Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (KJV)
Isaiah 46:10 DECLARING FROM THE BEGINNING THE LATTER END, And from of old that which hath not been done, Saying, `My counsel doth stand, And all My delight I do.’ (Young’s Literal)
So, from the very beginning of time God has declared something that will take place in the latter end, and we can continue on to v. 11 and v. 12-13 to see exactly what this is. It’s about the coming of a ”ravenous bird”, but most importantly about the fact that salvation will come from Zion. God is able to tell us through his prophets what will happen in the future whether God himself wants these things to happen or not. In this case it looks like what he is telling us through Isaiah is something that God himself has decreed will happen. See further down below. Also, if God delights in a world where man has free will and able to obey/disobey and where he is responsible for his own actions, can God make such a world? Yes! God can do anything he wants.
Some of our reformed friends translate ”declaring the end from the beginning” to ”I decide and predestine every step that a man makes and he has no choice but to act exactly as I have caused him to act ”, and they translate ”my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” to ”my counsel is to unconditionally cause a certain elect group of people to believe in me, and my pleasure is to orchestrate everything that happens, including causing people to sin – and I will also punish them for this sin by sending them to hell for it ”.
But if that interpretation is true, then of course God has always wanted people to be born depraved and with a sinful nature that causes them all to sin, and that would absolutely make God the author of sin and the one we must blame for all wickedness in the world. We would have no other choice but to trace each case of murder, violence, abortion and rape back to GOD and we must even conclude that he caused Satan to rebel against him. Some reformed believers object to the notion that God is the author of sin, which their doctrine necessitates, but there are numerous calvinists who admit that they believe in a God who makes people sin for his glory.
What does the rest of the chapter Isaiah 46 say?
1 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.
It’s really interesting that God would want his people to make use of IDOLS, despite that the first commandment that God gave Moses is:
”You shall have no other gods before me”
Could God really be angry at his people for making idols, if he is the one who predestines them to make them? Will people risk their souls for making these idols and for worshiping them, despite that it’s according to God’s will? Will people end up in hell despite obeying God to 100%?
3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:
It’s strange that God would say ”hearken unto me...” just like people could choose to NOT hearken unto him. It’s also interesting that God suggests that the house of Jacob and the remnant of the house of Israel were ”borne by me from the belly” because this sounds like they were not born depraved, and yet not all individuals from this group will always be good and obedient people.
6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.
Again, it’s very interesting that God would cause his people to make an idol to bow down for and to worship, despite that God also tells them multiple times that they should have no other God before him. What would be his reason for predestining them to do something horrible like that? Does he want us to obey his commandments or not? We can also read that they were transgressors, and that would be people who transgress the divine commandments in violation to the one who gave those commandments. But how could this be, if God is the one who directs every single one of their steps and that nothing that comes to pass happens against his will? If God is the one who causes people to make idols, can we really say that they ”transgress” his command to not make idols? If God is the one who wants them to make idols and cause them to make idols, then it’s hard to see how this could be a ”transgression” of any kind. So it seems like God causes his people to act in a way that goes against his own principles, as though God is battling with some schizophrenic problems. The best way to solve it is of course to flee from calvinism, because that would at once take care of all Bible contradiction that this gnostic theology has caused AND God’s holy nature and reputation would be intact.
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Here comes our famous quote. Couldn’t ”declaring the end from the beginning” mean that God has foreknowledge of certain events and has taken measures to both punish people who transgress his laws, as well as helping those people out who seek him and turn to him for his aid? The context is about the deliverance of his people from Babylon by the hand of Cyrus, which he purposed and prophesied about. The terms ”my counsel” and ”my pleasure” don’t necessarily mean that God alone micro manages every single step that people make – against their will and without conditions. Each person is responsible for his own actions, and we can often see God acting based on the premise ”if you do this, I will do that”. If God is the one who directs our steps unconditionally, then the blame for all evil darkness must be placed on God alone – and God should ask us for forgiveness for causing so much wickedness and evil.
11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Aha, this is the verse right after v. 10, and here we can see exactly what his ”pleasure” might be and what it is that he has declared according to his counsel. He has apparently called ”a ravenous bird from the east – a man of his counsel”. It’s not certain who this is, but it might be a reference to Cyrus who God indirectly might have involved in his plans for Israel. All God has to do is to remove his protective hands from a certain leader among his people, resulting in that the enemy would get sufficient help needed to be victorious. God doesn’t always interfere in such manner, but it looks like this is a rare case where he did. It’s inconceivable to believe that a holy God places evil desires in someone’s heart, because there is no darkness in God and he doesn’t tempt anyone – much less cause people to sin. Even if Israel will initially be shaken, there is also a plan for SALVATION – which is purposed by God. So the ultimate purpose by God, and what he will execute according to the counsel of his will, is to bring salvation from Zion. Read on.
12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
Isn’t it interesting that God would consider making people stouthearted and unrighteous? Yet, this is what he must have done if we must interpret v. 9-10 as though God predestines everything. And why continuously asking people to hearken unto him, if he knows that they can do nothing BUT hearken to him? People are not able to listen to God if God has prevented them from doing so. Things always pan out the way God wants in the calvinistic world.
13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
”Salvation in Zion” sounds like a promise about the upcoming Messiah who will come forth in the future in Zion, and he will be of the blood of Jacob and King David. This is something that happens according to the council of his will, and nowhere in the chapter does it say that God causes people to think and to act in a certain way. ”I bring near my righteousness”, God says, and that doesn’t sound like there is much room for wickedness and unrighteousness – which is something abominable in God’s eyes.
Rom. 9:15 FOR HE SAITH TO MOSES, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion
This is a very famous and popular verse, and there are some (reformed) christians who translate this verse into ”God says to us all; I will elect certain individuals for salvation, and I will place no conditions whatsoever on those that I choose…”. Just because God shows mercy to individuals, groups of people and entire nations, it doesn’t mean that they will be saved, and neither does it say anywhere in Romans. 9:15 that God shows mercy unconditionally. Paul is here making a reference to Exodus 33:19 where God is speaking to Moses, so in order to get Paul’s point we should both read both the context in Romans 9 (which is about God’s right to make the offer of salvation also to the gentiles and under the conditions that he himself chooses) as well as checking the passage that Paul is referring to in order to understand his full point.
Ex 33:2 (God) And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:3 Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.5 For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.—(Mose starts out)16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
As we can see, Moses is having a huge problem with the people that he was a leader for, and that’s because they were stiff-necked and rebellious against the God who Moses was a true servant of. Man’s free will is fully displayed in this passage (and throughout the entire Bible) because naturally God doesn’t want people to be disobedient to him and to walk on their own evil ways. The only reason God is threatening to consume them, is due to their sinfulness and stubborn hearts. Moses is pleading with God to show mercy on his people and he is successful because God has indeed seen Moses’ heart and therefore decided to show him grace and listen to his requests.
As we can see, the phrase that he ”will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” is not in reference to God unconditionally electing people to salvation, and neither can this phrase be understood that way in Romans 9. Moreover, just because God decides to show mercy on a person, it doesn’t mean this person will necessarily be saved because mercy (or kindness or grace) might not even be in relation to the person’s soul. And even if it is in relation to the person’s soul, it doesn’t say ”Once God has shown mercy on a person, this person forever remains in his mercy and is forever saved”. Just like we people can choose to be kind or not to others depending on their actions, so can God.
That people are being stiff-necked in the Bible can be seen here with many examples.
Compare with the words of David, who claims that God will be merciful to those who are merciful – which is how God has chosen to treat people:
2 Sam. 22:25 Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
We are told to be merciful as our Father is merciful
If the idea is that God has a certain lucky and elect elite that he has decided to show mercy on while he turns his back on all others, can we act in the same way by showing mercy (being kind) to only SOME? Not according to the Bible that says we are to be good to all. If we show mercy to others, we can be expected to get mercy ourselves, and God expects us to show mercy to others.
Luke:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Ja. 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Broader context from Romans 9. Read more about Romans 9 in this article.
Rom. 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory
Mercy is often in relation to individuals who are being righteous
It makes sense that kind-hearted and obedient people are prone to receive mercy themselves.
Genesis. 19:18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
Genesis 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
1 Kings 3:6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
Isaiah 14:1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
It looks like God is keen to show mercy on people who LOVE HIM AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. We can see this requirement throughout the below verses.
Ex. 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Deut. 5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Deut. 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers
1 Kings 8:23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart
2 Chronicles 6:14 And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts
Nehemiah 1:5 And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
Isaiah 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.
Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
Isaiah 47:6 I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Daniel 9:4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
Hosea 2:4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.
Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Gal. 6 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Psalms and Proverbs about mercy
In Psalms and Proverbs we can see the conditions for getting mercy, and they are the same as above.
Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.
Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
Psalm 37:21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
Psalm 62:12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work
Psalm 86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
Psalm 118:4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 130:7 Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Psalm 147:11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Psalm 145:8 The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.9 The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Proverbs 14:22 Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.
Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
Proverbs 21:21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
We are not saved because we have always done the right thing, but because we are able to be cleansed in the blood of Jesus upon our repentance and faith in his holy name.
Titus. 3:3 For we ourselves also WERE sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost
It’s absolutely true that the word ALL in the Bible doesn’t always mean ALL as in the entire world and 100% of the population even if it says ALL MEN, but it’s equally true that we don’t get to choose whether or not the word really means ALL ourselves. Sometimes ALL actually means ALL and the entire world and it’s the context that decides which one it is and not our own personal preferences. Maybe this is rather-self-evident but there are some people seem to reason:
”Since I can prove that ALL and ALL MEN do not always mean the whole world or all of the population of the earth, then I get to choose when ALL means ALL myself and I can do this as I see fit”.
They might not be aware of that they are reasoning in this way, but it’s common that especially reformed believers try to refute the verses which say that Jesus died for ALL (which is painfully clear in the Bible), by suggesting that ”all doesn’t always mean all”, and this shows that they feel they can save their doctrine of Limited Atonement by narrowing down the word ALL to a certain group of people even though the context itself doesn’t call for this procedure. Yes, sometimes ALL means a certain group of people but not always, and again, we cannot determine this simply by resorting to personal preferences. That would be nothing else but picking and choosing, and you would end up with the invisible rule ”ALL means ALL except when it doesn’t fit the reformed doctrine because then it means ALL of a certain group”.
The saying among reformed believers is that when Jesus died for ALL it means ”Jesus died for some of every kind of people from ALL tribes, languages, people and nations”. And/or that it refers to ALL classes and conditions of people, and to all sorts of human beings without any distinction or exception. That is a convenient understanding if one wants to maintain that TULIP (calvinism) is what the Bible teaches, but if they get to choose this translation of the word ALL, do I get to do the same whenever I don’t like that ALL means ALL as in every individual? What if I for instance don’t like that ALL people have sinned as Romans 3:23 seems to suggest.
Romans 3:23 For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
Do I get to interpret the above verse as ”some from all tribes, languages, people and nations have sinned”? No, because then reformed believers might say ”NO! It says ALL, and ALL means ALL! Don’t twist the verse and make it say something it doesn’t say! ALL is what it is!” It’s rather unfair that only the reformed believers get to use the ”some out of every tribe-idea” but no others.
Rom. 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and DEATH by sin; and so death passed upon all men, FOR that all have sinned
My claim is that babies cannot sin and Rom 5:12 doesn’t say that all people who have ever lived have sinned (which you can read more about in this blog article). We already know that Jesus has not sinned so this means that ALL couldn’t possibly mean the entire world with him included. (Jesus mother Mary was related to Adam and Eve just like the rest of us and she would have given Jesus a piece of her nature as well.) What qualifies ”all men” can be read in the context, and Paul is talking about individuals who have become enemies of God (v. 10) but how could babies possibly be enemies of God? Especially babies who are unborn? That is impossible, and Paul’s aim is not to convey that babies can be guilty of sin and rebellion. He is talking about ”men”, and that could mean 1) men 2) men and women, or 3) all mankind. We can’t decide to jump to No 3 and suggest it must mean every individual, at the same time as we refuse to do this in other verses which very clearly show that it means exactly that. That, again, is picking and choosing depending on our own preferences. All people who have the ability to sin have chosen to sin, except Jesus.
Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
The above verse is interesting because here reformed readers would like to interpret the first ”all men” as ALL individuals who have ever lived (so ALL means ALL), but the second ”all men” they prefer to interpret as ”SOME men” namely the elect – despite that the verse contains a clear parallel where Adam is compared with Jesus and where the two ”all men” MUST be understood in the same way. You can’t understand it one way in the first half of the sentence and in another way in the second half! Moreover, if ALL are automatically condemned through Adam then ALL must be automatically justified through Jesus, but that would lead to universalism which we know is not true. So the condemnation and the justification could not come about automatically, but they are dependant on whether a person disobeys or obeys, as the next verse says:
19 For as by one man‘s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Reformed believers often read the above verse as though it says ”ALL were made sinners” by one man and ”MANY be made righteous”, but it says MANY in BOTH cases.
Examples where ALL couldn’t possibly mean the entire world
If a child comes home to his mother and says ”I had my sweater on backwards in school today, and everyone laughed at me”, then his mother obviously wouldn’t ask her son ”Do you mean to tell me that everyone in the entire world laughed at you?” Clearly the mother would understand who ”everyone” is in this case, and we usually have no problem at all to understand who ALL and EVERYONE are when we speak to people on a daily basis or when we read the newspaper. Why then is there such a risk for misunderstandings when we read the Bible? Is the Bible not clear enough and is God the author of confusion? There will be a platform for misunderstandings if we insist on reading the Bible through a doctrine-filter that we have made up ourselves, and if we really want to avoid the notion that Jesus died for all as in every individual who has ever lived, then we might subconsciously try to change verses which declare that this is exactly what Jesus has done for us, in a way that suit our own theology. It’s almost like some christians believe they can escape the ”horrible” idea that Jesus actually laid down his life for every single person if they can only find examples where ALL doesn’t mean ALL. Anyway, here are some examples where ALL doesn’t mean ”every single person”, but it’s also rather obvious by the context so not confusing at all.
Mark 1:5 And there went out unto him ALL the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were ALL baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and ALL the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
Acts 22:15 For thou [Paul] shalt be his witness unto ALL MEN of what thou hast seen and heard.
Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of ALL MEN for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
John 3:26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and ALL MEN come to him.
Matthew 21:26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for ALL hold John as a prophet.
2 Corinthians 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of ALL MEN
Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of ALL MEN.18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with ALL MEN.
Romans 16:19 For your obedience is come abroad unto ALL MEN. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
Acts 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth ALL MEN EVERY WHERE against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
2 Timothy 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto ALL MEN, as their’s also was.
2 Timothy 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but ALL MEN forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for ALL MEN
3 John 1:12 Demetrius hath good report of ALL MEN, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for ALL MEN glorified God for that which was done.
Acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to ALL MEN, as every man had need.
John 11:48 If we let him thus alone, ALL MEN will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
There ARE cases where ALL means every single person, and this is also rather clear in the Bible.
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of ALL, and to the spirits of just men made perfect
Acts 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to ALL life, and breath, and all things 26 And hath made of one blood ALL nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation
Acts 1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of ALL MEN, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew ALL MEN
1 Corinthians 7:7 For I would that ALL MEN were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
Should we be kind and honor ALL MEN (everyone) or just some? Perhaps we should be kind and gentle only to those we like? I vote for that we should be pleasant to ALL men – whoever we might encounter.
1 Peter 2:17 Honour ALL MEN. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with ALL MEN, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto ALL MEN.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto ALL MEN, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto ALL MEN, apt to teach, patient,
1 Thessalonians 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward ALL MEN, even as we do toward you
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward ALL MEN.15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to ALL MEN.
So if people agree with me that the Paul and Peter above try to convey that we should be kind and gentle to everyone, then this section can remain under the topic ALL means ALL – as in every individual
Verses which are in dispute by those who don’t accept that Jesus died for everyone (leading to that reformed believers feel they get to use the ”died for some out of every tribe-card” for these verses)
Did Jesus die for ALL? The Bible is clear that he did this in numerous ways:
He died for ALL (1 Tim. 2:6).
He died for ALL MEN (Rom. 5:18; 1 Tim. 4:10).
He died for US ALL, for ALL OF US (Isa. 53:6).
He died for the UNGODLY (Rom. 5:6).
He died for CHRIST-DENIERS (2 Peter 2:1).
He died for SINNERS (Rom. 5:8).
He died for EVERY MAN (Heb. 2:9).
He died for MANY (Matthew 20:28).
He died for the WORLD (John 6:33,51; John 1:29 and John 3:16).
He died for the WHOLE WORLD (1 John 2:2).
He died for the WHOLE NATION of Israel (John 11:50-51).
He died for the CHURCH (Eph. 5:25).
He died for His SHEEP (John 10:11).
He died for ME (Gal. 2:20)
Here are some examples where we can read that Jesus died for ALL – or ALL MEN.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to ALL MEN liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the WORLD in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto ALL MEN, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN,
John 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that ALL MEN through him might believe.
1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially of those that believe.
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto ALL MEN. The Lord is at hand.
Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;9 And to make ALL MEN see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN unto me.
John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:23 That ALL MEN should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
Paul seems to believe that he (Paul) can save some people (naturally through Jesus) if he becomes weak for the weak. If Paul was reformed he would know that he can’t change the outcome of anything for anyone and that all things were written in stone before the foundation of the world.
1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some
We have a big King with a big heart, and Jesus Christ did not shut the door for anyone but died for the whole world. Why then are not all saved? Because some refuse to seek God and come to him to get life. God’s will does not always happen.
John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
I would like to teach your Sunday school kids that Jesus only died for a few people and not the whole world, that God doesn’t want all to be saved, that man doesn’t have free will, that whatsoever comes to pass is predestined by God no matter how evil it is, that nothing happens against the will of God, that he is the one who makes us sin through our sinful natures and that even abortions happen according to the will of God. Would that be ok with you?
Would you say yes? I don’t believe you would accept even if you were a pastor for a reformed church, because this guy expresses himself in a way that is much too straightforward and he doesn’t leave anything to be read in between the lines being so upfront with his belief. He spells out his doctrines too strongly – even if what he says actually lines up with calvinism (TULIP) perfectly. Now, not all calvinists aspire to be consistent with their own teachings and that’s why they often express themselves as though they were freewillers. Instead of taking their doctrines to their logical conclusions (if nothing happens against the will of God then also sin must be according to the will of God) they prefer to settle with vague ”mysteries”.
In order to present calvinism in a more appealing way he would have to be much more careful with his expressions/terms and focus on the good things about God, such as him electing people to salvation (but being careful with confessions that God also sends people to hell even though they have no choice but to be the wicked people that their God always wanted them to be). In a Church he would have to mix in lots of self evident truth that he knows that most christians can agree on, and to generally act and speak in such a way that his listeners can feel confidence in him and what he is about to teach them. Instead of using terms that sound calvinistic he would instead rephrase himself, and he would highlight certain popular verses (among calvinists) without covering the context and ask the students leading questions.
I’m not saying calvinists generally stand up in church and openly promote sin, BUT unfortunately calvinism in itself is a very sin-condoning system. If a person starts to believe that he is born with a sinful nature that makes him sin by necessity, and that he is once saved always saved so occasional sins are not an obstacle for eternal life, and that God has actually selected whom to save already from when the world began, then it’s a risk this person will easier fall for temptations. He really doesn’t have much to lose if his soul is never at stake. Be careful! The Bible warns about men who sneak into our churches and homes and who change the grace of God to a license to sin! These dangerous men will NOT say ”Go and sin all you want because God doesn’t care”, but they will express themselves in a much more sophisticated way. Be on your guard for what you hear in between the lines because THAT is their real message!
Jude:4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
I love calvinists enough to warn them about false doctrines and that they are deceived!
Interestingly Jude is telling us in the verse before that we should ”earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”. So if Jude is exhorting us that we should believe the doctrines that were once delivered to the first saints, what exactly did the saints believe and teach? We know this from the Bible of course where the first saints and eye witnesses wrote down their stories, but some of them also had disciples (also saints) who naturally kept on teaching what they had been taught from the disciples of Jesus – who they had the privilege to know and be taught by. The apostle John is a good example of a disciple of Jesus who had his own disciples (like Polycarp), and John reached an old age. The first disciples were considered our ”church fathers” and it’s interesting that NONE of them taught anything remotely close to Calvinism the first 300+ years AD. The only ones who taught such doctrines were the gnostics and they were considered heretics. But today gnosticism is crept into our midst unnoticed!
Jude3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
If someone admits that he must ”cleverly” avoid certain terms in a Sunday school class in order to teach kids the real meaning of God’s sovereignty (the way calvinists understand this term), doesn’t this suggest this person is sneaking his preferred doctrines into church? Here is what a calvinist with the user name ”Blainemonster” wrote in a christian forum, and you can find the whole story in this blog article. When he wrote his post, he probably didn’t realize exactly how much he would upset christians (christians who believe in free will perhaps I should add) and particularly those who belong to an Assembly of God church and who realize that their children risk to be deceived in their own Church. One must wonder if his motive isn’t simply to spread calvinism since he admits that he must cleverly hide his convictions. Someone (or more) made a polite response to his post but the moderator chose not to add it. Instead the moderator defends this calvinist vehemently (and Blainemonster is prevented to defend himself which would be a more honest approach) at the same time as he also judges all those who feel that his behavior was inappropriate in a Church.
”Just yesterday I was teaching (in my A/G church) my high school class the Scriptural truths about God’s sovereignty in salvation. I cleverly did not use the terms “unconditional election” or “Calvinism.” I simply explained what the Bible clearly teaches in, i.e., Ephesians 1 and Romans 8. The kids came up with some good questions, and what I noticed was that we (humans) desperately want to be able to explain everything.
A couple of the students hypothesized that, regarding foreknowledge, it was just that since God knows everything, he already knew who would choose him – that same ol’ saw. I explained that first of all, that that is NOT what “foreknow” means, and then helped them to see that if it were true, then God is essentially bound by our decisions.
We went on from there to talk very briefly about the mysteries of God. At any rate, it was a fun exercise, and what you’ve posted today is just exactly where we were yesterday. I love these bits especially:“The issue of human freedom and unconditional election is in the same apophatic domain. We can’t make sense out of them and once we do, we have entered into error.”
Wouldn’t parents who attend an Assembly of God church (a Church which is NOT based on calvinism), and who send their kids off to a Sunday school, like to know what the Sunday school teacher is really teaching their kids? I would be mightily upset if it happened to me! If I went to a Church based on calvinism on the other hand, then such doctrines would come as no surprise to me.
Yes, It is wrong for a Christian minister to hide his true convictions on important theological matters. It is even more wrong for him to hide those convictions in order to provide cover while subversively introducing them in a setting where they are not welcome.
I realize how easy calvinism can creep into Churches and homes here in Sweden despite that calvinism has never been popular here before. Young people might attend reformed Bible schools in the US and bring home false teachings which they continue to spread to others, and people who own websites and Blogs interpret video clips from Paul Washer, Mark Driscoll, John Piper and other calvinists and introduce more and more Swedes to calvinism. Of course, it’s a huge risk that those who listen are not aware of that the preachers are calvinists in the first place (and they are never introduced as such) but once some listeners are caught on the hook you can slowly but successfully draw the whole fish line into the boat and catch yet another person into the net of calvinism.
John. 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but OF GOD
This emphasizes God’s role in our spiritual rebirth and it does not say that God unconditionally makes a person born again without this person’s consent and neither does it show man’s inability to seek and find God. We can only speculate what those things mean that we are NOT born of. ”Blood” could mean human ancestry (such as being jews) or it could refer to the blood atonement of animals that became history due to the advent of Christ. ”The will of the flesh and the will of man” could mean that it’s not in human physical power, nor by enough works effort, nor by man’s desirous intent, nor by wishful thinking that we are able to be born of God and end up as his children – and eventually inherit his kingdom. If we remove what man is not ”born of” according to this verse, what is left? We remove ”blood”, ”the will of the flesh” and ”the will of man”, and then we have ”which were born OF GOD”. The Bible says elsewhere that we must be born again (which can only happen thanks to God) in order to have life:
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God
MAN cannot make his past sins go away and be cleansed and born again by himself, but GOD can accomplish this – but under certain conditions. How do we get born again? Example in short:
- We seek God and come to him to get life
- We acknowledge that we deserve death due to our sins, and that we are completely lost without Jesus
- We confess our known sins
- We repent from our old sinful life style
- We make a decision to from now on walk in obedience with Christ, with the AIM to be faithful
- THEN we are cleansed from our old sins by the mercy of God!
- We are now righteous, justified and born again and completely new persons!
- We acknowledge that God does not promise us ”once cleansed always cleansed”
So WE cannot make ourselves become born again and new persons – no matter our will – because we simply don’t have the power to cleanse ourselves and be free from our old sin debt. Only GOD can help us with this, so we must come to him to make this happen. Even if we would live the rest of our lives without sin, we could still not arrange so that our past sins were removed. Thanks to the blood of Jesus that he shed for us the cross, we can be made righteous! Peter says that in obeying the truth we have purified our souls and, as previously mentioned, we can only do this by coming to God to be cleansed. This is how we get eternal life!
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing YE have purified your souls in OBEYING the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
In the immediate context prior to John 1:13, we can read that those who had the right to become the children of God were selected on the basis of who ”received” and ”believed” Christ. Is God forcing man or is man accepting in this verse?
John. 1:11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name
We can also read about Jesus 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Everyone has been given enough light to be able to believe in Jesus
Finally, we can read in another place in the NT where it’s actually possible to be born ”after the flesh”, and this concerns the bondmaid Hagar who got a planned child together with Abraham (Ishmael). The birth of Isaac (Abraham’s and Sara’s child) is in contrast to the previous birth and is stated to be ”by promise”.
Gal. 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Due to my concern for christians trapped in Calvinism (and others who are at risk), I include the below text parts from Jesse Morell. I believe that the doctrines within Calvinism unfortunately and inevitably encourage christians to remain in their sins, but that doesn’t mean that I believe that all who call themselves calvinists must be major sinners. Still, the doctrines are dangerous (which all gnostic teachings are) and must be exposed in order to save souls. If we love each other, we would like to help each other on the right track.
Calvinism is totally man centered. ”I am saved by nothing I do,” ”I cannot be lost by anything I do,” etc. It is all centered on man being saved no matter what. It gives religious sinners eternal security. It itches their ears. There is no choice of total repentance from all sin required, just believing. There is no necessity to labor and run and persevere unto the end. There is no threat of going to hell through sinning. It itches the ears of those who want this man-centered gospel. You don’t have to love God supremely. You don’t have to totally commit yourself to God. You can live in compromise and sin every day in word, thought, and deed, and still be saved. Calvinism doesn’t glorify God, it comforts religious sinners and in doing so it dishonors God.
Which system really glorifies God? The one which says God is the ultimate cause of sin and that men do not need to stop all their sinning, or the one that says each individual is the cause of their own sin and we must all repent of our sins and live holy lives glorifiying to God? Which doctrine of grace really glorifies God? The one that says grace means being saved while we continue to sin, or grace is the means of being saved from our sin? One of these systems glorifies God while the other system greatly dishonors Him. What of the Westminster Catechism that says no man is able, either of his own power or by any grace received in this life, to perfectly keep the commandments, but does daily break them in word, thought, and deed…? Well, that covers all the bases. I mean, the devil couldn’t do any worse than that. That excuses all sin, of any kind. Calvinism certainly does make ”a broad stroke that intentionally misunderstands and maligns Christ.” How man-centered is this theology! Now, the power of man’s sin is even greater than the power of God’s grace! God’s grace cannot overcome man’s sin! Wow, talk about a man-centered sin-excusing theology.
Glorification is the perfection of the body. Sanctification is the perfection of the heart. We are not commanded to be glorified in this life. This is not an obligation. We are not sinful for failing to have glorified bodies. Even Jesus did not have a glorified body until after the resurrection. But we can sanctify ourselves to God. We can set ourselves apart from the service of sin to the service of God.
We are not born with a sinful nature
We are born into a sinful world, but sin itself is a choice of our own will. You are not born a homosexual, drunkard, etc. That is choice. Paul said sinners will be ”without excuse” on Judgment Day. They cannot say, like Lady GaGa, ”I was born this way.” God forms our nature in the womb and He does not form us as little sinners. We become sinners at the age of accountability, by our own free will. As the Bible says men are sinners ”from their youth” which means ”juvenile” not infant.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Ps. 139:14. We are not guilty of the sin of Adam: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Eze. 18:20 We are commanded to sanctify ourselves: “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.” Lev. 20:7. This verse is quoted in the New Testament as well. Jesus can forgive us and cleanse us, not from some sin, but from all sin: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I Jn. 1:9. Just read the rest of 1 John. He that sins is of the devil. Whosoever has been born of God does not commit sin. Etc. The Word says that the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to live free from sin in this life. Our fallen bodies do not make us sin, so we don’t need a new body to be free from sin. Romans 6 says Jesus sets us free from sin in this life. Hebrews says Jesus was made in all things liken unto his brethren.
Jesus did not have a sinful nature, so neither did we. Jesus lived a holy and sinless life and Jesus said come and follow me and He is our example to follow. If we sin after our initial conversion, we must repent or perish as Jesus taught his disciples. We never have to sin, as God never allows us to be tempted above our ability (1 Cor. 10:13). To say that we can never life free from all sin in this life is to make the power of sin greater than the power of the cross and greater than the power of God’s grace. Certainly, we still have a free will after conversion so we are still capable of sinning. But with the help of God’s grace, we can choose to overcome and persevere. Men are sinners by choice, as the Bible says all we like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own way. And therefore, we can cease to be sinners by choice. Hence, God’s command for us to repent and His appeals of grace. We cannot have glorified bodies in this life, and so we have not attained physical perfection. That comes after our race is done. But we can have sanctified bodies in this life, as Paul said we can yield our members as instruments of righteousness, present our bodies a living sacrifice, that God can sanctify us wholly spirit soul and body, etc.
Certainly we are not forgiven before we repent, and if we sin God clearly sees it. But when we think upon what Jesus Christ has done to make forgiveness available for us and for everyone, we should love Him and turn from all our sins as a consequence. Once we do that, God forgives us through Christ. Calvary makes us willing to do what creation made us capable of doing. And what the law could not do, the gospel was able to accomplish. Legal motives of self-interest were insufficient to perfect the heart, but the motives presented to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from all sin. Every day we make the choice to sin or not, and certainly our salvation depends upon our perseverance in holiness, but when we look upon the cross and see how much God has loved this world, we see how worthy He is of our worship and service and we love Him in return with our obedience.
Romans chapter seven
Rom. 7 gives us a description of what occurs when the mind of an unconverted sinner is convicted by the law. Using a literary technique, Paul uses the present tense to tell the narrative. As many stories begin with “once upon a time,” Paul said, “For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” (Rom. 7:9). He then proceeded in his narrative to discuss what happens when an unconverted sinner encounters the law of God. Some suppose Romans chapter seven to be a description of the Christian life, as opposed to a description of an unconverted state. But we know Paul is not referring to his own converted state because he already said that Christians have been made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:18, 22). The man in Romans seven was not ”free from sin” and, therefore, he was not a Christian. Paul also said that, “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). Yet the man in Romans chapter seven was under condemnation and therefore needed to be saved by Jesus (Rom. 7:24-25).
And Paul said that, “to be carnally minded is death” (Rom. 8:6). But the man in Romans chapter seven said, “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). Therefore, the man in Romans chapter seven did not have eternal life. And finally, Paul said that as a converted man he lived with a good and pure conscience that was void of offense (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; 2 Tim. 1:3). The man described in Romans chapter seven is deeply disturbed by his conscience (Rom. 7:16). Therefore, the description given in Romans chapter seven was not of the converted life of the Apostle Paul. It is a narration describing what happens when an unconverted sinner’s mind encounters the law of God and is convicted by it.
Jesus died for everyone, but only those who repent and believe are forgiven through it. So if a believer sins, they must repent and ask God for forgiveness.
Forgiveness of future sins is nothing more than a license to sin. God only forgives us of our sins after we have repented of them. And since we are not yet guilty of future sins, we have nothing to be forgiven us. Not only would forgiveness of future sins be unwise, it is also impossible. Sins must be dealt with as they occur. Hence what we read in 1 John 1:8-9. If a believer sins, we must repent or perish.
We were not capable of sinning before the age of accountability, as Jesus said if you were blind you would have no sin. Infants are not under the wrath of God, as the wrath of God comes upon those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Those with knowledge are without excuse, but as infants have no moral knowledge, they are with excuse for their behavior. As they grow, they make free will choices. Hence we are told to teach them, disciple them, etc. If their nature caused their actions, teaching them would be useless and discipline would be cruelty and pointless. Only if their free will makes their choices can teaching and disciple change their behavior.
The perfection that God requires is a perfection that we are capable of. It is purity of motive – a perfection of heart. The Bible commands us to love God and love our neighbor. The Bible speaks of men who were ”perfect in heart” which shows it is possible for man in this life. The commandment is directly proportationate to our ability, as we are command to love God ”with all” thy ability and love your neighbor ”as yourself.” We are not commanded to love with more ability than we have, but with all the ability that we have. So it is not impossible. If it were impossible, God’s law would be unreasonable and unjust. Damnation would be infinite cruelty. But as God is just and as He does punish sinners, this shows that they were capable of avoiding their sin
Which is greater, the power of sin or the power of the cross and the grace of God?
If the power of the cross is greater than the power of sin, why can’t you stop sinning? Does not the cross make you love God? And if you love Him, you will obey Him. When you are tempted, just look at the cross. Put your faith in God and you will overcome sin. As love is the fulfillment of the law – a complete satisfaction to our moral obligation. Love is perfection. God does not want us to have an imaginary holiness but an actual holiness. The Bible never says that Christ’s works of the law are imputed to us. That is not necessary as we are not justified by works of the law. The ”imputed righteousness of Christ” is a cliche and a myth. If you sin, God see’s it. Nothing is hide from His eyes the Bible says. He says, ”I know your works, be zealous therefore and repent.” Don’t dream that you are covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ while you continue to sin, thus making his work a license to sin. Rather, repent of your sins and then you will be pardoned by His grace and mercy.
Paul taught that we were not under the law, as in the Torah, but not that we were free from all moral obligation. As Paul said we are obligated to love God and love our neighbor. God is not an anarchist or an antinomian. He does not promote lawlessness. As Paul said, not without law to God but under the law of Christ.
God does not impute our trespasses to us when He forgives us and pardons us. This is conditional upon our repentance and faith. Holiness, in terms of the Christian, is an internal attitude of submission and obedience whereby we are set apart from sin and to the service of God. And Jesus not only saves our souls, He changes our lives. He is not only our justification, He is also our sanctification. Justification by works of the law is impossible. Obedience cannot atone for past disobedience. Hence, we need gracious justification. God can declare us pardoned. He commands us to repent and believe and when we are converted He pardons all our past trespasses through the atonement of Christ.
”By nature children of wrath” in context is about how we previously lived a sinful lifestyle. The Greek word for nature in that passage can mean that which by long habit has become nature, according to Thayer which is one of the best Greek-English Lexicon available. The Bible also says that the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, which show the work of the law written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness. Doesn’t sound like they were born totally depraved with a sinful nature. Conscience is part of our nature, and it tells us to obey God.
The Bible is clear that Jesus died for everyone but not everyone is saved because not everyone repents and believes. It is possible for those for whom Christ died to perish. As Paul said you can cause a brother to perish for whom Christ died. And you can deny the Lord who bought you and bring upon yourself swift destruction.
The atonement does not give us a license to sin or make salvation automatic for anyone. Pardon through the atonement is conditional. The Bible says repent, believe, and persevere unto the end. If we fail any of those points, we cannot expect God’s mercy but His wrath. Jesus said He that perseveres unto the end shall be saved. That speaks of salvation in the future tense. There are others passages that speak of it as past and present. I am saved. I am being saved. And I will be saved. The Bible says eternal life is to know God. And it says by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says I know Him and keeps not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him. So those who are obedient to God have eternal life and those who are disobedient do not. As it is written, He is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.
He tasted death for EVERY man it says. He is the propitiation, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the WHOLE world. Just as the serpent was lifted up for WHOSOEVER to be saved through it, so God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him would be saved, etc. There is no limited atonement in the foreshadow sacrifices.
People attack biblical holiness and the born again experience as self-righteousness and confuse biblical repentance with justification by works of the law. If a person is living in sin, aka sinning every day in word, thought, and deed, than it should be obviously that they haven’t put their faith in Christ. If they had confidence in His character and trusted Him they would do whatever He asks. As Hebrews 11 says by faith Abraham obeyed. Abraham was justified by an obedient faith, or a faith that resulted in obedience. What sins do you have in your life that you cannot stop? What sins do you have in your life that Christ cannot set you free from? Or really, what sin do you have in your life that you are unwilling to repent of?
Obedience can never atone for disobedience
We could never make up for our sins by obedience and we could never earn or merit salvation. It must come by grace and mercy through Jesus Christ. But it is conditional. We must repent and believe to receive it. I say that we must repent and believe (obedience to the gospel) but that our obedience to the gospel does not merit or earn salvation. ”By faith Abraham…obeyed” Hebrews 11:8. Abraham was justified by an obedient faith. There is a difference between conditions and grounds. Our obedience to the gospel is not the grounds of our salvation. It does not merit or earn salvation. Peter said, ”repent of this thy wickedness that the thought of your heart might be forgiven thee” and ”save yourselves from this untoward generation”. Was Peter teaching heresy by telling them to save themselves? Certainly not. Repentance is a condition of forgiveness. We can only save ourselves, through the atonement of Christ, by repenting and believing.
Justification by works of the law is regarding the Torah and merit. It is not about repenting of your sins to be pardoned by grace and mercy. We do not need to obey the law (Torah) to be saved. But we must obey the gospel, which demands that we repent of our sins and trust in Christ. If good works are the evidence of faith, then bad works are the evidence of unbelief. There is no condemnation for those who walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. If you are living in sin, aka walking after the flesh, there is condemnation. By faith you can live a pure and holy life. By faith you can overcome all sin and be perfect in heart. The same faith that justifies also sanctifies. Under the New Covenant we are not under obligation to the Torah, but only to the moral law of God. The New Testament does not command us to be circumcised, but to love God and love our neighbor.
“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Gal. 2:14
“To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.” 1 Cor. 9:21.
We are not under the law of Moses, but under the law of Christ.
“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Heb. 7:12.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things” Heb. 10:1.
The external and physical laws of the Old Covenant, like the clean and unclean food, circumcision, etc, were figurative of the internal and moral change that occurs under the New Covenant. Thus, the New Covenant fulfills the Old Covenant. These Old Covenant laws were figurative, but in the New Covenant that which is better has come. Hence,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;” Heb. 10:16.
You can read more from Jesse Morell on his website.
”Any theology that gives man a legitimate excuse for sin and maligns God’s holy character CANNOT, by definition be ‘God centered'” (Kerrigan Skelly)