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Predestination or, Free Will

10.04.17 | Christian Living, Doctrinal Teaching | by Elder Steven Rogers

Predestination or, Free Will

    Predestination, or Free Will

                 Since the days of the Reformation the doctrines of predestination, free will, and foreknowledge have been an issue of debate between theologians.  During the period of the Reformation the Reformers where in immense battles, combating heresies and false doctrines which arouse from breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church, and defending such doctrines as the divinity of Christ.   Martin Luther and John Calvin have St. Augustine of Hippo to thank for the basic understandings of predestination compared to Free Will.  St. Augustine’s ministerial focus was combating Pelagianism, found by Pelagius, who espoused the doctrine of Free Will.  This was only the beginning of a feud within the Christian community which decades later John Calvin would write to combat Jocobus Arminius.

                  However, the feud between predestination, and free will had already begun in the ancient philosophies.  Socrates and Plato contemplated the questions of, “What sways the decisions of a human being: reason, or emotion, or desire?”  To them, that a rational being acts freely was self-evident, and it was the individual who was the final arbiter of will.  They looked upon the human will not as a problem of will, but a problem of choice.  For them freedom was to act intelligently and not be swayed by desires.

                 Predestination and Free will also aroused controversy in the Muslim faith.  The Jabrites, plainly said that Allah decreed everything, good or bad, and that man had no choice to do anything except what Allah had willed for him. The Qadarite theologians did not agree. They said that evil and injustice cannot be blamed onto Allah, but were the result of man's own choice. The Ash’arites, a third sect of Muslims, concluded that, although Allah decrees for a man to do a thing, he also gives man the choice and desire to do it. In this way, each man becomes responsible for his own actions because he chose to do what Allah had decreed for him to do, even though he could do nothing else.

                 The words predestination, foreknowledge and free will have lost their meanings in time, and many Christians define them using traditional, and status quo, however, to understand the points of view the great reformers have we must understand the basic definition of both.  Predestination: The divine and unalterable determination of the salvation or damnation of human beings even before they are created.  Foreknowledge:  In his omniscience God, He knows before hand what the future hold both for individuals and for nations.  Free Will:  The ability to choose between good and evil without reference to the grace of God or any external constraint or imposed necessity.  (Nelson Bible Dictionary) 

                 As stated above we have two views that are at total opposite ends of the theological spectrum.  It is no wonder that the works of Augustine, and Calvin were to the extreme, to compensate the extreme approach of Pelagism, and Arminias.  It is sad to say men from ancient times to modern times have tried to make mysteries of God, black and white; taking certain issues to the extreme so they can be defined in a clear and concise way.  We serve a God who is balanced, and has created the world with balance; for there is day and night, love and hate mercy and justice, and Spirit and Truth.  It is our duty as Christians to stay balance not having too much weight on one side, while the other lacks.  When a Christian is out of balance he begins to suffer from extremism’s, he may become too liberal or to legalistic in his approach to Biblical principals.  Have these reformers been more focus on proving their own point and refuting their foe’s that they may have missed out on the revelation of truth?

                 Augustine maintained because of the fall of Adam there could be no faith or good works without grace.  He believed grace is available to the elect only, who are predestined to receive it and persevere with in it.  He taught predestination in three points:

    • Human will is enslaved
    • Grace is needed to choose God
    • Grace is enduring and available to the elect

                Arminius taught and opposed Calvinism with the theological theory of freedom of the will.  Extreme Arminianism further suggests God does not have foreknowledge, for if God had foreknowledge of an event it would make that event predetermine.  For God cannot lie, nor is God wrong, so the event is settled.  Arminianism can be comprised with 15 major tenets:

    • Human beings are free agents and human events are mediated by the foreknowledge of God
    • God’s decrees are conditional, not absolute
    • God created Adam innocent
    • Sin consists in acts of the will
    • Only pollution, not the sin of Adam was imputed on his descendants
    • Man’s depravity is not total, and his will is inclined toward God and good
    • The Atonement was not necessary but once offered is available to all
    • Atonement does not actually affect the salvation of human beings
    • Salvation becomes effectual only when accepted voluntarily by sinners
    • Regeneration is determined by human will, not divine grace
    • Faith itself is a good work
    • There is no distinction between common grace and special grace
    • Grace may be resisted
    • The righteousness of Christ is never imputed to the believer
    • A believer may conform to the divine will in his life, but may also fall from grace

                   A constant theme with these four men, Augustine, Pelagius, Calvin, and Arminius is Calvin’s “TULIP” acronym.  I wish in this study which I undertake to define and contrast these themes which all four men fervently defended and come to a basis of truth. 

    Total Depravity

     The Nature of Man                                      

                 The nature of man is the first subject of controversy between the great theologians mentioned above.  However, the nature of man went beyond the revelations of scripture, but also found its way into the great philosophers of ancient and modern times.  Confucius, Machiavelli, and Rousseau believed human beings were created naturally good, contrary to the beliefs of Aristotle and Hobbes who believed the soul of a man is immoral. 

     Before the Fall

     “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

     “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold it was very good…” (Gen 1:26-27; 31)

                Man was created on the sixth day of creation which the number six has become symbolic of the number of man.  6 years a Hebrew slave had to serve their master, 6 days Moses waited for God, 6 days Joshua around, Jericho, 6x6 Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, 666 Number of the beast are just some biblical examples of six.  That state in which man was created was innocent, and perfect; for man was created in the image of a perfect God, a God who was innocent.  It was not meant for man to die, but to be immortal like his creator.  “God was manifest in the flesh” (1Tim 3:16), God whom is a Spirit had taken bodily form and was born innocent, without sin, perfect, and immortal.  Though the body of Christ suffered death, three days later He rose from the dead.  For man was not meant for hell and death, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matt 25:41).  Hell and destruction was prepared for the Devil and his fallen angels.      

                God had placed man in the Garden of Eden, which is derived from the Hebrew word ay-den meaning pleasure.  Here man was placed in perfect communion with God, having all his provisions met by his provider.  The conditions within the garden were ideal for a favorable, pure, and holy life.  Man will again see this favorable condition in the Millennial Reign of Jesus on earth.  In the midst of the garden the Lord had planted two trees: the Tree of Life and also the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:9).

                  Man was not meant to die for the Lord had warned and commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for in doing so “that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die(Gen 2:17).  Man was destined to be in communion with God, eternally, as long as man obeyed the command of the Lord he would live, but as the scripture reveal man choose to disobey.  Where Adam had failed, Jesus had succeeded, He had not sinned, and though His body had died, it rose again to eternal life. 

                 God had placed in the Garden of Eden two paths: The path of Life and the path of Death, “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil” (Deut 30:15).  Though man was created innocent, he was not righteous; innocents must be tested to birth righteousness.  Jesus to be innocent, but led out into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.  Later we will find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with two paths before Him: The path of Life and the path of Death (Matt 26:36-46).  Jesus in the Garden called Gethsemane struggled between his fleshly will to live, and the will of God to die; He was God in Spirit, but man in flesh.  So to with Adam who was given the breath of life, he was mere dust, till he became a living soul which was capable of contending with the flesh and the spirit (Gen 2:7)

                 Adam in the Garden was warned not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for the fruit which this tree bears is sin and rebellion to the commands of God; for the wages of sin is death.  Adam was placed in the garden with a pivotal point at which time he would have to endure, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation”, he knew God, the commands of God, and walked in the cool of the night with God.  We can assume that Adam was influenced by God in someway having such a perfect communion with the Lord.  In other words, “You are who you hang out with”, it is in police work you can make strong deductions based on an individual’s future because whom they are communing with.  Adam being influence by God did not immediately run to the tree of life, nor did heR immediately run to disobey the Lord, there is no where we see Adam was chosen for disobedience, but contrary was chosen to live in a perfect state.  Adam was given a period of grace where he lived amongst Godly influence that would be equal to the temptation he would encounter.  

                 We find in the scripture it was not Adam who had sinned first against God, but Eve.  We do not know the time in which God had allowed the serpent to tempt Eve, but it was definitely shorten compared to Adam’s test.  God had permitted the human race to be tested, just as Job who was upright before the Lord and had to endure hardships from the devil.  Eve had full knowledge of the commandment of God not to eat of the “Forbidden Tree”, thought it was not God who had commanded her, but instructed by the lips of Adam the command of the Lord.  For God does not miss quote Himself, as Eve had done conversing with the Serpent by the tree (Gen 3:3). 

                 The question to be brought up at this point is “Why did Eve choose to sin?”  Eve did not have the experiences of God which Adam had, nor was she matured as Adam was.  The Serpent had approached Eve while she was alone in the vicinity of the “Forbidden Tree”.  Here Eve and the Serpent conversed, the fact that Eve was not afraid of the Serpent suggest she had either seen him before, and/or the Serpent was not a loathsome creature as we see today; for we see snakes today in their condemned state, crawling on their belly’s (Gen 3:14).   The Serpent first plants seeds of doubt in the word which Eve received concerning the command of the Lord, “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”  This question is a direct manipulation of the state in which Eve was in at the moment; it insinuated that God did not love them to forbid them from anything.  The Serpent further states to Eve that eating of the fruit will give her the knowledge of good and evil, suggesting that she would become like God.  It is after doubt was sown in the heart, suspicion, and curiosity was stirred in her heart did Eve take notice of the fruit of the tree and perceive it was good for food and pleasant to the eyes.   Eve fell to temptation because she was deceived; she believed this fruit would satisfy her desires which arouse out of curiosity.   However, Adam was not deceived (1Tim 2:13), but took of the fruit willingly and deliberately.  He chose rebellion by his free-will to follow his wife.  Some scholars suggest Adam chose to sin because he was “Love Blind”.   Samson and Delilah is a good example of this.  Samson had known the commandment of God and the consequences of disobedience, and still because of love he disobeyed God.  Adam was not willing to be separated from Eve; his focus was on the separation with Eve, rather then his relationship with God.  It a strategy of the Devil, to let us focus on the immediate circumstances and fulfill those immediate desires, rather then seeking the Lord and seeing the universal picture.  The Devil is a liar and deceives man because of his lack of knowledge which makes him ignorant into rebelling against God.   

     After the Fall

                   Before the fall man was in a covenant relationship with His Creator.  The “Adamic Covenant” between God, the moral Governor, and Adam, a free moral agent for sin was not put upon him for the law was not established yet (Rom 5:12).  The conditions of the covenant were obedience to the command of the Lord to abstain from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the promise was life while the penalty was death.

                 After the fall man not only suffered a physical death, but a spiritual one as well, his perfect communion with God was broken leaving a void within the heart of man that drives men to seek out a substance that will fill the void, which only God can fill.  Not only man is naturally depraved which we will explain further, but man is naturally framed with self preservation.  It is instinctive for every creature to stay alive, psychologist call this the “Fight or Flight”.  When an individual is in a situation that will cause some type of hurt or even death it is natural for some to fight to stay alive, and other to flee to stay alive.  Throughout the ages man sought a higher power for self preservation, placing their trust in a god which will provide and protect them.  Throughout the cultures of the world man has always been influence by religion, whether it is Christianity, Muslim, Judaism, or the Occult.  It is instinctive for men when in trouble to look toward the heavens for hope.  

                 The rebellion in the Garden has left all men in a state of rebellion; being shaped in iniquity and conceived in sin (Ps 51:5).  Man is born in a state of guilt and depravity; “God looked down from the heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.  Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Ps 53:1-3).  Paul writes, “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom 3:10-12).  Isaiah proclaims, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6)“And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works or evil” (John 3:19). It is by the sin of Adam, who was the representative of all men; we have all been born with iniquity with a willingness to sin.  By Adam all die, this is what we call “Natural Sin”.  “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (Rom 5:12).     Paul writes, “For all have sinned [past tense, in Adam] and are [present time, in daily experience] falling short of God’s glory” (Rom 3:23).   For example, a young infant never has to be taught to disobey, but must be disciplined to behave.  However, Adam and Eve were given the first gospel message of the promise child that would redeem mankind in Genesis, so to the same with us, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order” (1Cor 15:23).  The Greek word for order in this scripture is tas’-so meaning addict, appoint, determine, ordain, and set.  Every man has been called to reach his potential and be made alive, to return to his original state and purpose in which man was created at the time which the Lord had ordained. 

                 The nature of sin is passed down to all flesh, through the seed of man.  This is why Jesus was born of a virgin; the seed of sin which is carried in the sperm of a man would not be passed into Mary and fertilize the egg, passing sin from one generation to the next.  The man Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Ghost, stating that Jesus was not conceived in sin (Matt 1:18-20) and sin was not found in Him (Luke 23:22).  It is God who creates the spirit of a man (Zech 12:1) and is placed within a body which was conceived in sin, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41).  The flesh of a man corrupts his spirit, not the spirit corrupts his flesh, and the spirit and the flesh are continually striving against one another for the soul (will) of a man.  For we are judged by the works of our hands, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”, and the words of our mouth, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”.   This suggests that it is the flesh of man that is deprived, not his spirit.  The spirit of a man maintains the image of God, which can only be conceived by the seed of righteousness, the Word of God, being quickened by the Spirit.  By man’s willful chose he brought a curse on all generations which exiled our first parents from Paradise.  The entrance back to life and to Paradise requires the same chose of will unto belief and faith in God’s Word, which is the first word, and invitation to all men. 

                 If man is not convinced enough that he is depraved through natural sin all he must do is look upon the Law.  The details and typologies of the law are infinite; however, there is one clear purpose of the law in the history of man, to show grace.  The Law proved to man that he is fallible compared to the holy and perfect law of God.  No man is able to fulfill the law, even though Christian denominations try by placing strict legalisms upon their congregation.  The Law has made every man guilty, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth be stopped, and all the world may become guity before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for the law is the knowledge of sin,” (Rom 3:19).  Under the law everyman was destined to death, eternal condemnation, however, the law was fulfilled by Grace, Jesus Christ, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill,” (Matt 5:17).  Man cannot be justified by the law, but through faith he is justified freely by His grace.  The law was but a shadow of things to come, where the law brought forth death, grace brought forth life.

               Even in man’s fallen state  there are images of God in man that cannot be lost such as being the head, an authoritative figure whether in the church or in the world (1Cor 11:7), a sense of self-consciousness, God-consciousness, and sense of morality.  We see examples of the image of God in all men since the beginning of time whether sinner or saint, establishing laws of morality, seeking the heavens for answers, and searching for knowledge that will fill the soul.  The Bible clearly states that even in the unregenerate man he still displays traces of the original image in which God created him, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen 9:6).   

                 Calvin taught because of man’s depravity, he has no choice, but make willing choices to rebel against God.  The unregenerate man does not have the freedom to choose between good and evil (thought he had received the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden), but only chooses between a greater and lesser evil.  Calvin does state that man has the capability to make morally good choices, but his choices to not merit salvation.  Wouldn’t the majority of Christianity agree to that?  Man is not saved by works, but saved by faith.   In simpler words, man can make morally good choices, however he does not possess the capability within himself to come to Jesus.  “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14).  Depravity in man does not hold that sinners have no morals, suggesting they are not completely depraved; for not all men become murderers, nor does depravity mean that sinners have no sense of God, nor conscience of good and evil.  However, depravity does suggest as Augustine and Calvin professed which is  contrary to the theology of Pelagius and Arminius that depravity keeps man from seeking God, and all area‘s of his life have been tainted by the sin of Adam.  “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44)

                 To recap the main point of stating the nature of man is to acknowledge: 1) Man original state and the plan of God to restore mankind to that state.  2) The “Fall” which caused man to become spiritually dead and depraved.  3) It is only by God influencing a man, can a man come to Christ.  However, this is where Calvin and the doctrine of Predestination become controversial.  It is believed that God only gives Grace those whom He has chosen for salvation, and condemns the rest.  

      Unconditional Election

                 According to Augustine, Luther, and Calvin the definition for “Election” is the divine choice determining salvation.  They held to the belief in the doctrine of unconditional election which is based solely on the divine choice of God.  Contrary, Arminius and Wesley held that election was conditional upon the individual’s faith.  The doctrine of election has six main points:

     

    • Election is sovereign, eternal decree of God
    • The human race is fallen, and election is God’s gracious rescue plan
    • Election is in Christ and through Christ
    • Election involves both the elect’s salvation and the means to that end
    • The means include faith and sanctification
    • The ultimate goal of election is the glory of God  

                 This is where the doctrine of predestination becomes very controversial, for in holding the views of Calvinism it is stated simply that God has chosen people for Salvation through His grace, and others to condemnation.  This belief is held because of the doctrine of depravity, that man in no way can choose God as stated before.  However, it would seem that Augustine and Calvin have left much out, especially the nature of Jesus Christ, and the purpose of mankind which was established in the Garden of Eden. 

                 Paul speaks of predestination, election, and is chosen much in His epistles, however there is one scripture that stands out amongst all the rest written by Peter: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God…” (1Peter 1:2).  Peter connects to the scripture written by Paul, “From whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Rom 8:29).  Foreknowledge in the Greek is proginosko meaning to know before hand, which is different then the Greek word ginosko

            Meaning to know be aware (Matt 7:23).  Many Arminais reject the foreknowledge of God because as stated earlier in this paper, if God has foreknowledge and knows before hand the chose man will make, that makes the chooses of men settled and decreed, for God cannot lie, which chooses now become predestined.  And this is true. 

                Men are predestined to be the elect of God according to His foreknowledge by the choices man would make when influence by His divine grace.  In other words, God’s predestination is based on His foreknowledge; contrary to the belief God’s foreknowledge is based on predestination.   God is not limited by time whether it is the past, present, or future, all is the same with God; His perspective on mankind is not man will do, but what man has already done.  Foreknowledge precedes predestination: (Jer 1:5) “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee…” (1Pet 1:2) “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…” (Rom 8:29) “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son,”   It’s because God foreknows reactions, actions, situations, happenings and so on, that He predestines events before time begins using those foreknown reactions (and the like) to contribute to bringing about His will.  God is so sovereign that he uses the very free choices of man and incorporates them into His sovereign will, for His sovereign purpose.   If God had elected some to salvation and others to condemnation that would be contrary to the purpose of Jesus Christ and limit the atonement of His sacrifice.  

                 Take for instance one of the most used scriptures used by Calvinist supporting predestination.  Paul summarizes the events of Esau and in Romans 9: 11-13 , “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”  Did God arbitrary choose Jacob over Esau?  No, there is a clear difference between the two brothers we can trace through the whole story; Esau despised what God values, and Jacob coveted what God values.  Esau sold his birthright because he had no concepts of its worth.  To Esau falls short of the grace of God because the promise is worth as much as a bowl of soup, however, to Jacob it is invaluable (Heb 12:14-16).  God’s choice of Jacob over Esau was not arbitrary, but reflects the choices that Esau and Jacob made.  We are elected according to the foreknowledge of God (1Peter 1:2) ,  though the prophecy to Rebekah occurred before the time any works had been done by Esau, God is not bound by time and already knows the choices which men will make.  The perspective of God on man is not whether a man will make a choice, man has already made the choice and is predestined in the choice which he has made.

                  To grasp the understanding of this one specific verse we must gain an understanding of Esau, his relationship to his father Isaac and brother Jacob, and his sinful act which spiraled into a hatred for his brother and a lifestyle of habitual rebellion.  The events of Esau’s life are recorded in the book of beginnings, Genesis, chapters 25 through 36.  Genesis goes into detail of the lineage of Esau which established the Edomites, which were the grandfather nation of such peoples as the Amalekites, the empire Haman, and the Romans. 

                 Esau was begat from the seed of Isaac and born of the womb of Rebekah.  Within her womb two children, twin brothers, Esau and Jacob would be the fathers of two nations which in generations to come would struggle with one another (Gen 25:22-28).  In the ancients cultures, the law of primogeniture (state of being the firstborn of the children resulting in the exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son), was betrothed unto Esau.  In other words, it was his destiny to receive the birthright.  Being the first born son that he would be blessed and receive the inheritance of his father Isaac; it was unto Esau that he would receive the promises of the Lord given to his forefather Abraham by natural birthright.  However, as the scriptures unfold in Genesis 25 we learned that Esau despised his birthright, and for pottage he sold his birthright unto his younger brother Jacob to fulfill his fleshly appetite.  It was the sin which Esau had committed that the Lord hated.  The words which Paul re-iterates comes from Malachi 1:2-3; this statement was recorded in the last book of the Old Testament, it was not said before Esau was born, but it was recorded after the habitual, and purpose filled rebellion and idolatry that Esau and his descendants reveled in. 

                 The scripture on Romans 9:15 states, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion”.  We must take this scripture in the context it was written to.  Paul is writing to the Jews in Rome; a prejudice was born between in the Jews and the Gentiles concerning the law, and most important salvation (i.e. Circumcision, baptism of the Holy Ghost) [Acts 10 - 11].  Paul is explicitly using the words of the great prophet Moses to perpetuate the plan of Salvation was not only for the Jew, but for the Greek as well.  The Lord in the New Testament is not only concerning with the natural seed of Abraham, but the spiritual seed of Abraham found in Gentile nations.  The Lord will show mercy on which ever He wishes whether they be Jew, Greek, barbarian, or statesman.  “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32). Since all men are born depraved in unbelief, it is through Jesus Christ, God had showed mercy to all.   

                 The subsequent verses of Romans 9:15-25 are as written, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. No man is capable in attaining mercy himself, but mercy is a grace of God that is found in faith.  Man’s will or work cannot influence God or initiate God’s mercy, but it is solely by God who shows mercy.  Paul is writing to the Jewish populace in Rome who has adopted a doctrine that would bring the Gentile converts to a Christianity that follows the Jewish law, which righteousness and salvation is obtain by works.  The writer of Hebrews will reiterate what Paul writes in the rest of this chapter of Romans to the Jews that works are insufficient and it is only by faith we obtain grace (Heb 4; 8; 10)“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.”   God had endured with much long suffering the vessels that yielded them to the Devil; it is the god of this world that blinds the eyes of men, and fits them for destruction.  Our God is a God of life, not death, however, He is a God of justice and death comes by sin.         

                 Let us look at Judas Iscariot, the one to betray Jesus.  The Lord knew He would be betrayed by Judas; it was prophesied that the son of man would be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech 11:12-13).  “Did the Lord make the choice for Judas to betray Him, or did Judas because of his lust for money willing become the vessel of choice of betrayal?”    Judas was destined to share in the ministry of the Twelve, being chosen to the position of bishop (Acts 1:17).  He was destined to share in the judging of Israel (Matt 19:28).  Judas fulfilled the Scripture because of the foreknowledge of God; God knew the choice which Judas would make before the foundation of the world making this event predestined.  King Saul a man chosen by God to be the first king of Israel (1Sam 9:15-17) was brought before the prophet Samuel to be anointed as king (1Sam 10:1-9).  The Lord gave Saul another heart, and Saul was recognized as a prophet amongst the people for he did prophesied.   Saul was predestined, chosen, and anointed to be King of Israel; “What happened?”  

                 Calvinism professes the preservation of salvation of the saint in grace for those elected by God.  It is not very apparent that King Saul did not persevere in Grace, nor did his grandson Solomon which we will discuss further on the section of writing “Preservation of Salvation”.  

                 Through one man’s sin, all were condemned; through one man’s obedience all have been given grace.  All men through natural or super natural, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, have been given the opportunity, ability, and means to respond to God’s grace.  God has called all men to repentance; the call and the events surrounding the call vary between every man for it is on God’s timing and when He chooses to draw a man.  As depraved men we do not have the capacity to reach out and call God, but God had manifested Himself in the flesh to restore the commonality between Himself and man, for we could have not reached up and touch Divinity, so Divinity first had to come down to touch man so that we can only respond to the invitation the Lord has given. 

                 The parable of the wedding feast: (Matt 22:1-14) “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.  So that servant went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests”.  The only prerequisite for the guest to stay within the marriage feast was the marriage garment, a type of the Holy Ghost.  A man cannot influence, manipulate, or put on the Holy Ghost himself, a man must ask and put himself in a position to receive the Spirit of God by His grace.  As many as possible are called to come and feast from the provision of the cross (verse 9). The Lord is to send out the invitation, then a response by man’s choice occurs, which because God foreknows all things, He has ‘predestined’ all who will make that choice.  The guest at the marriage feast did not show up in the courts of the king on their own accord, but only had responded to the invitation set before them.

                 By the pool of Bethesda there waited a man who had suffered from chronic ailments for 38 years.  His hope was to be the first one to into the pool while the angel of the Lord stirred the waters to be healed.  Then Jesus looked upon the feeble man lying there with compassion and asked him, “Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]” (John 5:6 Amp).  This man did not have the strength to place himself in the pool, nor had any one to help him.  Jesus had only said the words “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”  We to have made our beds in sickness, we cannot come to the place of healing and be healed with out Jesus first reaching unto us.   This man had placed his faith in Christ and was healed.

                 Predestination is the product of free will and foreknowledge.  To state that God has chosen, predestined men to condemnation is to negate His purpose in creating man, and redeeming man through Jesus Christ to return to the original image of mankind.  It is also negating the nature of Christ, His love, hope, and desire for all men to be saved, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto to knowledge of truth” (1Tim 2:4) , it is the will of God “that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9)“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world…” (John 3:14-16).  Jesus Christ is the Savior to all men, especially to those that believe (1Tim 4:10).   “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:2). God commands for all men to repent (Acts 17:30)“Whosoever”, Jesus had used this as a universal call to people, the unsaved.  We must remember that the Epistles were written to those already saved, baptized in the name of Jesus, and filled with the Holy Ghost; it is the Gospels and the Book of Acts that reaches out to the unsaved. 

                 The Calvinist would agree that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men; however, not all men can come to God, only those who are chosen can receive the mercy of Jesus Christ.  There is a difference between the “effectual call” and the “elected call”.  Man is depraved of choosing God, and so he cannot do anything to merit Salvation.  The doctrine of predestination answers the question “Why do some men get saved, while some don’t?” with relatively an easiness.  However, just because a doctrine can logically give an answer for philosophical questions does not mean it is right.  Doctrines must be aligned with Biblical typologies, the Word, historical accuracy, cultural context, and most of all the nature of Jesus Christ.  Men naturally search for answers to the deep questions that have been on the minds of philosophers, theologians, and scientist for ages, but when we trade love for logic we are receptacle of going to deep where the simplicity of Christ is missed out because of the wisdom of man. 

     Limited Atonement

                 The doctrine of limited Atonement proposed the question “Did Christ offer up Himself for the whole human race; or did His sacrifice on Calvary give reference to the elect only?”  First we must state the power of the atonement is not limited at all.  Atonement for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ which is life, and possesses the infinite power to forgive all sin, of every man.  “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29)For God so loved the world…; …but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17), it is apparent that Christ died for all mankind; He died for the sin’s of the world.  However the proceeding scriptures reveal that the power of God through Jesus Christ is for whosoever believes on Him.  He asks that all that labor and are heavy burdened to come to Him, and He would give them rest (Matt 11:28).  The writer of Hebrews explains in Hebrews Chapter 2:9, to the Jewish populace who was prejudice at the time toward Gentile converts that Christ died not just for Israel and the Jews, but for every man.  He was just not a propitiation for the sins of the Jews, but also “for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:2).  The world has received the promise of God; however, there is a pre-requisite to the promise; as in the cases of any type of covenant.

                 Though Christ died for the world, revealed to us through scriptures are special references that Christ came to save His people; “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).  Who are His people?  The people of God are those apart of the Church, His bride.  Jesus had died to purchase, with His own blood the Church (Acts 20:28) in which He gave His life ransom for many (Matt 20:28).  We also have reference of Jesus praying for the apostle, and those who would believe on Him through their word (John 17:17-20).  Jesus in this instant did not pray for the world in general, but was a specific prayer of preservation for those who have and will believe on Him in the future. 

                 John Calvin’s commentary on Romans 5:18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life,” states "Paul makes grace COMMON TO ALL MEN, not because it in fact EXTENDS TO ALL, but because IT IS OFFERED TO ALL. Although CHRIST SUFFERED FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD. AND IS OFFERED BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WITHOUT DISTINCTION TO ALL MEN, yet not all receive him (op. cit., p. 829).  

                 The words of John Calvin himself, April 25, 1564, "I testify also and declare, that I suppliantly beg of Him, that He may be pleased so to was and purify me in the blood which my Sovereign Redeemer HAS SHED FOR THE SINS OF THE HUMAN RACE, that under His shadow I may be able to stand at the judgment-seat...." This is a testimony of John Calvin who was at the end of his life as recorded in the History of the Christian Church, Vol. 8, pp. 828-29, by Philip Schaff.  It is interesting to note that the man who preached the preservation of the saint seems to be in doubt of his own salvation.

                      God is not bound by time, nor is He surprised by any events which occur in human history.  God is a God of foresight and has already seen those whom would believe on Him through the Word of God, whether it is the written or preached.  Through the death of Christ common grace was applied to the world (John 18:20), and the blood which atones for sin was offered to all (John 1:29; 3:16) as a ransom for all (1Tim 2:4-6) for He is the Savior of the world (1John 4:14), but as stated above the scriptures reveal that the blood of Christ was specifically for those who believed, and would believe, becoming part of the church.  The blood of Christ which atones for sin is for the world, however, to be technical it is only applied to those who would believe which is a prerequisite to the covenant relationship.  This example is shown in Mark 16:16; “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”.  A person must first believe to be baptized to receive remission of sin through he blood of Christ (Acts 2:38; Rom 6).  Through this act of faith an individual is now in a covenant relationship with God and has become part of the Church.  

     Irresistible Grace

                 Grace is a word that cannot be defined in one sentence or less, but it is a word that is defined by many words.  For the grace of God is comprised of the nature and characteristics of God which are innumerable; it involves forgiveness, mercy, long suffering, repentance, regenerations, and salvation.  Grace: Unmerited and free favor and mercy shown to sinners by a sovereign God with a view to their salvation.  (Nelson Bible Dictionary).  Augustine and Calvin held to the view that it is grace that operates in the calling of believers, for justification and salvation.  This grace is irresistible, humans can neither invoke grace nor defy it; it is the I in T.U.L.I.P in Calvin’s five points, “Irresistible Grace.”

         The word Grace is first found in (Gen 6:8) “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”   The Hebrew word for grace is khane meaning favor.  The context of the scripture goes as follows; the world was in a state of rebellion against the Lord, “God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).  The Lord said He was going to destroy what He had created and start afresh.   

                Men since the days of Adam had knowledge of their Creator, however, have willfully denied him.  After the slaying of Abel, Eve conceived another child whose name was to be Seth.  To Seth a son was born and his name of Enos: “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26).  Enos was the originator of public prayer and spiritual worship, he was first to call upon the name of the Lord.  The time period between Adam and Enos was a time of separation, man’s communion with the Lord had been severed and the apostasy of Cain’s lineage was multiplying exceedingly.  However, Enos was the vessel of revival to men on earth.  The men of Noah’s day had full knowledge and revelation of the Lord, but followed the wickedness of their will. 

                 Why did Noah find favor in the eyes of the Lord?  Scholars such as Augustine and Calvin have used this text as evidence of election and salvation; that God had only selected a few for Grace (Salvation) in the midst of a terribly wicked world.  On the other hand, Noah had full knowledge of God, and was a just and perfect man before the eyes of the Lord.  His character exhibited a moral and ethical righteousness in his relationship with other men, contrary to the norm of behavior of his time.  He had walked with God as his descendant Enoch had who never saw death, but was translated to the heavens (Gen 5:22-24).  Noah was who was perfect in the eyes of God; perfect in the Hebrew is tamim meaning complete, whole hearted, without spot.  Though Noah lived among the unrighteous he remained whole hearted to God.  Noah also had walked with the Lord; his listening produced obedient behavior to the voice of God.  Jewish scholars in the Torah suggest the reason why Noah was chosen from amongst all the people on earth because Noah was a man that listened to God.  He was a man who had already manifested qualities that endeared him to the Lord, and because of this Noah found grace, a favor that with God that he would not be destroyed with the rest of civilization.  

                 Noah did not provide grace for himself, but only had put himself in position to receive grace, unknowingly.  Noah also had to respond to the grace by faith (Heb 11:7) in God and follow the commands of the Lord to be saved.   We can compare this story to the saints of today who seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  We as men do not have the power to invoke the Holy Ghost to indwell, but we can only remain faithful to the commands of God which place us in a position to receive.  

                 Though the word grace was first used in time of Noah, grace was first given to Cain after sacrificing an unworthy sacrifice.  It was understood in the days of Adam that a sacrifice unto the Lord for sin must be atoned for by the shedding of blood.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sinned against God and their eyes were opened to the awkwardness of being nude.  To provide for themselves they clothe themselves with twigs and leaves; however, this was not good enough in God’s eyes and He clothed them with the skin of an animal.  Blood had to be shed for their sin (Gen 3:21); just as the blood of Christ was shed for our sins (Rom 5:9; Gal 3:27).  Adam and Eve could not provide an acceptable means to cover the nakedness, nor can we provide an acceptable means of covering our nakedness of sin.           

                The story of Cain is one of the most popular stories in the Bible, but one that is overlooked with simplicity and not depth.  On the surface of the story, (Gen 4:1-17), we know Cain’s sacrifice was dismissed by God, and Abel’s was honored; Cain was discouraged and became resentful of his brother and murdered him in the field (Gen 4:5-9).  However before the first murder in the Bible Cain was given a period of grace where he was warned and could have made right what his wrong, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen 4:7).  Cain’s jealously and anger toward God and his brother drove him to the point of murder rejecting the grace of God seeking his own desire of vengeance. 

                 The period of time between Noah building the ark (Gen 6:14) and when the first rain drop from heaven fell upon the soil of the earth (Gen 7:11) was a time of grace for the people of the earth.  The Lord suffered with men to lead them to repentance through Noah; for it was Noah who preached and warned of the coming judgment and the need for repentance to the people (2Pet 2:5).  However, men mocked Noah, rejecting the command of God and the mercy which He was providing.  “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” (Jonah 2:8).  

                 The Grace of God is every where and in everything, making man without excuse for his rejection of God, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).  Every man has been given a measure of faith which is capable to respond to grace in which the Lord draws men to Himself, by using the natural things of this world.  Man does not have the capability of understanding spiritual concepts, however, man does have the capability to understand and respond to moral concepts.   The harlot Rahab (Josh 2; 6) a Canaanite, an individual outside the covenant people, had heard of the God of the Israelites and the great works He had done in Egypt (Josh 2:9-10) .  No preacher, or missionary came unto Rahab, but she had received the knowledge of God by some other means whether it be gossip or news; it was enough that she had placed her faith in the God of Israel and the men in whom He had sent into Jericho.  Rahab’s faith had saved her, and her name was placed in the “Heroes of Faith” in the book of Hebrews. 

                 Grace is irresistible in the sense that man is continually influence by the grace of God through the natural means given unto him.  Take for instance the story of Balaam (Num 22).  Balaam a prophet of God was instructed not to go with the king of Moab, “Thou shalt not go with them,; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed”.  We find the men of Moab came again to Balaam requesting his presence before their king.  Balaam sought the council of God at which time the Lord says, “If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I say unto thee, that shalt thou do”.  Balaam the next morning rose up early and saddle his donkey and went with the men of Moab, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Balaam because he went.  The Lord sent an angel to withstand Balaam, at which time Balaam, “if it displease thee, I will get me back again”, the angel repeated the command of the Lord for Balaam to go, but not to speak contrary to the Word of God.    

                 This story at first glance seems a bit confusing, the Lord first instructs Balaam not to go with the men of Moab, and then tells Balaam to go, but resist him, and the Lords anger is against Balaam.  It was not that God had changed His mind concerning Balaam, but God knew the heart of Balaam and He gave him up to his own heart’s lust.   God will give people what they have shown they desire.  The nation of Israel while in the wilderness desired to eat meat, and murmured and complained to God.  The Lord suffered long with His people, but they continued to resist His influence and promptings and were given over to what they desired.  “You shall eat, not on day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the Lord…” (Num 11:18).  When a man is stubborn and continually rejects the grace of God in his life he is turned over to his own heart being abandoned to his/her own vile affections, being then blinded by the god of this world and becoming reprobate.  “And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome,” (Rom 1:28 Amp).   God touches all with His grace and gives every man the ability and opportunity to receive or reject His commands.  It is because of man rejecting the Word of God, he is brought into chains in darkness (Ps 107:10-11).

                 As in the case of Balaam and other stories of the Bible which depict the influence of the Holy Ghost upon the lives of men we only need to look at the kingdom of Satan to see the evidence of influence and not determination upon the lives of men.  Satan is a “copy cat”; he does not create material of his own, but only perverts the original purpose of the things of God.  This are but a few example of where Satan has copied after his creator: A kingdom (Matt 12:24-30), an army (Rev 16:16), ministers (2Cor 11:15), a bride (Rev 17:16), wonders and miracles (Ex 7), and influence (James 1:14) for he is the tempter of men.  Satan himself cannot force men to sin, he can only manipulate and influence men through deceptions which cause men willingly choose to sin.   Satan operates the same way as God does, however, for opposite means; the truth sets men free, while a lie brings men into bondage.   

                 God does restrain men from sin by his grace as in the case of Pharaoh; however, if God by his providence does not restrain a man from sin, we cannot assume that he approves it.  We have the Word of God to restrain us.  Pharaoh when he desired to take Sarah into his household the Lord plagued the house of Pharaoh at which time Pharaoh ask Abram, “What is this that thou hast done unto me?”  Pharaoh did not have the knowledge of the One True God as did Abram, however, he had the knowledge of the supernatural which was manifested in natural means, and Pharaoh corrected his wrong (Gen 12:10-14).  

                  Moses is a type of Christ of the Old Testament.  When the deliverer of Israel came from the Holy Mount of God with the Law, he found the people of the Lord worshiping an image of a calf.  “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me.  And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him” (Ex 32:26).  Moses gave the people of Israel a choice, that same call has gone forth by Jesus Christ, Who will serve the Lord?  Those who went nigh unto Moses, where saved from the sword, but those who chose their own ways perished.  The people of Israel experienced a grace period at this point, and it was in this time the Lord had placed the responsibility on man to answer the invitation, but man had rejected it.  

                 Grace can be resisted when man rejects the moral law to fulfill his own desires as in the case of Cain“Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.  Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: [vs. 29] For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.  Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Proverbs 1:23-25, 29-32)“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil”, “But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them” (Deut 30:15,17).   Men do not get saved because they have knowledge, without knowledge “my people perish”, the lack of knowledge makes one vulnerable to deception.  For the lack of knowledge gives births to deception and people are drawn away, a key tool in the kingdom of hell.  “Why do men reject knowledge when we are instinctive to seek knowledge?”  Solomon answers that question, “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” (Ecc 1:18).  Men reject the knowledge and wisdom of God which is found in His word because it is sharper then a two-edged sword; it brings conviction to a man’s life.  Men do not question the goodness, and the morality of the Bible, but what they refute is the authority of the Bible.  The Word of God has been spread to every nation, translated in 2,000 languages.  Mankind is without excuse for the grace of God and the knowledge of God has spread throughout the world, whether they are covenant people or not.
     
                Grace is not the only means which we are saved; however, it is through faith.  Faith is the mechanism which we have the ability to respond to the grace of God, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God” (Eph 2:8).  “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom 12:3).  Grace is when we receive something we do not deserve.  We who were dead in sin did not deserve the Grace of God, the Cross.  Because of this Grace we can receive the free gift of salvation.  However, it is not forced on anyone.  God has supplied everyman a measure of faith.  However, people must have this faith instigated by an outside force, the preaching of the Word of God; faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God, and how can one hear without a preacher?  This is why the great commission was given by Jesus to His apostles; to preach the Word of God that would instigate the God given faith that would respond and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.        

     

                In summation, all men have fallen from the Divinity into humanity, becoming depraved.  All men are depraved from spiritual life, but we or some men are not born reprobate.  The doctrine of predestination from a logical approach would suggest that those who are not elected are born reprobate then.  However, according to scripture reprobation is a process which begins with men deliberately refusing the will of God (Rom 1).   We have been built with natural tendencies to seek out the Divinity and to reestablish communion with our Creator.  Our depravity keeps us from returning to God on our own, so Divinity stepped into humanity when God manifested Himself in the flesh and Jesus was born on earth.  God had come down and dwelt amongst men to give grace to all, to reestablish the connection which He had once  with mankind, for He had to be tempted as men were tempted, and feel what mankind feels; the torment of the soul being torn between the desires of the flesh, and the desires of the Spirit.   Jesus was tempted in all points and is touched by our infirmities because He had gained commonality with men as in the days of Adam.  

                 Augustine and Calvin were correct is the sense that grace is irresistible, for every day man is touched by it; Augustine and Calvin were correct in saying men does not possess the capability to choose God, but Augustine and Calvin must have forgotten the nature of God.  Though men cannot touch God, but only seek a higher power, God has touched all men with His love, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…”  Man may not have the capability to touch God, but God has given all men a measure of faith which is capable to respond to His touch.  

     Preservation of the Saint

                  King Saul a man chosen by God to be the first king of Israel (1Sam 9:15-17) was brought before the prophet Samuel to be anointed as king (1Sam 10:1-9).  The Lord gave Saul another heart, and Saul was recognized as a prophet amongst the people for he did prophesied.   Saul was predestined, chosen, and anointed to be King of Israel; “What happened?”  

                 Calvinism professes the eternal salvation and preservation of salvation of the saint in grace for those elected by God.  It is very apparent that King Saul did not persevere in Grace.   The Lord had actually repented for appointing Saul king.  King Saul had disobeyed the commands of the Lord through the prophet Samuel and the kingdom was rent from Saul and given to another (1Sam 13:9).  Later in 1Samuel Saul again would disobey the command of God through the prophet Samuel (1Sam 15:20) and it was prophesied unto Saul that God had rejected Saul from being king of Israel, and the kingdom would be rent from his bosom.  The Lord repented for making Saul king of Israel, and Samuel mourned for Saul.  The story of King Saul’s degradation from being in the Lord favor to being filled with a spirit of jealously is recorded in the Book of Samuel.  Saul becomes filled with divination and jealously, finally taking his own life in battle.  King Saul was given everything by God, another heart, the Spirit, the earthy stature, etc to fulfill his predestined purpose as King of Israel.  However, because of Saul’s disobedience to the Word of God he never reached the potential which the Lord had for him. 

                 King Solomon, the son of David, was appointed and chosen to be the successor of his father King David.  He was chosen of the Lord to build the Temple of God in Jerusalem.  King Solomon had great favor with the Lord, the scriptures actually tell us that the “Lord loved him [Solomon]” (2Sam 12:24).  Solomon grew mighty in wealth and wisdom; he accomplished what the Lord has chosen him to build which was the Temple.  However, the wise Solomon who was loved by God gave his heart over to foreign women (1King 11:1-3).  Solomon’s heart was slowly swayed and influenced into lifting up altars to the god(s) of his wives and did evil in the sight of the Lord.  Solomon’s heart turned away from God.  As a result, the Lord appeared to Solomon and took the kingdom from him (1Kings 11:9-13).  Solomon the chosen and loved man of God died loosing the favor of God because of his disobedience.              

                In Paul’s epistle to his beloved son Timothy he writes that there will be some who depart from the faith, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1Tim 4:1).  Paul is speaking to Timothy a brother in the Lord, a Christian, baptized in the name of Jesus and filled with the Holy Ghost about other brothers in the faith, who are likened to Paul and Timothy being Christians.  He warns that some will depart from the faith being deceived; for someone to depart from the faith one must be part of the faith before departing.  Paul not only warned Timothy of the power of deception, but the Corinthian church as well.  He feared that those within the Church would be deceived like Eve by the serpent (2Cor 11:3).  Not only did Paul warn Christians from falling away, but Peter did as well.  “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2Peter 2:20-21).  Again, Peter warns in 2Peter 3:17, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall form your own steadfastness”.  The Apostle is giving a sobering warning that those in Christ must be vigilant and endure, because once saved, always saved is not doctrinally correct.   In the book of Hebrews the writer describes those who have been enlightened, receiving the truth of the Word of God, and received the Holy Ghost; “If they shall fall away…”  Jesus indicated the possibility for one to lose His salvation on the Sermon on the Mount.  “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt 5:13).  We see it is then possible that one can be saved or born again according to scriptures, but then fall away. 

                 There is a misconception among Christians that once we go through the process that we are completely saved and nothing else has to be accomplished.  This is so untrue.  The born again experience is a definite experience, however it is a continual work on the inside to get rid of the old man, keep him submissive, and endure to the end.  Endurance is a key to salvation.  No doubt the Lord has equipped us with all the necessary spiritual weapons and nourishment to endure.  The Lord is our provider, He will not suffer us above that we are able to bear; the young child Ishmael received a provision of God in the wilderness, a watering spring, that would sustain him in his journeys.   

                 The children of Israel once delivered from Egypt were sustained by the grace of God through the wilderness by raining down manna from heaven.  However, as the scriptures reveal Israel began to murmur against the Lord provision, asking for meat.  The Lord answered there complaint to the point they became so filled with quail that it came out of the nostrils.  We see from Israel’s complaining and lack of faith that those specific generations did not endure and enter the Promise land.  So to with Christians who reject the provisions of God by His grace will not endure as well.