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Wesleyan Prevenient Grace #55107
Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:07 PM
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I was wondering if I could get some help with a conversation I am having with a Wesleyan who believes in “Prevenient Grace”. I am finding that although I think I am up to the task, given time. Unfortunately, at the moment my time is limited. With that in mind, I gave him the following link: http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/07/does_the_bible_teach_prevenien.php
The following is his response:
Quote
I read it. Very easy to answer biblically. Here is the true biblical contrast between self-righteousness and humility. Many other passages point this truth out, as well.

"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

As far as spiritual deadness, the Word of God uses deadness in sin to represent separation from God, not total inability to respond to his own power and grace. God can speak to dead men through the gospel and through his Holy Spirit...no problem there!


I do not want to spend too much time on this one, because I have other commitments that I need to meet. However, I thought I would spend some time on the issue.
Thanks in advance
I just read what this person said again, and realized that if I am not mistaken he didn't respond to what Dr. Sproul said; he said something that wasn't even relevant to the what Dr. Sproul said. Funny I didn't see this on first reading.
Am I correct?

Tom

Last edited by Tom; Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:59 PM.
Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55109
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I remember asking a similar question a few years ago. Here is the conversation if it links correctly.



Conversation


Last edited by John_C; Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:15 AM.

John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55110
Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:09 PM
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Eye opening and made more understandable. PLUS I got to discover a great site through one of the links y'all posted!! claphands

Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55114
Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:14 AM
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I just thought I would add something from further discussion with this fellow.

I shared with the forum that I have been having a conversation with guy who believes in ‘Prevenient grace’. I exegeted a passage of Scripture starting from John 6:36 to the rest of the chapter; with help from a few Reformed Commentaries such as William Hendriksen’s New Testament Commentary.
He responded to me, but to be quite frank I don’t really understand his argument and how he thinks it disproves what I said to him. I am not sure, how much more time I want to put into this, because I have already put a fair amount of time into it. However, in making the decision on whether it is wise to spend much more time on the issue. I think I need to understand his argument. The following is what he said to me concerning my exegesis of the passage.
Quote
Yeah, you're making a lot of undue assumptions about what the text means when it says all that the Father giveth me will come to me. These Jews weren't coming to Jesus because they had not honoring the Father. John 5 makes that fact clear:
"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." He also shows why they are not given to him by the Father in chapter 6: ""Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."


One of the things I have noticed about this guy, is he has yet to actually deal directly with the text I expounded on. This was perhaps the closest he has got to it, when he quoted part of John 6:37. However, he deferred to John 5, as if that made his point.
Tom

Last edited by Tom; Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:21 AM.
Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55115
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:01 PM
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1. Either this man does not believe that ALL, by nature, are born spiritually dead and have no ability nor even a desire to seek after God, never mind have their sins remitted due to the sacrifice of Christ. OR, he accepts the biblical doctrine of total depravity (spiritual death) and believes that God universally bestows something called "prevenient grace" which allegedly enables a spiritually dead sinner to make a free-will decision to believe upon Christ, etc.

2. IF he fits into the first category, i.e., where the Bible says that all men are born dead, and believes that "dead" doesn't mean "dead" but only sick, wounded, ill, etc. then his view favors a synergistic salvation, aka: God helps man to save himself.

3. IF he fits into the second category, then the end result is really no different than the first, because if this prevenient grace is universal, i.e., everyone without exception has it, then the question must be asked, Why do some believe upon Christ and others do not? What makes the difference between them? Obviously, the "prevenient grace" isn't efficacious, i.e., it doesn't actually succeed in saving anyone, which doesn't really speak well for the "grace" aspect. Another question is, what kind of grace is this prevenient grace if it can somehow make a person "free" to repent and believe while still being dead? Dead people do not see, hear, think, feel, move, never mind choose something. Without regeneration, no person will even have an interest in God other than hating Him and even denying His existence (cf. Rom 3-5; Eph 2:1-10).

4. Why didn't he go further in John 5 to verse 40? "ye WILL NOT come unto me, that ye may have life." See Spurgeon's sermon, Free-Will - A Slave. Also, see Thomas Manton on Man and Sin.


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Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Pilgrim] #55116
Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:00 AM
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I think he made himself pretty clear he believes your third category. However, I may be wrong but I do not think those who believe in “Prevenient grace” believe the person is still dead in their trespasses and sins. It supposedly allows them to be neutral, in order to choose between life and death. Understand here, I see nothing in Scripture that even remotely shows this. To me in order to be neutral, you still must be alive (Unless, I am missing something). Which would mean (I think) Prevenient grace gives the person temporary life. To which if they do not choose Christ by their own free-will, they die again. Please note, this is only my thoughts concerning the logical conclusions of their beliefs. I do not want to assume this actually represents their views. You probably are more up on their beliefs than I am.
It also amounts to salvation being part Monergistic and synergistic. They of course answer this by saying that faith in Christ is not synergistic.
What I am still trying to understand however, is why he thinks I have jumped to “undue assumptions” and how John chapter 5 supposedly proves his point. I suspect he reads John 5 with his Arminian coloured glasses on and perhaps I am just not seeing it?
Your number 4 is helpful. Why indeed did he not go further into John 5 to verse 40?
Thanks for those two great sermons.
Tom

Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55117
Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:54 AM
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I came across this article on the question of 'prevenient grace' You may or may not find it useful or interesting.

Prevenient Grace


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: John_C] #55118
Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:45 PM
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John
Thanks for the article. It was clear and well written.
I did not know there were three competing views on 'prevenient grace'. I knew of only Wesleyan Prevenient Grace and the Calvinist view of prevenient grace.

I was wondering, did you understand the reasoning behind the person telling me (concerning John 6:37) that I was jumping to unfounded conclusions about the verse and then saying John 5 proves his point?
Usually when someone says something like that, at least I understand where they are coming from.

Tom

Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: John_C] #55119
Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:51 PM
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The entire matter of whether a sinner who is dead in sin can repent and believe often emphasizes the "will". What I have found is that both sides fail to consider the operation of the "will" in a person. Non-Calvinists typically look at the will as an independent power; the power or ability to make choices. But this is a mute argument because man by nature, being created in the image of God (imago Dei), has the ability to make choices. But Scripture teaches that the will is governed by one's nature, which is comprised of intellect, affections, and will. Put simply, a person will always choose that which is most important to him in any given circumstance, which is determined by either the intellect or the affections or both. A simple example might be whatever a person thinks and/or what is desirable emotionally or physiologically will be what that person will choose when weighed against any other choice.

So, Scripture teaches that at the Fall, man DIED (Gen 2:17); spiritually (instantly), physically (beginning of death) and eternally (punishment for sin). Thus, fallen man has NO disposition whatsoever for God or anything that is of God, that which is good. Unless the NATURE of man is changed so that his mind, affections are inclined toward God and loving all that is good and thus hating all that is evil (sin) he will never turn from sin and bow before God, believe upon Christ for the remission of sins, to be reconciled to God, to yearn after holiness, etc. A superficial "grace" has no efficacy which all those who hold to prevenient grace readily admit. What is needed is a radical, supernatural work of God the Spirit which we call "regeneration"; to be made alive, to be resurrected from death (Eph 2:1-5; et al).

A good, albeit laborious read on this subject is Jonathan Edward's The Freedom of the Will. An easier read is Thomas Boston's Human Nature in its Four-Fold State. grin


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Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Pilgrim] #55120
Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:21 PM
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What you stated above is entirely my understanding (not that I could put it as well as you); mainly because it is the classic understanding of the issues in Reformed circles. I have of course read books and articles and watched sermons on this subject before and because you recommended these particular works; will probably seek them out. However, at issue right now is not whether I understand the issue. It has more to do with understanding where this person is coming from. Perhaps, it is a mystery to you as well, so maybe I should be content to put the matter to a rest?
Thanks for your help, anyway.
Tom

Last edited by Tom; Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:23 PM.
Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55121
Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:21 AM
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What I wrote above was how "I" would approach a person who holds to some form of prevenient grace, which can't really be called grace because Scripture always defines grace as 1. salvific, and 2. effectual. That is why I have never accepted the term "common grace", but rather I have used the biblical term beneficence/philanthropy to describe God's general kindness to all of mankind. But as to this person's understanding of John 5, it is spurious and cannot stand up to proper biblical hermeneutics/exegesis. He is guilty of eisogesis, i.e., reading INTO the passage rather than taking OUT OF the passage its intended meaning according to the context.

As is most always the case, with the possible exception of John Wesley, Arminians (rarely found) and semi-Pelagians (most prevalent) do not believe in Original Sin (imputed guilt and inherited corruption of nature) to the extent which Scripture teaches. Invariably, they want to give some 'life' to the soul in order to retain their heretical doctrine of "free-will" which is nothing more than what Satan used in his deception of Eve, Genesis 3:4-5 (ASV) "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.". From the very moment that Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he and all his posterity have striven for and demanded their autonomy (denial of total dependence upon God for all things).

Freeing the "will" is only possible IF the very nature (intellect, affections) are changed, i.e., given a new disposition which is toward God vs. toward evil. The will is inextricably bound to what a person thinks and desires. The will is not an independent entity that can function on its own. This is one of the major caveats of any view which rejects the necessity of a prior regeneration of the soul in order for a sinner to be saved. See Regeneration: The Necessity Of by Arthur Pink.

It makes no difference what this person thinks John 5 is teaching if he doesn't understand or bow before the biblical teaching of total depravity, i.e., spiritual death and its consequences which is expressed through an innate and irreparable hatred of God and all things good. There must be a radical transformation, the creation of a new heart (of flesh) vs. the resident heart of stone. Once a person grasps just how far gone they are, as the Bible says they are, any idea of prevenient grace, free-will, synergistic salvation, etc,. etc., ad nauseam is mute and seen for what it is... total nonsense and a rejection of biblical truth.


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Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55122
Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:06 AM
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Thanks for the help concerning your thoughts of prevenient grace and the fellow I have been talking to concerning the issue.
I finally got a straight answer from him concerning a link I gave him by RC Sproul. http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/07/does_the_bible_teach_prevenien.php
I am sharing this with the readers here, just in case they are interested. Just so you know, the forum we have been having this discussion on is a Facebook Calvinist Forum called ‘Calvinism, Fellowship, Debate and Discussion’ and is open to anyone who applies to be part of the forum, provided they follow the rules.
I will say however, I am a little surprised this fellow has not been kicked off yet.

Here is his response to RC Sproul’s article.
Quote
I'll try to give a better, more direct response here. "Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they (others) have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn't God give the same gift to everybody?" R C Sproul is making a contrast between self-righteousness/pride and righteousness by faith/humility something other than that presented in the scriptures. God never says that a person has something to boast about because he humbles himself before God in recognition of his sin and utter dependence upon God's mercy. God says that the person who acknowledges his lack of righteousness, who humbles himself before God and receives Christ's righteousness by faith pleases God and that God justifies him. The person who humbles himself before God is not depending upon his own righteousness to save him but on God's mercy. The one who will not allow God to humble him, who will not humble himself before God and acknowledge his need of the righteousness of God, of his need of the Savior, does not please God. Can you imagine the publican praying, "I thank you God that I am not as other men like this Pharisee is. I humble myself before you in recognition of my sinfulness and utter dependence upon your mercy and receive your forgiveness"?

The question I have for R C Sproul and others who employ his argument is, "Does God care more about you than he does another of his sinful creatures? Why does God love you more than than he does your neighbor?" It makes no more sense for R C Sproul to ask me the questions he did than it does for me to ask him the questions I do.


I have only read this through once and plan on answering him in a few days, when I find more time to look over it further.

Tom

Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55124
Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:48 AM
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1. Sproul's argument is used quite a bit by many others and I find it wanting. Why? Because they like to refer to a man 'choosing God' as a form or self-righteousness or the possession of a spark of righteousness, etc. And the typical response is what this man wrote, e.g.,

Quote
God never says that a person has something to boast about because he humbles himself before God in recognition of his sin and utter dependence upon God's mercy. God says that the person who acknowledges his lack of righteousness, who humbles himself before God and receives Christ's righteousness by faith pleases God and that God justifies him. The person who humbles himself before God is not depending upon his own righteousness to save him but on God's mercy.

His problem is two-fold, a. he doesn't equate righteousness with an act of repentance and/or faith, when Scripture clearly states that repentance and faith are the fruit of regeneration and are the first recognizable signs of good works. b. He denies the biblical doctrine of total depravity, i.e., everyone is born spiritually dead and thus is totally incapable of even having an interest in God nor anything remotely good. Dressing up a corpse isn't going to allow that body to think, feel or do anything (cf. Ezk 37:1-14). Read the Ezekiel passage carefully and you will see the true meaning of the passage which is giving a vivid illustration and prophecy of how a dead sinner comes to life and thus is brought to repentance and faith in Christ. HINT: the bones are 'dressed' with a body as was Adam when he was created, but although the appeared to be alive, they were nothing more than corpses until God the Spirit breathed into them and gave them real life as happened to Adam and likewise all those whom God has predestined to eternal life when the Spirit regenerates (to be made alive, born again). Jesus' discourse with Nicodemus in John 3 is very clear that a sinner cannot even see the kingdom of God unless the Spirit first regenerates his dead soul.

2. His question(s) reveal his semi-Pelagianism and why he is forced to believe in some universal prevenient grace. There is no place in his belief system for UNconditional Election, i.e., that God from all eternity decreed to save a remnant out of Adam's fallen race to declare both His own righteousness, justice, mercy love and grace (cf. Rom 8:28-30, 9:6ff; Eph 1:1-14; et al). Scripture again incontrovertibly teaches that God's love is reserved only for the elect whom He determined to save and He hates those whom He determined to pass by and decree that they should be punished for their sins in hell. He asks, "Why does God love you more than than he does your neighbor?". We answer that the reason that God sets His love upon one and not another is not specifically revealed in Scripture. But Scripture does reveal that there is absolutely NOTHING in those predestined to eternal life which was considered, for NOTHING of any value, NOTHING good is to be found in them. They are no less worthy of the wrath of God than any other. This is what glorifies and defines God's love for anyone and gives true meaning to the word "grace". The depth of God's love mercy and grace is incomprehensible but no less real and worthy of all humble praise. Only biblical Calvinism teaches these things and is the true Gospel, which Spurgeon, for example, openly declared. This is the Gospel that truly saves and is to be found in none other. (see my article here: Do you REALLY Believe that Salvation is by Grace Alone?.


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Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Pilgrim] #55125
Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:15 AM
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Hi Pilgrim
I just have a few questions regarding your not liking the term "common grace". I know your reasoning for this. However, (I am going on memory) isn't it true that even some of the Reformed Confessions (WCF?) use the term "common grace" (or the equivalent)?
Is it not also true that the term "common grace' as used by most Reformed people, have in mind the same meaning as the term you like to use? I personally don't know anyone who associates the terms with salvation.

Tom

Last edited by Tom; Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:27 AM.
Re: Wesleyan Prevenient Grace [Re: Tom] #55126
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1. I know of none of the classic older Reformed/Calvinistic confessions nor catechisms that use the exact phrase, "common grace". If it is used in one it would be helpful if you or someone else could reference it. Doubtless, some contemporary confessions or modifications of one or more of an older confession probably exist.

2. No, it is not the case that "it not also true that the term "common grace' as used by most Reformed people, have in mind the same meaning as the term you like to use?". The Christian Reformed Church was one of the first, if not the first, to use the term. There use of the term went way beyond simple 'benevolence' of God but rather included a universal love of God for all mankind, including those who were destined to eternal hell. This, of course, then effected the content of the Gospel and added that it was God's infinite desire that all mankind, without exception, be saved. The introduction of this "common grace" caused no little stir and in 1924, there was a major split in the CRC led by Herman Hoeksema who formed the Protestant Reformed Church.

3. Must I remind you again???? YOUR personal experience is no basis upon which to make conclusions about what is true. In this case, who associates common grace with salvation. The doctrine of common grace which directly effects salvation is widely held across the Reformed spectrum. Aren't you familiar with John Murray's and Ned Stonehouse's booklet, "The Free Offer of the Gospel"? In fact, the subjects of "common grace", "the free offer of the Gospel", and the "universal love of God" have been discussed on this board myriad times throughout the years. grin


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