Category Archives: CALVINISM

“Believe” and “faith”—same or different?

“BELIEVE” AND “FAITH”—SAME OR DIFFERENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Allegedly endeavoring to “defend” the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone, certain “theologically-minded” individuals have suggested faith and belief are two different Bible concepts. If these people are correct, then we would indeed be wrong in considering “faith” verses and “believe” verses to be synonymous. Does the Bible equate these two terms? “For what saith the Scriptures?” (Not “For what saith the theology textbook?”!)

Let us start with something simple, Romans 4:3-5, and work our way into deeper matters: “[3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Contrary to the Calvinist’s claim, faith is not a work. Romans teaches we are justified, not by working, but by faith (verse 5). Again, faith and work are different; they are not interchangeable. Now, what about faith and believe? Are they different? No! The Apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, considered “faith” and “believe” interchangeable. We gain righteousness—a right standing before God—by believing on Christ Jesus as sufficient payment for our sins, and that faith (that is, our believing on Him) results in our justification. To have faith is to believe, and to believe is to have faith.

Paul was referring to “the scripture” of Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This is much more than “Abraham believed God existed.” Abraham trusted what the LORD had just told him: “[1] After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. [2] And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? [3] And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. [4] And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. [5] And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. [6] And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Now, watch Paul’s commentary in Romans 4:9-11: “[9] Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. [10] How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. [11] And he received the sign of circumcision [Genesis chapter 17], a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised [Genesis chapter 15]: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:….” Abraham was to be physically circumcised in chapter 17 because he had been justified in chapter 15. In Genesis, the Holy Spirit through Moses wrote Abraham “believed” (15:6). The same Holy Spirit led Paul in Romans to remark Abraham had “faith” (4:9,11). We would have to want not to see it not to see it. Either we believe (have faith in) our theology, or we have faith in (believe) the Bible. According to the Scriptures, to have faith is to be justified, and to believe is to be justified. Faith and believe must be one and the same—unless there are two ways for us to be justified!

When someone separates the ideas of faith and believe—whether they know it or not—they are confusing the pure Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). God does not give us faith (see our related study linked at the end of this article). Believe is what we do; exercise faith is what we do. Yet, they want to distinguish between faith and believe because they assume faith is God’s gift to us whereas believe is our “work.” Of course, their position is erroneous. Romans 4:5 has already settled the matter: faith is not a work, belief is not a work. Genesis and Romans compared, believe and faith are the same. “Abraham believed” and “Abraham had faith” are two ways of expressing the same concept, and it is just as true of us. When we trust Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, we are exercising faith or believing God’s words to us. Faith (belief) is simple reliance on what the Lord did at Calvary. Works is what we do in religion in an attempt to make God accept us into Heaven. We are pitting our “righteousness” against God’s, striving to replace or match Christ’s perfect righteousness—and God will not have it! Anyone who confuses faith with works is just as mixed up as someone who cannot see faith and believe are the same.

Also see:
» Does God give us faith?
» I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?
» Is it not enough that I “believe in God?”
» Is faith in Christ alone enough to go to heaven? Do not the devils believe?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Why does Romans 3:30 read “by faith” and “through faith?”

Does 1 Timothy 6:19 support Calvinism?

DOES 1 TIMOTHY 6:19 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! First Timothy 6:19 is quite a simple verse, but it is difficult for some because a theological system has indoctrinated them and skewed their view: “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Is eternal life something we must strive to obtain? Do our works save us? Must we give money to enter Heaven?

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO CALVINISM

Five points are central to Calvinism, the theological system that can be traced through Protestant Reformer John Calvin (1509–1564) all the way back to ancient church father Augustine (354–430). The acrostic “TULIP” is useful in remembering these tenets:

  • Total depravity is the idea that man is not only inherently evil (sinful), but is also completely unable to believe the Gospel until God regenerates him and then faith to be saved from sins or justified.
  • Unconditional election is the belief God chooses (“predestinates, elects”) who will be saved (go to Heaven) and who will be damned (go to Hell). Long ago, He determined this without any considerations as to who would freely choose Him or who would freely reject Him.
  • Limited atonement is the notion that Jesus Christ did not die for every single person, but for the elect only (those God had predestinated or chosen to save before the foundation of the world).* (*So-called “Four-Point Calvinists” reject this tenet.)
  • Irresistible grace is the idea that the elect (those God has predestinated or chosen to save) cannot ignore the Spirit of God’s “internal Gospel call” to be saved. If God has chosen them for salvation, they will be saved no matter what.
  • Perseverance of the saints is the belief that the elect will endure to the end with holy living. If one fails to have victorious Christian living to the end of his or her earthly life, that person is manifested to have never been one of the elect. It is this fifth point—perseverance of the saints—where Calvinists can apply 1 Timothy 6:19.

THE CONTEXT OF 1 TIMOTHY 6:19

As always, when we struggle with one particular verse, it is best to look at the context. The context restricts the meaning of the verse and makes its interpretation less ambiguous:

“[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows….

“[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

The issue, of course, is material wealth. As we progress through the chapter, the focus becomes wealthy Christians. While prosperity is not a sin, it can become a snare if it is “loved.” If fixation on material goods consumes the Christian, then that is idolatry, as more and more is desired. “The love of money is the root of all evil,” verse 10 says. Covetousness, the Bible says, is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Affluent Christians are cautioned not to be arrogant (1 Timothy 6:17): social status and economic statuses are only temporary. Ultimately, all Christians are equal in Christ—regardless of gender, wealth, ethnicity, and so on. “Whether there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In addition, wealthy believers in Christ are not to be lulled into a false sense of security (1 Timothy 6:18). Material goods are “uncertain” because we can lose them at any time. Illness, economic downturn, robbery, theft, natural disaster, and other dire circumstances can take our riches away. Ultimately, physical death will rob us of every material possession we own! “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

WHERE THE CONFUSION COMES IN

Some Calvinists, and others, will interpret the verse as follows…. Eternal life, getting to Heaven, is something elusive that we must try to grab. Eternal life must be sought here on Earth, holy living must be experienced here, but eternal life is not obtained until the very end of our earthly life. After all, a Calvinist has been taught to believe that he must “endure to the end to be saved.” In the Calvinist’s mind, eternal life comes after endurance, perseverance. Holy living must be pursued if eternal life is to be gained and Heaven is to be entered. This is how a Calvinist thinks about Christian living.

At this point, we need to pause and understand the three phases of salvation as taught in the Bible:

  1. Justification—God imputing His righteousness to the believer’s account upon the believer trusting in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for his or her sins (Romans 3:24-31; Romans 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is here that the Holy Spirit places us into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Read the first five chapters of Romans. We are given God’s life at this point; we immediately enter into an everlasting, personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ defined eternal life in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Justification is salvation or deliverance from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire). Once the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our account, God can never and will never take it away. We are on our way to Heaven no matter what we do because Jesus Christ paid the price of our sin debt in full. Justification is a one-time transaction never to be repeated or revoked. Our faithfulness is not the issue; Jesus Christ’s faithfulness is!
  1. Sanctification—Since we have been set apart, moved from Adam to Christ, transferred from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, we need to apply this new identity to our daily life. What we have positionally (#1) should be brought down into our lives practically. In this phase, we are saved from the power of sin. This is an ongoing process, as we are to be constantly renewing our mind every day while studying the Bible. We should behave as though we are dead to sin and alive unto God. This is grace teaching, outlined most clearly in Romans chapters 6–8 and 12–16. Sin should be overcome every day. This is the experience and enjoyment of the eternal life we already have. Yes, all members of the Church the Body of Christ have eternal life, but precious few ever enjoy it on Earth. They have been misled to believe that eternal life is only possible after dying and going to Heaven. Going to Heaven is actually the third and final phase of our salvation.
  1. Glorification—We await this final phase of salvation, deliverance from the presence of sin. Unlike here on Earth, there is no sin in Heaven. Consequently, at the resurrection (Rapture), we will leave behind these old sinful bodies and receive new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8; Philippians 3:20-21): our physical connection to Adam will be dissolved forever. We enter Heaven here, where there is no option to sin. God’s life will be experienced to the maximum. The glorified body will be fully equipped to glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places (Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 3:1-4).

If we look closely at the context of 1 Timothy 6:19, we will see where the Calvinist goes wrong. As we noted earlier, eternal life is defined as knowing the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ on an intimate level. Unsaved people—lost people, those in Adam, those outside of the Church the Body of Christ—do not have that close relationship with God because of sin. When they trust Christ, however, the barrier of sin is removed, and they enjoy unlimited access to God through the merits of Christ achieved at Calvary. Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:18, 1 Timothy 2:5-7, and other passages make that clear.

Reading 1 Timothy 6:19 in context: “[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

Timothy was to order wealthy Christians not to become prideful/arrogant or idolatrous. Although it is not a sin to be wealthy, and they should enjoy the fruit of their labor, they could lose their fortune at anytime. Rather than being materialistic, they were to trust in the living God, the God of the Bible. He would never leave them or fail them. They were to be engaged in doing good. God wanted them to be rich in good works, and work in them so they would be eager to help and share with those less fortunate. Doing this would cause them to build up wealth in Heaven, a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In engaging in good works, they would lay hold on eternal life. Again, this is not people trying to become Christians, making themselves Christians. This is people who are already Christians. Now, they need to behave like the Christians that they are.

Here is where we guard against the errors of Calvinism, and other types of works-religion. Eternal life is already ours, positionally speaking. We already have God’s life. But are we enjoying it now? Have we taken advantage of it? Is there a practical application of it? Are we living selfishly? If we are, we are not living the eternal life we have been given in Christ. Are we living with only the “here and now” in view? If so, we are not living the eternal life we have been given in Christ. God thinks that there is something more important than earthly possessions, something more important than being consumed by greed for material gain. Do we agree? Are we willing to meet the needs of those who could use our help? Will we idolize our material goods instead of worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ? Again, this is practical, daily Christian living. We make conscious decisions about it. If our life is contrary to these verses, then we need to be responsible and fix the problem. We must take our stand by faith in these simple truths. Otherwise, the eternal life we have in Christ has no impact right now.

Notice 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Not only was Timothy to instruct rich people, he himself was instructed to “lay hold on eternal life.” Again, this has nothing to do with entering Heaven and nothing to do with trying to work toward Heaven; it has everything to do with a Christian enjoying his spiritual blessings right now on Earth! Are we studying the Bible rightly divided to learn about the provisions Father God has given us in Christ? Or, are we—like most—ignorant of those spiritual blessings (through lack of study, or denominational indoctrination, et cetera)? Are we begging God to give us what He has already given us in Christ? Are we living as God intended Christians to live, or are we living like the lost people we used to be? Then, we have not yet grasped, fathomed and implemented, the “eternal life” we have been given!

SUPPLEMENTAL: “LAY HOLD”

According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the words “lay hold” in Greek are:

“ἐπιλαμβάνομαι epilambánomai, ep-ee-lam-ban’-om-ahee; middle voice from G1909 and G2983; to seize (for help, injury, attainment, or any other purpose; literally or figuratively):—catch, lay hold (up-)on, take (by, hold of, on).”

The word appears 19 times in the King James Greek and is translated in the following manner: “take” (7 times), “take by” (3 times), “catch” (2 times), “take on” (2 times), “lay hold on” (2 times), “take hold of” (2 times), “lay hold upon” (1 times).

It describes Jesus when He “caught” sinking Peter (Matthew 14:31), Jesus “took” the blind man by the hand (Mark 8:23), Jesus “took” a child and sat him down by Him (Luke 9:47), Jesus “took” the man suffering from dropsy/edema (Luke 14:4), Israel’s hypocritical religious leaders trying to “take hold” or seize Jesus’ words that could be used against Him (Luke 20:20,26), the men “laid hold upon” Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:26), Barnabas “took” Saul/Paul and brought him to the Jerusalem apostles (Acts 9:27), the slave girl’s masters “caught” Paul and Silas (Acts 16:19), the Athenian philosophers “took” Paul and brought him to Mars’ Hill to teach them (Acts 17:19), the Greeks “took” Sosthenes the Christian and physically beat him (Acts 18:17), the Jews “took” Paul and throw him out of the Jerusalem Temple (Acts 21:30), the chief captain of a Roman army “took” Paul and had him bound with two chains (Acts 21:33), the chief captain “took” Paul’s nephew aside (Acts 23:19), Timothy was told to “lay hold on” eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12), rich Christians were instructed to “lay hold on” eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19), Jesus Christ “took not on” the nature of angels but “took on” the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16), and God “took” Israel by the hand to lead them from Egyptian slavery (Hebrews 8:9).

Also see:
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?

If God wants to save all—but only few are saved—is He not “weak” and “limited?”

IF GOD WANTS TO SAVE ALL—BUT ONLY FEW ARE SAVED—IS HE NOT “WEAK” AND “LIMITED?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Calvinists pride themselves in (allegedly) “defending the sovereignty of God.” As they see it, if God is not in complete control of every last detail, He cannot be God. One of their central “theological impasses” can be summarized as follows: If God wants all people to be saved and go to Heaven, but not all people get saved and go to Heaven, then God must really not want all people to be saved and go to Heaven. Therefore, they conclude, God has already “elected,” “predestinated,” or “chosen” who will be saved unto eternal life and Heaven. As for those who wind up in Hell and the Lake of Fire, they must experience that awful fate because God did not select them for justification. Calvinists see no alternative view—for to hold to anything else is to detract from God’s Deity. They contend, “We cannot limit God to save those who chose to believe. Man exercising faith does not limit God, for God should be able to save whomever He chooses to believe, apart from the individual’s choice to believe.” (Calvinists say God is limited to save only those He has chosen, which itself is a limitation!! Such nonsense epitomizes the endless speculations of worthless theology!!)

One verse helpful in dealing with and making sense of this topic is Matthew 23:37. The Lord Jesus Christ, during the last days of His earthly ministry, issued a stinging rebuke in response to Israel’s corrupt religious leadership: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

Judgment would come upon Jerusalem. The Temple that Zerubbabel built and King Herod the Great expanded was no longer Father God’s house (John 2:16) or Jesus Christ’s house (Matthew 21:13). It would be vacated, free from God’s influence: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Now, it was Jerusalem’s house, Israel’s house! Thus, chapter 24 opens, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:….”

The Prophet Stephen, attempting to call the nation Israel to repentance and faith in Christ during the early Acts period, preached to its religious leaders in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” For centuries prior, God commissioned prophets or spokesmen to lead Israel back to Him. What led to the Babylonian Captivity? Read 2 Chronicles chapter 36 : “[15] And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: [16] But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. [17] Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.”

If English words mean anything, the Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen believed He (the Holy Ghost) could be rejected. God intended to have a personal relationship with Israel, He wanted to teach them His words, but they decided they would have none of it! It was not God’s fault; it was Israel’s fault.

Truth be told, Calvinists, in their zeal to defend their theological system, create more dilemmas than they do answers to foregoing quandaries.

Firstly, if people are justified to enter Heaven based solely on the fact God chose to give them faith—that “God chose them rather than they chose Him”—then we could blame God for people dying and going to Hell! Man is no longer accountable for his actions, for no matter what he chooses to do, God has predetermined what will happen to him. Why do people go to Hell? Using the Calvinist’s logic, it is God’s fault, for God did not choose to save them! This (convenient) blame-shifting originates in man’s sinful internal makeup, and goes all the way back to Genesis chapter 3.

“[9] And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? [10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? [12] And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. [13] And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

God gave Adam explicit instructions not to eat the forbidden fruit (2:16-17). Nothing was hard to understand. However, Adam made a willful choice and ate anyway (3:1-8). When God attempted to bring Adam to confession, Adam said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (verse 12). Adam blamed Eve his wife—but he said it in such a way so as to imply it was God’s fault. “You gave her to me, God! Had You not done that, I would not have eaten!” When God addressed Eve, she passed the responsibility on to “the serpent” (verse 13). So, whereas Adam claimed, “God made me do it because He gave Eve to me!,” Eve defended herself, “Satan made me do it!” (These two excuses are prevalent today—people caught doing wrong will either blame God or Satan. They refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.)

If someone dies and goes to Hell, it will not be God’s fault. He did not choose them for that eternal judgment; they chose it for themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ died in our place on Calvary’s cross, to pay for our sins in full, and was raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). However, if we do not take advantage of those merits by trusting Him as our personal Saviour, then it is not His fault when we go to Hell. He has done everything to prevent us from going to Hell—coming to die for our sins, and then telling us that Good News by writing His words in human language and preserving them in the English Bible—and then we have the audacity to say it was His fault and He sent us there?!

Secondly, we do not “limit” God when we say He has not chosen to save anyone unto eternal life apart from their faith. Also, we do not “limit” God when we say people are saved according to their faith in the Gospel as opposed to God selecting them to be recipients of faith. All we are doing is acknowledging the limitations God has placed upon Himself. Since He is God, He can choose to do something just as freely as He can choose not to do something. No matter what man will do, God does all His good pleasure… and 1 Corinthians 1:21 is part of His good pleasure. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

Whom does God want to save? One of the most important rules in Bible study is this: not only should we notice what is in the verse, we should also notice what is not in the verse. After hearing Calvinists, here is what we expected the Scriptures to say: “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he has chosen to believe,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he has predestinated to eternal life,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he chose,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them to whom he gave faith.”

According to the Bible, God is pleased to spiritually heal and give eternal life to those that believe.” He has limited Himself in this regard. If we have a problem with that Bible truth, then we have a problem with the Bible… and we need to go argue with the Bible. Whether we agree with it or not, the Holy Bible is right. Our sinful flesh does not like that. It wants to be its own authority. Too bad! Our flesh is not the authority!

“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also” (Romans 4:11). “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe(Galatians 3:22). “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

By the way, Calvinists will also claim we exalt man above God by claiming we are saved through faith in the Gospel. According to them, we should not emphasize our faith; therefore, they claim we should say “God gave us faith, God chose us to believe, God predestinated us,” and the like. They say, “God chose us—we did not choose Him!” Again, this is nothing more than a denial of the verses we just cited. God can still be God, and yet leave justification up to man’s choice of faith or unbelief. If man wants to believe God, God is still God. If man wants to disbelieve God, God is still God. Note: God’s nature, His omnipotence, is totally independent of what we do or do not do! Calvinists have an extremely warped view of the God of the Bible, and do not understand that part of His nature is resistible grace (as opposed to the Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace). We already saw Jerusalem reject Him. Israel in the Old Testament resisted Him. People even now reject Him—the very people for whom Christ died! That is their own fault. He values free will, and if they want to spend eternity without Him, He will give them over to their preference!

Also see:
» Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”
» Does God give us faith?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?

» Do some things happen by “chance?”
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?

Did Judas Iscariot have to betray Christ?

DID JUDAS ISCARIOT HAVE TO BETRAY CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was Judas Iscariot treated fairly in the whole “betrayal matter?” Did he have a choice in it at all? Or had God already specifically selected him to betray the Lord Jesus Christ? As we will see, it is an interesting combination of free will and God’s foreknowledge.

If we consider the Holy Bible in totality, we see that the Creator God is very generous. He is more than willing to be merciful and forgive, more than eager to be gracious, ready to be kind and longsuffering. Exodus chapter 34 testifies: “[6] And the LORD passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, [7] Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (The close of verse 7 shows that God also does not take sin lightly. Yes, He is loving, but He is righteous too. He will enforce a punishment when that righteous standard is not met.)

When we find someone in the Bible facing the wrath of a just God, or meeting some dire fate at the hands of a righteous God, we can be sure there was ample warning issued prior. God’s judgment does not simply fall on someone without notice. A clear Divine commandment was broken first: God’s Word was ignored and sin was pursued. When people die and go to Hell today, never can it be said that “they did not know” or that “they did not have a chance.” The Bible could not be clearer about the eternal death (Hell and the Lake of Fire) awaiting all sinners who do not trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. All have been warned; it is not God’s fault if they refuse to hear His innumerable forewarnings! (This will be important later in our discussion.)

Returning to the issue of Judas Iscariot, let us consider the following. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus Christ quoted an Old Testament verse that predicted that betrayal. Read John chapter 13, noting especially verses 18 and 21-27:

“[18] I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture [Psalm 41:9] may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. [19] Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. [20] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. [21] When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. [22] Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. [23] Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. [24] Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. [25] He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? [26] Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. [27] And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. [28] Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. [29] For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. [30] He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”

It is interesting that while the Lord Jesus referred to His betrayer, He never actually named him. Rather, He just said “one of you” (verse 21) would be the betrayer. He never commanded Judas, “You are the one whom God has chosen to betray Me.” Now, someone may say that Jesus giving Judas the sop (or moistened bread) influenced Judas to fulfill the prophecy. This argument is invalid, for Judas at this point had already contracted with the chief priests to betray Christ. Judas had already made up his mind.

John 13:18-30 parallels Matthew 26:20-25, which means that Matthew 26:14-16 preceded, came before, the Upper Room Passover we just read about in John. Notice Matthew 26:14-16: “[14] Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, [15] And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. [16] And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. Jesus never told anyone about His betrayer until later (that is, the passage we just read from John), so Jesus’ words on the subject in no way influenced Judas to betray Him. Judas had always been an idolater: he never had an interest in serving the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ. For three years, Judas Iscariot had played the hypocrite. He had pretended to be a disciple, and while he had fooled all the others, Jesus Christ was never deceived (check John 6:70-71, for example). From the time of Matthew 26:14-16, Judas began to try to find a convenient time to betray Christ. There was to be no uproar or commotion. It was to be done as clandestinely as possible.

As per Acts chapter 1, the Old Testament prophets predicted the fall of one of Jesus’ disciples. With Jesus post-resurrection explaining the Old Testament Messianic verses to His disciples (Luke 24:44-48; Acts 1:1-4), they could interpret those ancient Scriptures once He ascended and return to Heaven. They gained information about Judas Iscariot.

Now we understand how the Apostle Peter had such tremendous Scriptural insight in Acts chapter 1: “[16] Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. [17] For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. [18] Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. [20] For it is written in the book of Psalms [Psalm 69:25], Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and [Psalm 109:8] his bishoprick let another take.

Take a few moments to read the original quotes in Psalms. “Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents” (Psalm 69:25). “Let his days be few; and let another take his office” (Psalm 109:8). Did you read here, or anywhere else in the Psalms, about a Judas Iscariot? There is nothing. The prophecy was specific in that Jesus’ betrayer would be His friend: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9; cf. John 13:18). Yet, it was also general in that the betrayer is unknown. By concealing the person’s identity, God the Holy Spirit was affording Judas Iscariot the opportunity to avoid it being true of him. God in His foreknew saw into the future. He knew it would ultimately be Judas, but He let Judas decide if he wanted to betray Christ. That is, God’s Word had not already selected Judas Iscariot to commit that dastardly deed. Judas had already determined to do it, and Jesus simply let him do it.

Yet, as that time of evil approaches, we can God’s grace being offered to Judas time and time again. If you search the Four Gospel Records—especially Matthew, Luke, and John—you will discover that Judas had many opportunities to turn around, to not go through with the betrayal. He refused them all because he was never a believer in Christ. Even though he had already made the decision, and had already accepted the 30 pieces of silver, God was still willing to be friendly toward His betrayer. Watch carefully.

Matthew 26:21-25: “[21] And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. [22] And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? [23] And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. [24] The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. [25] Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.” (Judas had plenty of opportunity here to back out of the betrayal, as it had not yet occurred. He asked a rhetorical question in verse 25. He knew he had already promised to betray Christ—see verses 14-16 again! Jesus let Judas admit it.)

John 18:4-9 is another interesting passage on the subject: “[4] Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? [5] They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. [6] As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. [7] Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. [8] Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: [9] That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” (Judas could have turned back in these verses as well. He did not; he carried on through with the betrayal.)

Now, Luke 22:48: “But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Here, during the betrayal, Jesus is asking a rhetorical question, prompting Judas to think about what he was doing. “Judas, are you really going to betray the Son of Man with a kiss? Is this how it is going to turn out?” Judas could have backed out again, the opportunity was there, but he was not about to take it.)

Try Matthew 26:49-50, the most startling of all: “[49] And forthwith he [Judas] came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. [50] And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.” (Here, after the kiss of betrayal, Jesus still addressed Judas as friend!!” Jesus was reminding Judas he was one of them, one of His most trusted Apostles. Even after it occurred, the Lord Jesus was willing to forgive and restore Judas to fellowship. “Friend, why are you come?” Can you hear the tenderness here? Using his free will, Judas bypasses this as well; he refuses to accept God’s invitation to friendship.)

CONCLUSION

Judas Iscariot did what he did because: (1) he was a sinner, (2) he was an idolater, (3) he was never a true follower of Christ, (4) he coveted 30 pieces of silver, and (5) he was a willing participant of Satan’s policy of evil. God is not to be blamed; He saw all outcomes but He never forced any one outcome! The Bible had already predicted a close friend of Jesus would betray Him, but God never singled out Judas until Judas had already covenanted for the 30 pieces of silver. Jesus did not reveal him until he had already determined what he was going to do. Judas alone made the choice—it was his wrong choice, yes, but it was his choice. God gave Judas plenty of opportunity to turn around, to not betray Christ, but the Bible never says Judas took advantage of any of those chances.

Also see:
» Why did Jesus select evil Judas Iscariot to be an apostle?
» Was Judas forgiven?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?

Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?

DOES JOHN 6:29 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

God’s Holy Word says in John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Calvinists take this to bolster their idea of “faith is a gift of God” (at the heart of their “total depravity” point). What is the “work of God” in John 6:29? Is it faith, belief on Christ? Or, is it something else? Are Calvinists using this verse properly? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

In the Books of Matthew through John, we read about the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. He came to bring in Israel’s long-promised kingdom, fulfill the covenants given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, et cetera (Romans 15:8, for example). As their Redeemer-King-Messiah, He would not only save them from their sins but also from their enemies. There would be spiritual, national, and physical deliverance. An integral part of that special ministry to convert Israel was the abundance of miracles.

First Corinthians 1:22 says, “For the Jews require a sign….” Miraculous demonstrations are Israel’s national birthright. Therefore, the Psalmist calls themour [that is, Israel’s] signs” (Psalm 74:9). Even when the LORD God sent Moses to lead the nation Israel from Egyptian bondage, He sent him to Israel with the ability to perform miracles (see Exodus 4:1-9). Notice: “[30] And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. [31] And the people believed….”

Since Israel is a “sign nation,” special supernatural events indicated that Israel’s God was in her midst during Christ’s earthly ministry. Isaiah 35:3-6 predicts 700 B.C.: “[3] Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. [4] Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. [5] Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. [6] Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (cf. Matthew 11:2-6).

John the Baptist preached in Matthew 3:2: “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then, Jesus Christ entered His public ministry. Now, Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Finally, Matthew 9:35: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Notice the connection of the Gospel of the Kingdom with miracles.

Luke 8:1 adds: “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,….” The “preaching,” of course, was the words proclaimed, and the “shewing” was the visible working of miracles. Now, notice the final verses of Mark, chapter 16, especially verse 20: “[15] And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. [16] He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [17] And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; [18] They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. [19] So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. [20] And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

Those signs, or special miracles, were designed to show Israel that God’s earthly kingdom was near. They validated, or proved, the Gospel of the Kingdom that they were preaching. Jesus Christ is King, and He is preaching and doing what the Old Testament said Messiah would do when He came. Israel had no excuse for ignorance. They should have known who Jesus was—He was truly Christ, and He was doing what Christ would do when He visited Israel.

John’s Gospel Record is designed to show Israel eight specific miracles from Jesus’ earthly ministry. He was no doubt Christ/Messiah who could do for her what she could not do for herself. John chapter 20 says to that point: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” One of these “signs” involved John 6:29.

In the opening 14 verses of John chapter 6, Jesus Christ fed a great multitude using five barley loaves and two small fishes. The Bible says approximately 5,000 men and women were fed (verse 10). The problem, however, was that Israel would often focus more on the miracles themselves rather than the doctrine the miracles communicated. Even today, people are distracted by seeing so-called “miraculous demonstrations” when they should be listening to and believing sound Bible doctrine. According to John 6:15, Jesus’ audience wanted to make Him their king simply because He had fed them with a free lunch! There was no hunger for spiritual things, no sincere heart faith, just eyes focused on fleshly, temporary issues (just like many today).

They chased Jesus Christ down so they could make Him king and so He could keep feeding them with free meals. Verse 24 says: “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.” Now, verses 26-27: “[26] Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. [27] Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” They should have paid more attention to His capacity to meet their spiritual needs than their physical needs. Eternal forgiveness of and salvation from their sins, of course, was far more important than having a full stomach!

Moving on to verse 28: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” They want to do God’s works—the classic religious response (“do, do, do”). Where is their faith, belief in God’s words? There is none! Jesus Christ rebukes them in verse 29: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Now we see the context of this verse.

The Lord Jesus Christ and the Jews had a very lengthy conversation during the next 35 verses (which time and space do not permit us to discuss here). Overall though, we learn that the bread represents Jesus Christ. We hit the highpoints of the passage: “[32] Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. [33] For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. [34] Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. [35] And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.… [41] The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.… [47] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. [48] I am that bread of life.… [50] This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Returning to John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” As noted earlier, Calvinists read the verse so that the work of God is someone believing. They say that faith is a work, and since works do not save us, God must give us faith. In other words, they say that faith is God’s gift to man. What they do not understand is Romans 4:5, that faith is not a work! “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

It is important to note that John 6:29 does not say, “It is the work of God when you believe on him whom he hath sent.” No, the work of God is not the faith/“believe” part. In the context, the work of God is the miracle of the Lord Jesus feeding the 5,000. Again, those miracles were designed to bring Israel to faith in Jesus Christ. The miracles were only effectual if coupled with faith (which Israel often lacked). God’s miraculous demonstrations were not merely meant to get the Jewish people out of difficult circumstances, but rather lead them to accept and trust His Son as their Messiah-King-Redeemer.

CONCLUSION

Contrary to Calvinists’ assertions, John 6:29 does not claim that God works in us to generate faith. It rather affirms that Father God was working through His Son—particularly, the miraculous feeding of the 5,000—to bring the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ. God worked that miracle, to the intent that Israel would believe on Jesus Christ whom Father God had sent to them.

We close by citing John 6:29 interpreted and amplified in light of what we have discussed: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God [I have miraculously fed the 5,000], that [purpose or intent of the miracle] ye believe on him whom he hath sent [by faith, rely on Me, He whom Father God has sent to you].”

Also see:
» Does God give us faith?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?

Should we pray if it is God’s will?

SHOULD WE PRAY IF IT IS GOD’S WILL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In great sincerity, some Christians ask God to reveal to them His will about certain matters in their lives. They want to know if it is His will for them to go to this particular place on vacation, or if it is His will for them to go to that job or neighborhood, or if it is His will that they do certain things (marry, have kids, move house, et cetera) at particular times in life. Should we do this? Let us look at the Bible!

The fact of the matter is that God has not revealed these things to us. Scripture never clearly indicates what specific job we are to take, where we are to live specifically, where we are to go to school specifically, what specific vehicle we are to buy, and so on. Whatever God has revealed in His written Word, we are to take that doctrine and apply it to life. God has not made every decision for us! That is the liberty of grace! God does not treat us like children, making every choice for us.

Notice how the Apostle Paul took the doctrine that God had revealed to him, and used his brain to apply those verses to life. Paul was not acting independently of himself; he knew God wanted His Gospel to be preached, lost people to be saved, and Christian people to be edified in Jesus Christ. Yet, Paul did not pray for God to make decisions for him as to how he should accomplish them. Paul took the doctrine he did know and applied it to life as best as he could. As an adult son of God, Paul made decisions that pleased God.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:15: “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit.”
  • 2 Corinthians 2:1: “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:1: “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:12: “As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.”

Beloved, we are to take the sound Bible doctrine that God has revealed in His Word to us, the Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon), believe them, and apply them to life as best we can. If we make a mistake, we fix it. Growing in grace comes with making mistakes; the goal is to better understand and apply Bible verses every time. Find more verses to apply to the situation, and better apply the verses you already know. Contrary to Calvinistic claims, God has not made every decision for us in eternity past. He has not designed every detail of our life in advance. He has given us free will; He will never take away our free will. Let us make choices that honor and please Him.

Also see:
» How do I pray the Pauline way?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» What were Urim and Thummim?

“If God peradventure will give them repentance…?”

“IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE…?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What should we make of 2 Timothy 2:25? “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;That latter half—the conditional statement beginning with “if God peradventure”—puzzles some Bible readers. Should we conclude that God will reveal His truths to some but will hide it from others? Is He not unfair? Why does He not want all people to come to the knowledge of the truth? Or, does He? Then, what about this verse?

Friend, have you ever noticed how some people appeared to have/know and believe the truth, to be on the right track concerning sound Bible teaching, but then suddenly went off into apostasy? Sure. We all have. Maybe they went to a Bible-believing church for years, seemingly maturing in the Scriptures. They professed Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Perhaps they even taught Sunday School or sang in the choir. Then, one day, you found out that they returned to their old denomination, or perhaps threw out the Bible and God altogether and went back into “the world!” Not long ago, I dealt with Christians who were astounded that their friends and relatives who had attended their Bible churches and home Bible studies for years, suddenly went back to their cults (former denominations)! This should not shock or disappoint us because 2 Timothy 2:25 was God’s comment on these events thousands of years before they happened!

We start at 2 Timothy 2:24 and read to the end of the chapter: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul said “the servant of the Lord must not strive,” or pick fights and argue (acting combative). God’s man or woman should “be gentle unto all men [people], apt [able] to teach, patient [longsuffering]” (verse 24). We should make every attempt possible to reach Christians and non-Christians alike with the truth of God’s word rightly divided. We should be presenting a clear Gospel message to the lost (1 Corinthians 15:3-4—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day”), and sound Bible teaching to the saved (all Scripture taught in light of Pauline doctrine). Opposition will arise, so we should be patient, trying to slowly turn them around and dealing with them as long as they are willing to hear. Some cases will take much longer than others. Whenever they start resisting, however, we need to back away and respect their free will. We need to leave them alone, letting them come back to us (hopefully, they will have a better attitude next time).

Verse 25 says, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;….” Here is our “problem verse.” We should “in meekness”—or humility rather than pride—“instruct those that oppose themselves.” Those who oppose themselves are Christians who live contrary to the grace of God. They do not live out of the identity and resources God gave them in Christ. No, they are so works-oriented, so denominationally minded, that they refuse to be renewed by dispensational Bible truth day by day. They are corrupted by human wisdom, and are thus void of God’s wisdom. How it quenches/hinders the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and grieves Him (Ephesians 4:30) because He cannot work in their lives! Lost people “oppose themselves” in that they are living contrary to how God designed a human to live. They should be glorifying their Creator, not living for themselves. (Christians should be living as God designed Christians to live, and lost people should become Christians so they can live as God designed humans to live!)

We instruct those we reach in the ministry, attempting to reform their thinking first (and behavior will be corrected). However, it is not guaranteed that they will respond positively to that Word of God’s grace. Some will outright reject it (some will make that known most violently and loudly!). The “educated” philosophers in Athens laughed at Paul’s “gossip” preaching about Christ’s resurrection (Acts 17:32). Idolaters in Ephesus incited a massive riot that nearly killed Paul (Acts 19:23-41).

Some will keep it momentarily, and then toss it. The Galatians believed God’s Word through Paul at first, but then abandoned it. This was also true of the Corinthians. Others will believe it and stay with it for an extended time, actually maturing in it. You can see that in the Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Eventually, the “Asians” (citizens of Asia Minor, modern Turkey—cities of Ephesus, Colosse, Troas, et cetera) abandoned it. Paul, writing at the end of his ministry and life: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). This, you should recognize, is part of the epistle where we find 2 Timothy 2:25!

“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;….That conditional part is explained as follows—those in our audience may change their mind to the point where they acknowledge the Bible truth we shared, or they may not change their mind and therefore retain their erroneous notions. God’s will for them is the first outcome—“…God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth(1 Timothy 2:4). It is God’s will that all individuals trust His only begotten Son as their personal Saviour. It is also His will that all come to the knowledge of the truth (especially Christians). However, He will not force His Word on either group.

Do not read 2 Timothy 2:25 as though God may choose to enlighten them or He may not choose to enlighten them. No. The condition depends on them, not Him! They may want the truth (and He will respect their free will by teaching them through us preaching His Word), or they may not want His Word (and He will leave them in their spiritual blindness). Remember, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “If any man will do his [Father God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Jesus Christ declared you can know God’s will if you want to do His will! Friend, that applies to Christians and non-Christians alike! Father God wants lost people saved, and saved people edified. Do we? Do you?

Second Timothy 2:25 is a great encouragement in that it shows us that even when we do as much as we can to spread dispensational Bible truths, some will deny it and/or abandon it as though we never uttered a word to them. It is not that we did not share enough verses with them. (If the first verse did not convince them, the others would not have either!) It is not that we did not make the Word of God plain enough. (If they had questions, they would have asked them in sincerity!)

All people, saved and lost, are to some degree resistant to learning from God’s Word. Even as grace believers, we are not always 100% engaged while reading and studying it. Sometimes, we are reading verses through denominational eyeglasses, causing them to say something they do not say. There are traditional ideas from our past that are hard to break from and thus still cloud our thinking. We find ourselves in Satan’s snare, fulfilling his will of hiding God’s truth from others and ourselves. The good news is that, if we find ourselves in such a predicament, there is a solution! We had better find a servant of the Lord who will teach us and guide us into the doctrine of God’s grace!

Second Timothy 2:24-26: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Also see:
» Why do some people get angry when we share right division?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» What is dispensational Bible study?

Do some things happen by “chance?”

DO SOME THINGS HAPPEN BY “CHANCE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Calvinists will tell us that before God created anything, He preordained every last event in every person’s life. This obviously precludes free will. If that were true, then we could say that people do not sin because they chose to sin but rather because God chose them to sin! Calvinists believe that, because God is God, He is “sovereign,” and He is not God unless He controls every last detail. However, that is not true according to the Bible. Does God direct everything to happen? Maybe according to theology, but not according to Scripture!

RUTH

Ruth chapter 2 begins: “[1] And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. [2] And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. [3] And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.”

Did God direct Ruth to enter Boaz’s field? No, the Bible did not say that. God’s “providence” was not involved here. Now, if you want to say God’s providence was involved, that He did guide Ruth to Boaz’s field, then just throw away Ruth 2:3 and believe your theology. If you are a Bible believer, however, you will simply admit that Ruth decided to choose the field of a certain man, and that man just so happened to be the very man who was her husband’s relative (and thus able to help her and her mother-in-law).

SOLOMON’S WORDS IN ECCLESIASTES

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:11: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” If we believe God controls all events, we need to throw out Ecclesiastes 9:11 as well.

THE PRIEST IN THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

We read in Luke chapter 10: “[29] But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? [30] And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. [31] And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. [32] And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. [33] But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, [34] And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

According to the Lord Jesus, the priest passed “by chance.” He chose a certain path, and that path just so happened to be the one on which the downtrodden man was lying. I did not tell this story; do not get angry with me. Jesus Christ told the story, so if you disagree with it please go argue with Him. What do I believe? Friend, I will believe Him over you and your theology any day!

CONCLUSION

The Bible says that Ruth’s “hap” was to glean in Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3). Scripture says, “time and chance happeneth to all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). The Bible says that, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest “by chance” happened to pass by (Luke 10:31). Evidently, Jesus Himself thought God had not pre-arranged this or orchestrated it in any way. There are certain things that God has simply decided not to control. This in no way limits or diminishes God’s power. God has just as much power to permit other people to do things (free will) as He does to do those things Himself. It is amazing that God has let certain things fall out, without intervening, knowing that they by themselves can bring about a good result. Again, look at the case of Ruth.

If we are going to go by the Bible, then we have to admit that—according to God the Holy Spirit anyway—there are some things that God never planned and never guided. They resulted simply because of chance. Jesus Himself said that in Luke 10:31—God did not guide that priest (as Calvinism teaches) but rather it happened “by chance.” We either believe the Bible, or we do not. We either believe our Calvinistic theology, or we believe the Bible. There is no middle ground.

SUPPLEMENTAL: KING SAUL’S HARRYING OF DAVID

We find an interesting account in 1 Samuel chapter 23, when (unbelieving) King Saul purposed to kill (believing) David:

“[1] Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors. [2] Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. [3] And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? [4] Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. [5] So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. [6] And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.”

“[7] And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars. [8] And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.”

“[9] And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod. [10] Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. [11] Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. [12] Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up. [13] Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.”

In verse 10, we read that David asked God’s counsel as to whether or not Saul would come to Keilah and destroy it for David’s sake. In verse 11, God said Saul would come down. In verse 12, God said that Keilah’s men would deliver David up to Saul so Saul could kill David. Upon learning that information, David and men left Keilah. Saul heard that David escaped Keilah, so Saul decided not to go to Keilah.

Notice, God never actually forced one outcome to happen. He knew the contingencies, the various outcomes, but He let David and Saul make decisions. God told David what Saul would do had David stayed. Thus, David left. Consequently, Saul did not do what he would have done had David stayed. This is free will. God did not tell David to stay or leave. God did not tell Saul to stay or go. JEHOVAH God, even as powerful as He was, let Saul and David be the free moral agents He created them to be! Strange to hear, I know, but, friend, it is better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in men and theology (Psalm 118:8)!

Also see:
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Does God give us faith?

Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?

DOES ROMANS 9:20-21 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“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? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:20-21). We have all heard the phrase, “God is the potter and we are the clay.” This expression is derived from the Bible. However, people assume that that is God talking about us as individuals. They say that He will mold each and every person to be just what He wants him or her to be. The Calvinists take it a step further and say God is particularly molding “the elect,” those whom (they allege) He has chosen to save unto eternal life. Is this a proper understanding of Romans 9:20-21? We will take the Bible and search it for insight.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, when writing Romans 9:20-21, reached back into the “Old Testament” Scriptures and alluded to something that the Prophet Jeremiah had written many centuries prior. We read in Jeremiah chapter 18:

“[1] The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, [2] Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. [3] Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. [4] And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. [5] Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, [6] O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. [7] At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; [8] If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. [9] And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; [10] If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

“[11] Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. [12] And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. [13] Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. [14] Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? [15] Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; [16] To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. [17] I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.”

Verse 6 says that as a potter sculpts a clay pot, so God forms the nation Israel. “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” This is a national issue, not an individual issue. The clay of Romans 9:20-21 is the nation Israel. Contrary to Calvinism, the passage has nothing to do with an individual. Furthermore, contrary to Calvinism, it has nothing to do with any person today in the Dispensation of Grace. Jeremiah spoke in context of the Babylonian captivity, when sinful Israel would be punished, shaped into a vessel worthy of God’s wrath. A similar “re-shaping” has happened to Israel with respect to Romans chapter 9. Israel, having rejected Jesus Christ at Calvary, and having rejected the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 7, was fit for wrath—the completion and culmination of the wrath that began with the Babylonian captivity centuries earlier.

Romans chapter 9 once again: “[19] Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? [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? [21] Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [22] What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: [23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, [24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”

Whether in Jeremiah or Romans, the clay is a national issue, not an individual issue. God can mold Israel into whatever shape He wants. We read about the “vessel unto honour” (Romans 9:21), the “vessel unto dishonour” (Romans 9:21), the “vessels of wrath” (Romans 9:22), and “the vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23). When Israel enjoyed her privileged position in the prophetic program, she was the vessel of honor. However, as Paul notes, God turned her into the vessel of dishonor when she fell into unbelief and rejected her Messiah Jesus (Matthew through John). Those unbelieving Jews were the vessels of wrath, ready to experience God’s judgment against sin (early Acts). Paul himself, as Saul of Tarsus, had been one such rebellious Jew. See Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-9,13-14; Acts 22:1-10; Acts 26:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:23-24; 1 Timothy 1:13-16.

First Thessalonians 2:14-16 is Paul’s commentary on the unbelieving Jews’ activities during his “Acts” ministry: “[14] For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: [15] Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: [16] Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

The wrath of God was about to fall on unsaved Israel in Acts chapter 7. But, God took the unbelieving Jews, took the unbelieving Gentiles, lumped them together, and changed their status to “the vessels of mercy.” Rather than pouring out wrath on unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles, God pours out His mercy in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Repeating Romans 9:22-24: “[22] What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: [23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, [24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”

Romans 11:30-32 provides additional insight: “[30] For as ye [Gentiles] in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their [Israel’s] unbelief: [31] Even so have these also now not believed, that through your [Gentiles’] mercy they [unbelieving Israel] also may obtain mercy. [32] For God hath concluded them all [Jews and Gentiles] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all [Jews and Gentiles].” Today, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ using any Jews or any Gentiles who will trust His Son exclusively as their personal Saviour (verses 23-24). This operation of the mystery program explains the delay in the fulfillment of the prophetic promises delineated in Romans 9:1-13. Prophecy is postponed that mystery might operate: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).

For more information on Romans chapter 9, please refer to the companion studies, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated?” and “Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?” See links below.

Also see:
» “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated?”
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”

Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?

DOES ROMANS 9:14-18 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Calvinistic circles, one finds the idea that God “in His sovereignty” hardens some individuals but has mercy on others. He supposedly has mercy on those whom He has chosen to save (the so-called “elect”); He hardens everyone else so they cannot believe and receive salvation. Romans 9:18 is used in this regard: “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism? Dear friends, we must notice the context!

The Bible says in Romans 9:14-18: “[14] What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. [15] For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. [16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. [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. [18] Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”

Beloved, as you can imagine, these are some very fearful verses for so many preachers! Calvinists have so abused these words of God that few enjoy them. Bible teachers are afraid to comment on them, so they largely stay quiet. Ignorance remains, as the Calvinists are mostly the ones teaching these verses. However, dear friends, there is good news. We can remove the shackles of religious bondage and tyranny! We can enjoy these verses; we can rejoice in their simple truths! May we approach these verses in context and leave the traditions of men out!

THE BACKGROUND OF THE PASSAGE

To contradict his ministry and message, unbelieving Israel asked the Apostle Paul in verse 14 of Romans chapter 9: “[14] What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” Paul answered them by appealing to the Old Testament: “[15] For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. [16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

The Apostle appealed to another Old Testament verse: “[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. [18] Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”

“Is there unrighteousness with God?” (Romans 9:14b). In light of verses 1-13, is God unfair in choosing a people to serve Him (Jacob, or nation Israel) and a people to serve them (Esau, or Edomites)? Is God unfair in selecting only believers in Israel to serve Him? Is He unfair in rejecting unbelieving Jews? Verse 14 concludes with “God forbid!” (“God protest!,” “May God never let that happen!”). Paul argues that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He will harden whom He will harden. However, when you look at the context, whom is God hardening and on whom is God having mercy? Let the Bible, not the theologians, tell you!

ROMANS 9:15-16—MERCY ON WHOM?

We return to Romans 9:15-16 to read: “[15] For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. [16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

According to the context, on whom is God having mercy and compassion? The nation Israel! Romans 9:15 quotes Exodus 33:19; God is speaking about Israel after she had just sinned with the pagan golden-calf idol. For sake of comparison, note Exodus 33:19: “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”

Go back to Romans 9:16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” This has nothing to do with God taking away someone’s free will. That is the Calvinist’s “spin” on the verse. It is not saying God saves people only on the basis of God “sovereignly” choosing them (rather than them choosing to trust Him). That too is the Calvinist’s “spin” on the verse. What the verse is saying is that God exercising mercy is independent of man’s plans or actions. Even though Israel had rebelled against God with the golden calf, God as God still had the right to offer them His mercy. Israel’s sin was not the issue; God’s mercy, Him holding back His wrath against their sin, was the issue.

ROMANS 9:17-18—HARDENING WHOM?

Romans 9:17-18 says: “[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. [18] Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” According to the context, God is hardening Pharaoh. Exodus 9:16 was spoken to Pharaoh: “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 is not talking about God hardening individuals throughout human history (as Calvinists teach). It is not talking about God hardening individuals today (as Calvinists teach). It is about Pharaoh whom Moses confronted before Israel was delivered from Egyptian slavery. Technically, this is a national issue—Egypt and Israel. Romans 9:11-13, another favorite passage of Calvinists, is also a national issue—Israel (Jacob’s descendants) and Edomites (Esau’s descendants). In short, Calvinists are using verses that apply to nations, and making those verses apply to individuals. It just will not work, and will only further confuse the Bible!

The Bible says nothing about God choosing Pharaoh for hardness. Pharaoh exercised free will: he willfully rejected God’s Word. In light of Pharaoh not wanting to accept and believe God’s Word, God’s Word hardened Pharaoh. God simply took Pharaoh’s unbelieving heart, exposed it for what it really was, and then used it as an opportunity to demonstrate His power was greater than Satanically-controlled Pharaoh. As Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Pharaoh had nearly 20 opportunities to believe God’s Word and let Israel go (Exodus 4:21, 5:1-2, 7:3, 7:13-14, 7:22-23, 8:15, 8:19, 8:32, 9:7, 9:12, 9:34-35, 10:1, 10:11, 10:20, 10:27, 11:9-10, 14:4, 14:8, 14:17). It was a combination of God hardening Pharaoh using His Word and Pharaoh hardening himself by rejecting God’s Word:

  • Exodus 4:21: “And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.”
  • Exodus 7:3: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.”
  • Exodus 8:15: “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.”
  • Exodus 8:32: “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.”
  • Exodus 9:12: “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.”

The consistent testimony of the Scriptures is that God gives people plenty of opportunities to accept His Word by faith. Jesus said that He would have gathered Jerusalem but Jerusalem refused to have Him. Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Finally, John 5:39-40,43: “[39] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [40] And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. … [43] I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” God did not choose these people for judgment and unbelief; they chose it for themselves!

Jesus Christ said that if any man wants to know God’s will, then he would know God’s will. John 7:17 could not be clearer: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Free will! Free will to do God’s will! Free will! Free will to reject God’s will! Free will!

First Corinthians 1:21: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” God is willing to save them who believe; it says nothing about God wanting to save “the elect,” or those He has chosen for heaven. It says nothing about “God will save them whom He has not hardened.” Furthermore, we read nothing about “hardening the lost” and “having mercy on the chosen” in the first five chapters book of Romans. These five chapters are the foundational presentation of the Gospel of the Grace of God. If hardening and having mercy were so important with respect to soul salvation, the Holy Spirit would have placed it in the first five chapters of Romans. Rather, hardening and having mercy is found in Romans chapter 9. The context of Romans 9 is dispensational and national. It has nothing to do with individuals, and it has everything to do with God setting aside Israel while He deals with the Gentile nations.

Please refer to the companion study, “Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?,” which explains the next set of verses in Romans chapter 9. You may also read, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated?,” for an exposition of the chapter’s opening verses. See links below.

Also see:
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated?”
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”