Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Short Answers To Tricky Verses On Election, Predestination, and Foreknowledge

The following verses supposedly support Calvinism on election, predestination, and foreknowledge

Purpose: To quickly show you that not one of the controversial verses in the Bible says or hints that God chose who would believe in Jesus Christ. The purpose is NOT to give you a detailed explanation of each verse or cover all the difficulties of each passage.

John 1:12-13
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • Verse 13 is the controversial one, but it does not prove Calvinism at all.  When it says “nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man” it is talking about the new birth, NOT believing in Jesus.
  • Verse 13 is saying that you can’t will the new birth.  You can believe on Jesus (verse 12), but you can’t will the new birth.
  • After you believe on his name, God makes you born again, something you can’t force.  If believing in Jesus didn't cause the new birth, then you couldn't force the new birth to happen no matter how hard you tried.  This is not Calvinism and this is the first verse to really understand because it lays the foundation for the rest. John 1:13 is NOT saying you can't willingly believe on his name, but you can't will the new birth. Very plain.

Acts 2:23
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
  • In this verse those who crucified Jesus fulfilled the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”.  But this has little to do with who would or would not believe in Jesus.
  • Very similar to what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, which see.
  • This doesn't prove anything about Calvinism's irresistible grace where God forces you to believe on Jesus, just that God who knows the future can work all things according to His own purposes and glory.

Romans 8:29-30
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. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
  • The verse does NOT say he predestinated us to believe in Jesus.  It says He predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son (total fulfillment still future - see verse 23).  There is nothing in the verse that says God chose who would believe in Jesus.
  • Calvinists will try to use verse 30 to say the order of events is:  regeneration → faith → justification / new birth / salvation.  They switch faith and regeneration to prove their point of irresistible grace.
  • But the order of the verse is foreknowledge → predestination → called → etc.  Foreknowledge precedes predestination, which weakens the Calvinist argument considerably.
  • Also, a Calvinist will define “called” as “effectual calling” (irresistible grace), given the wording in this verse “who he called, them he also justified”.  But what in the verse says that “called” means God chose who would believe in Jesus?  Called could easily mean “called to be saints” Romans 1:7.  In other words …
  • Nathan Ham Summary: God pre-determined that those who believe in Jesus would be conformed to the image of His Sons, called saints/holy, justified, glorified. A Calvinist would have to very clearly prove that "called" means his idea of irresistible grace, which definitely does NOT fit all the times that "called" is used in the New Testament.
    Once again, there is nothing in the passage that clearly says God chose who would believe in Jesus.

Ephesians 1:4-5
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
  • Chosen us when?  Before the foundation of the world.
  • Chosen us where?  In Him (Christ).
  • Chosen us to what?  Believing on Jesus?  No!!!  Chosen us to be Holy and without blame and to be adopted as His children.
  • In other words, before He made the world God chose that those in Christ would be holy, without blame, His children, etc.
  • The key is how to get in Christ so you get those things.  That’s where the new birth comes in (remember John 1 above).
  • Again, this verse says nothing about God choosing who would or would not believe in Jesus, but God choosing what would happen to those in Christ.

Ephesians 1:11
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
  • Once again, there is nothing in the verse that says God predestinated us to believing in Jesus.  He predestinated us to obtain an inheritance.

2 Thessalonians 2:13
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
  • Oh no, doesn’t this prove calvinism??!!!!  No, silly.
  • Chosen to believe?  No.  Chosen to salvation.
  • How?
  • Chosen through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.
  • So God chose you to be saved through sanctifiction of the spirit and belief of the truth.  It doesn’t say God chose you to believe.  It says God chose "you" to salvation ("you" meaning the brethren he is writing to, who have already believed on the Lord).  That is not calvinism.  Very similar meaning to the John 1 passage above.

1 Peter 1:2
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
  • Elect to believing in Christ?  No.
  • It says we are elect to OBEDIENCE and sprinkling of the blood of Christ.

Then we are left with the “difficult” passage in Romans 9.  But notice that NOT ONE TIME does Romans 9 say that God, in every single case, chose who would believe in Jesus.  All Romans 9 says is that God can do what He wants because He is God.  But it doesn’t prove calvinism at all.  Actually, the context of Romans 9 is Jews vs Gentiles. A Calvinist would probably try to poke many holes in what I just said, but my purpose isn't to give a complete argument. I simply want you to show me a clear verse where God said that He chose, in every single case, who would believe in Jesus. You can't find the verse because it doesn't exist.

Remember, my purpose is not to tackle every difficulty of every controversial verse on the topic of Calvinism. Go back and read those verses listed above. Not a single time in any of those passages does God clearly say He would always choose who would believe in Jesus. Every single time it is clearly God choosing the BENEFITS of those who believe in Christ. This point significantly weakens the Calvinist argument.

More importantly, don't believe me. Don't believe any author. Believe the words of God in context. Next time someone tells you the passage says something that fits his doctrinal views, just read the words and see if it does.

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