Was John the Baptist predestined to be saved?

Was John the Baptist predestined to be saved?

John the Baptist on The Giving blog by Cheryl Schatz

John the Baptist was he saved as a baby?

In the teaching of Calvinism, there is an election to salvation for some men while the rest of mankind are created without a hope of eternal life. In this understanding God has pre-determined from eternity past that all but the elect would remain in their sin and be lost forever. If Calvinism is true, then there is a portion of mankind that has been unconditionally chosen and guaranteed salvation because Jesus died for their sins and His death and resurrection guarantees their salvation without fail. Unconditional election is either true or false when tested by the Scriptures. May I share my view of the most famous of the elect in the Scriptures?

Was John one of the elect?

If I asked this question of a Calvinist, I am sure that he or she would answer “Yes.” After all, John had the Holy Spirit since he was in his mother’s womb. Jesus even said that John was the greatest so if anyone on earth should be one of the elect, it surely would be John. Let’s have a look at John’s election.

The Bible’s witness of John

Malachi  3:1 names John as God’s messenger:

Malachi 3:1 (NASB) “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me…

John preached in the wilderness where he drew great crowds. His work as a messenger of the Lord is prophesied in Isaiah:  

Isaiah 40:3 (NASB)  A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

Matthew 3:3 identifies John as the voice from Isaiah 40:3. John’s birth was special, and it is mentioned in Scripture along with the reporting of the conception and birth of Jesus. John’s mother was barren, and his conception was a work of God. As an unborn baby, he jumped for joy in his mother’s womb when she heard the sound of Mary’s voice. His very own name was conveyed through an angel in Luke 1:13.  All who heard the story of his birth wondered about what kind of child he would turn out to be. It was said that the hand of the Lord was certainly with him (Luke 1:66). John’s own Father prophesied that John would be called the prophet of the Most High (Luke 1:76). John was elected as a prophet and one who would prepare Israel to meet their King. John’s mission was to give to God’s people the knowledge of salvation so that they would turn from their sins. His mission was so important because it was absolutely vital to prepare the way for the Messiah. The ground must be plowed with repentance and faith. John not only was born elected to the position of God’s messenger but Luke 1:80 says that he continued to become strong in spirit. John would need this strong character to stand up to the Pharisees and the worldly rulers. John’s place in Scripture alongside the birth of Jesus pre-ordained John to the highest honor as the voice preparing the way for the Lord Jesus.

John receives the witness of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit spoke personally to John and gave to him a unique witness that no one else received.

John 1:32–33 (NASB)

32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.

33 “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’

Was John the Baptist predestined to be saved? If it is true that unconditional election to salvation exists, then John the Baptist must be an example of such an election.

Jesus’ witness about John the Baptist

Jesus’ witness about John tells a different story. The story is told in the same book that lists John’s birth along with the birth of Jesus. In Luke 7:14 Jesus raised a young man to life and the crowd gave glory to God by declaring that a great prophet had arisen amongst them and God had visited His people. This great prophet that had arisen was Jesus. The report about Jesus’ miracle went out all over Judea and into the surrounding district and as a result of this the disciples of John the Baptist reported to John all the things that were happening with Jesus. What happened next was an amazing act which seemed totally out of character for John.

Luke 7:19 (NASB) Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”

It is after John hears about the work that Jesus is doing, that he expresses doubt. His question is a summons for Jesus to provide more evidence about His identity. Are you the Messiah, or should we be looking for someone else to be revealed as Messiah? On top of his doubt, John is now spreading that doubt to his disciples. He includes them in his doubt by saying “should we look for someone else?”

Jesus’ answer to John given through John’s disciples is very revealing.

Luke 7:22 (NASB) And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

Jesus told John’s disciples to “go and report to John.” The words that come next are meant for John. Jesus said, “report to John what you have seen and heard.” But this is nothing new for John. John has already had the report of Jesus’ works. The report about Jesus healing the dead was given to John through his disciples before he sent his disciples to Jesus. On top of that John already had a witness about what he himself saw and heard:

John 1:32 (NASB) John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.

What else did John himself see and hear?

Matthew 3:16–17 (NASB)

16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,

17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

John both saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus and heard God’s voice testifying about Jesus as God’s Son! What on earth could John’s disciples see and hear that would now convince John that Jesus is the Son of God? If John is no longer convinced that Jesus is the Messiah after he has already seen the Holy Spirit descend and after he heard God speak from heaven, what was left to counteract John’s doubt?

Extraordinary revelations were given to John

Remember what John had as a testimony:

John 1:15 (NASB) John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ”

John not only testified that Jesus was the Messiah, but that Jesus was in existence before John existed. No one but the Holy Spirit could have revealed that to John. This wasn’t all the revelation that John received. John also testified that Jesus takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29 (NASB) The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Remember this was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and no one else had this revelation. John truly was special. John also was a gospel preacher:

Luke 3:18 (NASB) So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.

What else did Jesus give for John’s disciples to take back to John?

Luke 7:22 (NASB) And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: …the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

This also is nothing new to John. John also preached the gospel to the people. Nothing that Jesus gives as a message to John is new to John. John’s Father was a High Priest, and John was raised to know God. John would have known the Scriptures about the Messiah who would come with “healing in His wings” for John also knew the Scriptures about his own identity and calling. John also had received the witness of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ last message to John

The next thing that Jesus tells John’s disciples to tell John is the most revealing because of its implications.

Luke 7:22-23 (NASB)

22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John…

23 “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

The Greek word that is translated to take offense, means to cause to sin, cause to believe no longer, be brought to a downfall, to fall away from the faith, to refuse to believe or by becoming an apostate from Jesus a person falls into sin.

Greek for take offense on The Giving by Cheryl Schatz 

The BDAG lexicon lists this specific meaning for Luke 7:23 –

Luke 7:23 on The Giving blog by Cheryl Schatz

Jesus’ message to John is that those who are blessed are the ones who do not take offense at Him. This is conditional. John was taking offense at Jesus, and he was refusing to believe in Him. His unbelief was not because he did not have enough evidence. John also did not believe because he was predestined to be left in his sin. John needed to take personal responsibility for his own response to the message of repentance and faith. John needed to become a follower/disciple of Jesus.

Was John offended because he was a bruised reed?

Some may suggest that John’s apostasy came because he was stuck in prison and in that place he was a tender and broken reed. Jesus addresses this as He turns now to the crowd.

Luke 7:24 (NASB) When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

The answer to Jesus’ question is “No.” The crowd did not go out to see a weak man shaken by the wind. Jesus continues.

Luke 7:25 (NASB) “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!

Jesus asks if they went out to see a man dressed in “soft clothing.” A softie. Someone unaccustomed to hardship. The answer again is “No.” John lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and wild honey. He was not a softie or one easily shaken by the wind. Jesus continues.

Jesus says John is the greatest

Luke 7:26 (NASB) “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.

Jesus affirms that the crowd went out to see a strong man, someone who was not a weakling, and he is indeed a prophet. Not only is John a prophet, but he is more than a prophet confirmed by Jesus’ own testimony. Jesus said that John is more than a prophet, in that the Scriptures speak about him and show God’s special election to his place as the forerunner of Jesus. How many people can say that they are in the Scriptures in prophecy? John could.

Luke 7:27 (NASB) “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’

Jesus says that not only is John written about in the Scripture, but no one is greater than John.

Luke 7:28 (NASB) “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John;…

Not one man is greater. John’s miracle birth and his being filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb, the amazing revelations that were given to him, that he is recorded in the Scriptures, his privilege of being the forerunner of Jesus, makes John the greatest human that has ever been born of a woman.  Greater than Isaiah, and David and Abraham.  Greater than all.  But Jesus has more to say.

Was John in the kingdom because he was a prophet even with his unbelief?

Luke 7:28 (NASB) “…yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Jesus said with all of these privileges, and with this unconditional election to a place of prominence, John is less than the least in the kingdom of God. The only way that John can be less than the least in the kingdom is not to be in the kingdom. Humanly speaking John is the greatest. But because John has fallen from his confession and no longer believes, the offense that John has taken has made him outside the kingdom.

What went wrong?

John had a privileged position, but after he had preached to others, he failed the test himself. There is no evidence that John ever followed Jesus and became a disciple of Jesus. John did his duty and then left when Jesus came on the scene.

John preached to others about repentance and baptism, but there is no record that John ever repented and was baptized. John recognized that he needed repentance and baptism, but he did not take the steps necessary to follow through.

Matthew 3:14 (NASB) But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”

John the Baptist had more than enough knowledge for him to be saved. He knew the Word, and he preached the Word. He had special revelation, and he was given the message of repentance and faith. With all of this and with his election to a special office as the voice preparing the way for the Lord, he failed to repent and believe. He found himself in a position of taking offense at Christ.

God’s Justice

After Jesus said His hard saying that the least “in the kingdom” (present tense) is greater than John, verse 29 shows the reaction of the crowd that had just witnessed the public declaration of John’s astonishing doubt. The public words of doubt were coming after John had experienced a successful public life as a witness to Jesus as the Messiah.

Luke 7:29 (NASB) When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John.

The fact that Luke includes the “tax collectors” as part of the crowd of people is quite telling as it was the tax collectors and prostitutes who would be in the kingdom ahead of the religious leaders. Jesus gave a parable to show that what one says is not as important as what one does when it comes to doing the will of the Father:

Matthew 21:28–31 (NASB)

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’

29 “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went.

30 “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.

The tax collectors were in the kingdom because of what they did with what they heard. They listened to the message of God through John, and they repented, believed and were baptized. In contrast, the Pharisees who looked outwardly righteous and had all the right “words” did not believe.

Matthew 21:32 (NASB) “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

John the Baptist had to be judged by the same standard. Even though he had the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, he too needed to repent, believe and be baptized. The tax collectors went through the baptism of repentance, but John the Baptist did not. The tax collectors were following Jesus and putting their faith in Him, but John did not follow Jesus. The words he brought and God’s message that he spoke were not good enough for his own salvation. He had to act on what he spoke to do the will of the Father.

So after Jesus’ hard saying, the tax collectors acknowledged God’s justice. They had done the will of the Father and had repented and believed. They were following Jesus. The actions of John that resulted in the words of unbelief showed that John had not followed through with the will of the Father. He had not personally taken the step to be a disciple of Jesus. He was not exempt from needing forgiveness just because he was God’s messenger. Although John was used by God to bring repentance to the nation of Israel, he did not do the will of the Father to repent and be a disciple of Jesus for his own salvation. John’s public ministry as a witness for Jesus ended with a public statement of unbelief.

Did John’s apostasy get turned around in the end?

Jesus gave John no more evidence to believe. John already had more than any other person on the earth to believe in Jesus. There was nothing more to give. John never came out of his prison. He stayed there until he was murdered by Herod. When Jesus got word from the disciples of John that John was dead, Jesus withdrew to a secluded place by Himself.

Matthew 14:13 (NASB) Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself;..

I am reminded of the times that Jesus wept over death and destruction. How often Jesus wanted to gather to Himself. But there was nothing more He could do for John. John was unwilling to use what he had been given by God and there is not a word of testimony from Jesus or any of the apostles that John’s place outside the kingdom as less than the least in the kingdom ever changed.

There was no unconditional election to salvation for John the Baptist.

54 thoughts on “Was John the Baptist predestined to be saved?

  1. Is it possible that this is a old verses new Covenant thing and not a Calvinism verse Arminianism thing? Not sure if he was elect but I think God chooses for Himself to the praise of His own glorious grace in the old and new Covenants alike. Let me know what you think. Love the paper. Well written and researched.

  2. Welcome to my blog, Derek! You are special because you are the first to comment 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement! BTW I removed your duplicate post. I am just working through the kinks as I get to know the new blog format myself.

    Your question/comments are a valid thought. The question we need to ask is whether Jesus identified John as outside the kingdom because of his unbelief or because there were two covenants during this time and John had not entered the new covenant.

    I do not believe that Jesus’ words to John can be seen as John being like the OT saints while the rest of the Christians were in the NT kingdom. Here is why:

    1. There is only one kingdom of God not two. A person is either in the kingdom of God or outside of it.
    2. At the time that Jesus spoke, He said that there are people in the kingdom right now (present tense).
    3. Jesus did not base His statement that John is not in the kingdom right now on the basis of an OT covenant, but as a result of John’s confession of unbelief.
    4. Abraham was set up as the Father of the New Covenant by faith and he was before John’s time.
    5. No OT saint was in the OT covenant by grace without faith. Faith was always the basis of entrance into God’s kingdom before and after Jesus.
    6. Jesus links John’s confession of unbelief to the cause of someone taking offence. Jesus did not link John’s unbelief to a lesser covenant.

    It is my opinion that we need to pay close attention to the inspired words and the inspired grammar of God’s Word for these will either establish our view or correct our view. I desire earnestly to know the Word of God intimately by allowing the inspired words to light the way for me. I never want to be in a place where I am stuck to tradition so that I cannot hear the Word. The Word is that important to me.

    I look forward to your comments on this post or others as we continue to look at the Sovereignty of God.

  3. I absolutely agree with you about sticking to the word and not getting bogged down in tradition. Great point. Even if everything you say is true about John…I am missing the connection as to why this discredits the doctrine of unconditional election? Perhaps you could connect those dots for me. I will have to research what you have said in regards to Johns salvation and I look forward to doing so. Thanks.

  4. Thanks for asking, Derek. The reason that I believe that John the Baptist invalidates unconditional election, is that if election is unconditional (so that faith is not a condition) then election cannot be set aside by a condition of man. In other words John’s statement of unbelief in Jesus should not keep him out of the kingdom if John was unconditionally elected to salvation.

    But Jesus gives no indication that John, in his condition of unbelief, could be in the kingdom. If election to salvation is unconditional, then John the Baptist becomes a problem. If the greatest of all men cannot be in the kingdom even after having the Holy Spirit guide him since infancy, then election can’t be unconditional. If election was unconditional, I cannot see any way that John would be outside the kingdom. Does this make sense? If not, I would be happy to try to think through another way to say it.

    There are two men who throw a wrench into unconditional election. Reading the inspired Words really opened my eyes to facts that I had not seen about John the Baptist and Judas, the betrayer. My next post will be on Judas. I will see if I have enough time by next week to get that one up. This blog is a secondary road for me as my main time is spent in ministry to the body of Christ and ministry to the lost. I am up to my ears in our next DVD series so I try to fit in what I can, hence I am not as fast as I would like.

    One of my commitments is to be open to correction at the same time I need to give opportunity for those whose view I am correcting, to dialog on the issues. I feel that this is respectful as well as it brings needed balance just in case I am wrong in the way I see the Word. It allows me to benefit from the wisdom of the entire body of Christ. It is a win-win situation.

  5. With as much respect as I can portray without you hearing my tone and seeing my body language I would say it sounds as if one of us is wrong on what we think unconditional election looks like. I believe unconditional election is God choosing us before creation, having nothing to do with any good seen in us but only for his own sovereign purpose and plan. Faith is the means by which (Greek dia) we are saved. If we don’t have faith we are not elect. We don’t know who are elect and we are told by Paul to make our election sure and to examine ourself. If John was elect he would have had faith in Jesus as Abraham did. I believe faith is a condition but that all elected will come to faith. I don’t know why, if God didn’t elect John, he wasn’t elected being the greatest born of a woman. I pray I am not coming across as rude or condescending at all as that would not be my intentions. I am not foolish enough to believe that I might not be wrong. 🙂 Thank you.

  6. Hi Derek,
    Your comment didn’t come through right away as I found it in my spam box. Ahhh! Nothing in it looks spamish to me. I actually have gained a tougher skin and can take much more than I used to. If anyone rags on me, I don’t mind as much. I just don’t want any other poster to be hurt.

    What you have said came across very respectfully. Yes, the way you described uncondtional election is the way I would understand it as well.

    The only thing that I would disagree would be when you said: “If we don’t have faith we are not elect.”

    Are you sure? My understanding is that a person is of the elect from eternity past and even when they are still in their sins and in unbelief. So, for example, Paul would have been elect even when he was murdering Christians because he was elected unconditionally from eternity past. He was not saved while he was murdering Christians, but he was still elect. Perhaps what you mean is that if Paul died as an unbeliever then that means he was not elect?

    What is faith a condition for? It isn’t a condition for election, correct? That is according to Calvinism. Faith is only a condition for salvation, not election and yes, you are correct in that it is taught that all of the elect will come to faith even if it is on their deathbed.

    I would think that most Calvinists would disagree with you that John was not elect. There is a troubling doctrine brought out by Calvin who said that God gives some people enough of the Spirit to believe that they are actually Christians but He does this not to bring them to faith, for they are never predestined for faith. He does this to condemn them more. I call this troubling because if this is correct, then no one can know for sure if you are one of the elect or just one of the one’s that God has chosen to deceive into thinking that they are elect. I use the word deceive not to be contentious, but I don’t know a word that would accurately convey the purpose of giving the Spirit for condemnation.

    Another thing to consider is that John did seem to have real faith in the beginning. He is the one that gave the testimony about Jesus and his testimony was true. He testified that Jesus was before him in time, even though Jesus was born after John. That fact could only have been revealed to John by the Holy Spirit. The Scripture doesn’t give any indication that the one chosen to prepare the way for the Messiah would be a liar.

    I will also do a post about Paul in the future. Paul was a lot like John the Baptist because Paul said that he too was chosen from his mother’s womb. God’s election is amazing, but is it unconditional to salvation? That is the question. John was elected, but what was he elected to? I think we both have considered that John was not unconditionally elected to salvation.

  7. I am glad I didn’t come across as rude as I would never intentionally do that to a Christian. In my anger I might, but haven’t we all. 🙂 I agree with the five points of Calvinism, however, I am a Christian first, and foremost. If there are some Calvanist out there that presume to know that John the Baptist was elect, even if it were Calvin himself (as he is only a man and I do not in any way worship him) that would be their position. I am sure I could point out some non-Calvinist that have believed things you would find absurd. I don’t know very many Calvinist, but I love the doctrine. I find it consistant and so far in my studies Scripturally reliable. I really don’t think it is possible to know if someone is elect. I witness to everyone as if they were elect. I do believe that our Sovereign God will see to it that all who are elect (as they are elected by Him) come to Him in this life. Paul didn’t die in his “previous way” so it is not within my power to speculate. If someone doesn’t profess a saving faith in Jesus alone in this life, I do not believe they were elected by God. Of all the five points of Calvinism, I find this one the most appealing and Scripturally accurate (not that I don’t find the other ones that way) because it defines just how marvelous grace really is. I really did nothing. It was all God. As for John, I really don’t know if he was elected I just don’t know. Thank you again for being patient with me as I am just a pilgrim on my way home. See you there. I am really enjoying your blog by the way. Thank you for all the dialogue as there are not a lot of people in my life that find talking about Scripture and doctrine very exciting. 🙂

  8. Perhaps John expected to die soon and was making one last effort to transfer his disciples (“John’s disciples,”still attached to him) over to Jesus.

    I believe these verses show us that John’s intentions all along were to transfer his disciples over to Jesus.

    John 1:29, 35-37, The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

    Now notice in Luke 7:19, John still has at least two disciples. I doubt if John intentionally held back these disciples for himself. It says he sent them to Jesus to ask (perhaps to find out/decide for themselves) if He was the one.

    Luke 7:19, And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

  9. Hi Derek,
    I have been appreciating the dialog as well. I don’t know many who enjoy talking about deep spiritual matters. I would rather talk about the doctrine and Scriptural matters than anything else.

    One of the points that I was trying to make is that if a person is truly of the elect (from the Calvinist point of view) they would have to be elect all of their lives even during the time that they were an unbeliever. For example could we agree that Paul was elect (from the Calvinist point of view) even when he was killing Christians?

  10. Vance, welcome! I appreciate that you took the time to put your view down for all to see.

    I have a question on your view. It seems to me that the best way to transfer disciples to Jesus would be to say “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” I would think that something along the line of “I am no longer sure of who you are” and “I am thinking we might need to look for somebody who has the power to get me out of prison” might not be effective in transferring disciples to a “maybe” Messiah. I am taking liberties here with the text by toying with why John no longer believed the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you can give me your take how doubt was effective in causing faith to be transferred to Jesus?

  11. Yes, but we only know that now. If someone is elect then God will see to it that they make it through the Saul period of their life. If someone dies without professing faith in Jesus then they are not elect. Surely you believe God is Sovereign enough to preserve someone if He wishes? Elect (Eklektos) simply mean picked out or chosen for one’s self much like chosen (eklegomai). I just believe that God chooses before we are born (Ephesians 1:4) who is elect. I don’t pride myself in this. I don’t know why He would elect me (or anyone for that matter). I am humbled by the fact that He chose me (or anyone) and taught true grace in my humility.
    By the way, I too, would rather talk about nothing other than theology. I love talking with honest God-fearing brothers and sisters (and non-believers for that matter) about God and all things related. I will discuss these things with you until you get tired of me. I pray I don’t frustrate you. I am prideful and stubborn but I desperately want to be more like Jesus. If my faults leak out I hope you call me on it. 🙂

  12. Hello Cheryl, William Huget from Edmonton: I have never heard that John the Baptist was an apostate in the end?! I personally use Judas as a classic e.g. of apostasy, a true believer falling away (he was called an apostle and chosen for the inner circle after a night of prayer, then he became a son of perdition, not always predestined to be one).

    I agree with you that Calvinistic determinism/TULIP is not biblical and that free will theism (libertarian/incompatibilism vs compatibilism) is also more biblical, logical. In your context, Luke 7:30 (cf. Mt. 23:37) shows that God’s will can be resisted/rejected.
    Another key is that election is corporate, conditional, in Christ, not individual, unconditional, apart from Christ. Monergism vs synergism is also another divide in the debate. Faith is not a work, contrary to Calvinistic misrepresentations of Arminian faith. It is a condition, the manward, subjective element in appropriating God’s objective grace.

    Roger Olson, Arminian, has given us these readable books on the subject:

    http://www.amazon.com/Arminian-Theology-Realities-Roger-Olson/dp/0830828419

    http://www.amazon.com/Against-Calvinism-Roger-Olson/dp/031032467X

    I would also add that God predestines some vs all things (two motifs). His providence is responsive, not meticulous.

    After over 30 years of study on Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, Open Theism, Process Thought, I would suggest that Open Theism (considered beyond the bounds by too many) is a more biblical, coherent free will, relational theism than Arminianism:

    http://www.opentheism.info

    It would take a similar approach to Calvinism vs Arminianism (Calvinists are as against Arminians as they are against Open Theists; some Arminians like Roger Olson welcome Open Theism dialogue as evangelical, while others are stridently against it, but usually this is the Calvinistic camp like Bruce Ware, John Piper, etc.).

  13. Derek,
    I am very happy to have you hang around. I have tried to get Calvinists to talk to me for years without much success. Well, actually they will “talk” to me disrespectfully, name calling and such. I have longed to an “iron sharpens iron” conversation for so long. Wish I had started this blog earlier. 🙂

    Question I have for you, Derek. Do you think that it is possible for a person to be elected to something other than salvation?

  14. Hi Cheryl: You, (and I must admit, just about every Christian I know) are apparently ‘assuming’ that John sent his disciples to ask this question for his own benefit, because of his own doubt. I am only saying that he may have sent them to see Jesus to eliminate their doubt. He had already tried the “This is the Lamb of God”
    approach before, and apparently it worked for some, but not all of his disciples. At least two were still following John and not Jesus.

    Luke 7:19 can be read either way.
    NIV, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

    Notice that it does not say; “I’m starting to wonder if Jesus is really the one, so go and ask him this question for me.” It only says go and ask Him this question.

    I grant that the text does use the word ‘we.’ But the popular version does assume a very radical change in a man whose life was very consistent.
    I certainly do not know for sure; I’m just pointing out that there is another way to read this verse.

  15. Hi Bill, welcome! Long time no see. For those just visiting, I would like to acknowledge Bill as one who participated with me in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness support group. It was 16 years for me leading the group and was an essential part of growing me strong in apologetics.

    As far as what kind of label I am…I hate these labels, because frankly I don’t study subjects like covenantalist and dispensationalist or redemptive history. If I had to define these terms, I would probably fail the test. My favourite thing to do is just read the Bible. I love just plain old Bible study and I can go from verse to verse for hours. Then I can spend hours looking at the Hebrew and Greek words and the grammar and comparing the context. I do look at other books, but more or less when I am researching on a topic.

    My major aim in life is to be a Biblicist. I want the Bible to lead me and force me into truth.

    The issue of Open Theism seems to be against the full Sovereignty of God, at least the way I understand it. I read the other day where a Calvinist was explaining how God knows the future and he said that God looks down the corridor of time to see the future. I don’t get that. Why would God need to look down anything to learn something He doesn’t know? I believe that God not only knows all things, but He also knows all things that don’t happen, but things that could happen. The only way that I know this, is because the Bible gives an example with David and Saul.

  16. Hi Vance,

    There are two things that I am working off of. The first is the actual words of John and the second is the response of Jesus.

    John could have sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Should my disciples be following you or should they look for another?” John included “we” in his words and his disciples would have been on the same page because where the leader goes, the disciples follow.

    The main argument is from Jesus. After all Jesus knows the heart. If Jesus didn’t tell us about his personal words to John about taking offence at Jesus, we would not have known the problem. How does one work with the evidence of John’s words of doubt along with Jesus’ specific word about offence? We must be able to exegete the Scriptures with both parts working together to know the truth. So how do you account for Jesus’ words said “to” John about taking offence “at” Jesus?

    The next things that must be in the mix is Jesus’ words to the crowd that although John was the greatest he is not in the kingdom. These three puzzle pieces have to be placed together. In what way does all three pieces lay alongside each other without coming up to the conclusion that John is not in the kingdom because he is no longer believing that Jesus is the Messiah and he has taken offence at Christ?

    I welcome this kind of dialog. It is good and healthy for us all.

  17. Hi Vance,
    You said: “Notice that it does not say; “I’m starting to wonder if Jesus is really the one, so go and ask him this question for me.” It only says go and ask Him this question.”

    It actually says a bit more than that. It says “summoning the disciples”. This term means to call them to oneself for a purpose. the purpose is for them to go and ask Jesus the question. Next after John summoned the disciples he “sent” them to Jesus. It was John’s initiative and John’s quest. It was not the disciples question, but John’s. John’s question includes the disciples since “we” is used.

    In Luke 7:20 the disciples said:

    Luke 7:20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ ”

    Notice that they specifically said John the Baptist has sent us to You. The question was not from them, but from John.

    Jesus understood that the question was from John. How did Jesus respond? Luke 7:22 Jesus said “Go and report to John…”

    John summoned, John sent, John asked, Jesus sent the disciples to go and report to John. It was all about John. I think if we see that the subject and concern was about John, we will see that John’s disciples are the vehicle for the message, they are not the concern.

    Does this make sense?

  18. Hi Cheryl: Yes, it does sound like John is the center of the conversation. I intend to ask him when I see him.
    I was just sharing something that seems to me to fit better with John’s character.
    However the text does not say John was offended with Jesus, and it does not say John was not in the Kingdom. These things have only been assumed.

    When Luke 7:28 says – – “but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Jesus may have been speaking about His ‘upside down’ Kingdom, wherein the least is the greatest.

    Our own assumptions are usually invisible to us.

    Anyway, I think I have run out of things to share on this subject. I will be praying for your conversation with the Calvinists. My experience is that some things can only be out grown.

  19. Cheryl, have you read of someone else who thinks along your lines with JB? I have not run across it. Is it unique to you? I suspect we have not looked at it closely and run with face value assumptions. In my reading on Calvinism vs xyz, I have also not seen this being an issue in the controversy. Perhaps you could TM it and write a book and get rich and famous?

  20. Vance,

    You have brought up some excellent points to consider. You said:

    When Luke 7:28 says – – “but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Jesus may have been speaking about His ‘upside down’ Kingdom, wherein the least is the greatest.

    Thanks for bringing this up! Jesus indeed taught about the ‘upside down’ kingdom, but I do not believe that he used the terms greatest and least. What He said was that if you want to be the greatest, you must be the servant of all. This does not mean that you become the least. Jesus was the servant of all, but He was not the least.

    What exactly did Jesus mean when He said that the “least” is “greater” than the “greatest” one on earth?

    First of all I think we need to understand that Jesus taught responsibility with what has been given to us. In the context of judgment, Jesus said:

    Luke 12:48 (NASB)
    …From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

    John the Baptist was the greatest because he had been given the most of any man here on the earth. He had the Holy Spirit since he was a baby in the womb and He had revelation from the Spirit that was spectacular. But “the much” was not good enough for John as he ended up with doubts about the witness of the Holy Spirit about Jesus. Nothing more would be given John because to whom much is given, much is required from that person. We must use what we have or risk losing it.

    So John was the greatest, because he was given the most. The least in the kingdom is the most insignificant. Jesus said that John is less than the most insignificant one in the kingdom. How can you have no significance at all unless you are not in the kingdom?

    Jesus does not call us to be insignificant. Jesus calls us to greatness. He just calls us to greatness through humility. A humble person is not an insignificant person.

    It is possible that I have missed a teaching of Jesus telling us to be insignificant, but I am unaware of such a teaching. I believe that the upside down system that Jesus taught was about humility, not about insignificance. If I am wrong, I stand to be corrected.

    Thank you Vance for popping in and having this dialog. I appreciate your words and the apparent balance that you seek to have. It is a good thing!

  21. godrulz37, I have not seen this argument before, but I have heard it before. Actually my Son corrected me when I thought that John the Baptist was not in the kingdom because Jesus had not yet died. He challenged me to look more deeply into the Scriptures and to see the inspired words. Ryan and I often have deep theological discussions and I SO appreciate him for his wisdom. It is not often that you can find someone in your family where you can stimulate one another to press on into the depth of the Word. Ryan has agreed to be the moderator for our next DVD series, so I am excited that we will be working together.

    As far as making a lot of money from a book, I have to laugh. We are having to support our ministry from our own income because there is way more followers of Benny Hinn et al, then there is of those who teach apologetics. These are the days when no one wants to hear some of the difficult teachings of the Scriptures. I have no desire to be rich other than to be rich in the Word. Studying the Bible gives me a great deal of joy and I am at peace with that.

    Thanks for asking, though! How is Edmonton weather? We have been above freezing and my baskets of flowers are still out and mostly in bloom. Mountain living has been good.

  22. Vance,

    I just thought of one more teaching that Jesus gave. He talked about the last and the first.

    Matthew 20:16 (NASB)
    16“So the last shall be first, and the first last.”

    However in the context, the last that will be first, and the first that will be last means equality – everyone getting the same reward. It has nothing to do with insignificance, but equality. I can’t think of anymore examples, so if someone has a thought, go ahead and jump in.

  23. Mild weather at the moment, but had Stormageddon recently. Can’t be too bright to live here. I imagine Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig do fairly well with ministry support/wages. You need to get on a global speaking tour or something. Are you still denied tax exemption status for the ministry?

    http://bible.cc/hebrews/6-10.htm

  24. No tax exempt status in Canada, but have tax exemption in the US. People here are afraid to go for tax exempt status now except for churches. You have to accept everything and everyone or you are threatened. I prefer to stay away from persecution if I can help it.

    To do well financially in ministry, one needs a ministry team to get behind the more upfront people. I would rather do video editing than public speaking anyway. I teach a weekly Bible study and the group loves learning how to unpeel the onion by digging into the Scriptures. As long as I can serve God with whatever gifts He gives me, I am as happy as a clam.

  25. I think Jesus was elect (Luke 23:35; 1 Peter 2:6) Certain angels as well (1 Timothy 5:21) the nation of Israel and the church also (1 Peter 2:9; 2 John 1). Same word (eklektos) used in these verses. What do you think?

  26. I would agree that elect would generally refer to corporate vs individual issues and that we should interpret Rom. 9-11 and other Calvinistic proof texts in light of this. God has intentions and plans, but these can be rejected/resisted (Lk. 7:30; Mt. 23:37). Individuals ultimately make up the group, but are not arbitrarily pre-selected in eternity past as to who will believe or not (Calvinists would say these things are irresistibly decreed, while Arminians would say it is based on simple foreknowledge/eternal now; Molinists would argue for middle knowledge/counterfactuals of freedom, while Open Theists would emphasize corporate election with individual destiny being unsettled/unknown except as possible until it becomes actual based on libertarian free will/contingency).

  27. I would agree with Derek about Jesus being the elect and so our doctrine would use Jesus as the foundation. Build upon Jesus and you are headed in the right direction. I would have a problem with things being unknown to God. How would an all knowing God not know something? These are things that I can bring out articles in the future. Thanks for your comments dogrulz37 as it appears that you have done quite a bit of thinking on this subject.

  28. How can an all-powerful God not be able to do things? Most atheists and theists would agree that an omnipotent God could not create square circles or married bachelors, a logical contradiction. Likewise, it is not a limitation on omniscience to not know where Alice in Wonderland is right now. So, omnipotence is being able to do the doable (the supernatural God can do anything except logical absurdities) and omniscience is knowing the knowable (there are things that are inherently unknowable due to the nature of creation God sovereignly chose).

    Words have a semantical range of meaning. The way Christ is elect is not identical to how individuals become part of Him and HIs elect Church.

  29. I won’t write here on things left for other posts. However I do have a question for you. You said:

    omniscience is knowing the knowable

    I believe that God defines what is knowable. Do you believe the free actions of people that may or may not happen is knowable by God? Whatever your answer is, do you have any Scriptures that you would use to back up your point? I highly value Scripture. Philosophy–not so much.

  30. Some issues not dealt with explicitly in Scripture are resolved by godly philosophy. The exact nature of God’s relation/experience of time/eternity is one such thing. There are many Scriptures where God does not seem to know as a certainty future free will choices that may or may not happen. God has voluntarily limited His knowledge by creating a universe with free moral agents. A free choice must be made by the agent. If God knows the future exhaustively and definitely, then one must appeal to determinism (at the expense of free will) or theories such as eternal now where God just somehow sees something that does not exist (4th dimension, etc.). These are far more problematic than to recognize that some aspects of the future are indeterminate and left to be settled by the agent. They may or may not happen and there is an element of uncertainty/unknowability just by the nature of this. So, God knows these things as possible, probable, but actual/certain awaits the choice in real space-time. Even if God knew the future perfectly, this offers no providential advantage because God would not be able to change the fixed future even if He wanted to (it would make His foreknowledge false, so you end up more fatalistic than free).

    As to Scripture again, there are hundreds of openness texts (Hezekiah is a good narrative) relating to God changing His mind, God saying ‘now I know’ after a test, etc. The problem will be paradigm vs proof text, hermeneutics, etc. The classic response is to dismiss these as anthropomorphic (yes, there are those in Scripture but take it at face value unless context demands it). The strength of Open Theism is that it can take countless verses at face value as revelatory of God’s nature and ways that are rationalized away by other views to retain a preconceived theology (that is wrong in my opinion). So, if we take a normative literal approach to Scripture (while recognizing figures of speech), we see two motifs: God knows and settles some of the future (First/Second Coming of Christ, etc. Is. 46 and 48 shows how God declares and brings to pass….it is by His ABILITY, not a supposed prescience/foreknowledge…these proof texts also are specific in context and cannot be extrapolated to prove exhaustive definite foreknowledge), while other aspects of the future are open, unsettled, indeterminate and known as such until they become certain objects of knowledge.

    Any limitation of God’s power or knowledge is a self-limitation by the sovereign God. If He wanted exhaustive definite foreknowledge, He would have to create a deterministic universe or eternal now would have to be true (but still problematic in light of seeing choices before the agent even exists to make a choice). So, we are both stuck with having to exegete Scripture (and Open Theists call on 100s of them to support the view) AND to wrestle with philosophical issues not resolved in Scripture: nature of free will (compatibilism vs incompatibilism vs determinism, etc.), nature of time/eternity (biblical endless time vs Platonic ‘eternal now’ will affect our view of foreknowledge, etc.), providence (God’s sovereignty as meticulous or responsive, etc.), etc. etc.

    It is a vast, technical subject. I have asked a few agnostics or atheists if there is anything an omniscient God (and I fully believe He is since He knows all that is an object of knowledge or correctly knows reality as it is distinguishing the fixed past, potential/anticipatory future, real present) cannot know. Within a minute they correctly answer ‘the future’. The average church goer has not begun to think about these things and is content at a spoon fed Sunday School level. The thinking Christians also often uncritically accept tradition. As you point out, not all tradition is truth. Even classical theologians are revisiting the doctrine of God on philosophically influenced things like impassibility (it is not fair to say Open Theism is philosophical…all views are a mix of Scripture and philosophy with the Bible appealed to by both…I cannot defend impassibility from Scripture so why elevate Augustine over it?!). We should not compromise truth nor slander other views as liberal, beyond the bounds, etc. (like some do) when they don’t even understand what they are rejecting.

    I don’t want to side track from the Calvinism debate, but if Open Theism and Molinism are credible views in the free will camp of Arminianism (as good thinkers are arguing), then I think there is some relevancy to consider it. Too often Calvinists control theological societies and politics and ad hominem attacks are the order instead of dialogue such as Cheryl is promoting.

  31. Incidently, which Bible translations do you prefer, value, use (besides original language research)? Biblegateway.com has the key ones. I still appreciate NIV (2011), ESV/despite Calvinistic bent (vs NASB in the past), HCSB. KJV-onlyism irks me. The Message is refreshing, but limited as a paraphrase. NET is interesting on the computer.

  32. godrulz37,

    Perhaps I will do a post on the future regarding the Sovereignty of God’s knowledge. I do not want to go into this deeply because it is not the topic at hand on this article. However I am a bit confused with your point regarding God’s knowledge of the future. Is your point that God cannot know the future as it is unknowable or is your point that God chooses not to know the future? If you could clarify that for me, it would be helpful.

  33. godrulz37,

    As far as which translation I like, I memorized the NKJV so I read that for years, but I also like the NASB although it has some problems just like all translations have some quirks. I am reading the Bible through right now with the NASB but for serious Bible study I like to work through the passage using the Greek (Hebrew) tools. I also look through all of the Bible translations if I am looking to compare, but for one Bible translation I will always prefer a word for word translation rather than a thought for thought as I am quite picky about paying attention to every inspired word and every inspired piece of grammar and the thought for thought translations miss a lot. As far as the message “translation” I can’t stomach that one. Way too much of man’s thoughts for the faint of heart. I hope this helps.

  34. If anyone reading these posts wants to get a head start, I am working on a post regarding Judas. There are things that people often miss that are in the text that should not be missed. We can have some good discussions on it I think.

  35. The big fish to fry may be Calvinism vs Arminianism, but Open Theism is one of the bigger debate in evangelical circles more recently. There are a few amateur Open Theists that would say that God chooses to not know the future, but this is a denial of omniscience, even by Open Theism standards. The way God voluntarily limits His foreknowledge (the past, present, future are fundamentally different by His creative choice, contrary to Einstein’s error) is to create a non-determinisitic universe. God is not ignorant of anything, but there are somethings inherently unknowable, even to an omniscient God. So, when God sovereignly created a universe with significant others with genuine free will, this introduced an inherent inability to exhaustively know the future (I am assuming eternal now is a false view and unhelpful anyway). He knows reality as it is and knows the future as possible, probable, certain (in some things), but not actual since the future is not there yet and not a possible object of certain knowledge, even for an omniscient God who knows all things. So, it is a consequence of God’s sovereign choice, not a denial of God’s omniscience (we differ on what are possible objects of certain knowledge, not whether God is omnisicent or not, He is). For me, the accusation that Open Theism denies omniscience is like a Calvinist saying Arminians deny the sovereignty of God. No, we deny their wrong view of God’s sovereignty and free will, not the legit concepts. I am denying a wrong view of omniscience, not that God is omniscient.

    Open Theists would share the same concerns about Calvinism, TULIP, etc. as Arminians and use similar arguments (just as Calvinists will use similar arguments against Open Theism/Arminianism relating to free will, non-decretal views, etc.).

  36. I would think that Open Theists would have a difficult time with 1 Samuel 23:9-13 since God gives definite knowledge about future events of free creatures that would be if David had not removed himself from the line of fire.

  37. Also the verse that deals with all the evil acts of men that were about to happen:

    John 18:4 (NASB)
    4So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”

    We will revisit this in the future as the Sovereignty of God is the key issue on this blog.

  38. God has perfect past and present knowledge because these are fixed realites to be known. He can also predict much of the future based on available knowledge or things He will unilaterally bring to pass apart from creaturely freedom. Examples that involve proximal knowledge cannot be extrapolated as proof of exhaustive definite foreknowledge of all future free will contingencies.

    I am all for a biblicist approach unless it takes statements like ‘all things are possible for God’ (context relates to salvation, not logical absurdities like square circles) or ‘God knows all things’ (context relates to the heart, not the entire non-existent future) out of context or proof texting a preconceived view contradicted by other verses or principles.

    Modal logic is difficult, but relevant to the discussion. Even if we have ideas that are not in a proof text (and we all do), it should stand up to sound thinking and will not be contradicted by the cumulative evidence.

    I would say that all views have some difficulties and objections, but which are less problematic and reasonably defensible in light of Scripture (final and ultimate authority) and sound thinking?

    Your two verses are not usual objections to Open Theism and I do not find them problematic or supportive for or against either view, per se.

    As with Calvinism vs Arminianism, we all claim biblical support for our views, but are not immune to reading our paradigm into the text. Some Calvinistic verses reflect a Calvinistic bias of the translators, so I agree with Cheryl to do original language research (which still creates disputes among experts and amateurs alike).

  39. I added this to the article to add Luke 7:29 as an added support:

    God’s Justice

    After Jesus said His hard saying that the least “in the kingdom” (present tense) is greater than John, verse 29 shows the reaction of the crowd that had just witnessed the public declaration of John’s astonishing doubt. The public words of doubt coming after John had experienced a successful public life as a witness to Jesus as the Messiah.

    Luke 7:29 (NASB) When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John.

    The fact that Luke includes the “tax collectors” as part of the crowd of people is quite telling as it was the tax collectors and prostitutes who would be in the kingdom ahead of the religious leaders. Jesus gave a parable to show that what one says is not as important as what one does when it comes to doing the will of the Father:

    Matthew 21:28–31 (NASB)
    28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’
    29 “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went.
    30 “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.
    31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.

    The tax collectors were in the kingdom because of what they did with what they heard. They listened to the message of God through John and they repented, believed and were baptized. In contrast the Pharisees who looked outwardly righteous and had all the right “words” did not believe.

    Matthew 21:32 (NASB) “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

    John the Baptist had to be judged by the same standard. Even though he had the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, he too needed to repent, believe and be baptized. The tax collectors went through the baptism of repentance, but John the Baptist did not. The tax collectors were following Jesus and putting their faith in Him, but John did not follow Jesus. The words he brought and God’s message that he spoke were not good enough for his own salvation. He had to act on what he spoke in order to do the will of the Father.

    So after Jesus’ hard saying, the tax collectors acknowledged God’s justice. They had done the will of the Father and had repented and believed. They were following Jesus. The actions of John that resulted in the words of unbelief showed that John had not followed through with the will of the Father. He had not personally taken the step to be a disciple of Jesus. He was not exempt from needing forgiveness just because he was God’s messenger. Although John was used by God to bring repentance to the nation of Israel, he himself did not do the will of the Father to repent and be a disciple of Jesus for his own salvation. John’s public ministry as a witness for Jesus ended with a public statement of unbelief.

  40. godrulz37 Sorry I had a typo on the reference. It should have been 1 Sam 23:9-13. I have corrected the reference.

    You spoke of “available knowledge”. Unless God is just like us, only He is able to define what is “available” to Him.

    In 1 Samuel 23:9-13 David, the man after God’s own heart, asks of God believing that the answer is “available” to God. David does not phrase his request in such a way as to ask God what “is” but what will be. It is also a conditional “will be” since David intends to make his decision to go or stay depending on what God reveals to him.

    God’s answer gives no opportunity for any “unknowable” things that would make Him a false prophet. If God can perfectly know what does not happen because it is conditional on future events then God has revealed in His Word a definition of God’s knowledge that is beyond the present and the past. It only take one event to get the message that God’s knowledge is beyond ours. Only God can infallibility have knowledge of conditional events concerning men who have free will to chose.

    Anyway, I think we will leave this for now as it take us off the topic at hand. We will revisit at another time, God willing.

  41. Someone on twitter gave an example of a commentary that said the reason that the least in the kingdom is greater than John is because we as believers know more than John did.

    This cannot be right for a few reasons.

    1. The grammar is present tense. Jesus said that the least (present tense) who were in the kingdom at that time were greater than John the Baptist. They did not know more than John who had the witness of God’s Spirit that Jesus existed before John.

    2. The term greater according to BDAG lexicon for Luke 7:28 means superior in importance. Importance does not have to do with a comparison of knowledge but of a “high position” (BDAG).

    3. If John the Baptist was in the Kingdom and all others were “greater” then he, then he would be the least in the kingdom. Yet Jesus said presently there is the “least” (who is greater than John). If the “least” is still the “least” but is also greater than John, John cannot (at that time) be in the Kingdom.

    4. Knowledge is not given as a reason that John is not in the Kingdom. The only means of comparison is the repentance of the crowd (having followed John’s baptism) and their following and hearing Christ, while John’s words are unbelief and his actions never followed Christ.

    I sympathize with those who find this hard saying of Jesus to be extremely hard. John is a likeable character. But Jesus is the One who knows the truth and if we disregard His words, we may be misled into thinking that one may enter the kingdom unconditionally. Jesus’ words about John are sobering. We must take heed to the One who is the Truth and whose words are Truth no matter how much emotion we have that war against Jesus’ words.

  42. Is it ok for J the B to doubt…….? I would guess that we all have doubted our salvation at times……..

  43. Ann Marie,
    It wasn’t his salvation that was the issue of doubt. The doubt was whether Jesus was the Messiah. This meant that John was doubting both the Father and the Spirit who were witnesses to him about Jesus. John had received the greatest witness and the greatest revelation of any man. What further witness would he believe? The fact that John disbelieved the witness of God and was looking for a further witness makes his unbelief very troublesome.

    If you had the great revelations that John had would you fail to keep believing that Jesus is the Messiah?

  44. I should also note, Ann Marie, that you asked a fair question. I hope I was able to show why the failure to remain in faith with Jesus as the Messiah was a very serious lack of belief in God’s special revelation to him.

  45. Cheryl,
    I like your blog, having recently been encouraged to study the Bible more by the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. So I appreciate your view point. The only thing I’m confused about in this article is the present tense of “least in the kingdom”. Are there other areas in the Bible that you know of that talk about the present tense of the kingdom? I read Jesus’ speech as kingdom in the future, since I interpret the kingdom being the resurrection kingdom after Jesus’ return. John is the greatest human now, and we (in our resurrection state) will all be greater than a mere unresurrected human in the future. However, having not studied the Greek grammar, I certainly could be wrong. So that’s why I would hope to see “kingdom” present tense in other passages. Thanks for your thoughts.

  46. Hi Amy,

    Luke 17:21 also has the present tense. The kingdom is a now and in the future event. It is now because people enter the kingdom through faith, yet there is a fulfillment of the complete reign of Christ on the earth that is future. The gospel that was preached was repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (here). The Jews did not get it because they did not know that there were two comings of the Messiah. The first coming as the suffering Servant and the second as the victorious King.

    The grammar is very important especially in difficult passages. Thanksfully the English usually gets it right. The question we all need to answer is why is John not in the kingdom but others are?

    Thanks for the comment!

  47. James,

    John Gill’s point that John the Baptist was asking to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is not attested to from the Scripture. John said in Matthew 3:14

    Matthew 3:14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”

    Jesus coming to John was all about water baptism. Every person had to be water baptized in preparation for the Messiah. Was John the Baptized water baptized in preparation for the Messiah? Jesus is said to have done water baptism through His disciples, although Jesus did not actually water baptize anyone.

    The fact is that John the Baptist warned that all needed to be prepared for the Messiah through repentance and water baptism. John also pointed out Jesus as the one to follow. There is no evidence that John was water baptized by Jesus’ disciples or that John followed Jesus as His disciple.

    As far as Matthew 11:11 the question that perplexes many is why there are those who were already in the Kingdom of heaven through faith in Jesus and yet John the Baptist is said not to be in the Kingdom. Jesus’ words are very important.

    If you would like to give your opinion why Jesus presented John the Baptist as being outside the kingdom while others were already in, I would be interested to see your Bible points.

    Thanks for your comment and visiting my blog.

Comment to join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: