Part 3: Examining Calvinism Proof Texts

Okay, continuing on in our *class homework* quest to apply Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 2:13 to “compare spiritual things with spiritual”, and again in 2 Timothy 2:15,  as we study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Today we actually find ourselves in that same second chapter of 1 Corinthians, looking closely at 1 Corinthians 2:14. Let’s dive right into the “proof” text.

1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: (Why?) for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” (emphasis mine)

Probably the phrase in this verse that causes problems is “neither can he know them”…keeping in mind the Calvinist doctrine of “Total Depravity”, the teaching that mankind is totally unable or incapable of seeing his need for Christ. Certainly, you could take this verse out of its context, and stumble over this phrase, thinking “neither can he know them” refers to man’s inability to have spiritual discernment unless they are one of the “elect”. (Elect is a term used by Calvinists for those that they believe have been pre-selected before the creation of the world by God and gifted with salvation…OTOH, remember that the flip-side, is that the “non-elect” have been supposedly selected by God to spend eternity in hell.)

As always, I recommend we read through this whole chapter, to grasp the context. Paul begins by expounding on the fact that he, as a man, has no wisdom apart from the Spirit’s power (verse 4), and that this wisdom is a mystery to the world (verses 6-8). But check out verses 9-12:

“But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. ”

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him…” (vs. 14)

Here again we see that if we come to God, believing, if we LOVE Him, and receive the truth of the gospel, the Holy Spirit will reveal all manner of wisdom, power and truth to us. These are the “perks” of being the sons of God!  Notice also, the reason given in verse 14 as to why the natural man “just doesn’t get it”…it’s because the things of God are foolishness to him. That is *key*. We see this often reflected by hard core evolutionists and atheists who are completely blind to the overwhelming evidence historically, archaeologically, and scientifically for the Creator of the Bible.

More scriptures along these lines, that the Spirit is given to those that believe/receive the free gift of the gospel…

Galatians 4:5-6, “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Ephesians 1:12-14, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

The order is always: receive/believe the truth/gospel, and then the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts to reveal all truth, so that we no longer are “of the flesh” but are “of the Spirit”…, not as the natural man who receiveth not, but as the humble believer, coming in faith to the cross, believing that Jesus’ death paid it all.

Here’s another great one on the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer:

John 16:13-14, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.”

In summing up, I have one more point to make.  In regard to 1 Cor. 2:14’s reference to the natural man “receiving not” because to him, the things of God are foolishness…this goes along with yesterday’s problem text in Part 2, 1 Corinthians 1:20B-21,

“Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

It takes the willingness of a believing heart by faith in things unseen and things considered foolish, to please God. I believe that this is precisely why He wrote some hard-to-understand texts into His word. He knew that if we wanted to know Him on a deeper level, out of love for Him and His words, we’d keep studying these passages till we grasped their truth…and likewise, that we’d have to accept some things by faith, perhaps not finding their answers this side of Heaven. (1 Cor. 4:5)

God allows these puzzlers to identify Himself as the Author of the Bible. As the Creator, He allows exactly the same type of discrepancies in nature…according to the Bible, the earth is around 6,000 years old. However, starlight can be seen from stars millions of light years away. Venus rotates in reverse.  Salt melts ice but the polar caps remain frozen two miles deep in salt water.  He is God, maybe He wants to stimulate men and women to study and think. Why did Jesus speak in parables? God could have shortened the Bible to the salvation particulars and left it at that. But He didn’t. He is the God of history, and I am seeing how awesome it is to see in the Bible, how God’s truth is revealed progressively as time marches on.  Thus it stays ever relevant… Maybe God allows these hard texts to test our hearts and motives. Hebrews 4:12-13?  To see if we will still believe, and study to “show ourselves approved unto God”…did you ever think about seeking God’s approval being a big part of reading the word? I never *got* that before this past year.

I know for me personally, it’s been an amazing journey to plumb the depths of God’s awesome word in this way, by faith believing it holds every answer, and I’ve only just begun…

Are the things of God “foolishness” to you? Or do you love Him, and believe the whole counsel of His word, receiving the gospel account by faith, not as head-knowledge, but in your heart?

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