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Registered user
Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13917
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 9:43 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

An interesting question has come up in the members' section, and I wanted to put it out here for everyone.

How do you reconcile the texts that say God foreknows, predestines, and elects (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5, 11), and texts that say he desires that all be saved (1 Tim. 2:1-4)?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Username: Chris

Post Number: 1729
Registered: 7-2003

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 5:01 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Middle knowledge works for me. I have no idea if the concept of middle knowledge is actually correct and it doesn't matter to me if it is or isn't. What matters is knowing that if limited human minds can conceptualize a framework whereby these two things are not contradictory, then we need not worry about whether or not an infinite God can operate in a way in which these two things are in harmony. If these were truly absolute contradictions, then we would have cause to question the Bible. However, we can posit a model where these two things are in harmony so there is no need to question the Bible. Even if this particular model is wrong, and it may be, at the least we know that it is possible for these two things to coexist without logical contradiction.
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Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13919
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012 - 1:07 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Chris, you have explained middle knowledge here before; would you mind doing so again? I think many here have not read your earlier post. Thank you!

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Username: Nowhitehats

Post Number: 65
Registered: 4-2010
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012 - 5:15 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Just so I’m on the same page... The definition of predestination we’re speaking of here is the one that might claim God selects certain individuals for heaven and the others for hell, correct?
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Username: Chris

Post Number: 1730
Registered: 7-2003

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012 - 10:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nowhitehats, I think the best biblical definition of predestination you'll find is in Romans 8 & 9, followed closely by Eph 1. I think if you take a quick read through those three chapters we'll be on the same page.

Colleen, I'll try to do that soon. It's easy to define the term middle knowledge, but extremely challenging to explain how it might help show that there need not be a logical contradiction between predestination, election, free will, and God's desire that all be saved. I struggle with putting this in writing in some sort of succinct way.
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Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13926
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012 - 11:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Understood, Chris. No pressure...only if it seems "do-able", and only if you have the time to sit with it! I totally understand!

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Username: Chris

Post Number: 1731
Registered: 7-2003

Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2012 - 7:53 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Before beginning an explanation of Middle Knowledge, I would like to stress that I’m not promoting this model as necessarily being correct. I really don’t know if it is. This is more of an exercise in showing that some of the things the Bible says about predestination and human response/choice need not be considered to be logical contradictions nor do we necessarily need to emphasize one at the expense of the other as Calvinism and Arminianism are sometimes want to do. The point is, if there is a conceivable model that doesn’t result in contradiction or minimization, then we can defend against the claim that the Bible is a book of irreconcilable absurdities. We may not entirely understand how these things work together, but we can demonstrate that it is at least possible.

All conservative Christians believe that God possessess perfect and exhaustive knowledge of everything that has been, everything that is, and everything that will be. Middle knowledge goes an extra step and says that an infinite God also has perfect and exhaustive knowledge of everything that ever COULD be, or to put it in past tense, everything that ever could have been.

So far so good, but what does this have to do with the topic at hand? Well, if God truly possess Middle Knowledge, that is knowledge of everything that could ever be, then He possesses exhaustive knowledge of every potential world (universe) He could ever have created. Let us suppose that God wished to create a world where His creatures had the ability to choose or choose otherwise (free will) and that He wanted to create a world where His children would be many. Perhaps in the nearly infinite number of worlds He could have created, there is no free-will world where a large number of people exist and yet no one is lost. Perhaps He chose to create the free-will world where the most people possible would be saved and the fewest lost. Perhaps those who are lost would have been lost in any potential world in which they existed.

To flesh this out a bit, let’s use my story as a way of showing how different some of these potential worlds could be:

Potential World A: A college professor nearly has an affair with his secretary, but through a series of small events his wife becomes suspicious so the affair never occurs. In this world I am never conceived because the affair never happened. I don’t exist so my children don’t exist and there are many other ripple effects.

Potential World B: A college professor gets his secretary pregnant, then dumps his wife for the younger woman carrying his child. I grow up in a comfortable academic environment feeling too self-reliant and too intellectual for what I believe to be a bunch of God nonsense. I harden myself against the wooing of the Holy Spirit and live as an agnostic. In this world I am lost and perhaps through my influence one or both of my children are lost as well.

Potential World C: A college professor panics after getting his secretary pregnant. I’m quietly given away to a poor, dysfunctional family in a rural state. I grow up a broken person acutely aware of my need for help and salvation. When God reveals Himself to me I surrender knowing that I am utterly worthless and lost without Him. My entire broken life has led to this moment. In this world, I am saved and I am given the privilege of personally baptizing two daughters who have come to know the Lord partly through my influence.

Note that in all these worlds, human decisions are real. They aren’t coerced, automated, or preprogrammed. Free will is truly at work. The power and intervention of God is also at work, but there is an assumption that God allows us to reject Him and His wooing as an exercise of that free will. In other words, as marred as the imago dei is, there is still enough of God’s image preserved in us to allow us to respond to Him or harden ourselves against Him. In some worlds, the conditions are such that we are more likely to do one over the other.

So Middle Knowledge would say that God knows all these free-will worlds and could have created any of them, but He didn’t. For His own reasons, He sovereignly chose to create this particular world. In our example above, He could have created worlds A or B, but instead, for whatever reason He chose to create World C knowing exactly the conditions that would occur, how He would intervene, and how we would respond. By His very act of choosing to create World C, He actively created the circumstances in which I would exist, I would be broken, and I would respond to Him. As such, He actively and sovereignly predestined me for salvation. He actively elected me to exist and to come to salvation according to His choosing. In using his perfect Middle Knowledge to create this particular world, He chose me and predestined me to be His child.

I should note that this is subtly but significantly different from the Arminian idea that God simply looks down the corridor of time, sees who will accept Him, and thereby refers to those who accept Him as the elect. It’s the difference between a passive foreknowing and an active choosing and creating that could have been otherwise. In Middle Knowledge, my election is not based upon my choice, but upon God’s choice to create the world where I exist and the conditions where I will unfailingly respond. In this model, predestination isn’t just a weak byproduct of foreknowledge, but is based upon God’s sovereign choice to create this particular reality where I come into being. He actively chooses me.

This is also different from the Calvinist view that Jesus chose to die for some and not for others and that God chooses to regenerate some (apart from any response by the individual) while passing over others. In the Middle Knowledge model, human response, free will, and choice are all preserved and yet God truly predestined the outcome by creating this world and not some other potential world. God desires that all are saved and seeks to draw all to Himself and yet some will certainly exercise their ability to harden themselves against God and reject Him. Let’s take Pharaoh for example. It’s possible that Pharaoh would have hardened himself against God in any possible free-will universe that God created. God revealed Himself to Pharaoh in dramatic ways that few have the opportunity to witness and yet God’s intervention in these circumstances only served to harden Pharaoh all the more. In that sense, God is actually the hardening agent by virtue of His revelation of Himself. Yet, God chose to create this particular world where a pompous hard Pharaoh existed and God used those circumstances for His glory. So by virtue of creating this particular world, God created the universe where Pharaoh would exist as an object of wrath. However, that doesn’t mean that Pharaoh had no chance and no choice. To the contrary, Pharaoh was given multiple opportunities to repent and saw God revealed in such visible powerful ways that one could argue he was given a truly privileged opportunity to bow to the one true God. So in this case, there is no conflict between God desiring for all to be saved and Pharaoh being hardened by God’s revelation of Himself. Real free will is at play in the circumstances and the choices and yet God chose to actively create this world where a Pharaoh would experience destruction. It’s not either or, but both and.

So that’s a really long winded explanation for how God’s knowledge of every reality that could be, but his selection of this particular reality, resolves the apparent conflict between free will and predestination (at least in my mind). Where God sovereignly chooses which world He will actualize, it’s possible for God to foreordain and predestine all while allowing real free will to exist within that world. Where free will exist, it’s possible for God to desire for all to be saved while at the same time humans choose not to respond to God drawing them to Himself.

This all could be completely wrong, but it’s not a logical contradiction, and that’s really the main point.
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Username: Colossians2v8

Post Number: 158
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2012 - 9:26 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have long been convicted of the fact that both free will and predestination are absolutely true, a lot of Calvinists seem to stick with predestination only as a way of saying "Well God is Sovereign, therefore I am right, Calvin was right!" I'm certain of the fact that both being true speaks to His Sovereignty far more! That is how powerful and Sovereign God is, that He can give us free will YET has predestined and pre-ordained us to be heirs to the promise.

I agree Chris.

I have also often said and long held that this reality is the "perfect permutation" of free will and predestination, the maximum number of people possible will be saved in a world where both predestination and free will are true, and that God knows everything including everything that could've possibly ever been decided by anyone, could have possibly ever existed.

It's nice to know that others see this.

(Message edited by Colossians2v8 on August 25, 2012)
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Username: Colossians2v8

Post Number: 159
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2012 - 2:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Also Chris, the Arminian idea of the elect you described is just strange to me, I could've never accepted it, I believe elect, eklektos(sic?) is where we get the word election, I believe the elect are selected by God, chosen by God, and it is for this reason that Jesus said even the elect would be deceived WERE it possible. It's not through our own wisdom that we keep from being deceived, but since we are elected the Holy Spirit teaches us and keeps us from such a deception.

I guess I see full predestination and full free will at work simultaneously, and it doesn't make sense to our human pea brains, but with God these things are possible and are not mutually exclusive.
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Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13927
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2012 - 9:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thank you, Chris. I like the way "middle knowledge" resolves the otherwise apparently irreconcilable differences. I agree with you that we don't know for sure "how" it works, but your explanation above demonstrates that what we see from our time-bound perspective is limited. We would not naturally "see" what you described. This point, I believe, is crucial: God has "options" we do not have because He is not bound by our dimensions. He is eternal and outside of creation which limits our perspective.

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Username: River

Post Number: 8002
Registered: 9-2006

Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2012 - 9:24 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think this sums it up nicely: We see through a glass darkly. We see an evidence and we say “its this way”, then we see another evidence and say, no, it must be that way.

In my older years I have become comfortable with “I don’t know.”
Not that I applaud ignorance by a long shot.

On the surface the middle knowledge theory sounds good, but then the questions come flooding in and it doesn't explain it any better that the other two mentioned.
However it doesn't damage my piece of mind if I don't have the answers.

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Username: Gregkleinig

Post Number: 67
Registered: 12-2010
Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2012 - 11:52 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've always been of the notion that everybody was predestined to be saved. Jesus died so that "whomsoever" might be saved. But in my mind there is no coercion in God's predestination. I think God wanted (predestined?) me to have a much better life than I have had. But it was my choice to become involved with SDAs. B4 that it was my choice to be involved in stuff that possibly reduced my potential. But in spite of all the negatives God has continued to draw me to Him, God has delivered me from a mind and soul controlling cult. I now have to live with all those consequences that God would have liked me to avoid. But if I had not married an SDA I would have never had the 5 sons I did have. The history of my world would have been irrevocably changed forever, not that I would have known. The possibilities become endless (middle thinking?). The ripples of sin will spread for all eternity but ultimately I have to choose to have the faith or hope that God did have a plan and it is not just some random horrific mistake, even though it could possibly be argued that much of life is made up of seemingly random horrific mistakes. I used to see the current situations of my life as a destination whereas now I see the many supposed destinations as just another steppingstone in the journey of my life. Yet through it all God has and still does predestined much greater things for me (and whomsoever).
I am not what God wanted me to be but by His grace I am so much more than what the devil wanted me to be. The journey continues.
I like the way River summed it up.
The Aussie.
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Username: Skeeter

Post Number: 1954
Registered: 12-2007

Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2012 - 2:40 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree with River.
"I don't know" sooo many things.
BUT I DO know that GOD knows :-)
HE is the one in control and I TRUST HIM :-)
Believe, love and trust. Not in self, but God.
He loves us, He wants us to be with Him where He is. Knowing that.... is enough :-)

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Username: Philharris

Post Number: 2743
Registered: 5-2007

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2012 - 5:58 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here is how I view ‘election’, that is, the sovereignty of God and the free-will of man:

Even for me the topic leaves a mystery. But I am comfortable with mystery when I know both sides of the issue are true. So, here goes:

The world and Satan promises us freedom. Instead, we end up in slavery, sickness and death. Under the world’s system we have no true freedom of choice.

Only under God’s election and his sovereignty where we are his servant (slave, if you will) do we discover true freedom of choice.

Experience shows me it is true. Logically I cannot explain it. It is kind of like an axiom in geometry. We believe it to be true because there are no exceptions to the rule. Only, with the Holy Spirit’s manifestation in our lives it becomes far more true than any man-made axiom.

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Username: Punababe808

Post Number: 117
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2012 - 4:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am not sure if or not I fully comprehend this conversation but I will put in a comment and y'all can let me know. As an SDA I was taught "Jesus has other sheep not of this fold". Silly me, I alwsys understood that to mean eternal life as a free gift to non Christians who lived the best the could without having the understanding of Christianity. Maybe the SDA's mean that referring to non SDA Christians. Is that what this you is about? Also, is that Biblical of is it an EGW'ism?
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Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13932
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2012 - 8:40 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Phil, yes. And Greg, I agree re: the rejoicing that God has rescued us from a "mind and soul-controlling cult". So, so true.

Punababe, Jesus' comment about "other sheep have I who are not of this fold" was his statement to the Jews that He had believers who were gentiles. Nowhere does Jesus indicate that non-believers will be saved. On the contrary, He says that whoever believes in Him will not come into judgment, but those who have not believed are judged already (Jn. 3:18), and those who believe have eternal life (Jn. 6:49).

We have to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved...and God is able to introduce people to the Savior even if they don't have Bibles. He is faithful; He doesn't let people be lost without giving them opportunity to believe. He is the One who calls us to Himself!

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Username: Dalvarenga

Post Number: 57
Registered: 3-2012
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 7:52 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55: 8,9

I believe we need to try to reconcile this using the scripture.
The Middle Knowledge theory sounds good, however, there's no scripture to back that up. This is a great article about it (, but there's absolutely no scripture being used as a reference.

I also believe that God didn't give us the answer for everything, and He doesn't need to. He is God, sovereign over all creature, and He can do whatever He wants. Based on Romans 9, who am I to question His will? However, we have been called by Him into Jesus Christ (John 6:44), and we all have the desire to know Him more and to know His will.

Here is my opinion about this topic.

These two statements appear to be a contradiction:

1. "God desires that all will be saved"
"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?'" Ezekiel 33:11

"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." 2 Peter 3:9

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3,4

2. "We are called, predestined, and elected"
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Romans 8:29–30

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" Ephesians 1:4-5

My point is: if we assume that God wants all to be saved and at the same time we also assume that He is the one that calls those who will be saved, then, the logic conclusion would be that God calls ALL to be saved.
Now, save that for a moment (God calls ALL to be saved).

Question: are we (humanity) all going to be saved? the answer is NO, and here are some verses:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" Matthew 7:21-23

"For many are invited, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14

Ok, now we have 2 facts:
1. God calls ALL to be saved
2. Not everyone will be saved

Based on this, it makes sense to conclude that man has the choice to reject God's invitation, otherwise, all humanity would be saved.
In the parable of the Wedding Banquet, in Matthew 22, the king (God) invites but they rejected. This goes along with Romans 11.

When we read Romans 11 it makes more sense in light of what I just wrote above.
Romans 11 goes like this:
1. God didn't reject his people (v1 - "Did God reject his people? By no means!")
2. God elected "some" of his people (v7 - "The elect among them did, but the others were hardened").
3. The others were hardened (v8 - "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.")
4. However, they were hardened but not to damnation, the purpose was to bring gentiles into the big picture of salvation (v11 - "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious")
5. Not to damnation because later on he says that they could be grafted in again (v23 - "And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.")
They clearly have an option here, and the condition is to not persist in unbelief. Apparently, it is up to them to do that.

What does it mean by "hardened" their hearts?
If we consider that no man seeks God ("there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God" Romans 3:11), to hardened could be that God simply stopped calling them, so naturally they would never seek him.
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Username: Nowhitehats

Post Number: 66
Registered: 4-2010
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 3:38 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't know for certain but I don't believe first century Christians struggled with concepts that have come out of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. Maybe they did but I just don't see it supported in scripture.

For me, much of the confusion or difficulty around the term "predestination" is avoided by looking at the context where it is used.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is writing to Gentiles and encouraging them with the knowledge that they too are included in the Kingdom of God. The fact that, through Jesus, salvation was now offered to the Gentiles as well as the Jews was the news flash of the day.

So the question I ask about predestination is, "Predestined for WHAT?"

Is it about God selecting certain individual for heaven and others for hell? Or, is it about God's sovereign choice and ultimate authority to offer and make known his salvation to a group of people that were previously separated, excluded, foreigners, without hope and God, and far away?

So for me personally, God choose or predestined to make known to me (a gentile by birth) the simplicity of this message of salvation through Jesus. Gladly I accepted!
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Username: Punababe808

Post Number: 126
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 9:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Colleen, my question to you (or anyone who wants to answer) is about a person who believes but is in a position to not let his Christian faith be known to any.
anyone, only God can know. In my community is a family whose 25 year old son is wheelchair bound, he cant speek and is 100% dependent for all care due to a tragic sea accident while surfing. What about people like that who will never have an opportunity to even know about christ?
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Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13940
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Saturday, September 01, 2012 - 10:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

God is completely able to make Himself known to even the disabled. His Spirit can speak to human spirits in ways that do not need words or even mental acuity. God reveals Jesus to people who have no other way of meeting Him.

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Username: Jonasaras

Post Number: 2
Registered: 9-2012
Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012 - 7:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is a subject that has intrigued me for many years. Several viable options are possible. One comes from the field of physics. As I recall, there are eleven mathematically provable "dimensions". It's mathematically possible to turn a basketball inside-out in one of these dimensions without deflating it! So the seemingly irreconcilable difference between predestination and free choice may simply be due to us being limited to experiencing three dimensions.

The other compelling option I've found is "Evangelical Inclusivism" as developed by Neal Punt, a Reformed theologian. It's not Universalism but it's pretty close. Briefly, the WORLD is reconciled (2 Cor 5:18-19) which is Good News! However, you can "work" your way out of the kingdom by willfully rejecting the Gospel or through persistent disobedience (Romans 6:23). The wages of sin is death (that's the one thing you can earn), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is an apparent contradiction, but it is what the Bible states. If you are interested in reading more about Punt's views you can read them by going through all the postings here:
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Username: Jonasaras

Post Number: 3
Registered: 9-2012
Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012 - 7:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There was another interesting option that I thought was more Biblically speculative called "Evangelical Universalism" by Gregory MacDonald. In his view there is a hell and will not be empty, but the lost will eventually come to their senses and accept salvation. Although fire consumes the nations (Rev 20:9), the nations are ultimately healed (Rev 22:2) and that the gates to the kingdom are never closed (Rev 21:5). MacDonald elaborated a lot more on this in his book.
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Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13967
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012 - 10:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jonasaras, the world being reconciled does not equal people working their way out of salvation through persistent disobedience, nor does it equal the lost coming to their senses.

The thing is this: the lost are not just sinners; they are dead. We are born spiritually dead as our legacy from Adam (Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Cor 15:22; Col 1:13; John 3:18, Rom 5). Dead people cannot be saved apart from an external intervention from God (John 6:44, 65). Thus, they are not personally reconciled to God unless they are born again of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:3-6) through believing in Jesus (Jn. 3:16-18). We are not born "reconciled"; we must personally be brought to life.

To be sure, Jesus reconciled everything in heaven and on earth to God, but that does not remove the necessity for personal belief and faith in the Lord Jesus.

And no, we don't earn death. Adam earned death for the human race (Rom 5:12-14). We inherit his death; we are born condemned (John 3:18), and unless we believe, we remain condemned. We are further punished for the sins we commit as sinners, but we are not sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are inherently sinners, "by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3).

On the other hand, when we hear Jesus' word and believe the Father, we do not come into condemnation or judgment but pass from death to life (Jn. 5:24). We ONLY pass from death to life when we place our faith in the Lord Jesus and His finished work on the cross, in His death, burial and resurrection. This is the only way we can see the kingdom of heaven.

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Username: Jonasaras

Post Number: 6
Registered: 9-2012
Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 9:02 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi Colleen,

Although the Bible teaches that all people (except Jesus) have come under the judgment of God because of our union with the first Adam and are worthy of eternal death, nowhere does the Bible teach or imply that anyone is ever consigned to hell solely on the basis of their union with Adam, apart from willful, persistent rejection or remaining indifferent to God’s revelation of himself to them. I have found it helpful to look at the texts that EXPLICITLY state who will be lost rather than inferring it:

Matt. 7:23 “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.’”

Matt. 16:27 “. . . and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

Matt. 25:42, 45 “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat . . . . ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

John 3:36b “. . . whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 5:29b “. . . and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

Rom. 1:20b “His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Rom. 1:24, 25 “Therefore, God gave them over . . .” because “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”

Rom. 1:26a “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.”

Rom. 1:28 “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God he gave them over to a depraved mind. . .”

Rom. 2:1b, 2 “. . . because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.”

Rom. 2:5–8 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath . . . God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done’ . . . But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” p27p

1 Cor. 6:9, 10 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

2 Cor. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Gal. 6:7 “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.”

Eph. 5:5, 6 “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person . . . has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God . . . for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”

Col. 3:25 “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is not favoritism.”

2 Thess. 2:12 “. . . so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

Rev. 20:12b, 13 “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books . . . and each person was judged according to what he had done.”

Rev. 22:12 “. . . and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” p28p

Rev. 22:15 “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

The above passages tell us that no one is eternally lost solely on the basis of the sin or the sinful nature they inherited from Adam. It is because they persistently, knowingly, and willfully rejected or remained indifferent to God's truth however it was revealed to them during their lives on earth (John 3:19,36). They will have consciously said "no" to God and insisted on living apart from him.

There is a difference between objective salvation (past) and subjective salvation (our present experience of it) and confusion arises if one does not differentiate between them in scripture.

Objective salvation has been procured for everyone, without exception:

“The true light gives light to every man” (John 1:9).

The Lamb of God “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The Son was sent to “save the world” (John 3:17).

Jesus “will draw all men” to himself (John 12:32).

Jesus came “to save” the world (John 12:47).

All “are justified freely by his grace” (Rom. 3:23, 24).

“One act of righteousness” brings “life for all men” (Rom. 5:18).

God “has bound all men . . . so that he may have mercy on” all of them (Rom. 11:32).

“All will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

“One died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5:14).

God does not count “men’s sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:19).

Every tongue will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10, 11).

Through his Son, God has reconciled “all things” to himself Col. 1:20). p15p

Christ Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Tim. 2:6).

God “is the Savior of all men” (1 Tim. 4:10).

God’s grace “has appeared for the salvation of all men” (Titus 2:11, RSV).

Jesus tasted “death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and “for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

However, one does not subjectively experience salvation until someone has told you that your "bill has been paid" (Romans 10:14, 2 Cor 5:18-19). After hearing a meaningful presentation of the Gospel one has to repent, believe and lead a joyful life. Not to do so "earns" condemnation. The point is the person is not "saved" when they hear about and accept it; it already objectively happened in the past apart from anything they have done. Paul knew that God had separated him apart from birth (Gal. 1:15). Paul was not converted before his Damascus road experience! So, a person can be “objectively” saved, as Paul was, before he or she is converted or identified as a Christian.

To put it into an analogy, I could have put aside $200K on your children's behalf for college. If you were not aware of that fact, you would be toiling away to make ends meet, pinching your pennies, etc. However the bill was already paid for whether or not you knew about it or had "accepted" that fact.

The compelling thing about Punt's view of Inclusivism is that the "Good News" is exactly that; the Gospel is a past event that affects everyone. Because of the second Adam, you, "Mr. Sinner" have been saved!

Because objective salvation is a past event, the Bible occasionally speaks of “the gospel OF your salvation”. This is different than the power of God FOR salvation (Rom. 1:16)

I don't claim to have all this figured out by any stretch, but I believe that the answer is there to be found. As I grow a bit older (mid-40s) I find myself growing a little bit more Calvinistic in my outlook. I used to think that humanity could thwart God's plans or help them along, but I've found too much in the Bible that states the opposite.

Christian Regards,
Registered user
Username: Asurprise

Post Number: 2770
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 4:01 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Welcome to the forum Jonas! :-)

I wanted to mention in Matthew 7:23, Jesus will never have "known" those people because they never had the Holy Spirit dwelling in them (as stated in Romans 8:9.)
Registered user
Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13970
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 4:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jonas, I have read some of Neal Punt's writing. Here, for example, is a statement he has made:


The Bible is totally silent about the question of how those who are “dead” in sin come to new life in Christ other than to tell us that “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18). Bell correctly notes that there is nothing the sinner must do, no condition that must be met, in order to persuade God to save him or her. Sinners are called upon to simply trust that God has saved them. Therefore no saved person can “boast” (Eph. 2:9). It is God “who has saved us and called us to a holy life―not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Tim. 1:9). It is for this reason I called my first book Unconditional Good News.

Neal Punt does not deal at all with Jesus' own teaching about belief and the new birth nor with Paul's similar statements. Additionally, your list of texts above are used as proof texts and are not reflecting their contexts. For example, 1 Timothy 4:10 does say the "living God" is "the Savior of all men," but it ends with this: "especially of those who believe."

Jesus was explicit with Nicodemus in John 3:3-6. The ONLY way to see the kingdom of heaven is to be born again of the Spirit. We have lost our spiritual life in Adam; we are born by nature objects (or children) of wrath, and we must be made literally alive in order to be saved.

John 3:18 further explains that


[18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

Ephesians 1:13-14 state that "having believed, we were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a guarantee of what is to come."

Punt is coming at this question from a covenant theology point of view which carries with it a certain weakness: it often tends to downplay the need for a specific new birth and instead stresses that the important "thing" is to belong to the covenant community. Thus, covenant theology tends to promote infant baptism as the NT replacement for circumcision, saying that children need to be in the covenant community in order to receive the covenant blessings. Thus, they are baptized in order to bring them into community. While there may be a catechizing or confirmation later as one approaches their teens, these ceremonies are not about believing in the Lord Jesus and receiving Him as one's Lord but rather emphasize acceptance of doctrine. Many, many people who grow up in classic covenant theology homes never experience the new birth, nor do they even have that need on their "radars".

I believe Punt is attempting to find an alternative to classic TULIP without abandoning his own understanding of election and predestination. He's just reversing the terms: instead of of saying everyone is lost except those God chooses to be saved, he is saying everyone is saved because of Jesus' death except those the Bible identifies as lost: the disobedient.

Punt's views further say that no one can know until Jesus returns who will be saved or lost because everyone is saved except those who "opt out", and we don't know till the end who opts out.

Yet Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if you hear my word and believe Him who sent me, you have eternal life and do not come into judgment but have passed out of death into life" (Jn. 5:24).

That is present knowledge. Moreover, Paul tells us in Romans 8:14-16


[15] For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [16] The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:15-17 ESV)

When we are born again, having believed in Jesus, the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we ARE His children. Period. We KNOW.

Moreover, Jesus said,


[44] No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. [45] It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—[46] not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. [47] Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. [48] I am the bread of life.
(John 6:44-48 ESV)

We have to believe to have eternal life. People are not saved until they are lost; they are lost until they are saved. Jesus died for ALL who believe, even those who lived before Jesus came. But nowhere does Scripture teach that Jesus' death resulted in putting everyone in a "saved until lost" position. Rather, Jesus' blood opened up a door through which we can escape our "communal grave", the domain of darkness out of which the Father transfers us when we believe (Col 1:13).

And the text Asurprise mentioned above is clear: Jesus says that those who have done every imaginable good deed will nonetheless be lost if He does not KNOW them. It is the KNOWING that matters...the being born again as a consequence of belief—which is also completely a work of God.

I believe Punt's skew is a result of his covenant theology perspective which doesn't really allow him to see the Lord Jesus, not "covenants", as the central point of God's work on earth. Covenant theology locks people into a certain "formula", and Punt has rightly chafed at the formula. But he has countered the formula with another one...that is perhaps less biblically defensible than what he opposes.

Salvation cannot be explained by a tidy formula. It is partially veiled from our understanding; we know how to be saved, but we have to hold in tension the concurrent realities of God's sovereign election and foreknowledge and my responsibility to believe.


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