When “Whosoever” Misseth the Point

Some of us think the chorus in "Whosoever Meaneth Me" sounds like the theme to Hogan's Heroes. Visit http://free-loops.com/download-free-loop-3481.html to listen and compare to the hymn's midi below!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life (ESV)

 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (HCSB)

The first citation of John 3:16 is from the King James Version, which contains—and established—the traditional wording of this verse, no less in the case of the highlighted phrase in question, “whosoever believeth.” The second updates, but carries this traditional translation forward, while the third, from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), seems to have come a little closer to the literal meaning of the verse.

 This can be seen by examining the original Greek, from which all three versions are translated: pas o pisteuo. Pas means “all,” “any,” “each,” “everyone,” “all things,” etc., in individual contexts like this one, but it is usually found in collective contexts, where it means “some of all sorts.” This is the word that is translated “whosoever” in the King James Version, “whoever” in many modern translations like the ESV, and “everyone” in the HCSB. The NET Bible has some helpful notes in this regard, which may be accessed here.

In the great debate between Calvinists and Arminians about the extent of Christ’s atonement, the latter camp has, in an effort to emphasize the fact that Jesus died for everyone without distinction, turned the KJV’s “whosoever” into three words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that Who …  So … Ever (!). With often little regard for the context of this verse, Arminians will focus on this one little three letter Greek word, and seemingly make it the point of the passage, which it is not.

 Pas is not the only word in this phrase. “Everyone” in this context does not stand alone. It is modified by the action taken by each member in the group of people so identified. The action they take is pisteuo: “believing.” So, the first thing we must clarify is that this verse is not intended to state or imply the number of people for whom Christ died; it merely expresses the purpose behind the Father’s giving of the Son to the world: to grant eternal life to pas (everyone) o (who, or that) pisteuo (believes).

 On the Nov. 17 episode of The Dividing Line, Dr. James White explained why “whosoever,” “whoever,” and “everyone” are used to translate pas. He said that when pas is used with a singular participle (in this case, “believes”), what is being communicated is a group that is defined by the action in that participle. Since the emphasis of the verse is on the mutual activity of the group, rather than the indistinct universality of the group itself, perhaps it may help direct our attention to “believes” if translators rendered pas o pisteuo as “all those who believe,” or just “those who believe.” But I’m no scholar.

 Therefore, pas o piteuo makes neither of the following Arminian emphases:

  1. It does not mean that God sent Jesus to propitiate the Father in his death for everyone indiscriminately;
  2. It does not mean that everyone indiscriminately has the inherent moral ability to believe.

 What this phrase does mean, though, is that God loved the world by sending his only Son in order to grant eternal life to those, and only those, who actually come to faith. If God sent his only Son to die for everyone indiscriminately, then everyone indiscriminately would come to faith, for he would have, with the atonement, granted faith to everyone indiscriminately. If everyone indiscriminately had the inherent moral ability to obey the command to believe, then God’s Word would be untrue (Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:8,9).

 Let us not read things into the Word of God which are not there. John 3:16 is not a proof text for general redemption (the doctrine that Christ died for everyone indiscriminately), nor a view of human sinfulness that leaves room for some amount of inherent righteousness that enables the self-determining sinner (which creature does not exist) the ability “of his own free will” to “decide to follow Jesus” without the prior work of the Holy Spirit’s effectual calling (Romans 8:30).

 Are you one of those who’ve come to believe in the one and only Son of God? Then you have received the Father’s saving love in the gift of his Son who became incarnate for you, obeyed God’s Law perfectly for you, died suffering the consequences of your sin, and rose on the third day that you also might be raised up to eternal life spiritually now (regeneration), and physically upon his return (resurrection). I urge you to do what you can to reciprocate his love by Spirit-empowered love for him and your neighbor. We love because he first loved us.

 “Whosoever Meaneth Me?” (audio) “Whosoever” means all those, and only those, who believe.

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14 responses

  1. John!

    “Wow”; not to brush your hair or anything, but that was very good teaching!

    I am urged to outdo you though.

    I cannot.

    I would offer some observations of my own, though.

    Let me score the plate and engrave it with a diamond stylist this way then?

    Joh 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

    Here Jesus is saying something I suppose is not easily grasped about the “Way” God, Our Heavenly Father, has loved Jesus while He was living on earth in His day?

    What does He say about the “way” God, Our Heavenly Father so loved “Him”, that is Jesus in His day?

    It is the very same way we, as dear Children, also are to love others distinctly in this world.

    And what way is this way that we are to “so love” others in this world, then?

    There are some other Greek Words in four verses I would point out.

    Those Greek words are all translated in one version or another into English as the English word “life”.

    Here are the verses, that, to me elucidates to the Called Elected Saint just what Jesus means when He said that that is recorded by John in John’s Gospel, chapter 15:9:::>

    1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
    1Jn 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
    1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
    1Jn 3:17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

    (LITV) 1 John 3:17 Whoever has the means of life of the world, and sees his brother having need, and shuts up his heart of compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

    Here we read what I will submit is John’s exegesis of John 3:16 “God so loved the world….”.

    You have to understand and search out all the places in the New Testament, in their context, to see what Jesus is showing us here about the “Personal” Way Our Father “loved” Jesus and He loved us and we are then to love one another.

    There is only one way we are taught to love one another. That way, Jesus teaches, is the very same way He is Loved by God, Our Heavenly Father. This is the only way He has loved us, that is, He has loved us the very same way He was Loved.

    In verses 14 and 15 John uses the Greek Word “zoe”/life.

    In verse 16, he uses the Greek Word, “psuche”/life/lives.

    In verse 17, he uses the Greek Word, “bios”/life/goods.

    I believe the “key” to unlocking the door to the mystery of, How God “so loved”, is that one Greek Word: “bios” when searched out in the eleven or so places it is used in the New Testament.

    I will let the reader contemplate it and let the Lord give revelation and spiritual understanding to what I just pointed to; however, I would cite three additional passages in the New Testament where the writer uses that Word “bios” to hopefully induce a personal search and quest to understand that John 3:16 is not a distinct teaching about “all” or “everyone” is offered Eternal Life. God doesn’t offer to “all” humanities from every tribe, kindred, tongue and people group eternal Life, but He offers an understanding about the Way for God’s Elect to love in this world as He has loved Jesus in this world and Jesus has loved us in this world so that we gladly love as they do and John taught at 1 John 3:14-17.

    Mar 12:41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.
    Mar 12:42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
    Mar 12:43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.
    Mar 12:44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

    Verse 44: “to live on”/bios

    1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
    1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

    Verse 2: “quiet life”/bios

    2Ti 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
    2Ti 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

    Verse 4: “civilian pursuits”/bios

    How does God want His Children loving in this world, devils full?

    Here is John again in 1 John 4::::>

    1Jn 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
    1Jn 4:5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
    1Jn 4:6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
    1Jn 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
    1Jn 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
    1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
    1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

    Now, I am convinced that the Church of the Living God, the ground and pillar of the Truth, have to make distinctions as to “who” and “how” we also ought to love one another in this world.

    Here are some Psalms to think about:::>

    Psa 7:3 O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands,
    Psa 7:4 if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause,
    Psa 7:5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
    Psa 7:6 Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
    Psa 7:7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
    Psa 7:8 The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
    Psa 7:9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous– you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!

    and

    Psa 72:1 Of Solomon. Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
    Psa 72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
    Psa 72:3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
    Psa 72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!
    Psa 72:5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!

    1. So, in short, you’re saying that the Father loved the Son, the Son loved the Bride and gave his life for her, and we, that Bride, are to likewise love one another by laying down our own lives for one another in whatever way necessary?

      If so, that’s sound application.

      May God grant us the grace to do more than just talk about it, and to do it for the right reason: “because he first loved us.” And no other reason at all. To God alone be the glory.

  2. John,
    Good commentary. You must have great teachers.

    Christian

  3. I am constantly amazed at how calvinists “torture” verses to get them to fit with their belief system. So when I read the precious Word of God, I can’t just believe John 3:16 and take it for what it says. I have to go to James White and let him break it down into the greek and find out what it “really” means.

    Jesus Christ came to planet earth to seek and to save that which was lost. He wouldn’t have to seek if God pre-selected those that would come, God would simply say “Hey Jesus go pick up our robots” Yes I’m being sarcastic but I get so tired when reformed people mishandle the precious Word of God. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    When I debate folks over various bible topics I don’t get terribly upset if we don’t agree on everything. I do get highly upset when people tell folks, good luck getting to heaven, hope you’re one of the chosen ones, if not there is nothing you can do, and on the other hand someone that wants nothing to do with God and is an atheist will be forced to go to heaven even though he doesn’t want to.

    We must preach the gospel to folks so that they can decide to accept the free gift of salvation or not. You don’t possess a gift until you accept it. Jesus died for “ALL” He is not willing that any should perish.

    In Christ,
    Greg

    1. First of all, in the future, I’d appreciate a little less snide “righteous indignation” in your comments. This isn’t Mount Carmel and you’re not Elijah, or whichever other Bible story you use to justify such an ugly and snotty tone.

      One basic fact you have to realize is that something is always lost in translation. That’s a bone that is often hard for extremist KJV-Onlyists to swallow. This necessitates exegesis in the original languages, not simply bringing one’s own limited knowledge of the English language, among other things, to the English text and assuming that the way the English translation sounds to oneself on the most superficial reading is all that God wants to communicate through the passage. Sound exegesis requires learning from others who can help the student of Scripture unpack the fullest meaning possible in the text. This is the hard work that pastors ought to do so they can be the one God uses to bless his people with the whole counsel of God, after all, “pastors and teachers” (i.e., pastor/teachers) are God’s gift to the church (Ephesians 4:11) for some reason, are they not?

      God works in men to will and to do according to his good pleasure. When men will to do that which pleases God, it is because he has worked in them the will to please him. And what is it that pleases God? Faith. Man, left to his own sinful nature, is not willing or able to do that which God calls him to do (Romans 8:7). God calls men through the gospel to believe. They don’t want to and can’t on their own. When God graciously grants faith (and repentance, by the way) in response to the gospel preached, the sinner’s heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh that does want to, and can, repent and believe the gospel. This is not robotics, it’s resurrection.

      I suppose, if you’ve been snidely debating Calvinism with other Calvinist bloggers for any length of time, you’ve already had the context of 2 Peter 3:9 pointed out to you. Peter wrote his epistle to a Christian congregation. It is to these readers, Christians (yes, the elect of God), to whom Peter refers when he writes that God is patient toward “you.” This is not a universalist reference. God is patient toward the believers who heard or read Peter’s letter. Peter then expands on this patience of God, saying that it consists of his lack of willingness that they, the believing recipients of his letter–not the general population of the universe– should perish, but that it is they, the believing readers and hearers, whom God is willing to have come to repentance. This is merely reading the sentence in its context, not an act of torture. “God is patient toward you, not willing that any (of you) should perish, but that all (of you) should come to repentance.” Can you see that the second and third you’s are implied by the first in this sentence, or would you prefer to give a kneejerk false accusation that this is somehow adding to God’s Word?

      I would likewise be offended by someone saying things like “if you’re not one of the chosen, then there’s nothing you can do.” The doctrine of election and predestination is a doctrine intended to comfort and assure the believer that it wasn’t anything in him that got him saved, so his salvation is secure. Election is not a diagnostic tool for evangelism. Furthermore, Calvinism doesn’t teach that those who don’t want to go to heaven will be forced to against their will. All who come are willing to come, by God’s grace, not of their own righteousness. Please desist with the caricatures. They are misleading and deceitful, and betray a pathetic lack of understanding of the Calvinist doctrine of election.

  4. John,

    Looks like I struck a nerve. I do apologize, however I even said in my reply that I was being sarcastic. By the way which bible character are you?

    I’m not sure what you read in my reply to make you think that I’m a kjv onlyist, I can assure you that I’m not, in fact I left a church after 20 years because of their ridiculous stance on the kjv and other legalistic problems.

    Now as to having teachers, yes thank God for good teachers, and much can be gained from looking into the original languagues, however if I never looked up another greek or hebrew word I would have all that I needed from the fantastic translations that are available in the english language today

    I was lost and undone w/out Christ. I heard the precious gospel message and I called upon the Lord to save me, just as the entire new testament teaches. I could have rejected that message it was “entirely” up to me. To believe anything else a man would have had to teach you that, because the precious Word of God knows nothing else. Jesus said if I be lifted up I will draw “all” men unto me. The Word of God asks “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? You see John we can accept or we can reject.. Salvation is a gift but until you accept that gift you don’t possess it. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.. Jesus came to planet earth to seek and to save that which was lost. Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 are as clear as any in scripture as to what we need to do to “secure” our salvation. Heb 3:7 tells us not to harden our hearts. v-12 could not be more clear “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. v-13 “but encourage one another, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Pretty clear turning away from God is something we can “do” or not “do” this is the whole crux of this passage. John it doesn’t matter what I “think” this passage teaches. This passage says what it means and means what it says, you don’t need any greek at all to understand it. I’ll finish with 1 John 2:2 “He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for ou sins, and not only for ous but also for the sins of the whole world.

    So, good reformed folks, Today, if you hear His voice , do not harden your hearts, its a choice, God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Please believe on Him today!

    In Christ
    Greg

    1. I’m the publican.

      What I read in your reply that associated you in my mind with KJV Onlyism was your sarcastic tone, your rebuking me for quoting uninspired men like James White on a text of Scripture, as if you (if you are a preacher) never consult commentaries. I’m glad to hear you’ve moved beyond KJV Onlyism, but in my humble opinion, you’ve got a bit further to come. Finally your overdone caricatures of Calvinism didn’t speak well for the depth of your understanding of the issues.

      Of course people choose. I chose to take a few minutes to reply to this comment. No one, not even Calvinists, deny that people choose. What Arminians (or, “moderate Calvinists”) affirm is the sovereignty of the human will over the final and ultimate decision as to who is going to be saved. The Calvinist affirms that God’s free will is final and ultimate, and man’s will is first bound to sin and unwilling and unable to choose to be saved until the gracious, sovereign God frees his will by the Holy Spirit to be willing to choose to be saved.

      Arguments such as the sort you were using portray a 1 or 2 dimensional understanding of the world. Deut. 29:29 reveals a distinction between that which God has revealed in public to his people and that which he reserves to himself. This is a distinction in the will of God. My summary of this is that God has kept hidden what is going to happen, and he has revealed, and holds us accountable for, what ought to happen. Election is part of what is going to happen, that he does not reveal to us. That’s why Calvinists don’t wait to determine whether someone is elect before they condescend to share the gospel. We’re called to preach the gospel indiscriminately to all, so God may draw his elect and condemn the rest who trample his gospel pearls underfoot.

      I’d go into more detail now if I had time, but I’m now going to go spend the day at the hospital with my mother. Talk to you later.

  5. John,

    I’m busy today as well and won’t be able to develop this as much as I would like. Prayers for your mother.

    First off James White is a great scholar and speaker and his education certainly dwarfs mine, however as it relates to the calvinist belief system he has bought into, I believe he couldn’t be more wrong. If there were never a Calvin there never would have been a White, or at least a White that expresses reformed beliefs. His book on the “King James Controversey” is one of the best I’ve read. And yet with all of his work and accomplishments God still reveals things to us “babes” One of the things that you will find with me is that I don’t lift up men very much, you see it was a man “Calvin” that started this erroneous (i contend) belief system. I came out of a very legalistic background and one of the things I came to realize and detest was the IFB’s near-worship of its leaders, so whenever I hear folks putting simple, sinful men on pedestals my antenna go up and I go forth very cautiously. If you win “any” argument with me it will be because of the precious word of God!

    I want, for now to point to just one of the things you wrote about, and that is election. When God almighty talks about the “elect” He may do so because He is God. Yes God almighty “knows” who will come to Him, in fact He knew I was going to accept Him as Saviour before I was born. Pretty amazing stuff. Now I am unable to explain the inner workings of how He knew these things. But just because God knows who ultimately will come to Him through the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, that doesn’t mean he has pre-selected us (for whosoever will) God is God so he knows who will come to Him, in fact He is not a creature of time or is bound by time. God speaks of Jesus as the “Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world” so God probably sees us in heaven right now, I don’t have a verse for that, its conjecture on my part.

    That’s all I got for now.

    In Christ,
    Greg

  6. My usual activity on this blog is to refer my readers to others who are doing teaching of whatever happens to catch my fancy. This is not a church, this is not a “Christian book,” nor is it any sort of offical Christian ministry. It is a blog. It is my way to communicate stuff that interests me to others who may or may not find it interesting too. But guys like you look at me referring to what someone else taught and instantly accuse me of being some mind-numbed slave of some man’s teaching. “He doesn’t reeeeally believe the Bible, he’s just following some uninspired man.” Since you admit you read materials that teach about the Bible written by uninspired men, there are four fingers pointing back at you. But you four-point Arminians are trained to accuse Calvinists of just simply “buying into” that false doctrine invented by Calvin.

    The truth of the matter is, if there was never any Calvin, there would still have been a Reformed tradition. It didn’t begin with Calvin, Calvin just happened to excel as a systematizer of the doctrines in that system which he received from other Reformers who went before him. A matter of church history. The kind of rhetoric you’re spewing in this regard is nothing but an anti-predestination smear campaign.

    Regarding your reference to God “knowing” who will come to him, the Bible teaches that the reason he knows they will come is because he ordained that they would come. “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who WORKS ALL THINGS according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). If he just looked down the corridors of time, as they say, to learn who’d receive Christ and then put his stamp of approval on it, that’s nothing more than cutting us off at the pass for the glory. Paul writes (I’m sure you know where) that we are saved by grace through faith so that we won’t boast. If our receiving him by faith logically precedes his choosing us in any way whatever, then we have grounds to boast. God doesn’t deny us bragging rights on a technicality, he actually deserves the glory, because according to the Bible he actually is sovereign, rather than just outmaneuvering us because he’s eternal and omniscient and we’re not.

    So how does “knowing who would receive him” qualify as God working according to the counsel of his will? His knowing who would receive him is his allowing us to work according to the counsel of our own will, and his positioning himself as the one who deserves the glory. That’s not a glorious God.

  7. Adam and Eve in the garden had free will to eat or not to eat, the hebrews in the wilderness also had a choice to look upon the serpent on the pole and live or not to look and die, Jesus said, John 12:32 “if I be lifted up I will draw “all” men unto me. We sinful, depraved men have the choice to accept or reject His plan of salvation. Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. If we miss heaven friend it will be our own fault, because we did not accept the free gift of salvation, we will have no excuse!

    You spoke earlier about sound exegisis, let’s have some. Eph 1:11-12 “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory” I have got a bible that divides the chapters into paragraph form and it really helps people (me) not to take verses out of context. v-13 is the key to not becoming confused over this passage of scripture, “and you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Those sinful, depraved unbelieving, unrergenerate people were not included in Christ until they heard and then believed, then they were sealed. These were all things they had to do. . So remember God knows who will come to Him in faith “the elect” he knew Adam and Eve would consume the fruit, He knew which of the hebrews would look upon the bronze serpent, he forced no one, and friend you and I must look to the Saviour to be saved today, He will not force us, we can reject His plan, thousands already have. Now to predestination – v-12 tells us that we (the elect) were predestined for the “praise of His glory” so what do we have here, we already have seen that that the plan of God is for all to come to repentance, we know that won’t happen, so the “elect” do come and then the “elect” are predestined to be for the “praise of His glory” Romans 8:29 says it even more clearly I think “For those God foreknew (the elect) He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” So friend if you accepted Christ as your Saviour, you are one of the elect. Now as being one of the elect you are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of God’s son, or as our text in Ephesians states “for the praise of His glory” God does not predestinate us to be saved, he predestinates us to be for the praise of His glory and to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.

    I hear and see this business in reformed theology that men can boast because they accepted God’s simple plan of salvation. I tell you the truth this is nearly blasphemous. I have been saved by grace through faith and this wasn’t from myself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that I have nothing to boast about.

    In His Grace,
    Greg

    1. You don’t need to belabor the point that people have the capacity to choose, and that even their becoming a Christian involves a choice. That point is not in dispute. What is in dispute is whether the human’s choice is sovereign over God’s choice.

      Now to respond to your passages…

      Adam was the only human who had the kind of free will to equally choose between good and evil from a perfectly righteous nature. He made the sinful choice, and the consequences of his utterly freewill choice bound him and his posterity to sin. In fact, he died spiritually that day, and his posterity would be born spiritually dead. This is the reason a sinner’s will is incapacitated when it comes to obeying God, as I’ve already belabored by reference to Romans 8:7, in which it reads “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7 ESV).

      Now for your “all” verse. John 12:32 reads, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” You want “all” to mean “all” in an absolutely universal sense at “all” times. You’re going to emphasize the Arminian philosophical eisegesis of the word “all” and “draw” to say that everyone gets an equal chance, because if they didn’t God would be unfair. But Jesus himself taught us how to understand “draw” in chapter 6 of the same book. I’m sure you’re familiar with the passage. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. . . (John 6:44a ESV). My response to your appeal to John 12:32 is therefore that if Jesus draws all people to himself in the Arminian sense, then everyone is to get saved. “Drawing” is dragging, not wooing. Not everyone has been saved. Only the elect are drawn to salvation. The elect are drawn from every tongue, tribe and nation. It is this sense that is intended by “all” in John 12:32–All kinds of people, not every individual indiscriminately.

      Now for Ephesians 1:11-14.

      In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
      (Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV)

      Verse 13 was one of the last verses on which I held out in order to deny the truth of the doctrines of sovereign grace. I was holding onto the wording of the KJV: “after that ye believed, ye were sealed.” I pointed to the word “after” insisting this chronology of events to which you now appeal. First the gospel is preached, then the human believes, then the Spirit responds with salvation. I get the picture. But the wording of the KJV and the ESV can be misleading in this verse. It’s easy to infer a chronology of events, but such is not intended by the passage. Compare how the NET Bible translates it: “And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.” This translation has hearing and believing synonymous. This translation understands that the Bible teaches that it is the gospel itself that gives us life through the Holy Spirit, and this life results in our believing. All the many works the Spirit performs are usually simultaneous. His regeneration and sealing are two different works, but are chronologically simultaneous, although there is a logical order. Regeneration logically precedes sealing, just as it logically precedes the human’s believing, but all happen simultaneously in real time. Human belief is not the cause of regeneration and sealing. It is logically the other way around. We are born of God as the Spirit grants life and faith and repentance and seals us.

      I’ll respond to Romans 8 later.

  8. I read your response earlier this morning and my mind almost exploded. I took a few hours to take care of some business and am now setting down to attempt a response. To start off, you seem to indicate that folks need to respond to the gospel message but then finish off by saying “What is in dispute is whether the human’s choice is sovereign over God’s choice” WHAT!? God’s sovereign choice was to make a plan for mankind to be saved by sending His sinless son to planet earth that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life.

    When my precious Saviour speaks I believe He says what He means and means what He says, to torture His wonderful words is to diminish the gospel message and I promise you God is not happy about that. Jesus said if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me, that is exactly what He means, He doesn’t mean anything else. I accepted that drawing and accepted the free gift of salvation, many others won’t. It is a choice that we make based on the plan of our sovereign God. If you don’t like His plan take it up with Him., explain to Him “the arminian philisophical eisegesisof the word (all)” Bill Clinton’s “depends on what the definition of “is” is comes to mind.

    I could go on and on but this is where I usually end up with hard-core calvinist folks, most are well meaning, most are very bright, but we get to where what the Word says is not what it really means or so says the calvinist, then it gets hard for me to maintain my composure, I place a high priority on the Word. It also becomes unnecessary to argue anymore because red is not red, draw is not draw, all is not all, how can we then understand one another.

    I guess I’m done.

    Because He Lives,
    Greg

    1. Thorough scholarship according to the grammatical-historical hermeneutic, that takes into account the fact that Scripture was written in another language, time and place, and interprets the various genres accordingly, is not torture. What is torturous to the text is to interpret a translated ancient text (be it inspired or otherwise) according to contemporary assumptions based on superficial reading. I consider the sort of biblicism you endorse to be just as torturous (not to mention rationalistic–see my post on that topic) as you consider normal exegesis.

      Thanks for engaging on the issue, even if you didn’t come away with anything new, accept, perhaps, for the way I discussed the concurrence of God’s hidden eternal decrees as being played out through the agency of human choices by his gracious, spiritual work. Please continue investigating the issues until you see why it is that a little more academic approach to interpreting Scripture is not as violent to the text as it may be to the preconceptions of biblicists.

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