Paul's Passing Thoughts

The God Who Seeks Us

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 5, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

“Supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism are not good news. It will make evangelism anemic, and will defile what little evangelism takes place.”

We have all heard it many times: no one seeks after God. Salvation isn’t like God throwing us a life preserver; we are floating in the water dead—we can’t even grab the life preserver. We have no choice in the matter in regard to an ability to choose God for salvation. If left to ourselves, we will always choose death. So yes, man can choose, but unless God intervenes he will always choose eternal death. He only has an ability to not choose God, God must choose him first. The verse most often cited is:

Romans 3:10 – As it is written, There is none righteous no not one. 11 There is none that understandeth: there is none that seeketh God. 12 They have all gone out of the way: they have been made altogether unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher: they have used their tongues to deceit: the poison of asps is under their lips. 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood. 16 Destruction and calamity are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace they have not known. 18 The fear of God is not before their eyes (Geneva Bible 1599). Psalms 13:1-3, 5:10, 139:4, 9:28, 35:2, Isaiah 59:7,8 (LXX Brenton). Psalms 14:1-3, 53:1-3, 5:9, 140:3, 10:7, 36:1, Proverbs 1:16, Isaiah 59:7,8 (Masoretic AV).

As the apostles did many times in their writings, Old Testament quotations in the New were a combination of many different verses to make one point. But should this text be interpreted as a specific rule, or does it characterize the enemies of God? Does the subject of these references, the “fool” understand absolutely nothing about God? Is he completely devoid of any good work? Does the fool NEVER fear God etc., or is this a characterization rather than a hard fast rule? Since other Scriptures contradict the rule, for example, there are many instances of unbelievers fearing God in the Bible; we must conclude that this description characterizes the unbeliever, but is not a definitive description. It is like saying, “You never _______.” We aren’t saying that they never do this, that, or the other, it is a manner of speaking that regards a life pattern.

Granted, man does not initiate a relationship with God. We see this in the fall of man. Adam and Eve hid from God after they sinned, and it was God who searched for them in the garden. After Cain slew Able, it was God who confronted Cain to elicit repentance.

Did God create man as a despised thing in order to bring Himself glory? Did God predetermine the fall of man in order to contrast evil with His good? Does His wrath demonstrate His righteousness? Does His wrath accentuate His grace? Protestantism can be divided into two camps in this regard: supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism. The following chart (other source) demonstrates the difference between the two views.

supralapsarianism

As you can see, supralapsarianism holds to the position that God preordained the fall of man. Infralapsarianism holds to the idea that it was God’s intent to create man, but not His intent that man fall. In other words, God didn’t create man for the express purpose of his fall. Both hold to the idea that God preselected some for eternal life and others for eternal destruction. Calvin was a superlapsarian.

The human mind, when it hears this doctrine, cannot restrain its petulance, but boils and rages as if aroused by the sound of a trumpet. Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an invidious charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated (Bernard. in Die Ascensionis, Serm. 2). This they do ignorantly and childishly since there could be no election without its opposite reprobation. God is said to set apart those whom he adopts for salvation. It were most absurd to say, that he admits others fortuitously, or that they by their industry acquire what election alone confers on a few. Those, therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children. Nor is it possible to tolerate the petulance of men, in refusing to be restrained by the word of God, in regard to his incomprehensible counsel, which even angels adore. We have already been told that hardening is not less under the immediate hand of God than mercy. Paul does not, after the example of those whom I have mentioned, labour anxiously to defend God, by calling in the aid of falsehood; he only reminds us that it is unlawful for the creature to quarrel with its Creator (Institutes 3.23.1).

Hence, evangelism is a “savor of death, and a savor of life,” and God is glorified by both. Evangelism isn’t for the purpose of “saving” the lost; it is for the purpose of putting a response to the gospel on display for the glory of God.

There is a universal call, by which God through the external preaching of the word invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savour of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation (Institutes 3.24.8).

He arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction (3.23.6).

Calvin also held to the idea that Adam and Eve were fallen before the fall:

Even If man had remained in his integrity, still his condition was too base for him to attain to God. How much less could he have raised himself so far, after having been plunged by his ruin into death and hell, after staining himself with so many defilements nay, even stinking in his corruption and all overwhelmed with misery? (Institutes 2.12.1).

This is in stark contradiction to Genesis 1:28-31;

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

If Eve was “very good,” we must assume free will at that point.* Eve had a choice to trust and obey God who had glorious plans for mankind without the fall (Genesis 1:28). Evil entered into the world through the angelic rebellion led by Satan (Eze 28:11-19, Isa 14:12-14, Rev 12:3,4), and apparently, though speculative, this is a backdrop that effected the way God decided to interact with Adam and Eve. He installed two trees in the garden amidst many other trees, and the one tree that they were forbidden to eat of was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were allowed to eat of the tree of life, but not the other tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God didn’t keep it from them that evil existed, He just didn’t want them to experience it (Gen 2:2-8, 15,16).

It is interesting to note that God intervened to prevent Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of life which would have resulted in them living forever, so He banned them from the garden (Gen 3:22-24). Therefore, we must conclude that to some extent the world and man operates separately from the will of God and God therefore intervenes in the affairs of men, in time, to bring about His desired outcome. We see the same in Genesis 11:1-9—God confused the languages to prevent an undesired outcome. As an aside, let me mention that Gen 11:6 does not bode well for the idea of total inability:

And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

This study focuses on the fact that God intervenes in the affairs of men by seeking them and calling them to repentance. Does He do this according to a predetermined outcome, or does He know what’s going to happen, and how men will react to specific circumstances? Is God’s intervention merely for the sport of self-glorification in life and death, or does God exhaust every effort to call man to Himself, and when it gets right down to it (in the final analysis), does every person have an ability to choose, the fact that God knows the future notwithstanding?

The latter is for forthcoming study, but we will now look at how God seeks to be reconciled to man.

John 1:12 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

In the garden, Adam and Eve hid from God, they did not seek Him, He sought them out. Neither was it their will to come up with a means of reconciliation according to God’s righteousness. God announced that on the spot after He confronted them:

Genesis 3:15 – and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (ASV).

Man doesn’t seek God, and he certainly did not come up with the plan of salvation, but does that mean he has no choice when he is cornered by God with the solution for his sin? It seems to me that many verses concerning God’s seeking and His means of reconciliation are interpreted as inability to choose.

We have discussed before how man is created with an intuitive knowledge of God and His righteousness and deliberately suppresses that truth in unrighteousness. Mankind descended from Adam and Eve who talked with God face to face. Creation also testifies about God. Man has been endowed with an ability to know God. Supralapsarianism posits the belief that God predetermined to endow mankind with an inability to choose God before the fall, infralapsarianism posits the belief that inability came after the fall. Their concern is the idea that God is the creator of evil. But in their assessment that God chooses some and not others for salvation, are those not chosen being tempted to greater evil by God in accordance with James 1:13? In other words, is God temping some to greater condemnation with the “good news”? Well, if God is glorified by the savor of death, it would seem so.

There are many ways that God seeks us, but let us name one as evangelism with the “good news” which would seem to be good news to some, but very bad news to others who are endowed with more condemnation every time they hear the gospel. I have even heard some pastors use this savor unto life/death as an incentive for evangelizing. What is the PURPOSE of the good news, to save only, or further condemn as well? (Perhaps John 3:17 answers that question).

Consider that the offer of reconciliation to all men is a legitimate offer. Christ secured salvation for all men—Christ died for all men—this is irrefutable:

2Peter 2:1 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Being “bought with a price” is salvific language in the New Testament (1Cor 6:20). Also, we are warned to not “neglect” salvation in Hebrews 2:3. How can we neglect something that is not truly ours for the taking?

God seeks us out with a legitimate offer of salvation. We are also told that we can understand the offer, and even experience the goodness of the offer, and yet reject it (Heb 6:4-6). Final judgment is horrific and eternal because they have rejected the Christ who died for them.

Secondly, God seeks us by sending the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension to convict the world of sin:

John 16:6 – But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Thirdly, as we have discussed in previous parts, it is not God’s desire that any person perish. This is further demonstrated by the fact that God did not create hell for man, but the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). In contrast, the prepared place for mankind is God’s mansion (John 14:2,3). I think this is telling; the Bible NEVER states that God created hell for mankind. In light of  supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism, this doesn’t add up.**

As we move forward in promoting home fellowships, it is important to me that our incentive for evangelism is valid. Our incentive should be that God died for the sins of every person. Our incentive should be that it is His desire that all men be saved. It should be a call to not neglect such a great salvation. It should be a call not to go to a hell that was not prepared for them.

Supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism are not good news. It will make evangelism anemic, and will defile what little evangelism takes place.

Notes

*Keep in mind the “holy” angels as well. Those who followed Satan in the rebellion must have done so by choice. Inherent in their created being was an ability and freedom to choose.

**A good study is the “book of life.” It would appear that all people born into the world are originally written in the book of life which includes the righteous. It would also appear that they are only “blotted out” when they ultimately reject God’s way of reconciliation.

Other views (other source):

Other veiws

 

7 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on May 5, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

    Like

  2. gricketson01 said, on May 5, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    He arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction (3.23.6).

    Eze 33:11

    Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

    would you say this is a contradiction?

    thanks for what you do,great stuff,keep it up and God bless

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on May 5, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Thanks to you and Argo both as I am getting 40 different kinds of heck for that post.

      Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on May 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      God is not a god of confusion. Is it a rhetorical question that expects the answer, “because you didn’t choose me”? Doesn’t make sense. And since when is accepting a gift taking full credit for the gift? That doesn’t make sense either.

      Like

  3. Anonymous said, on May 5, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    “God is not a god of confusion. Is it a rhetorical question that expects the answer, “because you didn’t choose me”? Doesn’t make sense. And since when is accepting a gift taking full credit for the gift? That doesn’t make sense either.”

    If they don’t think they have the freedom to receive or reject the gift, they CERTAINLY don’t want anyone else thinking that they have ability to receive or reject the gift. We must all be clones . . .

    If someone is giving you heck in private – why? Can’t they respond in a comment publicly? The article is public.

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on May 5, 2014 at 6:34 PM

      This is an answer for Argo as well, it is on another public forum–FaceBook.

      Like

  4. paulspassingthoughts said, on May 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    “Why is free will such a stumbling block to the religious “christian” mind? I don’t get it.” I am beginning to wonder about that myself. Is it the “free” part? I am beginning to wonder if this is all a historical political question more than a spiritual one. is every man not free to accept a free gift? Once man sinned, coming up with a way to be reconciled to God was/is completely out of reach for him, in that regard, salvation is completely of God. But yes, what then is the big deal with man receiving the free gift of salvation?

    Like


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