As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.
This is the fourth portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.
He told the Pharisees you don’t believe because you aren’t my sheep John 10:26 He didn’t say you aren’t my sheep because you don’t believe That should kill the idea of free will on the spot. If you analyze the Garden of Eden account with Eve you will see the serpent was baiting Eve with free Will through the delusion of gaining the knowledge of good and evil which was a stone cold lie.
Let’s read the verse my friend offers for his argument.
John 10:26 – but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.
My friend offers a verse that makes his point, as he so humbly states. But in the middle of the argument, we always need to consider the context, audience and intent of the speaker.
The Jews were demanding Jesus reveal His identity!
John 10:24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
It is interesting, that throughout Johns gospel, when he uses the concept of faith or belief, he occasionally uses the Present Active Indicative. I am not a grammar monkey, so I am fully open to correction on this stuff, but let’s see if we can find some insight from “da Greek”.
Below is a list from the Blue Letter Bible (BLB) website of the times John uses this particular verb. I find it interesting, challenging, (and above my pay grade) to understand all the implications, but alas, let us take a stab at it!
When the author uses present tense, I understand it to be continuous (check out BLB resource). It is not defining a past point in time when the action began, but the fact that the action is (or isn’t) “present” (sorry – bad pun!)
BLB describes the active voice as occurring “when the action of the verb is being performed by the subject.” As an example, “An ol’ man types on a keyboard”. This sentence tells you that I’m the one performing the action of typing on a keyboard.
The Indicative Mood:
Again, BLB describes this mood as “assertion or presentation of certainty.” I understand it to be a simple statement of fact.
So Carl, what is your point? I’m glad you asked.
It looks like Jesus isn’t telling us of the beginning of the faith of the Jews or of the sheep, just the existence of faith. The present tense is simply saying that the sheep got faith and that the Jew’s ain’t got faith (at that time) in the Messiah.
Could the verse be understood as saying, You do not presently have faith in Me, as evidenced by the fact you aren’t among My sheep, that is one that is acting as a believer. (Or – My sheep have a present visible faith!)
My apologies the the Apostle John for this ragged translation!
It seems to me that Jesus is telling the Jews that faith has a fruit, or is evidenced by a visible attitude towards the Master. An argumentative / demanding position (“Tell us plainly!”) does not reflect the nature of faith, at least not in the identification of the Messiah, which is the point in this passage.
One other issue that I will not labor, but would like the reader to consider, is that this believing in Jesus is in the active voice. Remember, the action of the verb “believing” is being performed by the subject, that is, the sheep. This particular passage describes the activity of faith as that of the sheep, not the Shepherd.
Given this foray into some grammar, it seems the grammar, if correctly understood, leans away from the proof text my friend has provided to support the claim that a particular point in time a sheep (one who is elect) will be given faith. This passage contains Jesus describing the continuous nature/attitude of His sheep at that time towards His claim of Messiahship.
I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.