May 25, 2009

Why The Difference?

"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory (boast, brag, or take credit), as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Corinthians 4: 7 KJV)

These words of Paul argue very forcefully for unconditional election and particular redemption. No Christian can say he is different from the non-Christian because of his own free will and effort. If the difference between being saved or lost is ultimately left to the will of the sinner, then ultimately it is the sinner who makes himself to differ from another.

Paul says God is the author of this great difference. He chooses who is to be saved, according to his own sovereign will and pleasure. (See Romans 9 and Ephesians 1)

Why is one man different from another? Why, when the gospel is preached, does one man believe and repent, and another does not? Shall we lay the reason to the will of the sinner or to the will of God?

How does God make one to differ from another? Is it not because he "gives" to one what he denies to another? Is this not what Lord God was saying to Moses when he said:

"And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?" (Exodus 4: 11 KJV)

Thus, a man sees because God gave that man the faculty of sight. Another, who is blind, sees not because God gave him not the gift of vision. Likewise, one man hears, for God gives him the gift of hearing ears. Another, however, who is deaf, hears not because God gave him not the gift of hearing. Further, this denial of such "gifts" is viewed as God "making" or causing the blindness and deafness. So, who is it that "makes the difference" in these things?

Arminian theologian, Robert Piricilli, wrote (emphasis mine):

"Paul gives reason why pride is unjustified (v. 7). In essence, the reason is that God gives to men anything they have, and therefore no one has any grounds for self-glorying. Paul makes this point by asking three rhetorical questions, each leading to the next. The first one, "Who makes you different (from anyone else)?" might be answered in either of two ways: "No one makes you difference, in that you are all basically the same"; or "God is the one who makes one different from another." Some commentators assume one, some the other; I am more inclined to the latter.

Certainly that is the implication of the second question: No one has anything that he did not receive (implied: from God). Any talents or gifts that men have must be traced, ultimately, to God as their source. So what if one person has a native intelligence that others do not possess? He certainly did not get it for himself. All the more with spiritual gifts: each one is a manifestation of the grace of God (back to 1: 4-7 again; cf. 12: 11).

The third question obviously follows: then if every good thing a person has is something received (from God), how can he possibly justify glorying (boasting) as though he took it by his own doing? Answer: he cannot. And Paul's point has now become very clear. At first he had been speaking of himself and Apollos as simply doing what God gave them to do in His service. Now he means for the Corinthians to see that this applies to them, too. They have no right to glory in Paul or Apollos; neither do they have any right to glory in themselves. They are nothing more or less than God has made of them--even though what God makes of a man depends, in part, on how man develops or utilizes the capacities God gives him."

Randall House Bible Commentary By Robert E. Picirilli (pg. 54)

See here

"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3: 27 KJV)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1: 17 KJV)

These verses are further evidence of the same fact. A man is different because God made him different and no one can boast in anything, for all that he is, or all that he has, is owing to God's gifting.

"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." (Psalm 127: 1 KJV)

So long as such verses are in the Bible I can never assent to Arminian free will theology. Success, victory, and safety are all of the Lord. (Proverbs 21: 31) His blessing of a work is the all determining factor of whether it succeed or not. All is vanity apart from God's blessing.

1 comment:

David Murdoch said...

Grace is a gift from God, and it is a gift that we have the free will to reject. God offers His grace to everyone, but we all reject it sometimes and therefore sin. Some reject it wholly and they are sent to hell, and other reject it partly and they find salvation. It is not our own working that saves us, but it is our own working that damns us. As St Augustine said, 'the only thing we can call our own are our sins, everything else is God.'

There is no 'particular redemption' because God offers His redemption to all people, and some freely chose to reject it.

God Bless,