Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Caricatures of Calvinism

One thing that strikes me as interesting when non Calvinists talk about Calvinism is how rarely they represent what we actually believe as Calvinists. I had a prof in one of my classes a while back explain what Calvinists believe about election (at least this is what he thinks).

"It's like God is in a boat and there are people drowning all around Him and He chooses to save a few of them and let the rest of them drowned."

I didn't keep my mouth shut at that point.... I know imagine that. What a horrid straw man of what the reformed faith actually believes about God's free choice to save. Think with me for a moment about what this example above leaves out of the equation.

Mankind has profaned, rejected and blasphemed God. They are not innocent people drowning, they are people intentionally breathing in the water because it is what they want to do. God didn't throw them in the water, they gave God the proverbial "finger" as they jumped off the boat, cursing Him all the way down to the water. Each of them deserves to drowned and the last thing they deserve is for God in the boat to pull their worthless souls out of the water.

I take horrid offense to an example of election that makes God a divine bully. It is purely the graciousness of God that anyone receives salvation since no one deserves anything but death and Hell.

Another caricature I hear all to often is that election means that even if you live your whole life believing in and loving Jesus, serving Him and sharing Him with others, if you're not elect your going to hell. As if you could truly do those things if you weren't regenerate. This is clearly false because the Scripture teaches that our works are proof of our justification, this is what James 2 talks about.

It would be nice for just once if someone wanted to take issue with what Calvinism believes that they would actually take issue with what Calvinism believes. It seems to me that building straw men arguments against Calvinism is about all that the Arminian position can effectively offer, because the real deal is so entrenched in Scripture it's inarguable.

These caricatures have been very effective, I'll admit, in keeping people from accepting the doctrines of grace because they have been taught that what Calvinist's believe is unscriptural, and the pictures that they paint like the ones above, are unscriptural.

So come on people, you want to argue Calvinism, argue Calvinism.

-Jacob

17 comments:

Nath @ Reformed Geek said...

It is quite frustrating the bad caricature Arminians paint of Calvinists and/or John Calvin. The flip side we have to be aware of is to make sure that we paint an accurate picture of them and their beliefs. I don't want to be guilty of just attacking straw men either. Fortunately for the Calvinist, our belief is based on Scripture, and so we don't need to resort to straw men to demonstrate how unbiblical Arminianism is.

The last few weeks I have been reading a bit of John Wesley as I had to do a paper on him. It can be quite frustrating, as there are quotes of him saying that salvation is all of God and not of man as we are all dead in sin and totally depraved. Then somewhere else he will speak about how we need to cooperate with the grace of God until we reach the level of justification and that if we don't continue cooperating then we will fall from grace permanently. It is like even the more 'sound' Arminians want to have their cake so to speak, and eat it to. If grace is not irresistible, then it does ultimately rest on the shoulders of man and is ultimately synergistic. Although Wesley would vehemently disagree with me saying that.

risen_soul said...

You're right Nath, we must be careful to avoid making the same mistakes. I know in the past when i first became zealous for apologetics I was guilty of making some caricatures of Roman Catholic beliefs, something I'm committed to not ever doing again.

This is one are that James White has been a strong influence on me. He stresses the necessity for honesty when representing someones faith. If our position is the true one, we shouldn't be afraid to fairly portray what others believe because it will still be found wanting.

Nath @ Reformed Geek said...

Amen!

I just finished listening to 3 radio shows White did on Romans 9.

I have yet to read anything of his, but am playing to get some of his books soon. Do you have any recommendations?

risen_soul said...

The Sovereign Grace of God by White is a book that helped me solidify my beliefs in the reformed understanding of the gospel. I haven't read his other stuff yet, but I own a few more like Pulpit Crimes and the Roman Catholic Controversey.

I've listened to 90% of the debates He's ever done though, I love Dr. White!

Kevin said...

A question to our Calvinist friends in Christ... Concerning the preservation of the saints, do you believe Jesus has given his disciples requirements to keep their salvation?

risen_soul said...

Kevin,

Welcome to the blog and thanks for your great question. Hopefully I can bring some clarification to you on this issue.

Calvinists believe that the only requirement for salvation is faith/trust alone in Christ alone for salvation.

Further we believe that this faith is not of ourselves it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Therefore the only requirement to keep our salvation is to continue in faith. Because it is God who supplies the faith, it is not something that we can lose because it was never something we ourselves had to give. This is the core of the Calvinist belief, God is the sole author of salvation and our faith.

Faith then produces good works (Eph. 2:10, James 2) which is a sign that someone has genuine faith for salvation, but these works do not have any saving or even sustaining quality in themselves.

I hope that makes sense, if you need further clarification or have any follow up questions, feel free to ask.

God Bless.

Kevin said...

Risen_Soul,

I agree with your statement that when someone has genuine faith, they are producing good works, and these works have no saving value in them. And I also understand that salvation is a gift from God and we cannot earn it. But what I need clarification on is what these "good works" are. Are they simply the fruit of the spirit, and/or obedience to God's word?

The reason why I ask is because there are scriptures in the New Testament that have to deal with salvation and our obedience to God's word. For example, forgiveness. In Matthew 6:15, it says "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." It is even echoed from the Lord's Prayer "...And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors." It is clear to me that Jesus is saying you must forgive others their sins against you, if you want to have your sins forgiven.

From Matthew 6:15, we can conclude the following:
1. Jesus was not talking to unbelievers, rather his disciples
2. Jesus was not saying salvation can be found simply by forgiving other's sins against us
3. A condition of our continued salvation is based upon our forgiveness of other's sins against us
4. As we forgive others their sins against us, Jesus will forgive our sins.
5. If you do not forgive other's sins against us, Jesus will not forgive our sins, and we will go to hell if we die in this state

If you are saying that "good works" include obedience to God's word, then I have no problem, and consider this whole "loosing your salvation" issue based upon semantics. Because it is true, if a believer is following the Lord, no one can snatch him/her out of the Father's hand. However, they can "choose" to not forgive (hence Jesus' warning), they can separate themselves from the vine.

risen_soul said...

Kevin,

Thanks for clarifying, I think I better understand now where you are coming from with your question. I think what we must be careful to do when we are discussing a subject such as “does one have do works to maintain our salvation” is take in the whole counsel of God’s word.

To start, I would tell you the way I understand the verse where Jesus says we must forgive others so that God will forgive us. I think a Scripturally consistent way of understanding this verse and others like it is to say that forgiving others is a sign of someone in Christ. It is what James 2 speaks of when it says that “faith without works is dead” and showing your faith by your works. The act of forgiving those who sin against us is a trait of a believer.

I would however reject the notion that if we are ever guilty of holding a grudge that this puts us in a position of losing our salvation. If that were the case then many of us would be in trouble as it can be hard to forgive those who wrong us and sometimes it takes a while. Take a man who’s wife is raped and murdered, the man is a Christian but struggles to forgive the person who did this, is he damned if he dies before he is able to forgive that person? I should think not. I think rather the point is that if Christ forgave us then we should also forgive those who sin against us. The Christian, by God’s Spirit, is forgiving by nature but certainly not perfect and incapable of holding a sinful grudge.

Another thing to keep in mind is if it is true that we must work to maintain our salvation then we are in effect working for our salvation and if we manage to make it to heaven we have something to boast about and this conflicts with Ephesians 2:8-9. The Scripture says to him who works that he earns what he gets, but this is not the nature of salvation.

I realize that you don’t believe we are saved by works, however I think if you step back and think about it the position you are espousing ends up being just that, working for your salvation.

Furthermore Scripture clearly teaches that salvation is in the hands of God and that He predestines people for salvation. Romans 8:30 tells us that those whom God predestines will be justified and the end result is there glorification. It is an unbreakable chain, if someone is called by God they are eventually glorified. John 6:44 tells us that all whom the Father gives the Son will be raised on the last day. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that our salvation is guaranteed by the Spirit once we believe.

God is the one who saves and those whom He chooses to save will be saved without exception.

I would encourage you to go to my website www.reformationapologetics.com and click on “Biblical Christianity” on the sidebar and scroll down to the link that says “The Doctrines of Grace” and then take some time to read the 5 articles there. I think that will give much better and detailed arguments for the Calvinist’s beliefs about Salvation.

Feel free to keep chatting with me though, I love the dialogue.

In Him

-Jacob

Kevin said...

Jacob,

To be honest, I think your response for Matthew 6:15 is not scripturally sound. This is really a black and white scripture without a whole lot of room for interpretation. It seems to me that Calvinists, like yourself, try and wiggle their way out from understanding the literal meaning of the text, based upon the Calvinist interpretation. Instead, you provide an allegorical interpretation that strains logic. Was Jesus lying when he said he won't forgive their sins if they retained the sins of others?! Was he using metaphors? What other passages in the Sermon on the Mount should not be taken literally?

Concerning your response on how we should forgive, this is based out of human reasoning. Forgiveness is a choice we make based upon the commandment of God, and not based upon circumstances. We don't have to first feel all "tingly inside" or "emotionally free" to make this choice; instead, we make it, and then the release usually comes. This choice may be in direct opposition to how we feel, or may require us to continually lay down our emotions to forgive the individual. In doing this, God will bring healing to us because we are obeying his word. Also, by forgiving the individual, it does not mean that what they did wasn't wrong, or didn't offend us; it's a choice we make because we have been commanded to do so from Christ because he forgave us our sins. How can Christ forgive our sins if we can't forgive other their sins (see Matthew 18:21-35)? God’s word is God’s word, and it doesn’t change based upon our circumstances.

I see that you are hung up upon the term "works", whether you realize it or not. When the Bible uses the term "works", it is used to describe that "apart from Christ", you cannot be good enough, or do enough good things, to inherit eternal life. It is only through Christ that we have forgiveness of our sins and access to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to salvation. For believers, God has given us commandments to follow (like the O.T.). These commandments often times have strict consequences if you choose to reject them. In this sense, "works" is not correct, but rather "obeying" or "abiding in Christ" is the correct term. Also, there is no boasting because Christ has ALL the glory for what he did for us.

In the Old Testament, we read how God erased people's names from the Book of Life because they rebelled at the Most High (Ex 32:33; Deut. 9:14; Deut 29:20). This same principle is given as a warning to New Testament believers if they choose to rebel against God's word. Among other scriptures, please read Revelation chapter 3. It shows how Jesus inspected the church in the 1st century, and gave them stern warnings if they did not repent, or else he would fight against them, leave then to tribulation, remove their lampstands, etc.. As Christians, we need to obey God or potentially face eternal judgment.

To help us along, I believe eternal life is not something given to us right away, instead we must be diligent to follow the Lord in all he commands us to do, and then we will inherit eternal life after we die. In this context, all the literal scriptures and parables that you try and excuse or rationalize away make sense. In fact, you can only come to your beliefs unless someone has been thoroughly indoctrinated with Calvinism. If eternal life is obtained instantly upon conversion, then why do believers die? Shouldn’t live forever in their present life? Eternal life, according to the scripture is a promise to all mankind, who having washed their robes with the blood of the Lamb, get access to heaven, where they will be able to drink from the River of Life, which gives us eternal life.

Concerning ordination, I believe God gives all creation a choice to follow him or not. Even the angels have this choice, as some have rebelled. Because God is all knowing, and sees the end from the beginning, he already knows those who will choose to follow him. These are the ones he has foreordained to be his children. God isn't a monster who commands things from people who can't turn of their own free will.

Blessings

risen_soul said...

You brought up some interesting points for conversation. I'm swamped at the moment and I want to respond properly, so check back in a few days and hopefully I'll have found the time to reply in depth.

risen_soul said...

Kevin,
I appreciate honesty! And you are welcome in this free country to disagree with my interpretation of Matthew 6:14-15 if you’d like. I would hardly call it an allegorical interpretation however. Simply put I would call it harmonization. There are some very strong and weighty verses that emphasize the security a believer has in Christ. I think Scripture very clearly teaches that those Christ saves can never be lost, therefore to interpret this Scripture in such a way that says differently would lead to a contradiction in the Scripture, something that cannot be the case if the Bible is truly God’s infallible word.
Do you truly believe that a person could have a real relationship with Christ where they are walking in Him, growing in Him and then lose that salvation because right before they die they didn’t forgive someone for sinning against them? What kind of peace in God is that? How can you be sure that you’ve forgiven everyone who has offended you?

Jesus was of course not lying when He said that those who don’t forgive will not be forgiven. But let me ask you this, Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” have you ever known of a case where this isn’t true? I know I do. I know some very good and godly people who have raised their kids for the Lord and their kids have walked away from Christ and never given themselves to Him. Some truths in Scripture are general truths. Most of the time when you raise a child to fear God, he will, but not always. In the same way those who forgive are those who are forgiven but this doesn’t mean that those who are forgiven never fail to forgive. Nor does it mean that those who forgive are necessarily forgiven just because they have forgiven others. But Christians who have God’s Spirit will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit such as forgiveness, but this does not mean that they always forgive like they should. The fruit of the Spirit as we are told is peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control, do you always exhibit those at all times? Certainly not! Neither do I. This is because we are still sinners, justified by faith, but not yet perfect. This is what sanctification is all about, gradually becoming more like Christ and less like our old sinful nature.
If indeed we must avoid certain sins like unforgiveness to maintain our salvation that equals working for our salvation.

You say I’m “hung up upon the term works” and that the Bible always defines works as something done “apart from Christ.” This is hardly case, Ephesians 2:10 and James 2 talk much of working and good works as something that you do in Christ, they are an evidence of genuine saving faith. Obedience to Jesus Christ is indeed a work, a good work, but a work. If it is by obedience to Christ that we acquire or even just try and keep our salvation then it is working, and then becomes a matter of being able to boast in our accomplishment. If we must be obedient to Christ to keep our salvation then those who reach Heaven would be able to say “I did it!” I fail to keep Christ’s commandments all of the time, though I try my best, but I’m a sinner just like the apostle Paul who was unable to keep from doing that which he desired not to do (Rom 7:15-17). I thank God that my being able to obey is not how he measures my salvation. It is by the merit of Christ’s sacrifice that we are saved, it is His work that saves.

You speak of Old Testament passages where God “erased people’s name from the book of life because they rebelled at the Most High” and you give Exodus 32:33 “33But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.” First of all you assert that God is referring to His book of Life, which is not specifically stated here, Philippians 4:3 and a number of places in Revelation are the only places that actually use that term. Exodus 32:33 is more ambiguous as to what book God is referring to, but even so I would say that we have to let the whole of Scripture speak to this passage as well.

Often times in the narrative accounts we have such as Exodus and the gospels, acts, etc... we have figurative language used. For instance I don’t suppose that God has a literal book with names in it, but it conveys a picture message that we understand. However nonetheless it is not as clear as for instance the epistles are about the way God saves. In books like Romans, Ephesians and Galatians the apostle Paul does a beautiful job of explaining the doctrine of salvation. It is in these epistles that we gain a better understanding of what the narratives talk about. Rather than look at a passage that uses figurative language about God having a book with names in it and blotting out some of those names, conveying a picture, and trying to define doctrine from narratives I would look first to the ever so clearly articulated epistles and let those inform us further of what is really meant by those word pictures.

Ephesians 1:13-14 says “13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

God’s Spirit guarantees our salvation when we trust in Christ.

Romans 8:30 says “30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

It’s an unbreakable chain, If God does one thing, then the next thing is sure to happen. Whoever is justified, is saved, and whoever is justified is eventually glorified by God or inherits eternal life. God is the one who initiate salvation and He is the one that sees it through to the finish. This is what it means for Jesus to be “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

I agree with you that we do not receive eternal life right this moment, but we do receive the promise of it when we come to Christ. The very nature of justification assures this. Christ did not die just for the sins we committed in the past but all of our sins for all time. He was made to be a propitiation, literally bearing and turning away the wrath of God for those whom He died. When the sinner is justified by faith in Jesus Christ their sins are paid for past present and future. This is the very nature of the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

As Christ himself says in John 6:37 and 44 “37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out....44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” All that the Father gives to Jesus come to Him, He will never cast them out, and He will raise them up on the last day.

You feel that I have been “thoroughly indoctrinated to Calvinism” well it would seem that you’ve been thoroughly indoctrinated against it. I myself was one who believed that you could lose your salvation for a long time, it was through the study of Scripture, not Calvinism, that I came to realize my salvation was secure in Christ because He was the one who saved me, not myself.

You accuse me of not simply letting the text say what it says, I think you more guilty than I. You deny that it is God who chooses us rather than us who choose Him. I wish that you’d read Romans 9:9-24 and apply this straight forward approach you accuse me of not using and ask yourself who chooses whom?

“ 9For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." 10And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

I do not rationalize away Scripture, I do allow the whole text of Scripture to inform my interpretation of any given passage however. Something I think you might be failing to do.

-Jacob

schneidballs said...

Hi Jacob,

Excellent discussion with my friend Kevin!

I think you portray the Calvinist viewpoint very well, but I would like to raise one major reason I can't accept it totally.

I think Romans 9 is the most common scripture I hear in defense of Calvinism (the one you use). There are 2 problems I have with it,

1. Paul is not making a case for personal salvation in this chapter, he is discussing Israel and nations (Egypt and Edom). If you look at Genesis, Esau did not serve Jacob, but the nation of Esau did serve Israel. The quote, Jacob I loved and Esau I hated was from Malachi 1:2, 3 that also had nothing to do with personal salvation.

2. If you look at Romans 11:22 Paul writes this:

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

This scripture is clearly dealing with personal salvation...

I am interested to hear your take on this apparent contradiction with Paul in the same letter.

Thanks,
Craig

risen_soul said...

Craig,

Some good thoughts, I'll respond as soon as I find some time. Check back in a few days.

God bless.

risen_soul said...

Craig,

I still haven't forgotten you, I will respond. It's just been mad around here between family stuff, work and school. I'll try and get back to you later this week. I'm sure sorry for the delay.

-Jacob

risen_soul said...

Craig,

Thanks so much for your patience, I apologize that I took so long to respond to you. I would like to address your objections to the best of my ability. You said:

“Paul is not making a case for personal salvation in this chapter (chapter 9), he is discussing Israel and nations (Egypt and Edom). If you look at Genesis, Esau did not serve Jacob, but the nation of Esau did serve Israel. The quote, Jacob I loved and Esau I hated was from Malachi 1:2, 3 that also had nothing to do with personal salvation.”

I understand why you might see it this way, I certainly do not deny the reality that nations are being talked about in Romans 9, however I think Paul is here using God’s dealing with nations as an example of His dealing in turn with individuals. I think we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize both elements here.

I do think that Paul brings the conversation from nations to individuals here in Romans 9 however. I think that this is the very point. Paul is explaining how those who belong to God are not necessarily physical descendants of rather those who are “children of the promise” (9:8). This is what takes the discussion from salvation from being viewed as nationalistic to individualistic. Children of the promise (the true children of Abraham) are indeed made up of every nation but their salvation is as individuals.

You point out that Esau did not serve Jacob, I think that this isn’t entirely accurate. He may not have served him as a slave or anything like that, but he did hand over his birthright to Jacob and it was Jacob who received Esau’s blessing from their father Isaac. And it was Jacob who received God’s blessing and was made to prosper abundantly while Esau did not. I think Esau did serve Jacob in a sense that he forfeited to Jacob what should have been his.

You are right to point out that God has blessed “Jacob” or Israel and has as Malachi says “laid to waste” Esau. But what this would seem to me to be is a sort of double fulfillment of the text. Both Jacob and the nation of Israel were loved by God or shown His favor and both Esau and the nation that came from him received God’s “hate”, they were not blessed by Him.

When we get to Romans 9:11-13 however we see that the language of the text of Scripture becomes very personal and very individualistic. “Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call – she was told, ‘the older will serve the younger.’ As it is written ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”

Pretty personal and individualistic language. God choosing one person to show love and favor to and choosing to hate and not give favor to another, not based on anything they do, they were not born, but by His own free choice for His purpose of election to continue.

To clarify even further, in the midst of this conversation about God choosing to act to save of condemn, Paul speaks of Pharaoh, and individual, whom God hardened. And God says that He has mercy on whom He has mercy and compassion on whom He has compassion. God is not obligated to equally distribute compassion to everyone. God is God and He is just in showing mercy and bringing salvation to those whom He chooses by Hid grace and the person of Jesus Christ, and He is equally just in handing sinners over to their sin and condemnation. He is the potter and we are the clay, let Him make out of us what He as the Creator so wishes.

I have always found it interesting that people seem to have less of a problem with God choosing the nation of Israel to “love” and show favor towards, and choosing to even use them to bring about His justice in destroying the wicked nations of the gentiles. How is that any more or less fair than choosing individuals?

I think Scripture on the whole and Romans 9 in particular are very clear that Salvation is from the Lord and He has mercy on those whom He chooses and it is not up to us.

Now as to your second objection you said:

“If you look at Romans 11:22 Paul writes this:

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

This scripture is clearly dealing with personal salvation...

I am interested to hear your take on this apparent contradiction with Paul in the same letter.”

I could probably go into a lot of detail here, but I’ll try and be concise and we can talk more about it later if you wish. I believe what this is speaking about is apparent Christians verse actual Christians. This is what the doctrine of “the perseverance of the saints” is all about. Genuine believers will endure to the end, but we also acknowledge that there are those who look like Christians, walk like them, talk like them, but in reality they do not having saving faith in Christ.

This doctrine is well represented in Christ’s own teaching about the wheat and the tares (weeds). I’m sure you’re familiar with it, it is the parable that Jesus tells about a man who sows good seed but an enemy sows weeds into the field as well. When they come up they look very much the same as the wheat, very difficult to tell apart. The servants of the man who sowed the wheat ask if they should go out and pull the weeds but the man says no lest they should accidentally pull up some of the wheat. When harvest time comes they will be able to tell the difference once the plants are full grown and the weeds will be separated from the wheat at the end.

Likewise God will separate the elect from the non-elect in the end. Genuine Christians will endure in the end because they are sustained by God, but many who look like Christians will be separated because they did not really know the Lord. These kind of false brothers sometimes show themselves without God having to separate them later. Those who do not endure are those who are not really saved in the first place.

Jesus also says that many will come to Him saying “Lord, Lord” and He will tell them that despite the fact that they acted like Christians and did many things in His name, He has never known them. Not, I knew you once but don’t now. He never knew them.

I hope that helps and gives you some food for thought.

Serving Christ,

Jacob

schneidballs said...

Hey Jacob,

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Below are the reasons I don't believe what you said about Esau:

You said:
And it was Jacob who received God’s blessing and was made to prosper abundantly while Esau did not.

I think these scriptures make me think otherwise.

1. When Esau came to meet Jacob, he had 400 men with him. Sounds like he probably had much of the estate his father left (since Jacob had left the area empty handed).

2. When Jacob tried to give him the many animals Esau said "And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself."

So I think Esau was abundant in his life, and Jacob was the one bowing down in fear to Esau when he returned (after running from Esau).

Remember, the prophesy in Genesis 25:23 was
"And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger."

Once again this is nations. If you look at Jacob and Esau, Esau was stronger than Jacob and Jacob served Esau (bowed down to him and offered homage to him upon his return).

Regardless, I think the 2nd scripture I brought up in Romans is much more clear.

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Romans 11:22

We must continue in his goodness, otherwise we will be cut off. This echoes our Lord in John 15. I just don't know any way to be cut off other than to first be grafted in.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this...

Thanks,
Craig

risen_soul said...

Craig,

Good thoughts. There is a few things that I want to bring up, but I'm pressed for time at the moment. I'll try and get back with you soon.

-Jacob