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Carol Swenson
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 - Choice To Believe Jesus

Choosing to believe in the atonement sacrifice of Christ, will lead to spiritual growth and eternal life. Everyone has a free-will choice, and everyone will make a choice to go in one of two directions. If we choose to believe Jesus in faith, God will give us His Holy Spirit who inspires faith to believe.

Believing Jesus is a salvation issue—John 3:18 ”He who trusts [believes] in Him does not come up for judgement [is not condemned]. He who does not trust [not believe] has already received sentence [is condemned already], because he has not his trust resting on the name of God’s only [begotten] Son.” Jesus said John 6:47 “he who believes has everlasting life.”

Eternal life is by grace through faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice; therefore our choice to believe in faith will decide our own destiny. There is a specific reason why we must believe, and there is a specific One in whom to believe—regardless of how seriously our faith may be tested John 14:6.

Our choice to believe in the Son of God enables the Holy Spirit of God to enlighten us to the Truth. 2 Corinthians 4:3 ”If [the meaning of] our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost [on the way to perdition]: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.”

It will always be our choice to believe the Truth from the Word and be saved, or to accept the lie from the devil and be lost. John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe [disobeys] the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

The world today is in its last chapter—a time when people reject God’s Truth. 2 Peter 3:3-4 “Remember that, in the last days, men will come who make a mock at everything—governed only by their own passions, and, asking, ‘What has become of His promised Return? For from the time our forefathers fell asleep all things continue as they have been ever since the creation of the world.’" Jesus stands at the door and awaits His Father’s command Revelation 3:20.

The Bible is true whether anyone chooses to believe it or not. Unbelievers, however 2 Peter 3:5-7 “willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

Believing in the resurrection power of Christ, and knowing how that belief applies to the Christian’s life of trusting faith, is crucial, because God has predicted a day of serious judgment. Habakkuk 2:3 ”Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.” We have to be trusting in faith on the Son of God for all things, because John 3:18 ”He who trusts in Him does not come up for judgement. He who does not trust has already received sentence, because he has not his trust resting on the name of God’s only Son.”

We believe Jesus in faith, and we trust on the power of God to heal us, protect us, avenge our wrongs, guide our decisions, and deliver us from sinful habits. Unbelievers do not trust God for anything. We must first make the choice to believe in faith that God will deliver us from sin, self, and Satan. Romans 5:1-2 ”Standing then acquitted as the result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also, as the result of faith, we have obtained an introduction into that state of favour with God in which we stand.”

We persevere through trials and keep trusting God in faith for the victory, because God’s requirement is John 6:29 "To believe in the one he has sent." If we will trust in faith on the resurrection power of Jesus’ Name, God promises to heal, protect, supply, enlighten, and forgive us.

Believing faith is enabled by the Holy Spirit. John 14:17 ”That Spirit the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him. You know Him, because He remains by your side and is in you.” A choice has to be made to believe in faith on the sacrifice of Christ—it is the only way to be acquitted.

Some think that there is no after-life—no heaven or no hell—life just ceases. But the Author of life Acts 3:15 said that the soul of everyone continues forever and ever in one of two places—eternal torment in hell, or eternal pleasure in heaven. Everyone must choose to believe in the shed blood of Christ because it is the only way to escape—Revelation 21:8 “the Lake which burns with fire and sulfur."

The fate of those who refuse to believe in the atonement of Christ, in this life, is too dreadful to even contemplate. Revelation 14:11-12 “The smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”

The spiritual condition of the world deteriorates rapidly—we no longer have all the time in the world to get right with God—we must be right by repenting and believing Jesus in faith. 2 Corinthians 6:2 "Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” We make the choice to believe Jesus because it is the only way for a guilty sinner to be right with a holy God.

1 John 5:1 ”Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God; and every one who loves the Father loves also Him who is the Father’s [begotten] Child. The fact that we love God Himself, and obey His commands, is a proof that we love God’s children. Love for God means obedience to His commands.”

Everyone is sentenced to the flames because of the sin-nature, until they choose to believe that Jesus gave His life to forgive their sins—and they then put His words into practice. 1 John 5:3-5 ”And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but [only NIV] he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

If we choose to believe in the resurrection power of the cross, and choose to trust on the divine power of God for things in this life, we will successfully resist Satan’s temptations. When we decide to believe, the Holy Spirit inspires faith in us. Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments; and I will certainly not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge him in the presence of My Father and His angels.” He will know us because we believe Him Luke 13:27.

Our name has to be in the book because Revelation 20:15 “Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire,” where 14:11 “the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.” No one can get out of this world spiritually alive, unless God commutes their sentence—and that happens only by believing in faith on the atonement of His Son.

We have to overcome Satan’s temptations, because he will destroy our soul if we do not resist and are not aware of what is happening. We need to be alert because false teaching is everywhere and Satan can deceive very subtly. Matthew 24:24 ”False prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even [God’s own people]—if that were possible.”

There are many signs—strange weather patterns, horrible crimes, serious quakes, global terrorism, information explosion, accumulating wealth, economic collapse, and Israel surrounded by enemies. God’s Book has the only solution—but we have to read it, believe it, and put its teaching into practice Luke 8:21.

Making the choice to believe Jesus in faith, and to trust in His resurrection power—for physical healing, daily supplies, spiritual light, divine protection, and forgiveness of sins—without any false places of trust, is a major issue. “He who believes has everlasting life” John 6:47. Time is running out, so the opportunity to believe Jesus is now! God is patient because 2 Peter 3:9 He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He has already given His Son, so now it is our choice to believe Him and be forgiven—or refuse to believe and be condemned.

Everyone will make a choice—one of two—turn back to God in believing faith for the saving of their soul, or turn away in willful rebellion for the destruction of their soul. Choosing to believe Jesus and choosing to live by His teaching is a must issue—because John 12:48 ”He who sets me at naught and does not receive my teachings is not left without a judge: the Message which I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

The most valuable knowledge we could ever have, is to understand what the atonement work of Christ accomplished for us, and what His resurrection power means to us. If we do not believe that God—through faith in His Son, can heal, deliver, protect, and save us, then our profession of faith is in vain—we would still be in sin. A verbal faith in Christ must be accompanied by acting faith on His resurrection power for it to be valid James 2:22.

We do not have to be guilty, and we do not have to forfeit our soul, because we can choose to believe Jesus in faith. John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” What a promise; what a choice; what a responsibility!

http://www.fcgchurch.com/Sermons/Choice%20to%20Believe%20Jesus.htm

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WildB
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Big C ,

My prayer is that this one is searching for the Truth here and not just the continuance of the enemies weed seeding of the internet.

So far the signs R not good.


Keep the Faith!


[cool_shades]

--------------------
That is all.....

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Carol Swenson
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WildB

This is an opportunity to show how Calvinism is false, and the Doctrine of Election is both false and dangerous alone.

Imagine someone lost and desperate being told that they cannot choose Christ. They have no hope. The Beloved Savior is for others but not for them.

Horrible, terrible LIE.


2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

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Bloodbought
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“What if God, willing to shew his wrath (or justice), and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory.” (Rom. 9:22, 23.) Sin, therefore, according the Scriptures, is permitted, that the justice of God may be known in its punishment, and his grace in its forgiveness. And the universe, without the knowledge of these attributes, would be like the earth without the light of the sun.
The glory of God being the great end of all things, we are not obliged to assume that this is the best possible world for the production of happiness, or even for securing the greatest degree of holiness among rational creatures. It is wisely adapted for the end for which it was designed, namely, the manifestation of the manifold perfections of God. That God, in revealing Himself, does promote the highest good of his creatures, consistent with the promotion of his own glory, may be admitted. But to reverse this order, to make the good of the creature the highest end, is to pervert and subvert the whole scheme; it is to put the means for the end, to subordinate God to the universe, the Infinite to the finite. This putting the creature in the place of the Creator, disturbs our moral and religious sentiments and convictions, as well as our intellectual apprehensions of God, and of his relation to the universe.
The older theologians almost unanimously make the glory of God the ultimate, and the good of the creature the subordinate end of all things. Twesten, indeed, says it makes no difference whether we say God proposes his own glory as the ultimate end, and, for that purpose, determined to produce the highest degree of good; or that He purposed the highest good of his creatures, whence the manifestation of his glory flows as a consequence. It, however, makes all the difference in the world, whether the Creator be subordinate to the creature, or the creature to the Creator; whether the end be the means, or the means the end. There is a great difference whether the earth or the sun be assumed as the centre of our solar system. If we make the earth the centre, our astronomy will be in confusion. And if we make the creature, and not God, the end of all things, our theology and religion will in like manner be perverted. It may, in conclusion, be safely asserted that a universe constructed for the purpose of making God known, is a far better universe than one designed for the production of happiness.

Charles Hodge.

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Carol Swenson
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Romans 9 vv 22-24

We must never think that God enjoyed watching a tyrant like Pharaoh. He endured it. God said to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people … and have heard their cry … for I know their sorrows” (Ex. 3:7). The fact that God was long-suffering indicates that He gave Pharaoh opportunities to be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9). The word “fitted” in Romans 9:22 does not suggest that God made Pharaoh a “vessel of wrath.” The verb is in what the Greek grammarians call the middle voice, making it a reflexive action verb. So, it should read: “fitted himself for destruction.” God prepares men for glory (Rom. 9:23), but sinners prepare themselves for judgment. In Moses and Israel God revealed the riches of His mercy; in Pharaoh and Egypt He revealed His power and wrath.

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beloved57
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quote:
The verb is in what the Greek grammarians call the middle voice, making it a reflexive action verb. So, it should read: “fitted himself for destruction.”
Greek scholars state the verb is in the passive voice too. Meaning God fitted him for destruction. And if God is fitting one for destruction, they have no choice but to fit themselves for destruction, and thats why they are justly accountable for what God is doing !
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beloved57
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There is not one scripture in the bible that states men have a choice to believe in Christ. It has to be given by God to believe on Christ. Phil 1:29

29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Jn 6:65

65And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
Originally posted by beloved57:
quote:
The verb is in what the Greek grammarians call the middle voice, making it a reflexive action verb. So, it should read: “fitted himself for destruction.”
Greek scholars state the verb is in the passive voice too. Meaning God fitted him for destruction. And if God is fitting one for destruction, they have no choice but to fit themselves for destruction, and thats why they are justly accountable for what God is doing !
You are saying that God is the Author of Evil.

God did not create sin. God is holy and He would not create that which is contrary to His nature.

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beloved57
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Believing on Christ is the Work of God in a Man ! John 6:29

29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

I can't say whether Jesus answered these according to the exact sentiments of that their inquiry vs 28

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

In any case, we find in this response of The Lord, it is intimated that Believing on Him is a work, it is an act of the Mind and Heart Rom 10:9-10

Yes, Man must Believe, its His act.

But it's not the work of man to believe,but the Work of God for man to Believe on Christ.

Faith or Believing on Christ is the Work of God, That is God the Holy Spirit. Christ pointed to this work of God the Holy Spirit in John 16:8-9

8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

God the Holy Spirit works Faith within God's Elect world, because they by Nature they do not believe in Him, as characterized by the religious jews in His day, So God the Holy Spirit works His fruit of Faith in them Gal 5:22

22But the fruit [result or effect] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

The word fruit also means work

So it could read, but the work of the Spirit is Love,joy,peace,longsuffering,gentleness,and Faith or believing or faithfulness.

This confirms John 6:29 that the work of God [ The Holy Spirit] is that ye believe on Him that He hath sent.

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
But it's not the work of man to believe,but the Work of God for man to Believe on Christ.

quote:
Faith or Believing on Christ is the Work of God, That is God the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will reprove people for not believing in Christ when it is the work of the Holy Spirit to do the believing for man? That makes absolutely no sense at all.

The Holy Spirit will reprove people for not believing because THEY CHOOSE to not believe.

And fruit is not works. Fruit is spiritual, while works are good deeds.

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beloved57
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Its the Work of God the Holy Spirit that energizes the one Christ died for to believe. The believer believes according to the power that raised up Jesus from the dead. Eph 1:19-20


19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

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Carol Swenson
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Calvinism's doctrine of Irresistible Grace teaches that the Holy Spirit gives faith to the elect even before they have heard the gospel. Indeed, it maintains one cannot either understand or accept the gospel unless he has first been given faith to do so. Is faith something imposed irresistibly upon the elect, or does it come from hearing and accepting the Word of God?

Romans 10:17 ..... "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." "But many of those who had heard the word believed" (Acts 4:4).

John 20:30-31 ..... "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

John 17:20 ..... "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word." "Send to Joppa, and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household" (Acts 11:13-14).

Acts 18:4, 8 ..... "And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized."

James 1:18, 21 ..... "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth .... Therefore, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you" (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

Romans 1:16 ..... "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Luke 8:11, 15 ..... (The Parable of the Sower) --- "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance."

I Corinthians 1:21 ..... "God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe."

Calvinism's doctrine of Irresistible Grace teaches that you cannot resist the grace of God, nor can you resist His Spirit. What does the Bible say? (Can you resist the grace of God and can you resist the Holy Spirit?)


Revelation 3:20 ..... "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me

The Holy Spirit knocks at the door of your heart, he doesn't kick it down! Man has the choice to hear and open, or to refuse Him entrance.

Matthew 23:37 ..... "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling."

II Timothy 3:8 ..... "And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose (resist) the truth." "Thou didst bear with them for many years, and admonished them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets, yet they would not give ear" (Nehemiah 9:30). "The angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, and fought against them" (Isaiah 63:9-10).

Acts 7:51 ..... "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did." "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30). "Do not quench the Spirit" (I Thessalonians 5:19).

Does God give His Holy Spirit to the elect before they have heard, believed and accepted the gospel (as Calvinism teaches), or does He bestow His Spirit only upon those who have accepted Christ?


John 14:17 ..... Jesus promises to send to His disciples "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him."

John 7:38-39 ..... "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.' This He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive."

Acts 2:38 ..... "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." "God has given the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32). Peter says that the Gentiles received the same gift (the Holy Spirit) as the Jews did, "after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 11:17).

Galatians 4:6 ..... "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'"

Ephesians 1:13-14 ..... "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance."

Galatians 3:2 ..... "This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?"

Galatians 3:13-14 ..... "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' -- in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.".

Calvinists would say that we receive faith through the Spirit; God's Word says we receive the Spirit through faith! Nowhere in the Word of God does it teach that the Holy Spirit directly, miraculously, and irresistibly opens and enters the hearts of unbelieving and unrepentant sinners and regenerates them against their will.

"The doctrine of the Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of man, sometimes referred to as 'special' or 'saving' or 'irresistible' grace; teaching that man is inherently depraved and cannot respond to the gospel without the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit; is man's doctrine, not Bible doctrine. If the Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit is true, then the logical implication is that the Word of God is insufficient in the conversion of the sinner. If the doctrine of Irresistible Grace is true, then it places the responsibility of salvation entirely upon God and destroys the responsibility of man to act. If Irresistible Grace is truly 'irresistible,' it destroys the 'free moral agency' of man"

(David Gibson, Calvin's TULIP Theology).

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Chrispy0515
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You couldn't change my mind about or make me denounce Jesus Christ or God the father being 1,000% real, if you put a gun to my head and hung me over an 80 story building and told me to or else.

--------------------
Taking Things One Day At A Time.

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Carol Swenson
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Amen Chrispy!
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beloved57
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We know man does not have a choice to believe because Scripture affirms that some could not believe Jn 12:

39Therefore they could not believe , because that Esaias said again,

In the greek the word for could is dynamai:


to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind , or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom

2) to be able to do something

3) to be capable, strong and powerful

And the word not, means without,so scripture is saying, that these were without the ability to believe. They were without the capability to believe, so since that is True, they will not believe. None of us will do something we don't have the ability to do. This scripture shows the error of saying man has a choice to believe, scripture never states that.

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Caretaker
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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
Calvinism's doctrine of Irresistible Grace teaches that the Holy Spirit gives faith to the elect even before they have heard the gospel. Indeed, it maintains one cannot either understand or accept the gospel unless he has first been given faith to do so. Is faith something imposed irresistibly upon the elect, or does it come from hearing and accepting the Word of God?

Romans 10:17 ..... "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." "But many of those who had heard the word believed" (Acts 4:4).

John 20:30-31 ..... "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

John 17:20 ..... "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word." "Send to Joppa, and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household" (Acts 11:13-14).

Acts 18:4, 8 ..... "And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized."

James 1:18, 21 ..... "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth .... Therefore, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you" (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

Romans 1:16 ..... "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Luke 8:11, 15 ..... (The Parable of the Sower) --- "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance."

I Corinthians 1:21 ..... "God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe."


Calvinism's doctrine of Irresistible Grace teaches that you cannot resist the grace of God, nor can you resist His Spirit. What does the Bible say? (Can you resist the grace of God and can you resist the Holy Spirit?)


Revelation 3:20 ..... "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me."


The Holy Spirit is a gentleman! He knocks at the door of your heart, he doesn't kick it down! Man has the choice to hear and open, or to refuse Him entrance.

Matthew 23:37 ..... "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling."

II Timothy 3:8 ..... "And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose (resist) the truth." "Thou didst bear with them for many years, and admonished them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets, yet they would not give ear" (Nehemiah 9:30). "The angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, and fought against them" (Isaiah 63:9-10).

Acts 7:51 ..... "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did." "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30). "Do not quench the Spirit" (I Thessalonians 5:19).


Does God give His Holy Spirit to the elect before they have heard, believed and accepted the gospel (as Calvinism teaches), or does He bestow His Spirit only upon those who have accepted Christ?


John 14:17 ..... Jesus promises to send to His disciples "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him."

John 7:38-39 ..... "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.' This He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive."

Acts 2:38 ..... "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." "God has given the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32). Peter says that the Gentiles received the same gift (the Holy Spirit) as the Jews did, "after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 11:17).

Galatians 4:6 ..... "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'"

Ephesians 1:13-14 ..... "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance."

Galatians 3:2 ..... "This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?"

Galatians 3:13-14 ..... "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' -- in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.".


Calvinists would say that we receive faith through the Spirit; God's Word says we receive the Spirit through faith! Nowhere in the Word of God does it teach that the Holy Spirit directly, miraculously, and irresistibly opens and enters the hearts of unbelieving and unrepentant sinners and regenerates them against their will.

"The doctrine of the Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of man, sometimes referred to as 'special' or 'saving' or 'irresistible' grace; teaching that man is inherently depraved and cannot respond to the gospel without the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit; is man's doctrine, not Bible doctrine. If the Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit is true, then the logical implication is that the Word of God is insufficient in the conversion of the sinner. If the doctrine of Irresistible Grace is true, then it places the responsibility of salvation entirely upon God and destroys the responsibility of man to act. If Irresistible Grace is truly 'irresistible,' it destroys the 'free moral agency' of man" (David Gibson, Calvin's TULIP Theology).

Amen Carol!!!! [thumbsup2]

From the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden, man has been given the ability to choose to follow God or to Choose to rebel, which is sin.

Adam and Eve made the choice to eat of the tree, and this sin of wrong choice brought all under condemnation, placed ALL under the need for redemption.

The Word of God is consistent and Darryl's/"beloved's" wresting of scripture and misinterpretation is inconsistent with the context of God's Word.

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A Servant of Christ,
Drew

1 Tim. 3:
16: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh..

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We know man does not have a choice to believe because Scripture affirms that some could not believe Jn 12:

39Therefore they could not believe , because that Esaias said again,

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quote:
Originally posted by beloved57:
We know man does not have a choice to believe because Scripture affirms that some could not believe Jn 12:

39Therefore they could not believe , because that Esaias said again,

Poor Darryl;

You wrest scriptures out of context, to support your own pet theology which is contrary to the whole of God's Word.

Man has been given the ability to choose to follow God's Word from the Garden of Eden to this very day. Those who Choose to reject God manifest in the flesh, continue under condemnation. They have made the decision to reject God's propitiation, to not be justified by the sacrifice on Calvary.

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A Servant of Christ,
Drew

1 Tim. 3:
16: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh..

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Jesus and Unbelieving Jews (John 12:37-49)

The key word in this section is believe; it is used eight times. First, John explained the unbelief of the people. They would not believe (John 12:37-38, with a quotation from Isa. 53:1); they could not believe (John 12:39); and they should not believe (John 12:40-41, with a quotation from Isa. 6:9-10).

In spite of all the clear evidence that was presented to them, the nation would not believe. The “arm of the Lord” had been revealed to them in great power, yet they closed their eyes to the truth. They had heard the message (“report”) and seen the miracles, and yet would not believe.

When a person starts to resist the light, something begins to change within him; and he comes to the place where he cannot believe. There is “judicial blindness” that God permits to come over the eyes of people who do not take the truth seriously. (This quotation is found in a number of places in the New Testament. See Matt. 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:25-27; Rom. 11:8.) It is a serious thing to treat God’s truth lightly, for a person could well miss his opportunity to be saved. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6).

There were those who would not believe, and there were those who would not openly confess Christ even though they had believed (John 12:42-43). Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea belonged to this group initially, but eventually came out openly in their confession of Christ (John 19:38ff). In the early church, there were numbers of Pharisees (Acts 15:5) and even priests (Acts 6:7). It was the old struggle between the glory of God and the praise of men (John 12:25-26). It was a costly thing to be excommunicated (John 9:22), and these “secret believers” wanted the best of both worlds. Note John 5:44 in this regard.

In John 12:44-50 we have our Lord’s last message before He “hid Himself” from the people. Again, the emphasis was on faith. A number of the basic themes in John’s Gospel run through this message: God sent the Son; to see the Son means to see the Father; Jesus is the Light of the world; His words are the very words of God; faith in Him brings salvation; to reject Him is to face eternal judgment. In fact, the very Word that He spoke will judge those who have rejected it and Him!

It is an awesome thought that the unbeliever will face at the judgment every bit of Scripture he has ever read or heard. The very Word that he rejects becomes his judge! Why? Because the written Word points to the Living Word, Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

(Wiersbe)

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Those jews in John 12:39 had no choice to believe. Scripture says that they could not Believe. Notice again what scripture states, not me but scripture, the word of God:

39Therefore they could not believe , because that Esaias said again,

Now who is going to contradict scripture and say they had a choice to believe ?

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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
Romans 9 vv 22-24

We must never think that God enjoyed watching a tyrant like Pharaoh. He endured it. God said to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people … and have heard their cry … for I know their sorrows” (Ex. 3:7). The fact that God was long-suffering indicates that He gave Pharaoh opportunities to be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9). The word “fitted” in Romans 9:22 does not suggest that God made Pharaoh a “vessel of wrath.” The verb is in what the Greek grammarians call the middle voice, making it a reflexive action verb. So, it should read: “fitted himself for destruction.” God prepares men for glory (Rom. 9:23), but sinners prepare themselves for judgment. In Moses and Israel God revealed the riches of His mercy; in Pharaoh and Egypt He revealed His power and wrath.

Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

This is the first mention in scripture of the hardening of Pharaohs heart and it is commenced by God. The word "harden" in the above verse is in the Piel stem. The Piel indicates that God put Pharaohs heart into a state or condition of hardness, so that Pharaoh had no choice but to fulfil Gods plan and purpose by hardening his own heart. God has a plan and purpose for every individual and all are under His control. With God nothing is ever out of control. Those who He has chosen will choose Him and those who He has not chosen cannot choose Him. Not many want to acknowledge His authority. There is more interest in the happiness of man than the glory of God.

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quote:
Originally posted by Bloodbought:
quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
Romans 9 vv 22-24

We must never think that God enjoyed watching a tyrant like Pharaoh. He endured it. God said to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people … and have heard their cry … for I know their sorrows” (Ex. 3:7). The fact that God was long-suffering indicates that He gave Pharaoh opportunities to be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9). The word “fitted” in Romans 9:22 does not suggest that God made Pharaoh a “vessel of wrath.” The verb is in what the Greek grammarians call the middle voice, making it a reflexive action verb. So, it should read: “fitted himself for destruction.” God prepares men for glory (Rom. 9:23), but sinners prepare themselves for judgment. In Moses and Israel God revealed the riches of His mercy; in Pharaoh and Egypt He revealed His power and wrath.

Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

This is the first mention in scripture of the hardening of Pharaohs heart and it is commenced by God. The word "harden" in the above verse is in the Piel stem. The Piel indicates that God put Pharaohs heart into a state or condition of hardness, so that Pharaoh had no choice but to fulfil Gods plan and purpose by hardening his own heart. God has a plan and purpose for every individual and all are under His control. With God nothing is ever out of control. Those who He has chosen will choose Him and those who He has not chosen cannot choose Him. Not many want to acknowledge His authority. There is more interest in the happiness of man than the glory of God.

Yea well was it the humor of the frogs or the seriousness of the death of the 1st born that hardened his heart? I think it was the mans self worth pride, remember he was worshiped like a God.

I think your missing the mark here, for all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.

We all have hearts that can be hardened by proper stimuli.

But love and not control keeps them soft. Love has choice by the Grace of God not control of the Law.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

[cool_shades]

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That is all.....

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blood said:

quote:
This is the first mention in scripture of the hardening of Pharaohs heart and it is commenced by God. The word "harden" in the above verse is in the Piel stem. The Piel indicates that God put Pharaohs heart into a state or condition of hardness, so that Pharaoh had no choice but to fulfil Gods plan and purpose by hardening his own heart.
Thats correct. God purposed centuries before that He would bring Israel out with a strong hand. Gen 15:

13And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

14And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

This I will Judge is referring to the hardening of Pharoah's heart, of which was the purpose of why gave pharoah being. Rom 9:17

17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

John Gill states regarding this scripture Rom 9:17

quote:
even for this same purpose have I raised thee up;
which may be understood in every sense that is put upon that phrase, unless that which some Jewish F13 writers have annexed to it, namely, that God raised Pharaoh from the dead; otherwise, I say, all the rest may well enough be thought to be comprised in it; as that God ordained and appointed him from eternity, by certain means to this end; that he made him to exist in time, or brought him into being; that he raised him to the throne, promoted him to that high honour and dignity; that he preserved him, and did not cut him off as yet; that he strengthened and hardened his heart, irritated, provoked, and stirred him up against his people Israel; and suffered him to go all the lengths he did, in his obstinacy and rebellion: all which was done,


The hardeneing of pharoahs heart was part of God's Eternal Purpose.
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Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?

Exodus 7:3-4 says, “But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my people the Israelites.” It seems unjust for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart and then to punish Pharaoh and Egypt for what Pharaoh decided when his heart was hardened. Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart just so He could judge Egypt more severely with additional plagues?

First, Pharaoh was not an innocent or godly man. He was a brutal dictator overseeing the terrible abuse and oppression of the Israelites, who likely numbered over 1.5 million people at that time. The Egyptian pharaohs had enslaved the Israelites for 400 years. A previous pharaoh—possibly even the pharaoh in question—ordered that male Israelite babies be killed at birth (Exodus 1:16). The pharaoh God hardened was an evil man, and the nation he ruled agreed with, or at least did not oppose, his evil actions.

Second, before the first few plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart against letting the Israelites go. “Pharaoh's heart became hard” (Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:19). “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15). “But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:32). Pharaoh could have spared Egypt of all the plagues if he had not hardened his own heart. God was giving Pharaoh increasingly severe warnings of the judgment that was to come. Pharaoh chose to bring judgment on himself and on his nation by hardening his own heart against God’s commands.

As a result of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart even further, allowing for the last few plagues (Exodus 9:12; 10:20, 27). Pharaoh and Egypt had brought these judgments on themselves with 400 years of slavery and mass murder. Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and Pharaoh and Egypt had horribly sinned against God, it would have been just if God had completely annihilated Egypt. Therefore, God’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart was not unjust, and His bringing additional plagues against Egypt was not unjust. The plagues, as terrible as they were, actually demonstrate God’s mercy in not completely destroying Egypt, which would have been a perfectly just penalty.

Romans 9:17-18 declares, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.” From a human perspective, it seems wrong for God to harden a person and then punish the person He has hardened. Biblically speaking, however, we have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23), and the just penalty for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, God’s hardening and punishing a person is not unjust; it is actually merciful in comparison to what the person deserves.

http://www.gotquestions.org/God-harden-Pharaoh-heart.html

As for the hardening of his heart being prophesied, God is omniscient. He knew what Pharaoh would do when the time came.

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Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Kyle But t , M.A.


In their perpetual quest to find discrepancies in the Bible, to undermine biblical ethics, and to find fault with the actions of God, skeptics have charged that God mistreated Pharaoh by overriding his free will and forcing him to resist the demand of Moses to allow the Israelites to exit Egypt. The skeptics focus on the verses about Pharaoh’s heart, demanding that the God of the Bible is an unjust, cruel being. Steve Wells, the well-known skeptic writer, said: “God begins the process of ‘hardening Pharaoh’s heart’ (see also Exodus 7:3,13, 9:12, 10:1, 20,27, 11:10, 14:4,8), thus making it impossible for any of the plagues that God sends to have any beneficial effect. But according to 1 Samuel 6:6, God didn’t harden the Pharaoh’s heart; the Pharaoh did it himself” (Wells, 2001). Kendall Hobbs, in an essay titled “Why I Am No Longer a Christian,” added Pharaoh’s story to a list of alleged atrocities committed by the God of the Bible. “There are plenty of other atrocities committed by God or at his command,” Hobbs comments, then lists “the Exodus story when the Egyptian Pharaoh was repeatedly ready and willing to let Moses and his people go, until God hardened his heart, and then God punished him for his hardened heart by sending plagues or killing children throughout all of Egypt” (Hobbs, 2003).

The Protestant Calvinist response to the skeptic is simply to say that God can do what He chooses to do, and that humans have no right to question God. To him, the answer is “not to retract the sovereignty of God’s election, or to try to give a rational explanation to doubting men” (Palmer, 1972, p. 33). Since Calvinism has largely dominated the Protestant landscape for the last five centuries, most skeptics have dismissed Christianity as absurd, and have turned away in utter disgust in order to embrace atheism. The smug Calvinist declares, “So be it! You have the problem!”

But why would many otherwise right-thinking people reject the Calvinistic brand of Christianity? Must their rejection necessarily be due to a desire to be free from the moral and social restraints that come with the acceptance of the Christian religion? Must the unbeliever’s unbelief inevitably be the result of an unwillingness to accept truth? While it is true that most human beings in history have rejected the correct pathway in life due to stubborn pride, selfishness, and a desire to gratify fleshly desires (cf. Matthew 7:13-14; 1 John 2:15-17), there are exceptions. Some people reject Christianity because they have been presented with pseudo-Christianity—a Catholic or Protestant version of it—what Paul called “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6), that is, a diluted, distorted form, rather than pure, New Testament Christianity.

The reason rational, honest people would reject Calvinism’s claim that God arbitrarily (i.e., for His own sovereign reasons) rejects some people, or overrides their free will, is because they recognize that a perfect God, i.e., One Who is infinite in all of His attributes (including justice, fairness, and impartiality), would not do so. God cannot be just, while unjustly rejecting some people. God cannot be God, and yet conduct Himself in an ungodly manner. Even the biggest sinner, who has violated his conscience repeatedly, and has dulled his spiritual sensibilities, has enough sense to comprehend the principle of being fair—even if he chooses not to treat people fairly.

Turning to the book of Exodus, most Bible readers must admit that they were at least slightly startled the first time they read about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and then His punishing Pharaoh for that same hard-heartedness. In dealing with these allegations, three distinct declarations are made with regard to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. First, the text states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (7:3; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8), and the hearts of the Egyptians (14:17). Second, it is said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (8:15,32; 9:34), that he refused to humble himself (10:3), and that he was stubborn (13:15). Third, the text uses the passive form to indicate that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, without giving any indication as to the source (7:13,14,22; 8:19; 9:7,35). The questions that arise from this state of affairs are: (1) did God harden Pharaoh on some occasions, while Pharaoh hardened himself on others? (2) Did God do all the hardening of Pharaoh, with the references to Pharaoh hardening himself being the result of God forcing him to do so against his own will? (3) Are all three declarations given in the text actually parallel expressions that mean the same thing? (4) Are the three declarations distinct from one another in their meaning, but all true in their own respects? Is the God of the Bible an unjust, cruel Being?

Two excellent explanations are available that account for the Exodus declarations, each perfectly plausible and sufficient to demonstrate that both the skeptic and Calvinist interpretations are incorrect. Both explanations pertain to the fact that every language has its own way of using certain types of words and phrases that might appear odd to a person not familiar with the language. For instance, suppose a person commented that his boss became angry and “bit his head off.” Would anyone think that the speaker actually had his head bitten off? Of course not! English-speaking people understand this example of figurative speech. Or suppose a person went looking for a job, and someone said that she was “hitting the streets.” She was not literally hitting the streets with her fists. Most English speakers would understand the idiom. In the same way, the biblical languages had idioms, colloquialisms, Semitisms, and word usages peculiar to them, which those familiar with the language would understand.

In his copious work on biblical figures of speech, E.W. Bullinger listed several ways that the Hebrew and Greek languages used verbs to mean something other than their strict, literal usage. He listed several verses that show that the languages “used active verbs to express the agent’s design or attempt to do anything, even though the thing was not actually done” (1898, p. 821). To illustrate, in discussing the Israelites, Deuteronomy 28:68 states: “Ye shall be sold (i.e., put up for sale) unto your enemies…and no man shall buy you.” The translators of the New King James Version recognized the idiom and rendered the verse, “you shall be offered for sale.” The text clearly indicated that they would not be sold, because there would be no buyer, yet the Hebrew active verb for “sold” was used. In the New Testament, a clear example of this type of usage is found in 1 John 1:10, which states, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God—KB/DM] a liar.” No one can make God a liar, but the attempt to deny sin is the equivalent of attempting to make God a liar, which is rendered with an active verb as if it actually happened. Verbs, therefore, can have idiomatic usages that may convey something other than a strict, literal meaning.

With that in mind, Bullinger’s fourth list of idiomatic verbs deals with active verbs that “were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (p. 823, emp. in orig.). To illustrate, in commenting on Exodus 4:21, Bullinger stated: “ ‘I will harden his heart (i.e., I will permit or suffer his heart to be hardened), that he shall not let the people go.’ So in all the passages which speak of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. As is clear from the common use of the same Idiom in the following passages” (1968, p. 823). He then listed Jeremiah 4:10, “ ‘Lord God, surely thou hast greatly deceived this people’: i.e., thou hast suffered this People to be greatly deceived, by the false prophets….’ ” Ezekiel 14:9 is also given as an example of this type of usage: “ ‘If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet’: i.e., I have permitted him to deceive himself.” James MacKnight, in a lengthy section on biblical idioms, agrees with Bullinger’s assessment that in Hebrew active verbs can express permission and not direct action. This explanation unquestionably clarifies the question of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. When the text says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God would permit or allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.

A second equally legitimate explanation for the Exodus text is that the allusions to God hardening Pharaoh’s heart are a form of figurative speech, very closely associated with metaphor, known as “metonymy,” where one name or word is employed for another. For example, when we speak of “reading Shakespeare,” we mean that we read his writings or plays. God hardening Pharaoh’s heart would be “metonymy of the subject,” that is, the subject is announced, while some property or circumstance belonging to it is meant. Specifically, under this form of the figure, “[a]n action is sometimes said to have been accomplished, when all that is meant by it is that an occasion was given” (Dungan, 1888, p. 287; cf. Bullinger, 1898, p. 570).

The Bible is replete with examples that illustrate this figure of speech. John reported that “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John” (John 4:1). In reality, Jesus did not personally baptize anyone (John 4:2). But His teaching and influence caused it to be done. Jesus, the subject, is mentioned, but it is the circumstance of His influence that is intended. His teaching was responsible for people being baptized. Repeatedly in the book of 1 Kings, various kings of Israel are said to have “walked in the way of Jeroboam…who had made Israel sin” (e.g., 1 Kings 16:19,26; 22:52). But Jeroboam did not force either his contemporaries or his successors to sin. Rather, he set an example that they chose to follow. Judas was said to have purchased a field with the money he obtained by betraying Christ (Acts 1:18). But, in reality, he returned the money to the chief priests and then hung himself. The blood money was then used to purchase the field (Matthew 27:5-7). By metonymy of the subject, Judas was said to have done that which his action occasioned. Paul warned Roman Christians: “Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15). What he meant was that they should not set an example that lures weaker brothers into doing what they consider to be wrong. Paul told Corinthian Christians that they were in a position to “save” their unbelieving spouses (1 Corinthians 7:16). He told Timothy that he was in a position to “save” those who listened to his teaching (1 Timothy 4:16). In both cases, Paul meant that proper teaching and a proper example could influence the recipients to obey God’s will for their lives.

Another instance of metonymy of the subject, closely aligned with the example of Pharaoh in Exodus, is the occasion of the conversion of Lydia, the businesswoman from Thyatira. The text states that the “Lord opened her heart” (Acts 16:14). However, the specific means by which God achieved this action was the preaching of Paul. God’s Word, spoken through Paul, created within her a receptive and responsive mind. In like fashion, Jesus is said to have preached to Gentiles as well as to the antediluvian population of Noah’s day (Ephesians 2:17; 1 Peter 3:19). Of course, Jesus did neither—directly. Rather, He operated through agents—through Paul in the first case and through Noah in the latter. Similarly, Nathan accused king David: “You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword” (2 Samuel 12:9). In reality, David sent a letter to his general ordering him to arrange battle positions where Uriah would be more vulnerable to enemy fire. On the basis of metonymy of the subject, David, the subject, is said to have done something that, in actuality, he simply arranged for others to do.

In the case of Pharaoh, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply. Of course, God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude. If God had not sent Moses, Pharaoh would not have been faced with the dilemma of whether to release the Israelites. So God was certainly the instigator and initiator. But He was not the author of Pharaoh’s defiance.

Notice that in a very real sense, all four of the following statements are true: (1) God hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (2) Moses hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (3) the words that Moses spoke hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (4) Pharaoh hardened his own heart. All four of these observations are accurate, depicting the same truth from different perspectives. In this sense, God is responsible for everything in the Universe, i.e., He has provided the occasion, the circumstances, and the environment in which all things (including people) operate. But He is not guilty of wrong in so doing. From a quick look at a simple Hebrew idiom, it is clear that God did not unjustly or directly harden Pharaoh’s heart. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), He does not act unjustly (Psalms 33:5), and He has always allowed humans to exercise their free moral agency (Deuteronomy 30:19). God, however, does use the wrong, stubborn decisions committed by rebellious sinners to further His causes (Isaiah 10:5-11). In the case of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, God can be charged with no injustice, and the Bible can be charged with no contradiction. Humans were created with free moral agency and are culpable for their own actions.

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1205

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Bloodbought
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God is putting hearts into a state of hardness all the time. Every time the gospel is preached it has one of two effects. It will either soften and open hearts and make them receptive to the good seed of the word by the enabling of the spirit, or it will harden unregenerate hearts that are not drawn by the spirit and cause them to reject the word. Either way the softening and the hardening are of the Lord.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
God is putting hearts into a state of hardness all the time. Every time the gospel is preached it has one of two effects. It will either soften and open hearts and make them receptive to the good seed of the word by the enabling of the spirit, or it will harden unregenerate hearts that are not drawn by the spirit and cause them to reject the word. Either way the softening and the hardening are of the Lord.

Incorrect. Luke 8:11-15

Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.


Fourteen times in Scripture a statement is made that God hardens someone's heart (15 if we count John 12:40 where the "He" may be read as a reference to God or perhaps to Isaiah – see Isaiah 6:9-10). Nine of those times are in relation to Pharaoh. Outside of Pharaoh, God says that he will harden the hearts of the Egyptians (Exodus 14:17), that the LORD hardened the spirit of Sihon, king of Heshbon (Deuteronomy 2:30), that it was of the LORD to harden the hearts of the northern kings in Canaan (Joshua 11:20), the prophet Isaiah asks why God has hardened Israel's heart (Isaiah 63:17), and the apostle Paul states that whom God wills He hardens (Romans 9:18).

What do these passages mean?

The first time Scripture speaks of hardening someone's heart, it is in reference to Pharaoh. In Exodus 4:21, Scripture uses a verb meaning "to strengthen" when God states to Moses "I will cause Pharaoh's heart to be strengthened" [often translated "hardened"] (Exodus 4:21). This is the Piel form of the verb "to strengthen" which has the picture that this is the action of God to bring about a state of being strengthened without regard to the process by which this is done (An Introduction to Hebrew Grammar, Waltke, page 400). God would cause Pharaoh's heart to be strengthened. But God does not say how He will do it. This verb, form, and usage appear again in Exodus 14:4.

What is stated as a future statement in Exodus 4:21 becomes an accomplished statement in Exodus 7:13, with Scripture using the same verb and form of the verb as was found in Exodus 4:21. The LORD strengthened Pharaoh's heart. This verb and form also appear in Exodus 9:12; 10:20, 27, 11:10, and 14:8.

At the same time, we have statements that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Thus, in Exodus 8:32 we find that the statement that "Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also." This verse uses a different verb translated "hardened" which verb has the base meaning of "to make weighty or heavy." It is the verb that is associated with the noun "glory," a weighty rather than the light and airy idea we sometimes associate with the word. Pharaoh made his heart of stubborn substance. The "also" in 8:23 tells us that Pharaoh had done this before. There is a relationship between God hardening Pharaoh's heart and Pharaoh hardening his own heart. Other passages speaking of Pharaoh hardening his own heart are Exodus 8:15 and 9:34.

In the midst of these various statements on the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, Scripture gives us some clarification on this issue of who was responsible for Pharaoh's hard heart. In Exodus 7:3, God says that he will harden Pharaoh's heart. The Hebrew verb used here is a word meaning "to be hard." This is a Hiphel form of the Hebrew verb (see The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, pg. 904) with a basic meaning that God will cause the heart of Pharaoh to be hard. The Hiphil form of the Hebrew word denotes the subject (God) acting and the object (Pharaoh) participating as a second subject in the action (An Introduction to Hebrew Grammar, Waltke, page 435). The object is joining with the action. In other words, Pharaoh joins God in the hardening process. Pharaoh may be seen as the agent by which God accomplishes His hardening action. Because the Hiphil states nothing about whether the object is a willing or an unwilling participant in the action, we are left to the context to determine whether the author of Exodus sees Pharaoh as joining willingly in the hardening.

Likewise, in Exodus 10:1, the LORD said to Moses: "Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants..." Here, Scripture uses the same word used in Exodus 8:15, 32, and 9:34. The form of the verb is also in the Hiphil form. Once again, God and Pharaoh are seen as participating in the hardening.

I make the following observations from these passages. First, the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, as the hardening of the heart of Sihon, and of the northern kings of Canaan was in relation to their dealings with Israel. It is part and parcel of the sovereignty of God as it relates to kings and kingdoms. He raises up whom He wills and He throws down whom He wills (Daniel 2:21; 4:25; 5:21) and He turns the king's heart wherever He wishes (Proverbs 21:1). The hardening should not be seen as dealing with personal salvation. In Isaiah 63:17, Isaiah includes himself in those whose hearts God had hardened, yet no one would say that Isaiah himself was not saved, or people like Hezekiah, Hosea, and Amos who were contemporaries of Isaiah. [Some may cite the Romans 9:18 passage as evidence that God's hardening concerns personal salvation. I only note that there are many ways of looking at that passage and the conclusion that it deals with personal salvation is not without doubt, especially given God's conclusion at the end of the passage in Romans 11:32 that God wills to have mercy on all. See the discussion below.]

Second, in considering whether Pharaoh was a willing or unwilling participant in his own hardening, there is no sense in the passage that the hardening of Pharaoh's heart was contrary to Pharaoh's desire. There are no statements that Pharaoh wanted to be merciful to Israel but God prevented him from doing so. Pharaoh was a hard taskmaster over the Israelites. He was cruel and capricious. He was not a nice person before God sent Moses to Egypt. The fact that Scripture states often that Pharaoh caused his own heart to be hardened lends credence to the view that the hardening of Pharaoh's heart was a cooperative effort. It was Pharaoh's desire to have a hard heart towards Israel.

In fact, I know of no statements in Scripture where anyone wanted to follow God but God prevented them by hardening their hearts. Even on those to whom God had pronounced judgment, God relented when they sought God (Judges 10:11-16; Jonah 3:10). But Scripture also presents a God who will withdraw and watch when we choose to do evil, a God who will give us over to the desires of our hearts (Deuteronomy 32:19-20; Romans 1:26, 28). This may well be the means by which Pharaoh's heart was hardened. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the Apostle Paul speaks of the mystery of lawlessness being restrained but at some point this restraint is lifted. If the restrainer is God the Holy Spirit, the hardening of the heart may be simply a matter of God's Spirit no longer restraining the impulses of Pharaoh to have a hard heart. Further, we know that God can accomplish His work through intermediate bad actors (see 1 Kings 22:22 – God's use of a lying spirit to cause Ahab to go to battle and to his death; Job 1:12 and 2:3 – God's allowing Satan to attack Job; as well as the many examples of God's use of wicked kings to accomplish His purposes, see for instance Habakkuk 1:12-13). Thus, consistent with Scripture one may see God accomplishing His hardening by using Pharaoh as the bad actor to work out God's will. Whether God caused Pharaoh's heart to be hardened by directly strengthening it to do what Pharaoh really wanted to do (what seems to be the meaning of the verb most frequently used in this passage concerning God's role) or by withdrawing restraint and allowing Pharaoh free reign to harden his own heart, or through some other means; the sense of the Exodus account is that Pharaoh was seen as a responsible agent for the hardening of his own heart. Pharaoh was not an unwilling participant in the hardening.

Third, God warns us not to harden our hearts against the poor (Deuteronomy 15:7), and not to harden our hearts as the Israelites did in the wilderness (Psalm 95:8; Hebrews 3:8, 15; 4:7). This idea of Israel hardening their own hearts (or necks) against God in the wilderness wanderings is how the Jews in Nehemiah viewed the situation (Nehemiah 9:16-17). They also saw that the same hardening was done by their fathers during the days of the kings (Nehemiah 9:29). God supports this view that Israel was responsible for its own hardening (Jeremiah 7:25-26), and such continued to Jeremiah's days (Jeremiah 19:15). The scripture further supports man's responsibility for his own hardening in 2 Kings 17:14 where God explains that the reason for the captivity of the northern ten tribes was because they had hardened their necks against God. And God says of King Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, that he (Zedekiah) hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel (2 Chronicles 36:13). Daniel speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as having his spirit hardened in pride (Daniel 5:20) and God acting in response to this. The disciples hearts were hardened during the feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:52) and after the feeding of the 4,000 (Mark 8:17), when Jesus asks why they did not understand. The sense is that their hardness was caused by themselves, and Jesus was challenging their hard hearts. In Acts 19:9, some were hardened at Ephesus and did not believe. God places the responsibility on us to guard our hearts from hardening. We are warned not to harden our hearts, and there is no sense in these passages that God plays any role in the hardening. Rather, the opposite is true. God is calling us not to harden our hearts. God is not saying one thing and doing another.

So, though God hardened Pharaoh's heart, the heart of Sihon (Deuteronomy 2:30, also a Hiphil verb form of the verb "to be hard"), and the hearts of the northern kings in Joshua's days (Joshua 11:20, a Piel verb form of the verb "to strengthen"), these were all in their nationalist role in opposition to Israel. But each of these kings and rulers were already in opposition to Israel. God simply strengthened their hearts to do what they were desiring to do. And they participated in their own hardening.

The same can be supported repeatedly with respect to the hardening of Israel mentioned in Isaiah 63:17, another Hiphil form of a verb meaning "to make hard." Israel continually sought to go astray from God and willingly participated in its own hardening. And, given the passage in Romans 1 about the nature of the desires of people who turn away from God, it seems that the Apostle Paul may have had the same sense that God, when hardening a person's heart, is not acting against the person's desires. God gives some over to go their own way so that God's non-salvation purposes may be accomplished.

But, I think it would be wrong to read into these passages as stating that God hardens some people against receiving salvation. Such a position is contrary to the argument of Paul in the book of Romans. The depravity of man in Romans 1 is the backdrop not to the eternal damnation of man, but to the conclusion that all are under sin and all need a savior, whom Paul introduces us to in Romans 3. Likewise, the statement on hardening in Romans 9:18 is the backdrop for the present blindness of the Jewish nation as a whole and the mercy God now extends to all, both Jew and Gentile (Romans 11:32). No one should read Romans 9:18-24 without tracking Paul's logic through to his conclusion in Romans 11:32 that God has concluded all in unbelief that He may have mercy on all. Today, both Jews and Gentiles who confess Jesus are saved (Romans 10:12). Paul understood that the Jewish heart overall was hardened, but nevertheless Paul sought to testify to them so that individuals among them might be saved (Romans 11:13-14). And in following the logic of the passage, the ones being saved are the very ones who were hardened, or in this passage called "blinded." Thus, after distinguishing between the election and those who were blinded (Romans 11:7), Paul proceeds to discuss the nature the blindness (Romans 11:8-10), but then notes that those who are blinded have not stumbled that they should fall (Romans 11:11), but that God has raised up the Gentile Christians to be the means of bringing those who were blinded to the salvation offered in Christ (Romans 11:11-14). For this reason, Paul seeks the salvation of the blinded (or hardened) Jews (Romans 11:14), and if the blinded Jews do not abide in unbelief, they too will be grafted into the plant (Romans 11:23).

Hard hearts ultimately are our responsibility, not God's. God tells us in Joel 2:12 to turn to Him with all of our hearts and to rend our hearts. A broken and repentant heart God will not despise (Psalm 51:17). And God's very nature is to show mercy (Exodus 34:5-7). Jonah knew this (Jonah 4:2).

http://truthsaves.org/doctrine/harden_hearts.shtml

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Bloodbought
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Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart, or Did Pharaoh?
Yesterday on the DL I mentioned the appearance on Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong's blog of a brief statement on Romans 9. As much as I wanted to respond to it myself, I had to finish a project by last night (does a little after midnight count?). So I asked Colin Smith, who has written for this website before (you can find his articles in our apologetics sections) if he would be willing to put something together in response to Armstrong, and he was very kind to do so. Very fast movement...for a British fellow! So here is Colin Smith's response to Dave Armstrong on Romans 9 and the hardening of Pharaoh's heart.

Passages like Exodus 4:21 and Romans 9:17-18 have been a cause of discussion and soul-searching among Christians for centuries due to the uncomfortable image of God they seem to portray. On the one hand, the Bible assures us that God takes no pleasure in wickedness (Psalm 5:4) and from all that Scripture teaches about Gods holiness and hatred of sin, it is inconceivable that He should be made out to be the author of sin. However, in these passages, the Bible presents us with the notion that God actively caused Pharaohs heart to harden when Moses related to him the divine injunction to release the Israelites. This hardening of heart in turn led Pharaoh to disobey God. Disobedience to God is sin, so it would seem to follow that Gods action in hardening Pharaohs heart caused Pharaoh to sin. The Lord is, therefore, apparently portrayed in such passages as putting within a person a desire to commit sin, making Him the author of sin in the persons heart.
There are two common resolutions to this apparent problem. First there is the suggestion that Pharaohs sin was the product of his free will, and God merely saw this development within Pharaohs psyche and permitted it to fulfill His purposes. God did not put the thought into Pharaohs head, and He did not direct Pharaohs intentions toward disobedience; He just took advantage of the carnal stubbornness of the Egyptian ruler to advance His own plan. Advocates of this position consider the language of passages such as the above-cited Exodus 4:21 that indicate God had an active role in the hardening process to be shorthand for God allowed Pharaoh to harden his own heart, and He then used that hardened heart. In a recent blog article, Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong argued that it is necessary to understand the poetic nature of the Hebrew language, allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, and understand such passages in the light of all of what the Bible teaches. In this regard, he cites passages that explicitly state that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Exodus 8:15, 32, et al.) which, for him, add that particular nuance that alleviates him from having to defend God against accusations of positively ordaining evil.

Contrary to this, the Reformed view is that God positively ordains all that will come to pass, both good and evil (see, for example, Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6). Therefore, Pharaoh's hardening of heart was ordained of God, and performed by God so that He might receive honor (Exodus 14:4) and multiply the signs He intended to perform in the land (Exodus 7:3). According to this view, the passages referring to Pharaoh hardening his own heart merely reflect from Pharaoh's perspective what the Lord had done within him, just as Peter could on the one hand accuse the people of Israel of crucifying Jesus (Acts 4:10), and also acknowledge that they, along with Pilate and Herod, were merely agents of the Lord's will (Acts 4:27-28).
The former position, most commonly taken by those of either an Arminian or Roman Catholic theological persuasion, most frequently characterizes the Reformed position as denying man's culpability for his sin by relieving him of the guilt afforded him by the actions of his free will. The refusal of the Reformed position to make man's free will responsible for sin, and placing the initiative for the sin on God's will, they claim, not only makes God morally responsible for the sinful actions of free men, but also permits man to distance himself from his crime by saying, essentially, "God made me do it!" If this is the understanding of the Reformed position that most Arminians have, it is little wonder few have time for it.

In response to this, those who hold to the Reformed position claim that, unlike their opponents, they are dealing honestly with the text of Scripture. Instead of trying to insert meaning into passages, they let the passages stand and say what they say. Therefore, if the text says God hardened Pharaohs heart, then God did exactly that. He did not sit back and wait to see how Pharaoh would respond to Him. Indeed, "the kings heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1). In philosophical terms, I am referring here to God using men as secondary agents for the fulfillment of His purposes. While Armstrong agrees with the fact that God does use people in this way, he arbitrarily denies that God would do so if sin is involved. Interestingly, he cites the crucifixion as evidence of men used as secondary agents, but seems to overlook the fact that God used them to blaspheme, beat, and ultimately kill His only begotten Son. Does he seriously want to suggest that somehow this was not sin? (See his response to Fred in the Comments).
This is what is truly at the crux of the problem with the Arminian position: a lack of appreciation for the true nature of God's sovereignty. The Bible is replete with statements and stories that support the notion that God is in total and complete control of all things. This concept may not sit well with people, but those who claim to look to the Word of God as the sole and supreme authority on the subject need to come to terms with it. Romans 8:28, a much-beloved passage for many people, clearly states that "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." The impact of this statement upon one's understanding of the relationship between the will of God and creation should be profound. This passage is part of a section in which Paul is encouraging persecuted Christians. He lifts their eyes beyond the sufferings of the present time to the glory that is to be revealed in them (18), and says that their regenerated hearts ache and groan for the redemption to come, the glorification in heaven, and all that Christ has promised (19-25). Paul then reminds his readers of the wonderful truth that, regardless of whatever might be happening around them, or to them, there is nothing that takes place that God has not caused for the good of His people. This would include not only blessings and encouragements, but also persecutions, beatings, and even death. All things, Paul says, not some things, or even just the good things.
If it is true that God causes all things to occur for the good of His people,that must mean He is able to direct the hearts of even sinful men to fulfill His purposes. He would have to prevent any and all hindrances to His plans, even if this means turning the hearts of men against His own, in order to make sure the good He has designed for His people comes to pass. If there is the slightest possibility that a man acting as a free agent could go his own way, contrary to the purpose of God, then God cannot be said to be causing all things to work together for the ultimate good of those who love Him.
The Arminian/Catholic objection at this point should be obvious: if God turns the hearts of men against His own, does that not make Him the author of sin, just as if He hardened Pharaohs heart?
This begs the question: is man morally neutral? Does man stand before God without prejudice or predisposition, and performs whatever actions God deems necessary for him to do? Or is man naturally inclined toward goodness, and takes moral exception to God forcing him to do that which is repugnant to him? To put it another way, did Pharaoh have no opinion of his own about how to deal with the Israelites, and looked solely to God for direction? Or did Pharaoh really want to release the Israelites and be pleasing to God by his obedience to Gods command, but God thwarted him by hardening his heart and making him act contrary to his will?
The Biblical evidence that can be cited to demonstrate mans moral corruptness is plentiful. Jeremiah 17:9 says that "the heart is more deceitful than all else." Romans 3:23 reminds us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Also, Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians of their former way of life before Christ, that they were dead in transgressions and sins, that they were indulging the desires of the flesh, and were children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). Lest it be supposed that this disposition of heart be assigned only to those in the church at Ephesus, Paul is quick to point out that among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh... (2:3), and that God, even when we were dead in our transgressions, "made us alive together with Christ..." (2:5). This, therefore, is a description of the unregenerate heart, apart from the grace of God in Christ. So, when God hardened Pharaohs heart, He was not acting contrary to the natural desire of Pharaoh's heart. God was using Pharaoh's natural predisposition toward sin to cause him to disobey God's command. The sin, therefore, is totally Pharaoh's due to the nature of his heart. Remember, God had many times restrained Pharaoh's evil, and could have, at any point, brought final judgment in death upon him justly. God is absolved from any blame because of the purity of His motive. God used a vessel of wrath (Romans 9:22) that His people may see His glory in a way they would never have otherwise. In hardening Pharaoh's heart, He not only provided the environment where His people could see, without question, His hand at work in their lives, but God also established the Passover, and won a decisive victory against the armies of Pharaoh that, again, enabled His people to see first hand and without doubt the deliverance of the Lord. God did not tempt Pharaoh (James 1:13), since Pharaoh was fully complicit in God's decree to harden his heart such that he could not (and did not) say I am tempted by God.
In passing, I should mention that there are a number of occasions where God acts in such a way that He brings disaster upon His own through the actions of wicked men, and in the end redeems His people and brings justice upon those who acted against them. The story of Joseph is a classic example, where Joseph is clearly portrayed as a man of God who is unjustly dealt with by his brothers, and ill-treated by others, until God brings about a turnaround in his life where he ends up as the number two man over all Egypt. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers that all that had happened to him, while they had intended them for evil, "God meant it for good, to bring about this present result..." The present result was the saving of many lives during a long period of drought under Joseph's administration, and, of course, the reconciliation of Joseph, his brothers, and his father. It also established the Hebrews in Egypt, leading up to the events described in Exodus. See also God's dealings with Assyria in Isaiah 10 (particularly the statement in 10:6-7).
In closing, I would like to call attention to a couple of things worth noting in Armstrong's response to an atheist in his blogs comments. First, he implies that proper hermeneutical methodology necessitates that we recognize when a passage should be regarded as poetic, and when its literal meaning should be understood. I wholeheartedly agree with this, but find it completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The section of Scripture under discussion is in the book of Exodus. The book of Exodus is an account of the rise of Moses, the oppression of the Hebrews under the Egyptians, and God's deliverance of His people with a view to establishing them in their own land governed by His law. The purpose of Exodus is, therefore, to set forth an historical account. It is not a work of poetic myth like the Bhagavad-Gita. It is clearly to be understood as historical fact, especially given that the events described in Exodus are treated as such by other writers of Scripture (Mark 12:26; John 3:14; Acts 7:20-44; Romans 9:17; 2 Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 11:23-24, et al.).Those passages of Exodus that are supposed to be regarded as poetic are clearly indicated. Exodus 15:1-18 begins "Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song..." which, by any reasonable hermeneutic, must be taken to mean that the following verses are to be read as poetry, until it is clear by the stylistic change that the writer has returned to straight narrative prose. In light of this, to claim that a passage such as Exodus 7:3 is employing poetic language when it is, in fact, simply recording the words that God spoke to Moses, is simply evading the issue.
Finally, I think Mr. Armstrong's response to the atheist demonstrates how much his apologetic is weakened by his refusal to accept the plain reading of Biblical historical narrative. The atheists problem is not, as Armstrong seems to think, a narrow view of Biblical hermeneutics that refuses to recognize the finer nuances of the Hebrew language in plain speech. It is that his view of God is Biblically deficient such that he has no room for the concept of a just and holy God who owes nothing to His creation except the judgment of death for sin, and yet who, in His love and mercy, seeks to save some from that just penalty by redeeming them through the blood of His only Son. Furthermore, this God endeavors to order the whole of creation and the purposes of all men such that ultimate good is achieved for His people, and His name is glorified throughout heaven and earth.
God did not instill sin into Pharaohs heart; it was there by virtue of the Fall. God did not force Pharaoh to do anything contrary to his natural, unregenerate desires. And God did not purpose evil in causing Pharaoh's sin; rather His purpose was, and always is, His glory and the good of His people.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1582

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Carol Swenson
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Josephus, the Jewish historian who lived comfortably in the lap of the Roman Empire wrote for his Roman patron(s) that there were three main sects of Judaism in his day and that one of the ways to distinguish them was by their deterministic views. According to Josephus, the Sadducees were the least deterministic, believing that God had given man free will and left him to get on with life. The Essenes were the most deterministic, holding that all is mapped out. No choices. No freedom. All is decided. Between these two poles were the Pharisees who held that while God sovereignly rules his creation, he permits humans the moral freedom and responsibility to choose between right and wrong.

The Bible is clear: Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee. In fact he was a rather “successful” Pharisee, meaning that he was very good at doing and being whatever it was that made one a Pharisee. Why not then assume that Saul held typical Pharisaical views of theology? Furthermore, when Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul, why believe that his Pharisaical education evaporated and was replaced with Calvin’s systematic theology? It seems to me that when we read Paul’s statements about God’s “foreknowledge”, “predestination” and “election”, we should strive to understand them from the perspective of a first century Pharisee and not St. Augustine via Calvin and other Reformers.

I believe that Calvin’s systematic theology goes wrong because it interprets the Scripture from a Western/Greek perspective.

http://amtog.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/whats-wrong-with-calvinism/

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Calvinism - The Gospel According to Plato & Augustine



Calvinism is exactly what you get when you try to put Classical Greek religious meaning onto NT words, instead of Septuagint/Hebrew concepts!!! As a philosophical system of theology, Calvinism is rooted in the basic presupposition of the Absolute Sovereignty of God, who originally determined everything that would happen by a decree. Since, according to Calvinism, God "determines" everything and man is spiritually incapacitated by "the fall," then God selected who He wanted to save without any input from them, had Christ die just for the one's selected, irresistibly and secretly calls those selected, and will not let any of the elect fall away. As a logical progression, Calvinism makes great sense - this is why a lot of very intelligent people have embraced it. The problem is that the logic proceeds from a faulty premise - the Greek/Pagan view of divine sovereignty!

Let me offer an alternative definition of divine sovereignty, which I think will better accord with everything we find in Scripture. God holds all power and control over His universe, yet has chosen to have the natural order and His “image-creatures” function with sufficient “semi-autonomy” that both “good and bad” can occur without God directly causing everything to occur as it does. Semi-autonomy still allows God to intervene in the natural order, as well as individual human lives, as He chooses. However, natural disasters, accidents, and the “unfairness of life” can occur without being direct judgments on anyone (Ecclesiastes 8:14; Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3) and humans can act with sufficient freedom so as to be truly “responsible” for their thoughts and actions. God’s “absolute sovereignty” is exercised, not in manipulating every event in each human life, but in graciously extending pardon to rebels who will accept it on His terms and bringing final judgment against those who refuse it. Under this definition, God is not made responsible for evil and passages that emphasize human responsibility for responding to God’s grace make sense.

http://chuck.severnchristian.org/bible/Bible-Theology_Topics/Calvinism-Theological_Determinism.htm

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Bloodbought
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No matter how you slice it, Pharaoh was everything God intended him to be. Like all of mankind Pharaoh was born spiritually blind. He thought he could see and that he required no help from God . Even after all the plagues it should have been obvious that God was angry with him because of his unwillingness to let the people go, but Pharaoh was spiritually blind and could not see that he was fighting against a power that could destroy him in a moment of time.

When God said “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” I cannot agree with those who say that means that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. That is twisting scripture big time. Some seem to think that Pharaoh was acting by his own strength. He was not. This was not flesh and blood that was fighting against Israel, this was spiritual wickedness in high places. The adversary who possessed Pharaoh’s heart was at war with the God who possessed Israel’s heart. The reason the word “harden” in Ex 4:21 is in the Piel stem, is to show that the subject “God” is putting the object “Pharaoh’s heart” into a state of hardness without any participation by the object “Pharaoh. God allowed a spirit of hardness to possess Pharaoh’s heart and his heart was hardened. Why? Because by doing so, God could demonstrate His power and prove that He has power to bring on events that show Pharaoh’s blindness and at the same time show Israel, who were given a set of spiritual eye balls to see that He is the God who can defeat the enemy and lead them to victory.

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Carol Swenson
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So which one is it?

quote:
Pharaoh was everything God intended him to be
quote:
God was angry with him because of his unwillingness to let the people go
quote:
This was not flesh and blood that was fighting against Israel, this was spiritual wickedness in high places. The adversary who possessed Pharaoh’s heart was at war with the God who possessed Israel’s heart.
quote:
the subject “God” is putting the object “Pharaoh’s heart” into a state of hardness without any participation by the object “Pharaoh. God allowed a spirit of hardness to possess Pharaoh’s heart and his heart was hardened.

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Bloodbought
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quote:
So which one is it?


All of them.

Pharaoh’s handicap was blindness and also deafness spiritually speaking. He was unable to see the signs or hear the warnings. What is worse, Pharaoh had no desire to see or hear. He thought he could see and hear, but he was deceived. God has no intension of giving sight and illumination to those who think they can see enough. On the contrary He will allow them to go on their merry way and allow demons to assist them. Pharaoh was headed down a road that was going to end in disaster and despite all the huge signs in giant print and the many verbal warnings he continued on oblivious to them. Pharaoh was of his father the devil and did the works of his father. This is what God intended for Pharaoh and He is angry with the wicked every day.

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Carol Swenson
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That sounds like John 8:42-47 except for your last sentence -

quote:
This is what God intended for Pharaoh and He is angry with the wicked every day.
- God does not intend that anyone be evil.

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3-4).

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).


quote:
God has no intension of giving sight and illumination to those who think they can see enough. On the contrary He will allow them to go on their merry way and allow demons to assist them. Pharaoh was headed down a road that was going to end in disaster and despite all the huge signs in giant print and the many verbal warnings he continued on oblivious to them.
So why give Pharaoh "huge signs in giant print and the many verbal warnings" if, as you say, "God has no intension of giving sight and illumination to those who think they can see enough."?

Why didn't God just kill him?

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Carol Swenson
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The Bible is clear that all people are God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), and that God loves the entire world (John 3:16), but only those who are born again are children of God (John 1:12; 11:52; Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1-10).

In Scripture, the lost are never referred to as children of God. Ephesians 2:3 tells us that before we were saved we were “by nature objects of wrath.” Romans 9:8 says that “it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.” Instead of being born as God’s children, we are born in sin, which separates us from God and aligns us with Satan as God’s enemy (James 4:4; 1 John 3:8). Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me” (John 8:42). Then a few verses later in John 8:44, Jesus told the Pharisees that they “belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire.” The fact that those who are not saved are not children of God is also seen in 1 John 3:10: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

We become children of God when we are saved because we are adopted into God’s family through our relationship with Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:5). This can be clearly seen in verses like Romans 8:14-17: “…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Those who are saved are children “of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) because God has “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5).

Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord becomes a part of the people of God. It doesn’t come through church attendance or good deeds. It is a deliberate choice to follow God alone. That’s why 2 Corinthians 6:16 and Mark 8:38 both indicate that a choice has to be made. And when we make that choice to embrace God, He embraces us as well. Then we truly are His people.

http://www.gotquestions.org/all-God-children.html

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Bloodbought
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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
God does not intend that anyone be evil.

He does. He creates evil.

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.

quote:
So why give Pharaoh "huge signs in giant print and the many verbal warnings" if, as you say, "God has no intension of giving sight and illumination to those who think they can see enough."?

Why didn't God just kill him?

The signs and warnings were not for Pharaoh’s benefit. God give Pharaoh a spirit of hardness to resist and ignore the signs and warnings.

The signs and warnings were for the benefit of God’s chosen people, the Hebrews.

Exodus 10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: 2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.

Signs and wonders will not bring anyone to faith such as Pharaoh, who are blinded by the God of this world. Only the conviction and illumination of the Holy Spirit will produce faith.

God makes the initial move to save by the work of the Holy Spirit and the recipient subsequently believes.

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Carol Swenson
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Satan is never mentioned concerning Pharaoh. We can't add to scripture even though his cruelty and idolatry certainly seem like the work of Satan.

God is not the author of evil.

Skeptics love the KJV so much, one would think that they were still back in medieval England. Use of this translation is problematic these days, since it uses an archaic version of modern English, which doesn't necessarily mean the same things today as when it was translated over 400 years ago. In addition, the KJV was produced using a limited number of medieval manuscripts that did not represent the earliest Alexandrian set of manuscripts.

What do the modern translations say?

•The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. (Isaiah 45:7, NASB)

•I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, NIV)

Isaiah 45:7 contrasts opposites. Darkness is the opposite of light. However, evil is not the opposite of peace. The Hebrew word translated "peace" is shâlôm, which has many meanings, mostly related to the well being of individuals. Râ‛âh, the Hebrew word translated "evil" in the KJV often refers to adversity or calamity. There are two forms of the word. Strong's H7451a most often refers to moral evil, whereas Strong's H7451b (the form used here) most often refers to calamity or distress. Obviously, "calamity" is a better antonym of "peace" than "evil."


NRSV:

7I form light and create darkness,

I make weal and create woe;

I the LORD do all these things.


NKJV:

7I form the light and create darkness,

I make peace and create calamity;

I, the Lord, do all these things.’


NCV:

7 I made the light and the darkness.

I bring peace, and I cause troubles.

I, the LORD, do all these things.


ESV:

7I form light and create darkness,

I make well-being and create calamity,

I am the Lord, who does all these things.


RSV:

7I form light and create darkness,

I make weal and create woe,

I am the LORD, who do all these things.


NASB:

7The One forming light and creating darkness,

Causing well-being and creating calamity;

I am the LORD who does all these.


ICB:

7 I made the light and the darkness.

I bring peace, and I cause troubles.

I, the Lord, do all these things.


NLT:

7I create the light and make the darkness.

I send good times and bad times.

I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.


CEV:

7I create light and darkness,

happiness and sorrow.

I, the Lord, do all of this.


HCSB:

7I form light and create darkness,

I make success and create disaster;

I, the LORD, do all these things.


TEV:

7I create both light and darkness;

I bring both blessing and disaster.

I, the Lord, do all these things.


GWT:

7I make light and create darkness.

I make blessings and create disasters.

I, the LORD, do all these things.

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Bloodbought
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quote:
God is not the author of evil.

I tend to agree, but what do you make of the following.

1 Samuel 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Was that evil spirit directly from the Lord or was it a demon under His control?

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Carol Swenson
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It's the same argument. The same word, Râ‛âh, is translated as "evil" and it does not necessarily mean evil in the way we think of as evil. It can instead mean sadness, misery, or distress.

Let me ask you something. Did our Lord cast out demons by playing soothing music on a harp?

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Bloodbought
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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:

Let me ask you something. Did our Lord cast out demons by playing soothing music on a harp?

I don’t know of any evidence that Jesus cast out demons by playing soothing music on a harp, or that He played music at all. He didn’t need to because He was God and could command them. As for His humanity He wasn’t a musician, He was a carpenter. However, there is a spirit in music. Music is never neutral, it is either Godly or demonic. Where ungodly music is played, it is a breeding ground for demons of every evil work. When David played Godly music on his harp, demons couldn’t stand it and left. Scripture commands to sing hymns and psalms and spiritual songs. Sometimes God uses a message in song to convict a sinner and they repent and accept Christ.

My question is this. Do demons have free will?

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by Bloodbought:
quote:
God is not the author of evil.

I tend to agree, but what do you make of the following.

1 Samuel 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Was that evil spirit directly from the Lord or was it a demon under His control?

This might help us to understand..

1 Kings 22

19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.


--------------------
That is all.....

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Bloodbought
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Could you expound that passage WildB?

Was the lying spirit from the Lord or was he a demon with access to heaven?

God is not a liar.

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by Bloodbought:
Could you expound that passage WildB?

Was the lying spirit from the Lord or was he a demon with access to heaven?

God is not a liar.

http://www.bible-knowledge.com/spiritual-warfare-demonic-attacks/

Revelation 16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.


--------------------
That is all.....

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Carol Swenson
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Bloodbought asked
quote:
Was that evil spirit directly from the Lord or was it a demon under His control?
God turns evil against itself; He uses evil to destroy evil. But God does not create evil.

Some of the most difficult passages in scripture are those that show God using the devil or evil spirits for His purpose. We know that God is not the cause of wickedness, so it goes against our understanding to think of Him sending evil spirits hither and yon to do His bidding. Yet, we examine scripture and there they are. Let us see if we can make sense of this biblical teaching.

1. First, we must understand that God is not the source of wickedness. The "evil" He creates in Isaiah 45:7 refers to bad things like earthquakes and floods, not to sin or wicked acts (this verse is covered in another question and answer). The Bible teaches that sin originates from the devil (1John 3:8). He is also the father of lies and was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). On the other hand, God cannot be tempted with evil or wicked acts and He does not tempt any man to commit these acts (James 1:13-14). God is holy and all that springs forth from Him is pure and good.

2. Second, though God is not the source of wickedness, He often uses the wicked to perform His own purpose. Psalm 76:10 states, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." Here we learn that God will take man's wrath toward Him and turn it into praise. That wrath which is not to be turned into God's praise will be restrained.

But how can God use the devil and evil spirits to do His bidding? Perhaps a biblical study of the cause of death would help at this point. On one hand, God is clearly the cause of death. In Deuteronomy 32:39, He declares, "I kill, and I make alive." Hannah, in her prayer of praise, said, "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up" (1Samuel 2:6). Exodus 12:23 tells us concerning the first Passover, "For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians." Certainly, God is in charge of taking life.

However, on the other hand, Hebrews 2:14 tells us that Christ came to die on the cross that He might "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." The next verse says that the devil holds the lost in bondage through the fear of death. But the problem is clear. If God is in charge of death, how can the devil have the power of death? The answer explains a lot about how God uses the world of the wicked to do His bidding.

The devil by nature is a murderer (John 8:44). His rebellion against God changed his character and has made him a force that naturally kills and destroys all that comes under his power. In Revelation 9:11, he is called Abaddon and Apollyon. Both names mean Destroyer. Paul understands that someone may be delivered "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh" (1Corinthians 5:5).

We see this principle in operation in Job. When God turns Job over to Satan the second time, He states, "Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life" (Job 2:6). If God had allowed him to do so, Satan would have killed Job. Earlier in the story, God did allow Satan to kill the sons and daughters of Job (Job 1:18-19). So, who killed the children of Job? You say, Satan. But even this is not so easy. After they were killed, Job said, "the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). He gave God the credit for taking his children (also the cattle and other possessions). And, if we reflect on it, we can see that both are true. Satan killed Job's children but God was responsible for allowing them to be killed. He took them away.

So, what about the sending of evil spirits by the Lord? This may be more common in scripture than you think. In Psalm 78:49, God judged Israel "by sending evil angels among them." In Judges 9:23, "God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem." In 1Kings 22:22, God sent a "lying spirit" in the mouth of the false prophets to send Ahab to his death. In the passage in question (1Samuel 16:14-15), God removed His Spirit from the disobedient Saul. This opened the door for an evil spirit to come and torment Saul. Though in this passage, it is only the servants of Saul that said the evil spirit was from the Lord, in other passages (1Samuel 18:10; 19:9), the text states that the evil spirit came from the Lord.

What we see in these passages follows a pattern. When God removes His protective hand, he often turns the person over to Satan for destruction or to an evil spirit for torment. The devil and the evil spirits do the work, but God has allowed them to do what comes natural to them for His own purpose. I know that some will have trouble with this concept, but it is thoroughly established in scripture. God does not commit wickedness, but He uses the wicked for His purpose. In the end, God will have His glory. How much better it is for us to submit to Him and obey Him willingly.

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Believer's%20Corner/Doctrines/evil_spirit.htm

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oneinchrist
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Hello Carol,
I agree that we are given(by God) the choice to believe. Unbelief is sin.......and God does not cause anyone to sin.

The big debate isnt usually over whether or not God is sovereign, but rather over how God chooses to exercise his sovereignty. It is a debate that will never end.

I believe that a Christians' style of witness can be strongly affected by whether they hold on to a theology of "cannot" believe or a "will not" believe. There really is a world of difference between the two.

With love in Jesus,
Daniel

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Carol Swenson
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Well, it's true that we are all born in sin, born with a sin nature. But what Calvinists believe is that even if given the choice to believe and be saved, people are incapable of making the choice. They believe in total depravity.

Free will has been defined by Christian teachers from the second century on as the ability to choose all the moral options that a situation offers, and Augustine affirmed against Pelagius and most of the Greek Fathers that original sin has robbed us of free will in this sense. We have no natural ability to discern and choose God's way because we have no natural inclination Godward; our hearts are in bondage to sin, and only the grace of regeneration can free us from that slavery.

Original sin, meaning sin derived from our origin, is not a biblical phrase (Augustine coined it), but it is one that brings into fruitful focus the reality of sin in our spiritual system. The assertion of original sin means not that sin belongs to human nature as God made it (God made mankind upright, Eccles. 7:29), nor that sin is involved in the processes of reproduction and birth, but that (a) sinfulness marks everyone from birth, and is there in the form of a motivationally twisted heart, prior to any actual sins; (b) this inner sinfulness is the root and source of all actual sins; (c) it derives to us in a real though mysterious way from Adam, our first representative before God. The assertion of original sin makes the point that we are not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners, born with a nature enslaved to sin.

The phrase total depravity is commonly used to make explicit the implications of original sin. It signifies a corruption of our moral and spiritual nature that is total not in degree (for no one is as bad as he or she might be) but in extent. It declares that no part of us is untouched by sin, and therefore no action of ours is as good as it should be, and consequently nothing in us or about us ever appears meritorious in God's eyes. We cannot earn God's favor, no matter what we do; unless grace saves us, we are lost.

Total depravity entails total inability, that is, the state of not having it in oneself to respond to God and his Word in a sincere and wholehearted way.

(Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs)

That might make the idea of the Holy Spirit suddenly coming into our lives to save us more appealing, but the idea that only a few are saved while all the rest are abandoned is awful.

I don't think that people are incapable of choosing to believe. I think the problem is that people don't understand what their choices are. They've heard of heaven and hell and Jesus, but not in a real way. There are so many uninspired preachers out there, and so many Christians who don't study the Bible. Unbelievers need more than that to make a life changing choice.

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