Tuesday, June 06, 2006
The Most Calvinistic Passage In The Bible?
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." (2 Tim 2:24-26)
Repentant slave trader turned abolitionist and writer of "Amazing Grace" John Newton said of this passage that it was to him the most Calvinistic passage in all of the bible. I don't know if I would agree completely but it definatly is blatantly incompatable with any synergistic view of salvation. In an Arminian view of salvation repentance really is something that we do, it may be influenced by "preveniant grace" (which is working on every non-repentant sinner) but ultimatly we have to make the decision. Upon repenting we are born again and forgiven for all our sins by being united with Christ, we also choose to continue to be united with Christ and can if we so will turn our backs and turn in our "born-again membership" I guess.
Anyway my point is that in 2 Timothy it clearly states that it is God who grants repentance... how on earth can that be? I thought repentance was something we choose to do? Well it is, however God must free us from being captives of the devil because we are bound to be doers of his will. Jesus said in John's gospel of the unbelieving Jews:
"You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me." (John 8:44-45)
So being captives of the devil is a willfull thing we desire to do the will of our father the devil, we are willfully sinners. Our will is directed by our desire to sin, we will always choose between 2 options that which our desires long most for. Thus being born in sin our desires will be sinful. Jesus cites these mens being of their father the devil as to why they reject the truth, because He (Jesus) is of the truth and they are of the father of lies they will not recieve the truth. So if we are so radically bound to sin and blinded to the truth how on earth can anyone come to the knowledge of the truth?
God grants an eye opening grace that we might see the truth and Christ as precious and sin as ugly thus resulting in repentance. By this grace we may see the truth and be drawn to the gospel message to be kept by the Holy Spirit until the redemption of our bodies. This grace is particular, not given to all:
"And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given." (Matt 13:11)
This is what it means for God to grant repentance, He opens our eyes that we might see Christ as lovely and have a desire Him above sin resulting in faith and repentance. Truly then God is the author and finisher of our faith, faith is truly a gift of God NOT something we do. I write this partially in response to a debate I have been in on the "Mass Theology" blog. It is a good debate and I genuinely respect Henry and those who disagree with me on this as my brothers in Christ.
I put it to the Arminians on the page asking: "Why did you accept Christ while so many reject Him? What made you differ?" I don't think I got an answer, nor do I expect to from Arminians. Henry said something along the lines of the fact that he chose and that he realized he needed Jesus. But this is to beg the very question, why? Why did he choose? Why did he realize he needed a savior? Surely it wasn't the grace of God because the same grace was working on somebody else and they rejected the gospel. Are we Christians because we are smarter than the heathen? Are we Christians because we had softer hearts? Are we Christians because we had an acute sense of guilt others did not choose to have? It must be something within US that made us to differ in the Arminian scope.
I as a Calvinist have an answer, people may not like it but I can answer the question for why I differ from the non-Christian...GRACE. God out of His grace opened my eyes that I might see Christ as lovely, He granted me to repentance. God gave me a thirst for spiritual things through the new birth where left to myself I would just think things like the bible, prayer, and worship were stupid or boring. It is because of the eye-opening grace of God that I chose Jesus, and because of His grace to keep me that I will continue to choose Jesus to the end of my days. All glory for my salvation from begining to end really does belong to God.