Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trampling the Tulips

I'm a fruit and vegetable guy anyway. I like to harvest something. I want to pick it and bring it to the dinner table. So usually every year I plant at least tomatoes and green beans. I'll move out from there to onions and squash. Someone else can plant the flowers. I like looking at them, but could not, at least at this point, find motivation to care for them myself. People starving can't usually enjoy a beautiful flower arrangement. So today I trample the T-U-L-I-P. I'm not going to approach this in any logical order. It's a system. Pull out any letter and humpty dumpty. I'm going to start like I was recently accused: where ever my mind wanders. The I. Irresistible Grace. I evangelize regularly door-to-door and grace actually comes across as quite resistible. People seem to do it with ease. You would never know that when someone finally does stop resisting, it was because they couldn't help stopping. Since I'm yielding to the Spirit and preaching boldly as I ought to speak, I would wonder why the Holy Spirit signals this truth--grace is resistible--if it were not the case.

Scripture backs this up. To start, someone should look up all the usages of "will" in Scripture. Most people haven't. If they did, they would find that at least two Greek words are translated "will" in the New Testament. We know that "will" doesn't mean the same thing in every case. The Bible teaches God's sovereign will (Dan. 4:35; Ps. 115:3), and yet, on the other hand, a lot of times God's will doesn't get accomplished (2 Pet. 3:9). Sometimes God makes something happen or allows it to happen; other times He wishes it. He has boundaries that mark His will, but whether man works within those boundaries depends on his obedience. God's saving grace appears to all men (Titus 2:11). Do they all get saved? No. That would mean what? Uh-huh. What was Stephen thinking when he said, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." I guess he hadn't read the Institutes yet. I know that reformers from Geneva cry: That's not what it is! That's not what it is! Of course, they have a definition that makes rubics cube look like the directions for lemonade. After you've connected all their dots with the "right" meanings of terms, and then divide by the square root of forty-seven, grin like Mona Lisa, you will begin to get it. Hot rocks and ear flaps provide strong incentive.


Unknown said...

(A little sarcasm) Perhaps Jesus did not read the 'Institutes' neither: " often would I have gathered thy children together...and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37)
I think there is some conflict between 'wills' in that passage. Anyway thanks for the "What Is Truth" blog it certainly is helpful.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hard to resist what you said.

Anonymous said...

Yes Bro. Branderburg, thank you for your perserverence in your blogging.

Chuck said...

Hmmm...since I rather enjoy tip-toeing through the TULIP rather than trampling, I don't agree with most of your post. I do agree that there is a distinction between God's active will and his passive will: that which He decrees will come to pass and that which He commands us to do. That's not hard to see. The problem is an underlying assumption not actually made in Scripture: That which we are commanded to do, we are able to do. We're commanded to repent: we just aren't able to repent because repentance means turning to the God we hate.
Also, I think you should try re-reading Titus 2. Look at verse 12. What does Paul say: "training US to renounce..." Who is the 'us'? How we answer this question is critical, because it directly relates to 'all people' in verse 11. If 'all people' goes with 'us', and 'us' in vere 12 relates to 'us' in verse 14, what do you get? Either "all" means "all people everywhere at every time in history," and they are who Christ "gave Himself to redeem...from lawlessnss..." and we have universalism, OR
"all men" is a reference to "all those to whom Paul addressed the letter to and for: Titus and his congregation of believers.

Kent Brandenburg said...

We are able to repent because of revelation, which is why men are without excuse (Rom. 1). Since God's Word is alive and powerful (Heb. 4:12), when it interacts, it does enable us to respond. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He chooses us to salvation "through...belief of the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13). We know people don't reject God because of Him, but because of them, so some are enabled by revelation, but rebel. When it's all done, we know that God did it, but that it also could be resisted. Both those are taught in the Bible.

Your Titus 2 dealing shows how Calvinists make this complicated. It plainly says the grace of God appeared to all men, but then it teaches "us," yes. The "us" are those who receive the grace, which is easy to see. It doesn't say, teaches "all men" to deny ungodliness, etc. "All men" and the "us" are clearly delineated. The clear distinction explains the doctrine. Why not just accept what it says, instead of forcing all men to mean "the elect?"

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing for moonlighter. That He gave himself for us to redeem us doesn't assume that He didn't give Himself for everyone (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:15; etc.), and doesn't make it teach universalism. Paul said in Gal. 2;20 that He "gave himself for me"---should we assume that He didn't give Himself for anyone else? Hold yourself to Scripture without Berkhof out, just looking at how the words are used, without reading in your Calvinism.