Saturday, November 10, 2007

How does Choice work in Salvation?

How does Choice work in Salvation?

(Much of this is taken from a comment thread at CRN.info in which we were discussing how choice is part of our salvation I thought it a great discussion. I have taken my comments and added the main point of other’s questions in the article. I have also edited my comments to flow better than in the comment thread. I had not taken time before to really look at what I did believe on this but as I wrote I realized many things. I hope it helps others sort out much of the confusion on this matter though I know full well the debate will go on and on.)

The Father draws men unto Jesus and men seek Jesus out…
It is all a work of the Holy Spirit, yet a man can be drawn to Christ and still walk away as in the story of the Rich young ruler.
One can look at Jesus and not mix faith with God’s word to have a saving belief in God.
Jesus states that we are to seek after the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33) as well Jesus tells those in Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
So if one is drawn to Jesus by the Father and asks, seeks knocks… Jesus will and answer is found and open the door…

It is not a matter of either/or but of both…

The context of Matthew 7: 7-11where Jesus states to "seek" actually starts in chapter 5… to say then that in 5:1-2 that all in the crowd were believers.. I might agree, but they believed that they could enter into the Kingdom by the law making them righteous… which again Paul states: Galatians 2:21 21.
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” "

So to say it is to believers… yes it is, but those who saw that by their prayers out of their own righteousness, they could please God… and Jesus states that they need to seek Him… and enter in by faith… not works.

In Acts James speaks about the salvation that has come to the gentiles and clearly states that a remnant of men will seek God.

Acts 15: 13-18

When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “`After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ that have been known for ages.

Also to say men do not seek God negates that the Holy Spirit is now active… as Paul stated in Acts 17:24-27

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

It is by faith we are to seek after God… as Hebrews 11:5-6 states.

“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
This is but a small sampling of how wrong the idea that men cannot seek after God is… In fact I see that the teaching that men cannot seek God negates and removes the Holy Spirit from the salvation equation is a gross distortion and of satanic origin. For since the Holy Spirit has been poured out men now can seek after God. Before this, God would seek after men individually as in the case of Enoch and Moses and later deal with men by the Law as with the Nation of Israel, yet still on an individual basis if one reads closely. It was never the case of "all men" but of a few men being able to seek God as the Holy Spirit would rest on them individually... but also not permanently.

Now one might ask, if man is free to choose God with no help from God, by his own volition…then why are there plenty of verses like this all throughout the OT and NT?
“When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48


Since no one had yet to receive the Holy Spirit … even the disciples… it seems that you have only people that may believe but are not yet sealed.

The difference from the OT to the NT is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Also, again if you understand the Jews did believe, but wrongly… or Paul is stating a lie in Romans 9 by stating that they sought God by works of the Law and not by Faith.
The point I think that is missed is that it is all free will now… it was not under the OT as it was either you were a lost Pagan (unless you were the exception and converted) or of the Chosen Hebrews. But all were under the bondage of sin. Now, since the Cross, sin was judged and died with Jesus on the Cross…

2 Cor 5:14 -21 is very clear on this…

"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Note a distinction in these verses...

1. That one died for all, and therefore all died.
This is all men it is not just those saved as Paul goes on to include them also…

2. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Paul now includes those who came to faith… and states that they now are new creations… and we should not look at people from a worldly view point…

3. Now this is the message of the Gospel and Kingdom…
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.
Not just the saved as Jesus died for “all men”.

4. Again the Gospel is about reconciliation… not stopping sinning…
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

IF Jesus who had no sin became sin for us… and as sin died on the cross, then sin is dead. Death is the judgment of sin and sin was judged and died in Christ for us… so that we can be reconciled and not have our sins held against us.

Now, to just say that it is the Holy Spirit as some assert… to be just those “elect” but, yet God through Jesus calls “all men”, and draws all men unto Jesus… and men now by free will choose to enter into the Kingdom by works or faith… by self righteous acts or by the finished works of Jesus…. Jesus is the only Way in and it is by Faith… not works… but as Paul pointed out…

Romans 9: 30-33
"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.
Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”
As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now the reason many verses are in the OT stating that man has no free will is because at that time man did not… the Holy Spirit had yet to be poured out on all men…
About the verse in Acts stating”

“When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
The ones appointed entered in by Faith… and appointed can also be “ordained” as it was appointed/ordained by God that man would enter in by faith in Jesus and not by works… so the appointed here are those who entered in by the appointment of faith through Jesus unto eternal life.

My point is not that God does not draw men, but that God now by the out pouring of the Holy Spirit removed sin and now has restored our free will so that we can make the choice of works or faith in Christ Jesus… Salvation is all of God and not of men… but one must still freely choose… and by faith is the only way to freely love God as works only appears to appease God…


Choice is a response to the initiation that God started… it is only a “work” if one is depending on one’s self and not Jesus…. faith is a gift… it to is not a work…and it is the power in which the Holy Spirit draws men to Jesus. At that point a person needs to respond by mixing belief with faith… as Hebrews states. Hebrews 4: 1-2
“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. “
We need to mix Faith with the message… that is not works as some state by far. It is the acknowledgement that one cannot “work” to please God. It is the realization that there is nothing I can do but fall on the mercy of God.
Jesus stated that He was like the serpent Moses raised up in the desert (John 3:14-15)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Those who were bitten by the serpent died unless they went to the bronzed serpent on the pole and simply gazed on it. They did not offer sacrifice… but by acknowledging, they were dead, went to the pole and gazed on the serpent for life… Jesus became sin on a pole (for cursed is anyone who is hung on a tree) and all we do is gaze on Him… by faith and are saved.
To say that faith is “works,” is not biblical at all… not is the idea that choice is works. One can never state “I am saved because of my choice”, as without Jesus doing the initial works one then cannot choose to trust in those works over ones own.


Is choosing a work and thus a contradiction as works is then mixed into faith?

I see no contradiction as even Jesus states:
John 7: 17. “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
Jesus taught Jews as a Jew under the law... To show that by it righteousness cannot be obtained… it is only to point out that one is dead in their sins. Just as Paul taught… and Peter… and John… and Jude… and James… the OT.
This is the “choosing” that I am referring to… the will of God called predestination. That those in Christ, have chose to do God’s will and not their own… so they are part of the “eternal plan” that God foreknew in Christ…
But, still unlike Calvin’s version… man chooses between his own will or God’s and it must be free to be a choice. In a sense this is much easier to understand once one can set aside their Calvinist or Arminian views and focus on the teachings of the Bible.

We have seen the Father if we see Jesus. Yet, now we see Him only by faith.

By God revealing who He is by showing us Jesus, we still need respond to that. I see it as professing and possessing.

One can believe in Jesus and state so, yet not mix their belief with faith and still not be "saved". They live as practical atheists. Yet, one that professes and then mixes their belief with Faith, has found the Son and Life... in that they found the Son and Life, are now possessed by and possess this Life that brings us salvation.

We are not our own when we come to Christ... and though are free to walk in the obedience of Christ (not our own... but walk by the imputed obedience as we have none of our own) or walk by our own righteousness and be frustrated... though still technically saved must still remember daily we are dead to sin as opposed to when we were dead in our sin.

It is in the relational aspect of our faith we are saved, not in our doctrinal stances... I am not saying "no doctrine, doctrine" whatever that means, but rather that once one comes to life in Christ the "doctrine" is not "head knowledge" or "mental assent", but heart knowledge and receiving a clear conscience and the mind of Christ. He becomes our very Life and we are new creations... the new man.

We are drawn by the Father to Jesus by the Holy Spirit... this was not possible under the Old Covenant as that required one to die before they could get out from under it. Now, we have died in Christ and Jesus fulfilled the Law...every jot and tittle... and abolished it so that we now live in Him and by His righteousness. We are no longer under the ministry of death and condemnation, but the ministry of reconciliation and once one receives that reconciliation, receives Life eternal. If not eternal death for that is the covenant (the covenant of death as Isaiah states) that person chose to stay under.

To be drawn by the Father, is because He poured out the Holy Spirit and that is because Jesus became sin and sin died with Him on the Cross... so that we can become the righteousness of God in Christ.

Be blessed,
iggy

3 comments:

Free Believers in Arizona said...

Jesus said you will know them by their fruit. I have attended a couple of orthodox churches in my life. The verse that comes to mind when I reflect back on my experience with reformers is "knowledge puffs up, but love edifies". It is not only me that feels this way many others do. Not all, but most Calvinists are all brains and no heart. You can be the greatest theologian, but without love all your knowledge becomes a clanging cymbal.

Now that I got that off my chest I admit that I lean in the same direction as John Calvin. However I resent the institution John Calvin helped develop and feel it became just another legalistic religious institution.

I do believe once you belong to God you can never get away because your heart won't let you. Those who walk away from God permanently, prove they never truly gave their heart to Him.

Heb 6:4-6
(4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
(5) and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come,
(6) and who have fallen away; it is impossible, I say, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify the Son of God afresh to themselves and put Him to an open shame.

Notice the words tasted and enlightened. This is when people get a small piece and a peek then make an eternal decision to walk away. These people never full received God.

I will always be my children's father. My children have my genetics both good and bad. They will reflect the kind of father I have been in their lives.

Concerning two men we can learn from Noah and Enoch.

My Clarke commentary states something interesting.
Genesis 6:8 “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”. This verse references the Hebrew word ish tsaddik a man who gave to all their due; for this is the ideal meaning of the original word. 2. He was perfect in his generation - he was in all things a consistent character, never departing from the truth in principle or practice. 3. He walked with God - he was not only righteous in his conduct, but he was pious, and had continual communion with God. The same word is used here as before in the case of Enoch. See Gen 5:22.

If you belong to God it will show and if you do not belong to God it will show. Faith without works is dead.

iggy said...

I agree with you... for years I used that passage in Hebrews to prove one could lose their salvation... but that assumes...

1. If one can lose their salvation then it is by works and if it is works, then it was not by grace you were saved.

2. That one who does lose their salvation cannot ever regain it as it is "impossible" as the passage reads.


It was later I realized that this passage was about people like me... and that every time I would not walk in faith... and go back to repentance... I was crucifying Jesus all over again.

I do see repentance as a once time act... then we life a faith that is confessional... meaning we live in constant agreement with Jesus and though we sin, we learn more and more how repugnant it is and lean more and more on God's Grace.


Blessings,
iggy

Free Believers in Arizona said...

Wow! I too believe repentance is a one time act. To repent is to completely change your bases for living. Upon your new foundation (God the rock) life changes. I see it like the reformist view irresistible grace in a way that you experience something that eternally changes you. Saul changed his name to Paul. Saul means big and that is how he viewed himself prior to conversion compared to Paul meaning little. He was not mister big stuff anymore.

This is why I struggle with some so-called Bible scholars online. It seems like they have all of the knowledge, but no heart (love). I like the emergent folks they have what most reformists seem to be missing and that is love. I'll take love over knowledge because knowledge without love is an irritating noise in God's ears.

Good chatting with you iggy!

Off to play with my sons.

Josh