Quote from JTW:
Grace is not totally unconditional. Grace is certainly unconditionally offered to all--but it is offered and then man must meet the condition of faith to fully realize its end. The ability to choose faith is a God given gift to all men.
My difference with this notion is as follows:
(1) If scripture truly taught God's grace is conditional, then it is no longer grace.
His grace is His and it is not conditioned on anything.
(2) The issue is not that man does not choose God freely, it is whether
that choice is made free and independent of God and His will.
Scripture, I believe, has numerous tensions in it, this is one of them, that
man's free choice is not free and independent of God's will, but rather it is
only in the context of God's sovereignty. Both coexist together, and we
cannot possibly fathom or contemplate with our feeble intellects how that is,
nor do I think we have to.
(3) Overlaying the background of it all is a choice we freely make, that however,
is made after God first chooses us. It is more of a notion that God's Spirit
moves, first convicting mankind, opening his mind and heart, giving mankind
the abillity then to respond in belief, repentance, faith, etc. It is a
miraculous event that we will never fully comprehend.
For a little more explanation, here's a copy of a response I made to you on another thread that perhaps you did not get a chance to see:
This was a quote from what you had written:
Thanks for your post DA. I guess we just differ on this one. I do believe God chooses--I simply believe He chose to give to all the capacity to believe and that He chose to save those who would do so. If I understand you He chose who specifically would believe and empowered only them to do so. I just can't reconcile this with the love of God as I understand it.
All of the following below was my response to you:
Yes, I fully understand your position. It was mine at one time, too. However, one of the most changing scriptures I had to deal with (among others) relating to God's choosing us only according to His own purposes were the following:
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
The repeated phrase "God chose" drives the point home as to who did the choosing....that is, He did the choosing first, before we made our choice....verse 30 says because of him we are in Christ Jesus, hence there is nothing to boast about whatsoever on our part. He chose us not because we chose Him, rather He chose us first, which comports with other scripture stating that very fact, that is, that He chose us first.
Additional scripture which drives this sovereign choice of God home is the following:
10And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13As it is written,(V) "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Here it again engages the concept of Him who calls as the basis of election, not based on what anyone (in this case Jacob or Esau) forseeably believed or did. His own sovereign choice was it. Jacob did not choose God.
And continuing on in Romans 9:
14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
The question here becomes, why would Paul defend the justice of God's own choice in this manner? Why would Paul have to discuss why we talk back to God if it is only we who choose Him? There would then be no reason whatsoever to scold man for talking back, there would be no basis for it. In other words if God chooses us only after He sees that we choose Him, what sense can be made of Paul's defense of God's choice of us according to His own purposes? His divine right of choosing is in His hands alone because he is the potter, He possesses choice, and it is all because of and to his own glory. Otherwise this passage makes little sense.
Furthermore, Titus 3:5 states:
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
He saved us, he washed us with a washing of regeneration, he renewed us by and through his Spirit: it is the move of Him on our will that is the crux of the issue, and again here in this verse is the language relating to his own mercy, his own choice.....For example, do we congratulate ourselves and look to God and tell Him how proud He must be of our choices, that we ended up choosing Him because of our special abilities over others? Sort of like looking around us and saying, "O God, look at all these other people not quite so bright as myself, or who just didn't have a heart with a longing for you like mine, who didn't choose you."..... No, of course we would never want to do that.
Anyway, to look at it another way, do we pray in our churches that God will choose our friends if they will only choose Him?.....What kind of a prayer would that be? Actually, it's more like we're simply telling God that we hope our friends will choose him......Instead, I think most would agree that when we pray for our friends we pray that God Himself opens their minds and hearts and blind eyes and deafened ears to Him, do we not?
And finally, here are the words of Christ:
16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Should He have corrected Himself, and instead said "I did not choose you, you chose me. If the going gets rough, don't come wimpering to me....after all, it's your choice, friends"?
Just a few more thoughts for you to keep in your back pocket, Jack!..........Take care.