Ralph, you have got to see this truth. (Predestination)

Ralph,

Brother, I humbly ask you to prayerfully consider reading this article. No ill will on this end.

I am not going to post the article but it had to do with God's sovereignty/Predestination.

My response is in Green:

Thank you for sending that to me. However, it does not change my mind. Here is my problem with this concept. You and the author of this article claim that people like me are not seeing God's sovereignty. The problem is that is what I think your problem is. See I believe God is so sovereign that He is able to give His creation a choice if He chooses to. You and the author on the other hand seem to be saying that God is so sovereign that He can't choose to allow us to make our own decisions. Now my question is which one of us is limiting God?

Let me show you a few passages from Scripture which show God giving people a choice:

(1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV) I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- [2] for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. [3] This is good, and pleases God our Savior, [4] who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Who wants all men to be saved... This is a lie if God is the one who chooses and He does not choose all people.

(John 3:16 NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

How can God claim to love the whole world if He makes some not believe and sentences them to hell? Oh you can claim this is only talking about the Elect, but if you do you also have to throw out all these other passages.

(Matthew 23:37 NIV) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

But you were not willing... Was Jesus mistaken or had He forgotten that it was really He who made that decision and not the people?

(Ezekiel 18:32 NIV) For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

How can they repent if God is the one making the decisions? Or should I say how could they not repent if God is the one making the decisions? Either way that passage makes no sense unless the people truly had a choice. If they did not have a true choice then again God is wrong about taking no pleasure in the death of anyone, because it is His choice.

(Ezekiel 33:11 NIV) Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'

Why will you die, O house of Israel? I guess they could answer, 'because you gave us no choice!' Again this passage shows that God loves them and gives them the choice, just like He gives all mankind a choice.

(Ezekiel 3:18 NIV) When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.

Dissuade him... Again it show a choice on the part of the person.

(Ezekiel 18:23-24 NIV) Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? [24] "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.

How can this be true if the person has no choice. He can't choose to do right or to do wrong, it is God's choice. This passage only makes sense if the person truly chooses what to do.

(Genesis 4:6-7 NIV) [6] Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? [7] If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

If you do right... you must master it... How if Cain had no say in his own actions?

(2 Peter 3:9 NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Who is God patient with? Himself? He would have to be talking about Himself if your view is true, because He is the one deciding who and when people will be saved. This verse makes perfect sense if God gives us a choice and then is patient waiting for more people to choose to follow Christ.

(Amos 4:6-10 NIV) [6] "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [7] "I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. [8] People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [9] "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [10] "I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD."

Why give them empty stomachs? Why not just make them do what He wanted? This shows a choice on their part.

(Joshua 24:14-15 NIV) [14] "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. [15] But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Then choose for yourselves... How? God gives us all a choice that is how.

(Jonah 4:1-2 NIV) [1] But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. [2] He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."

Jonah knew God was going to give the people a choice and he did not want them to choose to follow God, because God would forgive them.

(Proverbs 8:17 NIV) I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

This too is a meaningless verse if we have no choice.

(Joel 2:12-13 NIV) [12] "Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." [13] Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Return to me... How did they walk away if God is in charge of it? How can they choose to come back or not to come back to Him if He is making all the decisions. Did God put all these passages in His word just to tease us? Or as a cruel joke on the non-elect?

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

If we deliberately... Sure sounds like choice to me.

(Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV) [19] This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live [20] and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I have set before you life and death... How, I thought it was God's choice.

(Revelation 3:20 NIV) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Again this shows a choice. Jesus is knocking but it is up to us whether we open the door or not.
None of these passages limit God's sovereignty at all. He is sovereign enough to give His sinful creation a choice even if we don't want to allow Him to be that sovereign. I would urge you to pray about this and ask God if He loves every one or just a few. Ask Him why He has so many verse in His word which show choice if there is none. None of us deserve the free gift of salvation, yet God offers it to all of us. Why do you think Jesus kept calling Himself the Bridegroom? You need to look at the Jewish wedding ceremony. The Bridegroom holds out a glass of wine to his bride. If the bride takes the glass of wine she becomes his wife, but if she refuses the glass of wine she does not and the marriage is off. Jesus is holding out the cup of salvation to everyone, but only a few will reach out and take it. It is a choice.

Ralph

Ralph
We seem to have a small dilemma here. You say that you believe that God is "So sovereign that He is able to give His creation a choice If He chooses to" Well, I believe that we both agree on this point and also on your second point where you state God allows us to make our own decisions. Neither I nor the author of the article stated that man can't make his own decisions... we most certainly do. Every day sinful mankind ( and believers in Christ as well) makes abherrant decisions. You didnt state this in your letter but I assumed when you wrote : "See I believe God is so sovereign that He is able to give His creation a choice if He chooses to. You and the author on the other hand seem to be saying that God is so sovereign that He can't choose to allow us to make our own decisions. Now my question is which one of us is limiting God?" you were referring to mans ability to "choose Christ" or "make a decision for Christ". You go on to produce "proof texts" from scripture to settle the matter. The problem is that it is impossible to come to any concrete truth from a few isolated verses. Certainly your mind would not be changed if I showed you 15 -20 isolated texts attempting to prove my position? We have to be very careful when taking on the task of interpreting and teaching Gods word.

Jas 3:1 -Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
We must not believe something because it "makes sense" or because we grew up with a particular teaching. Just because we are taught something over and over by parents or a pastor does not make what they teach the truth. The Bible is not something we peruse to find certain verses to support our preconceived notions. No, it must be studied and dissected, using the mind God gave us to worship Him in spirit AND truth. If we fail at our foundational understanding of God's word, then everything that follows fails.

You are viewing scripture with "arminian glasses". You are filtering truth through a system that (perhaps unknowingly) exalts man and makes God in man's image. You have presented numerous verses that appear to support your positions. The only thing that you prove from quoting your verses is that God allows man to make choices... to which I agree, but you do not prove that man is able to - in his dead, sinful natural state- become regenerate. Isn't this the bottom line? You say God is so sovereign that He "gives" man the ability to become a christian IF he so chooses. Clear evidence must be presented specifically to this claim. How do you unite every single verse you quote with:

Ephesians 2:1-3 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Ralph, how does one who is "dead in trespasses and sins" and "by nature children of wrath" able to "make a decision" for Christ? He doesnt and cannot... but, my friend, God's regenerating grace will remove the heart of stone and replace it with a new heart. The most hardened sinner is brought down low and humbled. Adams sin was imputed to all mankind and as a result man is dead in his trespasses and sins. This is and will continue to be the issue with you and I and the modern day church for a long time until you lay aside the fleshy thought that man is the sole deciding factor in whether he "gets into heaven" or not. The scriptures show over and over again that man does not naturally desire the things of God and this is because man is dead spiritually and only seeks his own good. Ever wonder why you preach the word to most people and they laugh or scorn us ,perhaps even curse us and desire to harm us? They are spiritually blind and are in need of Gods grace. What is Gods grace? It is not a "little bit of good" placed within each person which enables them to "make a decision for Christ", but the Creator of the universe reaching down on sinful man and instead of allowing him to spend eternity in hell ,rescues him and brings him into His Kingdom. His plans can NEVER be thwarted Job 42:2 - "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted". If Gods purpose is to save everybody, then His plans or purposes are thwarted by the man who rejects Him. The flesh wars againsts this teaching. The flesh says: A loving God would not just choose some and not others...that isnt fair. But the scriptures say just that do they not? If I presented all the verses that show this truth would you believe? what did Jesus mean in these passages?:

John 6: 60 -Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard {this} said, "This is a difficult s tatement; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble? 62 "{What} then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, "Forthis reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

The flesh claims that Jesus did not mean what he said here. Again, the specific issue is this: "Is man dead in sin or is he just really really sick?" Either man is dead and incapable or he is not. How we view this issue will have serious consequences... as a matter of fact just look around you and look at the condition of the church today. This is a direct result of lifting man up high and bringing God down low (as if man could do that literally)

Ralph, you have got to see this truth. What do you do with the verses that say that God is the one who decides who will be saved? What do you do with the verses that show that man is dead in sin and will never seek the true God unless he is regenerated first? read the verses you sent me, then read the ones found throughout scripture that contradict your position. If you don't, you are being dishonest. Read the entire chapter 6 of John, Romans 9, Ephesians, the book of Job etc. and tell me God decides who will be His children.

Am I wrong in my interpretation of the passages I have posted all over my site? Or in the ones I sent you? If so then someone should be able to show me, without having to make the passages say something they don't say. I will agree that there are other passages which tend to show eternal security/predestination, but you have to interpret Scripture so that it is all consistent. Here is what I mean. I believe that a believer is eternally secure as long as he wants to be. It is a matter of the heart. Sin does not make a person lose their salvation, it is only a symptom of their heart condition. But God requires faith on our part (in Jesus Christ) for us to be saved and to continue in our salvation. So yes 'believers' have eternal life, but what about people who used to be believers but are no more? That is what the passages I quoted address.

Paul says many times statements like; 'if you continue' etc... Why say that if the opposite is not true? I still maintain that if God does not love everyone, but makes some people and does not give them a chance but destines them to suffer for eternity in hell, then He is not who His word says He is. For example the passages which says that God is light and in Him there is no darkness. What does that mean? I would say that a being that makes some humans just to watch them suffer for eternity with no hope has some darkness in Him. I will not say that God does not have that right, of course He does, but that is NOT who He says He is in His word.

Take care,
Ralph

Ralph, you wrote:
None of these passages limit God's sovereignty at all. He is sovereign enough to give His sinful creation a choice even if we don't want to allow Him to be that sovereign. I would urge you to pray about this and ask God if He loves every one or just a few. Ask Him why He has so many verse in His word which show choice if there is none. None of us deserve the free gift of salvation, yet God offers it to all of us. Why do you think Jesus kept calling Himself the Bridegroom? You need to look at the Jewish wedding ceremony. The Bridegroom holds out a glass of wine to his bride. If the bride takes the glass of wine she becomes his wife, but if she refuses the glass of wine she does not and the marriage is off. Jesus is holding out the cup of salvation to everyone, but only a few will reach out and take it. It is a choice.

O.K., I will specifically answer your questions:

1. I agree that none of the passages you quote "limit God's sovereignty". Perhaps a proper definition of "Sovereignty" is needed? The sovereignty of God is His absolute right to do things according to His own good pleasure (Daniel 4:25,35; Romans 9:15-23; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 4:11). Certainly God is sovereign enough to give man the ability to choose Him. Your verses sure appear as though God is telling all mankind to accept Him or reject Him. I grant you that much Ralph. Indeed, upon first glance they mean exactly what you say they do. But, when I get to certain passages in scripture that appear to say that mankind is dead spiritually and does not seek after God because he is unable to, I have to scratch my head and ask "what is going on here?" I read passages such as Ephesians 2:1-2b where it reads "and you He made alive, when you were dead in tresspasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world..." Key here is "MADE alive". God made us alive. This passage says nothing of man choosing God nor reaching out towards God. God made us alive WHEN we were dead in sins. We were dead. Dead. We were following satan and God in His mercy and grace made us alive. How do we bring your verses together with this passage? How do we interpret this passage in Ephesians? Does it mean what it says? Colossians 2:13 echoes ephesians- " And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him..." In Genesis (Gen 6:5) we read where the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was so great that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". If this is true, then why would man choose God? Wicked men whose every thought was evil do not choose God. In the follwing passages we read that mens hearts are full evil.

Ecclesiates (9:3)
Jeremiah 17:9
Mark 7:21 -23

The passage that secures it , mans inability to choose is found in Romans 8:7,8 " For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does NOT submit to Gods law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God".

Mankind is hostile to God and does not submit because he cannot submit to God. I read 1 Corinthians 2:14 " The unspiritual man does not receieve the gifts of the spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and He is not able to understand them becuase he is spiritually discerned". I presented a passage to you in a previous letter from the 6th chapter of John. I encourage you to read the entire chapter, but will submit just a brief experpt:

John 6: 60 -Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard {this} said, "This is a difficult s tatement; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble? 62 "{What}then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, "Forthis reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

I want to adopt your view that man is capable of choosing God, but so many more verses scream out at me that he is dead, incapable, unable, does not submit, cannot submit, cannot please God, wicked, thinks only evil continually etc. Jesus Himself throughout Chapter 6 of John repeats this "No one can come to the Father unless it has been granted from the Father". These people who were "following" Jesus or "seeking" after Jesus were only looking at the miracles He performed and only had selfish motives. They were looking out for number 1 AND had difficulty understanding the King of Kings. Jesus explains to them several times that it is the spirit that gives life... not human decision. The words Jesus spoke are spirit and life yet these people do not believe. why? Because the Father had not drawn them to Jesus.

To sum up, I have read your verses. Perhaps I can dissect them and give you an explanation. But, theres no use of doing this until a foundation is laid. Either man's heart is wicked and incapable or God has left just a bit of good in man that he is able to "make a decision". This is the crux of the matter. There are weighty matters to discuss down the road, such as why would God want us to evangelize if He is the one who chooses whom He will save. Answer: Because He decided to use the "foolishness" of preaching to bring His elect home. That is what the scriptures say. God has blessed us and given us the honor of preaching the good news to all... not all will answer... why? I echo the words of Jesus: No one can come to Jesus unless the Father has drawn him' Why does God do things this way? Because it pleased Him. He is sovereign we are not. WE cry "Not fair!" You're right, thats true and I dont want it to be fair as I would be in hell right now. Everybody would be in hell. If everybody deserves hell, then what is it to us if God decides to saves some and not all? My question to you is this: How do you bring together your verses that you quote with the ones I quote? Do they contradict? How do we honestly deal with this? What are your thoughts?

I am glad you asked that last question, because that is exactly what I wanted to talk about. No I don't think the passages you have quoted and the ones I have quoted contradict each other. On the surface maybe they appear to but not if you view them correctly (in my opinion).

Let me start out by saying that God says He is not the author of confusion nor is He the author of contradictions. So when we find things which appear to cause confusion or contradictions we can know that we need to search deeper because they will go together. I think that is what the problem is here.

I think for one thing that you take the idea of being dead in sin too far. Yes we are dead in our sin, but what does that mean? It means that we are in rebellion against God and are spiritually dead. We can do nothing to change that on our own, that is why Jesus had to die for us, to pay that price. It means that if we die without placing faith in Jesus Christ we will spend eternity in hell. But does it mean that we, as dead men are unable to even reach out to God? Of course that is an interpretation that Predestination makes, but there are some problems with that. The problems come down to the passages I quoted and which you agree show or seem to show that God gives all mankind a choice. You say that dead men will always choose to reject Christ, but you also say that dead men can't do anything. So if we are that dead then we can't even make a choice, including a choice to reject Christ. Right?

Now I have had this discussion with man Calvinist and you have not made this statement but I have heard it from many others and even read it in many books by well known Christian authors. That is the Predestination stands on the idea that man is "totally depraved." Would you agree with that statement? In other words man is totally depraved and therefore can't choose good (Christ). But these same people will go on and say things like, 'but man is not as depraved as he could be, that is why unbelievers are capable of doing some good in this world.' What does the word totally mean if it does not mean as depraved as could be? See they have a problem because some evil people do good things for others. In fact sometimes non-believers make some believers look bad by the wonderful unselfish things they do. That won't gain them heaven, but it is still a fact that has to be dealt with. So by their own admission totally depraved does not disallow man from making good decisions, just from choosing to follow Christ. Or am I wrong?

Let me give you another example about the being dead in our sins. Look at the parable of the Prodigal Son. Note what the father says when the youngest son comes back and his brother complains:

(Luke 15:24 NIV) 'For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

Now think about the story. The son was dead, but he came back on his own. The point I am trying to make is that you can take the idea of being dead too far, it is a state of heart not a physical state. So you can't just say and dead man can't do anything.

Now let me go to one of the verses which at first looks like a contradiction.

(John 6:44 NIV) [44] No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Is this a contradiction? I don't think so. It would be an contradiction only if the drawing of God was irresistible. Is the draw of the Father irresistible? Calvinism says yes it is, but if that is true then there is no real choice except on God's part. So to get this passage to fit with all the other passages which show a choice on man's part all you have to do is understand that God draws us but then allows us to make the decision whether to accept or reject Christ. Then the passages are very consistent.

Let me show you another passage which shows the same thing:

(Revelation 3:20 NIV) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Now I have had people tell me if this verse is true and shows choice then it puts Jesus at the mercy of the person inside the house. I disagree. Giving someone a choice does not take away authority or put Him at anyone's mercy. I wanted to use this passage because it shows what I believe happens. We as spiritually dead beings cannot go looking for Christ, but He can come to us (this is the drawing of the Father) and when He knocks we can make a choice whether we want to open our heart's door to Him or not.

So both are true. No man will seek after God, nor can they, until God first comes to them and draws them giving them the ability to make a choice. But this is not regeneration, that happens after the person asks Jesus to be their savior. Nor is God's drawing irresistible, many people resist it.

Does any of this make Jesus a failure because He died for all men's sins and yet only a few will accept the free gift? Of course not. Giving people a choice does not make God a failure.

I think in my first e-mail to you I talked about Cain as a person God gave a choice to. I want to go back and readdress that.

(Genesis 4:6-7 NIV) [6] Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? [7] If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

If you do what is right... I don't want to put words in your mouth, but with my understanding of your position you have two choices here. Either Cain was one of the Elect although he was very sinful, or this choice of doing what is right was just a joke. This goes back to what I said about keeping Scripture consistent. If this was a true choice that Cain had, then it means that God must have drawn him before this. Can we surmise anything from what has happened up to this point? I think we can. First Able made a blood sacrifice from the best of his flock and was accepted, but Cain made a offering from fruits and vegetables. Now this goes back to my idea that God judges people on what they know.

When God spoke to Cain, He did not tell him what to do, He just told him that if he would do what was right he would be accepted. So that implies that Cain knew what was right before this time. That would be the draw from God. God obviously had explained what He expected and gave them a choice as to whether to do it or not. Able did and Cain did not. Sin was crouching at his door and he was told that he must master it, but he didn't and we know the rest of the story.

Here is my point. I do believe that God has to draw people before they will even think of Christ as an option, but I think that He does draw all people because as His word says He does not take pleasure in the death of anyone. If He did the choosing and chose to send some to hell, then at least on some level He would take pleasure in their death, or He would do something about it. Again you have to make Scripture consistent.

This was my point about the passage where Peter says that God is patient not wanting anyone to perish. Who is He patient with? If He is making the choices then He has to be patient with Himself, but if on the other hand He truly draws people but leaves the final decision up to them, it makes sense for Him to be patient while they make that decision. Again that makes it consistent.

That was my whole point about Jesus always describing Himself as the Bridegroom. As I said the Bridegroom holds the cup of wine out to his Bride, this is the offer or you could say the drawing, but it is up to her if she takes it or turns her back. She cannot make him offer, but he allows her to make the final decision. I see this as consistent with God drawing all men, but allowing them to decide for themselves. Of course before He created Adam He knew what each individual would choose, but that does not make it any less a true choice.

Let me show you another passage:

(Romans 1:18-32 NIV) [18] The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, [19] since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. [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.
[21] For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. [22] Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
[24] Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. [25] They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen.
[26] Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. [27] In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
[28] Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. [29] They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, [30] slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; [31] they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. [32] Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

I know that is long, but I wanted to make sure I gave you the whole context and meaning. I want to show a couple of things from this. First is that God gave these people over to their depraved minds. What does that mean? I thought all people were totally depraved to start with? I think it means that God quit drawing them, He gave up on them, which means that they will never ever even consider following Christ. This is the state in which your statements make me think you think all men are to start with. But if that were true then this passage makes no sense. God would not have to give them over to anything, they would already be in that state. Notice that Paul says that what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain. Again I believe he is referring to the drawing that God does to each individual.

Let me ask you a question. If man is totally depraved and so dead that he cannot seek God at all, then why do almost all civilizations worship something or someone? My explanation is that God enables all men to know that there is something out there that they owe worship to, but some reject Him and make their own gods. But the point has to be made if they are as dead as you say they could not even seek after a false god.

All the apparent contradictions disappear if you believe that God loves all people, that He draws all people to Christ, but allows each individual to decide if they want to place their faith in Him or not.

You mentioned the miracles Jesus performed. I think you are right that these people in John chapter 6 were just looking out for themselves, but I think you missed a point Jesus later made.

(Matthew 11:21 NIV) "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."

Why would Jesus say that Tyre and Sidon would have repented if He had done the miracles there? If God does the choosing then this statement makes no sense, but if God draws everyone, yet allows them to make their own decision then it starts to make sense. Let me say right here, that I do believe God draws some people more often and in different ways. I think that is what Jesus is saying here. The Jews were given extra tugs from the Father, tugs that others would not have ignored, but they are still just tugs, not God making the choice for them. These people were rejecting Jesus, but it was a choice. They were choosing to look out for number one and not look to God, but they were certainly being drawn. You say it is because God did not draw them, but that makes no sense if you look at this passage and realize what Jesus is saying about Tyre and Sidon. Otherwise Jesus could have said, "if my father had drawn Tyre and Sidon they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago, as you would have if my father had drawn you." See what I mean?

Why will it be better for Tyre and Sidon on judgment day? The only logical fair reason is because although they were given a choice, they did not have as much knowledge as the Jews. God is fair, He is just and He is merciful. To claim these people could not choose Christ is to make a mockery of those attributes of God.

I know that I only touch briefly on John 6 but this has gotten to be much longer than I intended it to be. I won't want to over do it, so if you don't mind I will close here and we can address whatever you like in the next round.

Ralph

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