John 4:7-15 - Quenched with Living Water - Part I

John 4:7–15 (ESV) — 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

In this Diving Deeper outline, we explore the conditions of the human condition that are in need of Jesus' living water.
• These conditions are what I call "Parched Relations" and a "Parched Understanding".
• Next week will contend with the "Parched Soul" and "Parched Worship".
• All of these parched conditions can be quenched with the living water of Jesus Christ.

Before we begin, I think it is worth acknowledging the purposeful juxtaposition, in John’s Gospel, of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman:
  • “It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between two persons than the contrast between the important and sophisticated Nicodemus, this ruler of the Jews, and the simple Samaritan woman. He was a Jew; she a Samaritan. He was a Pharisee; she belonged to no religious party. He was a politician; she had no status whatever. He was a scholar; she was uneducated. He was highly moral; she was immoral. He had a name; she is nameless. He was a man; she was a woman. He came at night, to protect his reputation; she, who had no reputation, came at noon. Nicodemus came seeking; the woman was sought by Jesus” – James Boice.
  • “If Nicodemus is an example of the truth that no one can rise so high as to be above salvation, the woman is an example of the truth that none can sink too low” – James Boice.
    o Remember, “For God so love the world…”

John 4:6–8 (ESV) — 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
  • Jesus, “the Word in sandals”, was “wearied” from a long morning’s journey.
  • And whether for water, for speaking the Gospel to this Samaritan woman, or both, Jesus was also thirsty.
  • Oddly, Jesus was left to sit at the well without the skin bucket used to fetch water.
    o Presumably, His disciples must have taken it with them on their food run.
  • So begins this divinely appointed meeting.

POI - It seems to me, as He did with Nathaniel, that Jesus made use of his supernatural ability to orchestrate this meeting between Himself and the Samaritan woman at the well – after all verse 4 says He “had to”.
  • Kostenberger agrees, “Jesus’ going through Samaria was according to the plan and will of God”.
    o John 10:16 (ESV) — 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
      • The Samaritans were part of the “not of this fold”.
    o Acts 1:8 (ESV) — 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

So why did Jesus ordain this meeting?
  • We will see that several “parched conditions” existed that were in need of “quenching”.
  • And Jesus had something that could do the quenching.


John 4:9 (ESV) — 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
  • Why was there such hatred between Jews and Samaritans?
  • Some scholars believe clues can be found in the OT.

2 Kings 17:23–24 (ESV) — 23 until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.
  • King Esarhaddon, “deported all the Israelites of substance and settled the land with foreigners, who intermarried with the surviving Israelites and adhered to some form of their ancient religion” – D.A. Carson.
  • Their offspring were the Samaritans; a mixed race of Jew and Gentile.
  • And even though, over time, the Samaritans returned to the worship of Yahweh from idolatry, they, as a mixed race, were hated by Jews.
    o It didn’t help that the Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch as Scripture.

An early example of strained relations can also be found in the OT.

Ezra 4:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.”
  • The Samaritans offered to help rebuild the temple.
  • Their offered was rejected by the Jews of Jerusalem.
  • And as John MacArthur points out, “Rebuffed in their attempt to worship at Jerusalem, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim (c. 400 b.c.). The Jews later destroyed that temple during the intertestamental period, further worsening relations between the two groups.”

Yet, not only was this divine encounter radical in that it ignored the Jewish/Samarian taboos, it was also radical because it violated the man/woman taboos that existed.
  • Jewish men, and especially rabbis, did not usually speak to women in public.
  • And Samaritan woman, in particular, were “considered to be in a continual state of ritual uncleanness” – A. Kostenberger.
  • In addition to this, Kostenberger argues that Jesus’ actions risked being seen as flirtatious.
  • And even worse, this woman was clearly an outcast as well.

Aside from Jesus’ later remarks, how do we know the outcast status of this Samaritan woman?
  • “Women were more likely to come in groups to fetch water (Gen. 24:11; Exod. 2:16; 1 Sam. 9:11) and to do so either early in the morning or later in the day when the heat of the sun was not so fierce (Gen. 24:11: “toward evening”; cf. Gen. 29:7–8). By contrast, this Samaritan woman came alone, and she came in the heat of the midday sun. Both observations suggest that this woman was looked down upon in her community on account of her low reputation" – A. Kostenberger.

So from our text thus far, we can plainly see that the 1st condition in need of “quenching” was both Samaritan/Jew and man/woman relations.
  • Jesus’ radical encounter with the Samaritan woman demonstrates the love for a fallen world that we encountered in John 3.
  • He abandoned any notion of adhering to taboo in order that she, as both a Samaritan and a woman, might hear the truth of the Gospel.
  • But as we will see, there are more parched conditions in need of quenching.


John 4:10–12 (ESV) — 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

Here we go again, like with Nicodemus, the temple, and the wedding at Cana, Jesus jumps into the deep end.
  • And once again he does so with an answer seemingly completely unrelated to her question.
  • Jesus introduces the concept of something called “living water”.
    o And implies that He can provide it.
    o In fact when He says, “If you knew the gift of God, many believe it’s as if He is saying to her, “if you really knew your Torah you would have asked me for it” (John 3:10 - response to Nico) – D.A. Carson.
  • BTW – Jesus apparently doesn’t see the need to “develop” a relationship before he speaks the profound truth of the Gospel (or even make worldly sense for that matter).

POI – Which end of the pool do we hang out in as Christians?
  • If we are justified and thus being sanctified, our life better be characterized by a progression toward the deep end, else, why do we even think we are justified?

So, as with the exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus, it seems understandable that the Samaritan woman had no idea what he was talking about.
  • Therefore her question, like Nicodemus’, seems fair enough.
  • Nicodemus asked how one enters again into his mother’s womb, and the Samaritan woman asked how Jesus could draw water without his skin basket.
    o Obviously, both were literally impossible at each instance.
    o And the thought never crossed her mind that Jesus wasn’t talking about real water.
    o After all, He was at a well and He had asked her for a drink.
  • And more than that, her questioning his credentials by comparing him to Jacob “reveals incredulity” – Carson.
    o It’s as if she is challenging Jesus’ ability to do what He says He can do.
  • But, Jesus endeavors to bring her to the deep end.

John 4:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

As with Nicodemus and the new birth, Jesus explains that he is in the deep end and speaking figuratively; living water is not actual water.
  • Unlike the water at Jacob’s well, the “living water” Jesus offers permanently quenches our deepest thirst.
    o Which, incidentally, answers her question concerning Jesus vs. Jacob (vs. 12) – Jesus is clearly greater.
  • And because its source is divine, those who have it “welling up” within them (those that are born again) have eternal life.
  • Notice, Jesus words here fit squarely with our “Living Inside Out” lesson from John 3.
    o The flow of living is from heart, to mind, then to action for those who have eternal life.

The Samaritan woman’s response, “so that I will not be thirsty, or have to come here to have to draw water”, reveals her lack of understanding.
  • She remains in the shallow end and assumes that Jesus must be speaking of literal water.
  • I guess she thinks that Jesus is preaching some kind of Joel Osteen prosperity Gospel.
  • “This Jesus guy can help me actualize all my worldly dreams and desires”, plus, “I won’t have to come out here in the middle of the day anymore”.
  • No wonder she says, “Sir, give me this water”.

How often are we tempted to ignore the hard truths of our faith and look for worldly gratification?
  • If we are His, God will stretch us in directions we don’t want to go – including the deep end.

So, from our text, we see the 2nd “thirst” in need of “quenching” – a lack of understanding and discernment of spiritual truths.
  • Jesus freely offers it to her – His “prescriptive will” in action and another act of love.
  • But will she drink it?


Luke 2:1-7 - The Christmas Story Revisited

Luke 2:1–7 (ESV) — 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

This Diving Deeper lesson outline is influenced almost entirely by Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes.
• Taking his advice, we take a fresh look at The Christmas Story and strip away some of the peeling layers of old paint that have covered up the original.
• And in doing so, we are confronted once again with profound questions about tradition and Scripture and how we should teach our children the Bible.


The traditional story goes something like this:
• Joseph and Mary showed up in Bethlehem in the middle of the night.
• Presumably, Joseph had not planned ahead and made arrangements so their only option for lodgings was a room in the local commercial inn.
• When they got to the local inn, it was booked solid; the no vacancy sign was on.
• Dejected, and Mary about to give birth at any moment, Joseph was left with the only choice of finding a cave/stable in which to stay.
• Mary then gave birth that night.
• And the shepherds and wise men came to visit her.

Unfortunately, there are at least (2) main problems with this version of events.
• (1) The translation of the Greek word for “inn”
• (2) A failure to account for the way A.N.E. culture would have influenced the events


What is the inn (Luke 2:7)?
•  In our text, Luke uses the Greek word katályma.
Katályma is the commonly used word for “guest chamber”.
• Strong’s said this “guest chamber” was typically “a dining room where the guests loosened their sandals before they sat down to eat” – Strongs.

In fact, this Greek word is used only two other times in the NT and each is translated as “guest room”.
• Mark 14:14 (ESV) — 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
• Luke 22:11 (ESV) — 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
    o Luke obviously knew what the word meant when he used it.

Interestingly, Young’s Literal Translation of Luke 2:7 is worded as follows:
• Luke 2:7 (YLT) — 7 and she brought forth her son—the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.

The Good Samaritan story can also shed some light on the “inn vs. guest room” concept for us.
• Luke 10:34-35 (ESV) — 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
• Significantly, Luke uses a word for “inn” here which is entirely different from our Christmas Story text.
• The Greek word is pandocheíon.
    o It literally means a “place that receives all” – JTME.
    o This was the word for a commercial inn that was “the most widely known across the Middle East” – JTME.
• What is even more telling is that the word for “innkeeper” used here is derived not from katályma, but from pandocheíon – and it is pandocheús.

But we are not done yet, because we also have a problem with the word “room”.
• Notice something else in the YLT version - Luke 2:7 (YLT) — 7 and she brought forth her son—the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.
• Where many translations (NIV, ASV, NKJV, NAS) say “room” the ESV and YLT say “place”.
o The Greek word here is topos.
o The word has to do with “having space” not a literal “room” in the way that is thought of when seen as “room in the inn”.

So what are we saying?
• “If Luke expected his readers to think Joseph was turned away from an “inn” he would have used the word pandocheíon, which clearly meant a commercial inn” – Kenneth Bailey, JTME.

So where was the guest-room?
• See picture handout of typical Palestinian home with an attached katályma.
• The katályma is a “guest room in a private home” – JTME.
• This use of the word fits squarely with the usage of the word elsewhere by Luke 22:11 and Mark 14:14.

So where was Jesus born; where was the manger?
• In peasant homes of the time, mangers were located in the main part of the house.
• As Kenneth Bailey points out, “Each night into that designated area, the family cow, donkey and a few sheep would be driven. And every morning those same animals were taken out and tied up in the courtyard of the house. The animal stall would then be cleaned for the day”. The animals are put in the house because, “they provide heat in winter and are safe from theft”.

The Bible even reveals this practice of keeping animals in the house:
• 1 Samuel 28:24 (ESV) — 24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it,
• Judges 11:31 (ESV) — 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
    o Jephthah assumed it would be one of his animals not his daughter.
• Luke 13:15 (ESV) — 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?
    o As stated earlier, the animals are taken out of the house (untied) every morning and led out of the house – even on the Sabbath.
    o Interestingly, the phrase used by Luke 13:12, “you are freed” literally means “untied”.
    o And the earliest Arabic version of the NT from the 9th century translates Luke 13:15 as, “does not every one of you untie his ox or his donkey from the manger in the house and take it outside and water it?

So what we are suggesting is that it is likely that Jesus was born in a typical peasant home of the day at the invitation and hospitality of a family related to Joseph.
• The guest room of the house was full and so they were invited to stay in the main part of the house.

But, as stated earlier, we have one more consideration to make that further supports this suggestion.


Cultural considerations that support this view:

(1) The shepherds.
• “If, on arrival, they had found a smelly stable, a frightened young mother and a desperate Joseph, they would have said, ‘This is outrageous! Come home with us! Our women will take care of you!’ Within five minutes the shepherds would have moved the little family to their own homes. The honor of the entire village would rest on their shoulders and they would have sensed their responsibility to do their duty. The fact that they walked out, without moving the family, means that the shepherds felt they could not offer better hospitality than what had already been extended to them” – Bailey, JTME.
• Luke 2:16–20 (ESV) — 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
    o Luke demonstrates not only that the shepherds were satisfied with “all they had heard and seen”, but that they found at Jesus’ birthplace an “all” to whom they made known the angels’ declarations.

(2) Joseph.
• “In the Middle East, historical memories are long, and the extended family, with its connection to its village of origin, is important. In such a world a man like Joseph could have appeared in Bethlehem, and told people, ‘I am Joseph, son of Heli, son of Matthat, son of Levi’ and most homes in town would be open to him” – JTME.
• Further, Joseph also had royal blood in the line of King David, and being called the “City of David”, inhabitants of the town would have had further reason to welcome him and Mary.

(3) Birthing
• Out of a sense of honor and to avoid shame, any A.N.E. town, such as Bethlehem, would have “sensed its responsibility to help Joseph find adequate shelter for Mary and provide the care she needed” – JTME.
• “To turn away a descendent of David in the “City of David” would be an unspeakable shame on the entire village” – JTME.
• And even if none of this were true, Mary had relatives a few miles away in the hills of Judea – Elizabeth and Zachariah – to which Joseph could have gone.

• It is most likely that, “The manger was in a warm and friendly home, not in a cold and lonely stable” – JTME.
• Joseph was not a bumbling idiot and Mary was not alone – though the men would have left during the birth.
• This is the understanding that is “most authentic to the geography and history of the Holy Land” – JTME.
• Tradition must be evaluated against Scripture!
• Do you think it matters?


My Thoughts on Keathley's Molinism - Contingency, Freewill & Responsibility, and Grace

The following is a brief reply made to a fellow blogger concerning 3 specific issues addressed in Kenneth Keathley's Salvation and Sovereignty. Keathley's book on Molinism seeks to provide a biblical foundation for this view. The book also compares and contrasts this view with Calvinism, primarily, concluding that Molinism provides more satisfying answers on many issues. Three of those issues addressed by the book are a contingent creation, the freewill and responsibility of man, and grace. And these are the 3 that I concern myself with below.

Keathley suggests that on the Calvinist compatibilism view, God’s decisions “to create and to redeem were not contigent but necessary. The god of the determinist is not free to refrain or do otherwise.
  • The contention is that, for the Calvinist, God's "range of options" are limited from the very beginning to just one option.

The problem with his characterization is that it stems from, in my view, a conflation of moral ability and natural ability.
  • Specifically, God is certainly limited by His goodness from doing evil, but He has no limitations in His natural abilities. 
  • And tellingly, Keathley only gives 2 sentences worth of discussion to fleshing these out. 

My opinion is that in order to understand contingency and God from this Calvinist’s view, it is necessary to correctly understand moral ability and natural ability.

Natural ability deals with the powers we have by virtue of being a human being. We can think, walk, talk, see, hear and even make choices. However, there are also some natural abilities that we lack. I would like to fly but I can’t fly (not because of a moral deficiency but a natural deficiency). I would like to be able to move things with my mind but I cannot do so. Now, just as I can use my legs to walk and my eyes to see, I can also use my will to make choices. Choosing is a natural ability that all men possess and use daily” – Jeff Spry.

Moral ability deals with a deficiency that lies within the heart of man. Specifically, it pertains to man’s dead and fallen spiritual nature (which I will have to talk more about later). In this condition, we do not have the moral ability “to break sins allurement” – Piper. All men posses the natural ability to act in obedience to God, but none by default has the moral ability to do so. This does not mean that man is unable to perform moral acts, most certainly, “horizontially speaking”, he is able. But “vertically speaking”, he has no ability to bridge the gap.

What is the point:
In our Natural ability we (saints and sinners) are free to decide what to wear, eat, say, or what to watch on TV or do at any given moment.
  • We consider and deliberate the options and make a choice based on our ability and desire.
  • A week later, we could very well choose to watch an entirely different TV show for whatever reason.

In our Moral ability (saints or sinners) we are free to decide not to lie, cheat, put our wife’s needs ahead of ours, not shoot the neighbor’s cat, etc.
  • Mankind, however, has a problem.
  • Because we are dead in sin, our moral ability is deficient.
  • We have a depraved heart, mind and will.
  • We cannot love God or trust Christ.
  • We rebel against Him; His word is foolishness.
  • We do not have the moral ability to choose Christ on our own (even Keathley acknowledges this...maybe).

It is important to note that fallen man can live a moral and ethical life – most still have that ability.
  • An atheist can choose to refrain from lying to his spouse or not cheat on his taxes, for example, if he desires to do so.
  • If fact, John Frame points out concerning our being made in the image of God that, “part of that image is knowledge of God, which, though repressed (Rom. 1), still exists at some level”.
  • In other words, we have a natural ability to know God and are held accountable on that basis alone.

With Respect to God and His Abilities:
God, however, has no deficiencies in His abilities (something ALL would agree on).
  • And creation out of necessity would indicate some sort of deficiency.
    o Only a God who had a deficiency in ability would have to create out of necessity.
    o And certainly God has abilities we can't even fathom that could further impact the equation.

But, the Calvinist does admit that God is "limited" in his actions without jeopardizing the contingency of creation.

The problem is that Keathley seems to overstate the nature of these limitations.
  • The existence of a perfect moral and natural ability means that God cannot be the author of sin; cannot lie; and, yes, cannot be compelled to create out of necessity; etc.
  • This is because the limitations on God do not mean that he does not have a “range of options” available to Him when deciding to express His perfect desires through His perfect moral and natural abilities.
  • On a side note, I would argue that because God can do whatever He desires without violating what is right, His freedom to do what He desires is perfect – God has perfect freedom!
    o In perfect freedom, there is not creation out of necessity.

A simple illustration will clarify this.
  • Suppose I desire to give $1000 dollars to a charity and have both the moral ability (selflessness) and the natural ability (money) to do so.
  • I have a huge range of options before me through which I can fulfill this desire.
  • Firstly, I can consider and then pick one of thousands of charities after deliberating over a variety of variables.
  • Secondly, I can then choose to give $1,000.00 cash; I can donate an old car; I can give $500 cash and an old computer; I can give a scholarship to support volunteers; and on and on we go.
  • In responding to my heart’s desire, I have not limited my range of choices at all and none were “necessary” but all were contingent.

Likewise, God apparently had a desire to create man to glorify Himself.
  • He could have created whatever world He saw fit, without (in His case) ever violating what was pure, holy, good and just because none of His abilities are deficient and His freedom and desires are perfect.
  • This specific world he chose to create was contingent in that he had any number of options available to Him just as I did in my donation.
  • So God being God in this Calvinist's view does not make creation necessary.

Freewill and Responsibility:
Keathley argues that freedom of the will (soft libertarianism) must exist for man to be held responsible for his sin.
  • He says to be responsible one must be able to make reasonable choices from a range of options.
  • Geisler puts it as follows, “moral obligation implies moral freedom”.

Calvinist Jeff Spry sums this view up as follows:
  • “Libertarians take very seriously the widespread judgment that we are morally responsible for our actions and that moral responsibility requires  freedom [libertarian freewill]. That is, a person cannot be held morally responsible for an act unless he or she was free to perform that act and free to refrain from it.

Moreover, if man lacks the moral ability and moral freedom to choose God, the argument goes, the offer from God is disingenuous and God is the author of man’s sin.
  • Keathley puts like this, “…the Calvinistic message made God in some way or another the author of evil and thus called into question both the justice and the universal love of God.

Keathley says that Calvinism’s compatibilism which he describes as a causal determinism view of freewill, can also be described philosophically as “event causation”.
  • This is in opposition, he says, to the “agent causation” of the libertarian which is what is needed to have “moral freedom”.

He works it out as follows:
  • He explains that Calvinists believe that “all things that happen are caused by sufficient prior conditions such that nothing else could have happened” (not exactly true as explained above).
  • Under Calvinism then, “Adam’s choice to commit the original sin was the effect of a prior chain of causes.
  • And therefore the ultimate “prior condition”, the “event”, or the “determining cause”; the one who tipped over the first domino to get it all started had to be God.

BTW – He fails to consider, however, that the only way to truly philosophically escape this conclusion, even under his view, is to argue that man created himself, that man was his own first cause.
  • Any view that holds God as the source of man’s will (creator) is vulnerable to this accusation.
  • This is simply because God could have made a different world or a different kind of will (one impervious to temptation, for example), but God chose to make the world we are in.
Keathley, to drive home his point even further, then proceeds to hold up R.C. Sproul, Jr. as the Calvinist representative on the issue and suggests that, as appalling as R.C. Sproul Jr.’s view is, it is really the only intellectually honest view a Calvinist can have.
  • This approach is as disappointing as it is disingenuous.
  • As one so concerned with what a genuine offer of the Gospel must look like, why would he abandon a concern for genuineness at this point in dealing with the Calvinist view.

This Calvinist’s view of responsibility:
We are NOT accountable to God due to a choice made in the context of libertarian freewill.

Profoundly, we ARE responsible for our actions before God because He, as Creator, has spoken to us and thereby obligated us!
  • Genesis 2:16–17 (ESV) — 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
  • Exodus 20:1–3 (ESV) — 1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me…
  • John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • Romans 1:20 (ESV) — 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

In other words it is NOT, “Why am I accountable for my sin?”
  • Well, because I freely chose to disobey (free from influence from my moral deficiencies) thereby validating that the Gospel invitation is genuine and I am truly guilty.

It IS like this, “Why am I accountable for my sin?”
  • Because God spoke to me
And, “Why is the Gospel offer genuine?”
  • Because God spoke it and Christ’s resurrection vindicated it.

Oshea Davis has the following take on it:
"In order to be responsible freedom is not required, but sovereignty. Romans 8:7 shows mankind without freedom to obey God and yet God will hold these responsible for this very thing. Without a sovereign parent a child is not responsible, without a sovereign government a citizen is not responsible. It is for the very reason we are not free and God is All Sovereignty over us that we are responsible. Any more than this adds to our responsibility, but only this is needed."

The offer of the Gospel cannot be deemed genuine because of something in man (freewill)!
  • This is presupposition and worldly philosophy run amuck.
  • This flatly usurps God’s sovereignty.
  • The Gospel is genuine because it is from God and He spoke it.
  • We are responsible because He spoke and thereby obligated us.
  • Or in the words of John Frame, “revelation [God’s words/speaking] is so clear that it obligates belief and obedience leaving us without excuse”.

By speaking, God healed the blind; multiplied food; turned water into wine; raised the dead; made the lame walk; cast out demons; created the world; turned away temptation; and obligated man – all for His glory.
  • And in no case was cooperation required prior to His work; they/it responded after the work was done.

What’s more, using Keathley’s logic, it MUST BE that God had a range of choices available to him at the time of creation from which He could choose to make man responsible that did NOT include and necessitate the existence of libertarian freewill.
  • If libertarian freewill were necessary, then contingency, as the libertarian understands it, is in jeopardy.

On the Calvinist view, however, God desired to create a world in which man was responsible to Him and thus created the very world He desired to create.
  • Yet, like the charity example above, He had any number of choices available to Him in which He could make this world while still being true to His desire to create it.
  • Therefore, it is possible (in the range of choices available to Him) that He made us responsible by obligating us by his Word, NOT by libertarian freewill.

Another consideration:
  • “We must accept what the Bible teaches, which is: God is sovereign; Man acts according to his nature; Man is responsible. The only way the statements above can be considered contradictory is for one to bring a 4th statement into the situation: Man cannot be responsible or free unless he possesses libertarian free will” – Jeff Spry.
  • And it is my opinion that this is exactly what the Molinist/Arminian is doing.
    o They are trying to comport Scripture with a worldly philosophical presupposition.
    o And though I am sympathetic with their concern, I think it is completely unfounded.

And finally:
Freedom is not contradictory to sovereignty. However, autonomy is! To be autonomous (auto=“self” and nomos=“law”) is to be a law unto yourself. To be autonomous is to be self-governing and answerable to no one else. To be autonomous is to be absolutely free. Only God is autonomous and absolutely free” – Jeff Spry.

Keathley expresses a good deal of agreement with the Calvinist on man’s relationship to God’s grace.
  • Keathley agrees that man does not have the moral ability to choose God when he says, “In short, they [Calvinists] contend that the lost do not have the capacity in their natural state [moral ability] to turn to God. So far, so good; on this point there is universal agreement”.
  • He even concedes that, “The Holy Spirit must be the one who brings a person to saving faith”.

However, I think it is important to have a clear understanding of this depravity and consider the fact that logically Keathley’s position cannot actually remain valid and embrace what he says it does.

John Piper sums up our depravity nicely with the following when he says that, apart from the new birth:
  • We are dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1-2).
  • We are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).
  • We love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19-20).
  • Our hearts are hard like stone (Ezek. 36:26; Eph. 4:18).
  • We are unable to submit to God or please God (Rom 8:7-8).
  • We are unable to accept the gospel (Eph. 4:18; 1 Cor. 2:14).
  • We are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord (John 6:44, 65; 1 Cor. 12:3).
  • We are slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17).
  • We are slaves of Satan (Eph. 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).
  • No good thing dwells in us (Rom. 7:18).

An important implication of this is that the unbelievers’ problem is not simply an intellectual one rooted in his reason and will, but a profound moral inability as discussed earlier.
  • This is why John Frame says that we do not, “appeal merely to the unbelievers reason and will, for his will is bound by sin and his reason seeks to distort, not affirm, the truth…he seeks to operate his reason autonomously and thus is deep in error from the outset”.

So the million dollar question is, what is it about a "dead" man that can respond to God’s grace?
  • Is it nothing or something, it can’t be both.

But, Keathley tries to have it both ways.
  • “God must graciously invade the darkness of a person’s heart”.
  • The Holy Spirit and gospel “enable a response that a lost person does not intrinsically have the ability to give”.

And then he gets trapped by the question (philosophical presupposition) that comes up over and over in his book (which I addressed earlier) – “how can presenting the gospel to those from whom God withholds the ability to respond be in good faith?
  • In other words, man must have something in him that can respond.
  • This seems to completely contradicts his previous concessions.
  • In fact, his ambulatory description of God’s grace confirms this contradiction.

He suggests that God’s grace is an ambulance that is transporting all to salvation.
  • He concludes that, “The only thing that could stop it is if, inexplicably, a person decides to refuse”.
  • And later he says, “The mystery of exactly why one says ‘no’ to grace remains unsolved”.

The problem he seemed to forget about is that man is dead before he even is put into the ambulance.
  • He doesn’t decide to refuse – refusal is his default position; this is what depravity is; this is what moral deficiency is.
  • There is no neutral position from which to decide – man is not autonomous.

And in contradicting himself he also reduces the unbeliever’s problem to one of his reason and will.
  • Jeff Spry puts it like this, “The true nature of sin and guilt is denied. Sinners are told they are guilty of a major mistake of not accepting the wonderful benefits that God longs to give them. His unbelief is really no more than a mistake…At the point where a helpless sinner needs God’s help and power the most, the sinner is pointed away from God and told to look to himself. He is told that God has done all He can do”.

I still have to whole-heartedly agree with John Piper.
  • “The new birth is something that happens in us when the Holy Spirit takes our dead hearts and unites us to Christ by faith so that his life becomes our life” – John Piper.
Granted, the Calvinist is left with wondering why one man is chosen and not another.
  • But this mystery resides in God where it should reside.
  • Keathley turns this on its head and says, “The mystery of exactly why one says ‘no’ to grace remains unsolved”.
  • He usurps the prerogative of God to act mysteriously with His Grace and moves the mystery to man.

Unfortunately, I believe Keathley holds the same presuppositions as the Arminian and so suffers the same problems from a Calvinist's point of view.
  • He elevates man to having a neutral, autonomous position while sacrificing God’s sovereignty.
  • The validation of a sincere gospel offer rests, not in God, but in man.
  • God is implicated in evil, unless there is a certain kind of will in man.
  • The ambulance (God’s grace) will bring the sinner to salvation, but, alas, man.
  • And as just stated, he takes the mystery of God’s grace and makes it the mystery of man’s rejection.
  • Also, he says its grace alone, but…it’s not really.
  • And he says man in his depravity can’t choose God, but…he can really.

Admittedly, there is much to be learned from this book, and I will turn to it frequently.
  • In fact, some of his insights can be accommodated to a reformed view of man and salvation.
  • This notion of middle knowledge is certainly intriguing, but not necessary on a reformed view.
  • Ultimately, though, I am not a convert .


John 3:31-36 - Bears Witness to the Wrath of God

John 3:31–36 (ESV) — 31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

The title of this Diving Deeper lesson outline comes from John 3:36, "but the wrath of God remains on him".
• These eight words seem to be so much at odds with John 3:16, that we must try and reconcile them.
• And in so doing, we will learn just how much the sinner is at enmity with God.
• There is no autonomous, neutral stance!

But to set up that discussion, we need to get a general sense of the “heavenly” and “earthly” elements of our text today.


John tells us that Jesus “comes from heaven”, and because of that He:
• Is above all
• Bears witness to heavenly things
• Utters the Father’s words
• Has the Spirit without measure
• Has been given all things

By implication, then, whatever Jesus teaches is the transcendent and absolute Truth!
• And with the fact of His resurrection, all that he taught was shown to have been true; his ministry was vindicated.
• John 2:22 (ESV) — 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

No surprises here, but there is another element that John discusses.


John goes on to tell us those “who belong to the earth” (John the Baptist specifically and humanity generally) respond to the heavenly (Jesus) in either one of two ways.
• There is no third choice.
• There is no neutral stance.

And this was no different in the OT.
• Joshua 24:15 (ESV) — 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
• 1 Kings 18:21 (ESV) — 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

1st Choice – Believe in Him:
John describes these people as –
• Receiving the testimony (vs. 33) – “receives his testimony
• Acknowledging the truth of God (vs. 33) – “sets his seal to this, that God is true
• Entering into, now and at death, eternal life (vs. 36) – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life
    o “The present tense “has” in the phrase “has eternal life” indicates that eternal life is not merely a future expectation but already a present experience” – A. Kostenberger.

2nd Choice (Man's Default Position) – Do Not Believe in Him:
John describes these people as –
• Speaking in an “earthly” way (vs. 31) – “speaks in an earthly way
• Rejecting the testimony of Jesus (vs. 32) – “no one receives his testimony
• They will not see life (vs. 36) – “shall not see life
• The wrath of God remains on them (vs. 36) – “but the wrath of God remains on them
    o Please notice that it does not come upon them, but remains on them.
    o Being under the wrath of God is humanity’s default position.
    o Therefore, logically, those that believe are removed outside of God’s wrath!

Based on what does this movement or transaction of believers relationship to wrath occur?
• Romans 5:9 (ESV) — 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
• 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (ESV) — 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (ESV) — 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

In order to tie this in with what we have learned thus far in John 3, who are those that are “not destined” for wrath?
• Those that Jesus’ trusts
• The born again
• Those that “look upon” Jesus’ work on the cross in belief

Now, what is the wrath of God from which believers are removed and in which unbelievers remain?


The clinical definition (TDNT) is that wrath is both an action of God against sin and the alienation from God by those who are under it.
• It occurs throughout history and at the final judgment.
• It is not a capricious “petty tirade” or just a “function of His personality” as exhibited by pagan God’s of the ANE.
    o It is an expression of both His holiness and justice.
    o “God’s wrath is not some impersonal principle of retribution, but the personal response of a holy God who comes to his own world, sadly fallen into rebellion, and finds few who want anything to do with him. Such people are ‘condemned already’” – D.A. Carson.
• It is a prerogative of God to act in wrath against creation because, as Creator, He is sovereign over it.
• “It is not a permanent attribute of God. For whereas love and holiness are part of his essential nature, wrath is contingent upon human sin: if there were no sin there would be no wrath” – TDNT.
    o Do you agree with this statement?

Of course, put simply, God’s wrath means that, “He intensely hates all sin” – Wayne Grudem.
• Or, as Martin Luther put it, it is the backhand of God’s love.

In fact, to drive home the necessity of a holy God acting in wrath consider the following question that Wayne Grudem proposes:
If you had to list attributes of a God that was not worthy of worship, what would some of those attributes be?
Surely, sin is worthy of both being hated and judged?

Biblically, God’s wrath is well documented in both the OT and NT.
The Old Testament:
• Exodus 22:21–24 (ESV) — 21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
• Exodus 32:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
• Deuteronomy 9:7–8 (ESV) — 7 Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. 8 Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you.
• 2 Kings 22:13 (ESV) — 13 “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
• Psalm 78:21–22 (ESV) — 21 Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22 because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power.
    o In fact, in Romans 11:20, Paul says unbelieving Israel was broken off so that the believing Gentiles might be grafted in to the “nourishing root of the olive tree”.
• Isaiah 30:27–28 (ESV) — 27 Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; 28 his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.
• Jeremiah 50:25 (ESV) — 25 The LORD has opened his armory and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Lord GOD of hosts has a work to do in the land of the Chaldeans.

The New Testament:
• Romans 1:18 (ESV) — 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
• Romans 2:5 (ESV) — 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
• Colossians 3:6 (ESV) — 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
• 1 Thessalonians 2:16 (ESV) — 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!
• Revelation 6:16–17 (ESV) — 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

BTW – As evidenced by just a few NT verses, “It is not accurate to say, as some have said, that God is a God of justice in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament. God is, and always has been, infinitely just and infinitely loving as well. And everything he does in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, is completely consistent with both of those attributes” – Wayne Grudem.
• And of course, our text today makes this clear as well, “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him”.

From a survey of these verses, we can see examples of sins that have incurred the wrath of God throughout history.
• Idolatry
• Rebellion
• Covenant Trespass
• Pagan Arrogance and/or Israel’s Enemies
• Unbelief – as clearly revealed in our text.

Curiously, the first four examples are more prevalent in the OT, with the fifth being more prevalent in the NT.
• It seems that with the advent of the new covenant, the focus of God’s wrath, at least for the NT writers, became the unbelief of sinners.
• In point of fact, in a slightly different tone from the OT's words about Israel's Pagan oppressors, Paul says the following about the necessity of obedience to the governing authorities [Rome]:
    o Romans 13:4 (ESV) — 4 for he [secular ruler appointed by God] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    o BTW – this demonstrates another avenue through which God’s wrath is revealed.
So, why is there comparatively less talk of God’s wrath against Israel’s enemies like Rome, or the pagan temple cults, etc., in the NT?

I think the answer can be found in one of the most violent and costly occasions of God’s wrath.

Matthew 26:39 (ESV) — 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
• Let the cup of what pass from Him?
• Most believe Jesus’ words allude to the “cup of his wrath” as spoken of in the OT.
• Jeremiah 25:15–16 (ESV) — 15 Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.”
• Isaiah 51:17 (ESV) — 17 Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.

In my opinion, this narrowing of focus was intended to ultimately point us directly to the relationship between God’s wrath and Jesus.
• The cross was the place where God’s wrath was born by the Son of Man for the sake of believers
    o Part of the advent of the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31.
• In fact, going back to our definition of God’s wrath, we see both elements in play on the cross.
    o Not only did Jesus bear the wrath of God (action of God), He was also alienated from God while bearing that wrath – “My God, My God, why have your forsaken me?

Therefore, even the exercise of God’s wrath points us, urges us, and directs us towards Jesus, as both its recipient for our sake, and even as its arbiter at His 2nd Coming!

Moving on, so that we can, again, tie God’s wrath in with what we have learned thus far in John 3, let’s now consider the following:
• We previously learned, concerning Christ’s work on the cross, that “…all men are the intended beneficiaries of the cross in some sense. 1 Timothy 4:10 says that Christ is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." [But all men are not] intended as the beneficiaries of the death of Christ in the same way” – John Piper.
• See lesson on John 3:16-21 for the details.

Our text today provides further insight into this principal.
• We have seen that believers are no longer under God’s wrath and that they have entered into eternal life, in some sense, even while they yet live.
• Yet, unbelievers are, in some sense, not yet finally condemned and even “live long and prosper”.
Why is this?
    o Romans 2:4 (ESV) — 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
    o 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) — 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

It appears that God’s patience mitigates the immediate exercise of His wrath on mankind.
• John told us in verse John 3:16 that God loved a sinful world.
• And the fact that this planet, and all that it contains, continues to exist from moment to moment, bears witness to the fact that an expression of this love is God’s patience.

But the world should never mistake God’s patience as evidence of a “neutral” state before God.
• For as we have said already, John makes plainly clear that there are only 2 responses to Christ – Believe or Do Not Believe.
• And, in spite of God’s patience for the unbeliever, “the wrath of God remains on him”.
• Even Peter follows up his talk of God’s patience in verse 9 with the following from verse 10:
    o 2 Peter 3:10 (ESV) — 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Lessons for Us:
• John’s third chapter presents us with one of the deepest discussions on salvation and its relationship to the new birth, the Holy Spirit, Jesus work in the cross, God’s love and God’s wrath that you will find in the Bible.
• John makes clear that humanity can respond to all of this in either one of two ways.
• And we are fully responsible before God for whichever choice we make.
• What about you –
    o Are you a born again believer that chose to trust in Jesus’ testimony and his work on the cross?
    o Or, do you still “belong to the earth” and reject the testimony of Jesus Christ?
    o There are no other options!
    o You, right now, are either removed from God’s wrath or you remain under it.