Why You Must Be Born Again

John 3 is a fascinating and deep chapter. It contains many familiar verses, that are so familiar I think we assume we know what it’s all about.

In fact, it’s not hard to tell what John 3 is about–you must be born again. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, only spiritual creations can. Furthermore, only spiritual creations can discern spiritual teaching and do spiritual things.

The trap of legalism says “you can do everything God says through human will and strength.” Legalism, when not bucking you up with self-righteousness, is tearing you down with guilt. And self-righteousness is never free from guilt, nor vice-versa. Amazing how we operate, no?

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a huge event. It is the Gospel and it is what saves. But often left ignored is the truth, expounded on by Paul, that believers were crucified there and we were raised up there.

While Christianity downplays the commands of the NT, it also downplays the Holy Spirit, because if there’s nothing for us to do, what’s the point of having Spiritual power? “I can do everything through me because there aint nothin to do!” Seems to be the default position of “believers.”

You must be born again. You must see the utter dependency we have on the Holy Spirit for Christian living. Without Him we are just breathing piles of dirt; with Him we are partakers of the divine nature.

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29 comments

  1. paul walton

    Jeff,
    I’m not trying to pick a fight, but if you don’t believe in unconditional election, how could you be there at the cross, since that happen before you made the choice first, to trust Christ?

  2. jeff

    My answer is based on the fact that election is based on foreknowledge–Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2. There is something God foreknew, the Bible never says what exactly, just that He foreknew those He elected. Calvinists usually define foreknowledge as the same thing as election. I do not since the Bible does not.

    Calvin says in his Institutes:
    “Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew because he so ordained by his decree.”

    Calvin says foreknowing and ordaining are the same–He foreknew because He ordained and He ordained because He foreknew, which makes no sense to me in what I read in Scripture.

  3. paul walton

    Thanks Jeff for your answer, so “ordained” is not of the same value as “predestined” in your understanding I reckon. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

  4. jeff

    Calvin says God foreknew Himself and what He would ordain; Paul and Peter say God foreknew the people He elected. “Whom He foreknew He elected.” To me that’s a huge difference.

  5. Frank Zimmerman

    >There is something God foreknew, the Bible never
    >says what exactly, just that He foreknew those He elected.

    Jeff, it’s not a mystery. Your whole blog is all about what God foreknew. God foreknew that those who had the right kind of faith (the kind that brings pure-hearted obedience to His law), would enter into eternal life.

    Every line in the Sermon on the Mount speaks this foreknowledge:

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
    “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
    “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
    “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
    “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
    “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
    “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3-10)

    There you have described the people whom God elects for His kingdom. He foreknew that such would be the ones who would be elected. Here it is again in Revelation 21:7 –

    “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

    Whom did God foreknow? “He that overcometh”. What is he elected to become? “he shall be my son.”

    Here it is again in Revelation 22:14 –

    “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

    Whom did God foreknow? “they that do his commandments.” What are such elected to? “they have right to the tree of life and enter in through the gates into the city.”

    The problem is that man wants to find another way to heaven, other than faith and obedience. And so, if God elects me, not because of my faith or obedience, but because of some mysterious, arbitrary, non-understandable choice of His mind, then I may have a chance for heaven, even though my sin is not slain. This is the real root of the dispute over election.

    The whole of Romans 9 drives this point home. If God elected people by some mysterious arbitrary choice, then there is no reason why Israel after the flesh should not have been all elected for heaven, for they were especially His “chosen people”, the “apple of His eye”.

    But if the election is based on spiritual qualifications, then it is easy to understand why the whole nation were not accepted. The election is based on having the “righteousness which is of faith” (Rom. 9:30), which they refused. This election is therefore open to every man, be he a Jew after the flesh, or a Gentile.

    “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Rev. 22:17

  6. Frank Zimmerman

    Dustin,

    Consider the term election. In an earthly nation, those who do the electing have the power of choosing who they want. They choose the one whom they think is best qualified for the job.

    So is it with God. He knows what positions He has open in heaven, and what kind of people are required to fill those positions. He elects those who have the qualifications. The qualifications are spelled out in the Bible, and illustrated in the life of Jesus and the holy men and women portrayed there.

    Now how we get those qualifications is the other question. Do we get them by some arbitrary choice on God’s part? That’s what the Jews thought…they thought that their fleshly heritage, and their own supposed good works, made them special to God. They thought He chose them and loved them above all other nations, because…well, just because! But they were wrong. Paul spells out in Romans 9 that it is the “righteousness of faith” that qualifies people for election. This is not arbitrary, nor mysterious.

    There are works that go along with the “righteousness which is of faith”. Sometimes the Bible terms these “God’s works”, other times it refers to them as “our works”. But in all cases, they are in opposition to the “works of the flesh”, or the “righteousness which is of the law” which Paul refers to a few times. One type of works proceeds from the Spirit and the new man, the other proceeds from the flesh and carnal mind. Both attempt to please God. Only one of them is genuine.

    In the messages to the churches of Revelation, the word “faith” is only mentioned twice, whereas “works” are mentioned 11 times, “I know thy works,” “I have not found thy works perfect,” “do the first works,” “keep my works unto the end,” etc. Therefore, works have a part in election…but not the “works of the flesh”.

  7. Dustin

    The definition of election, an act of God before creation in which he chose some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.
    We are not elected because of something we have done.In Rev. 13:8 we see that all believers names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. I could fill this blog up with scripture that backs this up also but it comes down to one thing, Eph. 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. 9 not result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    It comes down to faith, where did your faith come from? Why do you have faith in Christ and others that have heard the same gospel message as you want nothing to do with Jesus? Faith comes from God, he is not sitting in heaven “hoping” that you will come to him like a lost puppy because we can’t. We are dead in our sins and a dead man can do nothing without God doing a work in his life first.
    Again, ask yourself, why did I come to faith in Christ and others do not?

  8. paul walton

    Election is spoke of by both Paul & Peter, that God in His wisdom chose us who know and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws that person. Election is God the Father choosing us, and not the other way around, but the sticking point for most people is that this election took place before the foundation of the world. That those that God “foreknew” He predestined to be conformed into the image of His Son.

  9. Chip

    Paul
    To add to what you said. That sticking point you refer too is just a problem of time. We live in time. God does not.

  10. Frank Zimmerman

    The qualification for positions in heaven is based upon character. This is very clearly taught in the Bible.

    Jesus was not speaking an impossibility when he said, “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,” for in Revelation 22:14 it repeats the same truth, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

    Framing a doctrine of election which circumvents the law of God is not wise. Those who teach against the commandments will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

    Certainly God foreknows what people will do in their lives…he named Cyrus before he was born, and he saw that Jacob would respond to His gospel, whereas Esau would not. Therefore He said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

    But what did God love about Jacob? “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness” (Psalm 11:7). It was God’s foreknowledge that Jacob would have the “righteousness of faith” and therefore live a righteous life, that inspired God to mark him out as a man “loved of God.” It was for the same reason that Daniel was “greatly beloved” and John was the apostle that “Jesus loved.”

    If a man loses the righteousness of God, then he loses his election. Some will have their names “blotted out of the book of life” (Rev. 3:5). Therefore we are instructed to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Pet. 1:10). Therefore, if you don’t “do these things” then your election will fail. What are these things?

    “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Pet. 1:5-7).

    Do you boast in your election? Then prove it by good works.

  11. paul walton

    Election boils down to where you believe your faith came from. Did we first choose God or did He choose us. Now if our faith first comes from God, He will be sure to continue the good work He has begun us. That is, He will give us the desire to follow His laws by faith, and not by the works of the flesh. Salvation through the Old Covenant and New Covenant has always been by God-given faith, God shows mercy to whom He will show mercy.

    There is nothing to boast about in election or faith from God, because as Paul reminds us, our faith is a gift, so that no man can boast

  12. Frank Zimmerman

    Paul

    >so that no man can boast

    I wish it were true. There is a huge amount of pride surrounding these traditional interpretations and their theological systems. Doctrinal interpretations hoary with age have stifled the advance in truth of large religious bodies. When a new truth would come that would contradict one of these theories, it will be instantly rejected, even though it would answer many deep questions, give a larger view of God’s work and character, and sanctify the hearts and minds of the people. Jesus ran into the same thing in His time on earth, and it’s still here with us today. Humanity has not changed in the slightest.

    What does it all prove? Simply that Satan has a mastermind greater than ours and is able to set himself up as Christ through the manipulation of religious doctrine and ideas. And how can we identify these deviations? By the same signature that Satan used in the first temptation: there he claimed that God was a liar (in other words that God acted contrary to righteousness), and that God was a tyrant (restricting their growth). False interpretation always can be identified by those same two marks: it makes God the author of sin (He acts contrary to righteousness), and it makes Him a tyrant (He arbitrarily restricts the growth of some).

    Now there is a Biblical teaching of election, for the word is used in the Bible. And I certainly believe that faith originates with God and that therefore He chooses us first. But I reject all interpretations that make God the author of sin, or that make Him tyrannical. If God could save all, but chooses to save only a few, then he is a tyrant. You will argue, “but that’s what the Bible says!” No, it is what you have been taught to interpret the Bible as saying.

    False views of God are not innocent things…they mar the character of the worshipper, for “by beholding we are changed.” If our view of God is erroneous, then it will lead to erroneous practices which will mar the character. Look at the history:

    How were Arminius and his followers treated by the Dutch theologians? They were persecuted and banished. Is this what Jesus taught us to do with those who disagree with us?

    How was Roger Williams treated by the Boston Puritans when he taught the truth that religion and state should be separate? He was banished to England and had to flee in the middle of winter to escape this sentence, when he was already very sick. He had to find shelter with the Indians. But now his principles are accepted as the very principles of freedom, and most people recognize the “theocracy” of New England as a sad mistake.

    How was Carlstadt treated by Luther when they had some doctrinal disagreements? He was banished and had to find shelter with the Swiss Reformers.

    Are these the kinds of “good works” that God inspires in His people? No, not at all. These are mistakes in behaviour caused by mistakes in understanding God. True religion will lead to firm adherence to the right, and patient suffering. On the other hand, force is the last resort of every false religion, or every false doctrine.

    Jesus warned that the time would come when the disciples would be persecuted and killed by those who “thought they were doing God a service” (John 16:2). But it all starts with incorrect views of God.

  13. paul walton

    ‘If God could save all, but chooses to save only a few, then he is a tyrant. You will argue, “but that’s what the Bible says!”

    Frank,
    We know that God desires that all would be saved, that none should perish. God chooses to free certain people’s hearts to be able to choose Him, based on His foreknowledge of that person. God has chosen to give each of us the ability to freely choose to repent, to be saved from our sins, that is the great news of the cross. Why He frees certain people’s hearts and not others, I don’t think anyone can claim to know, other than God Himself. Other than what Romans 8-29 tells us, and what Jesus Himself said “that no man can come to me unless the Father draws him.”

    God has chose to save all, the cross is for all people who would trust in Christ. So each of us will be judged on our acceptance, or rejection of Christ’s work on the cross. God in no way prohibits anyone from choosing to turn from their sins, and trust in the death and resurrection of His Son.

  14. Dustin

    Frank, why do some come to Christ and others don’t,when they have heard the same gospel? Did Christ die for every sin, for all people?Is not unbelief a sin? So if Christ died for all sin, everyone in the world will go to heaven. This is what you are saying, right? There is nothing tyrant about election, in fact it is the grace that God gives to the most undeserving that is so glorious.
    If a warden in a prison decides to pardon ten inmates from death row and let the other 1,000 receive their due punishment, is he unjust? The prisoners will receive what they deserve but the warden has the right to free these men if he wants. When a man dies in his sin he gets what he deserves,when God saves a man that man gets what he doesn’t deserve, grace.
    You said in you post to Paul” You will argue, “but that’s what the Bible says!” No, it is what you have been taught to interpret the Bible as saying.”
    Could that be what has happened to you? Both sides will always say this, that is why scripture and scripture alone must be our authority and nothing else. When you start talking about how one believer in the past treated another believer and that is why you don’t believe a doctrine, there is a problem because I see that in today’s time with “free will” believers banishing people that believe in the “Doctrines of grace”! We can never use the sin of man to disprove a doctrine, only the Bible.
    God is not the author of evil but he does ordain it. He uses second parties to do this. Man does evil acts but God allows it, I’m sorry but this is biblical, if it is not please show me.
    Are you dead in your sins or are you just sick? Is God sovereign or kind of sovereign? Is God begging you to to the right thing or is he commanding you to do the right thing because he knows you can’t without his grace. As I have said in the past, if God is not in control of every atom, he is not God.

  15. paul walton

    “The qualification for positions in heaven is based upon character.”
    Frank,
    If the qualification for entering heaven is based on our character instead of trusting Christ’s work on the cross, and His resurrection then no one will enter in.
    Even after Peter received the Holy Spirit and was considered the leader of the church, Paul had to publicly rebuke him for giving in to the Jews who pressured him to not eat with the Gentiles.
    David committed adultery and was a murderer. Abraham was a liar, and gave up his wife to save his neck. I could go on but you get the point, our justification for heaven is based on trusting Christ’s work and not our character.
    Our faith is proven by our works, Abraham was counted righteous before circumcision, and before he offered Isaac, the works proved his faith was true.

  16. Frank Zimmerman

    Fellows,
    I’m thinking that perhaps our understanding of the foundation is different. If the foundation is different, then the whole building will be different. Therefore, I ask both of you these questions:

    What were the issues in the start of the rebellion in heaven? What were the questions that Satan raised, the charges that he made, and how is God going to deal with them in such a way that they do not rise again?

    Your answer to these questions will determine your concept of God’s character, and will in turn shape the doctrines that you believe, and finally will influence your way of life. If you can answer these questions in a few paragraphs (no need to quote piles of Scripture, that can come later), I would appreciate it.

  17. paul walton

    Frank,
    My theology is reformed, and those are the doctrines that I form my beliefs upon. I think we all can agree that Satan is a deceiver, and how that is so important to you I don’t quite understand, he will one day be destroyed. The main difference that I see in our doctrines is you believe that God is not just, because if He could save all and doesn’t He is a tyrant. God chooses to save some based on His foreknowledge of that person, and predestined them to be conformed into the image of His Son. God frees some peoples hearts, so that they can freely chose Him, the others are free to choose God, but they won’t because they are dead in their sins, and a dead person can do nothing without God first setting their heart free from the grip of sin.

    Frank, the main point is that we have come to trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, Lord, and treasure. If you believe you did this out of your own free will that was totally corrupt, as you were dead in your sins, but still somehow you were able to choose to bend your knee to God then you have a real different way of interpreting God’s word than I. I’m not going to list all the scripture that backs up this point that we cannot do this without God’s intervention. I’m trusting in Jesus Christ’s death, and resurrection for my salvation, and not my works, He is my heart’s treasure, I serve Him and follow his commandments by faith, because I love and trust Him.

  18. Dustin

    You are right, foundation is the most important thing. My foundation is on Christ alone and what He did for me.I see my wickedness and my true state of sinfulness for what it is. I was dead, but God saved me from my wretchedness. I could not have seen this until His grace came upon me.

    From what I get out of your post your foundation is that God chooses us on the basis of our faith. If we believe, then God elects us for salvation.
    The problem is that this inverts the biblical order. Scripture teaches that election precedes and is the cause of saving faith. See Acts 13:48, “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” It does not say “As many as believed were appointed to eternal life.” See also John 10:26, “You do not believe because you are not part of my flock.” Notice Jesus does not say, “You are not part of my flock because you do not believe.”
    What I think or want does not matter, it is what God’s Word says that I must go by. I study Reformed Theology because I believe it is the most solid teaching of God’s Word. I was raised up “free will” but started noticing how so much of scripture was being skipped. I started to read scripture for myself and asked God to prove that “free will” was right. That did not happen and the Bible was opened up to me.

  19. jeff

    I’m sure Frank has now seen the error of his way and will convert to Calvinism forthwith.

    Last week I was in horrible pain and a fever, on Wednesday I was rushed into emergency surgery and am just now rejoining the world of the thinking. I was surprised to see the lengthy discussion here, considering it has very little to do with any point I was making.

    Anytime an issue springs up when that issue is not being discussed, it may have become a tad too important, stretched a tad out of measure. I merely suggest this as an option to consider. You do what you gotta do.

  20. paul walton

    Jeff,
    I’m so sorry to hear you were suffering so much last week, please keep us advised in the future so we can lift you up in prayer brother. My purpose for the exchange with Frank was not to try and convert him to reformed theology, he ask for me to give a brief explanation of my doctrine so I was just replying. How someone comes to faith is not worth arguing about, my intent is show how I came to embrace reformed theology. The fact is, if we all are trusting in Jesus Christ that is what is truly important. So to show you the proper respect you deserve, I’m bowing out of this exchange.

  21. Frank Zimmerman

    Jeff,
    Sounds like an infected appendix. Thank God that you could be treated in a timely way…a ruptured appendix can actually kill a person. Your blog and ministry could have ended much sooner than you expected. So you have a new lease on life!

    As for the discussion, there was a connection to the first comments. I’m not raising it just to argue, but it helps me to understand the reformed viewpoint better, and clarify where and why I differ. So, unless you forbid it, I will make one or two more comments in the discussion.

  22. jeff

    It was actually an abscess in a rather unfortunate location! Not usually life-threatening, mostly just unbelievably uncomfortable!

    As to the discussion, I forbid nothing. I was amazed it was going on about this post. It does seem to come up a lot, but I also initiate the discussion a lot too. It does bother me that many Christian blogs have extended arguments going on and on repeatedly, as if we are uncomfortable with 100% conformity and can’t let things go, or allow someone else the last word. Reading through here I can see now I don’t think that was taking place, but I do feel a need to occassionally wind things down.

    I know you guys are thoughtful believers. I value your comments. Usually! I am by no means calling for an end to comments. I do get frustrated with endless talk around in circles on issues like Calvinism, arguing about words to no reason, which frequently leads to division and annoyance more than anything akin to edification. You guys know your heart, what you can handle, what is edifying, so I will rely on that here. Do what you gotta do.

  23. Frank Zimmerman

    Dustin and Paul,
    Well I didn’t get as thorough answers as I hoped.

    The reason for understanding the rebellion in heaven really well, is that this is the ground for the rebellion on earth. The same issues that Satan raised in heaven are being fought out on earth, and in order to win, God must address these issues and prove them false. It is not enough for God to claim His rulership simply based on His almighty power. His kingdom is not based on power, but on love. Love cannot force allegiance, it must win it. And those of us who are won to God’s kingdom, are His witnesses in the battle that is being fought.

    Therefore, such an interpretation as (I think) is being put on the word “election” does not fit with the issues of the battle. If the whole battle were simply over whether God had the power to choose and appoint people, and to discard others, then it should never have been started. God could simply have disposed of Satan, and formed a new angel to take his place. His will would be irresistable. But if He really worked that way, and in spite of it chose to let sin run on for thousands of years, resulting in untold misery and suffering, then the responsibility for this must, in the end, rest at His door. And what would that imply about His character?

    A failure to grasp the full scope of the beginning of the struggle will also mean a very skewed understanding of the book of Revelation, since it is all about how this struggle plays out since the resurrection of Christ, and how it will finally finish. Therefore, there are false interpretations of the final events which, to sum them up briefly, simply teach this: “God wins because He has greater physical power.”

    But the battle at the cross, was not one of mere physical power. It was a spiritual battle over faith, obedience, allegiance, holding to the right even unto death. Satan wrung the heart of Christ with fierce temptations: “nobody believes in your way”, “even your disciples have abandoned it,” “none of your Jewish church hold to it,” “can’t you see that strict obedience and faith in God only lead to death and shame?” Every erroneous thought that Satan invented was thrust upon Christ in the most shameful circumstances.

    This tells us very simply that obedience to God is a key point in the struggle. Any doctrine that would undermine obedience, by saying that “we can’t obey (ie. because God didn’t elect us)”, that “the law is too hard”, “I can sin because God will forgive me,” “I’m going to heaven even though I sin,” “as long as I believe, what I do doesn’t matter” or that “we are too sinful to overcome all sin”, would have to be false ones, because they would support Satan’s lies.

    Likewise, faith was a very important key in Christ’s victory…believing and holding to God even though all physical, emotional, and mental thoughts and feelings are saying the opposite. Any doctrine that undermined faith, such as “I can do it on my own,” “I’m an evil tree but I can still bring forth good fruit,” “I can repent when I want to,” would be false doctrines.

    In Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, and the beginning of Job, we are given some insights into the rebellion in heaven, and what were the issues. There was pride, self-exaltation, and wanting a higher place than what was given. There was jealousy of another (this is more clearly shown in Revelation 12): we start to grasp that Satan wanted to be on equality with Christ. Hence on this earth we have a struggle between the “mystery of God” (Christ the creator in a created body) and the “mystery of iniquity” (Satan or his representatives claiming to fill the place of Christ). The temptation in Genesis 3 tells us that Satan implies God’s law and His character to be faulty. Therefore, understanding the “why” of God’s actions, (where He reveals the reasons), is very important. It helps us get out of Satan’s lies, which will only increase our faith, and obedience.

    Where I find the common understanding of “election” to fail, is that it does not answer these questions about God’s character…it simply creates a mystery around His actions. This was shown clearly in Paul’s statement:

    “Why He frees certain people’s hearts and not others, I don’t think anyone can claim to know, other than God Himself.” However a close look at Romans 9 shows that the apostle Paul does attempt to answer this question:

    31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
    32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
    33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

    We would think that the apostle should have said, “Wherefore? Because God chose to make them blind.” Instead the responsibility is laid upon them for not believing. There is no teaching that “they couldn’t believe,” and Christ never excused the Jews for not believing on Him. This shows another danger in the way “election” is taught: it shifts man’s responsibility unto God.

    I certainly believe that faith comes from God, that all good things come from Him. But to every man is given a measure of faith. All have a small measure that can be used to seek after God. The refusal to exercise this small measure and reach unto saving faith is a sin that each man will have to account for.

    The last point I want to address are some of these statements that Dustin raised, such as: “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

    I think a lot of these kinds of statements can be understood by remembering the situation at Jesus’ time. The Jews thought they were God’s favored ones, just by virtue of their physical lineage, their circumcision, etc. Jesus had to continually tell them that this was no evidence of God’s favor. He had to show them that the reason they were not responding to His message is because they were not God’s children.They were not “part of the flock,” but were “wolves in sheeps clothing.” When He said, “no man can come to Me except the Father draw him,” he was telling them that they were resisting the Father, and therefore were not God’s children like they thought they were. He was not telling them that they couldn’t be of His flock! Otherwise why even preach to them?

    Now look at this statement: “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” How it is commonly interpreted is that God arbitrarily appointed some to believe, gave them the faith, and therefore, they believed. What I believe it is actually saying is that the foundation of being accepted as one of God’s chosen was now clearly recognized as being faith, and not Jewish lineage. The Jews thought they “were appointed to eternal life” by their lineage and works. But in God’s real family, it was faith that determined appointment. I believe this is the main argument throughout Romans 9,10 and 11. You might wrestle with this interpretation a bit, because you think I am reversing the logic of the statement, but if you carefully look at the reasoning in Romans, it is the same.

    Now, since faith is the condition, and every man has a measure given to him by God, which he can exercise unto saving faith, God stands clear of any charge of tyranny, favoritism, unfair dealing, cruelty, mass-murder or laying heavy burdens on people. These are huge reasons for not taking the common interpretation of “election”.

    But on the other side, there is the power of tradition; the theological doctors and large established churches that will approve of you, and accept of you if you believe as they teach. This appeals to our “herd” instinct. But what shall it be: the “herd” or the word? Let each man choose carefully.

  24. paul walton

    Frank,
    I told Jeff I was bowing out so I’m going to honor my word to him. I have a few replies to your statements but I will forgo them, as I have said, how one believes they came to faith, is not as important as actually having true faith. Whenever I share the gospel I pray that God would free the person’s heart and open their eyes, and that Christ would be clearly seen by that person. I don’t rely on the person’s own faith to be able to grasp the glory of God. So far it has been a good method for evangelism, God bless you.