Tag Archive | die

If God only loves SOME – his elect – why cannot also we love SOME people?

love4

Why not loving only SOME people if our God only loves SOME people?

We are told to love one another because God loved us and to be merciful as him, but if the truth is rather that God only loved SOME of us – his elect – then why would it be wrong for us to act in a similar way by loving and being merciful to only a select few?

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God—11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

The calvinistic view is that God chose some to be elect and others to be non-elect (ending up to be wicked sinners unwilling to repent) from the creation of the world, and surely it wouldn’t be accurate to say that God ”loved” the non-elect since he predestined them to be damned? Some calvinists might insist on that ”he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45) means that God pours out his love and blessings also on the non-elect. However, that’s like saying it’s true ”love” to invite someone out for a delightful picnic with lots of wonderful treats, just to push the same person off a cliff when the dinner is over. (It’s a better choice to trust the Bible which says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish and whose only son died for everyone.)

The Bible says that ”IF God so loved us, we ought to love each other”, but what if he did not love us? Wouldn’t this give us a logical reason to not love everyone? It certainly sounds as though we are only expected to love God if he loves us, and if God fails to do his part (loving us) then we are not bound to do our part either (loving one another). So the point remains the same however you turn it. If it’s ”love” for God to show mercy and good intentions only on some people (creating most people for hell), then why would it be wrong for us humans to act in a similar way by being selective about which ones to love?

Calvinists might protest and say that unlike God we don’t know who is elect or non-elect and therefore we should be merciful and loving to everyone, but wouldn’t this at least show that you would not be speaking the truth if you told non-christians that you (or God) love them? There is a huge risk that they might remain non-christians throughout their lives, and if they died as non-believers it would prove (if we want to be consistent with the ”God-loves-some-doctrine”) that God in fact did not love them but predestined them to be fuel in the fire. So why would you have concern for their souls and love them if God doesn’t love them? Do you have a greater heart than God?

The Bible tells us that there will be few people who find the narrow way that leads to life (Matt. 7:14), and that means that there is a greater chance that God does not love a person than that he loves him/her (again, if we want to be consistent with this doctrine). The Bible however, tells us repeatedly that God ”loves” Israel, despite that some Israelites were later destroyed by God due to being disobedient. Apparently it’s possible to love people who will later perish.

What if we truly behaved just like the calvinistic God – and showed the same kind of ”love” and ”mercy” as he does – and selected some unfortunate individuals to torture and even kill. We would still not reach the same horrible type of love and mercy as the calvinistic God, because he turns people in to non-elect sinners (with no choice whatsoever) and sends them to suffer for eternity. Note, that they won’t suffer due to their sins, but due to having the nerve to be born as the non-elect wicked sinners as God predestined them to be.

Greater love has no man than the one who lays down his life for his friends says John. 15:13, and there are even agnostic/atheistic soldiers who have done this both for friends and for others despite not really knowing them well at all. Many atheists would gladly die for anyone of their children, regardless if the children were good kids or not. Do agnostics have a greater love than Jesus who apparently didn’t lay down his life for all people even though he could? What if a father treated some of his children really well and left the rest to suffer, and defended his case with ”I’m just showing the same type of love as God does”? 

The question is; if God can be selective about the ones he decides to love and be merciful to (by making a certain amount of people elect and much-loved), then why can’t we do the same? Why would it be wrong for us to select certain individuals that we decide to pour out our love on, while turning our backs on the rest? Are we not told to be merciful as God, to be perfect like him, and to love one another just the way God does?

Some verses to studygreatest commandment

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Suffice to say that the loving and merciful God of the Bible is completely different from the made-up calvinistic God, whose ”love” is both frightful and harmful.

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.—33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, 

Our neighbors might be both believers or unbelievers, but Jesus tells us to love them period.

Ezek. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?—32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.—21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.—11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.—18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.19 We love him, because he first loved us.20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Jude 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

1 King. 10:9 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

1 Chron. 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Paul said that he counted old ”things” loss for Christ, and rubbish or dung – Phil. 3:7-8

samvete

What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ – for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as RUBBISH / Phil. 3:7-8, KJV

In order to understand which ”things” he was talking about, we must of course read the context. The subject of this chapter concerns the issue of Jewish circumcision which is an example of a ceremonial law within the Law of Moses. The Bible tells us that the Law of Moses started with the time of Moses and it lasted until the time of Jesus (Gal. 3:19). Before and after this period man on earth was certainly not supposed to be lawless, and even today we are expected to live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. Paul tells us in Romans 6 and 8 that if we live according to the flesh we will die and if we live according to the Spirit we will live. That is a condition for salvation – that we must make sure to abide in Christ.

In Phil. 3 Paul is giving serious instructions to the Philippians. He also explains that those who are the ”circumcision” (being circumcised in heart) are those who worship God in the Spirit. (I’ve chosen NKJV here in order to use a more simple language.):

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, (NKJV)

Paul further explains that he himself has a background as a Jew under the law, and he thoroughly believed in the idea of circumcision in order to be obedient to the Law of Moses. He is talking about the circumcision which is in the flesh, rather than in the heart. When it comes to the law of Moses, Paul considered himself blameless – as in doing everything to keep all the multiple regulations down to the smallest detail and MORE.

4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

However, Jesus explained that the problem with the pharisees was that they were hypocrites and that they did NOT have a clean INSIDE despite their zeal to be obedient to their scriptures. In fact, they lived in lawlessness because they had unclean hearts! We are not under the law if we are led by the Spirit:

Matt. 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

Matt. 23:3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.—13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.—  —25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Paul compares the status he had as a pharisee under the law of Moses, and which often included works ”to be seen by men”, with the new life in Christ which is not about being seen by men at all but about having a pure heart and by loving our neighbor as yourself. (We are not able to have a pure heart if we still sin. ) Paul gave up his own esteemed life (in the eyes of men) in order to be a servant of Christ, and that means that he also gave up earthly power and instead became an often despised christian. He thought his new life as a christian was well worth it, and he compared his old life – as a highly regarded pharisee – as nothing but dung. ”Loss of all things” could also include other worldly things, which amount to nothing in comparison with the pearl he found in Jesus:

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Naturally it was not the Law of Moses that was considered rubbish because God wouldn’t make any bad laws for us during any time. Being obedient to God is never considered rubbish! As a pharisee, Paul didn’t realize that the Law of Moses would pass away, to be replaced with an era where the Holy Spirit is our ruler and Jesus Christ the King. Paul discovered that the new life in Christ was not about obeying the ceremonial Jewish laws any more (as before) but about having faith in Jesus! The righteousness which is from God includes the possibility to be cleansed from our sins in the blood of Jesus who died for our sins, and that happens upon our repentance and our FAITH in Jesus Christ. Repentance means that we confess our sins and make a decision to be servants of Jesus, leading to our new birth. Paul is clear that we are not able to serve two masters and still be saved. The Law of Moses is in our past, but this doesn’t mean that we have no laws to follow. It’s still a sin to murder, steal, commit adultery and lie. It’s still a sin to deny Jesus, to refuse to forgive a brother and to take the mark of the beast. We still risk the wrath of God if we combine obedience with disobedience and refuse to repent. :

 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

The subject concerns the resurrection from the death, and that is what Paul has in mind when he says that he is not already ”perfected”. Not even Jesus Christ was ”perfected” until after his glorification. We are able to live morally perfect here on earth, but the truth is of course that we have often chosen to be disobedient to God. Paul presses forward in holiness to reach the prize.

11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected (”perfect”, KJV); but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul refers to ”us, as many as are perfect”, and he encourages the Philippians to walk by the same rule and being of the same mind.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature (”perfect”, KJV), have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Paul also said:

Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

and Paul made it very clear to the Galatians that it was nothing but wrong to suggest that circumcision (or other ceremonial laws) is a requirement for salvation. Paul was certainly not angry at the Galatians because they continued to teach the importance of avoiding murder, adultery, theft and lies, but about reverting back to the Law of Moses with the ceremonial laws. Being obedient to God by treating our neighbors as we would like to be treated ourselves, is not a sin and nothing to be mad about. If the Galatians were under the impression that circumcision still applied, then also the rest of the 613 still applied. If that is the case, Jesus Christ died in vain. We are saved by faith and not by the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was to apply until the seed would come which is Jesus, but this doesn’t mean that we have no sets of laws to follow today. We are expected to live according to the Spirit, and if we believe in Jesus Christ, we love him and obey him.

Gal. 3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.—7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.— 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Jesus became no SIN for us but he was made a SIN OFFERING as per 2 Cor. 5:21

pierced 2It’s a better option to say that Jesus died as a ”sin offering” for us, instead of saying that Jesus was made SIN for us, because the latter option might make it sound like Jesus as some point became sinful and filthy. Yet, the offer Jesus made for us was sweet-smelling before his Father and nothing was filthy about it.

Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and IN HIM IS NO SIN.

But what about 2 Cor. 5:21?

2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin

Sin is translated from the Greek word hamartia (Strong’s 266). The above phrase can also be translated as ”to be a SIN OFFERING for us” (or ”an offering for sin”), just like the below verse indicates.

Hebr. 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for SIN thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law

Notice that the words in italics are not present in the original Greek language but are inserted in English. It’s not unusual to translate the original word for ”sin” as ”sin offering” and the same is true in Hebrews 10:8 above, which is a quotation from Psalm 40:6 below. In this Psalm the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew text) also does not have the word ”offering” (sacrifice) in the text, despite that we can see this word in English.

Ps.40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and SIN offering hast thou not required.

The Hebrew word for ”sin” above is chata’ah Strong’s 2401 and can be translated as ”sin” or ”sin offering”.

Also the Hebrew word chatta’ath Strong’s 2403, can be translated as either ”sin” or ”sin offering”. The KJV translates 2403 in the following manner: sin (182x), sin offering (116x), punishment (3x), purification for sin (2x), purifying (1x), sinful (1x),sinner (1x). Examples of ”sin offering”:

Ex. 29:36 And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.

Lev. 5:12 Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: it is a sin offering.

You can read more about the meaning of the verb ”bear” (as in ”bear our sins”) in this article. (It can actually be translated as ”remove our sins”, which other verses show). God the Father did not forsake Jesus on the cross which you can read about here.

Our sins are REMOVED! Our sins did not take a detour inside Jesus body before they were removed!paid

What would be the reason for making our sins first make a detour inside Jesus before they are finally removed? When Jesus removed sickness and demons from people, this is also a picture of Jesus removing sin, as per Matt. 8:17. The illnesses and the demons didn’t first end up inside Jesus before they finally disappeared. Let’s not believe in the penal substitution theory (satisfaction theory).

  • Jesus died as a sin offering for us on the cross.
  • Jesus did not become sin, and he did not literally bear our sins.
  • Jesus did not ”pay for our sins”, but he did pay a big price for us since he gave his only life. (Compare with the statement to the right.)

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Hebr. 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.—28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

Rom. 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Matt. 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

Quotes from the old church fathers where they deny original sin / sinful nature

handpåläggningThe pre-Nicene church fathers did not believe in the sinful nature

It’s not enough to go back to Luther and Calvin to check the views of the early church, but we must go further back than that. If we do, we will soon notice that Luther and Calvin took impression of Augustine, and Augustine believed the contrary to the early church fathers before him when it comes to the issue of the sinful nature and a number of other subjects. Augustine must be blamed for the new unbiblical teachings which were brought into church due to him, and which today are considered truths in particularly the reformed church. We must therefore go back to the early church fathers before Augustine, and then we can see how their stance lines up perfectly with the Bible.

It’s true that Adam’s sin affected us a great deal, because the ground is cursed due to him and we can’t reach the tree of life due to him, which means that his sin brought physical death on all his posterior (including Jesus before he rose again). We’re bound by weakness, shame, fear, suffering and many natural shortcomings due to being related to Adam, but we certainly didn’t inherit his SIN. Romans 5:12 tells us that DEATH (not SIN) passed upon us BECAUSE all sinned. Not because Adam sinned. The physical death that we get due to Adam is not a punishment, but rather something that we get out of the mercy by the providence of God. The only other alternative would be to continue living on for ever without dying – in this present cursed world. That would be a cruel fate.

Augustine’s views about infants who die without water baptism

Unfortunately, Augustine only knew little Greek (unlike Pelagius who knew both Greek and Hebrew) and seems to have misunderstood the teaching of the Greek Fathers who lived before him, because he reached different conclusions than they did. The Manicheans were a gnostic cult Augustine originally belonged to and which advocated that the nature of man can be corrupt to the point that his will is powerless to obey God’s commands”. Chadwick p. 228(2)

Some quotes from and about Augustine:

But even the infants, not personally in their own life, but according to the common origin of the human race, have all broken God’s covenant in that on in whom all have sinned…Even the infants are, according to the true belief, born in sin, not actual but original, so that we confess they have need of grace for the remission of sins. (Augustine, City of God bk. 16 ch. 27)

As nothing else is done for children in baptism but their being incorporated into the church, that is, connected with the body and members of Christ, it follows, that when this is not done for them, they belong to perdition. / III. 4

such infants as quit the body without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation; whereas the apostle says: ‘Judgment from one offence to condemnation’ (Romans 5:16), and again a little after: ‘By the offence of one upon all persons to condemnation’ (Romans 5:18). / On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, ; cf. Study by the International Theological Commission

What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity! / Simon Episcopius (An Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume Two, p. 209, Published by Carlton & Porter)

Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”/ John Wesley

The pre-Nicene church fathers all taught against the gnostic idea that we are born with a sinful nature

You will sometimes see quotes by old church fathers from Calvinists who suggest that they teach original sin, but if you scrutinize those quotes and also read them in context, you will see that they teach no such thing. We also get a clearer picture if we compare with other texts from the same church father, and obviously the church fathers don’t contradict themselves. It’s very common to misunderstand the consequences of Adam’s sin (physical death) thinking it’s about a forced nature. If an original sin is forced upon us, then naturally we would have the best excuse for sin there is, and Jesus (clearly without original sin) would have a great advantage over us.

Ignatius of Antioch, 35-107 AD Bishop of Antioch in Syria. A disciple of the Apostle John and appointed as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter.

I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but all humanity is made the same, sometimes belonging to God and sometimes to the devil. If anyone is truly spiritual they are a person of God; but if they are irreligious and not spiritual then they are a person of the devil, made such NOT by nature, but by their own choice. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5, + Pg.61 vol. 1)

There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5)

Irenaeus of Lyon 120-202 AD. The Apostle John had a disciple named Polycarp, who had a disciple named Irenaeus.

Men are possessed with free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice. It is not true, therefore, that some are by nature good, and others bad. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII)

Man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing good and evil; so that, without compulsion, he has the power, by his own will and choice, to perform God’s commandments. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXIX)

Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not worked good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way, nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it. (Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 37)

This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves…  (c. 180, Against Heresies 37; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 246)

And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God. He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. (Against Heresies, Book V, XXVII, 2)

Justin Martyr, 110-165 AD

For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things, he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness. (Apology 1, Chapter 28)

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Apology 1, ch. 43)

But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness; or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.” /Apology 2 Ch.7 2 (+ The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p.354)

But as my discourse is not intended to touch on this point, but to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming ”gods,” and of having power to become sons of the Highest; and shall be each by himself judged and condemned like Adam and Eve. Now I have proved at length that Christ is called God. / Dialogue:124

Now, we know that he did not go to the river because He stood in need of baptism, or of the descent of the Spirit like a dove; even as He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit./ Dialogue: 88

But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness.—Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded,” that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be./ Dialogue: 140Neither do we maintain that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer. Rather, we maintain that each man acts rightly or sins BY HIS FREE CHOICE….Since God in the beginning MADE THE RACE OF ANGELS AND MEN WITH FREE WILL, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. (c. 160, E), 1:190

God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall certainly be punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably (wicked), but not because God created them so. So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God. / Dialogue cxli

Clement 2nd, 80-140 ADThe first Apostolic Father of the Church. (According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. In Philippians 4:3 Clement is mentioned whose name was written “in the book of life”. Although known as 2 Clement, this document is in actuality an anonymous homily of the mid-second century. The author quotes from some document for the sayings of Jesus.)

Thus although we are born neither good nor bad, we become on or the other and having formed habits, we are with difficulty drawn from them. Pg 273 vol.8

He who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice… 

So, brothers and sisters, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life (2 Clement 8:4)

Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) 150–215 AD. A theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p.319)

Their estrangement is the result of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 426)

Tatian the Assyrian 120–180 AD Theologianjesus

Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (c. 160, Vol. 2, pp. 69-70)

Each of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased. They did not have the nature of good, which again is with God alone. However, it is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice. In this manner, the bad man can be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault. Likewise, the just man can be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice, he refrained from transgressing the will of God. (c. 160, Vol. 2, p. 67)

Tertullian 160-225 AD

I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and powerFor a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience of resistance. (c. 207, Vol. 3, pp. 300-301)

No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.  (c. 207) (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Athenagorus of Athens, 133-190 AD Apologist

Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to bother virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them and others faithless), so is it among the angels. (c. 177, Embassy for Christians; God’s Strategy in Human History, p. 247)

Aristides of Athens, 134 AD (Marcianus Aristides)

 

Theophilus of Antioch, –185 (Succeeded Eros c. 169)

Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God; but If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (Apology to Autolycus, ch. XXVII.—The nature of man. c.180, Vol. 2, p. 105)

Hyppolytus of Rome, 170 – 235 AD theologian

God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason.Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.” (c. 225, Vol. 5, p.151)

Hoodwinking multitudes, [Marcus, the Gnostic heretic] deceived many persons of this description who had become his disciples. He taught them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin. However, he said that they were beyond the reach of danger because they belonged to the perfect power.—Subsequent to baptism, these [heretics] promise another, which they call Redemption. And by this, they wickedly subvert those who remain with them in expectation of redemption. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.92)

Origen (Adamantius) 185 – 253 AD Scholar, theologian

The Scriptures emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right. We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. FOR IT IS NOT THE NATURE IN US THAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE EVIL; rather, it is the VOLUNTARY CHOICE that works evil” (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)

the heretics introduce the doctrine of different natures (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 291, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)

The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages.They essentially destroy free will by introducing RUINED NATURES incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, p. 308)

Cyprian, 200-258 AD Bishop of Carthage

The liberty of believing or not believing is placed in free choice. In Deuteronomy, it says, ‘Look! I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live. (c. 250, Vol. 5, p. 547)

Novatian, (Novatus) 200–258 AD Scholar, priest, theologian and antipope

When he had given man all things for his service, he willed that man alone should be free. And lest an unbounded freedom would lead man into peril, He had laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree. Rather, he was forewarned that evil would arise if man were to exercise his free will in contempt of the law that had been given him….As a result, he could receive either worthy rewards or a just punishment. For he had in his own power that which he might choose to do. (c. 235, Vol. 5, p. 612)

Lactantius 240-320 AD

We should be free from vices and sin. For no one is born sinful, but if our affections are given to that direction they can become vices and sinful, but if we use our affections well they become virtues. (Ch. 16 bk 4 Divine Inst.)

Eusebius, 263 – 233 AD Bishop of Caesarea

The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again,making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature! / The Christian Examiner, Volume One, Published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66)

Methodius, 260-312 AD Bishop of Olympus

Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (c. 190, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins 16; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 252)

There is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will? and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius

For man received power, and enslaved himselfnot because he was overpowered by irresistible tendencies of his nature, nor because the capacity with which he was gifted deprived him of what was better for him…I say therefore, that God purposing thus to honor man…has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes,and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that he deprives him again of free will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius + The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 746

I say that God – purposing to honor man in this manner and to grant him an understanding of better things has given man the power of being able to do what he wishes. He commends the use of his power for better things. However, it is not that God deprives man again of free will. Rather, He wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with man, and he receives the commandment. But God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

I do not think that God urges man to obey His commandments, but then deprives him of the power to obey or disobey…. He does not give a command in order to take way the power that he has given. Rather, He gives it in order to bestow a better gift…in return for his rendered obedience to God. For man had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free will. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

If then, any are evil, they are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and not by necessity. They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault.’For a man is not spoken of as ‘murderer’ but by committing it he receives the derived name of murderer. Evil is not a substance, but by practicing any evil it can be called evil…for a man is evil only in consequences of his actions. For he is said to be evil because he is a doer of evil. It is a persons actions that gives them the title of evil. Men produce the evil and are the authors of them. It is through actions that evil exists. Each man is evil in consequences of what they practice. It all has a beginning.The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius

The Divine Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not the cause of these things. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 696)

Arnobius of Sicca, –330 AD

Does He not free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the supreme, who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him. To all, He says, the fountain of like is open, and no one is kept back or hindered from drinking. If you are so fastidious as to spurn the kindly offered gift… why should he keep on inviting you, while His only duty is to make the enjoyment of His bounty depend on your own free choice. Book 2 ,64

Cyril of Jerusalem, 312-386

Lecture IV 18″Know also that thou hast a soul self governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator, immortal because of God that gives it immortality, a living being rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth.”20″There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.”21″The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator of necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou wert a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness; since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.” / Lecture IV 18, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston

Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choice. Do not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds ‘If then I do that which I would not’ in the wrong sense, but remember who says, ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,’ and what follows.” (Catechetical Lectures IV . 19)

And you must know your soul to be endowed with free-will, and to be God’s fairest work in the image of himself. It is immortal in as far as God grants it immortality. It is a rational living creature not subject to decay, because these qualities have been bestowed by God upon it. And it has the power to do what it chooses. For you do not sin because you were born that way, nor if you fornicate is it by chance. And do not take any notice of what some people say, that the conjunctions of the stars compel you to fall into unclean living. Why should you avoid acknowledging that you have done wrong by blaming it onto the stars that had nothing to do with it? (Catechetical Lectures IV . 18 (109)

John Crysostom, 347-407 AD Archbishop of Constantinoplesamvete

All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end./On Hebrews, Homily 12, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston

Jerome, 347 – 420 AD, Priest, historian, theologian

God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for damnation or the crown (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Pelagius, 360 – 420, British monk and theologian (with knowledge in Greek, unlike Augustine). Notice below how he is in agreement with all the early church fathers about man’s free will and that we have not inherited Adam’s sin. Pelagius wrote ”On Nature” and ”Defense Of The Freedom Of The Will”, and in these he suggests that Augustine has been affected by Manicheanism (Augustine was a former gnostic) by mixing christianity with pagan fatalism. Manicheanism teaches that the spirit is God-created, while the flesh is corrupt since it had not been created directly by God. Augustine is the great heretic and has brought in many heresies into church, and Pelagius continues to be wrongly attacked by christians, despite that he was both Biblical and taught the same things as all the church fathers before him.

Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature and to show what it is capable of achieving, and then to go on to encourage the mind of my listener to consider the idea of different kinds of virtues, in case it may be of little or no profit to him to be summoned to pursue ends which he has perhaps assumed hitherto to be beyond his reach; for we can never end upon the path of virtue unless we have hope as our guide and compassion…any good of which human nature is capable has to be revealed, since what is shown to be practicable must be put into practice. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 36-37, published by The Boydell Press)

It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative...he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he was the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent creature wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do His will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good – good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not bound by necessity but free to decide for itself. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 38, published by The Boydell Press)

Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 39, published by The Boydell Press)

And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature’s fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Yet we do not defend the good of nature to such an extent that we claim that it cannot do evil, since we undoubtedly declare also that it is capable of good and evil; we merely try to protect it from an unjust charge, so that we may not seem to be forced to do evil through a fault of our nature, when, in fact, we do neither good nor evil without the exercise of our will and always have the freedom to do one of the two, being always able to do either. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty…Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)

Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 92, published by The Boydell Press)

Obedience results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press)

I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’ John Wesley

Here is a good video when it comes to the topic of Augustine’s corruption of the church:

SIN is what you DO, and not what you ARE!

We are NOT born with a sinful nature, and we are not born depraved and unable to do good

We don’t have to sin

We are guilty because we could obey God but chose not to

There is no such thing as ”once righteous always righteous”

We are NOT saved by faith alone

We must repent and DO righteousness

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Mike Desario makes an excellent explanation how christians are watering down the gospel by teaching that no one can ever stop sinning, and that we must sin until we die. Being tempted is not a sin.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)

woe

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

Something in this world that is considered evil must surely be SIN, and sins are committed by individuals. SINS are related to darkness, and darkness is the opposite of light. If we try to teach others that sinners are still considered righteous in the eyes of God – as long as they are born again believers – because he can only see the blood of Jesus and not their sins, then the woe above is actually addressed to us. Then we are in fact saying that sin is not evil enough to make us lose our salvation over it and that we are still labeled righteous (because ”Jesus paid for our sins and we are already forgiven” or ”once saved always saved” – or some other unbiblical terms).

The best example of someone calling evil ”good” is when Satan managed to fool Eve into believing that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be a GOOD and wise thing to do even though GOD had declared that it was BAD to eat of this tree and against his commandment.  Satan suggested that Eve could be as GOD if she ate of this tree and Eve decided to give it a try thanks to the assurance from Satan that she would NOT DIE if she DISOBEYED GOD! So what God declared wrong – and therefore EVIL – Satan declared GOOD. God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating of this tree and this means that acting to the contrary of his command would be a SIN. God assured Adam and Eve that they would DIE if they ate from it and Satan said the exact opposite. Isn’t it rather common today that pastors and evangelists repeat Satan’s lie and teach others that sins will NOT separate us from God (as long as we are christians)? Satan’s lie can be presented in many forms so be on your guard!

Genesis 2:17 [God says] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.

Genesis 3:4 [Satan says] —YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

It was of course not the fruit in itself that was bad. The reason why eating of this fruit was bad was because God forbade it, likely because this rule would actually force Adam and Eve to make a stance on whether or not trust and obey God each time they passed this tree – just like a simple test which wasn’t difficult to obey at all. This means that the sin they ended up being guilty of was that they DISOBEYED GOD and by doing so REBELLED against him. So it was DISOBEDIENCE that was the SIN, and God said that SIN leads to DEATH. In Adam and Eve’s case it was both a physical death (no longer access to the tree of life) as well as a spiritual death, and we will all die spiritually if we sin. Teaching the opposite (for instance trying to exempt christians from this rule) is to repeat Satan’s lie.

Perhaps you have been in a church where the pastor in a similar way assures you that you shall NOT DIE if you SIN because you are eternally and unconditionally secure in your salvation once you’ve become a child of God (+ if you sin ”habitually” it shows that you’re ”not saved to begin with”). Have you ever heard someone declaring to you that ”sinning will only make a true christian lose his RELATIONSHIP with God but will never risk his soul” and ”God will not see a true christian’s sins but only the blood of Jesus”? Then this pastor is deceived and at risk for being a person who calls evil ”good”. Malachi 2:17 tells us that we can dissatisfy our Lord by suggesting that a person who sins is still GOOD in the sight of God and that God still delights in him and that he will not judge him for his sins. The opposite is true:

Malachi 2:17 Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

It’s actually rather common for pastors to declare that a christian is fine and off the hook (from the risk of being judged and punished) as long as he is a born again christian. There is of course FORGIVENESS to get for a person with a truly repentant heart – because our Lord is mighty and always ready to take us back into his arms – but it’s dangerous for the soul to be told that sins will not separate us from God. Instead we should encourage each other to not give into temptations, and to not stray from the road to Heaven by sinning. Temptations can be hard enough as they are and we don’t need anyone patting us on our backs, assuring us that everything is well with our soul despite our sins:

James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way SHALL SAVE A SOUL FROM DEATH, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

I’m aware of that pastors could have been fooled about this (major) issue just like Eve was, and just because a pastor is wrong about this he could still be right in many other areas and even lead many people to God (praise God for that), BUT the fact remains that this pastor needs to be taught about the true ways of God so that he can repent from his false teachings and be an even more useful tool to spread the gospel. Many of us (like myself) have incorrectly believed all kinds of false teachings and even taught them to others, but we have also chosen to stay corrected by scripture and amended our ways. Unfortunately, there are pastors who are not willing to listen and learn but they prefer to close their ears and continue to deceive people into believing that we can have our sins and our salvation too, because this is what people out there would like to hear.

Example of a person who teaches that evil is good

If someone claims that what Satan did to Eve (fooling her to sin by assuring her that she would not die) was actually something GOOD and even predestined by God, then this person is definitely a person who calls evil ”good”. To claim that an activity that God calls wrong and evil for something ”good” is simply dangerous. John Calvin taught that Adam and Eve were predestined BY GOD to fall and that means that in order to be consistent with his own teaching he must call EVIL for ”GOOD” since God’s own actions couldn’t be evil. I’m sorry if you dislike that I bring him up, but we are told to expose false teachers now when souls are at stake.

“God NOT ONLY foresaw the FALL of the first man, and in him the RUIN of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure ARRANGED it” .(John Calvin (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, XXIII)

“The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly DECREED” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

“We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also THE COUNSELS AND WILLS OF MEN are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which HE has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as HE COMMANDS, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

“But since he foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed that they take place, they vainly raise a quarrel over foreknowledge, then it is clear that all things take place rather by his determination and bidding.“ (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

King David says:

Psalm 38:18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.20 They also that render evil for GOOD are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. 

Who will be greatest in heaven?

Those who say that it’s impossible to obey the ten commandments and that we have no option but to sin once in a while until we die? Those who say that a person can only be righteous if God declares him righteous in the midst of his unrighteousness? Those who claim that too much obedience to Jesus is legalism, pharisaism and salvation by deeds and something to flee from? Those who teach that we are saved by faith ALONE? Those who teach that we should not expose false doctrines but compromise with the scriptures in order to not cause division? No, those who DO (obey) the commandments and who also teach others to do the same will be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Those who do the opposite – teach men that it’s hard or impossible to obey God’s commandments – will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Note that Jesus doesn’t teach here that sinners will at least GET IN to God’s kingdom despite their sins. He continues to say that our righteousness must EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and the pharisees in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. So why does it appear as though we can enter the kingdom of heaven in v. 19 (albeit being called LEAST) despite acting in the wrong way? There might be evangelists who are deceived and who teach the wrong doctrines once in a while without being aware of it, and they might NOT live as they teach. A deceived pastor might for instance teach that we are born with a sinful nature and ”once saved always saved” without being a filthy sinner himself, and he might do a lot of good deeds for the kingdom of God through evangelism and hard work. The question is how interested he will be to change his doctrines once being shown from the Bible that he is in error? Will he be open for correction or will he close his ears and continue to spread errors? God can see our hearts and our intentions. Just pray that God will show you the truth and that you live your life so that you won’t risk to be called LEAST in the kingdom of God, or even worse; that you won’t enter the kingdom at all due to sin.

I can add that it’s just as bad (or worse) to know the right doctrines and still be very lazy when it comes to sharing the gospel to others and rather sit at home and complain about the failures of other christians.

The Apostle JUDAS was probably once SAVED

judasJudas Iscariot  was one of Jesus’ disciples and a chosen APOSTLE. In order to be qualified for a position like this there are certain conditions that apply and that Judas apparently met (Mat 12:49-50, Lukas 14:26-27). Jesus gave many warnings to his twelve disciples that they must live holy lives, and he also gave them many wonderful promises both when it concerns their lives on earth and the next life – and Judas Iscariot was one of those disciples which Jesus addressed. It would have been an extreme paradox if a disciple which was not of God but of Satan, would have the capability to heal the sick, raise people from the dead and cast out demons, because a ”son of Satan” cannot cast out demons from himself.

Mark 3:22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

If Judas just hanged around with the other eleven disciples without performing any miracles, the other disciples would surely have noticed something and would wonder why everyone apart from Judas managed to heal the sick and cast out demons. When Jesus later on explained for his disciples that one of them would betray him, they all looked at each other in amazement and wondered to themselves who on earth this could be (Joh 13:22). They seemed to have no clue about the darkness in Judas and that he was a likely suspect, so apparently he had given them no sign of any particular bad fruit in his life. It therefore seems like Judas lived his life just like the others – at least as far as they knew. We know of course that Judas was a thief since he stole from the money bag that he was responsible for, but this wouldn’t be anything that he would tell others about, so as far as they knew Judas was just one of them and performed the same powerful miracles as they did. A person who is guilty of theft and who has not repented from this can of course not be saved, but we don’t if Judas repented or not. We DO know that also the other disciples had been guilty of sin as well and Peter is a good example of this. After that Judas had betrayed Jesus, Peter also sinned by denying Jesus three times and this is a sin which clearly leads to death (which all sins do) since Jesus clearly said so. If we deny him before men, he will deny us. ( Peter later repented.) If Judas would have failed when it comes to healing the sick and casting out demons, this would have been detected by the others because Jesus did not send out his disciples to work alone but at least two and two.

Matt. 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; —Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: —Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Jesus explains that they don’t have to worry about what to say because the spirit of God will speak IN them. Judas was given this promise as well.

Matt. 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.— 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?—40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me

We can read that Judas (by transgression) fell from his ministry and apostleship. The Greek word that is translated ”fell” is parebé that is from parabainó that means transgress, violate, depart or desert. Matthias took the place that Judas used to have. Also Matthias passed the requirements to be in this important position.

Apg. 1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Judas seemed to be a friend that Jesus could trust. If this psalm is not about Judas, who is it about?

Psaltaren 41:All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.10 But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.

Judas was promised a throne in heaven together with the other apostles where they were to judge the tribes of Israel. Jesus PROMISED his twelve disciples  – where Judas was included – that they would be getting a throne each. Sadly Judas caused this promise to not be fulfilled.

Matt 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Despite those wonderful promises he ended up in hell. It would have been better if he had not been born.

Lukas 22:And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.

Joh. 13:And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him ;

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

 Matt 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born

There were many who stood in line to kill Jesus but his Father protected him until it was time to meet the death for the sins of all mankind. Jesus’ death was planned, but there are many ways in which he could have chosen to die so Judas did not have to be the one to betray him at all. The evilness of Judas was in this unique case used for something good, namely the death of Jesus on the cross. God has in a few cases used man’s evil schemes for something good, but it’s never God’s intention or desire that anyone should ever sin. There is no darkness in God and he doesn’t tempt anyone, much less make anyone sin. The Father knew what Judas was up to and Judas will be punished for having acted against the will of God. Do read more about this in this blog article. 

I can add that no one is actually finally saved until he enters the kingdom of God. It does look like Judas was ”spiritually alive” at one point in his life.

Here are the views from Gordon Olson, from The Truth Shall Make You Free

p. Judas was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles to serve God and be a witness to the Gospel and revealed truth. He obviously was partaking of this truth, but rebelled and became an apostate—thus frustrating the loving plans of his Master: Acts 1:25; Mt. 10:2-4; Lk. 6:12-13; Mk. 3:14-15. The reasons why the Twelve were chosen are given below. If the Lord Jesus chose to bestow extended labor of preparation upon one whom He certainly foresaw would fall of the intended mission, it would appear that an unwise and inconsistent choice was made. Judas had no authority, he merely ”became a guide to those who arrested Jesus” (Acts 1:16). 

1) The Lord Jesus chose the Twelve from His disciples after an all-night of prayer to the Father: Lk. 6:12-13. 

2) The threefold purpose in calling the Twelve is plainly declared: Mk. 3:14-15. 

3) Judas was in a state of salvation when chosen and sent forth to represent Christ: Lk. 9:1-2; Mt. 10:8 (12:25-26); 10:16, 20 (Jn. 8:44); Mk. 6:7, 12; Lk. 9:6; Jn. 13:20. 

4) Judas rebelled against his Master (Jn. 6:64, 70-71), joined himself to Satan (Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:2, 27), and thus fell from his ”ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:17, 25). 

5) It does not appear that the treachery of Judas was specifically prophesied in the Old Testament, nor that the Lord Jesus expected his apostasy until He perceived its development in his mind. If our Lord expected it all the time, why was He ”troubled in spirit” or heart stricken at its development (Jn. 13:21)? It is obviously presented as a tragic surprise. The following are the passages involved and suggested literal translations for careful study: Jn. 6:64 ”But there are some of you who are not believing. For Jesus was knowing from the beginning who they are who are not believing and who it is who would deliver Him up.” ”From the beginning” most likely refers to their unbelief or turning of heart, which Jesus was observing (Jn. 2:24-25). See Mt. 19:4, 8; Jn. 15:27; 16:4; Acts 11:15; 26:4; Phil. 4:15—”from the beginning” of the thing spoken of. 

Jn. 6:70—”Did not I choose out for Myself you the twelve, and out of you one a devil is?” This strongly implies that he was not such originally, but became so (Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:2, 21). 

Jn. 6:71—”For this one was about to be delivering Him up, one out of the twelve.” Nothing is prophetic here, merely stating his purpose. 

Jn. 13:11—”For He was knowing him who was delivering Him up, therefore He said, Ye are not all clean.” Here was a present activity. 

Jn. 13:18—”Not concerning all of you am I speaking; I Myself am knowing the ones I did choose out for Myself; but thus is the Scripture fulfilled (or again illustrated): He who is eating My bread did lift up against Me his heel.” Our Lord is referring back to a purely historical event in the life of David, where his counselor Ahithophel betrayed him and joined Absalom’s rebellion (Ps. 41:9, see II Sam. 15:12; 16:23), which was similar to His sad experience. Since David wrote of ”my close friend, in whom I trusted,” the Lord Jesus in applying this passage must have felt similarly and had trusted Judas. 

In Jn. 13:18 and 17:12 we have the conjunction ”hina” with a verb ”to fulfill,” which may be translated either ”in order that might be fulfilled,” as in the case of a specific prophecy, or ”so that was fulfilled” indicating a re-fulfillment or an application of an Old Testament historical situation or declaration. 

Jn. 17:12—”While I was with them I Myself was keeping them in Thy name whom Thou didst give Me, and I guarded (them), and no one out of them perished (or did destroy himself), except the son of perdition, so that the Scripture was fulfilled.” What Scripture our Lord had in mind is not known, perhaps Ps. 41:9, as above. 

Acts 1:16-17, 20—”Men, brethren, the Scripture, which the Holy Spirit did speak beforehand through David’s mouth, must have been fulfilled in the case of Judas, who became a guide to those who took Jesus. For that having been numbered with (us), he was among us and did receive the allotted portion of this ministry . . . For it has been written in the Book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation become desolate and let no one dwell in it, and his office let another take.'”

Reference is back to Ps. 69:25, where we notice a plural pronoun used, not a singular pronoun which would be the case if this had been a specific prophecy to Judas. 

The other reference is to Ps. 109:8, where the words, ”let another take his office.” are a part of a context extending from verse 6 to verse 19. This whole passage is a pronouncement against ”adversaries from the Lord” (20). Since only one small part of this passage is referred to, it would appear that the brief quotation in Acts 1:20 is intended as an application of a previously pronounced judgment upon a typical enemy of God. Obviously, if this had been a specific prophecy of Judas, the whole passage would have been referred to and not just five words. Peter’s reference to the Holy Spirit speaking ”through David’s mouth” must relate to his lifetime inspiration in his writings (II Sam. 23:2), and not to any specific prophecy concerning Judas, as the Lord Jesus spoke of (Mk. 12:36).