Tag Archive | predestined

Believe in Jesus for the very works’ sake – healing can cause faith, John 14:11

”Believe in me for the very work’s sake”, says Jesus

John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

We are created to seek God and find him (Acts 17), but it also appears as though we can be even more influenced to do so by witnessing or experiencing the works of Jesus (or any Christian who uses this gift), such as healing and miracles. However, being healed will not automatically produce a change of mind and a decision to start following Jesus. The story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 shows this very clearly. For one of the lepers being healed also caused him to give glory to God and seek the advice of Jesus, but the others did not take this chance but went on with their current lives. In just about all other healing stories in the Bible the miracles caused a huge difference in people’s spiritual lives. Probably because those who seek to be healed by Jesus are also dispositioned to follow him because they believe he is divine, has all the power to heal the sick and will be the great Judge in the end of days.

Hebr. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

It works both ways; witnessing/experiencing the works of Jesus might produce faith (or greater faith), but great faith can also cause an openness to be healed – which in turn can produce even greater faith:

Acts 14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

Matt. 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Mark. 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Lazarus who was a friend and a believer in Jesus (so spiritually alive) went from physical death to physical life thanks to being healed by Jesus. Jesus encourages us to believe in order to see the glory of God, and here we can also see that many Jews started to believe in Jesus precisely because of the things they had seen him doing:

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?-–45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

Thomas had a hard time believing Jesus was Lord and God, but after a meeting with Jesus he started to believe. It was of course something positive that Thomas changed his mind and started to believe, but Jesus also explains there are people who believe without this type of miraculous meeting – and they are therefore very blessed. It is not the normal process that each individual must first have a physical encounter with Jesus before they can believe he is the IAM and our Savior. This is how it worked for Thomas, but the word of God makes it clear we can seek him and find him without these types of meetings:

John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Below we can clearly see Jesus upbraiding cities due to the lack of faith within them. Mighty works were done in them, and people still did not believe! Jesus makes a comparison with Tyre and Sidon, because if such mighty works would have been done in their cities, they would have repented long ago. True repentance leads to life. Miracles such as casting out demons, and healing the sick, can therefore be very important tools to reach the lost. Not just regarding the temporary physical blessings here on earth, but for people’s eternal future – which is way more important.

Matt. 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

+ Luke 10:13-37

People near Jesus realized that it is not likely that a devil would open the eyes of the blind. At least this is nothing that they had experienced before, and they started to believe that Jesus was truly divine. Also Jesus confirmed that the works that he performs in his Father’s name also bear witness of him. Due to the skeptics’ choice to doubt Jesus, they did not qualify to be his sheep. Because, who are the sheep of Jesus? They are the ones who choose to FOLLOW him according to John 10:27. Jesus explained that people had the chance here to believe in Jesus precisely due to the miraculous works he made – in combination with prophesies and the good fruit he displayed. Despite that the Jewish Torah should have made it clear for the Jews that Jesus is the one that the Scriptures talk about, and despite that John the Baptist spoke about Jesus as divine, the Jews still looked for reasons to not believe.

John 10:21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, BELIEVE THE WORKS: that ye may know, and BELIEVE, that the Father is in me, and I in him.41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.42 And many believed on him there.

It is a sad fact that people had the chance to be believers in Jesus but despite that he performed many miracles among them and influenced them to do so, they still did not believe:

John 12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

More examples of healing which can cause much faith

Below are some more examples of where Jesus miracles caused people to believe that he tillbedjan-7is the one he has always claimed to be – being one with his Father, the son of God, God in flesh, etc. On the one hand Jesus definitely expects people to believe in him due to combination of the many prophesies being fulfilled in him, due to the good fruit he displays and due to the many miracles he performs (casting out demons, healing the sick, etc) thanks to power from above. On the other hand Jesus dislikes when people approach him with total lack of faith and place the burden of proof on him – or else he has failed to win them over. Our attitude should not be ”I give you a chance right here and right now to show me signs so that I can believe. If not, you have failed to persuade me which means you lost and I won”. We are the ones who can gain by coming to Jesus in faith.

The fact that the Bible tells us about many people who started to believe when they witnessed the miracles performed by Jesus and his apostles, is of course evidence for that people were not predestined to be elect and non-elect from the foundation of the world.

John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, WHEN they saw the miracles which he did.

John 7:31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?

John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

John 6:30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Acts 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.12 Then the deputy, WHEN he saw what was done, BELIEVED, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

Mark 15:32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

We are asked to continue on Jesus path. Casting out demons and healing the sick are still helpful tools to us. Below James is talking about the church settings, but we are also asked to go out in the world to evangalize to the lost and in such circumstances it is possible to perform the great works that Jesus has promised we would be able to do in his name.

Ja. 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Mark. 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

If such miracles and possibilities are supposed to have ceased after the time of the apostles, the word of God certainly forgot to mention it. Instead Christians all over the world have accepted the wonderful promises tied to believers and as a consequence people have been set free from demons and have become healed. A good preacher will encourage Christians to make use of the spiritual gifts which are for today. Praise you Lord!

Here you can read about speaking in tongues.

Judas was not predestined to betray Jesus, Acts 4:28

Judas acted against God’s will when he betrayed Jesus

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel DETERMINED BEFORE to be done. (Acts 4:26-28)

The above are words from a prayer by Peter and John, and these verses are sometimes used as an attempt to support the idea that God predestines all things, including predestination of individuals to do ”evil” (and that this in effect doesn’t make it ”evil” since God is always good). The sacrifice of Christ is a holy and acceptable offering to God and he didn’t force anyone to kill Jesus. This unique event cannot be used as a blanket statement throughout the entire scriptures to show that God causes people to do whatever they are busy doing including SINNING.

What was ”determined before” to be done? It was the death of Jesus (the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world)! However, it does not say that God predestined anyone to make this goal come true. Peter and John expressed in their prayer that people came to do what was determined, but  it doesn’t say that God predestined/caused/forced anyone to betray and kill Jesus, because then God would be the only reason for their sin.  (You’re not guilty of something if God is the one who made you do it.) Jesus is said to have laid down his own life and we can trust his words. There was certainly no shortage of people who wanted to kill Jesus, so God did not have to bother about predestining anyone to harm him. They went after Jesus on their own accord, and this was known from the foundation of the world. It wouldn’t be hard for the Father to remove his protective hands over Jesus and let someone with the desire to kill him be successful in his attempt, and Judas was  apparently first in line to betray him which eventually lead to his death. If Judas was predestined to betray Jesus, he would end up in heaven and not hell.

 John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

We can read that what happened was FOREKNOWN by God, but foreknowledge is not predestination. We can read that WICKED HANDS had crucified and slayed Jesus. If God predestined people to slay Jesus, then it would have been GODLY hands who slayed him. Those are wicked who do things contrary to God’s will.  By using an event for something good doesn’t mean that God caused it to happen.

 Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and FOREKNOWLEDGE of God, YE have taken, and BY WICKED HANDS have crucified and slain? 

We can see that it was not GOD who placed the desire to harm Jesus inside Judas but SATAN.

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

Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who harmed him, but if they were predestined to do so, then what is there to forgive? Why asking the Father to forgive people for doing exactly what he caused them to do?! If Judas OBEYED the Father by betraying Jesus which he was CAUSED to do, then shouldn’t Judas be rewarded instead of punished for what he did? Instead we can read that it would have been better for Judas had he never been born.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Fatherforgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots

Jesus was delivered into the hands of SINFUL men, so we are not talking about innocent people who only did what they were predestined to do by God. THEY chose to sin, and we know that God doesn’t even TEMPT people. Much less force people to sin.  There is no darkness in God.

Lukas 24:7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

The Apostle Paul ”determined to sail by Ephesus” (Acts 20:16). Does that mean that the sailors on the vessel that he determined to sail on were acting under Paul’s compulsion or control? No. Paul determined to sail on a certain vessel to a certain location, but that does not mean that the vessel he determined to sail on was under his causation. When Paul sailed to Ephesus, he could say that what occurred was what was ”determined before to be done” instead of something which occurred by surprise or accident. But the occurrence of what was determined before to be done did not exclude the freedom of those who participated in its occurrence. In the same way, God determined the crucifixion of Christ, but that does not mean that those who participated in His crucifixion and contributed to it were not free in what they did. What they did to Christ was not a surprise to God. What they did was what God had ”determined before to be done”. In order to accomplish His purpose of slaying the Lord, God delivered Christ into the hands of those who already wanted to kill him by their free choice.

There certainly was no shortage of people who wanted to kill Jesus because of the way that He preached. Jesus said that ”the world” ”hateth” him, ”because I testify of it, that the works thereof are EVIL” (Jn. 7:7). But the enemies of Christ were unable to kill him as long as the Father was protecting him (Matt. 4:6; Lk. 4:11; Jn. 7:30; 10:31; 10:39). The Bible says ”Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (Jn. 7:30).

God determined to deliver Jesus unto wicked men and God foreknew what they would do to Jesus if He did. This is because the Father knew the hostility and hatred that was already freely in their hearts. God was able to incorporate their voluntary wickedness into His plans and even turn it around and use it for good. This, it seems, God also did with Joseph’s brothers (Gen. 50:20). But this does not mean that God caused their wickedness. It is one thing to say that God ”worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11), and it is quite another thing to say, ”God CAUSES all things after the counsel of his own will”. God can work with the free will choices of men to accomplish His purposes without causing all the choices of men.

Pilate said, ”I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee” (Jn. 19:10). Pilate certainly was conscious of possessing free will. He was aware of the fact that what he was doing, he was doing by his own free volition. Responsibility or accountability presupposes free will. Men will be judged according to the free choices of their wills. Since these men were responsible for taking Jesus and for killing him, though God had determined that Jesus should be delivered unto them and slain, they still took Him and killed him by their own free choice. The Bible goes on to say

”Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:36-37)

Apparently, Peter’s audience had not taken his previous words about the determinate counsel of God to mean that they had no free will in the matter or that they were only acting under the control of God. Otherwise, they could not have been pricked in their hearts for their action or have seen any reason why they needed to be saved for acting in such a way. But they were pricked in their hearts and sought for a way of salvation because they internally knew that what they had done was caused freely by their own wills and, therefore, they were rightly responsible and accountable for it.

Pelagius has been falsely judged by his critics

Unlike Augustine, Pelagius knew Greek. Pelagius did not teach that man can save himself. He only taught that a man can live a righteous life via free will choice. The idea that man can save himself is what came from Augustine’s accusations against him, as Calvinists do with Arminians today when they accuse them of teaching ”works salvation”. True Pelagianism is truth according to what the early Church taught, not as Augustine described it. What Augustine described is without a doubt heresy, but it’s not what Pelagius actually taught. This is evident in the writings of Pelagius, as well as in the fact that the councils could find no fault in his teachings 2 times that he appeared before them in his own defense. When he was finally marked as a heretic the third time around, it was when he could not be present to defend himself (in Tunisia where Augustine resided) and Augustine and Jerome were present to misrepresent his position.

Most of the information we have about Pelagius rests in the hands of his enemies. That is not enough for a righteous judgment. If God judged us by the words of our enemies, we would be outraged at the injustice. It is unfair for us to condemn a man based on the evidence presented by his enemies, and not from the man himself. We would also be guilty of slander if we continue to claim that an innocent person is an ”heretic” even though he might not be. Let’s be careful so God won’t judge us one day for slander, false accusations and causing division.

Pelagianism teaches only that man can choose to do right and choose not to sin. It does not teach that a person can be holy without God or His grace. This is a lie given through the heretic Augustine. Augustine was a liar seeking to have him condemned, as he was offended by his preaching against his teachings to the people. Augustine was teaching a ”sinning religion”, and people were following it and living it. Pelagius could not stand for this heresy, so he began to teach against it. In his efforts he brought out the a man CAN choose to not sin, because he is not so spiritually dead that he could not make such a choice. Augustine turned this around with false accusations against him, misrepresenting him as if he was teaching that man could save himself. This is not what he was teaching at all. And his own writings prove it – which were not even discovered until this past century. Augustine tried to make sure of that by having them burned or destroyed, but a few slipped through the cracks. Now Augustine is exposed for the liar and gospel pervert that he is.

Calvinism began with Gnosticism – which is very clearly shown by many quotes given by the early Church. Tertullian and Hippolytus and Irenaeus all wrote extensively against the Gnostic groups, telling of the things they believed and how the Church has always disagreed with them, calling them heretics. Augustine was infested with Gnosticism, which Calvin also adopted.

Here is a quote from an article below on the Letter to Demetrius:

”The moral life of purity, for Pelagius, can only be achieved by drawing upon both ”the good of nature and the good of grace” (9:1); this will be the dominant theme of his exhortation. Pelagius’s reflections on the human person are not unlike those of the Eastern Fathers. They share the same starting point of moral reflection, that is, the innate goodness of man because God has created him in His image and likeness. Pelagius writes, ”you ought to measure the good of human nature by reference to its Creator” (2:2).”

The above quote shows the balanced thought of Pelagius teaching. His accusers only point out that he taught ”the good of nature” and the ”innate goodness of man”, and completely leave out the blanche of his teaching that tells of the ”good of grace” and ”because GOD has created him in His image and likeness”. Pelagius thought was in giving glory to God in His creation, in that men have a mind and free will to choose that has been given by the creator, which makes them able to choose to do right. Of course man has to know right and wrong first, but the ability is with him once he knows the difference.

Prior to Pelagius being ‘found’ guilty of heresy, he was cleared by two synods of bishops. These synods were provoked by Augustine’s influence. Then the council of Carthage, where Augustine was bishop, declared Pelgius a heretic. A few years later, Augustine and two others brought heresy charges against Pelagius to the bishop of Rome. Pelagius was cleared again, a third time. The bishop of Rome declared Pelagius a heretic a few years later under pressure from Imperial Rome and not before that time. It was perceived that the effects of Pelagius’ doctrine would undermine Imperial rule and so political pressure was then applied and the bishop of Rome declared Pelagius a heretic. Another interesting note is that Pelagius was well received and there was generally no problem with his teaching. The charges against him only arose when some one else, Caelestius, who was building on Pelagian teaching denounced infant baptism. Then and only then the problem arose. Infant baptism was under assault – if they were not born guilty and therefore did not need to be baptized to be saved then ecclesiastical power structure was going to be undermined. That kick started the whole controversy against Pelagius: they synods and councils did not occur until the implications of his teaching threatened infant baptism. See Peter Brown’s ”Augustine of Hippo” there are 3 chapters that deal with Augustine-Pelagian controversy that document everything posted.

Pelagius is often ascribed views he doesn’t have

From Jesse Morell:

Matt Slick of CARM wrote that “Pelagianism…. taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God.  In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention.”[29] This is an example, not of Pelagian heresy, but of Pelagian hearsay.

I would suspect that Matt Slick learned about Pelagianism from its opponents, and not from actually reading the writings of the Pelagians. This is a common practice for Calvinists, but what if that is how their doctrine was treated? What if someone stated what Calvinism teaches, by stating the opponents? Augustine accused Pelagius of denying the grace of God, but this was an accusation not a fact.

Had Matt Slick actually read some of the few writings that still exist today from the original Pelagians, he would have read in Julian of Eclanum’s Pelagian Statement of Faith: “We [Pelagians] maintain that men are the work of God, and that no one is forced unwillingly by His power either into evil or good, but that man does either good or ill of his own will; but that in a good work he is always assisted by God’s grace, while in evil he is incited by the suggestions of the devil.”[30]

Pelagius himself said, “I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ is not necessary not only for ever hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavor to dis-annul it deserve everlasting punishment.”[31]

Pelagius said, “This grace we do not allow to consist only in the law but also in the help of God. God helps us through His teaching and revelation by opening the eyes of our heart, by pointing out to us the future so that we may not be preoccupied with the present, by uncovering the snares of the devil, by enlightening us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace.”[32]

Pelagius said, “God always aids by the help of his grace. God aids us by his doctrine and revelation, while he opens the eyes of our heart; while he shows us the future, that we may not be engrossed with the present; while he discloses the snares of the devil; while he illuminates us by the multiform and ineffable gift of heavenly grace. Does he who says this, appear to you to deny grace? Or does he appear to confess both divine grace and the freewill of man?”[33]

Pelagius said in a letter to Innocent, “Behold, before your blessedness, this epistle clears me, in which we directly and simply say, that we have entire freewill to sin and not to sin, which, in all good works, is always assisted by divine aid. Let them read the letter which we wrote to that holy man, bishop Paulinus, nearly twelve years ago, which perhaps in three hundred lines supports nothing else but the grace and aid of God, and that we can do nothing at all of good without God. Let them also read the one we wrote to that sacred virgin of Christ, Demetrias, in the east, and they will find us so praising the nature of man, as that we may always add the aid of God’s grace. Let them likewise read my recent tract which we were lately compelled to put forth on freewill, and they will see how unjustly they glory in defaming us for denial of grace, who, through nearly the whole text of that work, perfectly and entirely profess both free will and grace.”[34]

Pelagius taught that the freedom of the human will was not lost by the original sin of Adam, but that grace was necessary for man to rightly use his free will. He also taught that free will itself was a gracious gift given to us at Creation. He did not deny grace as necessary or as an aid for free will. The only grace he denied was Augustinian grace, which said that free will was lost by original sin and therefore man’s ability to obey needed to be restored by grace. However, one of the best Greek-English Lexicons, Thayer’s, defined grace as “divine influence upon the heart” which is precisely how Pelagius viewed grace in contradiction to Augustine.

It was Augustine’s view of grace that was inconsistent with free will, not Pelagius’. As Augustine said, “I have tried hard to maintain the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God prevailed.”[35] Pelagius affirmed both the freedom of the will and the necessity for the grace of God, while Augustine denied the freedom of the will because of His mistaken view of grace.

This is why John Wesley said, “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.’”[36] And also “Who was Pelagius? By all I can pick up from ancient authors, I guess he was both a wise and a holy man.”[37]

John Wesley said, “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.”[38]

On the issue of the freedom of the will, Pelagius was in perfect agreement with the Early Church while Augustine was in agreement with the heretical Gnostics:

Dr Wiggers said, “All the fathers…agreed with the Pelagians, in attributing freedom of will to man in his present state.”[39]

Episcopius said, “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!”[40]

Catholic councils that calvinists appeal to

There were three councils that condemned Pelagianism; the Council of Ephesus in the year 431; the Council of Carthage in the year 418; and the Council of Orange in the year 529. This is because Pelagius was not invited nor present to defend himself but his opponents and adversaries stated his doctrine for him. When Pelagius was able to defend himself, the Council of Diospolis in 415 declared Pelagius orthodox. And Pope Zosimus also declared Pelagius’ orthodoxy in 417. He was always acquitted when present to clarify and defend his views. If these are our authorities to determine orthodoxy, do we accept the ones in favor of Pelagius or the ones against him?

In addition, the Council of Orange and the Council of Carthage were not ecumenical councils. They did not consist of Bishops from the entire church, which mean that the rulings of the Councils were not universally affirmed by the Eastern and Western churches.

If heresy is heresy because a council says so, or because of majority vote, Calvinism must be more heretical than Pelagianism was because there were more councils that condemned Calvinism than condemned Pelagianism. The Calvinist doctrines of predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace were condemned throughout history. Lucidus was condemned by the Council of Oral in 473, Council of Arles in 475, and Council of Orange in 529. And Gottschalk (Gotteschalcus) was condemned by the Council at Mentz in 848 and the Council of Chiersey (Quiercy) in 849. And what do Calvinists think of the Council of Constance in 1414 for John Huss, or the Council of Worms in 1521 for Martin Luther, or the Council of Trent in 1561 for the Protestants? Are these Councils not the voice of Orthodoxy as Ephesus and Carthage supposedly were?

In fact, the Council of Orange that condemned Pelagianism also condemned the doctrines of Calvinism. If the council is authoritative in the former case, it must be equally authoritative in the latter as well. But if it was mistaken in the latter case, maybe it was mistaken in the former as well. Tony Miano essential condemns his own theology by appealing to church councils and assuming their authority.

Many thanks to Lyndon Conn, Joshua Harris and Jesse Morell