 1:19

The word LOVE from Rom. 5:5 is the Greek word "AGAPE" and refers to God's Love and God is not feminine.

From all of your responses it seems that you have MORE confidence in YOURSELF then you do God. You must either be a Catholic, Mormon, a Jehovah Witness or Unitarian.

What you need to do is to get COMPLETELY out of SELF (flesh) and get ALL THE WAY into Christ.

"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Rom. 8:9

"For I know that in me (that is, in my FLESH,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Rom. 7:18

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Phil.3:3

God Bless,


Response #10:
 

It is very clear from this last e-mail that you have no further wish for a serious discussion. Not only have you failed to respond to everything I have written to you, but you are now engaging in groundless personal invective. Further, this particular response borders on the ridiculous (it cannot really be that you do not understand that nouns in inflected languages possess a grammatical gender, something which has nothing to do with sexuality, especially not of other nouns to which they may refer).

So I feel that my work is done. I have carried out my responsibility to "rescue those being led away to death" (Prov.24:11-12), having not failed to admonish you with "the whole WILL of God" (Acts 20:20-21; 20:27). You cannot now claim you were not told that a living faith in Christ was necessary for salvation. And I continue to be skeptical of your spiritual status since you have never acknowledged Jesus as you Lord and Savior, directly or indirectly (a fact which, as I say, speaks volumes to me about the true motivation behind your desire for the myth of "universal salvation" to be true). In parting, I leave you with these verses, verses which are applicable to this discussion, for they show beyond any doubt that it is the exercise of faith, which, though it is a completely non-meritorious response to God's grace on our part, is yet clearly an act of free will choice:

'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 16'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'
Acts 26:18 NIV

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Galatians 3:2-9 NIV


In the faith of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

 


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