Archive for the ‘Acts 26’ Category

Response to a Post from I_Believe

February 5, 2007

I_Believe wrote:

Paul is called by Jesus and given the Good News. Paul believes and in turn is
sent out to preach the Good News to others.Act 26:14-18 When we had all
fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul,
Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the
goads.’ (15) “I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said, ‘I am Jesus,
whom you are persecuting. (16) But arise, and stand on your feet,
for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a
witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will
reveal to you; (17) delivering you from the people, and from the
Gentiles, to whom I send you, (18) to open their eyes, that they may
turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may
receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by
faith in me.’God who knows the heart of all men chose Paul. It was the
good pleasure of God to call Paul through His grace. This same grace has
appeared bringing salvation to all men.Gal 1:11-16 But I make known to
you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not
according to man. (12) For neither did I receive it from man, nor
was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ.
(13) For you have heard of my way of living in time past in the Jews’
religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the assembly of God, and ravaged
it. (14) I advanced in the Jews’ religion beyond many of my own age
among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my
fathers. (15) But when it was the good pleasure of God, who
separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me through his grace,
(16) to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles,
I didn’t immediately confer with flesh and blood,Faith comes from the Good
News… hearing by the Word of God.Rom 10:13-17 For, “Whoever will call on
the name of the Lord will be saved.” (14) How then will they call on
him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have
not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? (15) And how will
they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet
of those who preach the Good News of peace, who bring glad tidings of good
things!” (16) But they didn’t all listen to the glad news. For
Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” (17) So faith
comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.But why Paul? Why did God
choose to call Paul to this work?1Ti 1:12-16 And I thank him who enabled
me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he counted me faithful, appointing me to
service; (13) although I was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and
insolent. However, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in
unbelief. (14) The grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith
and love which is in Christ Jesus. (15) The saying is faithful and
worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
of whom I am chief. (16) However, for this cause I obtained mercy,
that in me first, Jesus Christ might display all his patience, for an example of
those who were going to believe in him for eternal life.He raised up Paul for
the same reason He raised up Pharaoh.”For this very purpose I caused you to be
raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be
proclaimed in all the earth.”He did not make Pharaoh vessel of wrath. He used a
vessel of wrath (Pharaoh) for His purpose.He did not make Paul a vessel of
mercy. He used a vessel of mercy for His purpose. “because he counted me
faithful, appointing me to service”… “I obtained mercy, because I did it
ignorantly in unbelief”.Rom 9:11-24 For being not yet born, neither having
done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might
stand, not of works, but of him who calls, (12) it was said to her,
“The elder will serve the younger.” (13) Even as it is written,
“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (14) What shall we say then? Is
there unrighteousness with God? May it never be! (15) For he said to
Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on
whom I have compassion.” (16) So then it is not of him who wills,
nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy. (17) For the
Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up,
that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all
the earth.” (18) So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he
hardens whom he desires. (19) You will say then to me, “Why does he
still find fault? For who withstands his will?” (20) But indeed, O
man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed ask him who formed
it, “Why did you make me like this?” (21) Or hasn’t the potter a
right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and
another for dishonor? (22) What if God, willing to show his wrath,
and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath made
for destruction, (23) and that he might make known the riches of his
glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory,
(24) us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the
Gentiles?We all know that those who believe are shown mercy and those who resist
God’s grace remain in His wrath.God foreknows the all and knows the heart of all
men. God knows those who are His. When He looks at their heart He
sees His grace freely offered and freely received. Those are His
children.No one can complain because they have exactly what they chose.
They can’t blame GodGod did not make some so He could destroy them. But He
did bring forth some that He knew would finally and completely reject His
grace.”Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.””Let us
therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the
same example of disobedience.””For the word of God is living, and active, and
sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and
spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is [u]able to discern the thoughts and
intentions of the heart[/u]. “”He who believes on the Son has everlasting life,
and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God
abides upon him.”By grace through faith… salvation is truly a gift from God
for any who will believe.Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave
His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life.

I reply:

I_Believe begins, “Paul is called by Jesus and given the Good News. Paul believes and in turn is sent out to preach the Good News to others.” That’s basically correct. Any quibbles I might have with the wording of it are not worth mentioning here.

I_Believe continues: “God who knows the heart of all men chose Paul.” God did choose Paul. I_Believe’s dependent phrase “who knows the heart of all men,” is a bit devious. Why not “who raised Lazarus from the dead” or “who chose Abram when he was still an idolator?” I suspect that the reason why is that I_Believe wants to suggest that God chose Paul because God saw something good in Paul’s heart. I_Believe would like for election to be merit-based. However, election is gracious, not merit-based.

I_Believe’s comment does bring Scripture to mind, but what it brings to mind is:
Acts 1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

2 Chronicles 6:30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)

1 Kings 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Mat 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Psalm 44:20-21
20If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; 21Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

I John 3:19-2419And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

In short, I_Believe’s reference to God’s knowledge of the heart is an attempt to suggest that, in some way Paul was chosen because he was better. That is to say, that God saw that Paul was better and chose him. I_Believe does not come out and say that, but such is I_Believe’s implication. The Bible does not agree, as we will see below.

I_Believe continues: “It was the good pleasure of God to call Paul through His grace.” In fact, Paul was called not “through” but “by grace.” This highlights another shortcoming of I_Believe’s position. Grace is not just a channel or a reservoir. Grace is unmerited favor from God. It is power.

Furthermore, “good pleasure” is a term that is used in Scripture to talk about God doing what God wants to do:
Psalm 51:18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

God’s good pleasure is not in just trying, but in accomplishing. God does his good pleasure:
Ecclesiastes 8:3 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.

Thus, I_Believe’s comment actually should point the reader to the Biblical truth that God does what pleases God.

Of course, I_Believe is thinking of this verse:
Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

And it is true that God called Paul by His grace, and that doing so was God’s good pleasure. But calling it God’s good pleasure should remind the reader that it is not based on man’s merit. Look at the verses above. When God speaks of His good pleasure, He is saying: “I wanted to do that, and that’s enough of a reason for you.”

What I_Believe would rather not think about is this verse:
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Those who are saved by the grace of God – saved by God calling us unto eternal glory. Grace is powerful.

Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Revelations 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelations 19:1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:

Nevertheless, I_Believe continues, saying: “This same grace has appeared bringing salvation to all men.” Of course, this is a mangled quotation of Scripture, but the idea that it is the same grace is strange, for Paul wrote:

Galatians 1:15-16
15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

The verse that I_Believe is misquoting is:

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Notice that the point of the verse is that the grace of God has appeared to all men. Paul has testified of the grace of God to all men, and continues to do so. Paul is a particularly notable example of grace, because Paul was so opposed to the gospel of Christ to begin with. However, as Galatians 1 makes clear, God had a plan for Paul all along. Even though God did not call Paul until much later, Paul was set aside from conception – from his mother’s womb.

I_Believe continues: “Faith comes from the Good News… hearing by the Word of God.” Scripture certainly does say that Faith comes by hearing – but that’s not all Scripture says about the subject. Scripture says that faith is the fruit of the Spirit, and a gift.

Galatians 5:22-25
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

So then, Scripture shows that faith in Christ is not produced just by the resonation of sound waves, but by the power of God.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Revelations 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelations 19:1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:

Thus, we reject a hearing-only-blinders-to-the-power-of-God view in favor of a whole-counsel-of-the-Word view.

I_Believe continues, saying: “But why Paul? Why did God choose to call Paul to this work? He raised up Paul for the same reason He raised up Pharaoh.” In a very very general sense, this is true. Both Paul and Pharaoh show both God’s patience and God’s power. However, Paul was ordained to glory, and Pharaoh was ordained to destruction.

Regarding Pharaoh:
Exodus 9:16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
Romans 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Regarding Paul:
1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

I_Believe continues: “He did not make Pharaoh vessel of wrath. He used a vessel of wrath (Pharaoh) for His purpose.” It is strange, indeed, for the Potter simply to find and use pots. That is not the purview of a potter, but of a consumer.

Romans 9:21-24
21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Paul is pretty clear that God is the potter who makes some vessels to honor and others to dishonor – some are vessels of wrath others of mercy – and there is a reason for making both and enduring the vessels of wrath for a season.

I_Believe continues: “He did not make Paul a vessel of mercy. He used a vessel of mercy for His purpose. “because he counted me faithful, appointing me to service”… “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief”.” This produces the same objection as above, and more so. I_Believe is suggesting – pretty explicitly – that Paul received mercy, because he deserved it.

In contrast, however, while Pharaoh deserved and earned the wrath of God and the destruction he received, Paul did not deserve and earn the mercy of God. Mercy cannot be earned. If favorable dealing is earned it is justice, not mercy. Pharaoh received justice, but Paul mercy.

But, I_Believe refers to two texts, and it is worth investigating what they actually say:

It is reminiscent of this:
Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

But we cannot forget that faith comes from mercy, not the other way around:
1 Corinthians 7:25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

At last we turn to the passage from which I_Believe mangled his quotations:

1 Timothy 1:5-17
5Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 12And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 17Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

From this passage, we can see that Paul is saying that he was shown mercy while he was still “before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” It does say, “because Paul did it ignorantly, but I_believe ignores the “and” which adds: “the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant.” What was grace abundant in? Faith and love.

What changed Paul from ignorant unbelief? Grace.

The passage does say “counted me faithful,” but it also says “who hath enabled me.” Paul was unfaithful, as verse 13 shows, but God enabled Paul and counted him faithful – though, at the time, Paul was not.

Thus, in verse 16 Paul explains that the reason he obtained mercy was so that Jesus could show his patience as a pattern. That is to say, God had mercy on Paul, the chief of sinners – God may, therefore, have mercy on anyone.

Indeed, that is the end – the purpose – and the result of the commandment: charity out of a pure heart and good conscience, and real faith. That is what God provides by grace.

Indeed, God’s love for us is not conditional on whether or not we believe, as Paul explains:

2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Instead, God makes sure that calling, choosing, and faith are all a package:

Revelations 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

I_Believe, however, asserts: “We all know that those who believe are shown mercy and those who resist God’s grace remain in His wrath.” This sentence is ambiguously worded such that we both can agree on the first half (“those who believe are shown mercy”). The problem is that I_Believe is trying to put the cart of faith before the horse of mercy that provides it. Recall what Paul said:

1 Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

As for the latter half of the sentence, it is unclear where I_Believe even gets the idea that people resist God’s grace. Resistance and grace only appear in two verses:

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Which quote from:

Proverbs 3:34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

The idea of “resisting” grace is just not in the Bible.

To the contrary, the Bible speaks of people being called not according to what they deserved, but by grace and by God’s purpose:

2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Grace is given full credit for saving:

Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Paul says that salvation can’t be conditional on man’s obedience because that would frustrate grace:

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

And that desert and grace are opposite:

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

God says that His grace is sufficient:

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God also says that He is able to make all grace abound toward us:

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Furthermore, grace is able to abound much more than sin:

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Indeed, Paul attributes his good deeds to grace – giving God the credit for anything good Paul has done:

1 Corinthinans 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Furthermore, Paul ties grace and election:

Romans 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Paul also makes grace responsible for justification:

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Paul explains that grace leads to obedience to faith:

Romans 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Paul attributes salvation to grace:

Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Furthermore, Paul explains that grace is also the cause of grace:

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

But I_Believe continues: “God foreknows the all and knows the heart of all men.” God does know the heart of all men, and God does know the future, which is what I_Believe means by “foreknow the all.” But the Bible does not use “foreknow” to describe knowing the future, it has a special meaning.

Dealing specifically with the first half of I_Believe’s sentence.

Psalm 44:21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

God knows the heart of men, but that is to their condemnation, recall the previous verse:

Psalm 44:20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;

God knowing our heart is not to our favor, but should cause us to fear – to pray for mercy, for what God sees in us is not something good, but sin.

As John puts it:

1 John 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

God doesn’t rely on our heart being good – God is greater. Which is good, because our hearts are wicked:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
As for foreknowledge – we know that it is not just knowledge of the future, because it is written:

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

If all were known, then “whom he did foreknow” would not make much sense. No, to “foreknow” means to love intimately before. It stands in stark contrast to those whom were not foreknown:

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Or this:

Psalm 1:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Yet, I_Believe continues: “God knows those who are His.” God does know who are His. How? Because God has chosen them (that’s why they are called the elect). Remember what Moses told Korah.

Num 16:5 And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.

Acts 15:17-18
17That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

The verse that probably reminded I_Believe of this fact is found in this passage:

2 Timothy 2:16-21
16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

Notice the significance of the Lord knowing those who are his in that passage. The significance is that the foundation of God stands sure against the “overthrowing” by those like Hymenaeus and Philetus.

I_Believe, however, continues: “When He looks at their heart He sees His grace freely offered and freely received. Those are His children.” This is not from Scripture, it is from I_Believe’s merit based soteriology. What God sees when He looks at man’s heart is this:

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

I_Believe states: “No one can complain because they have exactly what they chose. They can’t blame God.” But Paul has a different take – he says it is impudent for the created thing to complain to the creator about how he was created:

Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

And furthermore, it is obvious nonsense to suppose that everyone is exactly what they chose in general. How many people chose to be born blind, or deaf? How many people choose leprosy? And if physical ills befall men contrary to their choice, is it an surprise that moral and spiritual ills similarly befall men without their consent? Of course it is not.

I_Believe says: “God did not make some so He could destroy them. But He did bring forth some that He knew would finally and completely reject His grace.” Here I_Believe engages in a classic straw man. I_Believe recognizes the problem of God’s creating men who will not have any other destiny than hell and destruction. I_Believe pretends that the Calvinist position is to say that God makes them so that God can destroy them.

God however, explains that He makes them for this reason:

Romans 9:21-23
21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

So, then when I_Believe concludes: “By grace through faith… salvation is truly a gift from God for any who will believe.” We can recognize that I_Believe has missed the point of Scripture which does say:

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

The whole point of the verse is that it is not of ourselves.

Indeed, God gives according to his measure:

Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

It is a powerful gift:

Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

In fact, it is more powerful than the negative “gift” of Adam’s sin:

Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

And remember that grace of God includes believing as Peter recognized:

Acts 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

All praise and glory be to our Omnipotent God!

-Turretinfan

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