God’s Choice vs. Man’s Choice (2 of 2)

God's or Man's choice 1

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we examined 3 out of 4 combinations of God’s choice versus man’s. Let’s look at the last one today:

God vs Man Choice

4. God bypasses the person, but he chooses to receive Christ:
a. If God has the final say (Calvinist), he is lost.
b. If man has the final say (Arminian), he is saved.

The Calvinist view is that if God passes over an individual and leaves him to his devices, his fallen state is such that without the enabling of the Holy Spirit, he does not have the ability to choose Christ on his own. Arminians disagree, believing that though a sinner is spiritually sick, he still has the capacity to receive Christ. Who is correct?

The Bible description of a fallen man is:
Jn 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;
• Eph 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
• Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, …
• Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, …

Jn 6:44 says “no one can”. “Can” speaks of ability. No one has the ability to come to Christ “unless the Father draws him”. The precondition for coming to Christ is the Father’s drawing, His enablement. Why can’t he come on his own? Because he is “dead” according to Eph and Col. A spiritually dead person does not have the ability to respond to Christ’s invitation, unless the Father draws or enables him. Arminians feel that man has prevenient grace so that he is only sick and not dead, and can still choose to accept Christ. I don’t find this in Scripture. It is a view held by many who overvalued man’s ability and understated God’s sovereignty, but there is no biblical basis for it.

Furthermore, the Arminian position would lead to an absurd conclusion, a reductio ad absurdum. Let’s play along and assume that a non-elect person does have the capacity to exercise his free will to choose Christ. If man has the final say, he is saved despite God bypassing him. Man becomes sovereign, not God, which is wrong by definition. What if God has the final say? Since God did not choose him, He overrules the man’s free choice of Christ. This would make God a capricious despot denying eternal life to a person who receives Christ. That is certainly not the God of the Bible. So I am persuaded both by Scripture and logic that the Arminian position is untenable.

Finally, why would God waste time in letting us convert those predestined to hell? He wouldn’t waste time. We witness to all as we don’t know who the elect are, but we won’t succeed in converting the non-elect. They would either resist God’s offer of salvation, or there would be false conversion in which there is an emotional response which withers away, but no real life that perseveres because it does not abide in Christ. God permits such activities to train us to be obedient and sharpen our evangelistic skill. Plus we learn to be more Christ-like in the process as you pointed out. Hope this is clear.

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God’s Choice vs. Man’s Choice (1 of 2)

God's or Man's choice 4

Q. Seems to me that allowing men to choose does not eliminate God’s sovereignty. God in His sovereignty allows man to exercise his free will in the matter of accepting Christ, just like He allows man to decide things in his every day life. However, He can also overrule and take that away any time. (Just like parents to kids.) He can choose to have mercy to anyone He wants, and He can choose to allow man to exercise his free will within the confines He defines. Otherwise why would God let us waste time to convert those who are predestined to hell?

A. I never said allowing men to choose eliminated God’s sovereignty. What I said was allowing men to have the final say eliminates God’s sovereignty. One word makes all the difference. Arminians claim that man has the final say in matters of accepting Christ, otherwise how can God hold man accountable? Calvinists claim that God has the final say in who gets saved, otherwise God is subject to man’s choice and not sovereign. The two views are mutually exclusive as both can’t have the final say. I side with the Calvinists based on scriptural evidence.

We can analyze this issue logically and biblically. For the moment, let’s put who has the final say aside. From God’s perspective, He can either elect (choose) to save a person, or pass over (bypass) him. From man’s angle, he can choose either to accept or reject Christ. There are thus 4 possible combinations:

God vs Man Choice

1. God chooses the person, and he chooses to accept Christ. The outcome is that he is saved.
2. God bypasses the person, and he chooses to reject Christ. The outcome is that he is lost.
So far so good. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree on the above outcomes. But 3 and 4 is where who has the final say becomes important.

3. God chooses the person, but he chooses to reject Christ.
a. If God has the final say (Calvinist), he is saved.
b. If man has the final say (Arminian), he is lost.

Sometimes the Calvinist view is caricatured as God dictating and cramming His will down man’s throat. We must avoid such fallacious straw man arguments. In fact God the Holy Spirit works on man’s conscience to draw him to Christ:
Jn 16:8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
He arranges events and circumstances such that man comes to Christ willingly, because his eyes had been opened to see the plight he is in, and his heart, mind and will convicted of his need for the Savior. Calvinists call this irresistible grace or effectual calling, which precludes the possibility of those called rejecting Christ.

The Arminian view maintains that God gives prevenient grace prior to conversion that offsets the damaging effect of sin on a man’s ability to understand the gospel, releases him from bondage to sin, restores his freewill, but which comes short of efficaciously saving the person. This leaves the final decision of whether to accept or receive Christ with man, not God. Biblically, who is correct? I believe the former.

Who has the final say?
Prov 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.
• Prov 19:21 Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand.
• Dan 4:34 All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

Obviously God.

Is God’s will resistible?
Job 42:2 I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
• Isa 14:24, 27 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, … For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
• Rom 9:19-21 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, …

Obviously no. God as Creator has a right over man as creature, who are not His equal and can resist His will. They can try, but they won’t succeed.

(To be continued)

The Offerings in Leviticus (1 of 2)

Levitical offerings 1

Q. What is the significance of the bread, grain and drink offerings in Leviticus?

A. The Levitical offerings are usually discussed in relation to their function, not the ingredients used. There are five offerings as follows:

1. Burnt Offering
Lev 1:3-4 If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.

This is the most basic offering in which the whole animal (except the skin) is burned on the altar and offered to God. No portion is to be eaten by the worshipper. It signifies atonement on behalf of the sinner so that he may be accepted before the Lord, and complete surrender to God.

2. Grain Offering
Lev 2:1 Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.
• Lev 2:11 ‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD
• Lev 2:13 Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

This is the only offering without the shedding of blood, a “living” sacrifice. It is a gift to God from the best of the worshipper’s fruit of the land, in thanksgiving to his acceptance before God. The oil is emblematic of the Holy Spirit, the frankincense of prayer, no leaven representing no evil, and salt symbolic of an enduring covenant.

3. Peace Offering
Lev 3:1 Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the LORD.
• Lev 7:15 Now as for the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it over until morning.

This is the only offering in which the offerer shared in the meat of the sacrifice, and signifies the fellowship between God and men. There are three types of peace offerings:
Thanksgiving offering – gratitude for blessing without asking
o Lev 7:12 If he offers it by way of thanksgiving, then along with the sacrifice of thanksgiving he shall offer unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of well stirred fine flour mixed with oil.
Votive or freewill offering – gratitude for blessing granted in response to a vow, or freewill without regard to any specific blessing
o Lev 7:16 But if the sacrifice of his offering is a votive or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what is left of it may be eaten;
Wave offering – priest’s portion of the peace offering
o Lev 7:30 His own hands are to bring offerings by fire to the LORD. He shall bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be presented as a wave offering before the LORD.

(To be continued)

God Regretted?

Gen 6 6-7 a

Q. In Gen 6:6-7 God deeply regretted creating humans on earth. If He is all-knowing, wouldn’t He have known what humans would become? Or is it that He knew, but He still gave them choice, and just felt regret that they chose to live in sin?

A. Yes God is omniscient, and knew what man would do e.g.
Acts 15:8 And God, who knows the heart, ….
• 1 Jn 3:20 …. for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.

Then why did God regret? First, let’s examine the text:

Gen 6:5-7 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (NASB)

Gen 6:5-6 is the first mention of heart in the bible. Notice two things:

1. Man’s heart was evil continually, and God was grieved in His heart. God is not unfeeling. He saw the wickedness of man and it affected Him. He is not like Allah, who has no compassion. God’s heart grieved in response to man’s heart.

2. The LORD was sorry. The Bible clearly states that God does not repent (feel sorry, change mind), or change:
Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; ….
• Mal 3:6 For I, the LORD, do not change; ….

Then in what sense is the LORD sorry? I believe this is a problem caused by using our limited language to describe God in human terms. God’s purpose for man never changed. He always intended for man’s good, to have fellowship with Him. However, His plans provided for different outcomes depending on man’s response to His love and provision. Man’s intent was evil continually, therefore God sent calamity so that they will learn to repent. If they don’t, He will execute His judgment to discipline them. But if they do, He will relent and not destroy them. God’s action and attitude, but not His purpose, therefore changes in response to man’s reaction. This change we describe as God regretted, for lack of a better term.

This language was used to describe God’s choice of Saul. God’s intention was to establish Saul’s kingdom forever, but Saul did not keep God’s commandment. So God’s action changed and He chose David to replace Saul. He “regretted” He made Saul king:

1 Sam 13:13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
• 1 Sam 15:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” ….
• 1 Sam 15:35 …. And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

In short, your second observation is correct. Man has no one to blame but himself.