Steve Gregg Says You Must Be Trained To Believe Calvinism Is True

James Whites and Steve Gregg are doing a 5 day (about 1 hour per day) debate on the subject of Calvinism.  Each days discussions are being simulcast on Gregg’s radio program called The Narrow Path and White’s webcast known as The Dividing Line.  At this point they have completed the first and second day.  You can check their respective archives to listen to the first two days.

During his first segment on the first day Steve Gregg made a comment that really caught my attention.  If you are listening for it, it happens about 7 or 8 minutes into the program.  I have tried to transcribe it here accurately.  If I don’t have it exact I a sure I have it very close.  Gregg said:

Until somebody trains you to believe that Calvinism is true, I believe that if you simply read the bible you get the impression that God operates in a certain way in His creation and redemption and that man operates a certain way in creation and redemption.

Does anything about that statement jump out at you?  Or, was it just me?  When he said this my first thought was “that was me, that was my experience“.  I did not become a Calvinist until I began to study theology.  I have not had any formal training.  My education has come from reading various books, both pro and con, on the topic.

Gregg was obviously trying to make a point against reformed theology.  He was implying that if you simply read the bible you come to one conclusion and then you can be led astray by various teachers who have an agenda of converting people to Calvinism.  But I have a different take on his comment.  I think what Gregg said is true for the vast majority of Christians.  It was in my case.

The vast majority of Christians do not have any desire to study theology.  Unfortunately, many also do not have a desire to read their Bible but that is another topic that we may discuss at a later time.  As a result, when they do read their Bible, they are not reading it in the proper context.  Many do not understand that they need to know how to read the Bible.  They may be under the illusion that they can just pick it up and read it and God will magically give then discernment into the meaning of what they have read.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that God can do that if He chooses to and He may choose to but we can’t presume on His grace like that.

To read the Bible correctly, you have to know several things.  First you have to know who the author is and who he is writing to.  For example, the Book of Matthew makes a lot more sense when you realize that Matthew is writing to the Jewish people.  Second, you have to know what kind of writing you are reading.  Are you reading a historical narrative, a parable, poetry, prophecy, or an epistle?  Knowing this helps you to understand how to read what you are reading.  Third, once you know the type of writing, you can look into the text to find the purpose for what the author has written.  Lastly, you may want to try to have some understanding of the culture in which the intended readers lived.  That way you can know how they would interpret what they were reading.  As you can see, reading the Bible can be a lot of work…..but it is worth it.

To get all of this information you will need to study or be “trained” as Gregg says.  As you begin to study, you will grow in your understanding of the Bible and its doctrines.  You may see that it actually says things different than what you had thought it did or were taught that it said.  That is what happened to me.  As I began to read the texts and study what they actually mean it changed my whole theology.  It also gave me a desire to study more.  I hope that is what it will do for you.

So, is what Gregg said true?  Do you have to be trained to believe that Calvinism is true?  The answer is yes and no.  People can study the same information and still interpret it differently.  That happens all the time.  In my opinion, when I began to be “trained” I could not come to any other conclusion than Calvinism was true.  I would never have come to that conclusion if I had not started my “training”.  Ultimately though, if you are studying with sincerity, God will bless your efforts and you will grow in your knowledge and obedience of Him.

If you have not started your “training” I urge you to do so.  If you need help getting started, let me know and I will do my best to point you in the right direction or at least the direction I took.


55 Responses to Steve Gregg Says You Must Be Trained To Believe Calvinism Is True

  1. Scott says:

    That is just amazing. The Doctrines of Grace gave me the labels to use for what I already had come to know and believe.

    I received no training for that.


  2. Caleb says:

    My experience is like Scott’s. I come from a background that is not Calvinistic. However, as I studied the Scriptures I came to believe in what I now know as the Doctrines of Grace. The first time I ever heard of the term Calvinism or the TULIP I realized that it was what I already believed. I had no training to believe it.


  3. Nice post man. Of course, I’m going to agree with Gregg, but you knew that already 🙂

    I once worked at a Christian book store in Maryland. I could tell you some stories. Anyway, a man once told my co-worker that the KJV was the only bible one should read. To which, she responded, “I like the NIV.”

    Well, you can imagine his response, right? Only the KJV was God’s inspired Word! She said, “But the King James is hard to understand in places, it being now 397 years old, and some of the words are out of use and hard to find the meaning.” And this was his response: “Well, that’s what the Holy Ghost is for.”

    I about flipped! I’m thinking: Oh! Is THAT what the Holy Spirit is for. And all this time I had Him all wrong. Gee, I’m sure glad that man came into our store. I just may have gone on believing that the Holy Spirit had other things to do in the believer’s life than translate the King James VERSION of the bible.

    Ignorance is NOT bliss.

    Enjoyed your post.

    P.S. As one who is involved in politics, let me ask you a question. To what degree, in your opinion, do you believe that God’s laws should be enforced in America? Which laws? All His laws? Be specific.


  4. Rev. says:

    I was a non-“Calvinist” by birth, tradition and choice. It was when the Lord drove me to His written Word that my “training” was ditched and I embraced the fact that salvation is completely by grace alone.


  5. gonzodave says:


    I can identify with your posting. I was never saved by answering an alter call from Billy Graham or reciting a prayer. I never accepted the idea of a salvation that I could lose. Sure to be certain was the fact that I would lose it. My church experiences were limited to Methodist and Catholic.

    As things go with God and His providence, I did not hear the gospel of the saving grace of God until I studied the bible for myself. However, I never understood the differences in Arminianism and Calvinism when I admitted the truth of salvation and the Bible to Christ Jesus.

    I had the good fortune (no one suggested them) of listening to Moody Bible on the radio and buying a Charles Ryrie NIV Study Bible.

    Regards in Grace,


  6. Longing for Holiday says:

    I became a believer out of a nonbelieving (or nominally Christian) home. A friend in college showed me Ephesians one and mentioned election. As she and the other girl in the room argued the point, I pondered. I decided to write a paper on the subject and found in the divinity school library interpretations of Ephesians 1 that absolutely made no sense to me. The I read Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. It made sense. I don’t think I was trained. I think I “sensed’ the truth. Some of these books (the ones in the div school library: it was an Arminian denom) violated my “sense.” Some did not. I had a smiliar experience reading Hebrews on my own where I unwittingly started to adhere to Covenant theology. It was some 12 years later that I even head the term Covenant theology and realized that’s what I had believed all along.


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  8. Tom says:


    Yes, I figured you might agree with Gregg….but I like you anyway. LOL

    The KJV only people always seem to forget that Jesus did not speak 1600’s english. I am not sure how they seem to miss that but it seems to be a constant theme with them. I do not discount the effectiveness of the KJV….it has an awesome track record of being used by God but that does not mean that God can’t or won’t use the modern translations. I also wonder what KJV-onlyers say to the fact that only 5 manuscripts were used in its preparation as opposed to the nearly 5500 (I think that is in the ballpark) manuscripts (and manuscript fragments) that we have today. And one more thing, the KJV was translated by one man while all modern translations have teams of dozens who do the translations.

    It just makes you want to say….HMMMMMM.

    Your question about which of God’s Law I think the government should enforce in the U.S. is an interesting one. I have tried to think about it a bit before answering and I am not sure I have a well thought-out answer yet but here goes anyway.

    I think that God’s Law should be enforce to the greatest extent possible. I might go all the way and suggest that the U.S become a theocracy but I am not sure. No matter how far, I do believe that God’s law has a place in our government. We already try to legislate morality in many instances the problem is that the morality we are trying to encourage is not always God’s.

    In an ideal situation all the laws that were created or reiterated in the New Testament would be enforced. I know that is not going to happen though so I would start with the Ten Commandments and work from there.

    How about you? What is your position? Why are you asking the question?


    • [[The KJV only people always seem to forget that Jesus did not speak 1600′s english. I am not sure how they seem to miss that but it seems to be a constant theme with them]]]

      I was once speaking to a KJV onlyist on youtube in comments and told him something similar to what you said, and do you know what his response to me was? He told me that nothing is impossible for Jesus and if Jesus wanted to speak 1600s Elizabethan English than he can if he wants to. (palm slap)


  9. poopemerges says:

    I come from a group of baptist (the garbc) that is anti-systematic as you get…and yet I from just reading at the Bible arrived at the doctrines of grace….


  10. mookda says:

    I’m answering Billy here because this is a subject that interests me very much.

    The best response I can give is something that I wrote a few months back in response to a similar question. The question was, “How do we defeat the lies of Satan in our country?” and this was my answer.

    “The false christ who approved of slavery because “slaves should obey their masters”; the false christ who burned supposed witches at the stake; the false christ who was self-righteous, proud, and hypocritical. Unfortunately, these false christs have become synonomous with the true Christ. If you ask me, the way to defeat the lies of Satan is to show people the true Christ and destroy the illusion that the Christ who died for our sins and these false christs are one in the same. This will destroy lies and false ideologies at their very core and replace the foundation with truth.

    How do we do that? By showing people Christ and by seeking Him wholeheartedly ourselves. We cannot seek Christ with all of our heart, mind, and strength if we make politics an idol.

    My argument is that in order for true, lasting change to happen, it needs to happen at the very core of the issue. We shouldn’t wonder if all we ever do is try to treat the symptoms and we die from the actual disease. We want the gay man to stop his homosexual lifestyle, but we have no desire to win his heart for Christ! We spend all of our time telling everyone to clean up their act, but in so doing we neglect to give them the solution to those problems. What good will it do for us to have a nation of outwardly good people who are white-washed tombs, but inwardly are full of dead bones? All of our work and efforts will perish with them in hell.

    Want to make a lasting change on society? Then be Christ. It’s that simple. Focus all of your energy and life into becoming more like Him, and you will be able to do even greater things then He did. Our focus should be on winning the lost, not winning elections. Our time, money, and effort should be given to doing the things of God, not pushing the agendas of men. God’s heart is for the lost, and if our hearts are truly dwelling in His, that’s where they’ll be too.”

    So, no. I do not think that enforcing Christian morality is a good idea in the least bit. All it does is encourage behavior modification, not heart transformation. I do not believe that Christ called us to establish an earthly kingdom of His laws. He called us to establish a heavenly kingdom in the hearts of men.

    Of course this by no means should imply that we have no laws and allow anything and everything to happen. But I do not believe that our laws should be because of our religion. I do not believe that church and state should intersect. Abortion should be illegal because it harms other human beings. But some of the things that Christians in America fight so hard for, aren’t really worth it. We are being distracted from the issues of the heart because we focus on the issues of the flesh; what a person is doing as opposed to the condition of their heart.

    The Pharisees were perfect in all of their outward actions, and yet it was those very people that Jesus spoke out against. Jesus not once preached against the Romans and their idolatry, but he devoted a good deal of time preaching against the hypocrites and the self-righteous.


  11. Steve says:

    In thier extremes Calvanism and Armenianism are in error . This side of heaven we wont be able to reconcile the free will of man and the soviergnty of God yet they both are true.God knows how they both work and in His mind thier is no confusion.We would be much better off if we would quit dividing the body of Christ over endless arguements which can never be resolved.


  12. Tom says:


    Two years ago I held the exact same position you mention. But no longer. I began my study of Calvinism with the purpose of refuting it but I found that I could not. In fact, I ended up embracing it. Now, I believe completely that God’s sovereignty and free will can be reconciled…but the free will of which I speak is not Libertarian Free Will (as many describe it). Libertarian Free Will is not compatible with God’s sovereignty in any way and as such must be rejected not resolved.


  13. Tim says:

    Hi All,
    I am always amazed Mr. Gregg can still stir up this useless debate time and time again.
    If you know Steve then you know he probably doesn’t even mean to debate these points but find these debates useful for the furtherance of Bible Knowledge.

    Do not think I’m a Gregg hater. I believe he is probably the most thorough, thoughtful, Bible Teacher of our generation.

    What is useless however is trying to put people into camps. To say your one or the other is to minimize what the Holy Spirit can do through you.

    This thinking, of camp mentality, is what I have learned to get rid of by applying Mr. Greggs teachings on Hebrews Chapter 6.

    If we could all get out of the 15th-18th Century Theology books we may find true Spiritual growth and finally get on with becoming mature Believers.

    I say study a bit deeper and go to Jewish Wisdom writings, coupled with first Century Believers. If of course you want to be confused then stay with these archaic, victorian arguments of yesteryear.


    • Tom Shelton says:


      Please explain what you mean by “true spiritual growth” and “mature believers”. I think you may be appealing to the Gnostics and they certainly are not better teachers than the Reformers. I think you need to re-evaluate what teachings you follow.


  14. Alec says:

    As I’ve heard it said, “Pray like a Calvinist, preach like an Arminian.”


  15. Steve says:

    If Calvinism is true, then what about Christians before Calvin? Did they just not know the truth?

    Also, the title Calvinists seems to claim that you follow Calvin and the church that Calvin started, not Christ and the Church that He started.

    Inevitably, there needs be authority outside the Bible because questions about the Bible cannot be answered by the Bible itself. For example, how many books are inspired by the Holy Spirit and should be included in the Bible? Well, the Bible does not come with a table of contents. Christ and His Church must answer that question which means that there must be infallible authority outside the Bible. The Bible, however, is also infallible and authoritative.



    • Tom Shelton says:


      I am assuming that you are a Roman Catholic from your comment. If I am wrong please correct me.

      Why does there need to be an authority outside the Bible? What is that authority? For something to have authority over something else means that it is greater or more powerful than that which it has authority over. The Bible is God’s word…it carries His authority. How can the church have authority over God’s word? It can’t. The church would also need to be infallible if it did have authority over God’s word. Is the church infallible? No, it is not. Outside of God can you tell me of anything that is infallible? Just one? You can’t because there is nothing in creation that is infallible. Only God and by extension, His word, can bear that label.

      As to your Calvinism questions, I will treat them seriously even though I am not sure you meant them that way. These are questions often asked by someone who has no interest in anything except making absurd assertions.

      Calvinism did not start with Calvin. It started with Christ and the Scriptures. I will agree that the name “Calvinism” is somewhat troublesome. I prefer to be called a Reformed Baptist but I don’t mind the Calvinism label either. I also assume that when you refer to the “church that Calvin started” you are referring to the protestant churches that arose when Christians broke away from the Roman Catholic church and returned to the biblical doctrine of the church. Do you believe that no one can be saved outside the Roman Catholic church? Do you believe that protestant churches are not real churches? On what basis?


  16. Steve says:


    I would have to say that by using your line of discussion, the Church also speaks God’s words and carries His Authority. The Bible and the Church do not contradict each other. It’s not like God stopped speaking to us. The Church and Scripture speak God’s words to us throughout time… even today. I can use Scripture to confirm my thoughts – 1Tim 3:15 says the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. Furthermore, when Saul is struck down and hears, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” The Church is the Body of Christ. Christ does not say, “Why do you persecute the Church?” He says, “Me.” Of course, this leads to the great apostle of Christ, St. Paul spreading the Good News all over the place. The Church carries the authority of God because that authority comes from Him. In fact, it is the Body of Christ. You still have to answer the question of who put the Bible together the way it looks today? When did it happen? By who?

    We are all Christians so I definitely mean no offense. I just think it is somewhat disturbing to see people call themselves Lutherans or Calvinists as if they are following those persons. Reformed Baptist leaves something to be desired also, in my opinion. What is being reformed or who is doing the reforming if you can trace back to “Christ and the Scriptures.” There should be no need to break and be called reformed if it is the original. That in itself means it is not the original founded by Christ.

    I think all churches are real churches so I am not sure what you mean by this. However, it is quite obvious that with so many denominations and so many variant interpretations of Scripture, that at least some people have to be flat out wrong. There is more to doctrine than just what one believes to be true in their own heart or their own interpretation of Scripture. Aren’t these people just making themselves infallible and claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Ha. How do you know your interpretation is the way Christ wants us to hear His voice? Are you the authority? Take for example, John chapter 6, with so many variant interpretations, there can only be one way inspired by the Holy Spirit. How do we know what Christ means? Only one way to know for sure and it has nothing to do with the individual’s interpretation. God has to guide His people so we know for sure. He does not leave us hanging to argue amongst ourselves.

    True dat?


  17. Tom Shelton says:


    You said:

    I would have to say that by using your line of discussion, the Church also speaks God’s words and carries His Authority. The Bible and the Church do not contradict each other. It’s not like God stopped speaking to us. The Church and Scripture speak God’s words to us throughout time… even today.

    The church does not carry God’s authority. The church was created by God and it is lesser than Him. The Bible (The Word, see John 1) is God’s word and therefore it carries His authority. The Roman church is often in conflict with the Bible. Any tradition it teaches which is not rooted in the Scriptures is proof.

    You are correct in saying that God still speaks to us but our difference is in how He does it. I believe He does it through His word, not new revelation given through the church. He no longer needs to give us new revelation. The revelation that we have is sufficient for what we need. His word even warns those who would add to it (through supposed new revelation).

    You said:

    What is being reformed or who is doing the reforming if you can trace back to “Christ and the Scriptures.”

    The label “reformed” comes from the Reformation that started when Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg. If I remember correctly, one of the main elements of the Reformation was justification by grace alone. This was not (and still isn’t) being taught by the Roman catholic church. Therefore, the label “reformed” refers to returning to the Scriptures.

    For what it is worth, the Roman church of today in no way resembles the Church as formed by the apostles as detailed to us in the accounts given in the book of Acts. The traditions taught by the Roman Church have no basis in Scripture. The Roman church has usurped the position of authority held by the Scriptures. I am not suggesting that Catholics can’t be or are not truly Christians but if they are it is in spite of the Roman church not on account of it.

    You said:

    I think all churches are real churches so I am not sure what you mean by this.

    Back in 2007, the Pope released some document which said that “other communities” are not real churches. Since he speaks for the church this is the churches teachings.

    You said:

    How do you know your interpretation is the way Christ wants us to hear His voice? Are you the authority? Take for example, John chapter 6, with so many variant interpretations, there can only be one way inspired by the Holy Spirit. How do we know what Christ means? Only one way to know for sure and it has nothing to do with the individual’s interpretation. God has to guide His people so we know for sure. He does not leave us hanging to argue amongst ourselves.

    All believers are commanded to study God’s word so as to be able to make a defense of it. The Holy Spirit will be our guide in this. Because we are fallible creations, this can result in people coming to different interpretations. Some will be flat out wrong but if we truly allow the Holy Spirit to guide our studies we will be very similar in our conclusions.

    Please tell me where I can find the infallible interpretations provided to us by the Roman church. If we are to believe that the church holds the authority to infallibly interpret Scripture and have had 2000 years to do so, I would like to read them.


    For the record, I am enjoying the discussion. Thanks for raising the issues.


  18. Steve says:


    As far as our discussion, I will keep it short. Please explain your view on 1 Tim 3:15 and Colassians 1:24.

    On a side note, it is obvious that you are unfamiliar with the Catholic Church. Please see for accurate information if you would like to. I think you would greatly benefit from reading early Christian writings around 100AD and so on in addition to materials written after the Reformation. It is very interesting to go back to the original teachings held by early Christians. Just so you know, the Bible as it looks today was put together by a Council of Catholic Bishops in the late 4th century. Luther added and subtracted a few things during the Reformation so the Bible that you use today has been changed by Luther. The Bible is Catholic and therefore does not contradict with any Church teaching at all. Also, you might find it intresting that we have no such thing as heresies in today’s world whereas there were many heresies in the early Church.

    Justin the Martyr in the 2nd century (circa 150AD) wrote this, “There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. And this food is called among us eukaristia [the eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” (First Apology, 65-66)

    I also am enjoying our discussion. God bless.




  19. Tom Shelton says:


    1 Timothy 3:15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

    The church is to hold up the truth. It is to support and promote the truth. Christ is the truth. There in no authority given to the foundation (the church) that supports the truth.

    Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

    A body is often used in scripture as a metaphor for the church. In no way does this imply that authority is given to the body (the church) or that the body is equal to the truth.

    Thanks for encouraging me to read and study Church history. I need to do this but have to chosen to do so yet because there are so many other areas I still want to learn about. At some point I do plan to expand my studies in to that area. You are correct in noting that I am not an expert on the Roman Catholic church but I do know that they have elevated the church traditions above God’s word. This is wrong. When we go beyond what is provided to us in the Bible we are going too far.

    The Bible is not Catholic. Scripture was recognized as such long before the 4th Century. Jesus and the Apostles all recognized this fact and often referred to certain texts as Scripture. Therefore, Scripture preceded the Roman Catholic church. It was not created by the Roman Catholic church. The Roman Catholic church may have held a council to “put it together” in book form but it did not have anything to do with determining what was to be included as Scripture and what wasn’t. Roman Catholic doctrine often contradicts Biblical doctrine. Some examples are Purgatory, Indulgences, praying to saints, the veneration of Mary, and the sinlessness of Mary….just to name a few off top of my head.

    Lastly, please explain what you mean when you said “we have no such thing as heresies in today’s world”. Before I respond to that comment I want to make sure that I understand what your point is.


  20. Steve says:


    Thanks for your response. Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you. Things have been kind of busy on my end.

    Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…”

    Please explain what St. Paul means when he says “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions…” Christ’s sacrifice is eternal, ultimate, and final as we know.

    There aren’t any Catholic doctrines that contradict the Bible. In fact, they are all rooted in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Refer to books like “Where is that in the Bible” by Patrick Madrid as starters. Furthermore, if you were baptized as an infant, like I was, that is also not contained in the Bible. The word “Trinity” is also not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. In addition, please show me where praying to saints is prohibited in the Bible. Yes, the Council determined what books were to be authentically inspired by the Holy Spirit and which books were not. There are plenty of books that were excluded such as the “Gospel of St. Thomas.” If you studied early Church history through the present, you would be Catholic. No doubt about it. No doubt also that you are a very good man.

    Apologies on the heresies comment. I will clarify. We have plenty of heresies in today’s world. The Catholic Church should just start calling them as we did back in early Christianity. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a heretical. It has never been held by the Christian communities until 1500 AD.

    God bless.



  21. Tony Hedrick says:

    Theological Schizophrenia.
    I have just read John Piper’s, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Calvinism is theological determinism (ie fatalism: no choice, no change and no chance). Piper simply doesn’t write consistently with his views. This is the probelm.

    My Calvinist friends are still practicing birth control and then justifying it by saying, God knew ahead of time that I would decide for managing the size of my family in this way.

    I was raised the other way around, my father was a Presbo-Landmark Baptist and his shelves were clear of anything other than Reform theology (this is an indication of cultish tendencies) so I got it breakfast, lunch and supper. Finally, as I studied reform theology I decided God was not a Hindu dualistic entity, both evil and good at the same time. God has not hard wired people for goodness or badness, salvation or condemnation (and yes, I have read every inch of the scriptures on this issue). If God has already decided then you should not have children. It is simply too much of a risk to take. They are hopeless before they enter the world.

    As for evangelism and debate… save your breath. No minds can be changed nor eternal outcomes altered in the slightest as preaching has nothing to do with anything as it is not the means. God’s sovereign determination in eternity past has made the decision with or without the aid of men.

    According to Calvinism, “Faith does not come by hearing” but hearing cometh by faith.


    • Tom Shelton says:


      You have made a good case against hyper-Calvinism. It is heresy and should be avoided. But, the examples you have cited are not consistent with what those of who hold to Reformed Theology truly believe.


      • Tony Hedrick says:

        This is what the Calvinist always says, “You just don’t understand what we believe.”
        My twelve year old grandson can figure out where your conclusions lead. Any Muslim understands it. Buddhist clearly understand a fixed universe.

        Calvinists make the same mistake as JW’s. They begin with their conclusions and redress every verse, parable and redifine the words if necessary. This is no more than intellectual legalism. I have defined Calvinism perfectly and one has to live in self deceit not to recognize it. You live on an island of theological provincialism and this is bondage of another kind.

        By the way, compared to the general nastiness of proponents of Calvinism, this is a kind response. We should not give you any more of a free pass than we do Open Theology, Word Faith, United Pentecostalism, Seventh Day Adventicism or The Church of Christ. Calvinist doctrine is abberant. It is not the overall expression of the Reformation either. Why don’t you all come clean.

        By the way, to suggest that I do not understand what Calvinists believe is ludicrous. Mormons know that I know what they believe. Roman Catholics know that I know. Jehovah’s Witnesses know that I know.

        It always amazies me that I can be considered expert at nearly ten cults, topics of cultural apologetics and various religious systems byut when it comes to your blindness you make the claim that no one dares, that I don’t understand what you believe.


        • Tom Shelton says:

          I have defined Calvinism perfectly and one has to live in self deceit not to recognize it. You live on an island of theological provincialism and this is bondage of another kind.


          What you have defined bears no resemblance in any manner to what I believe. As a point of clarification I did not claim that you don’t understand what Calvinists believe, I said that the examples you cited are not consistent with what those who believe Reformed theology actually believe. You have made the same mistake many do. You have responded emotionally based on what you think Calvinists teach and believe without examining what they are saying. Until about 3 – 4 years ago I did the same thing. As I began to actually read and study Reformed Theology (in an attempt to refute it) I learned what they were actually saying and that it is actually consistent with what the Bible teaches.

          You say:

          It always amazies me that I can be considered expert at nearly ten cults, topics of cultural apologetics and various religious systems byut when it comes to your blindness you make the claim that no one dares, that I don’t understand what you believe.

          You have demonstrated that you don’t have a clue as to what I believe. For example, you have implied that Calvinists believe that God is both good and evil at the same time. I know of no Calvinist who believes this. Please give me some names of “Calvinists” who believe this so I can avoid them. You have said that God did not “hard wire” people for salvation and condemnation. In doing so you have rejected the explicit teaching of predestination taught throughout Scripture. It is very dangerous to reject something taught explicitly in the Scripture. You also said that Calvinists believe that preaching is not the means God uses to bring people to salvation. Again, no Calvinist I know believes this although Hyper-Calvinists do. Calvinists believe that God does Predestine those who will be saved and that God uses the foolishness of preaching to bring about that salvation. In conclusion, your own words have proved that you have confused Calvinism with Hyper-Calvinism. Please take some time to check out the differences and refocus your anger at the correct group of heretics.


          • Tony Hedrick says:

            I suggest you do a careful study of each usuage of individual words in their specific contexts. You will find that grammatically very few of the words and their forms like election, predestined, ordained, called, chosen have anyhting to do with election as Calvinists define understand it.

            Don’t threaten me with silly extortionist phrases like, “You have said that God did not “hard wire” people for salvation and condemnation. In doing so you have rejected the explicit teaching of predestination taught throughout Scripture. It is very dangerous to reject something taught explicitly in the Scripture.”

            Why do Calvinists assume they are the arbiters of truth and ground of biblical interpretation. We started this conversation by a reference to Steve Gregg. He makes most Bible scholars look like intellectual midgets. Don’t dismiss either he or me. You are not my superior or equal.


  22. Tony Hedrick says:

    Arose, by any other name is still a rose.


    • Tom Shelton says:


      You said

      I suggest you do a careful study of each usuage of individual words in their specific contexts. You will find that grammatically very few of the words and their forms like election, predestined, ordained, called, chosen have anyhting to do with election as Calvinists define understand it.

      Please provide an exegetical explanation of Ephesians 1:3-14 in context explaining how it means something other than what it says. Or how about 1 Peter 1:1-2 if you prefer. If neither of those, then choose another.

      “Silly extortionist phrases”??? I simply quoted you, used your own logic and carried it to its conclusion….just like you have attempted to do in your earlier comments.


      • tonyhedrick says:

        I can play this game with you which would entire chapters on apostasy. I could got to Hebrews, Corinthians, Galatians, Timothy and pull out verse after to verse for you to exegete. Would you like to examine every verse that deals with the obvious open call of God to ALL men and in so doing not manipulate the language to suit your philosophical conclusions? Do you really want to start a war of duelling verses? You would have to be insane.

        If this is what you want to do? If so, I will send some Jehovah’s Witnesses to your door and they will proof text you (verse by verse) into oblivion. Calvinists resort to the same rediculous technique.This is not a chemistry class. This is a romance. I fear that my Calvinists friends God is only as big as their cranial capacity. Have you ever cast out a demon? We are not called to distill or dismantle God. Calvinists worship their intellectual properties.


        • Tom Shelton says:


          You make many assertions but are you not willing to back them up. I don’t want a “war of dueling verses” but you said my interpretation of the verses teaching election, predestination, etc was wrong. I am simply asking for you to give me the correct interpretation. Someone with your self-professed ability should be able to do that with no problem. I am not using some scheme or technique. Any discussion of interpretation should revolve around the text so I am simply bringing us back to the text. In my experience Arminians prefer to deal with philosophy rather than the text. The text is the best way we have to get to know God and to know about God. It is His revelation to us. He is glorified when we spend time digging His truths out of it.


          • Tony Hedrick says:

            Now suppose I were to do what I am tempted to do? What, if instead of typing for eight hours – typing something you would not even read, I simply Googled (as anyone could do), Exegete Ephesians 1:3-14 and moved passed the Calvinist loaded first three pages (You will find the same phenomena if you search the cults. They are so active at protecting their position of power that you must move past the first thirty or so entries to find the countrary positions) and then simply give you the links.

            Or I could go to my library and pull out anyone of four commentarial resources and scan this or that scholars pages.

            Then there is the option of going upstairs to these enormous storage boxes and pulling out theological papers that I have written from years past and typing these out for you.

            Do you really expect me or anyone else to do an eleven verse exegete on this blog? Could this exegete be done? Has it been done? Yes. It will not be done by me here and now. You know that and I know that. For my part, I suggest you buy a copy of “Sovereignty and Free-Will,” by Barringer and Barringer and go crazy reading scholarly exegetes and position papers.

            But here let me do it this way instead. Is there evidence of something called “Election” and “Predestination.”? Yes. Is there overwhelming and exhaustive evidence for the idea? No. There is not. In fact there is what seems to be and abundance of material which appears to argue for just the opposite. Here is one of the few places where we agree. God does not contradict or oppose Himself. “Oh, Job, this is too big for you.”

            I do not believe in evolution for the same reason I do not believe in “particular election.” The evidence for either position is not everywhere evident and there are clear contradictions to the so called evidence. There is room for well-meaning misinterpretation. This is why we have had almost seven hundred years without a clear consensus of theological opinion. Nice and smart people disagree with one another and there are good reasons why.

            If you really wanted an exegete you would not have to ask me to write it. You can do what I would do. Find a library. You just want to waste my time providing something you do not care about. If you don’t ask me to do this then I will not ask you do a similar thing for me.

            As for me, this is the end of the matter.


  23. Tony Hedrick says:

    I suppose then you are saying that there be such a thing as a three or a four point Calvinist?

    It is not possible. It is not possible to make the claim to Calvinism and be only a partial Calvinist. For instance, I have Southern Baptist acquaintances that say rather bluntly, “I am a Calvinist,” but fail to understand the implications of the system of logic to which they must subscribe.

    As for Calvinists advancing the notion that God is dualistic in nature they do not do such a thing except tacitly because there is no other choice. This is where the logic must lead. If God is completely, totally, miutely sovereign (there is utterly no free-will in the universe) then He is the Father of evil (the fall, the halocaust, abortion, murder, war, pedofilia, abuse, rape and every homicide) and there is no way around it. He caused Adam and Eve to do what he instructed them not to do. By default Calvin’s God becomes the prime cause of everything. One would have to do philosohical gymnastics to arrive at anything else. They do not argue for this. They hide it but this is the where the logic ultimately leads and every thinker knows it so don’t try to bully or belittle me. Calvinism attempts to theologically bully anyone who disgrees with them. I care not a straw what you or they think. They are Gnostics of the worst kind. They corrupt the good reputation of a loving God and divide the Church in so doing. I intend to be no nicer to you than Calvinists are to those who disagree with them (95% of the universal church).

    Further, stop making the boast by using the label “Reform Theology.” There were three Reformational movements and Calvinism spawned only one of them.


    • Tom Shelton says:

      For the record I am a Southern Baptist and I think that all 5 points go together. I can tell you that I fully understand the implications of the logic. I spent 1.5 years trying to refute Calvinism but couldn’t. Then I realized that not only could I not refute it but I had to affirm it.

      You have said that Calvinists believe that God is good and God is evil at the same time. This is completely different to the belief that God allows evil or actually causes evil (Calvinist believe both ways). Please give me a list of names of Calvinists that believe that God is both good and evil at the same time. If there are any then they should be avoided by everybody. I don’t think that the problem of evil is something to be overly concerned about. If God is sovereign then He is sovereign over everything even if we don’t understand all the details. Just because God allows evil and may use it to accomplish His will does not automatically follow that He is the “father of evil”.

      You said

      By default Calvin’s God becomes the prime cause of everything.

      God is sovereign so by definition He is the prime cause of everything. Anyone who denies this needs to reread the Bible. This however does not mean that He causes everything. He either causes or allows all things to happen. Do you deny this? If so then you reject the clear teachings of the Bible. If you affirm it then welcome to Reformed Theology.

      Furthermore, I prefer the label of Reformed Theology. I don’t really care if you don’t like it. I choose how to label myself. It does not consist of a boast or of bullying….get over it.


  24. Tom Shelton says:


    Again, I go back to the fact that you said that I had a wrong interpretation on the passages the teach predestination and election. All I have asked you to do is give me a correct interpretation. If you don’t want to do that, no problem but don’t tell me that I am wrong without being willing to give the correct interpretation. Otherwise, you are simply asserting your opinion.

    I have not read the Barringer book. I tried to find it on Amazon and don’t see it. I did a google search also and nothing came up. Can you provide me a link so I can get it?

    You said

    But here let me do it this way instead. Is there evidence of something called “Election” and “Predestination.”? Yes. Is there overwhelming and exhaustive evidence for the idea? No. There is not. In fact there is what seems to be and abundance of material which appears to argue for just the opposite.

    I would contend that the evidence is overwhelming. It is throughout the Old and New Testaments. This doctrine can’t be ignored by any bible believing Christian. So, the question becomes how does it fit into their theology. Is their theology consistent with the teachings of the Bible? If not, then they must change their theology. If you don’t want to exegete a particular passage then answer me this: How do you fit election / predestination into your theology?

    If you don’t want to continue the discussion, so be it. Thanks for visiting my blog and contributing you thoughts. Stop by again sometime and feel free to comment again. I find these discussions very stimulating and I hope those who read them do also.


  25. tonyhedrick says:

    Sorry… did you ever go from memory and have it wrong? It was “Predestination and Free-Will” by Basinger and Basinger. Okay, I was close.

    By the way, I am not an Armenian. I am only Wesleyan-Armenian by default in that I am a non-Calvinist.


  26. tonyhedrick says:
    Here you go. Just one of a thousand. ENJOY! Ephesians 1:3-14 Detailed Exegesis By Roger Samsel Copyright © PFRS Edited by Tim Warner ——————————————————————————– Introduction and Thesis (Part I) Ephesians 1:3-14 is the primary occasion for the doctrine of theistic determinism known as Calvinism. With John 6 and Romans 9-11, it is one of the three passages that Calvinists lean on heavily to establish their teaching. Our contention, however, is that the Calvinistic interpretation of these key passages is not exegetically sound. How can Ephesians 1:3-14 be understood apart from a Calvinistic framework? The answer to that question is the principle thesis of this paper. In verse three of Ephesians 1, Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” It should be noted that in verses 3-12, Paul exclusively used first person plural personal pronouns (us, we, our). This fact is usually either not observed in commentaries or observed without any significance attached to its impact on a proper understanding of the passage. The question to be asked in verses 3-12 is, did Paul mean to include his Ephesian readers in the statements of these verses? Here are verses 3-12 with the pronouns highlighted. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In verse 13, Paul abruptly changed to second person plural pronouns (you, your). 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. 15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints… That Paul made this change suggests that he included himself as part of a group of persons in verses 3-12. He included his Ephesian readers in a distinct group. This is the literal interpretation of these pronouns. This change is grammatically significant. We should be able to identify to whom the pronouns refer. In verse 12 Paul identified the group in which he identified himself as “we who first hoped in the Messiah.” It was the Hebrew nation exclusively that had previously hoped in the coming of the Messiah (cf. Luke 2:25-38, Jn. 1:41). The earliest known Christian commentary on this passage, written by Tertullian (2nd century), says precisely the same thing. “Again, what Christ do the following words announce, when the Apostle says, ‘That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ?’ Now, who could have first trusted — ie., previously trusted — in God, before His advent, besides Jews to whom Christ was previously announced from the beginning? He who was thus foretold, was also foretrusted. Hence, the Apostle refers the statement to himself, that is, to the Jews, in order that he may draw a distinction with respect to the Gentiles, (when he goes on to say:) ‘In whom you also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel (of your salvation); in whom ye believed, and were sealed with His Holy Spirit of promise’.” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, xvii) The switch to second person pronouns therefore refers to Paul’s Gentile readers. This makes sense in the context of the Book where the relation between Jew and Gentile in the Gospel is one of the major themes and recurs frequently. In summary, our position is that verses 3-12 contain Paul’s praise to God for His historic and redemptive dealings with his own nation (Israel). All of the truths stated in these verses are historically significant and specific to that nation. Gentiles are nowhere included in these verses. Not until verse 13 did Paul address the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Gospel of the Messiah. The relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the Gospel is the major theme of the Book. If our hypothesis is correct, we should be able to discover many historical links and Scriptural allusions to the Old Testament in verses 3-12. ——————————————————————————– The Traditional Jewish Blessing (Part II) EuloghtoV o QeoV kai pathr tou Kuriou mwn Ihsou Cristou… (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) The adjective “euloghtoV” (blessed) is used only of God in the New Testament, never of men. Used without a verb of being, it is a Hebraism rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures. (A “Hebraism” is a word or phrase common among speakers of Hebrew or Jewish Aramaic that has been carried over into Greek in a form that would effectively identify the writer or speaker as Jewish.) It is an expression of praise with the sense of “may He be well-spoken of, extolled and honored.” In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, often abbreviated as LXX), it translates the Hebrew “baruch” in all of the following examples. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem … (Genesis 9:26) And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem … (Genesis 9:26) And blessed be the most high God … (Genesis 14:20) And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master… (Genesis 24:27) There are many such examples in the Old Testament. “EuloghtoV” is invariably the word used in the Septuagint in these expressions and they are all identical in form to Paul’s words in verse 3. We therefore conclude that Paul was employing a very familiar Hebraism in this expression. The only variation in these expressions is the many different appellations that are ascribed to God: the Lord God, the Lord God of Shem, the Lord God of Abraham etc. This part of the expression differs according to the circumstances and according the attribute of God that is being extolled. In the present passage, Paul blessed the Lord as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Messianic hope was the superlative blessing with which God blessed the nation of Israel and it is in the Messiah that all her blessings and promises are to be fulfilled. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1, 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. o euloghsaV hmaV … (who has blessed us…) Observe also the use of the word “bless” in three cognate forms in verse 3, “blessed” (euloghtoV), “blessed” (o euloghsaV), and “blessing” (eulogia). All three of these cognate terms are used in similar passages throughout the Greek Old Testament (LXX). O euloghsaV is an adjectival, aorist participle modifying God. It is also attributive ascribing to God the act of blessing. Regarding the verbal aspect of this participle, we take this as a constative aorist. As defined by Wallace, “The aorist normally views the action as a whole, taking no interest in the internal workings of the action. It describes the action in summary fashion, without focusing on the beginning or end of the action specifically. This is by far the most common use of the aorist, especially with the indicative mood. The constative aorist covers a multitude of actions. The event might be iterative in nature, or durative, or momentary, but the aorist says none of this. It places the stress on the fact of the occurrence, not its nature.” 1 There are several good reasons to understand this as a constative aorist. There is no controlling verb to govern this participle, or rather, the controlling verb is the implied verb of being, “is” or “be,” in verse 3. Secondly, the nature of the modifying phrases is iterative (involving repetition) covering the whole of Israel’s history in the Old Testament beginning with her election “before the foundation of the world,” including the manifold blessings with which God blessed her, and including her practical sanctification and training in righteousness (“that we should be holy and without blame”). All of this is inherently iterative. This participle is modified by the following phrase, “en pash eulogia pneumatikh” (with every spiritual blessing). The term “every spiritual blessing” is commonly interpreted as a type of blessing that exists in the New Testament in contrast to the so-called “physical blessings” of the Old Testament. This is an unwarranted dichotomy between the concepts of “spiritual” and “physical.” The simplest meaning for “spiritual” is “proceeding from the Holy Spirit.” As stated by Vincent and by Jamieson, Faucett and Brown. “Paul emphasizes in this epistle the work of the divine Spirit upon the human spirit. Not spiritual as distinguished from bodily, but proceeding from the Holy Spirit.” 2 “blessings–Greek, “blessing.” “All,” that is, “every possible blessing for time and eternity, which the Spirit has to bestow” (so “spiritual” means; not “spiritual,” as the term is now used, as opposed to bodily).” 3 Elsewhere, Paul spoke of the Law of Moses as being “spiritual” (Rom. 7:14). Peter explicitly stated in 2 Peter 1 that the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament were given by the Holy Spirit. There is no valid exegetical or theological reason, therefore, to maintain that Israel’s blessings enumerated in the Old Testament were not “spiritual.” en toiV epouranioiV en Cristw (in the heavenlies in Christ) The word “places” is not found in the Greek text, but was added to some translations by the translators. EpouranioiV is an adjective, the plural form of “heavenly.” “In the heavenlies” does not imply a dichotomy separating blessings that we will experience “in heaven” from blessings that exist (or existed) on earth. Our blessed hope is that when Christ returns, the kingdom of heaven will be present here on earth (cf. Dan. 2:44, Matt. 5:3,5,10,20, Matt. 8:11, Matt. 25:15-30. The expression “in the heavenlies” alludes to Israel’s heavenly blessings promised in the Old Testament that originate in heaven, being “heavenly” (from heaven). Note the following: 25 By the God of your father who will help you, And by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26 The blessings of your father Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers. (Genesis 49) 15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘ (Deuteronomy 26) Conclusion When God determined to bless Israel, He did so 1) with every spiritual blessing, 2) in the heavenly places, and 3) with the Messiah. We are only in the beginning stages of this passage in proving our thesis. But let us dispense with the unscriptural notion that Israel’s blessings in the Old Testament were somehow unspiritual and inferior to the Church’s blessings in the New Testament. ——————————————————————————– The Election of Israel (Part III) kaqwV kai ezelezato hmaV (just as He chose us) The word “kaqwV” (just as) is a comparative adverb and in this case is used in an explanatory sense. As stated by Vincent, kaqwV – Explaining blessed us, in verse 3. His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose. [5] Thus, God’s choosing (or “electing”) of Israel is in conformity with, and explanatory of, His blessing of Israel. It answers the question, “How did God bless Israel?” Let us now look at the nature of this election. en autw (in Him) The foundation for God’s election of Israel is the Abrahamic Covenant, and so we should naturally expect that any discussion of Israel’s election should reference this foundation. Let us look at Genesis 12:1-3. 1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed…” 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants [=seed] I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. In Galatians 3 Paul interpreted this passage as a reference to the Messiah. Thus we see that it is in the Messiah or by the Messiah, that Israel, and indeed all the families of the earth, are blessed. pro katabolhV kasmou (before the foundation of the world) This phrase assures that this plan and purpose of God to choose a select nation, to bless that nation, through that nation to bring the Savior into the world, and through Him bless all peoples, was made before the beginning of creation. einai hmas agiouV kai amwmouV katenwpion autou en agaph ( that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love) The infinitive einai (that we should be) is used adverbially modifying ezelezato (chose us) and is an infinitive of purpose. That is, it explains the reason why God chose Israel. God chose Israel in order that she should be a holy nation, and in order that she would stand before Him in love. These purposes of God in His election of Israel are spelled out explicitly in the very Old Testament passages that speak of her election. Let us now identify some of these passages to which we have been claiming Paul was alluding. All of these specific ideas are contained in these Old Testament Scriptures. Paul was not giving new revelation about “election” and certainly not in the Calvinistic sense of that term. He was alluding to concepts that were contained in the Hebrew Scriptures and were well known to everyone familiar with these Scriptures. This is a lengthy series of quotations, but is necessary to establish three facts: 1) Israel’s election was a well established and familiar concept in the Old Testament Scriptures; 2) these were the Scriptures to which Paul was alluding; and 3) it is this Old Testament concept of election that is in view in Ephesians 1. Deuteronomy 1 10 The LORD your God has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. 11 May the LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you! Deuteronomy 4 7 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? 8 And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? 9 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, 10 especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children…’ 32 “For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? 34 Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know [compare, “having made known to us …”] that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. 36 Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because He loved your fathers, [compare. “in love…”] therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, 38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. 39 Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” Deuteronomy 7 6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. 11 Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them. 12 “Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. 13 And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples… Deuteronomy 10 12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? 14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 15 The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 21 He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude. Deuteronomy 14 1 “You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. 2 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 26 18 Also today the LORD has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God, just as He has spoken.” Conclusion According to these passages, to which Paul obviously alluded in Ephesians 1, Israel’s election was a choice that God made of a specific nation for blessing and for revelation. We will see in the next few verses that it was also a choice that would enable Israel to be a light to the surrounding nations. It was a choice of a nation through whom He would bring salvation to all the families of the earth. It was NOT a selection of individuals to eternal salvation or eternal damnation. Israel was admonished that because they were “elect” they must therefore individually take careful heed to all that God commanded and instructed. If they did not, they would be cut off. They were chosen in order that they should be “holy and without blame,” but there was no divine guarantee that they would do so. There is no other concept of election taught in these passages. ——————————————————————————– Predestination (Part IV) proorisaV hmaV (“having predestined us”) The aorist active participle proorisaV (“having predestined us”) modifies the verb ezelezato (“he chose us”) and further explains what it means. It implies a determined choice beforehand or in advance. Based on the nature of the verb predestined and of the following modifying phrases, we take this as an ingressive aorist. As defined by Wallace, The aorist tense may be used to stress the beginning of an action or the entrance into a state. Unlike the ingressive imperfect, there is no implication that the action continues. This simply left unstated. The ingressive aorist is quite common. 4 eiV uioqesian (to adoption as sons) The preposition eiV was used in the sense of result. The result of God’s predestination of Israel was that they became His children or sons. We have already quoted some of the passages that speak of this result. Note also, Exodus 4 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’” In addition, in Paul’s jargon, the adoption pertains to Israel. Romans 9 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. Gal 4 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. dia Ihsou Cristou eiV auton (through Jesus the Messiah, to himself) The hope of Israel, the Messiah, was the instrumental means through which God brought Israel near to Himself. Paul states this explicitly in 1 Corinthians 10. 1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. kata thn eudokian tou qelhmatoV autou (according to the good pleasure of His will) The preposition kata (“according to”) carries the idea of conformity to a standard. Here, the predestination of Israel to be God’s chosen people was according to His good pleasure. Stated simply, it pleased Him to do so. eiV epainon doxhV thV caritoV autou (to the praise of the glory of His grace) God’s predestination of Israel was “unto” the praise of the glory of His grace. The preposition eiV (to) can have the force of either “purpose” or “result.” If it is “result,” then this is simply a statement that God’s working with the Hebrew nation resulted in the praise of His grace. This is certainly true. In many of the OT passages that speak of God’s election of Israel, the author praises God for these gracious works. Note Deuteronomy 4:7-8, 32-39 and 10:12-15 quoted above as well as Psalm 33, 105, 135; Isaiah 43 and countless others. If it is “purpose,” then we might take this as a reference to the following passage also found in Deuteronomy 4. This is the interpretation we prefer and this shows how Israel was intended to be a light to the surrounding nations. 5 “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. 6 Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ Conclusion God’s election of Israel meant that they were predestined to be His children through adoption. This means that they were His children in a covenantal sense, but not necessarily in the New Birth sense. This predestination was through the Messiah and resulted in the extolling of the glory of His grace. ——————————————————————————– God’s Grace (Part V) en h ecaritwsen hmaV en tw hgaphmenw (by which He made us accepted in the Beloved) The word, h (“which”), is the feminine singular relative pronoun referring to “grace” in the preceding clause, which it modifies. The word ecaritwsen (made us accepted) is related to the word “grace.” Both words have the same root. It is found only twice in the NT and essentially means “to bestow favor on, to favor highly, to bless.” The other time it is found is in Gabriel’s salutation to the virgin Mary, “Hail, you who are highly favored…” We would not translate Luke 1:28 as, “Hail, you who have been made accepted…” Therefore, we conclude that a better translation of this clause in Ephesians is, “by which He highly favored us.” The title, “the Beloved” (tw hgaphmenw) is usually understood to refer to Christ by modern commentators. Paul used the perfect passive participle form of “agapao.” The significance of this should not be underestimated. The perfect participle form adds an important grammatical component, that of tense. The perfect tense indicates a past completed action with only the results of the action continuing to the present. Literally, Paul wrote, “The one having been beloved.” While Christ is certainly “beloved” by the Father (see: Luke 3:22), there is no past completed action of His being “beloved” (as the perfect tense demands), with just the results continuing to the present. The Father’s love for the Son has always been constant. If Paul meant Christ, we would expect Him to have used the articular adjective form of “agapao,” as in Luke 3:22, “the Beloved One.” This would not confine the nature of the love to a past completed event. That Paul instead used a rare form of “agapao” (perfect passive participle) implies that there was a very specific reason. Wallace says, “As Moulton points out, the perfect tense is ‘the most important, exegetically, of all the Greek tenses.’ The perfect tense is used less frequently than the present, aorist, future, or imperfect; when it is used, there is usually a deliberate choice on the part of the writer.” 5 Since the only real difference between the common adjective form and the perfect participle form is the addition of the perfect tense, the logical conclusion is that Paul deliberately wanted to distinguish “the Beloved” in this passage as one who had been beloved at some point in the past, with the results of that love extending to the present. Therefore, it seems self-evident that Paul’s use of the perfect participle made it clear to his readers that he was not referring to Christ. Paul relied heavily on the Greek Old Testament called the Septuagint (LXX) in his quotes of the Old Testament. This is the Bible his readers were familiar with, and could actually read. The Hebrew Scriptures were rare, expensive, and impossible to read for Gentiles. A search of the LXX turns up this exact title. It is an affectionate title for Israel. It refers first to Jacob, whose name God changed to “Israel.” And to all his descendants, the 12 tribes of Israel, that came from his loins. This title first appears in Deut. 32:15. “So Jacob ate and was filled, and the one having been beloved (o hgaphmenoV) kicked; he grew fat, he became thick and broad: then he forsook the God that made him, and departed from God his Saviour” (LXX). This title refers specifically to Israel’s being “chosen” by God, when He brought them out of Egypt to be a separated nation unto Himself (Israel’s election). It was this election of Israel, and separating them unto Himself, that earned this nation the title, “the one having been beloved.” Deut. 33:1-5,26-29 1 ¶ And this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said, The Lord is come from Sina, and has appeared from Seir to us, and has hasted out of the mount of Pharan, with the ten thousands of Cades; on his right hand were his angels with him. 3 And he spared his people, and all his sanctified ones are under thy hands; and they are under thee; and he received of his words 4 the law which Moses charged us, an inheritance to the assemblies of Jacob. 5 And he shall be a prince in the one having been beloved (en tw hgaphmenw), when the princes of the people are gathered together with the tribes of Israel. … 26 ¶ There is not any such as the God of the one having been beloved (tou hgaphmenou); he who rides upon the heaven is thy helper, and the magnificent One of the firmament. 27 And the rule of God shall protect thee, and that under the strength of the everlasting arms; and he shall cast forth the enemy from before thy face, saying, Perish. 28 And Israel shall dwell in confidence alone on the land of Jacob, with corn and wine; and the sky shall be misty with dew upon thee. 29 Blessed art thou, O Israel; who is like to thee, O people saved by the Lord? thy helper shall hold his shield over thee, and his sword is thy boast; and thine enemies shall speak falsely to thee, and thou shalt tread upon their neck. (LXX) This is a very significant passage. Not only does it refer to God’s bringing Israel out of Egypt to Mt. Sinai to receive His Law, but it is also Moses’ prophecy of Israel’s future restoration in the coming Kingdom. It is in fact the last words of Moses, as he blessed Israel just before his death. Notice in verse 5, the entire prepositional phrase that Paul used in Eph. 1:6, appears in Moses’ prophecy: Deut. 33:5 LXX “in the one having been beloved” (en tw hgaphmenw). Eph. 1:6 “in the one having been beloved” (en tw hgaphmenw). David made a similar prophecy of Israel’s eventual restoration, and used the same title for Israel, “the one having been beloved” (Ps. 29:6 LXX). That David cited Moses’ prophecy sets precedent for quoting Moses’ title for Israel, as “the one having been beloved.” Isaiah also prophesied as follows concerning “the one having been beloved.” Isa. 44:1-3 1 ¶ But now hear, Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen. 2 Thus saith the Lord God that made thee, and he that formed thee from the womb; Thou shalt yet be helped: fear not, my servant Jacob; and the one having been beloved, Israel (o hgaphmenov, Israhl), whom I have chosen. 3 For I will give water to the thirsty that walk in a dry land: I will put my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessings upon thy children: (LXX) Notice the close association between God’s election of Israel (v. 1) and the title, “the one having been beloved.” This is significant because Paul made the same association in Eph. 1:3-6. (cf. Jer. 11:15-17,12:1-2 LXX & Rom. 11:15-27). Paul’s use of the perfect participle indicates past completed action, as opposed to ongoing action. The perfect participle in reference to Israel refers to God’s love for that nation manifest in His election, particularly when He brought them out of Egypt, separated them to be a people unto Himself. This is why AFTER the exodus Moses coined this affectionate title for Israel, “the one having been beloved.” The past completed component refers specifically to that act of God in separating Israel from the Egyptians, bringing them to Mt. Sinai, and giving them His Law to distinguish them from the rest of the nations. In this commentary on Eph. 1, we have been showing how Paul relied heavily on the book of Deuteronomy. It is apparent that in verses 3-6, Paul depended specifically on Deut. 7:6-8,13-14. Below we have included a table to aid in a comparison of these two passages. We have color coded the concepts that Paul has drawn from Deut. 7. Note in particular the manner in which God displayed His love to Israel, which we have underlined below. Eph. 1:3-6 3 “Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [things] in Christ, 4 since before the foundation of the world He chose us in Him to be holy and without blemish before Him in love, 5 Having foreordained us to adoption by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the delight of His will, 6 to praise of the glory of His grace, by which He highly favored us in the one having been beloved.” (PFRS Literal tranlation) Deut 7:6-8,13-14 6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 “but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. … 13 “And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. 14 “You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. (NKJ) The meaning of “grace” is unmerited favor. That is the epitome of what Moses said about Israel in this passage. The clause, “highly favored us” [in the one having been beloved], is a Greek word that only appears one other place in Scripture, in Gabrael’s salutation of Mary, the one “highly favored” of God. The sense is clearly that of being favored above all others. And that is precisely what Moses said of Israel in Deut. 7:6 & 14. Also, notice in Deut. 7:8 the mention of God’s bestowing His grace on Israel on account of THE OATH he swore to the patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What is that “oath?” Gen. 22:16-18 16 I have sworn by myself, says the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and on my account hast not spared thy beloved son, 17 surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is by the shore of the sea, and thy seed shall inherit the cities of their enemies. 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast hearkened to my voice. (LXX) This oath was the confirming of a prior promise God made to Abraham, regarding making of his seed a great nation. That promise also included the following prophecy. Gen 15:13-14 13 And it was said to Abram, Thou shalt surely know that thy seed shall be a sojourner in a land not their own, and they shall enslave them, and afflict them, and humble them four hundred years. 14 And the nation whomsoever they shall serve I will judge; and after this, they shall come forth hither with much property. (LXX) God promised to separate Abraham’s seed from Egypt. It was only after He had done so, through Moses, that Moses coined the term, “the one having been beloved,” pointing to God’s fulfilling this promise to Abraham. That is why the perfect tense appears in Moses’ affectionate title for Israel, and why it also appears in Paul’s quotation of Moses in Eph. 1:6. Paul’s entire statement in verse 6, “to praise of the glory of His grace by which He highly favored us in ‘the one having been beloved’,” points to God’s past grace upon His people Israel, having chosen them, and separated them unto Himself. en w ecomen thv apolutrwsin thn afesin (= twn paraptwmatwn) (in whom we have the redemption (the forgiveness of sins)) The phrase “en w,” meaning “in (or by) whom” refers back to “Jesus Christ” in verse 5. We also take the phrase “thn ayesin twn paraptwmatwn” (“the forgiveness of sins”) as standing in apposition to “en w ecomen thn apolutrwsin” (“in whom we have the redemption”). Thus, the redemption is defined by the forgiveness of sins. The definite article with redemption refers to the redemption so often promised to Israel in the Old Testament and prefigured in all of the sacrifices. Observe also that throughout verses 3-12, all of the verbs are aorist, past tense referring to the blessings of Israel throughout her history in the Old Testament. The only present tense verb in this section is this verb “we have” referring to the present possession of the redemption through His blood. This is further confirmation that the things Paul is listing are things that he considered to be in the past. dia tou aimatoV autou kata ton plouton thV caritoV autou (through His blood, according to the riches of His grace) The redemption of Israel is definitively stated to be through the blood of the Messiah in contrast to the sacrifice of bulls and goats according to the Law, (Isa. 53). It is also stated to be according to, or in keeping with, the standard of the riches of His grace. The pronoun “his” could be taken as a reference to “God the Father,” or to “Jesus Christ.” It is impossible to tell grammatically. But we also think that it is not necessary to make any such distinction since the attribute of grace belongs equally to all three Persons of the Godhead. Conclusion In verses 6-7, Paul seems to have contrasted the former grace of God upon Israel with the latter and better grace. In verse 6, Paul refers to God’s having delivered them from bondage in Egypt, separating them as a people unto Himself, with this statement, “to praise of the glory of His grace by which He highly favored us in ‘the one having been beloved’.” But, the greater “grace” is to be found in what follows in verse 7, the redemption through the blood of the Messiah, which Paul here called, “the riches of His grace.” No doubt, being “highly favored” is good. But, “the riches of His grace” is even better. ——————————————————————————– The Mystery of His Will (Part VI) hV eperisseusen eiV hmaV en pash soyia kai yronhsei (which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence {understanding – NIV}) The word “hV” (“which”) is a genitive, feminine, singular pronoun whose antecedent is caritoV (“grace”) in the preceding clause. What does it mean that God’s grace was made to abound toward Israel “in all wisdom and understanding”? We take this as an allusion to the following passage in Deuteronomy 4. (It is highly significant that the majority of the allusions we have identified have come from the first ten chapters of Deuteronomy, especially chapters 4, 7, and 10.) 5 “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. 6 Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ In this passage, “wisdom and understanding” refers to the written Torah that Israel was commanded to learn and keep. That is, “wisdom and understanding” is a reference to the Scriptures of the Old Testament. gnwrisaV hmin to musthrion tou qelhmatoV autou (Having made known to us the mystery of His will) The aorist active participle “gnwrisaV” (“having made known”) modifies the verb “eperisseusen” (“made to abound”). In other words, when we ask “how did God make his grace abound toward Israel in all wisdom and understanding?” The answer that comes back is that He did so “by making known to them the mystery of His will.” Thus, we have here in verses 8 and 9 two allusions to the Old Testament Scriptures, “wisdom and understanding” and “the mystery of His will.” This is again alluded to in Daniel 2 (LXX). Daniel 2 (LXX) 19 Then the mystery [to musthrion] was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night; and Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and said, 20 May the name of God be blessed from everlasting and to everlasting: for wisdom and understanding [sofia kai fronhsei] are his. 21 And he changes times and seasons: he appoints kings, and removes them, giving wisdom [sofion] to the wise, and prudence [fronhsin] to them that have understanding: 22 he reveals deep and secret matters; knowing what is in darkness, and the light is with him. Eph 1:8-9 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence [sofia kai fronhsei], 9 having made known to us the mystery [to musthrion] of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. Regarding this “mystery,” Tim Warner explains, “In hindsight, through the revelation of Jesus, we can perceive Messianic prophecies interwoven all throughout the Old Testament. Some are fairly plain, like Isaiah 53 (but not altogether, since Philip had to explain to the Ethiopian Eunuch what Isaiah was writing about). Others are quite obscure, like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 7:14. Some are seen in types, such as the sacrifices all being allegories of Christ. Others appear to combine Christ’s first and second comings into one. Yet, to those willing to believe, the big picture comes clearly into focus through revelation, as we stand amazed at the flood of prophecy of Christ in the Old Testament. To the carnal minds, with a veil over their eyes, the Torah’s and the Prophets’ testimony to Christ remain hidden out of sight. That Jesus is the Messiah cannot be proven from the normal grammatical/historical approach to Old Testament prophecy. But, to those who have ears to hear, the evidence is overwhelming. This is the ‘mystery’ that Paul speaks of so often in his epistles. Some claim that it was unique to Paul. Nothing in the Scriptures hints at such a thing. In fact, Paul plainly said that the Mystery was revealed to the ‘Apostles’ (plural), (Eph. 3:5). John the Baptist was the first to shed some light on the Mystery, when he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world,” making the connection between Jesus and Isaiah 53. Jesus gave further revelation to His disciples, through personal instruction, and explaining the parables. But, not until after the resurrection did He open their understanding so they could understand the Scriptures, and expound every single prophecy in the Old Testament concerning His coming. From this point on, the Apostles were able to connect the Old Testament prophecies with Jesus’ first coming. Peter’s sermons in Acts 2 and Acts 3 are filled with these kinds of interpretations of Old Testament prophecy.” 6 kata thn eudokian autou (according to His purpose) The word eudokian can mean “purpose (will)” or “delight.” If it is “delight” in this prepositional phrase, then it means simply that it delighted or pleased God to give this revelation to Israel. Even though their understanding of it was incomplete until the granting of more revelation after the resurrection of the Messiah. He delighted in leading Israel through the ages to a more complete revelation. We prefer the meaning of “purpose” or “will” in light of the subsequent phrases however. God had a definite purpose in choosing Israel and granting her the knowledge of the mystery of His will as Paul goes on to explain. hn proeqeto en autw (which He purposed in Himself) The word hn (“which”) is a relative pronoun whose antecedent is eudokian (“purpose”) in the preceding clause. As we are tracing the thought flow, God made known to Israel the mystery of His will according to His will, which purposed in Himself. The phrase en autw can be translated reflexively as it is here or as “by Him” as a reference to the Messiah. Both thoughts are valid exegetically and theologically, but we prefer the latter as fitting better with the context and the thought flow where Paul is continually speaking of the things that God has accomplished with, by, and through the Messiah. eis oikonomian tou plhrwmatoV twn kairwn (in the dispensation of the fullness of the times) This prepositional phrase modifies the verb “which He purposed” in verse nine. We take the preposition in a referential sense. That is, God purposed (in the ages past) this with reference to the present age or dispensation. anakefalaiwsasqai ta panta (= ta epi toiV ouranoiV kai ta epi thV ghV) en tw Cristw (= en autw) (that He might gather together in one all things (=both which are in heaven and which are on earth) in Christ (= in Him) Verse 10 is challenging to translators and grammarians. It is greatly simplified (in our opinion) by recognizing that there are four phrases which are easily reduced to two by understanding that two of them stand in apposition to the other two as we have diagrammed them. The phrase “both which are in heaven and which are on earth” stands in apposition to “all things.” The phrase, “in Him” stands in apposition to “in Christ.” This relationship is perfectly natural and makes the construction extraordinarily simple. The “purpose which He purposed in Himself” is defined by this infinitive phrase, “that He might gather together in one all things in Christ.” The purpose of God, which He revealed to Israel in mystery form in the Old Testament Scriptures, is that He would ultimately gather together in one all things in the Messiah. This gathering together into one is spoken of repeatedly throughout the Book of Ephesians. Out of Jew and Gentile, God has created one people. This is “His workmanship” (2:10), “one new man” (2:14), “one body” (2:16), “the household of God” (2:19), “the whole building” (2:21), “a holy temple” (2:21), “a dwelling place of God” (2:22), “the church” (3:10) etc… Conclusion In blessing Israel, God gave her the Scriptures of the Old Testament. These Scripture were Israel’s wisdom and understanding. She had no other. Nor did she need any other. Within those pages was concealed the mystery of His Will, an eternal purpose according to which He would ultimately gather together both Jew and Gentile in the Messiah. ——————————————————————————– The Inheritance (Part VII) en w kai eklhrwqhmen (in whom we have also received an inheritance) The antecedent of “in whom” is “Christ.” The word eklhrwqhmen (“received an inheritance”) comes from klhroV which means “a lot.” So a more literal translation of the word would be, “to assign a portion of land by lot.” According to the Scriptures, Israel has received an inheritance. That inheritance is the Land of Canaan, which will be divided by lot among the descendants of Jacob after the return of the Messiah (Dan 12:13). proorisqenteV (being predestined) The aorist active participle “being predestined” modifies the aorist passive indicative verb, “obtained an inheritance.” Israel is predestined to obtain the Land of Canaan in the Messianic Kingdom. There are two prepositional phrases that modify proorisqenteV. kata proqesin tou ta panta energountoV kata thn boulhn tou qelhatoV autou (according to the purpose of Him who works all things according the good pleasure of His will) God’s predestination of Israel to inherit Canaan is according to His purpose and according to the good pleasure of His will. The term “all things” does not mean that God is the cause or the force behind everything that happens in the universe. Such an interpretation, although it is common, expressly makes God the author of sin. “All things” is limited in scope to those things that directly bear on His eternal purpose as described in this passage. eiV to einai hmaV (= touV prohlpikotaV en tw Cristw) eiV epainon doxhV autou (that we (=who first hoped in the Messiah) should be to the praise of His glory) “We” is in apposition to “who first hoped in the Messiah.” This is not “trusted in Christ” in the evangelical sense. It is “hoped before in the Messiah.” The prefix pro (“before”) affixed to “hoped” connotes the Messianic hope of the Jews before the first advent of the Messiah. Paul now abruptly transitions to a discussion of the relationship of Gentiles to this story of redemption. Conclusion In His blessing of Israel, God promised her an inheritance that includes eternal possession of the Land of Canaan. Paul confirms in this passage that God’s promises have not been nullified by the advent of Christ. Those who before hoped in the Messiah will not be disappointed. ——————————————————————————– The Gentiles (Part VIII) en w kai umeiV (in whom you also) “In whom” refers to “the Messiah” in verse 12. “You also” refers to Gentile believers in general and the Ephesians in particular. The word “trusted” supplied in some English translations is not in the text. It is not only unnecessary; it interrupts the flow and disrupts the sense. This phrase is modified by the twin participles akousanteV (“having heard”) and pisteusanteV (“having believed”) which we will treat together. akousanteV ton logon thV alhqeia (= to euaggelion thV swthriaV umwn) (having heard the word of truth (= the Gospel of your salvation)) en w kai pisteusanteV (in whom also having believed) These are aorist active participles governed by the aorist passive indicative verb “you were sealed” in the end of the verse. The combination of “hearing” and “believing” results in salvation in many passages. (John 5:24; Acts 4:4; 13:48; 15:7; 18:8; Romans 10; Galations 3:2, 5; Heb 4:2) The “word of truth” stands in apposition to “the Gospel of your salvation.” Notice that the word of truth, which concealed the mystery and which contained Israel’s hope, has now become “the Gospel of your salvation.” esfragisqhte tw Pneumati thV epaggeliaV tw Agiw (you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the Promise) The verb “you were sealed” is an aorist passive indicative. Regarding this verb, Robertson says it is an old verb meaning to set a seal on one as a mark or stamp of ownership; marked and authenticated as God’s heritage. 7 Gentiles who have responded to the Gospel are not usurpers of Israel’s blessing or stowaways on the vessel of her promises. We have been marked and authenticated as legitimate recipients of God’s blessings by the Holy Spirit. Historically speaking, this was not merely a theoretical abstraction but became visible and audible proof to all in Acts 10 that God had poured out His blessing and promise on the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Notice that the word “promise” has the definite article. It is “THE promise” of the Holy Spirit referring to a specific promise. This refers to the Holy Spirit that was announced by promise in the Old Testament Scriptures in Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 32:15; 44:3 and others. Note also John 7:39; Acts 1:4-8, and Gal 3:14. oV estin arrabwn thV klhronomiaV hmwn eiV apolutrwsin thV peripoihsewV eiV epainon thV doxhV autou (who is the guarantee of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory) This is one of the many passages that state that Gentiles, along with Jews, will receive an inheritance in the Messianic Kingdom. Our inheritance will not be in the Land of Canaan, which is Israel’s inheritance. But the Kingdom of the Messiah will cover the whole earth. We can therefore expect our eternal inheritance somewhere on the restored earth outside the borders of Canaan. The Holy Spirit who indwells us is the guarantee of our inheritance. We take εἰς in a temporal sense. The Spirit is our guarantee until the second coming of Christ. Notice that this grace of God toward the Gentiles culminates in exactly the same place that it does for the Jews: “to the praise of His glory.” Conclusion Paul has not only affirmed Israel’s promised inheritance. He has also stated that we Gentiles also have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God. Thus Jew and Gentile both have a common hope, even as they have been joined together as “one new man.” ——————————————————————————– Theological Implications and Observations (Part IX) Because there is a demonstrable distinction in pronouns in Ephesians 1:3-14 that is explainable as applying to Jews living before the advent of Christ on one hand and to Gentile believers living in the present age, it is an exegetical fallacy to assume a priori that Paul included his readers in the statements in verses 3-12. Reformed commentators universally do this. For example Calvin says this in his commentary on Ephesians at verse three: “The lofty terms in which he extols the grace of God toward the Ephesians, are intended to rouse their hearts to gratitude, to set them all on flame, to fill them even to overflowing with this thought… The design of the apostle, therefore, in asserting the riches of divine grace toward the Ephesians, was to protect them against having their faith shaken by the false apostles…” 8 Thus, Calvin gives no indication that he considered the change in pronouns worth notice. The majority of those who have followed him theologically, follow his precedent. This is to be expected from Reformed theologians, for to them, no distinction exists between the two groups. But Dispensationalists, who do believe in a distinction, ought to be more judicious in their handling of the text rather than simply following the precedents set by Reformed writers. John Gill, a Reformed Baptist, makes no notice of the change between verses 3-12 and verse 13. He does make a distinction between two groups in the passage, but it is not an exegetical distinction inasmuch as it is not based on the pronouns or any other textual indicator. It is a theological distinction, between “the elect” and “the non-elect,” that assumes a priori the doctrine he intends to prove from the passage. This is not only an exegetical fallacy but a logical one as well. He commits the logical fallacy of petitio principii (also known as “begging the question” or “circular reasoning”). He says “us” includes all of the “elect” (in the Calvinist sense of election) and therefore the passage teaches Calvinism. But how does he know the passage teaches Calvinism? Because “us” includes all of the “elect.” Here is Gill’s comment on verse three. “God is the author and giver of all blessings; and he blesses his people with them, as he is the God and Father of Christ, and as he is their covenant God and Father in Christ; and he only can bless; if he blesses not, none can; and if he blesses, they are blessed indeed: the “us” that are blessed, are such who deserve, according to the tenor of the law, to be cursed; and are not all men, but some distinct from others; and who are before described as saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus; and include both Jews and Gentiles, who belong to the election of grace.” 9 Jamieson, Faucett and Brown observe the change in pronouns and correctly state that the distinction is between Jews and Gentiles, but this observation has no meaningful effect on their exposition inasmuch as they treat verses 3-12 as pertaining to both the Jews and Paul’s Gentile readers. 3 The same is true of Robertson. 7 Any interpretation of this passage that fails to observe the distinction in the pronouns is a non-literal interpretation. Furthermore, failure to observe this initial distinction, and consequently to include in verses 3-12 all of the redeemed, forces one to ignore the many Old Testament allusions and to treat the entire passage in a non-literal fashion. For example, regarding the phrase, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” we have demonstrated how these terms applied to Israel and how they are being alluded to by Paul. But here is how Calvin treats these statements: “I have no objection to Chrysostom’s remark, that the word spiritual conveys an implied contrast between the blessing of Moses and of Christ. The law had its blessings; but in Christ only is perfection found, because he gives us a perfect revelation of the kingdom of God, which leads us directly to heaven. When the body itself is presented to us, figures are no longer needed. Whether we understand the meaning to be, in heavenly Places, or in heavenly Benefits, is of little consequence. All that was intended to be expressed is the superiority of that grace which we receive through Christ. The happiness which it bestows is not in this world, but in heaven and everlasting life. In the Christian religion, indeed, as we are elsewhere taught, (1 Timothy 4:8), is contained the “promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come;” but its aim is spiritual happiness, for the kingdom of Christ is spiritual. A contrast is drawn between Christ and all the Jewish emblems, by which the blessing under the law was conveyed; for where Christ is, all those things are superfluous.” 8 Calvin seems to be implicitly acknowledging that Paul is making reference in these verses to Israel’s blessings in the Old Testament. But his [Calvin’s] disposition toward those blessings is one of contempt. To him, all the “blessings” and promises that were in the Old Testament are done away with in the New. The earthly kingdom is replaced with heaven. The chosen nation of Israel is replaced with the church. To Calvin, all those old so-called “blessings” are now “superfluous.” If this was really Paul’s disposition toward Israel’s blessings enumerated in the Old Testament, then why did Paul say in chapter 2, 11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. This is another allusion to the early chapters in Deuteronomy, specifically to Deuteronomy 4 and 13: 4:7 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? 13:6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, 7 of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, 8 you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him… Reformed theologians of course do the same thing with Israel’s inheritance, mentioned in verse 11 that they do with the kingdom and with the nation itself. It is all allegorized. Nevertheless, Calvin seems compelled in verse 11 (perhaps under the weight of so much Old Testament Scriptural allusion) to finally take some notice of the reference to Old Testament Israel. Regarding the inheritance in verse 11 he says, “Hitherto he has spoken generally of all the elect; he now begins to take notice of separate classes. When he says, WE have obtained, he speaks of himself and of the Jews, or, perhaps more correctly, of all who were the first fruits of Christianity; and afterwards he comes to the Ephesians. It tended not a little to confirm the faith of the Ephesian converts, that he associated them with himself and the other believers, who might be said to be the first-born in the church. As if he had said, “The condition of all godly persons is the same with yours; for we who were first called by God owe our acceptance to his eternal election.” Thus, he shews, that from first to last, all have obtained salvation by free grace, because they have been freely adopted according to eternal election.” 8 While this acknowledges, for the first time in the passage, that Paul meant Jews in verse 11 when he said “WE,” it is much too little and much too late to salvage his exegesis. He does not even acknowledge that Israel’s inheritance is everywhere in Scripture spoken of as being the land of Canaan. He simply dismisses all of that in favor of his “heavenly destiny” view imposed on the passage. With this, we would like to offer some final conclusions based on the exegesis and on the theological discussion. ——————————————————————————– LikeLike
    • Tom Shelton says:


      It will take me a bit to read and digest what you have copied and pasted here. Even before I read it I can guess it will probably be one of two basic Arminian explanations. Either it will say that election is corporate (election of the whole group) thing or God died for all people but people have a responsibility to “accept” the gift so it can be applied to them and they are the ones God has chosen to elect. I wonder which one it will be or if I will be surprised and it actually be something different.


      • Tony Hedrick says:

        This is why I didn’t bother writing for you. Whatever is written is always dismissed as being eisegesis or opinion. Of course, the only truly capable scholars are “Reform”. Calvinists instruct everyone and yet for me, on the subject of the nature of Divine Sovereignty and predestination they are as conjectural and eisegetic as anyone else. They begin with their assumptions.

        I simply give you this one (above). I don’t ask that you give it any time at all. This just happens to be one scholarly exposition of many. There is no shortage of opinion on the meaning of sovereignty. I don’t mind Calvinists holding the opinion they do. I just dislike their know-it-all arrogance as though they have the handle on scholarship and revelation. Everyone else is their theological inferiors.


  27. Dan says:

    It is absolutely apparant and easily understood if reading the bible “as a child” as Jesus tells us we should receive the gospel to see that our salvation is a gift from God through Jesus Christ. It is also apparant that Jesus died once for all and that His sacrifice is our atonement. The atonement is for those that truly believe that He is The Son of God and our savior. Nothing, or Noboday can take away the gift and there is nothing that can cause us to lose our salvation. NOW, with that said if you read the scriptures without a calvanistic slant, you will see that WE can choose to not “Abide” in Christ. We are then “choosing” to give the gift back. This is a conscious choice and it is one that many make by not keeping His commandments. Jesus said, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. Jesus commands us to live a life that is holy and just. We are commanded to let our lights shine that others will see our good works and glorify the father through us. When we choose to sin we are choosing to go against what we as “followers of Christ” are called to do. We should not sin so that “grace may abound”.

    It is said that some had “become” luke-warm. The Lord was going to “spit them out!” Those were once following Him, and had believed and ‘accepted” Jesus had become luke-warm meaning they had became less convicted, showed lack of faith, strayed from living a holy or “seperate” life. The bible describes the lambs book of life. In the lambs book of life are the names of those that are saved. The Lord talks about “blotting” out those that had fallen away. You cannot blot out something that was never there.

    There is ABSOLUTE eternal security to those that “strive” to follow Christ and keep His commandments. All have (and will) sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. It is ONLY Christ that can be our salvation and atone for our sins. It is only Jesus who is the sacrifice for our sins that allows those that believe and “abide” in Him to have eternal life. Eternal security is for those that remain “in Christ” and allow the Holy Spirit to lead them, and CHOOSE to “continue” to desire Christ and keep His commandments to the best of their ability. Our Lord desires that ALL come to salvation. God longed for Israel, and wanted to gather them up “like a hen gathers it’s chicks under it’s wings”, but the “resisted” God. God’s foreknew the “elect”. He foreknew that the elect would be those that “chose” to believe in Jesus Christ and it was those that through His foreknowledge would be saved. He also foreknew that others would not choose to believe. A branch cannot be cut off the vine if it had never been on the vine. The Lord said, I am the vine and you are the branches. In John 15:1 it is VERY clear that we can lose our salvation. Look at John 15:1-11. Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, (see Galations 5:22-fruits of the spirit), for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is THROWN AWAY like a branch and withers; (previously had life in Christ (branch) because we “were abiding in Him”)and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire,”

    Revelations 20:15 (regarding the lambs book of life) And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (see above reference of what happens to the branches that are THROWN AWAY gathered up and thrown into the fire).

    Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again (Turn Again indicates they had turned to Christ or Repented previously and strayed) that you sins may be blotted out. verse 20: that times of refreshing (indicates that they were previously “fresh” but needed “refreshed”).

    2 peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped (escaped=freedom/salvation) the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (escaped due to belief in Christ “Savior), they are again entangled in them and overcome (so they were “again” meaning had been previously and then for a period believed and escaped through their knowledge of the “Savior” Jesus Christ),
    the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have know the way of righteousness than after knowing it to “turn back” (please re-read if needed and you will see they knew Christ, they had overcame the world, and now had “turned back”) from the holy commandment delivered to them.

    It goes on to remind us of the proverb “The dog returns to it’s own vomit, and the sow, oafter washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” AFTER WASHING herself is a direct reference to baptism and the cleaning we experience through regeneration when we give our lives to Jesus.

    I can go on for hours sharing scripture that stresses and exhorts us to not fall away, stray from, return, and on, and on.

    Please understand that the we MUST remain steadfast and do our best to follow Christ. We WILL SIN and we WILL face struggles. We WILL NOT lose our salvation as long as we “abide” in Him and allow Him to be our saviour. We need to cast all of our cares on Him and He will lift us up.

    There is an “elect” group of people. The elect group are those that “choose” to believe in Christ and abide in Him.

    God by His foreknowledge did predestine the elect to salvation. (see above definition of elect)

    We have eternal security IN CHRIST as long as we keep His commandments and Abide IN HIM.

    I want to close by saying, Christ left the world by commanding us to go out and share the gospel with others. He prayed to His father in John 17 on our behalf because He knows we are but “dust”. He says “if you love me, you will keep my commandments”. If we we are commanded to spread the gospel and bring others to the salvation through Christ, why would we need to do this if God had already chose a specific group and He would draw them to Him and the others could not be saved.

    Please think about this and study the bible on your own without pre-conceived notions.

    We do have the “blessed assurance that Jesus is mine”! Just make sure you are “choosing” to draw your strength from your faith in Christ with a passion to “strive” to follow Him. You will fall short, You will struggle, YOU WILL NOT LOSE YOUR SALVATION unless You make a conscious effort to TURN AWAY.

    Let the Holy Spirit lead and I look forward to spending eternity in heaven with you!!!

    God Bless!



    • Joseph says:

      Wow talking about taking all those verses out of context. 2 Peter 2 is about false teachers and false prophets. These men were never saved to begin with. A dog returning to his own vomit. Is someone returning where they belong. 1 John 2:19. The Luke warm Christian verse in Revelation is about a useless person not about a person losing their salvation. I can go on with your eisegeses of scripture. :/


    • Joseph says:

      To repent God must grant repentance. correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, (2 Timothy 2:25 ESV) Arminianism leads to open theism. Answer this question to me, if your god knows that someone will end up in hell does that person have a chance to be saved? If you say yes, then your god really does not know everything if you say no, then according to your theology man does not have free-will. The True God of scripture gave his life for the church his sheep and not for the goats. The true God knows his sheep because he chose them before the foundation of the World. The true God has a purpose for mans fall he degrees all things. He is sovereign, Just and has mercy on whom he will have mercy. Can you really say that of your god? Your god does not describe the God of the Bible.


  28. David the Nicene Hobbit says:

    Calvinists have reduced the Christian Faith to ONE doctrine only: Predestination…NOTHING else matters for them. And, in so doing, they have pushed thousands if not millions away from the true (non Calvinist) God and made the Name of Jesus Christ one that inspires hate and fear, not love. Frankly, I hate Calvin, Calvinists, and the Reformed religion. Calvinism is the stink of Satan on the earth and all Calvinists will burn with their fake god in hell.


    • Joseph says:

      Wrong in reform theology we hold to Christ being the center of our theology. We hold on to the five solas. Scripture does not describe Jesus as a huge failure your theology does. Jesus has accomplished we he set out to accomplish and is to save his people. In Your theology Jesus fails over and over again as many more go to hell than more will enter heaven. In your theology it’s mans choice that really saves them, since in your theology Jesus only made salvation possible but not effectual. And made it possible for men who would never choose something they hate so what’s the point. In your theology men are building the kingdom of God when scripture is clear that the Kingdom of God is here. Until you understand the error of your theology you will have a hard time understanding Grace and how a big deal the cross is. How much gratitude you should have towards God for giving you the heart to choose what’s right and believe. God did not choose anyone because they where more intelligent or had a more righteous heart than others. How arrogant a person must be to think their righteous choice made them better than others who reject Christ. You should be on your hands and knees in adoration of Triune God for granting you repentance and changing your heart. Men are not born or are not neutral. Without faith you cannot please God. And in Romans its clear of all men condition are in. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7, 8 ESV)
      God must give men saving faith to please God. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8 ESV) I will always say this since I came out of Arminianism. Arminianism is not the gospel it’s just a pharisaical form of legalism set to bondage Gods children under the law. Of foolish Galatians who has bewitched you. Galatians 3:1


  29. Tom Shelton says:


    You are wrong. Calvinists do not reduce the Christian faith to the doctrine of predestination. It is absurd to say that nothing else matters to us. The problem is that too many Arminians want to pretend that predestination is not a true biblical doctrine. If you believe the Bible it true and without error then you must accept predestination because it is explicitly taught in God’s word. Doctrine divides. The doctrines of the Bible should bring us to a point of AWE for God. Predestination is just one aspect of that.


  30. david says:

    Hey Tom- What are your thoughts or response to Dan’s comments from March 21,2011. I was just curious


  31. Tom Shelton says:


    I will read them this afternoon or tonight and post my thoughts.


  32. Joseph says:

    Yup Steve Gregg is right, we have to be trained to become a Calvinist. But he forgot to add that God and his holy scripture is the Instructor.


  33. Tom Shelton says:


    That is a great perspective on this issue.


  34. Before I was saved, the preaching of the gospel that I heard was in a style of communication that implied to me that I had the inherent ability to accept or reject God’s call to believe in Christ as my savior in order to be saved. Therefore, I concluded that the preacher believed the same about mans ability. Also, when I actually looked up the scriptures that were used in the sermons, the text implied to me that I, of my own will, needed to make a decision to accept Christ as my savior in order to be saved. I had no idea that the preacher might not actually believe man had the inherent ability to accept or reject God’s call. For several months God was convicting me of my sin, that hell was my destiny, and that I needed my sins forgiven by faith in Christ. I was saved believing that I had the inherent ability to accept or reject God’s call to accept Christ as my savior.

    As a new believer, I began to study the word of God from that perspective. As I came across the few verses (approximately much less than 0.5%) that syllogistically could be used to build an implied theology of “no inherent ability of man to accept or reject God’s call (which is through the Scripture and drawing of the Holy Spirit) to trust His word, to follow His commands and to believe in Christ as our savior”, I only temporarily mentally noted that those few verses by themselves could be used to build the implied theology of “no inherent ability of man to accept or reject God’s call” if a person ignored the implication of the majority of the Scripture and the implication of the style of communication used by God in the Scripture. I proceeded to interpret those few verses from an “inherent ability of man to accept or reject God’s call”, which is the precedence set by the majority of scriptures in the Bible and the communication style of the word of God; and I did not have any problems understanding and interpreting them from a that perspective or precedence. During those early years of my Christian life I had not even heard of Calvinism. The style of communication used by God in the Bible is the same style people use every day of their lives — which is a style that obviously is built on an understood foundation that assumes the hearer has the free will ability to accept or reject what is being communicated to them. Also, according to my reasoning capacity the mere existence of communications from God to man through His inspired word (the Bible), in which He tries to convince mankind to accept His call, instructions and commands, implies to me that mankind has the inherent free will ability to accept or reject His call, instructions and commands. To me, even the mere existence of TULIP proof texts, such as Romans 9, implies that mankind has the inherent free will ability to accept or reject His call, instructions and commands even though some Christians interpret those TULIP proof texts in such a way as to try to prove that mankind does not have the free will ability to accept or reject God’s call, instructions and commands.

    Years later I begin to come across Calvinists and heard their teaching and read of their theology of “no inherent ability of man to accept or reject God’s call”. Their teaching and teaching method of using less than 0.5% of the Bible had a scholarly aura about it because they did a very good job of doing an academic syllogistic development using those few verses. It seemed strange to me that Calvinists would let the implication of approximately less than 0.5% of the Scripture set the precedence when the implication of approximately 99.5% of the Scripture contradicted their conclusion. My experience indicates to me that a lot of people that get saved, intuitively/logically see this implied understood “inherent ability of man to accept/believe or reject God’s call” in the majority of the Bible without even being fully cognizant of it; and therefore, like I was at first, are unable to rationally explain it at first. Also, like myself, they intuitively/logically let that set the precedence and will automatically interpret Calvinism’s 0.5%, or less, supporting Scripture verses from “the inherent ability of man to accept/believe or reject God’s call” precedence perspective. I have found Calvinism’s 0.5%, or less, Scripture verses are easily understood from the “inherent ability of man to accept/believe or reject God’s call” perspective.

    When a strict Calvinist would give their interpretation to me of those few scriptures in their syllogistic logic loop chain, the thought that repeatedly came to my mind was “What about the rest of the Scripture, the majority of Scripture!” Each time I asked them about a verse or section of the Scripture that implied the “inherent ability of man to accept or reject God’s call (which is through the Scripture and drawing of the Holy Spirit)”, they would jump back to repeating their academic and scholarly syllogistic logic loop chain, based on less than 0.5% of the Scripture. After I had asked them about many more verses in the Bible that implied this “inherent ability of man to accept or reject God’s call”, they would start accusing me of having a proof-texting mentality. At first, I was baffled, because I had never heard of the idea of proof-texting before. Later, I realized that they were doing the same proof-texting. I could windup quoting almost 99.5% of the Scripture if they did not stop me.

    I soon realized that there was something wrong with my method of discussing my conclusions with them. Finally, I realized that they were experts at getting folk like me to get started on a verse hurdling contest, and then they would start accusing folk like me of being guilty of proof-texting. From that point on, I very early in discussions with Calvinists point out to them the majority implication of the Bible, instead of getting caught up in a verse hurdling contest.

    Now days, when I ask Calvinists to interpret the 99.5%, or greater, of the Scripture, that reeks with the implication “that man has the inherent ability to accept/believe or reject what is being communicated to them from God (which is through the Scripture and drawing of the Holy Spirit)” from their “no inherent ability of man to accept/believe or reject” perspective, the usual answer I get is along this line: “Yes, God communicates with man in a style that implies that man has the inherent ability to accept/believe or reject what is being communicated to them from Him, but God knows that man does not have that inherent ability.” To me, that response seems to imply that God has been deceiving mankind on this theological issue for millennia, implying that God is a deceiver. When I tell them that implies that God is a deceiver, they usually respond by saying that “— My (God’s) ways (are) higher than your ways — from Isa. 55:9”. This type of response is what I get from the majority of strict TULIP type Calvinists (5 point Cal.) and strict TUIP Calvinists (4 point Cal.).

    Also, when I ask strict Calvinists why 99%, or the majority, of the time they preach in a communication style that also implies “that man has the inherent ability to believe or reject what is being communicated to them”, they usually reply by “saying that is the way God does it in the Bible”. To me, that answer seems to be saying “If God is deceiving man on this issue in the Bible, then so can I.”

    There is a significant number of TULIP, TUIP and TUP type Calvinists (at least they claim to be 5-point, 4-point and 3-point Calvinists), that I mentally like to think of as baffled-Calvinists. These baffled-Calvinists are mentally confounded between the highly intellectual, scholarly, and academic syllogistic chain reasoning argument presented by strict TULIP and TUIP Calvinists and their own common sense logical reasoning ability that sees that the “majority (great than 99.5%) of the Bible and the communication style of God in the Bible” reeks with an obvious implication of the inherent ability of man to accept/believe or reject what is being communicated to them from God; they see the obvious contradiction. In an effort to resolve this contradiction, these Baffled-Calvinists will say that (TUI, TU and free will) are true and that we can not understand it because “— My (God’s) ways (are) higher than your ways — from Isa. 55:9”. To me, their answer seems to imply that God is justifying their internally contradictory theology. Worse yet, their answer seems to imply that God is just in being a God that contradicts Himself. I do not believe it is logically proper to use Isa. 55:9 to justify internally contradictory theology. Isa. 55:9 can be used to explain some hard to understand theology (such as the Trinity), but not internally contradictory theology. In the case of man’s free will and God electing people for salvation before He created the world, it is wise to apply the mystery of “— My (God’s) ways (are) higher than your ways — from Isa. 55:9” to the question of “How can God foreknow those whom He can convince to make a free will decision to accept God’s call, that is, to repent and accept Christ as their savior?” than to justify God being a God that is just in contradicting Himself.

    I refer to myself as an “inherent free-willer” which means I believe in the inherent ability of mankind to accept/believe or reject God’s call (which is through the Scripture and drawing of the Holy Spirit); I believe humans are born corrupted with a sin nature because of Adam’s and Eve’s sin — that is, fallen and corrupted mankind is now bipolar having two natures (good and evil) in accordance with Adam’s and Eve’s sin of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; I believe that no one can come to Christ unless the Father who sent Christ draws him (John 6:44) [the convicting, drawing work of the Holy Spirit and the word of God]; I believe in the eternal security of the believer; I do not believe in the Calvinistic concepts of total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace; I believe that God has elected before the beginning of the world those in the new testament era whom he foreknew He could convince to believe/trust in Christ as their sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins; and I believe that God has elected before the beginning of the world those before the new testament era whom he foreknew He could convince to believe/trust in Him and His plan.

    The churches that I have regularly attended, so far, in my Christian life are churches that were/are inhabited by a mixture of “inherent free-willers”, “TULIP type baffled-Calvinists”, “TUIP type baffled-Calvinists”, “TUP type baffled-Calvinists”, “modified Arminians that believe in eternal security” and some “Molinists”. I have found that these types of Christians worship, minister and fellowship together without fighting over their differences in the area of free will of man. I believe the peaceful fellowship occurs because all these types have one thing in common in the area of free will of man: in the practical everyday world, they all witness, teach and preach in a communication style that assumes/implies the free will of man.


  35. Just where did u end up getting the points to publish ““Steve Gregg Says
    You Must Be Trained To Believe Calvinism Is True The Everyday Christian”?

    Regards ,Denice


    • Tom Shelton says:


      If you read the beginning of the post you will see where I got the quote from Gregg. I give links and even went so far as to tell you about how far into the audio that Gregg makes the comment.


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