LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Found This Comment on Another Blog...


by Colin Maxwell


First of all, in line with many (probably most) Calvinists, I do not limit the love of God only to the elect. I hold that He loves all men without exception, although He loves His elect with a deeper (and ultimately) saving love i.e. a love that effects their salvation, bringing them to actual faith in His Son etc., I think you too believe that He loves His elect people with a deeper love, because He loves them with am everlasting love and I don't think you believe that He still loves the souls in Hell who feel the manifestation of His anger and rage against them. Certainly (if you do) you could never at this stage say that He loves them just exactly as He loves His own reconciled people. At least I hope not. Secondly, my Calvinism teaches me of the universal offer of the gospel (hence the question above) that relays to me the bona fide offer of God to all sinners without exception. It is there that I must look for my answers and it is there in texts like John 3:16 and many others that I read that any soul that sincerely casts itself upon the mercy of God is saved. My guiding star is not the decree of God, much of which lies buried out of my sight, but the clear commands and promises of a God who is rich in mercy and who has no delight in the death of the wicked. My Calvinism teaches me (as indeed the gospel does) that if I cast myself upon the mercy of God like the publican in Luke 18, then I am justified and we know that such justification is eternal. Therefore I can never be lost. I will certainly persevere unto the end, not in order to be saved, but because I am saved and safe in the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. Re: spurious faith See: http://goodnightsafehome.blogspot.com/2007/08/wheres-my-shovel.html which I write in good old plain English and the problem of the FG position. I think we should bear in mind that God's will for His people is that they should be saved and know it and not be plagued by doubts. It is also His will that their assurance should be based on a Bible based reality, rather than a false notion that if they believe on the Mormon spirit brother of Satan Jesus or the Muslim Jesus (PBOH) or "a god called Jesus" of the Watchtower or the Wafer Jesus of Rome and are living like the Devil without any change of life whatsoever, that they are Heaven bound. I take this theme up in the posting referred to. You rightly declare that God started a work in your life when you were born again. If you see someone claiming to be born again, but with the building site empty, do you not at least draw some kind of question mark over their claim? Re: old Christians getting mental illness etc., I don't think you are going to find a Calvinist claiming that such folk are outside the pale.

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50 Comments:

Blogger donsands said...

Good thoughts. However, I'm a bit confused with this sentence.

"My guiding star is not the decree of God, much of which lies buried out of my sight, but the clear commands and promises of a God who is rich in mercy and who has no delight in the death of the wicked."

Are not the decrees of God the same as His promises? Such as:
"The gates of hell will not prevail". "He will save His people from their sin". "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me."

August 22, 2007 11:42 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Donsands, the decree would be individuals chosen in eternity past and placed there into the Son, Ephesians 1. Then we see in 1 Tim.2:4 that God desires all men to be saved. His desire for all men to be saved should never be questioned. But here His desire does not reach the level of decree as we see it does with individuals in Eph.1.

August 22, 2007 12:17 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"His desire does not reach the level of decree"

That's a bit too deep for me. How do we "unpack" that, as they say?

August 22, 2007 2:05 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

I hold that He loves all men without exception, although He loves His elect with a deeper (and ultimately) saving love i.e. a love that effects their salvation, bringing them to actual faith in His Son etc.,

I don't buy that, yet my Calvinism still has all five points firmly intact. ;-)

I just don't see that in scripture - I don't see God as loving me more or even differently on account of his election of me. I don't think my election depends upon some special love, nor do I think my election produced some special love, in fact I hold that God loves all men equally sinner and saint, regardless of their status as it pertains to the election. If God loves at all it is without measure, period. I am presently convinced, and pleasantly so, that my election was not on account of God's love, but rather on account of God's own hidden counsel.

Am I the only one? Do we need special love for the doctrine of election? If not, why the baggage?

August 22, 2007 7:17 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Daniel,

I don't know the answers to your questions, but (as quite often) you have me now thinking, and I would need to go back and reexamine Scripture on your comment. But I would ask you:

1. I am presently convinced, and pleasantly so, that my election was not on account of God's love, but rather on account of God's own hidden counsel.

Do you see your position (election based on God's counsel) in Scripture, and if so, would you mind sharing where?

2. Am I the only one? Do we need special love for the doctrine of election? If not, why the baggage?

I guess I don't understand your last two-part question. I don't know that we need special love for election, but Paul’s epistles to the elect certainly remind me of God’s love for His own people, as well as God’s love described throughout the OT for His people Israel, who are a chosen people (although I daresay there are grouped among them the non-faithful).

Would you mind explaining to me your last question (re: baggage)? I don’t get what you mean.

August 22, 2007 8:54 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

I offer two verses below for my view. While I don't know about God's love for the unredeemed verses the redeemed, I find it extremely difficult to believe that God has any love for anyone that dies unredeemed and goes to hell. I do agree with Colin that at the very least there is a greater/stronger/different love for those that God foreknew. This has nothing to do with anything whatsoever that could be considered merit.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

Deut. 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

August 22, 2007 9:05 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"I just don't see that in scripture - I don't see God as loving me more or even differently on account of his election of me." -Daniel

"As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." Rom. 9:13

August 22, 2007 9:44 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Ah, it is good to stir the nest. ;-)

Susan, as to your first question, (Do you see your position (election based on God's counsel) in Scripture, and if so, would you mind sharing where?
) I would say yes, I see election based on God's own counsel in scripture, both in general and in particular.

In general we have verses such as Wayne quoted, (Deuteronomy 29:29 - "The secret things belong to the LORD our God,...") and in other verese such as Romans 11:33-34, (Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?), of course there are many verses that illustrate that God does not reveal all His counsel to us, and I don't think anyone here needs me to illustrate -that- notion. I think however what is asked of me is to illuminate the more particular notion that God has elected men according to his own counsel...

In verses such as Romans 8:28 we see that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to God's purpose, a thought that is echoed again in 2 Timothy 2:19 where we read, ...who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
- and again in Ephesians 1:11, ("also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, "). We read in other passages that this election was according to God's mercy, and his grace - but we do *not* read that it was according to some special love, or even according to love at all - I don't see that in scripture, but I hear about it in many circles.


My last question (explained) was that if God's election is based upon his own purpose why do we impose God's love as an initiating factor in our doctrine of election? Do we really believe that God loves us more than the lost?

Don - Thanks for the verse, I hope my understanding of it is not too fluffy. I am convinced that love and hate are not mutually exclusive, that is, I don't presume that I must either love -or- hate because doing one negates the other. That would suggest a binary relationship between love and hate that is not there. Love and hate are not opposed to one another, even if our English poetry would have us believe so - the "opposite" of love is not hate it is indifference, likewise the opposite of hatred is not love, it too is indifference.

I mention these not because I think you are unaware of the nature of love, but rather because in quoting that verse you seem to be suggesting that God hated Esau and "therefore" God did not love him - a line of reasoning that insistes that you cannot love and hate at the same time - which however poetic, is rubbish. The wife who hates her husband for cheating on her, this one hates because she loves so much. I am sure I don't have to paint the countless pictures of love and hate being present at the same time in a person here on earth - and my point is that if we as limited reflections of the divine image can love and hate at the same time, why do we imagine that for God love and hate are mutually exclusive? Why do we insist that God didn't love Esau? Yes, God detested him (for that is the meaning of the word), but that in no way proves that God did not love him - it only proves that God detested him.

I see the verse, but I don't see it proving that God doesn't love everyone equally.

My challenge to anyone is to show from scripture that God doesn't love everyone equally.

The arminians understand one thing right - God loves the world. It is a lesser form of Calvinism (IMO), that insists that God must love the elect in some special way. I don't think this special love is biblical, nor do I think it adds much to Calvinism - except to make it more detestable to those who believe that God loves everyone.

I am however, quite willing to be instructed out of my error, if I can be made to see it as such.

August 23, 2007 8:54 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Gee, Daniel, I don't know. The first part of your explanation for the 'general' reasons regarding God's secret counsel could apply to much of His thoughts and reasoning not limited to or necessarily even including His love.

The second part with respect to the verses you provided - I would agree with one of them - Ephesians 1:11, except that I also see in that particular chapter where He has sovereignly elected us in His love:

"even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will," (verses 4 and 5)

According to the purpose of His will, yes, but also in love. So that the will and the love are not mutually exclusive. It is not only according to His secret counsel (and who knows if that includes election?), but His love that He predestined us. While it may not be a "more/less" qualifier, there is a distinction in the love and its expression - hence, this post discussion of a "love unto salvation."

With respect to that love, I think perhaps the key for me would be an understanding that although He may love everyone, He doesn't love them all the same. In other words, I think He loves all people, but Don's example of Jacob and Esau is illustrative of God’s emotion/feeling (for lack of better words) do in fact differ between individuals. And didn't God have this 'emotion' toward them from their days in the womb?

I think your challenge to folks to demonstrate from Scripture that God doesn't love everyone equally is shown right in that very verse that Jacob He loved but Esau He hated. From the womb. Paul in Romans goes to assume the argument of whether or not then there is injustice on God's part - but of course you know the rest.

"Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?"

and

"For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."

With respect to love, hate and indifference - yes and no.

I understand your argument regarding feeling/lack of feeling, but I think that the verse on Jacob and Esau reflects a parallelism (is that the correct word?), whereby they are juxtaposed to prove a point and the use of the words "love" and "hate" are indeed used as opposites to make a point. It's not said, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I was indifferent about." I don't know anyone about whom it is written that God is indifferent about.

I think it can be said that God "cares" about all of His creatures ("cares" implying emotion or feeling - either love or hate), but to suggest that God hates someone and therefore it's because He loves them by way of comparison to the wife hurt by her husband and now she hates him because she loved or loves him still - I don't think that's quite the example for comparison to God. One could just as easily use the example of a man murdering or torturing another man – for any reason or none – which is hate without the requirement of love anywhere therein.

Hate would be an emotion and hence feeling about someone, but it’s hardly required that someone hates because first they loved.

I don’t know. These are just a few of my scattered rambling thoughts because I’m still thinking through all of this – but I don’t yet buy the “God loves everyone equally” argument because we as humans want Him to do so in order to justify our own view of morality (I’m not saying that’s what you yourself are doing, Daniel, but I do think that it’s a large part of contemporary Christianity), that would be “fair.”

I don’t know that Scripture provides support that His election is based solely on His secret counsel (if secret, how would we know unless imposing our own bias and thought upon it?) apart from a love that is distinguished from His love of the non-elect in some way. It’s hard to understand or explain why Pharaoh was raised up for what he was without an understanding of God’s special love for His people Israel during that time. Even among His people – the verse on Jacob and Esau reflects a different kind of emotion from God – qualified by Himself as “hate.” Nowhere does it suggest that that emotion carries with it His love. That too, I think, is an imposed interpretation.

Again, that’s just my scatter-brained thoughts after only one cup of coffee.

August 23, 2007 10:25 AM

 
Blogger swordbearer said...

Daniel,

Several Issues:

1. Your logic fails to qualify the love (of God) that you speak of.

In the same way that one can err in doctrine when failing to distinguish between God's decretal will, his permissive will, etc., (and simply make blanket statements about God's will); one can do the same when one fails to distinguish between the various aspects AND relationships associated with God's love.

2. You err in stating "... I don't see God as loving me more or even differently on account of his election of me."

You fail to take into account that God's love serves as the basis of election (whereas your statement refers to it as only the result of election.)

Certainly the Scripture speaks of God's love (foreknowledge = forelove) in relation to our election -

Rom 8:29 "For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son..."
Eph 1:4 "For he CHOSE US in him before the creation of the world... In LOVE he PREDESTINED US to be adopted..." (... Note - NOT ALL are included in this aspect, or are the recipients of, this aspect of God's love!)

The point is God does not simply love us because of our election, but he set his love upon us in election (not because of any merit in us, but because he chose to love us in that manner).

While there are aspects in which God loves (and shows love to...) all (as his creatures who were created good; in the love he shows by extending the gospel to all, etc.); God does not love all the same (in the same ways, or to the same extent, etc.)

August 23, 2007 10:26 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I think He loves all people,

I should rephrase this. I think He loves all peoples, not necessarily all persons.

August 23, 2007 10:27 AM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"I see the verse, but I don't see it proving that God doesn't love everyone equally."

Daniel, I see this verse in the context Paul writes to say exactly that.

God has mercy on whom He wills. Why does He have mercy on those He has elected to have mercy on?

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ". Eph. 2:4-5

"I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20

"Father, I will that those whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, ... for You have loved Me before the foundation of the world. ...
and have loved them, as You have loved Me." John 17:24,23

I like your example of a wife hating, and loving, her husband.

Does God love and hate His elect? His Bride?
I don't think He does.
He loves us, (those whom He has had mercy on, and those whom He will one day have mercy on), with an eternal love.

Do we grieve Him? And do we cause Him to discipline us? Absolutely. Is this God hating us, when we sin, and He chastizes us?
I don't think so.

I see the Bible teaching that the love God the Father has for His Son, Jesus Christ, which is a divine perfect love, and absolutely flawless.
It's this love that we, God's elect, have upon us.
I don't believe this love is the same love that the Lord has for the wicked, those who are not chosen. Those whom the Lord hates, as He does Esau.

One more thought.
All of us deserve God's hatred and wrath. We are all children of His wrath by nature. We are rebels and haters of righteousness and God's truth.

Why He simply doesn't judge us all with His righteous justice?

I don't know other then He wants to glorify His grace and mercy, and He willed not to do so, because He set His love upon us.

August 23, 2007 10:31 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
Eph. 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

How could Paul say "in love" if there is no distinction between the love of God for those he redeems and those who are passed over. No merit brought about this love, but it is love that is not universal. If the love is universal and equal, how could Paul single it out as a reason?

August 23, 2007 10:43 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, the Greek here is interesting, as grammatically we can equally tie "in love" to both the predestination, or our being holy. Were we predestined to be "holy and unblemished in love" or were we "predestined in love to be holy and unblemished".

The prepositional phrase "en agape" ("in love") grammatically speaking, can (syntax wise) be applied to three separate words in the immediate phrasing: it can apply to "choose", to "holy and unblemished," or to "by predestining" in verse 5.

If it applies to "chose", then it is saying that God is motivated by love to make the election - but this is an awkward reading because of the placement of the prepositional phrase being so far away from the verb "choose", and so we typically don't hear a lot of discussion about this option. ;-)

If it applies to "holy and unblemished," then it is saying that the motivation for setting ourselves apart in sanctification must be love. Translating the text this way reflects the common use of agape (elsewhere in this epistle) to refer to our love, and for this reason I favor this rendering grammatically.

If "in love" applies to "by predestining", it adds some awkward clutter to the verse, as the verb here is an aorist participle dependent on "choose" in verse 4., again, awkward but not unworkably so.

Which is only to say that I wouldn't hold one translation and say "this is correct" over another which is just as correct grammatically speaking without having first examined the remainder of scripture to see if in fact there is an echo of either thought elsewhere - such that some theological weight might help us to understand which way we ought to translate the verse.

Does scripture teach us anywhere that love ought to be our motivation?

Does scripture teach us anywhere that love is God's motivation?

Anyway - I can't chat this up too long - I am busy all day, but I don't want to hit and run either.

I will come back to this when I have time.

August 23, 2007 11:13 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Don said, "I see this verse in the context Paul writes to say ... [that God doesn't love everyone equally]."

And I see it to say that God doesn't hate everyone equally. >giggle<

To be sure, I would say (with some qualification) that God hates everyone equally; but I would qualify that in this way - God is righteous and just to hate every act of rebellion and treason, and to hate the one who commits such against him, and to have done so indiscriminately throughout all of history.

Notwithstanding, I believe that this same hatred that God rightly extends towards every last human being that has ever rebelled against him - has been borne in Christ for His elect, such that Jacob's relationship with God was premised upon his participation in Christ, and not upon any merit of his own - and Esau, being "not in Christ" and thereby having no one to bear God's wrath directed at him, had to bear God's hatred himself.

I believe that everything that God hated about Jacob was borne on the cross with Christ - such that God could have said, Jacob I have hated in Christ such that only my love remained, but Esau bears his own wrath and even my love will not save him from it.

That is how I see it at least, it is a product of the "big picture" rather than a conclusion drawn from a proof-text, so there is room for error on my part, certainly, but I do think this idea of "special love" is a very poor apology for what is seen in scripture.

I mention that because the train I got on was heading into "God doesn't have some special love for the elect" town. But it seems I am being kidnapped put on board the "You are trying to say that God doesn't love the elect at all" town, or something equally as divergent.

My interest remains in being shown that God's love for the elect is superior, or even different than his love for anyone else. The defense I am hearing seems easily distilled into "God saves the elect therefore he loves them more" and that isn't terribly convincing.

I don't deny that God is merciful and gracious. I said as much in my previous comment - of course God is loving, of course he is merciful, of course these aspects of the divine nature play a part in election - the question for me is whether God's infinite love is especially more infinite for the elect - of if that isn't the invention of a man to explain something that could be explained without the invention.

August 23, 2007 12:36 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Swordbearer, thank you for your comments. I don't think I follow you with respect to your first concern - omission is simply that, it isn't an error in logic to fail to drill down on every item. Logic errors happen when I draw a conclusion from a flawed premise.

You say that I have erred because I have failed to take into account that God's love serves as the basis of election.

But that is the very heart of the discussion - I don't agree that God's love serves as the basis of election, so it isn't exactly a failure to reckon from that perspective, it is the marrow of the discussion. One cannot be held in error for having a contrary apology on the basis that one's apology runs contrary to someone else's apology. I hope you see this.

You say, "The point is God does not simply love us because of our election, but he set his love upon us in election (not because of any merit in us, but because he chose to love us in that manner)." as though I am contesting such a thing. I hope you will re-read my comments and see that there is nothing in them to suggest that I imagine that God's love is an effect of our election. I don't.

You have quite a novel take on foreknowledge being equated to love, my presumption is that you come to this conclusion from the KJV? That is, because when Adam "knew" Eve there is present in that statement the picture of intimacy, and so you feel justified in inferring a strained extension of the metaphor such that foreknowledge = love? I am guessing here because, frankly, I have never heard anyone make the claim, nor do I see any linguistic reason (other than the whimsical one I just noted) to draw that conclusion. I should be interested in knowing how you came to make it.

August 23, 2007 12:52 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne, my answer to Susan touched upon your question, but as I have said elsewhere, I am not insisting that God's love doesn't play some role, but rather that there is something extra infinite about the love that God loves the elect with.

That is what I should like to discuss. Where does the idea come from and is it warranted.

August 23, 2007 12:54 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"My interest remains in being shown that God's love for the elect is superior, or even different than his love for anyone else. The defense I am hearing seems easily distilled into "God saves the elect therefore he loves them more"

I see it this way: "God loves the elect therefore He saves them"


"The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ....
But because the Lord loved you" Deut 7:7-8

God actually loved us before He created the universe.
His love, which is perfect, and cannot be anything but full of mercy, is upon Danile, Donald, and all who God has chosen to love, though we in no way deserve His love, and instead deserve His wrath and eternal punishment.

I don't believe this love is upon those who will fall under His wrath.

If this same love was upon them, then God would save them as well.

I appreciate your deep thoughts on this Daniel. One of my best friends feels, and sees it the same as you. But I think you're both wrong.

August 23, 2007 12:59 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Don - I don't deny that God loved me and chose me in eternity past, what I deny is that God doesn't love the non-elect.

"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."

A careful read of the passage shows that the reason the Lord chose Israel had nothing to do with their numbers, and similarly, that the reason the Lord loved them had nothing to do with their numbers. The setting his love on them, and the choosing them share this together, neither are founded upon the size of Israel, they are coupled together here because they both appeal (or fail to appeal) to the same idea - it wasn't because the nation of Israel was big that God loved them, or chose them. I am not inclined to arbitrarily blur or confuse those two ideas so as to suggest that the choice was because of the love.

I don't deny that they were brought out of Egypt because of God's love and his promises - but that is not tied to the choice, the choice is already made at that point.

Which is to say, that I don't see in this text a certainty that God's election is founded upon love - I do see that God loves, and I do see that God chooses, and that in this case the cause of both the love and the choice was not founded in any merit on the part of the Israelites - but I don't see their proximity in the language as being sufficient to justify purposely confusing the meaning of the two such that they express the same thought.

Notwithstanding, if you plan to use this text to say that God elected these people because he loved them - then you must agree (if you are going to be consistent) that all of Israel will be saved, since the love here applies to all Israel - even those whose bodies adorned the wilderness - no?

I think proof-texting is great when we are writing confessional statements and want to show where we find these things in scripture, but I don't think a verse proves a point unless it can be shown to do so not only in the immediate context, but also in harmony with the remainder of scripture.

We make much ado about the fact that "All" doesn't always mean "all" but often means "all kinds of" etc. So it would be fruitless I suppose to suggest that God loves everyone based upon the texts that say so - since by qualifying our understanding of "all" etc., we can have the text say that God does not love "all" but only "all of those whom he loves" - which however remarkable in its redundancy, is moreso remarkable in the fact that those who cling to it ignore the redundancy - why bother saying all, when you really mean "all of some"?

So perhaps it is more fruitful to say, is there not one example in scripture of God loving even one non-elect sinner?

What about the rich young ruler? Scripture plainly says that Christ loved him - but scripture just as plainly shows that the man was not elect for he rejected Christ in order to keep his stash.

What about Judas? Did Christ hate him? We don't see that do we...

I could go on, the numbers are certainly on my side, and if you are willing, you will no doubt be able to add to the numbers yourself - scripture paints the picture of God loving sinners who will not come to faith ever. What do you do with that?

Personally, I take that to mean that if I think God's election is based upon love, I ought to look a little closer and see if I am not just reading that in because it makes sense to me.

It may be that I am wrong of course, but I am willing to look into these things and see if I am.

August 23, 2007 2:50 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"that all of Israel will be saved,"

That's what Paul said in Romans 11.

But not all Israel is Israel.

Daniel, I admit there is a mystery in God's love, that we, His created beings will never come to know this side of heaven. And perhaps, not even in glory, which I can't wait to see.

You make an excellent pint about the ruler.

There's a missing link methinks.

I look at it this way. If God loved a non-elect person with the love He loved me with, then He would save him.
That's all I have right now.
Have to go tend to my grandson.

August 23, 2007 4:05 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Don ~ I have appreciated your willingness to discuss this. Not many people, once they settle into their theology are willing to examine it with fresh eyes. I have had to look at this a little closer, and am thankful to do so.

August 23, 2007 6:14 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Does scripture teach us anywhere that love ought to be our motivation?

I don’t know that it specifically states “Love ought to be your motivation,” but we are commanded to love – in fact to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the greatest commandment and the second like unto it – to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I don’t know that your argument with the Greek proves your point any more than it – in your view – refutes mine.

I do know that the command to love and the expression of God’s love toward His elect is all over the NT and throughout the OT with respect to Israel. I do not see it in like manner toward the unsaved, the children born of flesh and not spirit, and the enemies of His people.

Perhaps you could charge me with making an assumption that He has saved us out of His love that He does not show toward the non-elect, but I think your assumption that God hates Esau and therefore He loves Esau is without basis if your only argument is comparing the love of a wife for her husband whom she may later hate. There are plenty of like examples on earth of hate without a speck of love (murder, robbery, rape, torture).

Whereas I only see a few verses regarding God’s secret counsel and unknown ways (which are - obviously - unknown as to what they regard), I see innumerable verses toward only the elect like these:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved…” – Eph. 2:4-5

And this:

“As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'” – Romans 9:25

Which suggests to me that “her who was not beloved” was – well, not loved. Or I suppose you could counter “not beloved does not necessarily mean not loved,” which could be true. But the fact that God’s words in Romans 9 detail the very depth of love with which He reaches down to elect some people distinguishes them from those who are “not beloved.” I read that as “not loved.”

And I read “Esau I hated” as hate, not love.

Guess we’ll probably have to agree to disagree on this one.

I’m not saying that I like it, but that’s what I see. My human nature would be so inclined as to say, “well, God is love and therefore He loves all equally,” but that’s not what I see in Scripture.

August 23, 2007 8:30 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, I should clarify, I do not assume that because God hates Esau He therefore loves Esau - that is *not* the point I was making, and I wouldn't suggest such a thing. What I did suggest is that if I can love a person and hate a person at the same time, it demonstrates that love and hate are not mutually exclusive, that is, if we -know- that we (ourselves) are fully capable of loving and hating at the same time, how can we insist that God is not able to do the same - or at least, how can we develop theologies that depend upon a binary relationship that is plainly and soundly refuted in our own experience.

I was not suggesting that in order to hate a person you must first love that person, which seems to be what you conclude of my remarks.

I am not the sort of Christian who is inclined to agree to disagree. I think that is usually a very poor way to end a discussion. Rather, if I am mistaken, I am open to correction, and while I allow myself this conceit, that I assume I am right until shown otherwise, I do try and keep a conversation going long enough to be instructed out of my error. ;-)

I stated it plainly enough I thought, that I regard Esau as being detested or (if you prefer) hated. I never suggested that he wasn't. What I have not agreed with is the mutual exclusion - that is, I do not imagine that God loves some and hates some, and never the two shall meet.

I asked Don, and I ask you too - the rich young ruler, whom scripture plainly tells us Christ loved - this man walked away without salvation, he was as clearly "not elect" as scripture gets on the matter. Has God hated him or loved him, and if God has loved him, then why wasn't he saved according to the mentality that everyone whom God loves he is motivated to save?

I hope you will not toss this out just yet. I find whether we come out of such a discussion in perfect agreement or not, we always come out with a better understanding than when we came into the discussion - and if for no other reason such discussions have merit.

Thanks for hanging in this long. ;-)

August 23, 2007 10:21 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
It seems to me that when we compare God's love for the elect with his love for the non-elect we are not comparing apples to apples. In viewing the elect would he not be loving the product of his divine grace. IOW, he would be seeing a person that he has made spiritually alive from a state of spiritually deadness.

A regenerated spiritually alive person has been made that way by divine intervention and is a new creation by virtue of a God given heart transplant. I think the last verses in Romans 8 highlight that point. A spiritually alive person is different and Ephesians 2 as well as Romans 8 point that out.

When you compare a regenerate person with an unregenerate person, you are comparing apples and oranges.

August 23, 2007 10:51 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I asked Don, and I ask you too - the rich young ruler, whom scripture plainly tells us Christ loved - this man walked away without salvation, he was as clearly "not elect" as scripture gets on the matter. Has God hated him or loved him, and if God has loved him, then why wasn't he saved according to the mentality that everyone whom God loves he is motivated to save?


To me, Scripture indicates that God loved the rich young ruler:

"And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
- Mark 10:21

Scripture however is silent on whether or not the rich young ruler ever repented. It only indicates that at that meeting, he went away sorrowful. But it does not ever say that he was not one of the elect. It's just speculation to know whatever became of him. But we do know that he was loved.

But this particular text from Scripture has no bearing as I see it on the fact that God indicates in Scripture that He loves unto salvation His elect and that is special indeed.

I realize that there can be a love-hate relationship. I don't disagree that they need be mutually exclusive, but I also know that there can be hate without love. And I see in Scripture with respect to Esau, God only says He hated (or if you prefer, detested) him. I see no indication of love, and therefore I do not presume love upon the text where none is written or indicated. I read hate (or detest). So that's what I believe.

if God has loved him, then why wasn't he saved according to the mentality that everyone whom God loves he is motivated to save?

Because none of us knows the mind of God. How can I explain His mind or will? Who could? Romans 9 gives me all the information (well, that and the rest of Scripture, of course) that I need to know in answer to your particular question:

"For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." - Romans 9:15

Thank *you* for continuing the discussion. I disagree that agreeing to disagree is a bad thing. ;-) However, I agree that in continuing the conversation, something new may be gleaned or learned. So thank you.

August 23, 2007 11:27 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

according to the mentality that everyone whom God loves he is motivated to save?

I should also add that I don't think that's the mentality of folks here who are espousing the view that God loves in a particular way His elect. No one is indicating (not that I have seen) that everyone whom God loves He is motivated to save.

August 23, 2007 11:30 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

" But we do know that he was loved."

Amen Susan.

And he may not have ever been born again. I tend to think he wasn't.

The Lord loves in a way that is so beyond our understanding, and yet He gives us enough understanding of His love, (His divine eternal love), so that we, His elect, are able to to know it, and experience it in Christ; and so demonstrate in this age of darkness.

The Bible rules, and we all agree on this. We can not add or take away from God's revealed truth. And that's such a comforting thought.

August 23, 2007 11:45 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Just another thought (or two) that I was too tired to write last night.

I see the Esau verse as a parallel statement. God is pointing out His love for one and contrasting it with His feelings (hate, detest) for the other. As such, I don't believe that the thinking of mixed emotions (love-hate) enters into play here nor should be.

I looked up reference in Romans (9:13) for greater understanding and was lead to Malachi 1:3-4, from whence it is taken. Sproul's footnote to these particular verses notes:

"1:3 hated Although there is a usage of the verb 'hate' which means 'to love less' [Gen. 29:31; Luke 14:26], the context immediately following suggests that here 'hate' means active rejection, displeasure, and disfavor manifested in retributive justice. It is not merely that Esau (Edom) suffers the absence or lessening of blessing, but that he receives judgment. For this usage of 'hate,' see Ps. 5:5, Is. 61:8, Amos 5:21, Mal 2:16."

If I recall correctly, this sentiment on the part of God was from the boys' days in the womb? (Romans 9:11)

Now, this is particularly disturbing to today's mentality, and I confess that when I first started reading Scripture with any real interest for understanding, the story of Ishmael caused me great trouble. It just didn't sound like the "God of love" I had always heard of and, of course, imagined.

But once I learned of the doctrines of grace, God's sovereignty was absolute. There's a God I can fear. And all the moreso from passages like this.

I realize we have to balance our understanding based on the totality of Scripture, but I read about Ishmael, raising up Pharaoh for God's own purpose, some of the judgment that seems to our day and our ears severe -- men stricken down dead for having fallen and touched the ark (wasn't it an accident?); slaying men, women and children of enemy camps; wiping out the world - inc children - with a flood; children in Sodom and Gomorrah; evil men prepared for the day of destruction; clay molded specifically by the Potter for dishonor; etc. - well, it just doesn't seem surprising to me that God could actually hate someone - even from the womb.

I may not understand it fully - but that's certainly not the only area of Scripture that I don't understand fully. And I just can't reconcile "Esau I hated" any other way.

August 24, 2007 9:11 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan, Don, and Daniel,
Thanks for your thoughts. I wish Colin would stop by.
Wayne

August 24, 2007 9:42 AM

 
Blogger luke said...

Very interesting discussion here.

Looking at RC Sproul's comments that were quoted by one of the commenters, there is something that he alludes to about Essau that helps out a lot with understanding the point of Romans 9.

It is not merely that Esau (Edom) suffers the absence or lessening of blessing, but that he receives judgment. For this usage of 'hate' ....

August 24, 2007 10:40 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

I have been trying to isolate in my own thinking the pivotal contention in the matter.

I suppose that I have no trouble with the idea that God's love is the "cause" of the election per se, but only in the general sense - that is, I can see that God's love is indeed (in whole or in part) the motivation behind His decision to call people to Himself. But where I seem to disagree is precisely at this one point - that God's love is the factor that determines -who- is chosen.

I marvel that if I am commanded to love my neighbor regardless of whether that neighbor is elect - and more, if the whole law of God can be summed up in that command - I say I marvel that I am tragically commanded to do a thing that God himself does not do, that is, to love everyone as myself.

I am having a lot of trouble seeing God as saying to men to "Do as I say, and not as I do..."

I see that God hates us one and all, in that God pours out his wrath indiscriminately against all who sin - for every sin shall suffer an eternal consequence, regardless of whether that sin is committed by one of the elect or not. I do not see even the smallest hint of a sin escaping God's judgment. For the believer, that judgment took place on Calvary in Christ - not that God ignored our sin, but that he poured his wrath out in its entirety on our sin in Christ - and in doing so God slew our Savior. But no just God could ever allow the death of an innocent, and so Christ was raised from the dead on account of His own righteousness, and we who were united in that death, we too were raised in Him such that now we stand before God, and to be sure, from eternity past we stood before God in Christ, such that the hatred that God has for us never touches us personally, having been born by Christ already for us.

I see therefore that God loved Jacob, for Christ bore Jacob's sin, Christ bore Jacob's guilt, his rebellion - Christ bore all that God hated in Jacob - and in Christ God destroyed all that, such that when scripture says that God loved Jacob it means that the love with which God loved Jacob was unencumbered by God's condemnation.

Esau however bore his own sin, his own guilt, his own condemnation, and having no refuge in Christ, the love that God had for Esau - the same love that he commands us to have for our fellow man - was eclipsed by that same condemnation, and we can say with certainty that God utterly detested (hated) Esau.

I have no problem with understanding God's love and God's hatred in this light - the cross points to such an understanding. It isn't that we were hated by God until we turned to God - then he started loving us - it is that Christ bore the hatred that justly belonged to the elect in Himself, and for that reason, from eternity past our just God has been able to extend His love towards us without the encumbrance of His righteous hatred of our sin. Thus, from the cradle to the moment I was saved, God has love me, and in love drawn me to Himself - not some last minute "just before I was saved" sort of thing - but has loved me always, just as he loves all men always. The only difference is his wrath towards the elect has been poured out on Christ such that we neither know nor will ever experience the wrath of God.

I really do believe that scripture teaches that God is love, and that God loves all men equally, and I really do believe that it was that love that caused God to decide to save some people, but I don't believe that it was this same love that was used to select who would be saved - that is, I make a distinction between the cause in general and the choice in particular.

In 2 Samuel 8:2 we read of King David, "And he defeated Moab and he measured them with a line, making them lie down on the ground. Two lines he measured to be put to death, and one full line to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute."

David determined in his heart to show mercy to the Moabites whom he defeated - so he his men line up the Moabites, and they took a length of rope and measured out a full length twice - these were put to death, then measured out a full length once, these were spared, and he continued to do so until all had been decided.

I see that it was David's mercy, and by extension God's mercy here, that settled the matter of sparing some - but while the choice to save any, and even how many ought to be saved was certainly founded upon (caused by) David's mercy, and compassion - yet the election of those who were spared was only indirectly a product of that mercy - the choice itself, at least in this case, was not that David went through the prisoners, and used the mercy he felt to determine who would live and who would die - rather the choice, at least here in scripture, was indiscriminate, one might even say arbitrary. Compare such a text against Zechariah 13:7-9 and perhaps God will show you connect some dots...?

Notwithstanding, I don't suggest that God's election has to be arbitrary, (though I don't deny the possibility either!) - my point is only that when I make a distinction between love/grace/mercy/compassion/lovingkindness etc being the motivating factor behind election - I don't bind that to the individual, but rather to the group - even as David had done - compassion caused him to spare individuals, but it was not his compassion that choose which individuals to spare.

That is how I presently see it, and if I had to put my finger on the pivot point - that would be it. I don't see God's love as being the choice-maker, even though I do (after some thought) agree that it is (in whole or in part) certainly a cause of it.

Let me know if that clarifies what I have been saying or just muddles it some more. I confess, that I have held this opinion for a long time, but I haven't articulated it until just now, and our first words are often clumsy.

August 24, 2007 1:59 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
I certainly agree with you that God's choice of who he would elect has nothing to do with anything in them or any reason for setting his mercy on them rather than those he passes over.

When I picked Jazzy out of a litter of kittens it was not for any special love I had for her or any quality I saw in her. However, if I had possessed the power of foreknowledge and could have seen how I was going to become attached to her, then I would have had great affection for her at the moment I chose her. This may be a bad analogy, I don't know.

Wayne

August 24, 2007 3:17 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Daniel,

I'm still considering all of what you've written.

I have one question, even though I'm still digesting most of your writing.

Are you saying that Jesus atoned for the sins of God's chosen elect prior to Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection? (for Christ bore Jacob's sin, Christ bore Jacob's guilt, his rebellion - Christ bore all that God hated in Jacob - and in Christ God destroyed all that)

Does that bear out Scripturally?

August 24, 2007 3:24 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, I would have you answer your question with a question - how did the old testament saints have their sins atoned? By the blood of bulls and goats, or the blood of Christ?

The way we answer this question will say much about our understanding of the nature of the atonement.

I believe that Jesus took our sins to the cross in this way - our "old man" was crucified with Him. The "Me" that was condemned (the old man) was united with Christ, and taken to the cross with him - and there (in Christ) God dealt with my sins - not as though each sin was some disembodied "thing" that was pinned onto Jesus - but that he entered into union with me as Romans six plainly states, and that through this union I died when Christ died - not metaphorically, but literally - the part of me that stood condemned was judged and destroyed in Christ on Calvary, not merely that my sins were lifted off me and placed on him - but more than this - that the "body of sin" was united with Christ and crucified with him so that I would be truly free from sin, not metaphorically - but physically, actually, presently and really. In this way did my Savior atone for me - he bore my life in Himself, and died my death for me, so that when God raised him, I received a new life in Christ. Thus, my atonement is not and cannot be divorced from my union with Christ - as the vehicle for my atonement is the fact that I died there, and was raised there - or if you prefer, that I was judged there, and found guilty there, punished there, and raised again not because of my own righteousness, but because I had entered into union with The Righteous One, and by His righteousness God raised Him, and by my union with Him (and not my own righteousness) God raised me.

Christ took into himself the redeemed, whether they be OT saints or new - all are met in Christ.

Time means very little in this equation - the physical event (the crucifixion) happened 2000 years ago, but the spiritual event happened in eternity - meaning not before or after, but "outside" of creation. Discussions about things that happen in eternity are troublesome because we exist in bubble of creation - a bubble that has a beginning and will have an end - a bubble that is finite both in time and in space - a bubble that we cannot see out of. God exists not before or after the bubble, but outside of it (if we can use such a spatial picture to portray something we can only describe as utterly alien to our own experience). Which is my way of saying, when I talk about eternity and the things that take place in eternity, I find words like before and after don't really apply, but we really do lack any language to handle the concepts otherwise.

Your question therefore was "Does that bear out scripturally?" and my answer is, "that depends" ...

Some truths are seen best from a perspective whereby we hold all of God's word in our mind in a moment, and regarding each of its parts as notes a single chorus, such that each voice in the chorus sings the same song, some in harmony, some in melody - such that sometimes when we focus in on a detail we must know the song that is being sung in order to make out the lyrics.

I know that is about as flaky and poor an answer as can be given, but the reality is that providing proof texts can only point a person in the direction that someone else found the truth in - but a string of verse will not always portray the truth. Two men might here the same passage, and one sees in it the doctrine of individual election , the other a corporate election. They both apply the same proof texts, and they both see their own opinions reflected back at them in these texts. Were I more scholastically minded, I would enjoy knitting a fabric of verses together, as many do and are trained to do (and many do well), but I sometimes (not always) find it more helpful to simply lay out the truth plain as I know how, and let God's Spirit teach whether it is true or not. The most accurate sermon in the world only has as much light in it as the Holy Spirit grants. Which is not meant as an excuse in anyway - but rather I find it more valuable to teach men to fish than to fish for them. Christ didn't say, "I am the Christ" he said, "who do you say that I am" - I think sometimes that approach is best.

So my question was pointed back to you for that purpose - do you *not* see Jacob in Christ? How then do you think the atonement works? ;-)

I hope I am not derailing this discussion yet again here. .. ;-)

August 24, 2007 4:45 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne - that sounds suspiciously Arminian... see if you can catch the similarities:

"God chose me because he saw beforehand that I would choose him."

"God chose me because he saw beforehand that he would love me"

I am just saying... ;-)

August 24, 2007 4:47 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"But where I seem to disagree is precisely at this one point - that God's love is the factor that determines -who- is chosen."

You have a distinc way of seeing God's love and election, that's for sure.

Daniel, do you think God's love for His only begotten Son is different than His love for humans?

August 24, 2007 6:52 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

how did the old testament saints have their sins atoned? By the blood of bulls and goats, or the blood of Christ?

Daniel,

Help me out here.

The blood of Christ hadn't yet been spilled.

As I was running errands today, I was thinking about all this.
Certainly Job said "I know that my Redeemer lives." Which suggests to me Job had a redeemer. Before Jesus appeared on earth.

Still thinking it through though and don't get it.

But what I think you're suggesting sort of makes sense, except that I don't know why God would have put all that system in place for the OT saints rather than just send Christ at that point in time.

But what you're saying sounds like a more complete and unified picture of redemptive history than doing things one way for 3,000+ years, then another way 2,000+ years. (Not really another completely different way - per se - since blood always had to be shed, but you know what I mean.)

Sorry if my thinking is very simplistic. You may have dumb things down a notch (or five).

Oh, and another thought I had while driving around is that I agree with you very much on one point, but I would word it differently. I don't think God hates us one and all (thinking of John 3:16 here), but instead that God hates all men's sin/s equally. If God so loved the world to send His Son to die for men's sins, then God loves the world (not the globe, obviously, for He didn't send His Son to die for earth, but for men), not that God so hates men, but loves them. But I'm not yet convinced that He loves them equally.

I was thinking on this earlier - you know how you, Daniel, use examples to illustrate? Well I was trying to think of a father loving both his sons, but relegating one to live in the cellar and stay there forever while the other enjoys meals at the table with his parents every night. We can "say" the father loves both sons equally, but His actions speak otherwise, and I doubt the son in the cellar would believe that his father really loves him. Now, this may be a bad or skewed example, but since you brought up the beaten wife, I felt justified to try and think it through with this example. :-)

Sorry if my efforts to explain are clumsy as well. I'm still thinking this all through.

August 24, 2007 8:34 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Daniel,

Forgive me. I wrote my answer as soon as I read your question, without my having read your entire comment.

(This explains why things need to be dumbed down for me - I have a bad habit of jumping the gun.)

Anyway, I need to think more on your last comment. The part about being "outside of time" does resonate.

And I confess that logically being found "in Christ" makes more sense to me for OT saints than any other way. Certainly also there are theophanies (the two angels and the Lord at Sodom), which suggest Christ's presence in eternity past prior to His incarnation - as well as the fact that all things were created in Him and for Him. In the beginning was the Word and the Word came to dwell among men.

But then - why the incarnation? I mean, if OT saints were saved before without it, I guess I have to wonder. Why did we need that? If saints were saved without it?

Sorry if this again is simple-minded.

August 24, 2007 8:40 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan - the OT saints were not saved "without [the incarnation]" They were saved without knowledge of the incarnation - but they were saved in the exact same way we are saved - by grace through faith, just as we are reconciled to God by turning in faith to Christ, so too they were reconciled to God having been placed into Christ through faith. The only difference being that the mechanism behind their salvation was veiled to them - though they did understand that God would provide a redeemer, and some even understood that the Mosaic forms were just that - placeholders - that their Messiah was promised and coming - they just didn't see as all that with the clarity of hindsight that we now have.

We ought to be clear - the coming of the Messiah didn't change the way we are justified (by grace through faith), it changed the way we are sanctified (through the indwelling Spirit), and shed much more light upon God's redemptive plan.

Let me know if that helps.

I deleted my last comment because there were a few words missing that messed it all up. This one says the same as the last, but with the words corrected, and a couple of things added.

August 24, 2007 10:45 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

We ought to be clear - the coming of the Messiah didn't change the way we are justified (by grace through faith), it changed the way we are sanctified (through the indwelling Spirit),

But how did the coming of the Messiah change only sanctification, if Christ's incarnation was the second person of the Trinity, not the third?

I know Christ had the Spirit descend upon Him at His baptism by John (or did He also have it before? Surely He did, as One of the Trinity). And the Spirit was given to *some* in the OT - but I do not see it imparted to *all* of those declared to have been saved by grace through faith. Is Abraham or his sons (Isaac, Jacob) ever mentioned as having the Spirit? Did they get Him (the Spirit)? Or not? Is that a change from OT to NT? And if so, why?

Sorry if these things seem like basics I should already know. But this idea of the OT saints being saved in their redeemer is - well, new to me - at least as I'm considering it now. They were aware of their Redeemer (Job) and may have even seen Him or some form of Him (Abraham), but having been "in Christ" is language for OT saints that is new to me, since it seems reserved language for the NT. Perhaps that's why this idea seems new.

Let me ask you something else (if the above confusion isn't enough).

I myself and Christian friends throughout the years have struggled with knowing when the Spirit is working or speaking within them. This is an area of consternation to more than a few Christians, I imagine. Sometimes it's just that folks think they know God's voice and then act and realize they didn't know His voice as they thought because it turned out not to be what they thought was right after all. Other times, I myself am not sure and give it a whole lotta time before ever speaking or acting on anything because I don't know for sure if the Spirit within me is moving me or if it's myself. I think the Spirit - although I know He is in me - can be a tricky thing.

You read the book Exegetical Fallacies by DA Carson. The example provided in footnote 2 which runs from the bottom of page 16 to 17 leaps to mind. It's a bit lengthy, but basically it discusses how two men (one of them the author) came to two different understandings of a particular text of Scripture, and one leaned on what is "Holy Spirit illumination," spiritual things being spiritually discerned, but DA Carson pretty much indicates that he believes this other person erred in interpretation. The other person said, "Well, I guess that would mean that the Spirit says the Bible means different things to different people."

Anyway, this is what I'm talking about. The whole area of Spirit-illumination for some reason makes me a bit nervous. I'm not sure if I trust what I'm gleaning as true revelation by Spirit or my own interpretation. Know what I mean?

August 24, 2007 11:18 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Daniel,
One more question:
Do you love your children more or differently than children of other people?
Does it not seem reasonable that God would love His Own children more or differently than children of the Devil?

August 25, 2007 9:05 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan - I do not suggest that the OT saints were indwelt by the Holy Spirit - they were not. Christ was the first human indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and when He "went away", He promised not to leave His disciples as orphans, but that He would send them a helper - the same Spirit who had indwelt Him. The Holy Spirit did not indwell Christ in the "New Covenant" way until He was baptized in the Jordan. Prior to that Christ was like Adam in the Garden (before the fall) - He was not born into Adam's condemnation, and so was never separated from God on account of Adam's sin - that is, just as Adam was aware of God's presence before the fall, so too Christ would have been aware of God's presence - and we see a hint of that where Christ, even as a child Jesus understood clearly who His Heavenly Father was, and when Jesus teaches in the temple, He does so with first hand certainty. But it wasn't until the Jordan that God "annointed" Christ with the Holy Spirit for the ministry that Christ would embark upon - the unique ministry of the Messiah - the annointed one.

So the while the OT saints had the Holy Spirit "come upon them" (think of Sampson, when his consecration was intact (that is, when his nazarite hair remained uncut hair and no wine or grapes touched his lips) the spirit would came upon him and give him supernatural strength when he needed it. When that consecration was compromised (cut hair) God's Spirit no longer came to his aid. The point is that Sampson wasn't strong because of his muscles - he was strong because God's Spirit manifested Himself with Sampson in that way - but not in an indwelling way. Sampson is one of the more obvious examples (on account of the very physical manifestation of God's Spirit), which is why I used him to make that point. All OT saints required a redeemer, for all were sinners - but the Holy Spirit did not indwell them, John sums it up best in his gospel in the seventeenth verse of the fourteenth chapter, "even(A) the Spirit Of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know him, for He dwells with you and will be in you."

The apostles were saved already under the old covenant, it isn't like they didn't believe yet - they believed, but their belief only allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell with them, and not in them. That all changed at Pentecost - it isn't that they were suddenly saved at Pentecost - it is that they were "born from above" at Pentecost.

Until that moment, the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers, but from that moment on He did. That is why we (in the New Covenant) typically speak of being saved as a synonym for being "born again" - because in our day the moment we have faith we enter into, not the old covenant, but the new - and we receive the Holy Spirit as our indwelling guarentee of the promises to come, as our helper, and as our comforter. He is called the Holy Spirit for a reason - it is His ministry to conform us to Christ, and He does so by convicting us of sin and of righteousness, and by giving us gifts to edify the church.

But in the matter of Holy Spirit illumination we must be careful. Peter speaks of the profound revelation he had on the "mount of transfiguration" where his own ears heard the very voice of God speaking out from within the shekinah of glory - and what does he say - he says, but I have something that is more sure than my own personal experience - I have the written word of God - the scriptures, which are more certain that any experience I have had. That is a very powerful testimony for the certainty of God's word. I do not imagine in myself that anything I know is utterly free from the taint of self - I knwo that God -does- reveal truth to believers, that it isn't our intellect that grasps a thing, but God's Spirit who leads us into all truth, but I also know my own heart, that a thing may well be true, but if that truth gets confused with self it comes out confused, or misrepresented - or even backwards. I think of men like Charles Finney, whose theology was sorely mixed up, but who were clearly better saints than most of us - not because he was doctrinally sound, but because he was utterly sold out to God.

I want to be doctrinally perfect, I think all teachers do, but when I get to heaven, I honestly believe that God is going to praise men for the purity of their heart far more than the purity of their doctrine. Jesus never praised doctrine, though he did rebuke incorrect doctrine (and so should we!), but Christ -did- praise pure hearts whenever he found one, in fact, he marveled over it as though it were a very precious and beautiful thing.

I find myself doing the same - I have never marveled at a person's intellect or their theology - but let me tell you, when you find a person who is so in love with God it pours itself into everything that person says and does - it is a thing a profound beauty.

But I digress. Spiritual Illumination happens spiritually. That is, we don't produce it, God produces it in us. It does happen to each and every one of us, the first instance is usually the moment we are saved - suddenly all the gobble-dee-gook about Jesus crystalizes into a reality that cannot be denied - Jesus really is God, and He really did die to bear the sin of every one willing to believe on Him to be saved from their sin. God is real, the promise is real, and so too is the condemnation for sin - hell is real - all of it becomes "truth" in one glorious moment, and that person suddenly has eyes to see, and he sees his fate without Christ, and he sees the Savior for the first time - it becomes more than a religious instruction - suddenly these words are life itself - truth has come to a dead heart, and in faith it comes to life. That was truth, and the very first time it set us free was the moment we beleived; at that moment it set us free from darkness and condemnation.

We do receieve an annointing and really do not need anyone to tell us that the gospel is true - we know it is true. Can anyone convince you that you misunderstood the gospel? If they can, you were never saved because once you grasp the truth, you cannot let it go, for it is life itself - all truth is like that. If truth sets us free, and if each one of us can look back on our salvation to know what it looks like to have illumination from God's spirit - for that is how we came to understand the gospel when it finally saved us - for many of us heard the gospel multiple times before it truly did save us - but we know that this truth just came to us, and when it did it set us free.

Anytime truth sets me free, anytime I understand a thing so that I am genuinely drawn closer to God, or thereafter consistently delivered from some sin on account of some truth - I beleive that this same truth came by divine revelation and not by intellect. Yet even in the moment of epiphany I am set free and I know it, just as I was set free the moment I was saved. In moments like that I have some confidence that I have -real- illumination. But like Peter, even if I myself am convinced by some revelation, it is not a thing to be held to unless the word of God can bear it out. Knowing how fallen I am, how I sin ten times before my feet hit the floor in the morning, however grand an illumination might be, however perfect and right - I do regard myself as fallible and not above correction even where I am confident in my assertions. But that being said, there are some truths I believe that I would stand against all Christianity and oppose them were they suddenly to rise and say they were wrong - such is the nature of conviction I suppose. It must have been difficult for Luther to stand at the Diet of Worms, against so many who disagreed with him - but his illumination did not come from his study, it came from this fact - he was genuinely seeking the Lord, and because he was, God granted him light. Seek, and you -will- find.

Notwithstanding, (I think I use that word too much), I would never be persuaded by someone else saying that God told them such and such. God has never "told" me anything - but what understanding I have has come to me in measure equal to my desire to know God - a desire that has caused me to read God's word, meditate on it all the time, and talk to God in earnest. In doing these things truth has come in the same way it came that first day I received Christ - suddenly a thing was unmistakably clear, not because I am clever, or even well read - but because I am sincere in seeking Him.

That is how I understand illumiation, I expect it is the same for all of us, but I also know it to be sorely abused by people who want to seem spiritual, or who have been trained by the experience of others to call everything and anything "illumination". In Jeremiah's day they were dreamers - each one crying out "Thus sayeth the Lord" when the Lord had not spoken to them. The same is true today - people that presume a much more mystical Christianity that actually exists, are going to assume that whatever experiences they have must be more significant than they truly are - and asign to them more weight than they deserve. It is they way it has always been, and it is good to be wary of that kind of stuff.

Let me know if that helps or if I am just confusing it more?

August 25, 2007 10:15 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, in answer to your latest question, "Do you love your children more than you love other children"

I like pregnant questions...pun intended. ;-)

Does Christ love my children more than He likes other children? No. He does not.

Do heathens love their children?
Yes they do.

Conclusion: The "love" that people have for those they are familiar with is not a spiritual love but a carnal, worldly love.

Let me tell you about my love for my wife before I move onto my children.

For the first seven years of my marriage I didn't love my wife at all. I loved the attention she reciprocated, I loved that she did things for me - in fact, the only reason we ever had an argument (and we had many in those years, and I mean -many-) was because she had the annoying habit of not living to immediately serve my every whim. To be sure, I had a great affection for my wife, and affection that was rooted not in some selfless place, but rather rooted in "self" - I was willing to give her my affection so long as doing so purchased a reciprocal affection for me.

Had you asked us when we were dating, or even in those first few years of marriage I would have said "I love her very much" - and I would have been saying so from the sincerity of my heart - as much as I knew what love was, that much I certainly had for her.

But the "love" that I had for her was not really love, it was self-love. It was a self-serving, self-gratifying, and ultimately and entirely selfish thing. 1 Corinthian 13 did not describe it, that passage describes what real love looks like - and it doesn't seek its own, that is, it doesn't "love" in order to receive love - and withold it until it does.

I learned that love was not something that I was able to give to anyone - that the problem with me was not that I couldn't love enough, but that I couldn't love at all - there was nothing in my flesh that was able to really love - oh, I could "love" like the world loved alright, in fact up until I knew otherwise, I had no idea there was such a thing as selfless love - as real love. I thought that the affection I felt was love, but I didn't know what love was.

In the seventh year of our marriage - though I had been saved a dozen years previous - I began to truly seek God, and when I did I understood that I was going to love my wife, not because of anything in her, but because in loving God there is no room for any other kind of love - I recall with clarity taking her by the shoulders and looking into her face, my own face illuminated by the joy within me, and saying to her that our marriage was going to be a great joy in her life - that I was so sorry for having been entirely selfish in our marriage, and for failing not only to love her but to understand the very nature of love - that it doesn't come from us, but from God, and that anything that is not born of God is born of the flesh - that I would love her with such a profound love and not because of her, but because I loved God and God would allow no other love in my life from that day forward. She wasn't saved, so to her it was like - "Yeah whatever!"

You see, we had been to marriage counselling and (I kid you not) the counsellor told us that there was pretty much no hope for our marriage - that I was so messed up that I needed intense psychological counselling and that until I got my life together there was no point in trying to resolve our marriage problems, because they all stemmed from my profound and all consuming pride.

So I went through secular counselling and all that ever did was make me feel guilty about being such a wretch. I would come home and try and be selfless - but since I wasn't selfless it was all an act, and it would last about an hour, then I was back to the old me. I had done that for years by the time I had taken my wife by the shoulders and told her how God was changing me from the inside out. She, as I said, was non-plussed. But the Lord was faithful, and now those years that the locusts ate have been swallowed up in God's blessing. I know what love looks like, because I the Lord showed me that I had none of it.

Now, to answer your question - by the time my children came around, I had already learned the difference between affection and love, and I can say without shame that I have a much greater (carnal) affection for my children over others, but I love them no more and no less than I love others - and that is no lie.

August 25, 2007 11:10 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark - now I know you never asked me to be a member of this team - clearly I am waaaaaaay to long winded. ;-)

August 25, 2007 11:11 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel and Susan,
You may be in total agreement with following, but I want to state it just in case we differ…..

Jesus, in John 3:3 stated what was required to be redeemed. This was stated well before Pentecost and there were no conditions or time frame mentioned. Therefore, I believe that regeneration was required for O.T. saints to be redeemed. To suggest they weren’t would necessarily mean we aren’t today. I do not mean to suggest that there were no changes at Pentecost, or that believers are not more empowered in the New Covenant with the indwelling Holy Spirit, but if John 6:65 applies today, then it was true in O.T. times. God enabled the remnant (I have preserved….), which is a most powerful proof of why he must enable believers to be believers today. I just wanted to confirm the principle that redemption required the quickening electing power of God in The O.T.

Wayne

August 25, 2007 11:39 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I just wanted to confirm the principle that redemption required the quickening electing power of God in The O.T.

I can see it no other way than this. In other words, agreed.

August 25, 2007 11:58 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Likewise, OT and NT - salvation is the same, Christ did not come to proclaim a new way to be saved, he came to inaugurate the new covenant, and to make manifest the righteousness of god. God draws men to Himself, and always has - unless a man is drawn by God he will -not- repent and believe, that is he will not be saved - and this was true both before and after pentecost - the quickening that allows us to believe is not generated by us, and it is not specific to the New Testament - that is, not to be confused with the -indwelling- of the Holy Spirit, or with the means by which a new covenant believer is sanctified.

Or, as Susan said, "Agreed" ;-)

August 25, 2007 1:15 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"but because he was utterly sold out to God." -Dan

Finney may have been an unbeliever me thinks.

His teaching of grace, and the gospel may have fallen under Paul's condemnation in the book of Galatians.

Surely the Pharisees were sold out, assumably for God, but it was a self-righteous motive, which our Lord revealed, and they killed Him.

They told the Lord that God was their Father.
Jesus said, "Your father is the devil!"

Daniel, you have a lot of thoughts that are definitely provocative.

Good to see you and Susan debating.

May this iron agaisnt iron help us all to grow in His grace and knowledge. Amen.

Have a tremendous Lord's Day.

August 25, 2007 1:53 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Don - don't mistake me, Finney was certainly a heretic, and he probably wasn't the best example, but pretend there was some other guy who really was doctrinally messed up but got that this one got the gospel right -and- was sold out in spite of his error.

I hope the point wasn't missed regardless.

August 25, 2007 3:24 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"he probably wasn't the best example,"

I think I get where you're coming from.

August 25, 2007 5:54 PM

 

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