Calvinism’s Missing Contexts – Part 3

Philippians 1:6

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 1:4

“He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

Calvinist Challenge:

From these 2 verses it is clear as day that every individual who has been saved was predestined for eternal life from all eternity and will never fall away from the Christian faith. God will complete the work he started in each and every Christian. And he chose each individual that would be saved before the world began.

Biblical Response:

The Calvinist misinterprets verses like the ones above because he misunderstands who these passages were written to and about. He misunderstands that the verse in Philippians was written to a particular congregation and applies to that congregation as a whole. He also fails to realize that the verse in Ephesians was written about the Body of Christ in general.

In a previous post (“Ground Rules of Interpretation”) we learned that before we can apply scripture to our lives personally we need to understand the original context of the passage. But often when we face verses like Philippians 1:6 we jump to conclusions and apply them directly to the individual believer.

Linguistic Limitations – “You or Y’all?”

Why do we do this? Many times it is because the limitations of our language. Many languages around the world, including the one in which Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, have a plural form of the word, “you.” But in some languages like English we can only express “you” in the plural form by adding something to it. We can say things like, “You all” or “You guys.” And if we are from the American state of Texas, we are even permitted to say things like, “Y’all.”

The New Revised Standard Version translated Philippians 1:6 with the plural meaning of the original language in mind.  Let’s look at the NRSV’s translation of this verse and see how it clarifies Paul’s meaning.

Philippians 1:6 (NRSV)

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”

“In you” has a completely different implication than “among you.” The first sounds like Paul is saying “in the individual believer.” The second makes it clear that Paul was talking about what was happening “in the midst of the Philippian church.” What this means is that Paul was not expressing confidence that every single member of the church in Philippi would make it to heaven, but that the Philippian church would continue to move forward in the will of God. God had started a work in them (i.e. among them), and he would faithfully continue to work in and through that church. But Paul had no illusions that each and every member of the Philippian church would continue to walk faithfully with Christ until the second coming.

I have been living in Asia as a missionary for almost two decades. I was ordained by a church which is located in Dallas, Texas, USA. Though many churches have been faithful to love me and my family by supporting us and praying for us throughout the years, my home church has a special place in my heart. They have been partners with us from the beginning. In Philippians 1:3-5 Paul praises the Philippian church. He said that whenever they came to mind he gave thanks to God for them and that he always remembered them in his prayer time. He said this gratitude came from the fact that they had been his partners in the Gospel from the first day he came to Philippi. Then in verse 6 he goes on to tell them that he is confident that the God who started a good work in their midst would be faithful to continue working in them and through them. What Paul felt for the church in Philippi, I feel for my home church. And his confidence that God would continue to use the Philippian church is the same confidence I have in God for my church back in Dallas.

I am rarely able to make it back to Dallas, but it is always wonderful fellowship when I do. The church that sent me out to preach the Gospel in August of 2000 is still alive and kicking. They are not just surviving, they are thriving! Through the years many souls have come into the kingdom, new leaders have risen up and started new home Bible studies, new pioneer pastors have been sent out to start new churches in the surrounding areas, and even other missionaries have been sent abroad. God has remained faithful to my home church. And yet, every year I go visit, I learn the sad news that someone or another has left the church and gone back into their former sinful lifestyle. God is faithfully working in that church, but that doesn’t mean that every person who has come to Christ in that church has continued to walk with Christ. Paul was confident that God would continue to work in and through the church in Philippi, but he was not so naïve to assume that every individual would endure to the end and be saved.  When facing passages like Philippians 1:6 we must keep the corporate context in mind.

Cultural Influence – “Individuality or Community?”

Another reason we jump the gun in applying verses with a corporate context to the individual believer is by letting our western world view, which naturally leans towards individualism, blind us. Western culture has a very individualistic outlook on life. In the West, the individual is primary and the group is secondary. In the West a group is just a collection of individuals, and the individuals are valued as individuals. In the East individuals are almost invisible; the group is supreme and the individual is either inside or outside the group. The individual is valued because of his connection to the group. Because many of us have a tendency to focus on the supremacy of the individual, we are often quick to apply anything that is spoken about the Body of Christ to the individual members of is. But we must remember that the Bible was written by, and to, people from the East.

Many of us read Ephesians 1:4 in this way, “He chose each and every Christian in him (i.e. Christ) before the foundation of the world.” But Paul was an Easterner, and so was his audience. That means what he was actually saying was, “He chose the Church in him before the foundation of the world.” Even the plural language doesn’t make this clear to us. When we read, “us,” we don’t think of the group each of us is a part of (i.e. the Church), but we think about the individuals that make up the Church. To those of us with a Western mind set “us” means all the individuals that make up the group. But to Paul and his audience, “us” means the group that we are each a part of.

So when we read Ephesians 1:4, it seems to us that God’s word is teaching that John, Joe and Cindy were personally chosen by God to be saved before the world began. Logically this means that Ted, Mike and Suzy were not chosen. So Paul seems to be teaching that certain individuals were predestined to be saved, and others were not. What Paul was actually teaching was that the Body of Christ had been predestined to be holy in God’s eyes. Anyone who is a member of God’s Church can rejoice in that glorious plan and the fulfillment of it.

Let’s ask a few questions to make it clear that Paul was thinking about the corporate Body of Christ, not particular individuals, when he said, “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” Firstly, when Paul wrote the letter, how did he know who would be listening when the letter was read aloud to the congregation? How did he know that only those individuals that had been eternally predestined for salvation were there that day and were rightfully included in the “us” of Ephesians 1:4? And, supposing he did know exactly who would be present that day, how did he know for sure that they had all been predestined by God? What if some of the members of the congregation were “false converts” that only deceived themselves and others into thinking they had saving faith? Of course the answer to these questions is that Paul did not know who was going to hear the letter, or read it for generations to come, and he didn’t need to know with certainty the spiritual condition of each listener/reader. He was speaking to the Body of Christ, not the particular individuals that were listening that day. When he said, “We were chosen,” he was saying, “We, the Body of Christ, the Church of God, were chosen.” Whoever reads the letter to the Ephesians, the truth remains the same; God chose the Church in Christ before the foundation of the world.

But isn’t Paul telling the Ephesians and all individual believers this in order to encourage them? Can’t we apply this verse to individuals also? Yes and Yes. But we need to apply it properly.

In the Old Testament God chose a holy people for himself. He promised to bring them into the land of Canaan, and he did. God fulfilled his purpose for his people. But this doesn’t mean that every individual Israelite was able to enjoy the nation’s inheritance. A whole generation died in the wilderness because they refused to trust in the Lord and submit to his commands. The nation received what was promised, but many members of that nation did not. God swore to Abraham that he would give his descendants the land of Canaan. But that promise did not ensure that each Israelite would obtain the promise. As long as they remained covenant keeping members of God’s people they would be blessed with the people as a whole. But those individuals who rebelled against the Lord were cut off from Israel and the promised inheritance. The individual Israelites could find comfort in their chosen status and the milk and honey waiting for them in Canaan, only as long as they remained legitimate members of the chosen people.

The Church was chosen even before the people of Israel. It was chosen before the foundation of the world. By his blood, Jesus made the Church holy and blameless before God. It was God’s eternal purpose to create a holy people in Jesus Christ, and that’s just what he did. Jesus is continuing to build his Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. He will one day return from heaven to receive his spotless Bride unto himself. God has assured us that this is the Church’s destiny, and nothing will stop it. But this does not mean that each member of the Church was chosen before the foundation of the world. Nor does it ensure that everyone who is a member of the Body of Christ will partake of the Promised Land of Eternal Life. We are now “holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Col. 1:22). And we will remain so “if indeed we continue in the faith, stable, and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” that we have received (Col. 1:23). We are now “holy brothers” that “share in the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1). And we will remain members of his family “if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb. 3:6).

In Romans 11:11-24 Paul talks about this phenomenon. In that passage Paul describes God’s chosen people as an olive tree. He teaches us that the way to remain connected to the olive tree is by walking in faith. He explains that some, who used to be branches in the olive tree, were cut off because they fell into unbelief. The tree, that is, God’s chosen people, always remains holy and blameless before God, but the unbelieving branches no longer experience the Lord’s salvation. Paul makes it clear that if those who have been broken off repent, they can be once again members of God’s chosen people. And he warns the arrogant branches that they too can be broken off if they don’t continue to walk in faith. God’s corporate election of Christ’s Body remains constant, but which individuals are a part of that that chosen people depends on our connection to Christ through faith.

So when we come across a passage of scripture that seems on the surface to imply the false teachings of Calvinism we must ask if the context is talking about individuals or a group. If we do not take a moment and ask this question often we can falsely assume it is talking about individuals. This could be because of limitations in our language or limitations in our cultural viewpoint. We must remember that we cannot properly apply it to our lives until we understand what the author meant to communicate to his original audience. We must keep in mind that corporate verses are those that are written to a group of people, apply to a group of people, and apply to individuals only as long as they remain part of the corporate group.


When we run into passages that look like they are confirming Reformed Theology we must take time to get our bearings. Just as good theme parks provide sufficient maps to get you easily from one ride to another without much difficulty, God has provided sufficient context to his word to keep us from getting lost in error. Some verses seem to teach Calvinism because we fail to take into account the biblical context. When a verse speaks of people being chosen for something, we must ask, “Chosen for what?” When we read verses that are written to groups of people we must makes sure that we keep the passages in their corporate contexts. And we must be aware of the Jewish/Gentile controversy that was responsible for much of what we read n the New Testament if we hope to avoid coming to false conclusions about so many scriptures. When you feel lost look for the red dot that says, “You Are Here.”

For part 1 and 2 of this series click part 1 or part 2.

24 thoughts on “Calvinism’s Missing Contexts – Part 3

  1. I think in a very short article you have been able to satisfy one of the most problematic verses for Classical Arminians. I have studied this subject feverishly over the last several years. But this verse in Ephesians has always caused me some difficulty. Adam Clarke and Robert Shank (Life in the Son and Elect in the Son) have done a good job of arguing for the collective approach to exegesis, but I never felt completely comfortable with that approach until you put it into the cultural-historical perspective. This article is so excellent. Finally, I feel a certain peace that this verse now perfectly fits cohesively into my larger theological understanding of soterieology. Thank you so much for your beautiful gift and for being a vessel of The Lord!

  2. Hi david you said
    “I am not here to convince anyone that Reformed theology is right, though I certainly belief that to be true and yes, I have study and consider the middle ground between Arminian beliefs and Reformed ones. One of my all time favorite writers (A.W. Tozer) was in the middle. Giving men’s ability to choose and God’s sovereignty a place in salvation. ”

    Tozer’s theology was for the classical arminianism.


  3. David – thank you for your comments. You wrote, “Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Soli Deo Gloria” and appear to believe those as being unique to Calvinism. Arminians have zero difficulty believing those as well. We are of the 5 Sola tradition as well.

    You also mention how you have embraced eternal security. Arminius never sided on that issue. He found biblical support both for and against that doctrine. Hence, you will find many Arminians that believe in eternal security. For a discussion on this, visit this website that is propagated by the Society of Evangelical Arminians:

    BTW – I appreciate that you equally regard Arminians as brothers and sisters in Christ. However, I am super uncomfortable with your loose usage of the word heretic. Typically, that word does not encourage Christian charity and brotherly love. Here is an interesting perspective on the usage of such a divisive term:

    1. I am extremely familiar with Arminianism (I do not know it all, of course not), but I have looked at the majority of the arguments in the Arminian/Calvinist debate and I see Reformed theology (and not in its entirety, but mainly in the doctrines of Grace) as the biblical theology. I know Arminianism better than most Arminians for that is what I aligned to in some aspects, for most of my life in Christ, but I could never reconcile some verses under that system. when I read the word of God, forget Calvin and all the others, I can care less about them, though I love them dearly and thank God for them, but forget Calvin and the others (and me) when it comes to the final analysis, I see God in scripture as a God who chooses those He saves, those He called and Justified. He keeps us. I am happy that I am not alone in my understanding nor is my understanding of scripture something new, I of course believe is found all over the new testament and defended by brilliant minds of God as Augustine and many others. Both camps have become experts in refuting the other and we both can spend countless hours debating a multitude of issues within both camps and end up believing what we currently believe. I do not find that an exercise in futility, but I don’t really feel nor do I really have the time to discuss these issues in detail for now as the topics merits. I am not using that as a cop out, but I am not that interested in discussing the issue at this point at that level. I just thought I would stop by and comment a bit hahaha

      I certainly do not believe nor was my intention to make it appear as is the 5 Sola’s are unique to Calvinism. I believed them as an Arminian as well. Really without any disrespect I can care less what Arminius or Calvin (I don’t agree with all of Calvin’s theology, though I truly love most of his works) state. It does not really make a difference to me if Arminius never sided on the issue of eternal security. When it comes to the order of salvation I disagree with him and go with scripture. We can’t even see the kingdom of God unless we are born again. Heresy is simply error if you look it up in a biblical dictionary, like I said, to some, the word has attain other connotations, but I am not uncomfortable using it according to its primary meaning, but if the use of it bothers others than the word mean nothing to me. I care more about the people that Christ died for than a word and I am not trying to be pious here is simply no big deal. So I believe my brothers who align to Arminian theology, which they believe comes straight from the bible, as Calvinist/Reformers believe theirs does as well, to me due to the abundance of scripture to point to the contrary, I believe Arminian theology to be in error. I will try to keep up with this blog, cause I do like discussing this issues, as time permits.
      Blessings to all.

      1. David,
        Thx for ur input, it is always welcome.
        Actually this blog is not intended for Calvinists,though obviously i welcome everyone. The posts on Calvinism have be written for people who have be confused by the claimes of Calvinism.
        It must be acknowledged that most people who are born again, who did not grow up in Reformed chirches, are saved under arminian ministries & come to Christ believing that God desires mercy for all (otherwise they wud not have the faith that God wants to save them). It is only later that they are challenged by the bold & persuasive claims of Calvinism. These claims often come wth the accusation that they didnt fully trust in Christ for their salvation but also trusted in their “faith”. Desiring to glorify God as any saved person desires they submit to the apparent meaning of certain key passages too quickly. Once they hav made this committment to their understanding it becomes hard for them to question those interpretations wthout feeling like they are not submitting to God’s word. Like every other error, Calvinism traps them into its system. This usually leads them to distrust the leadership that led them to Christ in the first place, since they r preaching a “human centered gospel”. So these posts were meant to help disciples avoid falling into this trap. I am not willing to try and deliver anyone out of Calviniam. It seems to me a near impossible task & since i dont consider Calvinism a damnable heresy im not willing or called to fight that battle.
        So thanks again for ur input, & feel free to comment when u have time.

      2. chris,

        Actually I was not born again in an Arminian church but in a prison cell. I love that I was thinking about how many guards I must kill to get out of prison when God had other plans for me and saved me without me having any religious background. So when I got to an Arminian church the three years I spend in Prison studying the word of God had already formed my theological foundation and I did not agree with what I heard from the pulpit.

        I thank God I did not have any religious back ground so when I got my BA in theology and when I was ordained as a pastor it was not those things forming my theology, but the time spend in scripture. When I set out to debunk Reformed theology, with an open mind and asking God to help me see the truth, I found I could not debunk it and the theology immediately harmonized with the word and what is more, it answered some questions that had never been settle in me through Arminian theology.

      3. David,

        I didnt know that it was this david i was talking to! Haha!
        Now ur gonna get some rebuke from me bro since we are old friends;) To tell u the honest truth i have been thinking from ur other comments u were a bit of an condescending guy trolling the internet to show off ur knowledge a bit. but i wasnt going to address it to a stranger. But now that i know it is my old buddy, im surprised u have forgotten the irenic/humble tone, we learned to use on praise chapel ning. & i assume u didnt mean to communicate the attitude that u “seem to” be commenting wth. Ur tone has caused some arminian bros on here to challenge u more directly than they naturally wud. I was just going to mark it off as a common trait of people who value theology above truth in love, but now that i know who it is, i know that u know how to communicate better than u hav been. Anyway, u know i love u, and i assume that u spoke with the tone u did because u assumed i wud recognize it was u and wud know ur heart. If i knew it was u i wud probably hav read ur previous statements differently. But the impression u gave when i thought u were a stranger was not what u intended to communicate, i am sure. But for those who dont know u, u r giving an impression u dont intend to give. So just a heads up my old ning buddy! Ur coming across different than u are, or at least than u used to be. Maybe the dark side (haha) has changed u. But i choose to assume it is just that dagnabit cyber-communication glitch that so often confuses people’s communication online;) so just try to keep in mind that the others reading here dont know u & where u r coming from.
        Now that is Dejavu for you! Haha! We had some great times!!! 🙂

        I didnt mean to imply u personally were saved in an arminian church, just that ur were saved by believeng god loved u & the cross was for u. If u didnt believe that before trusting christ for ur salvation than ur faith was built on presumption, but of course it was based on the truth that god is merciful even to u in particular.
        It is hard to imagine any man who is honest & humble, who believes in unconditional election before coming to christ, having an easy time presuming that the mercy of god is for him. John bunyan is a perfect example of this. in “the chief of sinners” he shows what a stumbling block that doctrine is to those who desire mercy.
        It is in that sense that i meant that it is undeniable that the majority of people who come to christ (except those raised in reformed churches) werent arminian in their views at the time of salvation. I mean this in the sense of believing that god’s mercy is for all, including them. If they didnt believe that, they wud have to presume they were one of the secretely decreed elect. For humble men who see their depravity clearly, that is a hard presumption to make.

    1. I am familiar with the work of the Remonstrant’s and the five points they presented after the death of Jacobus Arminius, I have read and study each point. Their points caused the response of the Reformers, in what is widely known as the tulip, the five points in response to the heresy of Arminius. In reality the debates go back in some form to Augustine of Hippo and his battles with Pelagius. I am also familiar with Arminius Speaks (the book); Essential writing of predestination, free will and the nature of God. The book is full of his writings. I have also listened to brothers like Jerry Walls debate against Reformed Theologians. I am amazed how someone like Arminius who seemed to have a good grasp of the doctrines of Grace decided to build a system of theology that went against his early beginnings, in what to me seems more of a philosophical stance than a scriptural one. I am not well learned in the work of Arminius, but I feel I have study enough of it to treat him fairly. I have also been in Arminian churches (by their own assignation) for 15 years of my 17 in Christ; hence I am informed in what the most popular theological belief of today is. Yet, I have learned to debunk it with the help of the divines and of course the word of God.

      1. David- Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. Much more comprehensive than what I was expecting. Thanks for attempts at being charitable to Arminius.

        However, you contradict yourself. You say that Arminius is heretical and then you say that you have studied enough to treat him fairly. The church does not regard Arminius nor Calvin to be heretical. That is a really bold statement.

        One of several things I appreciate about this present blog is that Rev Chapman does not call Calvin a heretic even though there are parts of Calvinism that he disagrees with. I would think if you would want to label Arminius a heretic, you would want to go to a blog that believes Calvin to be a heretic. Your statements seems uncharacteristic for this blog. Now, it would be reasonable for you to state what you disagree in regard to Arminianism but labeling Arminius a heretic is uncalled for.

        I regard Calvinists as brothers and sisters in Christ, certainly not heretics. Do you regard Arminians the same?

        My best friend is a high-Calvinist and we get along well and we certainly respect each other’s eccentricities in regard to the finer points of theology.

        Arminius was very charitable to Calvin. He even stated that everyone should read Calvin’s Institutes but like all theology (Arminius included) one should remember that they are not scripture and are subject to error since they are written by man and do not have the same infallibility as scripture. Hence, thru the lens of God’s Word is what all human writing should be considered.

      2. Hey bro,
        I don’t think I contradict myself by my statements, treating him fairly to me, is treating him as a heretic. By heretic I simply mean to say that he held unorthodox beliefs. He formulated, taught and adhered to a philosophical opinion that contradicted the established teachings of his time and most importantly, teachings found in the Holy Word of God. That’s basically what a heretic is. The word has acquired different connotations to different people, but that’s another topic. My brother Chris through his blog is calling Calvin and his teachings heretical, without using the word itself, but you can’t get around it. According to this blog Calvin taught heresy. I am not offended by that. It is what it is. Reformed theology and Arminianism are the primary schools of theology and I dare say that 90, if not 99% of Christians adhere to either one knowing or unknowingly. The two cannot be right. God is not a God of confusion. One of them is wrong, period. I am not here to convince anyone that Reformed theology is right, though I certainly belief that to be true and yes, I have study and consider the middle ground between Arminian beliefs and Reformed ones. One of my all time favorite writers (A.W. Tozer) was in the middle. Giving men’s ability to choose and God’s sovereignty a place in salvation.

        I also see how our liberties and ability to chose plays a part in salvation, as we do choose, yes amen, we choose, yet we are predestine and I don’t see the need to reconcile the two. As Spurgeon wrote, why should I reconcile old friends? I just dislike blogs and comments that make the other school seemed like they have not consider the interpretations being consider by the expositor. There is nothing in this blog that I cannot debunk with scripture. It would take a long comment haha and a bit of time which I don’t have, but Romans 9 can be interpreted in a way that is way more faithful to scripture than the way is being interpreted here. I think Chris is a beautiful brother in Christ. I praise God for him and also for you brother, you have an excellent approach to these exchanges, but after dissecting the topic for many years and still willing to modify my stance and learn (for one should never stop learning), I am currently persuaded that the word of God teaches what Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin and many others aligned to and taught. The truth of scripture is so beautiful. I have not grown weary of talking about these topics, especially when those exchanging are mature enough to discuss these very important issues in love, but I have no need to prove anything.
        You say that the Church does not regard Arminius or Calvin to be heretical, well, it depends what section of the church you are referring to and who the church is to you. I regard Calvinists as brothers and sisters in Christ as well, and I regard Arminians the same? I mean for most of my life in Christ I aligned to Arminianism, by church association, but never fully through bible study. I was never ok with many beliefs in the Arminian churches. I have for the majority of my walk in Christ embraced eternal security in Christ for one. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10. There is a difference between believing heresy and being a heretic. Arminius was a heretic. Most Arminians simply believe heresy. As someone who aligns to the doctrines of Grace I have no problem being thought as someone who embraces heresy. Only one school is correct, not both. They both can be wrong, but both cannot be right, is not complicated and we should all have enough maturity to understand that. There are some big differences between the two when it comes to the order of salvation, but both do hold to the essentials of Christianity though. Indeed all of men’s efforts to interpret scripture should be aligned to scripture. Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Soli Deo Gloria.

      3. David,
        I believe someone that teaches that one does not need to repent & trust in christ alone for salvation is heresy. Such teaching leads people to hell by leading them away from christ.
        Since that is my definition (though obviously in a nutshell) of heresy, i can say with assurance that i do not believe calvinism is a heresy or calvinists are heretics. I wud not call heretics my brothers.
        I do believe calvinism is very serious error that has caused much harm among god’s people.
        I define error as something that is contrary to the teaching of scripture but does not directly lead one away from the core practices of trusting in christ or submitting to him as lord.
        When u use the term heretic i think u mean it in the way i use error. So i can accept that u feel i am a heretic, it is ok wth me. I understand what u mean (i think). If i am a heretic, i am one that trusts in christ alone for his salvation and gladly embraces his spirit to change me.
        Thx again

  4. >>In the Old Testament God chose a holy people for himself. He promised to bring them into the land of Canaan, and he did. God fulfilled his purpose for his people. But this doesn’t mean that every individual Israelite was able to enjoy the nation’s inheritance.

    Deut. 7:7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

    The Lord chose a family to save in the flood and killed the whole world. The Lord chose the Israelites and not the rest of the nations in the world, though they could convert. The point is God chose, what is the problem? He is God, He can chose who he wants for salvation and give the others justice.

  5. >>What Paul was actually teaching was that the Body of Christ had been predestined to be holy in God’s eyes.

    yes and that: -5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

    He predestines us, the church and the church is made up of individual believers, whom God predestined. To the praise of our glorious decision to come to Christ, no, may it never be, to the praise of his Grace, for it’s by grace alone through faith, faith, that has been given to us as a gift (Eph. 2:8-9). Paul says, when it please Him, not when he or we use our will, which is dead in trespasses and sins and in bondage before we are born again: 15But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,

    1. David,
      Thx again for the input. I agree wth all the verses u quoted. I also agree our decision doesnt save us. I also agree that what addresses the corporate body benefits individuals.
      But as for the sense in which u mean it is applied to individuals, i believe u err. I address these issues in other posts i believe i provided links. If i did not these issues are further discussed in my post on ephesians chapter 1 & the five questions about predestination. Both of these posts can be found in the “calvinism” section of my blog.

  6. >>Linguistic Limitations – “You or Y’all?”

    The example you give under the sub-heading above is extremely unfair to Reformed theology. Our doctrines are not based on one verse. I can post various verses that teach eternal security for the born again believer and to think that the most brilliant theologians of all time (Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, RC Sproul, Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon) have believe or sustain a theological stance base on one verse is not representing them correctly. I know you are not saying this is the only verse they take out of context according to your theology, but come on bro.

    1. David,
      I will have to reread my post. If i gave the impression that this was the only verse used for eternal security, i apologize, i can think of many more that wud make an even stronger case, so i dont think that is what i meant. If i gave that impression, again, i apologize.
      I think i was focusing in the common error of looking at verses from an individual instead of plural perspective. This error effects more than just one theological tradition or one doctrine. Though, i obviously believe it is common among calvinist interpreters.

      1. Chris, you are a beautiful man of God and I just thought you would enjoy a bit of déjà-vu hahaha from me. I have mad respect for you. I have now embraced the dark side, reformed theology (Luke – i am your father hahaha). I will check out all your blogs, God has blessed you in the writing department bro. I don’t see the order of salvation as you do, but we are both born again brothers, and we both endeavor to teach the truth as we believe scripture teaches it, but we both can’t be right, though some would say we can, for both Sovereignty and men’s liberty to choose, do collide in Salvation, creating an apparent paradox, which is perfectly reconcile in the mind of God, but our finite minds struggle with such things. Personally i don’t feel one has to reconcile it perfectly but just believe what scripture teaches.

      2. David,
        Awesome to hear from u! Awesome actually!
        Look forward to ur interaction.
        I dont believe there is any contradiction between sovereignty & free will, but there is a contradiction between determinism & free will.
        Best shown in the fact that satan only did what he desired,but God as the first cause made sure he had those desires;)
        Arminians accept the doctrine of the bondage of the will and acknowledge that apart from grace the will of fallen man cannot be free in any genuine sense. But arminians do not accept compatibilism for it clearly makes god not only the author but also the perfecter of sin.
        Arminians believe free will never saved anyone, but has condemned multitudes! I think u wud agree on that point.
        Anyway, im just glad to be in touch wth u again bro!
        Married yet? Did u find a charismatic reformed church?

  7. Hello my brother.

    >>He misunderstands that the verse in Philippians was written to a particular congregation and applies to that congregation as a whole.

    The verse applies to all believers throughout time. In its immediate context, yes is applicable to the congregation at hand, but in extension, what is true for them, is true for us. That is not always the case, for a few exceptions, but what you just stated then would nullify the word of God being relevant for us to day. It’s application would be stripped.

    >>He also fails to realize that the verse in Ephesians was written about the Body of Christ in general.

    No we do not. As a Reformed theologian I understand that that verse is only applicable to the body of Christ in general and specifically.

    1. david,
      thx for ur input. sorry im just responding,i hav been travelling.
      1. on the first point it doesnt mean it is not applicable to us. it is just not applicable however we choose. the corporate context must be taken into account. then from there we can see how & if it can be applied to the individual. matt 28:20 is a good example. jesus is wth the church to the end, if we are in the midst of the church we can take comfort personallyin that promise.but we cant just take it to mean jesus will never leav us individually for any reason. paul makes clear elsewhere that if we deny him he will deny us.
      2. i meant when eph 1 id used to prove individuals were personally chosen b4 creation, that interpreter is failing to recognize the full implications of the corporate settings. im sorry if i overstated my case and gave the impression that such interpreters are completely ignorant of the corporate context. just meant they dont give it the weight it deserves.

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