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Predestination, Free Will and False Teaching

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Question #1:

I am seeking for answers regarding eternal security and predestination. I appreciate your website.

Response #1:

Hello Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

There are many postings, pieces at Ichthys on these subjects. Here are a few of the more prominent links (which will also connect to more). Please do feel free to write back.

Predestination and the Plan of God

The Plan of God

Predestination, Calling and Election

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security

The False Doctrine of Absolute E.S. II

The False Doctrine of Absolute E.S. III

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your confirmation and helpful insights. I really appreciate it!

I am still reading the part about the 7 church eras in your Tribulation series and I am on the Philadelphia section. I take pages and pages of notes as I read through your series so I take my time and try not to rush through it. One lady I know there had up an article which had many quotes about Luther. I really understand your Philadelphia teachings and greatly appreciate them, but since Luther was from the Philadelphia era, it is hard not to be truly perplexed about the quotes that Luther shares in this article I noticed. Especially his exceedingly harsh words toward the Jewish people, as well as his thoughts about baptism, women, free-will, killing peasants, and in one place he said that Christ committed adultery. I was stunned by so many of the quotes. I know we all make mistakes, but so much of what is said here seems so un-Christlike and cruel. If you have any insights to help me understand how Luther could say such things, I would greatly appreciate it.

I praise God that everything you say and teach has my full and utmost respect and I thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and concerns.

In Jesus our Lord,

Response #2:

You are most welcome, and thank you as well for your extremely positive attitude towards growing in the Word of God. I very much appreciate that.

As to Luther, I am certainly not going to defend his comments. Things that are wrong are wrong, no two ways about it. Some people are more likely to "shoot from the lip" than others, and I am sure that Luther would like to have some of these things back. One of the ways he helped to spread the Word and build up the incipient Protestant faith was by having a large number of prospective pastors join him at the dinner table day in and day out. In the course of long meals he covered topics great and small, always with a biblical focus. The materials were recorded by his guests and including in a work known as his "table talk". I am pretty sure that if most of what I have said in informal conversation were recorded for posterity, there would be plenty of things I would like to take back after the fact as well – things most definitely not meant for general consumption. That doesn't explain it all of course inasmuch as some of these comments come from his writings. I have serious issues with Lutheranism, but less so with Luther (analogous to our discussion of Calvin vs. Calvinism). There is a difference between the person who courageously split with the dead R.C. church at great personal peril and struck out into the wilderness for the sake of Christ – without whose efforts there never would have been a Reformation – and later generations who should have moved forward with the Word over tradition (as Luther had begun to do) rather than enshrining his first steps as the end all and be all of theology. In fact, as best I understand things, Lutheranism (especially the non-conservative part of it) only made things worse.

The reformers were more than teachers and more than theologians, after all. They were truly "men in the arena", and much of what they did and had to do because of the situation at the time was as much political as it was religious. It is one thing for us to take a boat to shore and walk up the beech then sit down to tea; it is quite another to invade a beachhead under ferocious enemy fire, fight one's way up the hill and then sit down to some gritty water out of a canteen. The conversations may be a bit different after the respective experiences, and it little behooves us to find fault with our forerunners for getting their clothes a bit dirty in the process; but for them, we would all still be in the boat. We may disagree with them in many things, but we honor their service and their sacrifice.

So my bottom line with Luther is that I have no problem appreciating the man even as I am little concerned with his writings. I certainly agree with you that there are many things he said that I would take great issue with (everything which you mention here), and that includes great portions of his theology as well. However, I can still admire him and the wonderful and absolutely necessary contribution he made to the Church of Jesus Christ, not just in terms of theology – the first really to finally put grace over works since the early church – but also for his courageous deeds which helped to carve out a place and an opportunity for those who wanted to put scripture over R.C. tradition; that took a great deal of self-sacrifice and began the Reformation.

I suppose this sort of thing is less of an issue for me personally than it is for many people. Frankly, I don't really care very much what this or that denomination believes, or what this or that church father or historical religious figure or famous theologian thought or believed. I believe the Bible. I am happy to rejoice with all who believe the truth, and always happy to find someone who believes the truth as well. But the truth is the truth and it comes from scripture, not people. A good teacher who can help find and understand the truth is invaluable. To the extent that someone fills that role effectively and correctly, I rejoice; to the extent that they fall short, I move on. Life is too short to grieve over the mistakes of others, no matter how high we may esteem them. We all have feet of clay, after all, and so we all have our hands full trying to cut out and limit our own mistakes. Ideally, the Church should be growing closer to the truth in all respects day by day. Clinging to tradition as all denominations do only makes that task impossible. The best that approach can do is retard decline, but even there success is rare.

I appreciate your keen eye and the fact that you do not brook anything incorrect or un-Christian. That is an important perspective and one that helps keep the whole Church honest – those, that is, who are genuinely interested in spiritual advance – and from falling into complacency.

Keep your standards high. That is incredibly important in the quest to love the truth and to love Jesus above all else.

Your friend in our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Robert,

Thank you very much for sharing those thoughts. I know in my early years of seeking the truth, I am very convinced my heart was in the right place, even though at times when I look back now, I can certainly see my strong failings from the past. Perhaps Luther was at a similar stage and even though his heart may have been sincere and he may have known that the Catholic Church was utterly false, and yet in the process of seeking reformation of what he knew was wrong, he still made some terribly serious failings - perhaps out of immaturity or lack of understanding. Praise God that God looks deep into the heart and knows what our sincere yearnings are, and that He continues to be patient with our downfalls as we continue to grow in Him. I believe that as long as that person does eventually come to recognition of their transgressions, and has true sorrow and deep regret and examines their ways and turns back fully to the Lord, that the Lord will pardon and have mercy on such a person (such as read in the book of Lamentations 3:22-42 and in the rest of that amazing little book), and I do believe you are right and that this could be the case with Luther as well. I often wonder about Solomon, and I hope that he woke up and turned back to the Lord before his final day.

Thank you again for your wise and edifying comments and for always taking the time to answer my concerns. I am always very grateful to hear your thoughts on various issues!

In Christ Jesus our patient and merciful Lord,

Response #3:

You are very welcome.

Solomon is a sad case. I do think he continued to be a believer, but I suppose I have different view of what it takes to "lose salvation" than many do. Psalm 73:27 says that all who are far from the Lord perish, and that the Lord destroys all who prove unfaithful. I take these words to mean apostasy and the sin unto death respectively, but only God knows which is which in individual cases. No one is 100% faithful to the Lord, for we all fall short ("all sin": Rom.3:23). And while it is so much better to be 90% than 10%, only the 0% at the point of death are lost. That includes, of course, the vast majority of the human race throughout history, but in the case of believers it can't always readily be determined based upon foul conduct if a person has lost faith 100%. About the only thing believers who are walking in a sanctified way can do is stay clear of those who are self-destructing (if all efforts to retrieve them fail: Jude 1:23), taking note and being circumspect ourselves, since no one is perfect. That is my assessment of Solomon. Luther for me falls more into the category of "we all have feet of clay", and none of us would pass a total inspection by another believer (let alone the Lord), and especially if it were not a "where are you now" inspection but a "total life" inspection of everything we have ever written or said.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

There is a Wesleyan church in my neighborhood. I know that you are non-denominational, but could you tell me what you think of Wesleyan doctrine? From my understanding it's an extension of Arminianism. I know how you feel about the whole arminianism vs calvinism debate. But would you say that arminianism is kind of closer to the truth? Anyway, what do you think of me visiting this church?

I do still like the church that I have been attending. I just don't feel that I am being "fed" there. I think I go primarily for the fellowship. The pastor is the most sincere of all the churches I have visited thus far. I think I may be expecting too much though. At least, more than what can be provided in an hour-long service. I read the Screwtape Letters the other day. I know you don't like links in emails, so I won't embed anything, but I think letter/chapter 12 describes my situation uncannily well. I've had a hard time explaining to you how I've been feeling lately, but that letter describes me perfectly. I recall one of the letters talking about how humans and by extension Christians go through natural ups and downs in life. I feel like I might be caught in one of the "downs." Only, I think there might be some sort of demonic oppression involved. Or not, it could be my own spiritual neglect. It just feels like I have some sort of blood sucker attached to me, spiritually of course. Could you tell me how it is in your opinion that demons influence us? In the movies they have an angel and a devil perched on each shoulder whispering suggestions. How do you think it's done though. Do you think they can "speak" to us without us being aware of it. Can they guide certain situations? Like, if your besetting sin is anger, could they provide different little scenarios through out the day intended to get you riled? I've just been wondering about these things. I know that what we see in movies is far from the truth. I know that we are influenced. I'm just curious about the how.

Response #4:

Always good to hear from you. On the church question, I am always skittish about recommending or "approving" churches, for obvious reasons, and that goes double for anything that is part of a denomination or definite tradition. That is because such things run counter, in my view, to the biblical mandates for the organization of Christian fellowships. E.g.:

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
1st Corinthians 1:11-13

We are all Christ's Church, all who have believed; willfully dividing ourselves up is problematic. What we should all crave is the truth, and denominational creeds and the like can only even potentially restrain going backward, even as they most definitely retard forward progress. Of course for any group that thinks it has "the complete truth", there is no point in having a discussion.

I would prefer to counsel evaluating a church by what it actually does and what it actually teaches; that is because even if church X belongs to a tradition or a denomination that is no guarantee that the pastor or whoever is teaching will actually adhere to such creeds. Indeed, in my experience of the present day church-visible, it is usually a case of not really teaching anything at all (sermons are not teaching, after all; see the link).

It seems to me that your "problem" is more one of a social nature than a doctrinal one. That is a difficult thing for many people, I know. I would only ask whether or not the right place to find the right friends is a place where the right things are not going on. My advice would be to find the right place practicing the right things; that way, there is a much better chance that what attracted you has also attracted other Christians of character who are serious about Jesus Christ (versus those who are only looking for social interaction, holding up tradition, etc.).

I have written some on the "spiritual warfare" question you ask about; we are limited in what we can say from scripture, but I do hope you will have a look at these links and write me back about anything therein:

Resisting the Devil

Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare II

Satan's Tactical Methods (in SR 4 - which is in its entirety related to this question)

War in Heaven I

War in Heaven II

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

The little we are given to know tells me that our job is to proceed with the struggle that is the Christian life largely heedless of what we cannot see – except to ever see Jesus with the eyes of faith and remember that God is our fortress against all such attacks, whether we recognize them or not.

Hoping and praying for your continued and continuing spiritual growth and progress, and a good reward before the judgment seat of Christ on that great day of days.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

Logically, both Modern Calvinism and Standard Christianity are the same, because both believe that the following proposition, which shall be called Proposition [I], is true: 'At any instance in which God has predestined an individual to salvation, it is the case that said individual has faith in God.' Now the truth of Proposition [I] is determined only by whether or not we are able to find both clauses to be simultaneously true at any given instance. That is to say, Proposition [I] is a statement that the clauses are absolutely correlated, while not being about the causative relation of said clauses.

Modern Calvinism is different from Standard Christianity not in the logic of Proposition [I], but in the determination of the cause of God's predestination. Modern Calvinism would assert that God's predestination has caused any believing individual's will to turn to Him, which in turn is expressed by his faith. The assertion of Modern Calvinism, then, is logically equivalent to the following proposition, which shall be called Proposition [II]:

'Anyone can do as he wills when it comes to turning to Him, but he cannot will what his will is. (By God's predestination, our will is determined.)'

On the other hand, Standard Christianity would assert that the individual himself is the cause of his will, and that God's predestination did not cause the will of the individual, but was done concordantly to his will. The assertion of Standard Christianity, then, is equivalent to the following proposition, which shall be called Proposition [III]:

'Anyone can do as he wills when it comes to turning to Him, and he has willed what his will is.'

The Bible, I believe, does contain an answer to this very important question in the verse called John 10:34: 'Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods' ''?

If there would be anything that we have which is worthy of being called God like, it is our ability to be the uncaused cause of our own will, as this is a direct reflection of Jesus Christ's own position of being the uncaused cause of creation. Therefore, I conclude that John 10:34 determines that Proposition [III] is the correct interpretation of the causative relation of the clauses in Proposition [I].

Sincerely,

Response #5:

A nice appreciation of things – and shows why I'm not a theologian! This made my head hurt.

On the substance, I think the truth is that we do have free will, but we only have it because it has been decreed as free; God knew how we would use our will and "made us who we really wanted to be". Without the decree, there can't be a universe, a history, the cross (upon which all things are based); without genuine free will there can't be a plan of God because the plan is all about creating an eternal universe of creatures with free will ("like God" in respect of having His image, being made according to His likeness) who have of that free will chosen to respond to Him and so as to be with Him forever.

Problems arise when it is assumed through human logic that things which seem incompatible to our minds and experience are actually that way to God. Rather than being incompatible, absolute and genuine free will is only possible because of the divine decrees, and the divine decrees have no rationale without genuine and absolute creature free will.

If interested, I have written about this in BB 4B: Sotierology: "God's Plan to Save You".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Professor, I have been studying on God's Will and from what I am reading there's no such thing as "Free Will." "

Response #6:

Apologies for the long delay. This seems to have been left for me on FaceBook, however I don't carry on discussions on FaceBook (for a variety of reasons).

As to the substance (assuming this was from you), I would invite to read the following before making up your mind: "Free Will Faith and the Will of God" in BB 4B

A good deal of the (in my view unnecessary) controversy on this subject has to do with different groups having different definitions for the terms, and then talking past people with different definitions.

After all, there a large number of commands in the Bible given to us by God. If we don't have the ability to carry out these commands, why would He give them to us? If we were going to carry them out automatically, why give us the commands?

Please note that in the true, biblical view of these things genuine free will does not in any way undermine or obviate either the Will of God or His predestination of us – to the contrary, the one is impossible without the other.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

What do you believe about the doctrine of original sin? I was reading on a website that made the case that we are "free moral agents." It said that we aren't born into sin. I think it was making the point that sin is not passed down from Adam and Eve. The website is dividingword.net

Response #7:

As to "original sin", while I have used this terminology before, it can be misleading because it all depends on what a person means or understands by that phrase. The Bible is very clear about the fact that we all have sin indwelling us as a result of our physical birth (see the link: "The Sin Nature"). On the other hand, the Bible is also very clear about the fact that we have free will, and that the necessity of our choosing for or against God is the whole reason why we have been given the image of God in the first place. The two fallacies which people on one side of this pseudo-argument or the other generally adopt are 1) the incorrect view that because we have a sin nature there is no true free will; or 2) the incorrect view that because we have free will it is possible to be sinless from start to finish. Both views are incorrect. Moreover, both views have the potential to lead to all manner of serious doctrinal error about nearly everything else in the Christian life. If I believe I do not really have free will then I may stop trying on the one hand and may blame God for everything on the other. If I believe I am above sin I may risk falling into sin through lack of proper regard for the danger of it on the one hand or else redefine what sin really is on the other in order to prove that I'm sinless. All four of these horrifically dangerous and spiritually destructive mind-sets have frequently resulted from these two competing doctrinal errors, and many a Christian life has been shattered as a result. Arminians and Calvinists frequently fight it out over free will versus predestination and in my view this is beyond silly – or it would be if the consequences weren't so serious. The truth is that God has planned everything, and that part of that plan is the inclusion in it of our free will. Our free will could not exist without God decreeing it, in fact, and the fact of His decreeing does not make it any the less free. This is written up in some detail in Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology.

Question #8:

Hello brother in Christ Bob,

Have a blessed day! I wish you and your family very well always in Christ's Mighty Name!

Thank you so much for responding in my email. I was so surprised and impressed for replying to me that fast and I haven't expected such. I thank the Lord for giving you the wisdom to stand with His Word boldly. Thank you for your answers and I have now been reading all the links you've provided and so far it has all given me the information I need, considering all the false teachings and beliefs these days. For this moment I have another two questions raised from mind and heart.

1. Which one do you stand with? Predestination or Free Will or both operations working together? I have encountered such debate in some Christian circles. Some prefer one over the other, and some also say both are valid and just have to be seen in a reconciling standpoint that we have our own Free Will, yet Predestination also plays not that God destined or decided a group of people to be saved and the other condemned but only that God already knows who will be saved from the very beginning so He has chosen those people as Christ's Bride. God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) but our own Free will stops people from getting saved, and chose the Bride in His foreknowledge (Rome 8:21-30). What are your thoughts on this brother?

2. I am aware that there are church religious groups who are twisting God's Word to favor their doctrines. For one I strongly don't like the teaching of Eternal Security being taught now in many born-again churches. Many consider greatly this doctrine because it seems to offer them freedom and suits their taste well (2 Timothy 4:3). But something disturbs me. Yes salvation is by grace through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2: 8-9). But now take for instance a person is putting genuine belief in our Lord Jesus Christ and preaches anointedly, yet delivers this type of teaching and is leading many souls to disgrace (as I honestly believe this teaching is very dangerous). But he himself is serving the Lord very well. Will his salvation be compromised because of false teaching even if He seems to be believing and serving the Lord and the church well as I recall Paul telling destruction is awaiting for those who are teaching false doctrines? Or this one can be negated with genuine faith in Christ? I don't want to judge people who believe in this and other heresies I know as judgment is in our Lord's hands, but just curious of the probable outcome in this scenario when taken carefully in the light of Scriptural teaching. What are your thoughts about this brother?

These are my questions for now. I would like to hear from you regarding this matter. Expect for more future emails from me soon. I appreciate your reply and continue serving our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.

Best regards in Christ's Holy Name who died for our sins,

Response #8:

You are very welcome. As to your questions, the first one is a common concern for many brothers and sisters, but I think you have understood it very well. Yes, we are predestined; and, yes, we have free will; and, yes indeed, it is precisely the failure of those who refuse to use that free will in faith so as to be saved which results in their condemnation – because as you correctly remark, God wants all to be saved. Indeed, Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind in order that all might be saved. But to be saved, a person has to accept that sacrifice; we have to stand on Christ's work or else on our own. As to the specifics of how all this works out, I have written this up in detail at many places at Ichthys, the most important being the following link: in BB 4B: "God's Plan to Save You". Those who wish to overemphasize predestination over free will miss the fact that we do have to decide, for that is the basis of God's election; those who emphasize free will over predestination miss the fact that unless God had set everything down in His perfect plan ahead of time no one could be saved. Predestination empowers free will and free will is the mechanism God has employed to carry out His plan: the two go hand in hand and were "made for each other", so to speak, and can only exist together in the perfect plan of God.

As to "once saved always saved", I will give a few links where this false doctrine is dealt with at Ichthys below. As to people who teach it, that is an interesting question. It is true, that if a person is not of Christ, then anything that person does is pointless; on the other hand, all good things, all godly things done in this world are done only through the power of the Holy Spirit. So what about Christians, especially Christian teachers, who are wrong about this that or the other teaching, especially more important ones (clearly, all truth is important as every bit of truth from scripture contributes to the solidity of the whole)? First I would say that God uses flawed people; after all, if only perfect people could be saved, then no one would be saved; and if only perfect people could minister to the Body of Christ, then there would be no ministry at all. Most good teachers have had to fight through incorrect teaching in which they were brought up when they were first saved – that, after all, is the history of the Reformation in a nutshell. And as we learn, we should refine our teaching. That is certainly what I have tried to do in the course of my own life and ministry. Nothing is more important than the truth, and if we are seeking it diligently, we are going to get closer to it in every respect day by day.

But what about large areas of false doctrine that have become traditional in some circles? I think it is fair to say that on the one hand if a person really is walking with Christ that there may be a role for that person even if the teaching he has bought into is flawed; on the other hand, anyone who is determined to walk closer to Jesus day by day will, eventually, be brought to the realization that what he has been teaching is wrong on any point on which it is wrong. So it really is a question of individuals and individual situations. We live in the era of Laodicea (see the link) wherein lukewarmness is the order of the day. In the perfect plan of God, therefore, lukewarm ministers and lukewarm congregations are perfectly matched up. The congregations do not suffer overly from the teaching of incorrect doctrines (as in "OSAS" or the pre-Trib "rapture"), because they are not that interested in the truth in any case. As some individuals do become fired up for the truth, they will find / be led to ministers / ministries which are likewise "gung-ho" for the Word of God.

That is the best I can do with the theory; the practical consideration is that all who really do want to grow up spiritually need to follow that prompting of the Spirit to the maximum and seek out just the right teaching ministry for them, a place where their growth will not be impeded in any way by false doctrine. In the actual plan of God, there is a supply function and a demand function: God never allows a need to go unmet – an actual need motivated by a genuine desire. So I suppose the answer is "yes, pablum does not produce sufficient growth", but, on the other hand, no one who is really interested in growing up in Jesus Christ will ever be satisfied with pablum – they will strike out and search for solid food. And God always provides.

Here are those links:

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security I

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security III

Three False Doctrines which Threaten Faith (Peter #27)

In hopes of your continuing growth in the truth of the Word of God – for the rewards that glorify our Master forever and ever.

Bob L.

Question #9:

Question: why don't you put any stock in Zwingli's writings? If I recall European history correctly, Zwingli was the first person to correctly confess that communion is purely symbolic (even Calvin still clung to some sort of "special presence"...) so doesn't that count for something?

Response #9:

I did write that comment, but in the context of someone appealing to Zwingli as a spiritual authority. I could have said the same thing about the church fathers in their entirety. What I meant to say is that I don't look to secondary sources as my primary guidance for getting to the truth: I look to the Bible. I would certainly hope that anyone accessing this ministry would not be inclined to quote me in defense of the truth, but rather would have respect for any correct arguments, translations, exegesis, observations, citations I have made concerning scripture. The Reformers are of another time and had other issues to deal with than (hopefully) we have today. If Zwingli made some good points, good for him. I don't spend my time reading Calvin's institutes or the apostolic fathers (e.g.); I spend my time in the scriptures. Were I on a mission to write a history of the Reformation, clearly I would need to spend a lot of time on Zwingli. As it is, his teachings are – at least to this ministry – largely beside the point. If correct, they would make a nice footnote to buttress some point or other, but one scripture outweighs countless such citations. One reason I am reluctant to engage in "personality cult" activities is because I have seen the "bad" this can do, and almost always with little countervailing "good". All true Bible teachers are merely servants of Christ who subordinate themselves to His Church (genuine believers) in order to carry out Christ's command to "feed My sheep". How well we have done (or how poorly) will be made plain "on that day", but "until the day" we are not to pass judgment "before the time" even on ourselves (1Cor.1:4-5).

So, apologies if you are a Zwingli fan – no disrespect was meant. It's just that I don't put any particular "stock" in anyone or anyone's teachings outside of scripture, and feel compelled to quibble when other people do. That always results in spiritual decay. Just look at all the dead denominations that can't get beyond what their Founders believed (or, really, what those who followed their founders put down in a creed or systematic theology or a set of rules and regulations); or look at any of the well-known evangelical churches where the pastor is a "big name": there is usually little being taught there and no particular spiritual growth as a result. This is what always happens when individuals get bigger than the Bible, and so citing individuals instead of scripture is something with which I have no truck. It's wonderful, as Paul says, to be "eagerly sought [out] . . . in a commendable manner" (Gal.4:18) – that is, only if the purpose and result are also good. Only what contributes to spiritual growth should be emulated and prioritized.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
1st Corinthians 1:31

Yours in Jesus Christ in whom alone we boast,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Do you feel this website video properly exposes false teaching :

http://testallthings.com/2009/05/20/the-false-gospel-of-john-piper/

Response #10:

I have heard of John Piper before. I'm not aware of anything he teaches which is worthy of labeling him a "false teacher"; my impression was more that this is just more of the evangelical version of pablum with which Laodicea is awash. I wouldn't bet that this website's authors are any more "spiritual" or close to "the truth". It's always easier (and for many people more "fun") to take potshots at others rather for not teaching the truth than to do the hard of teaching it themselves.

n.b.: I do know that Piper made news a while back by opposing a popular attempt to deny literal hell (by a Rob Bell), so maybe this is blow-back from those of the universalist heresy.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

You remember? He's the one who says after anyone speaks out against the holy spirit they can never come back to God and after you do it prayer is pointless. Does that make a false teaching to you?

Response #11:

It's wrong, but in the scheme of things it's more of an incorrect interpretation. Bad teaching rather than false teaching, is the way I would put it. If a person can listen to a Bible teacher and be saved, then make some spiritual advance – or at least not be so led astray that said person falls from grace as a result – then the teacher is at least not in league with the devil. Rather, in this and many other cases, he's just doing a very poor job as a Bible teacher. That is the order of the day in Laodicea and explains many of the troubles you have been putting yourself through (from searching out and listening to such drivel).

I would prefer to reserve the term "false teacher" for someone overtly doing Satan's work, teaching, for example, against the Trinity (as in the hyper-Messianics), or against God's ex nihilo creation of the universe (which would make God dependent on the universe as in the case of the Mormons), or against salvation being limited to those who believe (as with universalists), or against the Person of Christ being human and divine, or against the purely grace nature of salvation (adding works as necessary for being saved, as in "baptismal regeneration" of some Protestant sects, or "works of supererogation" as in the R.C. church).

If we were to consider as heretics and false teachers everyone who had a different interpretation of scripture on every point – and of course all points of scripture are important – "we" would be the only ones not engaged in "false teaching". It is a good and important point that to the extent that any teacher is wrong on any point – and in this case teachers who are way off on very many points and not actually feeding their congregations with in-depth teaching generally – will be that much more likely to fall prey to antichrist and his false claims when the beast co-opts most of the world's religions, including established Christian groups in particular (see the links: "the situation of the church-visible on the eve of the Tribulation" in CT 3A, and "the persuasiveness of antichrist's false religion" in CT 3A).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

He just says he preachers what needs to be heard rather than what wants to be heard, so that's what scares me a little bit when he said it wasn't rejection, he just really through me off with his teaching. But I believe yours. Would you consider Calvinism as an effective religion (I have seen your links by the way).

Response #12:

It's a mark of increasing spiritual maturity to steer clear of all unhelpful influences – so good for you!

As to Calvinism, there are almost as many Calvinisms as there are Calvinists, so I would prefer to consider individual teachings of specific individuals if you have questions. John Calvin was a great man who was trying to defend the truth as he understood it; those who came after imputed things to him more strongly than should have been done in many cases and incorrectly (in my view) in others. The major problem with hyper-Calvinism in my view – as you know from the links – is that it tends to underrate free will (just as hyper-Arminianism tends to underrate the sovereignty of God). The truth is that there is an absolutely unchangeable will of God already decreed in every detail, and yet we do absolutely have free will – in fact, the latter would be impossible without the former (because we can only exist in the perfect time/space environment that accounts for all our needs just as God decreed). It would be a better use of your time, therefore, to read about where these essential issues are considered in BB 4B: Soteriology, than to worry yourself over the finer points of formal theological systems (most of which are several steps divorced from scripture).

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hello Robert. I have another issue with john piper and new Calvinism. He says Jesus loves unbelievers, but he favors believers, he says Jesus doesn't love everyone the same. He also says god the father determines when a bullet goes through your head and he is responsible for mass murders. He says the fathers allowed to do it. Do you agree this is bad teaching and new calvanism is the incorrect path to follow?

Response #13:

May I ask you how you know these things about Piper?

Question #14:

I looked up different information on his preaching and sermons.

Response #14:

Why?

Question #15:

Well, due to a past experience I had relating to the unpardonable sin, I really wanted to believe he was a false teacher. I went to the point of looking up things that expose him. I know I should've done better, and I know the rejecting of Jesus is unpardonable, but this past experience haunts me because he says he's telling people what they need to hear.

Response #15:

Aha, I see.

If it makes you feel any better I wouldn't recommend him (and don't recommend him) on account of the fact that at the very least his teaching is confused and not well thought out. This is very common in the evangelical world today, namely, pastors who say much but leave exactly what they mean by all their fine words not entirely clear. What that means for the person listening is that he/she is free to "read in" whatever he/she wishes, good or bad, favorable or unfavorable (as you have clearly done). That's not your fault. But now that you recognize that he is 1) wrong and confused on that point, and 2) clearly be-muddled on other important points of biblical interpretation, I wouldn't waste my time worrying about what all he teaches. There may be "some good in him", as scripture says (only God knows); it's not necessary to prove he's of the devil to understand that he doesn't know what he's talking about – or at least that his particular ministry is not helpful to your personal spiritual growth. Believers are only required to distinguish good trees from bad trees, and then avoid the bad and cleave to the good; they are not required to chop down all trees they see as bad (for whatever reason) – and in fact that's a dangerous business.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

You wrote an extensive paper on Satan’s rebellion. Well… having read just a short section…and please correct me if I have misinterpreted it… I gather that you believe in "free will" and "freedom of choice". This false dogma which virtually the whole of Christianity believes, is the VERY rebellion God detests. Free will put God out of the equation. Free will is ALL about man. Free will is THE most severe blasphemy thinkable. And why? Because "free will" thinking degrades God’s Sovereignty. It is a direct rebellion against HIS total control…His total supremacy…His loving and ruling Hand! Man’s "free Will" is just an extension of the original sin…rebelling against GOD’S total control…cloaked now with the excuse that God gave us minds and that He ‘allows’ us to choose. This is the mainstream cop-out reasoning. My message to you: Using ‘clever’ arguments to justify such an outrageous mind frame is ONLY a sign of fear…fear of being totally at the mercy of our living God and Father and His Sovereign Hand. Free will is a New Age doctrine. Free will is ALL about man wanting to be in control. It’s a no-brainer that this stems directly from Eden.

Regards. South Africa.

Response #16:

I have a question for you.

Why do you think there are commandments in the Bible?

Question #17:

Dear Prof. Luginbill,

I’m sorry…it doesn’t work…answering you question. And…make no mistake…it’s very frustrating to me! Since I’m a person not beating about the bush, I will get straight to the point. I don’t know what your experience with the demonic world is in terms of spiritual warfare, but I can tell you one thing. Since I have started answering your email question, I was like in front of a firing squad. And, what’s more…this is a phenomenon I face ever since I’ve discovered the Truth. Why on earth with enough savvy would think the Adversary would attack someone that speaks to his liking? It’s a no-brainer and no rocket science. I already have written SO much in my letter to you and saved it on my hard drive. I just simply HAD to start there and work my way up to answer the real question about the commandments in the Bible. But…sigh…like now…I have not the energy to write it all in one session I’m afraid. Not sure if you are interested. Sorry for the disappointment…that is to say…IF it is a disappointment at all. Just this…the commandments have a very important role still in my opinion…even in the second Covenant…but I have to first take a little detour to get there…when I have the energy.

Have a lovely

Response #17:

No worries on this end.

I am a firm believer in the sovereignty of God (I am not an Arminian), and also of personal responsibility (I am also not a Calvinist).

Your characterizations of my positions in your first email indicate that you may be mistaken in regard to what it is I actually teach. If you are interested, I would recommend the following (large) study which deals with most of these issues in great detail:

Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology: the Study of Salvation

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #18:

Dear Professor Luginbill,

Thanks for your reply. You are a man of great credentials and I honour you for that. In light of this, I feel it would be counterproductive (towards myself) to go into a debate with you…taken into account the personal and delicate situation I currently find myself in Before going into depth of any article I usually quickly scan through it…to get the gist. Your paper was no exception.

What caught my eyes was the following statement and I quote you:

"It is not our size, nor our appearance, nor our talents, nor our weaknesses, nor our limitations, nor our capabilities that make us what we are. It is our free-will – and what we choose to do with it."

Since this directly opposes my own fundamental view of life itself, I’d much rather depart from a discussion with you in this respect… departing with harmony, with respect and with love. We all have our views and it is not my call to question another’s…albeit the occasional instances (like my first email to you)…where I feel the urge to do so. And even then without condemnation whatsoever…however much with an assertiveness that hardly ever comes across to the receiver as being welcoming. By saying this…it certainly gives the impression that it is a habit mine. Well…no, it is not. For some reason, I’ve picked you at a time when I was deeply emerged in my own [in process] book…doing some net-search.

May God bless you abundantly!

In Christ.

Response #18:

Thank you. I appreciate your spirit.

All things have been pre-ordained, including the decisions we all make. The fact that they have been pre-ordained does not mean that we do not make them. The fact that we make them does not mean that were not pre-ordained. The gift of faith does not negate the Sovereignty of the Plan of God: no one could put their faith in the Son without the comprehensive plan which ordains all things.

Yours in the Name of Jesus Christ who is the only way of salvation for all who believe.

Bob L.

Question #19:

G'Day Brother

I was reading through the word of God today and I came across this passage in Romans 9: 9-22; and I felt like the word of God was saying that God had predestined some for salvation; and some for hell by hardening the hearts. Hence; verse Romans 9: 18-19. Is this a correct interpretation? Does that mean some will never have TRUE free will to accept his offer of salvation because their heart has been hardened by God to the extent that they can only reject it.

Your Loving Brother In Christ

Response #19:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

One needs to understand the basis on which God predestines those who are saved to be saved (namely, His foreknowledge of their future trust in Jesus Christ), and also the basis on which God predestines those who are not saved to be condemned (namely, His foreknowledge of their future rejection or Christ or refusal to accept Him as their Savior). In truth, predestination does not operate without free-will and free-will would be impossible without predestination – because we are creatures who exist in time and space and this small span of time called history could not exist unless God decreed it in absolute detail. So while Calvinists and Arminians fight over these things, in fact there is no contradiction, rightly understood. Neither predestination without free-will or free-will without predestination is possible. More to the point, they go hand in hand in the actual plan of God. I have written all this up in great detail at the link: BB 4B: Soteriology.

Hardness of heart is indeed the mechanism which God uses to allow unbelievers to stop worrying about what they ought to be worried about (i.e., sin, death and judgment), and so get on with their lives after they have decided they want nothing to do with Him. You will find that also in the study above at the sub-link: "The Problem of Unbelievers".

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

I have a question about semi-Pelagianism. I know that you like the CARM website, and they do have some good information, but I would never recommend them to others especially since they do not believe in the same way as you and I do about eternal security. I believe in the exact same way as you do on the topic, but they believe that eternal security is definite under all circumstances and I believe this is a dangerous teaching. They also do not believe that mankind has a free-will, and I believe this simply confuses people and would make people think that they are completely helpless. I recently was checking the CARM heresy page and one of their heresies listed was "semi-Pelagianism". I do not believe in Pelagianism at all, and agree that that is a heresy. But CARM labels people who believe that mankind has a free-will and that mankind can seek God freely as heretics, and calls them "semi-Pelagian heretics". Here is the page on that:

http://carm.org/semi-pelagianism

I cannot help but see the clarity of freewill in the Bible, in the exact same way that you see the clarity. I do not know why they would label people like you and me as heretics especially when the Bible teaches that those teaching heresies are not true believers. I was wondering what you thought about this too.

Thank you for reading through my concern and as always I look forward to your helpful responses when you might get some time to respond. I hope you are doing well dear brother, and as always I am greatly enjoying the Tribulation studies and learning a great deal from them!

In Jesus Christ our loving Savior and Lord,

Response #20:

You're very welcome. I'm glad things worked out.

As to CARM, first, I have one very good contact there, but I don't know (or know of) Matt Slick, and couldn't recommend him or his writings. I had a look at the article you linked and it seems a fair example of a non-theologian expressing himself in terms of traditional Calvinistic theology. In other words, it's very confused. I'm not sure Mr. Slick understands what grace it, what predestination is, or what the human soul is – not even in terms of how traditional Calvinistic theology understands these things, and certainly not in terms what these words actually mean in the biblical sense. Grace has become a kind of "magic dust", predestination a synonym for fate, and soul a misnomer for the spirit. Neither Calvin nor his more erudite but less spiritual interpreters of previous generations saw things this way (in my opinion), but to be honest it is very difficult to know for certain what Mr. Slick thinks inasmuch as he is using all of these words in a technical way without defining his terms (which would be necessary for us to understand him since these things are treated here as mentioned in an esoteric way that only seems traditional).

So I can't recommend the article. I would not go so far as to say that he denies free will since as I say it is not all that clear precisely what he believes from this piece (a typical phenomenon in the Laodicean evangelical world). My interpretation of his recondite explanation is that he feels God has to move first and we respond; or maybe even that God's response is the more important feature of our salvation. The fact that he has an issue with "human effort" is not necessarily a problem if one understands that the Holy Spirit is necessary for any good thing we do (I would prefer to say "purely human effort"). It is a typical Calvinistic tick to de-emphasize what we do and focus on what God does. With this I have no problem – just as long as the impression is not left that we don't have to believe, or keep believing, or follow through on our faith. So in short, without reading an awful lot into this piece (and it's vague enough to read in plenty), I wouldn't be able to come to the conclusion that Mr. Slick is saying there is no free will at all; that would be ridiculous, and something even a hard-line hyper-Calvinist would be reluctant to say. The whole thing is a bit of a muddle, but that is typical.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Robert,

How are you? I hope your spirit is well. I thinking about my salvation and God's grace and mercy in my life and it got me wondering. If I was predetermined in the book of life prior to my birth, did at any moment in my life up to know did I have a chance not to accept Jesus? I am looking back at my life and seen how God has navigated situations in my life and this issue came up. I am eternally better for it and gracious without words to know the living father and obedient Son. I will read more about predestination on your site.

May the Glory, blessing and fullness of Jesus Our Lord and Savior enrich your life.

Regards

Response #21:

Good to hear from you. Everyone is written into the Book of Life (see the link). That is why Jesus had to die for every single sin: so that ever single person would have the opportunity for eternal life. Such is the love of God; such is the justice of God.

Also, you most certainly did exercise your free will to put your faith in Jesus Christ, and that is how you were born again. The Plan of God predestines precisely what actually did happen in time. So not only does predestination not conflict with free will – it is the fulfillment of free will and free will is impossible without it. That is because there is no way that we could exist and have the image of God and actually make genuine choices unless God had set everything up perfectly ahead of time with no room for error or divergence. There is much more on all of this in BB 4B: Soteriology.

Yours in the dear Lord who bought us, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Brother

Hope you're keeping well. I'm hoping you can shed some light on these two verses.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 8:29-30

Do these verses prove, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints? Is there is a connection infallible and ever existing between the predestination and the final salvation? Are there those who are subjects of the one are automatically partakers of the other?

Your Loving Brother In Christ,

Response #22:

These verses, correctly understood, do tell us all we need to know about the subject. Unfortunately, this subject has been badly treated by various and sundry.

God has planned everything. And we do have free will. He knew of our decisions before we made them and He incorporated them into His plan. But we still do have to actually make them, and indeed we do make them, genuinely so. Not only is predestination a fact which is not contrary to free will, but the truth is that free will could not exist absent predestination. That is because we can only exist as creatures and have an opportunity to exercise our faculty of choice, the key element in the image of God, in an environment of time and space that God has perfectly constructed from start to finish in absolutely comprehensive detail.

The above is a very brief synopsis of a complicated subjected I have covered in great detail at the following link: in BB 4B: "Free Will Faith and the Will of God".

So to be a beneficiary of each step of the process of salvation (outlined in the verses in Romans you quote), requires perseverance of faith. For all who do persevere, the connection is indeed "infallible and ever existing"; for those who do not, it is not. To put that in terms of the first paragraph above, our glorification includes our reward; but reward comes to those who do actually persevere in the growth, progress and production to which Jesus calls us: it is most definitely not "automatic". It is written into the plan of God; but we still have to fight the fight day by day – if we do/did, that is why it has been ordained for us. The two things are not inconsistent; rather, they only are possible in tandem one with the other.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Shalom Bob,

I am so done with this winter...how about you? Meanwhile, at your convenience please be so kind as to explain how the Calvinistic theological notion of "absolute total depravity" can be reconciled with God’s Gen. 3:22 declaration regarding fallen man’s potential "moral" capabilities of KNOWING both GOOD and EVIL? Moral depravity yes but ABSOLUTE moral depravity...? For example, the SINNER Publican’s prayer cited by Jesus in Lk. 10:10-18 with respect to absolute moral depravity.

Your kind response will be most appreciated.

Response #23:

I'm not a Calvinist – and certainly not a latter-day traditionalist hyper-Calvinist. What they mean by such phrases as "absolute total depravity" is really only important to them or those who are under their influence and debating these propositions.

Since the fall, every human being born – with the single exception of our virgin-born Lord Jesus Christ – has been born with a sin nature (please see the link). That is, the physical bodies of us all are corrupt and corruptible, and incline to all manner of sin (though there are variations in terms of what temptations each of us is more or less susceptible to). However, we are all also born with a human spirit, free will and the image of God. Every person has the ability to respond to the truth on any level. God has written into the universe and into the hearts of mankind a large measure of truth (natural revelation). Many unbelievers, both from following the natural conscience and also from responding to the laws and mores of the world in a good and moral way have been "good people" and have in some cases had all manner of success as a result. Such things are "of this world" only, however, and no one, no matter how moral, in these worldly terms, no matter how law-abiding or charitable or "good", is saved for these reasons. All are still sinful by birth; all are still mortal by nature; all are still guilty of sin by action – and none could be saved without the cross, and none is saved without believing in Jesus Christ as their substitute.

As I say, I have little interest in how modern day theologians have interpreted Calvin. To me this is little different from debating the Talmud or Kabbala. The truth is to be found in scripture, not in arguments about derivative theological constructs loosely based upon the work of long dead theologians.

You can find more about all this considered comprehensively in BB 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin.

Have a blessed spring!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Shalom Bob,

It what I have written regarding Jn. 37-40 correct? Why John 6:37-40 does not teach "Irresistible Grace" nor "Unconditional Grace". The KEY to understanding Jn. 6:37-40 is quite simple indeed – and is found in the included context of Jn. 6:39 - 40. Jesus declared in Jn. 6:44 that no man could COME unto Him unless he first be drawn by the Father.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:44 (KJV)

Therefore, how one comes (be drawn) to the Father is revealed in Heb. 11:6 and Rom. 10:17 – Believing in YHWH through faith which comes from hearing His Word? Thus, when Jesus declared in Jn. 6:37 that ALL that the Father "IS GIVING" (present tense) to Him will COME – this is indeed true and an absolute ALL. Furthermore, Jesus will NOT banish nor reject a single one of them (Sheep) in which the Father is giving Him, because Jn. 6:38 reveals Jesus came to do His Father’s "will" and not His own will. However, Jn. 6:37 has nothing whatsoever to do with "irresistible grace" – but is predicated upon the Holy Spirit drawing sinners to God through the hearing of the WORD of God. Hence, FREE-WILL. Meanwhile, in Jn. 6:39 Jesus declared that of ALL that the Father has given Him – HE (I) should LOSE (verb/1st person/aorist/subjunctive/active) none. Hence, Jesus is the "Good Shepherd’ (Jn. 10:14-15) and no man can pluck His Sheep out of His hand. (Jn. 10:28-29)

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
John 6:39 (KJV)

Although, PLEASE take note that Jn. 6:39 does NOT declare nor promote "unconditional grace" in that the ALL Jn. 6:37 Sheep given to Him by the Father - will actually ALL be "unconditionally" saved. Jn. 6:39 simply declares that Jesus Himself (I) will not be the literal "causal agent" of the LOSS (lose) by any means - ANY of His Father given Sheep. However, Jn. 6:40 reveals the ALL Sheep of Jn. 6:37 & 39 that are actually having eternal life and will be futuristically raised from the dead is ONLY those who are SEEING (present tense) and BELIEVING (present tense) in Jesus. It is they who are having eternal life (present tense). This is an individual CHOICE to BELIEVE.

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:40 (KJV)

Response #24:

I don't see any problems with this. However, as I think I explained before, I don't like to get drawn into debating other people's paradigms (e.g., what is really meant by "irresistible grace" / "unconditional grace"?) because I find it largely counterproductive – these terms do not occur in the Bible. That is in part because what person X means by these terms may not be what either I think he/she should mean or what his/her organization traditionally has meant (assuming that the latter is consistent, which is also a big assumption). In my view, it's always best to go "straight at" whatever doctrine one is trying to figure out or explain or teach, and say what it is (rather than being overly worried about what other people have gotten wrong).

God decreed everything that would happen in actual history. Without His decree nothing could happen. Therefore true "predestination" recognizes that free will is empowered by God's decree (rather than "fated"). That is because 1) without the decree there would be no creation, no image of God, no sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and none of the other countless things necessary for a person to choose in the first place (including our existence); and 2) God's foreknowledge of what we did choose does not in fact force that choice upon us: the whole point of the entire process of angelic and human history is choice – that is why we are given the image of God, to be able to evaluate and choose to obey and respond to the truth (or not). So of course the Father and the Spirit are involved in our salvation and without their involvement – decreed before the creation of the world – none would be saved. The question is, why the Father "draws" X but not Y, and the answer is that X chose to respond to the truth, but Y did not.

The above is a very quick precis of a detailed subject, one which is covered in great detail at the following link:

In BB 4B: Soteriology: "Free will faith and the will of God"

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

 

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