Is God Knocking at the Door of Whosoever’s Heart?

To know Christ means not merely to know who He is, for the devils know and tremble. Do you know Christ; have you received Christ, do you believe in Christ, do you love Christ more than anything else. The Apostle John adds that we should also obey God’s commandments:

[1] Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. [2] By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments (1 John 5:1-2 ).”

A follower of Jesus obeys God’s commands not in order to be saved but because he is saved. Someone who relies on his own works doesn’t need a saviour, cannot believe in Christ, and therefore cannot be a child of God. The person who sees his own inability, his own helplessness is a child of God. The child of God has no confidence in the flesh:

[2] Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. [3] For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” ( Philippians 3:2-3 ESV). The Gospel makes it clear, however, that “works” (fruit) is an integral consequence of faith. In sum, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1) and the evidence of this fact is that we “obey his commandments” (1 John 5:1). And we can only believe if we do not trust in the flesh but in Jesus alone.

The question I would now like to tackle is the Arminian-Calvinist (synergist-monergist) controversy of how we come to faith and whether this has any bearing on one’s standing as a child of God.

In Calvinists, Neo-gnostic Calvinists and Seeking Arminians, I began by saying that when non-Calvinists bring up Calvinism (not too graphically, I hope), they are generally referring to the monergist doctrine that salvation is 100% of the Lord. The Arminian argues we certainly need grace, lots of it, but it is up to man to make the final decision, because “forced love is rape, and God is not a divine rapist!” (Norman Geisler in “Chosen but free”).

Yet, if Charles Spurgeon is correct when he says “If you began in the flesh, you have gone on in the flesh, and in the flesh you will die” (“God Promises you,” 1995, Whitaker House, p. 13), then how should we understand the following bible passages?

1. “…. who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13), and 2. we “who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” ( Philippians 3:3 ESV).

If you can honestly believe my hope is built on nothing less than Jesu’s blood and righteousness, I dare not trust my sweetest frame but wholy lean on Jesu’s name, on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,’ then you are for certain a child of God.

Now, here’s the rub: assume a lost person believes he cooperates with God in receiving Him and also believes with all his heart: “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesu’s blood and righteousness, I dare not trust my sweetest frame but wholy lean on Jesu’s name, on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” The question I would ask, and I think Spurgeon would also ask is: “Did this lost person “put no confidence in the flesh” when he believed ( Philippians 3:3) or did he come to believe by “the will of the flesh,” or, to put it another way by “the will of man” (John 1:13)?

Arminians and Calvinists both agree that someone who relies on his own works doesn’t need a saviour, and so cannot believe in Christ, and therefore cannot be a child of God. The person who sees his own inability, his own helplessness is a child of God. In other words, both the Arminian and the Calvinist would agree that the child of God puts no confidence in the flesh. The Calvinist, however, says the whole process of coming to faith is entirely God’s work, while the Arminian says that this can’t be so because God has sovereignly decreed that the believer decide; his reasoning being that God does not want robots for children.

The question is: Does the person’s action of deciding – his will, his flesh – form an integral – indeed the crucial – ingredient of his justification (made righteous)? Most Protestants in the Arminian-Calvinist controversy believe in justification by faith alone, that is, no works (no actions) are involved in coming to faith. The Arminian will argue that although he works at something – a big something, because ultimately it depends on him, when he cooperates (opera “work”) with God in his salvation, this cooperation (co-work) does not mean the same as “works” in contrast of “faith.” He might give the following example:,

[28] Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” [29] Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

(John 6:28-29 ).

It, is of course true, that “to believe” is an act, is a work, of the will, but this work of the will only comes into operation after the will has been set free. When is the will set free? When the Son sets you free, and when He does, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). Then when you sing “Amazing grace…who saved a wretch like me” you will really understand it, for how can you understand it if you think that the door to your heart can only be opened from the inside – by you. If it is you who decides what you will be doing with God’s plan, if it is you who has ultimate control over whether you become a child of God, whether you are saved, if that is what you think, how can you really understand “I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). If you’re an Arminian like John Stott – whose “The Cross of Christ” has been called a masterpiece by a Calvinist like J.I. Packer, and which I also think is a great work – Revelation 3:20 means this:

Yes Jesus Christ says he is standing at the door of our lives, waiting.” (Stott is talking to the unsaved, those who are dead in sin, the unsaved – Ephesians 2). “He is the landlord; he bought it with his life-blood. He could command us to open to Him; instead, he merely invites us to do so. He will not force and entry into anybody’s life. He says (verse 18) ‘I counsel you.’ he could issue orders; he is content to give advice. Such are his condescension and humility, and the freedom he has given us” (John Stott, “Basic Christianity,” Intervaristy Press, 1958, p. 124).

Alexander Mclaren resonates with Stott:

He holds back the vengeance that is ready to fall and will one day fall ‘on all disobedience.’ Not till all other means have been patiently tried will He let that terrible ending crash down. It hangs over the heads of many of us who are all unaware that we walk beneath the shadow of a rock that at any moment may be set in motion and bury us beneath its weight. It is ‘in readiness,’ but it is still at rest. Let us be wise in time and yield to the merciful weapons with which Jesus would make His way into our hearts. Or if the metaphor of our text presents Him in too warlike a guise, let us listen to His own gentle pleading, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.’ (Mclaren, “A militant message”).

Those two arm-in-arm commentaries are obviously Arminian in spirit. Here is the Calvinist interpretation from Charles Spurgeon, which I consider to be the correct one. Spurgeon is addressing the depressed Christian:

Let me speak to the depressed, and remind them that the prayer is instructive, for it shows that all that is wanted for a forsaken, forgotten spirit is that God should visit it again. “Remember me, O Lord. Anybody else’s remembering can do me no good, but if thou only give one thought toward thy servant, it is all done. Lord, I have been visited by the pastor, and he tried to cheer me. I have had a visit in the preaching of the gospel in the morning and the evening of thy day. I went to thy table, and I did not get encouragement there. But, Lord, do thou visit me!” A visit from Christ is the cure for all spiritual diseases. I have frequently reminded you of that in the address to the Church at Laodicea. The Church at Laodicea was neither cold nor hot, and Christ said that he would spue it out of his mouth; but do you know how he speaks of it as if he would cure it? “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me.” That is not an address to sinners. It is sometimes used so, but it is rent out of its connection. It is evidently an address to a church of God, or a child of God, who has lost the presence and the light of God’s countenance. All you want is a visit from Christ. All you want is that once again your communion should be restored; and I do bless the Lord that he can do that of a sudden, in a moment! He can make thy soul, “or ever it is aware, like the chariots of Ammi-nadib.” You may have come here to-night about as dead in soul as you could be, but the flashes of eternal life can reach you, and kindle a soul within, within the ribs of your old dead nature once again. You may have felt as if it was all over, and the last spark of grace had gone out; but when the Lord visits his people, he makes the wilderness and the solitary place to rejoice, and the desert to blossom as the rose. I do pray it may be such a happy hour to you that the prayer may be fulfilled, “Visit me with thy salvation.” I have great sympathy with those that are cast down. God, the comfort of those that are cast down, comfort you! May he bring you out who are bound with chains; and you solitary ones, may he set you in families! And I do not know a wiser method for you to pursue than incessantly to cry unto him; and let this be the prayer, “Remember me — me — with the favor which thou bearest to thy people: O visit me with thy salvation” (Spurgeon’s sermon “Psalm 106:4 Fine Pleading”).

Here is Revelation 3:20 again:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”

In the context of this Revelation 3:20 passage, “anyone” does not refer to anyone in the world, but to any one of the believers on the other side of the door of the “church.” In other words, a believer needs to grow closer to Christ, needs to grow up in Christ, needs to be in closer communion (“sup”) with Him. The “anyone” on the other side of the door is not a blanket whosoever, blind and naked; he is the whoever who has heard “my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).

The whole controversy revolves round the question: “How does one come to faith in Christ?” How does one come to believe? Back up to John 5:21: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will (John 5:21-23). With regard to unbelievers in Christ, there’s nothing in the Bible about “any searchings of heart, any exercises of conscience, any sense of need, any felt desire after Christ. It is simply Christ, in Divine sufficiency, speaking to spiritually dead souls, empowering them (by sovereign “quickening”) to hear.” A.W. Pink.

Here is Richard Bennett’s comment on the teaching, “Give your life to Jesus and be saved.” (The Invincible Gospel and the Modern Evangelical Lie):

“This teaching is in error for two reasons.  First, man in his natural condition is “dead in trespasses and sin.” Sin is what separates a man from God.  Only God Himself can bestow forgiveness and eternal life.  Eternal life is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:15-18, 6:23). A person does not give anything for a gift. God gives this gift to a person when He places that person in Christ Jesus. With the gift of salvation also comes the gift of faith to believe that this is what God has done (See also John 5:24-25).”

“Second, such phrases as “give your life to Jesus” wrongly presume that a person has some-thing worthy of God to give. Spiritually dead people cannot give anything that will save them from their sins. Because man is dead in sin, Christ Jesus gave His life for the sins of His people, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). There is no Bible verse that says or teaches that a lost, spiritually dead person gives anything, not even his life, in order to be saved.”

But what about Jesus saying to his listeners, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you?” (Matthew 7:7). Very good. (Human) knocking, asking, preaching, coming, believing are the human means God uses to draw his sheep, to enable them to come to him, where the coming is the effect of the drawing/enabling. And those who come are granted eternal life. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44).

Thy will be done” says the Lord’s prayer. This does not mean that although God wants His will to be done, He generally fails – fails because of man’s refusal to allow Him to fulfill His will. “Thy will be done” means (to God!)“Thy will shall be done” (“shall” the strong third-person grammatical form of “will”), and nothing, including man’s will shall prevent it.

[26] The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— [27] for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28] to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place (They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen)” (Acts 4:28).

The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand” (Isaiah 14:24).

Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose (Isaiah 46:8-10).

Recall Stott (above):

He will not force and entry into anybody’s life. He says (verse 18) ‘I counsel you.’ he could issue orders; he is content to give advice. Such are his condescension and humility, and the freedom he has given us.”

But didn’t Jesus say that only after you know the truth, will you be free. How does a dead person know the truth, how does a dead person (to the things of God) have freedom to choose God? (Ephesians 2:1-8)? In contrast to Stott, the Bible says: “I will accomplish my purpose.” (Isaiah 46:10). What is God’s purpose in salvation? What is his counsel in salvation? It is to save, and save perfectly those whom he has drawn into His eternal Life.

40 thoughts on “Is God Knocking at the Door of Whosoever’s Heart?

  1. This is a revised response from your comment on Theologica where you posted the link to this article.

    Saying we have the opportunity to respond to God’s grace is not the same as saying “I saved myself”. There is no tiny bit of work involved in that choice. Is it a “work” each time you are faced with a decision, today (as a child of God), on whether to return extra change given to you by a cashier (and thereby stealing from the store) or to keep it. Who makes that choice? Is that predestined or not? Who makes the choice of flirting with someone of the opposite sex that may or may not turn into a full-blown affair? Who makes the choice of becoming angry and judgmental towards somebody who is a bonehead or not? Are all these the predestined “option of God” for you, or is there an obedience (a response to the Spirit’s leading and guiding) that you are responsible for? If the former, are you saying it is God who has pre-ordained all your sin acts? Just how great is His power to sanctify you? What is sanctification for you? If our choice to respond is a “work”, then is not our continuing salvation based on our works, not on grace. On your blog you mention Revelation 3:20 refers to Christians and so it makes sense to you. Are you saying a “Christian” is now worthy after salvation to open the door, and so works is now needed to maintain salvation, or at least a renewed presence of Jesus? For me the question that Calvinism doesn’t answer is how we sin after we are saved.

    Adam was the type for all humanity, you and I are not. Adam was created in perfection with no sin, we are born with that sin nature. When we come of age in terms of responsibility, though, we do have the choice to sin or not, but will always sin because of our nature. God has offered a finished work, a free gift, though, which saves us from that sin nature, so that we become a new creation. This gift is offered by grace – He draws us to Himself, it is not by mental argument or physical exertion. The work is done (all done at the cross and resurrection) – there is nothing you and I add to it. Responding to that grace is not adding to what God is offering, and does not flow out of that sinful nature or body. The ability to choose comes out of the image of God from which we were created. If I offered you a gift, do you have it? Not until you reach out and take it from my hand. Did I add anything to that gift? Did I, by reaching out and grabbing it, in anyway make the gift from you any less from you and more from me? Of course not – it is part of the exchange process. I hold a door open for the lady and she walks through. She did nothing to add or change in any way my gesture, but she fully experienced and received the result of that gesture. So it is with God offering salvation as a free gift. You have a decision to reach out and take it or to stand there and stare at it. You have a choice to walk through that open door, or continue on down the sidewalk.

    The difference is you believe the Fall wrecked every part of that image of God we were created in. I believe that ability to choose (which is part of that image of God) was not affected. Yes, I believe that people are “totally depraved” and can offer nothing towards their own salvation. That choice is not a work. I haven’t thought too much about what it is, except that it is part of the “God imprint” on our lives. I may be neither Calvinist nor Armenian in this sense. I’m okay with that.

    • If I ask you these three questions, I hope I don’t create the impression that I’m ducking your main points:

      1. Have you ever prayed that God would enable someone to accept Him? Words such as “change his/her heart,” or “bring him/her to faith?
      2. Does God ever fail to accomplish His plans?
      3. Does the person who accepts the Gospel (like you, I assume) deserve to go to heaven?

      • 1. I don’t disagree with you that God draws people to Himself, that without the work of God in our lives we cannot accept Him. Have you prayed this prayer and expected God to actually listen to it and “change” His mind?
        2. Uh, no! We can get into semantics here a bit if you want. What do you mean by “plans”? Do you know this plan? Is God free to do what He wants, and “change His mind”?
        3. No one deserves to go to heaven by what they do or say or think. We can’t add to the grace (salvation) God has accomplished in Jesus. That work is done, finished. While a moot point here, the Gospel is about living out your faith in holiness of life. A person who accepts the Gospel will live a changed life, becoming more Christ-like as time goes on.

        How do you answer those same three questions?

        • Steve, your comments with my replies:

          1. You said: “Have you prayed this prayer and expected God to actually listen to it and “change” His mind?” I don’t understand. My question was whether you had ever prayed that God would change, not His (God’s) mind/heart, but the mind/heart of someone you were praying for. By “change,” I mean, of course, turn them to have faith in Christ.
          2. God’s plans. I should’ve given an example. Here is one. God (the Trinity) planned the crucifixion of the Son. Was this plan dependent on human beings, that is, on what He foresaw human freedom (e.g. Judas) would do?
          3. You say that no one deserves to go to heaven for (in your view) choosing to accept the Gospel. I agree. What about those who choose to reject the Gospel? Do they deserve to be punished, to go to hell, to be cut off from God eternally?

  2. Bog, your comments with my replies:
    1. You said: “Have you prayed this prayer and expected God to actually listen to it and “change” His mind?” I don’t understand. My question was whether you had ever prayed that God would change, not His (God’s) mind/heart, but the mind/heart of someone you were praying for. By “change,” I mean, of course, turn them to have faith in Christ.

    The question posed says, You are praying to God for Him to act based on what you are asking. You are asking God to change that person – intimating that you can sway God’s decision on that person’s election. If I ask you to change you dog’s habit of digging in my yard, I am not just asking for the dog’s change, I am asking you to act, to change what you are doing.

    2. God’s plans. I should’ve given an example. Here is one. God (the Trinity) planned the crucifixion of the Son. Was this plan dependent on human beings, that is, on what He foresaw human freedom (e.g. Judas) would do?

    Did Judas have a choice to make, on whether he would be greedy through his time with Jesus, and get so caught up in it that he betrayed Jesus? Yes. That is history. Did it have to happen that way? I think God is free to use whatever He wants to to accomplish His purpose. If Charles Templeton refuses to be used to reach millions, perhaps there is a Billy Graham who will respond. If Balaam does not listen, perhaps there is a donkey to available to convince him. How do we know what the plan of God is/was? How do we know who is saved? We don’t. Calvin, for all his theology, was very good at persecuting those who exhibited behavior contrary to what he thought was acceptable. Was it even judgement in the sense that God gave Judas over to his selfishness? Sometimes a hardening of the heart is a result of continual refusal to acknowledge grace at work in your life. Does God’s plan fail – no.

    3. You say that no one deserves to go to heaven for (in your view) choosing to accept the Gospel. I agree. What about those who choose to reject the Gospel? Do they deserve to be punished, to go to hell, to be cut off from God eternally?

    We are all already under judgement. We participated with Adam and Eve in their sin. The choice is to remain in our selfish and sinful ways or accept the provision of God and turn 180 degrees towards Jesus, becoming a new creation. If works don’t save, everyone “deserves” rejection by God, but you and I haven’t the wisdom or power to discern what people deserve or not, or whether a person has accepted God’s grace or not. Justice is something between God and the individual.

    • Steve

      1. Your “The question posed says, You are praying to God for Him to act based on what you are asking. You are asking God to change that person – intimating that you can sway God’s decision on that person’s election. If I ask you to change you dog’s habit of digging in my yard, I am not just asking for the dog’s change, I am asking you to act, to change what you are doing.”

      Reply: Jesus tells us to preach the Gospel, to study his word, to pray to the Father. These are the means God uses to reach and nourish those whom he has appointed for salvation, his sheep (John 10), whom he has chosen before the beginning of the world.

      2. Your “How do we know what the plan of God is/was? How do we know who is saved? We don’t…Was it even judgement in the sense that God gave Judas over to his selfishness? Sometimes a hardening of the heart is a result of continual refusal to acknowledge grace at work in your life. Does God’s plan fail – no.”

      Reply: The difference between man and God is that man HAS knowledge (finite content that God chooses to reveal) while God IS infinite knowledge (He is what he has). The Bible is clear that “He hath called us according to his own purpose and grace, before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9. An Arminian would deny this and say “It is false to say that election is confirmed from everlasting.”

      And: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18. “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, swing, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10. “I am the LORD, I change not,” Malachi 3:6. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18.

      Steve, it seems, you would stand with Arminius: “It is certain that God determineth divers things which he would not, did not some act of man’s will go before” (Arminius).

      3. Your “We are all already under judgement.” “We participated with Adam and Eve in their sin.” Yes, spot on. But then you say: “The choice is to remain in our selfish and sinful ways or accept the provision of God and turn 180 degrees towards Jesus, becoming a new creation.”

      Reply: Here are a few scriptures: “Of ourselves we can do nothing,” John 15:5. “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves,” 2 Corinthians 3:5. “We are by nature the children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1-3.

      “Faith is not of ourselves: it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8.

      “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received?” 1 Corinthians 4:7.

      Here is your Arminian perspective:
      “We retain still after the fall a power of believing and of repentance, because Adam lost not this ability,” Rem. Declar. Sen. in Synod.

      “Faith is said to be the work of God, because he commandeth us to perform it,” Rem. Apol. “There is no infusion of any habit or spiritual vital principle necessary to enable a man to believe,” Corv.

      “There is nothing truer than that one man maketh himself differ from another. He who believeth when God commandeth, maketh himself differ from him who will not,” Rem. Apol.

      “I may boast of mine own, when I obey God’s grace, which it was in my power not to obey, as well as to obey,” Grevinch.

      “True conversion and the performance of good works is a condition required on our part before justification,” Filii Attain.

      “God sendeth the gospel to such persons or nations, that in comparison of others may be said to be worthy of it,” Rem. Apol.

      See John Owen http://www.albatrus.org/english/theology/reformed/arminianism_exposed_from_owen.htm

  3. I totally agree with your opening statements. However, I got lost in the Calvinist/Arminian debate. Too much going on today to concentrate. My understanding is that salvation is dependent on genuine repentence and acceptance of Yeshua as Savior and Lord. I’m probably paraphrasing here, but it goes like this: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The “sinner’s prayer” is not a magic formula. It must be genuine. Faith in Christ is followed by good works, as you pointed out. To follow Christ is to obey Him. The Commandments are written on our hearts when we believe (Jeremiah 30: 31-33 and Hebrews 10: 16). BTW, I believe in free will as well as “election.” God chose us from the beginning. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but I think it means that, since God is omniscient, He knows who will accept His Messiah. Also, it is the Holy Spirit who leads one to repent. If I had time, I’d look up all the scriptures that suppot this, but I’m the chief cook for Thanksgiving. LOL.

    Here’s another controversy to chew on: Can one lose his or her salvation? The Baptists say “no.” The Pentacostals say “yes.” I could find scripture that would seem to support either position. For example, we are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. And Christ is the “author and the finisher of our faith.” On the other hand, there’s a passage in Hebrews that suggests that one can lose his salvation by continual disobedience. It has to do with the fact that Christ died once for our sins; He can’t be crucified over and over. I don’t fully understand these passages, but they do make clear that one should not take salvation–or Christ’s sacrifice on the cross–lightly.

    • I have written more than a dozen posts on the “free willie” issue – under the “Arminianism and Calvinism” topic, but I don’t want to inflict these on you here. Rather, let’s move slowly. I ask you, “Do you pray that Christ “open the hearts” of people (specific or in general)? I would think you do. If so, why do you do so?

      • Well, I pray for people’s salvation. As for “opening their hearts,” I say that sometimes. The heart of a person who doesn’t know the Lord is like stone according to Jeremiah 31: 31-33. God wants to take away the heart of stone and give him/her a heart of flesh. Where your heart is, your treasure is. And the Scripture says that the heart is deceitful; who can know it? And so on and so on. Now, you may ask, what is the heart according to Scripture? I’m not sure. A metaphor? I don’t have a Bible in front of me at the moment. But the Scripture talks about the importance of believing “in your heart that God has raised Christ from the dead.” I wonder what the Hebrew word for “heart” is? That would be a good place to start. Agree?

        • Sheryl. heart in Hebrew is “leive/lave.” It is used in the same way as in English with all its metaphorical meanings. So, not sure how that can help.

          About that stony heart. When God removes it, we are born again, we believe, we are jutified, not so?

          With regard to ”can you lose your faith?” consider Romans 4:20-5:1:

          (Paul is writing about Abraham)
          20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

          The above leads into Romans 5:1, which is the pertinent verse:

          “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

          Sheryl, you will agree that every genuine Christian is born again. Assume that after being born again, he/she forsakes the faith, this must mean that after being born again such a person returns to being dead (in sins – Ephesians 2). And say, years later the person ”returns” to Christ,surely, the only way to be justified (washed clean, reconciled with God) AGAIN is to be born again AGAIN?

          Doesn’t this gain-lose-gain-lose-gain-(hopefully not ending in)-lose….faith make nonsense of being born again. The following scriptures should put such a notion to sleep for good:

          “All that the father gives me will come to me and those who come to me I will not cast out (John 6:37)….No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).

          Now, you brought up (all over me!) that Hebrews 6 and 10 talk about believers forsaking the faith. These are not genuine believers, “they were not of us.” Many Jews loved the idea that Jesus may be the Messiah; their idea of a Messiah (Kill them horrible Romans!). Yes some of them may also have tasted and had deep spiritual/religious experiences – miracles, prophecies, falling over backwards, feeling all warm inside and so forth, but they are not true believers. We read in John 8 about those who “believed in” him:

          25 “Who are you?” they (the Jews) asked.

          “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

          27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

          Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are

          31 To the JEWS WHO HAD BELIEVE IN HIM, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

          33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

          34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

          39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

          “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

          “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

          42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

          In sum, no you can’t lose your salvation. One other reason you can’t, which, if you want, I’ll elaborate on, is because your regeneration had zilch to do with you; you didn’t lift a finger to be born again. No doubt, if you did, then, of course, you would be able to lift a finger to be shorn (of God) again. Just imagine if the dead could lift a finger or even blink, where would we all blinking be? And how embarrassed the King of Kings would be. All of the children of Adam in hell. Just thinking of the idea that I could be free to choose my salvation.. Time to go, my batteries need charging.

          Robocrypha(el)

          • Yes, God takes away our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh when we are born again. I’m inclined to agree that once a person is genuinely born again, he cannot lose his salvation. Perhaps those passages in Hebrews refer to people who are Christians in name only–not genuine, born-again believers.

            However, when you say that I did nothing to be born again, I would have to disagree. God pursued me relentlessly–primarily through a Bible verse (I Corinthians 1: 25). After I read “How to be Born Again” by Billy Graham, I genuinely repented of my sins but did not ask Jesus into my life. A few weeks later, I was reading my assignment for a college literature class. It was entitled “In Praise of Folly” by the Monk Erasmus and it explained I Corinthians 1: 25. I instantly asked Jesus into my HEART, and immediately I sensed the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit and was simultaneously born again. (Oh, dear. There’s that word again–heart. I could have asked Him into my life, and I still would have been born again.) I don’t think God is too wrapped up in semantics. The fact is that He chose me from the beginning and pursued me until I said “yes.” That was April 7, 1980. 2pm.

            • Sheryl, do you think that God/Jesus played some role in your repentance? You seem to be saying that only after you initiated and carried out your act of repentance and asked Jesus into to your heart (opened the door and enabled Jesus to come in) that you were born again, which was accompanied by an experience of being born again.

              Where does “faith” fit in the above?

              • I have heard and read that the Hebrew word for “faith” is more accurately translated “trust.” God revealed Himself to me; I trusted Him and wanted a relationship with Him.

                Now, many years later, I want a more intimate relationship with Him. Like Abraham, Moses, Peter, and Paul, I crave a closer walk with God. God has revealed Himself to me in supernatural ways that make me want more of Him. I want to be like Christ and do the works that He has called me to do. Salvation is just the beginning.

                I don’t mean to imply that everyone does–or should– know the date of his salvation. Everyone’s encounter with the God of the Bible varies. Components of salvation are repentence and acknowledging Christ as Savior and Lord. Sometimes this occurs all at once, sometimes over time. In my case, I used to make fun of people who could rattle off the date of their salvation. God has a sense of humor. That’s why I think that He made me aware of everything–even the day of the week when I was saved.

                I meant that God took the initiative. I wasn’t pursing Him; He was pursing me. I could not escape Him. Was He knocking at the door? Yes. Did I open it by acknowledging Him. Yes.

                • Sheryl, your comments with my replies.

                  – I have heard and read that the Hebrew word for “faith” is more accurately translated “trust.” God revealed Himself to me; I trusted Him and wanted a relationship with Him.

                  Faith has three components: information (notitia), assent (assensus) to it, and trust in (fiducia) it. It is trust in Christ that justifies, which is a logical consequence of being born again. Once justified, always justified. Once justified, you’re saved.

                  – Now, many years later, I want a more intimate relationship with Him. Like Abraham, Moses, Peter, and Paul, I crave a closer walk with God. God has revealed Himself to me in supernatural ways that make me want more of Him. I want to be like Christ and do the works that He has called me to do. Salvation is just the beginning.

                  Salvation is past, present and future. Once justified (having been saved), you want to fulfill your calling to lead a holy life (being save) which ends in the resurrection and the heavenly (which need not be “up there”) reward (you will be saved).

                  – I meant that God took the initiative. I wasn’t pursing Him; He was pursing me. I could not escape Him. Was He knocking at the door? Yes. Did I open it by acknowledging Him. Yes.

                  So, in spite of the fact that you still had your stony dead heart, you had the desire springing from that dead heart of stone to open the door to your heart, and allow God to bring you back from the dead and remove your stony heart, which hated God?

                  Question regarding assurance: If you were free to trust in God, why can’t you be free to to-and-fro between trust and not trust, which means between being born again and not being born again, and again and again. If you say that this can’t happen because God promises that he will never forsake you, this is to say that even if you willed to leave, God will ensure (=force) that you won’t be able to use your freedom to forsake Him. Of course, it would be dangerous to say that “I will never leave” because then this would mean “I did it my way.”

                  The bottom line: If you opened the door to your heart and let Jesus in (because God respects your free will to let him in or keep him out) then if God really does respect your free will to decide to be saved or not, isn’t it logical and right that God should respect your free will when you decide to chuck in the towel – and perhaps pick it up later?

                  • Not sure where this conversation is going, Raphael. I’ve never wanted to “chuck in the towel” since coming to a saving knowledge of Christ although I do not always put Him first. Justification is one thing. Sanctification is another. I am justified in Christ, but I’m being made holy through the work of the Holy Spirit (an ongoing process).

                    Salvation is indeed past, present, and future; and faith has several components. So my question is: What are we arguing about? LOL Does it have to do with “opening the door” to one’s heart? Yeshua is the one who said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev., KJV)

                    Can a Christian “chuck in the towel” and pick it up again? I suppose so. Born-again Christians fall short of the glory of God every day and need to confess their sins. I’m thinking of the chap in I Cor. who was sleeping with his mother-in-law. When he was confronted by the Corinthian congregation, he repented and was welcomed back into the fold. It was a good thing he repented. Paul spoke of handing “this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

                    On one hand, Paul’s remedy sounds harsh. On the other hand, it makes a strong case for “once saved, always saved.”

                    • Sheryl -“What are we arguing about? LOL Does it have to do with “opening the door” to one’s heart? Yeshua is the one who said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev., KJV)

                      Reply: My whole argument in this article hinged on the FACT that this Rev passage refers to believers; slack believers.

                      Sheryl – “Can a Christian “chuck in the towel” and pick it up again? I suppose so. Born-again Christians fall short of the glory of God every day and need to confess their sins. I’m thinking of the chap in I Cor. who was sleeping with his mother-in-law. When he was confronted by the Corinthian congregation, he repented and was welcomed back into the fold. It was a good thing he repented. Paul spoke of handing “this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

                      Reply – it is obvious that genuine Christians sin and need to confess. The people I am talking about who come and go (and may do this more than once) are those who become atheists, or join another religion; in other words reject Christ. In these cases, my argument stands.

                      Sheryl – “On one hand, Paul’s remedy sounds harsh. On the other hand, it makes a strong case for “once saved, always saved.”

                      Reply – the Bible is grammatically clear: if the Father gives you to the Son, you WILL come; and if you come, you Will be given eternal life (John 6: 37-44).

                      We both agree that God’s grace is efficient (it works). I ask you, do you think it was sufficient to regenerate you from spiritual death (dead in sin – Ephesians 2)?

                    • Absolutely–to the last question. I am/was regenerated when I accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. As for people who accept then reject Christ, how can they belong to Christ? This is where those passages in Hebrews might apply. Christ died once for our sins. He can’t be crucified over and over. But I have to wonder: Do people REALLY accept Christ then reject Him, or are they playing the field?

                      I don’t know for certain whether or not a person can lose his salvation. As I’ve stated before, I could use scripture to bolster either assertion. The bottom line is that we should not take our salvation lightly.

                      BTW, who are those who said to Christ, “Didn’t we do miracles in your name [etc., etc.]?” And Christ said, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” Who are they? Do they figure into this debate? Were they believers or were they “playing church,” so to speak?

                      Also, consider the parable about the man who hid his talent instead of investing it. He was still “saved” but lost his reward in heaven.

                      I’m afraid I’m jumping from one thing to the next instead of sticking to your original subject. Baby sitting 5-year-olds does that to me. Sorry.

                    • Sheryl – 1. “Absolutely–to the last question. I am/was regenerated when I accepted Christ as Savior and Lord.

                      2. As for people who accept then reject Christ, how can they belong to Christ? This is where those passages in Hebrews might apply.

                      I comment on 2. first: Exactly. Why is this so? Because, as I mentioned in my previous comment – “If the Father gives you to the Son, you WILL come; and if you come, you Will be given eternal life (John 6: 37-44). As you say, which would make St Augustine, Luther and Calvin very proud, the ones mentions in Hebrews 6 and 10 refer to false believers.

                      As for 1, are you saying that your acceptance of Christ caused you to be born again?

                    • I infer that you mean that the Father and the Son are “gentlemen” as well. If so, would you say that the Son was acting like a gentleman when he forced Lazarus to “come forth?”

                    • When he “forced” Lazarus to come forth? Aren’t we talking apples and oranges? Your point eludes me. Clearly you enjoy debate. So do I–but perhaps not as much as you do. Were you ever on a debate team? I bet you were, and I bet you won every time by frustrating your opponent. lol

                    • Raising Lazarus from physical death and raising you and me from spiritual death mean that all three of us could not even blink an eye to come back to life. This is what it means to say that God’s grace is sufficient to raise us from death to life (which you agreed was so). So, only after God regenerates you (gives you new life, power, ability to come forth to Him) are you able and certainly do (say) I believe. The Bible is clear: every human being in his/her natural state is free to follow their heart; the point is that they are determined (their heart DETERMINES them) not to seek God. We are saved through grace alone (because it is sufficient) through faith alone, and “that (“that” refers to grace and faith) not of yourselves; it (grace and faith) is a gift of God.” (Ephesians 2). That is what I call a mighty God, amazing grace.

                    • While King James English throws me off a bit, I find the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith agreeable. It is the Holy Spirit that draws the sinner to a profession of faith. No one can come to faith in Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws him. (Don’t recall the book, chapter and verse, but it’s in the NT.)

                      As stated in the LBCF, a person cannot convert himself. As a child, I used to go forward to repent and receive Christ, but it meant nothing to me, and I did not change. It was only after I hit rock bottom in my early thirties that I genuinely confessed my sins and asked Yeshua into my heart/life/whatever and I was born-again in a split second. That may not be what you want to hear, and it may not agree with your theology, but that is what happened. I remember it like it was yesterday.

                      Speaking of creeds, I also like the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.

                    • Sheryl – “genuinely confessed my sins and asked Yeshua into my heart/life/whatever and I was born-again in a split second.” you said you agreed with me. What did you agree with, that you cannot genuinely confess your sins unless you have first been raised to life/regenerated/born again?

                    • “I guess I didn’t agree with you after all then.”

                      – so, before you were given the gift of faith, you were not dead in sin, but deadish in sin, or more accurately, deadISHA. (Hewbrew ISH “man,” ISHA “woman.”

                      “But I think we agree that the Holy Spirit draws one to repent and be saved.”

                      – which will without fail result in eternal life, innit?

                    • You said, “You cannot genuinely confess your sins unless you have first been . . . born again.” I had to rethink that one. I get your point. I did confess my sins prior to being born again; however, I agree with you totally that I did not truly understand the nature of sin until AFTER I was born again. My eyes were opened. (Well done, Bography.)

                    • So, you confessed your sins and then God raised you from the dead. Question: the persons whom God sends to hell, was there something in them that caused them to go to hell?

                    • Sheryl, the following may shed more light on your and my positions.

                      http://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/conversation-between-a-jewish-agnostic-and-jewish-calvinist/

                    • I gave it a quick read. Oh! How I hate “isms.” They are so confining. I prefer to let the Bible interpret itself. Based on our conversations, I surmise that you beleive in predestination? Not free will or a combination of the two? That we are either destined to go to heaven or to hell? This brings to mind Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The sermon is brilliant–a masterpiece filled with colorful imagery; but I find it fatalistic.

                      Raphael, I reading something you wrote about “The Moment of Decision,” and I came across this: “I ask, where does it say in the Bible that the rest (making the final decision to be saved) is up to you? Nowhere.”

                      I disagree. “If YOU confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in YOUR HEART that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” [Romans 10: 9 NASB]

                      Did you detect “free will” in that verse? (Pardon the capitalizations. I couldn’t resist since we’ve been talking about the Calvinists versus the whatever-you-said the Methodists are.)

                    • Yes, there is something in them that causes them to go to hell. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kindgdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6: 9-10) The good news is that forgiveness is available through the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God.

                    • Nothing in you, you say. How then did you manage to cooperate with God in your regeneration. Surely to operate with God – which you must have done, if your theology is right – implies that there was something better in you than in the person who was sent to hell. According to you (not so?) God is knocking at the door of everybody’s heart. Those who (will to) open, go to heaven, those who (will to) not open, go to hell. So, it surely follows that if the one who refuses to open his heart deserves to go (merits) hell, then the one who opens merits heaven. In sum, both of you get the same grace, but whereas the one goes to hell (which can only be because of something rotten in him), you get to go to heaven, surely for no other reason that there was something in you – ok not good if you insist -less rotten.

                    • If your theology is based solely on predestination, not free will or a combination of the two, then may I conclude that you see no point in evangelism? Should missionaries stay home and mind their own business? What do you make of the following passage: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16: 15-16) Also, see Matthew 28: 19-20.

                    • Sheryl, I shall respond to your “predestination = no necessity to evangelise” a little later. To “re-irritate” my previous question, in another form: “When you arrive in heaven, what reason will you give why you were chosen to go there, while others were sent to hell?”

                    • No, not less rotten. Just a willlingness to INVITE Him into my Heart.

                      Raphael, you always manage to avoid my questions by asking me another question. OK. Here’s my answer. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I became a citizen of heaven.

                      Will we ever get beyond the predestination/free will issue? You tempt me to say,”Too much learning hath made thee mad.”

                    • “No, not less rotten. Just a willlingness to INVITE Him into my Heart.
                      OK. Here’s my answer. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I became a citizen of heaven.”

                      – So both of you, you say are equally rotten, but whereas he is unwilling to invite Jesus into his heart and so goes to hell, you are willing and so go to heaven. It is plain that there is something bad in him that causes him to go to hell, and something good in you that causes you to go to heaven. Is it not logical to conclude that it was ULTIMATELY you that got yourself into heaven, (God being a gentleman and so forth and thus not wanting to interfere in your independence). If you say no, then you must say that it was not the person ending up in hell that ultimately got himself into hell.

                      Here’s the scenario: Jesus is begging and pleading and pouring his “prevenient” grace into you and another person – that is, grace that gives you both enough light to decide whether you want to let him into your heart. You allow him in, the other person keeps the door of his heart shut. He goes to hell. You go to heaven. Someone asks you, how were you saved? You must logically answer (but psychologically won’t), “There was something in me that made me willing to invite Jesus into my heart.” This means that it was not God who ultimately got you into heaven (saved you) but it was you who ULTIMATELY saved yourself.

                      “Raphael, you always manage to avoid my questions by asking me another question.”

                      – I don’t see it that way. I was waiting for you to answer my question before I would answer a further question, which you now have. Your further question was that if you are predestined what is the point of evangelising? That’s very easy to answer: God chooses the ends (salvation) as well as the means (evangelising). He told Christians to witness, so we do it. From the Calvinist view, no one knows whom God has predestined/elected to salvation, so go preach to everybody without distinction (Jews and Gentiles, that is the “world”).

                      “Will we ever get beyond the predestination/free will issue?”

                      -This issue is the hinge (as Luther said in his dispute with Erasmus) on which the Gospel turns. God’s glory is at stake.

                      You tempt me to say,”Too much learning hath made thee mad.”

                      You said it.

                    • Sheryl, the following points are relevant to our discussion:

                      Chapter 9 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith:
                      1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
                      ( Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19 )
                      2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well- pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.
                      ( Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:6 )
                      3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
                      ( Romans 5:6; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44 )
                      4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
                      ( Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23 )
                      5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only. ( Ephesians 4:13 )

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