Refuting Calvinism Part 1: Matthew 23:37

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Apologetics, Bible Doctrine, Calvinism
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This will be part one of a series to refute the rebuttals that Calvinists argue against standard texts used by those that oppose Calvinism.

Matthew 23:37 is a common passage used to refute the “I” in the TULIP of Calvinism (Irresistible Grace) and rightly so. The passage reads:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye WOULD NOT!

The Calvinist believes that man’s will or free will is never involved in the salvation of the believer, but that the grace of God is superimposed upon the believer regardless of whether he wills to be saved or not. Jesus clearly states here that He would have gathered them together, but they WOULD not. Would is an indication of the will of the subject.

Now my dear Calvinist friend has an explanation for this, but as I will demonstrate, the explanation fails for several reasons.

CALVINIST ARGUMENT 1: God promises to bring Israel back into the land under His covenant, so Israel will eventually be saved anyway. And relying on Matthew 23:39 in support of such which reads:

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT 1: It is clear that in Matthew 23:37, regardless of when God will EVENTUALLY take Israel out of blindness, in THIS passage and during THIS SPECIFIC PERIOD, His gathering of Jerusalem was conditioned upon their “WOULD”. What the Calvinist ignores is that even though passages such as Romans chapters 9-11 speak of an eventual restoration of Israel, there could have been an EARLIER one if they had WILLINGLY accepted Christ as their Messiah.

If at ANY point in time any person had an opportunity to come to Christ of his own free will, such a notion would defeat the Calvinist position.

Furthermore, relying on v. 39 does not support their case, but rather the opposite. The Calvinist emphasizes that this verse shows there will be a future restoration and thus God’s grace is sovereign after all against the will of man, but they ignore the part where this restoration is CONDITIONED on Israel saying, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”.

Another thing to note here (and a fact in many other verses) is something that destroys Calvinism, and that is the existence of any condition at all upon man. For in Calvinism, God alone gives repentance, spiritual awakening from the dead, faith, and ultimately salvation totally as an independent act of God and completely separate from any response or involvement by man.

However, even if God preordained the children of Jerusalem to call on Him, even if God FORCED their confessions (Romans 10:9-10), and FORCED them to call on the name of the Lord, that still proves there is a human element that is required in the salvation process even if it is God that provokes or causes it, and as such, still contradicts Calvinism. Now the Calvinist may argue “any human element involved at all would be a works salvation”. Not true. A works salvation is depending on ones own effort of keeping God’s commandments and being a “good person”. Yielding the will to God is not a human effort to achieve salvation.

The Bible is clear in Romans 10:9-10 that with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Confessing Christ is a matter that requires the man to do something, confess with the mouth. Now there are some passages of scripture that may give the appearance that God would impose belief (and we will deal with those later) but there are NONE that show God imposing His will on a man’s mouth to confession.

CALVINIST ARGUMENT 2: Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and not Jerusalem as a whole. (This argument is not held to by my friend, but is held to by other Calvinists when dealing with Matthew 23 so I am including the rebuttal to it here.)

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT 2: It is argued by the Calvinist that the context of Matthew 23 is a rebuke to the Pharisees, so when Jesus makes this statement to Jerusalem, he is not talking to Jerusalem as a whole, but to those who killed the prophets and caused the rebellions in Israel. So just as Jesus did not mean that God so loved the world, but that God so loved the elect, this verse also has a limited application in Calvinism.

However, if you carefully note in verse 37, Jesus said how often He would have gathered their CHILDREN. Jesus wasn’t speaking to any CHILDREN while rebuking the Pharisees. Moreover, the plain meaning of the text is that Jesus is in fact speaking to Jerusalem as a whole. In fact, He says it TWICE!

CALVINIST ARGUMENT 3: It is argued that several OT passages that reference the GATHERING of Israel, demonstrate that God will eventually impose His will on Israel, siting Deut. 30:1-6, Isaiah 11:11,12, Isaiah 54:6-8, Jeremiah 23:3, Jeremiah 29:14, Jeremiah 31:8-10, Ezekiel 11:16-20, Ezekiel 20:32-37.

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT 3: Almost all of these passages are a reference to God regathering the scattered of Israel back to their homeland, and are not even remotely close to the context of what Jesus is referring to in Matthew 23, particularly since Israel would not be scattered for another 40 years when Titus attacked Jerusalem in AD 70.

In Ezekiel 20:32-37, where God causes Israel to “pass through the rod” is a reference to the tribulation where God will try the entire earth, and even then only a remnant of Israel is saved. If all of these verses are used to prove God’s will over the will of Israel, then it would logically follow that there could not possibly be a remnant that end up lost in Israel.

Now I personally believe that when Paul mentions that all Israel will be saved in Romans 11, that the tribulation is going to kill off all the unbelieving Israelites, but even during the tribulation, men refuse to repent of their deeds (Rev 16:11) which shows a free will to choose to accept or reject Christ, and in Revelation 2:22, those that commit adultery with the whore are told to repent, and in Revelation 18:4, Israel is told to come out of Babylon so that she receives none of her plagues and does not become partakers of her sins which implies that God’s people have a choice to stay in Babylon or be destroyed with her.

Nevertheless, the fact that there will be those among the Jews that reject Christ during the tribulation (Rev 2:2, 9, and 3:9) shows that relying on verses to prove God forces all Israel to be saved as a means of His imposition over their will prove false.

Moreover, sovereign grace that holds God’s will is imposed against the will of man does not give options to leave or remain in a damning situation (as in Rev 18:4). If Irresistable Grace were true, this command in Revelation 18:4 would not be necessary, God would simply drag them out like He does to the tribulation saints just prior to the last 3 1/2 years of the tribulation in Revelation 12:6.

Yet and still, these passages must be interpreted in light of the clear reading of Matthew 23:37-39. Regardless of what interpretation is given to the words “gathering” in all of the OT texts, when arriving at Matthew 23, it would not happen unless Israel calls upon the name of the Lord, and that condition teaches the exact opposite of Calvinist theology.

If Jesus WOULD HAVE gathered them, then that means He COULD HAVE gathered them, and the parallel between verses 37 and 39 show that He COULD NOT because they WOULD NOT!

J/A

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Comments
  1. Will Kinney says:

    Matthew 23:37

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”

    This verse is often used by those of the “free will” or Arminian persuasion to show that man can resist the will of God and choose to reject His offer of grace and salvation. But there are other ways to understand this passage which do not contradict the doctrines of grace and the sovereign will of God in the salvation of His elect.

    I offer two other explanations of this verse. I do not personally ascribe to the first view, but it is a definite possibility. This explanation if given by John Gill and James White seems to promote this view as well.

    John Gill notes on this passage: ” Our Lord is to be understood not of his divine will, as God, to gather the people of the Jews internally, by his Spirit and grace, to himself; for all those whom Christ would gather, in this sense, were gathered, notwithstanding all the opposition made by the rulers of the people; but of his human affection and will, as a man, and a minister, to gather them to him externally, by, and under the ministry of his word, to hear him preach; so as that they might be brought to a conviction of, and an assent unto him as the Messiah.”

    “Whereas his divine will, or his will as God, is, always fulfilled: “who hath resisted his will?” this cannot be hindered, and made void; he does whatsoever he pleases. And it is to be observed, that the persons whom Christ would have gathered, are not represented as being unwilling to be gathered; but their rulers were not willing that they should, and be made proselytes to him, and come under his wings. It is not said, “how often would I have gathered you, and you would not!” nor, “I would have gathered Jerusalem, and she would not”; nor, “I would have gathered thy children, and they would not”; but, “how often would I have gathered thy children, and ye would not!” Which observation alone is sufficient to destroy the argument founded on this passage in favour of free will”.

    John Gill continues: ” The opposition and resistance to the will of Christ were not made by the people, but by their governors. The common people seemed inclined to attend his ministry, as appears from the vast crowds, which, at different times and places, followed him; but the chief priests, and rulers, did all they could to hinder the collection of them to him, and their belief in him as the Messiah; by traducing his character, miracles, and doctrines, and by menacing the people with curses, and excommunications, making a law, that whoever confessed him should be turned out of the synagogue.”

    “So that from the whole it appears, that this passage of Scripture, so much talked of by the Arminians, and so often cited by them, has nothing to do with the controversy about the doctrines of election and reprobation, particular redemption, efficacious grace in conversion, and the power of man’s free will.” John Gill’s commentary on Matthew 23:37.

    My comments: The reason I do not believe this is the correct explanation is that throughout the chapter the Lord is addressing various groups of people. Verse one tells us: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples.” Then He addresses the scribes and Pharisees beginning in verse 13 and ending with verse 33 where there is a paragraph break. – “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (13) “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”(33) Then comes the paragraph break at verse 34 and I believe He then addresses the multitudes once again, who represent the general nation of the people of Israel. Their past history has been one of continually resisting God until God brings them into judgment and then into the bond of the covenant. Notice that He says: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee…” He is no longer addressing the Pharisees.

    If we take the view of Mr. Gill and James White that the Pharisees are being addressed in verse 37 and not the people of Jerusalem, then we would have to conclude that the will of the Pharisees prevented God from gathering the children He willed to have gathered. That is where I believe their explanation breaks down.

    Explanation # 2

    This is the one that makes the most sense to me. The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking as God and rehearsing the sad history of Jerusalem. The history of Jerusalem is one of continual rebellion against God and His word till He finally judges them by carrying away into captivity, but God always promises to gather them back into the land and into a covenant relationship with Himself.

    It is the continual rebellion of the human will against God’s will, but guess Who’s will prevails? God’s will prevails and they shall be gathered. Notice the next verse – (39) “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” They would not come. Therefore they are judged and chastened, and finally cry out to God for deliverance.

    This verse (39) seems to clearly teach that they, as a people, WILL eventually be converted and brought back to the Lord.

    Notice how many times this pattern is repeated in the Old Testament history of God’s people, and how often God does in fact GATHER them.

    Deut. 30:1-6 “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice…that then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and GATHER thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee…from thence will the LORD thy God GATHER thee, and from thence will he fetch thee…and bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed…and he will do thee good…And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”

    Isaiah 11:11,12 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left…and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and GATHER together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

    Isaiah 54:6-8 “For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee: but with great mercies will I GATHER thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”

    Jeremiah 23:3 “And I will GATHER the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.”

    Jeremiah 29:14 “And I will be found of you saith the LORD: and I wll turn away your captivity, and I will GATHER you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD.”

    Jeremiah 31:8-10 “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and GATHER them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”

    Ezekiel 11:16-20 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off amonst the heathen, and although I have scattered them far off among the heathen…I will even GATHER you from the people, and assemble you out of the countires where ye have been scattered…And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh…and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

    Ezekiel 20:32-37

    God’s sovereign will over the rebellious will of His people is clearly seen in this passage as well.

    “And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, WILL I RULE OVER YOU: And I will bring you out from the people, and will GATHER you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered…And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I WILL BRING YOU INTO THE BOND OF THE COVENANT.”

    This final passage from Ezekiel sums up the whole idea involved with Israel’s willful rebellion, God’s chastening hand and their final return to the God who gathers them.

    Ezekiel 39:23-29 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, …After they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me..When I have brought them again from the people, and GATHERED them out of their enemies lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I HAVE GATHERED them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

    Zechariah 10:6,8,10 “And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them. I will hiss for them, and GATHER them; for I have redeemed them. I will bring them again out of the land of Egypt, and GATHER them out of Assyria, and I will bring them into the land…and place shall not be found for them.”

    As Jesus said in Matthew 23:38 “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” They will be gathered by the sovereign will of God and He will pour out upon them the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced. See Zechariah 12:10

    Rather than teaching that man’s rebellious will can resist the will of God, the passage in Matthew 23:37 teaches the opposite. God’s will shall prevail and He will have His way with them that are His in spite of their rebellion and sin.

    Will Kinney

  2. This response is intended for the original post, not the comment beneath it which i was unaware of at the time of writing. It seems that the colors and emboldening and underlining I used to help make my points cannot be seen do to restrictions in this comment section. The full comment can be seen as it was intended on my blog at:

    http://isaiah46nine.blogspot.com/2013/03/matthew-2337-response.html

    Thank you,

    -Matthew Benoit

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    There is much to be dealt with in your article, like the assertions that Calvinists believe that 1) “man’s will is not involved in the salvation of the believer,” and 2) “the grace of God is superimposed upon the believer regardless of whether he wills to be saved or not.” However, I want to focus on your own use of Matthew 23:37, and your rebuttal to what you have called argument #2.

    You said that Calvinists believe that,

    “Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and not to Jerusalem as a whole.”

    This is however only part of the argument, and not even the principle part. It seems you have dismissed the other parts without giving us a reason for doing so. Like you said, the point made by Reformed readers of this text is that Jesus is speaking to the religious establishment in Jerusalem, when he says “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” he is addressing those who spiritually lead the city and the nation, and in this way, the city as a whole is being indentified by those who lead it. The rebuke he gives concerns their children, by children we are obviously talking about the children of Jerusalem, that is all of the city dwellers who are lead and cared for and watched over by the Pharisees. Your rebuttal points out rightly so that Jesus tells the leaders of Jerusalem that he would have gathered their children together as a mother hen gathers her chicks. However you completely miss the point of the distinction made between the leaders Jesus is talking to, and the people those leaders lead. Lets have an example.

    Suppose I have a brother and sister in law. John, my brother and Rebekah, his wife have 3 children. These children are my nieces and nephews, and I want to visit them and tell them about how much I love them. Now lets say that my brother and sister in law do not like me and want me to stay away from their children. I love my nieces and nephews, and I want to be a part of their life, so I send them letter after letter, and gift after gift to tell them how much I love them. My brother and his wife however, burn all my letters and gifts as they come in, and teach my nieces and nephews to hate their uncle. So then I say to my brother and sister in law when I come to visit them, “John and Rebekah, I have longed to gather your children to me, to show them my love, but you were not willing for me to be in their life, you hated me and took every opportunity to destroy everything I sent them that told them how much I loved them.

    I am trying to point out the distinction between those Jesus is talking to who are unwilling, and those he desires to gather to himself. Jesus does NOT say, “I longed to gather you but you were not willing.” Jesus also does NOT say, “I longed to gather your children but your children were not willing.”
    He says, I longed to gather your children but you were not willing. Confusing these two is the problem, and leads to people believing that those Jesus desires to draw are resisting his drawing.

    You yourself make this error. You said,

    “Jesus clearly states that He would have gathered them together, but they would not.”

    That is it right there, the ones Jesus wants to gather, and the ones who are unwilling are two different groups. This is the principle point made by Reformed readers that you have dismissed. Furthermore, the error dispelled by properly reading the text, is the error you continue to make in your other rebuttals and into your conclusion when you say,

    “If Jesus WOULD HAVE gathered them, then that means He COULD HAVE gathered them, and the parallel between verses 37 and 39 show that he COULD NOT because they WOULD NOT.”

    I hope that since I have pointed out your misunderstanding of our argument and reading of the text, I will not need to show you how you commit the error again in the lines quoted above. Remember the ones he would have gathered, are a completely different group from those that would not.

    Let me prove my point further and press it home by color-coding the pronouns in the verse.

    Matthew 23:37
    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

    He longs to gather the children, but the city that kills the prophets is working against him, because their wills are bent against him, and so they do not want him to gather the children to himself. The point is, that the Pharisees are doing everything in their power to oppose Jesus and to work against the will of God. And this is what all people are doing all the time. The fact that people oppose the will of God is not an anti Calvinist point, but a very Calvinistic one! It is the very point made by the doctrine of Total Depravity, and exemplified in such texts as John 6:44, Romans 1:18-25, Romans 3:9-18 and Ephesians 2:1-3.

    Jerusalem should be the center of praise and love toward Jesus, the very temple of God itself was there, and so it is dear to Christ. The history of his people is wrapped up in and around that city. Yet, it is in that very city and from those very wrong religious leaders that Jesus is rejected. That is why he says in v38, “See, your house is left to you desolate.” And in v39, “For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” The children of Jerusalem, who may or may not have actually come to Jesus, are being prevented from coming to him by the Leaders of the city. We should note that Jesus never says that he was unable to gather the children, all he says is that the leaders of Jerusalem were working against him at every turn. There is a parallel passage, which explains this very thing.

    1 Thessalonians 2:14b-16
    “For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!”

    The point is that Jesus is expressing his sorrow for the state of affairs in Jerusalem where his sheep, his children are being held back from him by the unbelieving brood of vipers who rule the city. I am worshipful and thankful that Jesus is the good shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep (John 10: 11, 15), his sheep know his voice, follow him and he gives them eternal life (John 10:27), and no matter what, no matter how the world may try, no matter how hard the Pharisees may work, they cannot snatch Jesus’ sheep out of his hand (John 10:28-29). I am thankful that the Lord accomplishes whatever he pleases in heaven and earth (Psalm 135:6), and no one can stay his hand (Daniel 4:35). We should also pray for those who lead us that they would not be a hindrance to the gospel, and reap judgment and wrath upon themselves like those in 1 Thessalonians 2:14b-16. Thank you for reading.

    • drjamesa says:

      One major problem with your entire argument about the distinction: first of all, it’s grammatical suicide and attempts to add too many subjects to one verse.
      But here’s the problem: if the children are the ones that Jesus desired to gather, and not the Pharisees, then the promise of the future restoration conditioned upon them saying ‘blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ would be directed to the Pharisees. So your interpretation actually lets the Pharisees off the hook and damns the children.

      The distinctions you have made are a complete eisegetical presumption. The analogy you offered is not appropriate for the text. But I will expound on the above argument, and the remainder of your response when I come back from the holiday weekend.

  3. lindar68 says:

    When can we expect to see Part 2 of “Refuting Calvinism”?

  4. Bert Craft says:

    “Salvation is OF THE LORD” (Jonah 2:9)
    “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD” (John 1:13)
    “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, BUT OF GOD that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16)
    “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Psalm 110:3)

    • drjamesa says:

      “Salvation is OF THE LORD” (Jonah 2:9)

      There is nothing indicated in this article to imply that salvation is not of the LORD. If it is God that saves us, then it is His salvation.

      “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD” (John 1:13)

      “But as many as RECEIVED him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12

      “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, BUT OF GOD that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16)

      The subject matter in this verse of the mercy of God. This verse is not saying that man’s will is not involved in salvation, but that God before time chose the method in which men were to come to Him, and man can not dictate that God chooses to have mercy on those who choose him. Read the story of Jonah on how Jonah was angry with God because he wanted God to wipe out Ninevah instead, they repented at his preaching. Matt 12:41. Even on this website, there are critics among atheists who argue “how could God forgive murderers and child molesters”. Our wills or works do not determine whether or not God decides to show mercy. God has chosen to show mercy to those who by faith choose to receive Christ.

      “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Psalm 110:3)

      Notice the verse says they shall be willing in the day of His power. But this verse is in reference to corporate Israel. It is a prophetic and predictable statement that once Israel has had enough judgment, they will be willing to follow God. The verse doesn’t say “Thy power shall make them willing” but that they will be willing in the day of His power.

      “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Matthew 15:28

  5. Bert Craft says:

    “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26)

    “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath GOD also to the Gentiles GRANTED REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE” (Acts 11:18).

    “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, FOR TO GIVE REPENTANCE to Israel, and FORGIVENESS OF SINS” (Acts 5:31).

    “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED” (Acts 13:48).

    “Jesus answered and said unto them, THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE ON HIM whom He hath sent” (John 6:29).

    “John answered and said, A MAN CAN RECEIVE NOTHING, EXCEPT IT BE GIVEN HIM FROM HEAVEN” (John 3:27).

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (INCLUDING REPENTANCE and FAITH), and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. OF HIS OWN WILL will begat he us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:16-18).

    • drjamesa says:

      My emphasis are in bold print.

      “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26)

      The ones that God gives repentance to are the ones that Timothy is able to convince to stop OPPOSING THEMSELVES. If God were just merely giving out repentance, there would be no need for Timothy to continue instructing them. Furthermore, the fact that these people are taken captive at SATAN’S WILL shows that it was not God’s will that they be in that condition.

      “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath GOD also to the Gentiles GRANTED REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE” (Acts 11:18).

      Up until this point (Acts 10) salvation had been exclusively preached to the Jews. The emphasis here is that the GENTILES now receive life.

      “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, FOR TO GIVE REPENTANCE to Israel, and FORGIVENESS OF SINS” (Acts 5:31).

      So in other words, God never permitted Israel to repent BEFORE Acts 5:31, or ever offered forgiveness of sins before Christ? I’m pretty sure that conflicts with every OT verse on repentance and forgiveness. But as in all the “give repentance” versses, it is a mutual cooperation. It is like the child who grabs a toy and says “give it to me” and the other person has the option of giving it to them or not. In repentance, man turns to God in repentance and when His faith is placed in Christ, his repentance is judicially granted.

      “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED” (Acts 13:48).

      The context begins in verse 46 where the Jews had considered themselves unworthy of everlasting life, and thus Paul vowed to go to the Gentiles. The text shows that they already glorified the word of the Lord. The assumption made in this verse is that the term “ordained” ALWAYS means something predetermined ahead of time, and that’s not the usage of the word ordained in this passage.

      For example, Acts 14:23, they ORDAINED them elders. Did that mean they were chosen ahead of time? No, it means they were appointed for a specific purpose AFTER they had already been saved and AFTER they had already consented to be an elder. See also Romans 13:1, Hebrews 9:6.

      In Acts 1:22, “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” Notice the ordination was based on a condition: 1) the believer had to be present from the baptism of John 2) unto the same day Christ was ascended. The ordination was descriptive of the condition, not prescriptive of the condition.

      So in Acts 13:48, the emphasis on what the Gentiles were appointed to as a result of the Jews rejection of the gospel. The passive particple throws the emphasis on the eternal life, not on the ordination. Thus this verse does not teach that the Gentiles were saved because they were ordained, but that ordination is describing what they were appointed to.

      “Jesus answered and said unto them, THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE ON HIM whom He hath sent” (John 6:29).

      First of all, work is not faith. Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

      In John 6:29, Jesus was answering them according to the question that they asked which was “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? The Jews thought that they could obtain salvation by works (Romans 9:32) and thus Jesus is speaking idiomatically here to show them it’s not works.

      “John answered and said, A MAN CAN RECEIVE NOTHING, EXCEPT IT BE GIVEN HIM FROM HEAVEN” (John 3:27).”

      Again, context is key. John is responding here about AUTHORITY and WHO HAD IT because those following him did not know who Jesus was.

      “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

      What is the gift of God here? If you say faith, then you are saying that salvation is NOT a gift. Salvation is the gift of this verse, not the means by which it is obtained. No Non Calvinist believes that any of us can save ourselves. Having the free will to choose is not saving yourself because free choice is GOD’S DESIGN for the conditions of salvation, and since faith is the means by which one trusts God’s, and that is GOD’S requirement, you can not boast because if God had not adopted the method to be saved by freely choosing Him, you would not be saved.

      “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (INCLUDING REPENTANCE and FAITH), and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. OF HIS OWN WILL will begat he us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:16-18).

      Now you have added something the Bible does not say. The Bible NEVER calls faith a gift. The Bible NEVER refers to repentance as a gift. Those 2 terms with “gift” are simply nowhere in the Bible. Having removed the premise that faith and repentance are not a gift, that eliminates the Calvinist interpretation of James 1:18.

      God chose to begat us with the word of truth, and it was by His own will that He chose to do it that way. Notice the rest of the chapter is about the word of God as it relates to what real religion is.

      What many like to do is isolate separate clauses within a paragraph and highlight them from what they mean. It’s like taking Psalm 14:1,

      “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.:

      ..and then proclaim “SEE!!! There is no God!”

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