Well I tried posting once before but that all went south so I’ll try once more.
I hate writing profiles about myself. I guess if you want to know who I am, what I think about any given subject and what I believe; the best way is either ask or wait until I share an opinion on something.
I am a follower Of Jesus Christ so I am a Christian. That being said most people will ask what denomination. I don’t belong to a denomination I belong to Jesus Christ through the faith He has given me as a gift to believe in Him. So far as doctrinal and theological views are concerned I have a lot in common with the reformers such as Calvin, Luther and that camp. The first response of most other Christians who are familiar with those names would identify me as a Calvinist. That would be true if my faith was in John Calvin as my lord and savior however my faith is in Jesus Christ. What Calvin and others have said about how we come to faith, who initiates faith, and my standing before God, I believe is a fair and true description of how that is borne out.
So the issue then is do we have free will to choose or reject the offer of salvation? My understanding of what the bible says is this. Faith is the gift of God therefore it is initiated by Him Ephesians 2:8-9 say this, Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Eph 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
I am aware that many Christians would start pulling out proof texts that imply we freely choose to follow Christ because we have free will. They would accuse me of cherry picking scripture to make it say something it doesn’t however the premise the text I quoted above in its context is based in this thought that the author of Ephesians states earlier; Eph 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
Eph 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Eph 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Eph 2:7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
So if we are dead in our sin how can we respond to the Gospel? Paul, the author of Ephesians is not talking about being physically dead but spiritually dead in that we are unable to respond to the call to repent from our sins without God first making us able to hear he truth. Many would object to this whole way of looking at faith and say “But I responded to it I heard the call of God on my life and received forgiveness when I asked Jesus into my life!”
Firstly I would ask that person to show me where the bible says to become a Christian we must invite Jesus into our hearts. The bible does say in Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 15:7 implies that we are to hear and believe, Act 15:7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Note in this verse that God made the choice for Peter to take the Gospel to the gentiles. But my point is the emphasis is on believing. To add to this I should mention Romans 8:28-30, Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Rom 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
Rom 8:30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Many will say this is the standard proof text the Calvinists run to that some call the golden chain of redemption. But it is emphatically implied that God is doing the willing and the calling. But lest not just stop there once more we can’t just state this without looking at the context or premise of the text. The whole book of Romans is a defense of grace by faith. It points out our guilt and inability to please God by our own works. Most importantly it points out that we have no righteousness of our own on which we can come before God and plead merit on our part. If we have no merit or righteousness of our own then on what basis can God hear us if we ask forgiveness and confess belief? Shockingly the answer is we don’t have any. Romans is a dissertation on the fact that we can’t do anything that would change God’s view of us, however through what Christ has done and by the work that He completed we are able to approach God’s Holy seat of mercy. What I am trying to say here is that it is God who has initiated and completed that work of salvation by Himself, we are merely bystanders. Nearly all Christians would agree with that statement and say “Yes God did it all, but we need to respond!” I never used to like this analogy very much but it is true none the less that dead people can’t revive themselves. Where does the bible say that after the fall of Adam there was enough spiritual life or goodness left in man that he could please God? It doesn’t say that anywhere!. If you look at Paul’s reasoning in Romans 8 alone from the context there is nothing that implies any goodness or ability on our part without first there being an intervention by divine influence. It goes further to say that God planned it and orchestrated it all for a purpose. God even chose who would be the recipients of His blessings.
This could get very long winded because it raises the question regarding the whole nature and intention of God’s character and purpose. Does God want all to be saved or just an elect few? Why would God choose some and not others, is God fair in his choices. I will leave that for my next post
Why would i raise this issue right off the bat and get in peoples faces you may ask? Well, firstly I don’t want anyone to be mislead as to my stand on this issue. Secondly it shows that CONTEXT is important. You can’t arrive at a consistent or fair estimation of the truth if you build your world view around sayings and ideas that are quoted in isolation. To give you an example of what I mean lets use an instruction manual and a work of fiction to get my point across.
Firstly if you were to build a kit car you would follow the instructions. Sure you can start putting parts together like wheels on axles, connect the engine to the transmission and the drive shaft and so on. however if you don’t follow the correct steps you may find that if you put all the chassis, dash board cockpit and other parts together first as well as do the other fore mentioned things you may have a problem getting the drive train and other things in without difficulty. In the same way when we read a novel or a letter someone has written we follow the stream of thought so we can understand the context and flow of the work. If we don’t we can draw false conclusions about the letter or manuscript we are reading that could lead to false assumptions.
In the Christian protestant church this is not uncommon practice. Over the last three or four hundred years there has been a plethora of very bad theology created by both men and women which lead to disastrous consequences for those who followed them. Even today some of the more nonsensical beliefs about the end times (eschatology) and even past events persist that play into conspiracy theories over translations or even how God’s plan of salvation has worked in different epochs (dispensationalism); that are nonsensical.
So having put the cat among the pigeons, and the fox in the hen house. I will sign off here. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this but if you do and you care to respond, go right ahead. From the outset if you disagree with me, you have the formula that I will follow. Nothing about my methodology is hidden if you disagree with me on the view that we do not have free will is defended from Scripture please feel free to object. Before you do ask yourself if your view is consistent with the over all message of the bible. Ask yourself where you got your views from and if you have critically evaluated them and thought them through. So in other words is your point of view a consistent reading of the bible or are your views based in tradition?
Good effort Chris