==Hello. After someone I have been talking to accused me of being a modern day pharisee, I decided I better look at what a pharisee is. I came across your site and your article "What is a Pharisee?" I have a few questions.
"(which is always the case if you believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception),"
Thats what I always believed. Who did Christ die for?==
Jesus Christ died for His sheep (John 10:11,15). His sheep are the ones whom God chose to give to Jesus Christ (John 6:37-40; John 10:29; John 17:2). He chose to give them to Jesus Christ from from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Please see the article "Gospel Atonement" at www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm.
==How do you counterbalance that article with verses that very clearly show that our actions do count for salvation. Here are just a few of MANY.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, [fn] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
Gal 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
Gal 5:21 envy, murders, [fn] drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1Jo 2:4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.==
It is absolutely true that those who practice such things and do not keep His commandments are not saved. But this does not mean that salvation is conditioned on keeping the commandments and refraining from practicing wickedness . It means that when God saves someone, He causes them to keep the commandments and refrain from practicing wickedness. And if someone practices wickedness and does not keep the commandments, it shows that he is not saved -- he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
==If salvation is in no way conditioned on the sinner, then why bother with anything? Why even believe? Why even preach the gospel? Why go to church? Why help the widow and the orphan and remain unspotted from the world(james 1:27)?==
Salvation is conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. It is not conditioned on anything the sinner does or is enabled to do. In light of this, I will answer your questions. "Why even believe?" One's belief does not earn him salvation. One's belief is an immediate and inevitable fruit -- result -- of salvation. God causes His people to believe in order to glorify Himself in their hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6). "Why even preach the gospel?" The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing (Romans 1:16). It is the means God uses to save His people (Romans 10:13-15). "Why go to church?" The church (assembly) is not something a believer "goes to"; it is something a believer is part of. I think you're trying to ask why a believer should attend a worship service. One's attendance does not earn him salvation. A believer desires to be with the people of God, to worship God with them and fellowship with them. "Why help the widow and the orphan and remain unspotted from the world?" These works in no way earn a person salvation. They are the fruits of a saved person. Ephesians 2:8-10 says this: "For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast; for we are [His] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them." God's people are saved by grace, not by works. Their faith isn't even of themselves; it is the gift of God. So what do good works have to do with it? God's people are created in Christ Jesus to do the good works that God prepared for us to do. We who are Christians obey God not because it saves us or keeps us saved or recommends us to God or makes us more fit for heaven; we obey God out of love and thankfulness for the One who saved us based solely on the work of Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to read the series of sermons on the gospel at www.outsidethecamp.org/sermons.htm. I would be happy to answer any more of your questions regarding this life-and-death matter of the gospel. I hope you see that what you have believed up to this point is damnable heresy and that you are not saved. I pray that God will use His gospel to bring you to Himself.
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter
==I assume you also believe in an eternal hell, but even if you dont, this whole thing raises some questions. I did read as much from your site as I could stomach. Eliminating free will makes all of this a moot point. Even thinking about talking about this is a waste of time. I understand that God is a being outside of time and that he sees the end from the beginning(otherwise he wouldnt be God). This super extreme calvinism on steriods is the work of the devil. We have to have free-will and therefore responsibility for any of this to be meaningful. Ive read the verses, and I can see what you are saying, but there are just as many verses implying free-will, so it must be balanced.
If God made us with no free will, then we are not responsible for sin. God is.
Why would God make some things that he knew he would burn eternally in hell. It would be like you and your spouse having a child and then torturing it for its entire life. No-one would really love such a God.
In regards to your strange extreme of a Gospel (waaay on the other end of the spectrum from other cults like SDAs and JWs), count me as lost.==
You are actually the objector in Romans 9:19! Read it for yourself!
"You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?" (Romans 9:19)
That's exactly what you're saying, isn't it? Isn't it amazing how the Bible anticipates such an objection to God's absolute sovereignty?
And how is that objection answered? Is it answered with, "God can find fault with you because you have free will"? Is it answered with "God can't find fault with you because you cannot resist His will"? No! Here's how it's answered (read it yourself):
"Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations." (Romans 9:20-24)
That's how GOD answers the objectors who say that "If God made us with no free will, then we are not responsible for sin"! Who are you to answer against God? Does the thing that is formed have the right to say to the one who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" Of course not. God, from before the foundation of the world, chose some to be vessels of wrath, and He fitted them out for destruction. Why? In order to demonstrate His wrath, make His power known, and make the riches of His glory known on the vessels of mercy that He prepared for glory. You have no answer for this. You shake your fist at the sovereign God of the universe and say, "I cannot love such a God." Your god is one that you have made after your own image, one who is not it total control of His creation, one whose plans can be thwarted. That's not the God of the Bible.
You said, "I understand that God is a being outside of time and that he sees the end from the beginning(otherwise he wouldnt be God)." Not only does God SEE the end from the beginning -- He DETERMINES the end from the beginning! Otherwise He wouldn't be God! How does God KNOW the end from the beginning? Because He has DECREED the end from the beginning! He not only DECLARES the end from the beginning but DOES all His counsel, all His desire:
"Remember former things from forever, for I [am] God, and no one else [is] God, even none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from the past those things which were not done, saying, My counsel shall rise; and, I will do all My desire; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My counsel from a far off land. Yes, I have spoken; yes, I will cause it to come; I have formed; yes, I will do it." (Isaiah 46:9-11)
Read the chapter before this as well. Look at almighty GOD:
"So says Jehovah to His anointed, to Cyrus, whom I have seized by his right hand, to subdue nations before him. Yea, I will open the loins of kings, to open the two leaved doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you and make hills level; I will tear apart the bronze doors, and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, even treasures in secret places, that you may know that I [am] Jehovah, who calls you by your name, the God of Israel. For My servant Jacob's sake, and [for] Israel My elect, I entitle you. I name you, but you do not know Me. I [am] Jehovah, and [there is] none else; there is no God except Me. I will clothe you, though you do not know Me, that they may know from the rising of the sun, and to its going down, that [there is] none besides Me; I [am] Jehovah, and there is none else; forming light, and creating darkness; making peace, and creating evil. I, Jehovah, do all these things. Drop down from above, O heavens; and let the clouds pour down righteousness. Let the earth open and let salvation bear fruit; and let righteousness spring up together. I, Jehovah have created it. Woe [to] him who fights with the One who formed him! A potsherd among the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to its former, What are you making? Or does your work say, He [has] no hands? Woe to him who says to a father, What are you fathering? Or to the woman, What are you laboring over? So says Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and the One who formed him, Do you ask Me of the things to come? Do you give command to Me about My sons, and about the work of My hands?" (Isaiah 45:1-11)
And here's what God says about one who would boast that he does things in his own strength, his own free will:
"And it will be, when the Lord has broken off all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will visit on the fruit of the proud heart of the king of Assyria, and on the glory of his lofty eyes. For he says, I have worked by the strength of my hand and by my wisdom; for I am wise. And I take away the borders of peoples, and have robbed their treasures. And like a mighty one, I put down [ones] living [in it]. And my hand has found the riches of the people. Like a nest, I also have gathered all the earth, as forsaken eggs [are] gathered. And there was not one moving a wing, or opening a mouth, or one chirping. Shall the axe glorify itself over him chopping with it? Or shall the saw magnify itself over him moving it? As [if] a rod [could] wave those who lift [it]. As [if] a staff [could] raise what [is] not wood!" (Isaiah 10:12-15)
Man is as free from God's control as the axe is free to cut the tree by itself! The one who thinks he has free will is glorifying himself over the One who controls him. He is the clay telling the potter what He can and cannot do.
There are NO verses that imply free will. NONE! I challenge you to find even ONE verse that implies free will. You will not be able to find one. NONE of the verses in which God commands people to do things implies free will. NONE of the verses in which man's responsibility is established implies free will. NONE of the verses in which man makes choices implies free will. There is NO SUCH THING as free will of man!
By the way, I am NOT a Calvinist, let alone an "extreme Calvinist on steroids." If you would read or hear my series of sermons on Romans 9, you will read or hear me preach strongly AGAINST Calvinists:
You hate the Sovereign Creator and Controller of the universe! Bow to Him or perish!
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter