Friday, March 27, 2020

Why I Disagree With The 'Reprobate Doctrine'

John 12:35-42, “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:”

This is a much debated passage of Scripture. I was listening to Pastor Steven Anderson today, preach a sermon titled: 'Except The Father Draw Him.' I love Pastor Anderson as my Brother in the Lord, and fully support his ministry! I often thank God for creating him. What a blessing he is to tens of thousands of people, including myself. Albeit, I disagree with his interpretation of John 12:39-40. Pastor Anderson teaches that if a person doesn't get saved when they have the chance, Jesus may hide from them and harden their heart, so that they cannot be saved. Kindly, I totally disagree with that idea. 

Is Pastor Steven Anderson A Calvinist?

No, he is not, by his own admission. In the preceding sermon Pastor Anderson says he's been 'accused of being a Calvinist lately, which he strongly denies being. I don't think he is a Calvinist, to be clear. So why do some people consider Brother Anderson a Calvinist? Well, a popular Bible commentator was Pastor John Gill (1697-1771), a staunch Calvinist, who basically taught the same thing that Pastor Anderson is teaching...
John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible 
Therefore they could not believe... God had determined to leave them to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and to deny them his grace, which only could cure them of it, and enable them to believe: he had foretold this in prophecy, and they were manifestly the persons spoken of; and therefore considering the decrees of God, the predictions of the prophet, and the hardness of their hearts, they were left unto, it was morally impossible they should believe Pastor John Gill [emphasis added]
Now, I have a serious problem when anyone accuses God of withholding GRACE from someone who needs and desires it. I don't think the Bible is saying that if you refuse to believe, God hardens your heart so you cannot believe. What the Bible DOES TEACH is that when as a person rejects THE TRUTH, gradually their heart becomes hardened over time, until the point is reached where the truth no longer affects them. 

Theologian Charles Ellicott Gets John 12:39 Correct

I think Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905) gets it right concerning John 12:39! He was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. Ellicott states: 

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers 

(39) Therefore they could not believe, because.The words refer to those which have gone before, not to those which follow, and then by an addition give the reason more fully. "It was on account of the divine will expressed in Isaiah's prophecy." "It was therefore, namely, because Isaiah said again." 

The words, "they could not believe," must be taken in their plain meaning as expressing impossibility. The Apostle is looking back upon the national rejection of Christ, and seeks a reason for it. He remembers how our Lord Himself had explained His method of teaching by parables, and has based it upon this prophecy of Isaiah (Matthew 13:14). The principle was that which has been repeated in His last public words (John 12:35-36); that power used is increased, and power neglected destroys itself. Here, then, in these prophetic words was the reason they could not believe. Willful rejection had been followed by rejection which was no longer within the power of the will. With this statement of St. John's should be compared our Lord's words on the same subject in John 5:40; John 6:37, Notes, and St. Paul's arguments in Romans 9-11. —SOURCE [emphasis added]
Pastor Ellicott makes some great points. He refers the reader to these two important Scriptures. The Lord didn't say men “COULD NOT come to Him; He said they WILL NOT come to Him to be saved! Kindly, that refutes Pastor Anderson's claim that some hardened sinners CANNOT be saved, because God has blinded them! ...
John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
Also, the Lord promises NEVER to cast anyone out who comes unto Him... 
John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
This again contradicts the “Reprobate Doctrine as taught by Pastor Anderson. Please understand that I am not mentioning Pastor Anderson because I enjoy refuting him, God knows my heart; but rather, because this matter involves salvation, which is a VERY important subject, and something needs to be said. 

Pastor Ellicott rightly says: Willful rejection had been followed by rejection which was no longer within the power of the will.” ...
Isaiah 6:9-10, “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
God had instructed the prophet Isaiah to preach the truth to a rebellious, proud and stiff-necked people. As the prophet (and all future prophets, including Christ our Savior) preached THE TRUTH of the Gospel (Acts 10:43), some people's hearts became hardened as they persisted to reject the truth of the Gospel. So when the Bible says in John 12:39-40 that, “THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE,” because HE [GOD] HATH BLINDED THEIR EYES, AND HARDENED THEIR HEART, it simply means that the preaching of the truth over time has hardened their hearts; only in this sense did God “HARDEN their hearts...
John 12:37-40, “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” 
I hope you see how simple this truth is. God did harden their hearts, by sending the prophets to relentlessly PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THEM. Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” God hardened their hearts through PREACHING, and not by a divine act of retribution against them for refusing to believe!!! I hope you see that dear friend. God would NEVER intentionally harden someone's heart to hinder them from getting saved!!! 

We read in 2nd Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I love that Bible verse! God doesn't want ANYONE to perish in their sins, spending eternity in the fires of a literal Hell. 

Pastor Harry Ironside's Commentary On John 12:39-40

I fully agree with Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), one of the most beloved and doctrinally sound theologians. Dr. Ironside is one of my favorite preachers. In his commentary on, “THE GOSPEL OF JOHN,” beginning on page 521 he states:
“What a solemn responsibility that puts upon every one of us who hear the Word of God as recorded here in His blessed Book. If men reject this testimony, signs and wonders and miracles will not convince them. They become hardened in their sins. These people refused to hear the word Jesus brought, and so the saying of Isaiah was fulfilled when he cried out (chapter fifty-three), 'Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?' He was implying that the great majority would reject the testimony of Jesus when he came, and they did. Only a little group received Him. And today that question still comes to us, 'Who hath believed, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?' Have you believe dear friend? Have you opened your heart to the Word of God? Has His mighty saving power been revealed to you? Do you know Him as the One who has delivered you from going down to the pit, and has given you a place in Christ, free from all condemnation? If you spurn the Word, God has no other message for you.
Thus we read that they could not believe, because 'John 12:39-40, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.' Was it that God was not willing they should be converted? Not at all. He yearned for their conversion. He entreated them to return to Himself, but they refused the message and hardened their own hearts against Him, and God said, 'Very well., you can remain hardened in your sins,' and the day came when the Word made no more impression on them.” —Dr. Harry A. Ironside, 'GOSPEL OF JOHN', pp. 521-522; 1942
Isn't that beautiful? I fully agree with Brother Ironside's interpretation of John 12:39-40. He continues his commentary on this subject, using a precious illustration of a hard-hearted father whose little girl God used to reach Him for Christ...
“That explains the strong delusion of the last days, and why men and women are given up to hardness of heart. They turn away from God, and at last the time comes when God says, 'Very well, Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.' God grant that this may not be true of any to whom these pages come. If you are still in your sins,  and you hear the voice of Jesus calling today, will you not bow before Him in repentance and faith, and tell Him that at last you yield your heart to Him and come to Him in all your sin and need, that you will trust Him as your Redeemer?
Isaiah gave this special word of warning, we are told, when he 'saw His glory.' 'These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.' When was that? Well, you remember the innocent recorded in the sixth chapter of Isaiah, when he said, 'In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.' Do you realize who it was whom the seraphim adored? The Holy Spirit says, 'Isaiah saw His glory and spake of Him.' Our Lord Jesus Christ was with the Father there in brightest glory. He who was yet to come in to this earth to save sinners, was the object of angelic adoration, and Isaiah looked on through the ages and saw Him coming down to die on Calvary's cross, and he cried, 'He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.' 
Isaiah saw Him in faith, and that blessed One stood in the midst of Israel, and His own people did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own received Him not. What about you? Have you received Him? Has the message gone in one ear and out the other? Or has it bowed your heart in repentance before Him? The trouble is, you know, many do believe, but they do not have the courage to come right out and confess their faith. —Dr. Harry A. Ironside, 'GOSPEL OF JOHN', pp. 524-525; 1942
To understand John 12:35-42 properly, we need to realize that the apostle John is referring to TWO different passages from the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
Isaiah 53:1, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isaiah 6:8-10, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
I agree with the following Bible commentary by Daniel Whedon (1808-1885), a Methodist preacher, who made this helpful observation about Isaiah 6:10...
Whedon's Commentary on the Bible 
10. Make the heart… fat — The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:10) was verbally directed to produce effects which he only predicted. Here Isaiah is directed to cause results which will doubtless take place, but are not necessary effects of his action. His prophecy is not responsible for results produced by the hardness of the people to whom it is delivered. Lest depends upon heavy. The heaviness or torpidity is vigilant “lest” conversion should follow the prophet’s gospel. —Pastor Daniel Whedon
In other words, God told the prophet Isaiah to preach to the unbelievers, making their heart fat with the truth. As their hearts became calloused “FAT,” they could not believe (meaning they had lost their will to even consider the truth), because of their own wicked unbelief, not because God hardened their hearts by a divine act of contempt. God hardened their hearts through His prophets preaching to them THE TRUTH!!! Here are some related Scripture passages: 
Proverbs 16:4, “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. 
Psalms 119:70, “Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
Proverbs 29:1, He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
God doesn't want men's hearts to become hardened from hearing preaching, but the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay! If a person hears the truth and doesn't act upon it, their heart grows cold and calloused. This is what happened to the disobedient Jews wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years. Hebrews 4:1-2, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” They had heard Moses preach 'The Gospel' for 40 long years, and their hearts became hardened toward it, so that they couldn't get saved anymore, by their own evil of unbelief. Humbly said, that is what John 12:39-40 means my friend. 

Bible Preaching Hardens Unbelieving Men's Hearts

In my humble opinion, our longsuffering God extends to sinful men every chance to repent. To those who are proud, stiff-necked, dull of hearing, having fattened hearts as grease, God still wants the truth proclaimed relentlessly to them, to treasure up against themselves the wrath of God for Judgment Day...
Romans 2:5-11, But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.
The Word of God commands us as believers to do good to our enemy—to feed, give drink, and love those who hate and spitefully uses us, that we may HEAP COALS OF FIRE UPON THEIR HEAD for Judgment Day...
Romans 12:19-21, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
That is God's plan for dealing with our enemies! Literally, God is telling us to love them, and in so doing we are making their coming judgment worse, because GOD WILL DEAL WITH THEM according to their works (whether good or evil)! Likewise, God does the same with His enemies. Luke 6:35, “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.With these truths in mind, I think it becomes obvious why God instructed the prophets to keep preaching truth, making the people's hearts fat with it, lest they repent and be saved. ...
Matthew 21:32, “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”
The Bible teaches that the pure in heart get saved. Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” ...
Luke 10:21-22, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
God doesn't intentionally blind men's minds from seeing the truth; but rather, proud men cannot see the truth, even when spoken in parables, because of a wicked heart of unbelief. When the Lord spoke of eating his flesh, those who were pure of heart understood that He simply meant to believe on Him; but the trolls of His day, the haters and critics, couldn't wait to spread what Christ had said, calling Him “crazy.” John 6:54, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” We learn an important truth in Luke 16:31, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets [i.e., The Bible], neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.It wouldn't have mattered if Jesus spoke in parables or spoken plainly there still wouldn't have believed, because of a wicked heart of their own persistent unbelief!

Those who are pure in heart will see and embrace the truth of the Gospel and be saved. But the wicked and proud person, will criticize, blaspheme God, berate Christianity, despise believers and refuse to honor the blessed Savior! John 5:22-23, “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.” All men SHOULD honor the Son, but they don't! 


Why Jesus Chose To Speak In Parables

The Lord chose to speak with parables. A parable is simple a story with a spiritual application (i.e., a heavenly meaning). In Matthew 13:10 Jesus' disciples plainly asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Here was His answer: 
Matthew 13:11,14-15, “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. ...And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
It was because of the Jew's willful unbelief that the Lord chose to speak in parables. The Lord performed many miracles in an effort to convince them that He is the Christ. Yet, they refused to believe. Jesus healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear, even raised up the dead; yet they would not believe on Him. The people had every opportunity to repent to believe and be saved, but they refused. Jesus said that many of the publicans and harlots believed on Him, but not the religious scribes and Pharisees. 

Unwillingness on the part of the people to receive Jesus' truth of the Gospel was the reason that He taught in parables. The unbelieving people did not understand Christ's parables. This was not because God was hiding the truth from them, it was because they didn't want to hear THE TRUTH. To those who believed on Christ, they were able to grasp His parables. 
“It is tragic for our God, Who gave us His Son to die on the cross, to beg us to love Him.” —Dr. Jack Hyles

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