Things New & Old

Ancient truths revealed in the Scriptures are often forgotten, disbelieved or distorted, and therefore lost in the passage of time. Such ancient truths when rediscovered and relearned are 'new' additions to the treasury of ancient truths. Christ showed many new things to the disciples, things prophesied by the prophets of old but hijacked and perverted by the elders and their traditions, but which Christ reclaimed and returned to His people.

There are things both new and old here. "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things"
2Ti 2:7.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Invitational Offer or Life-giving Summon?

What if Jesus had said to dead Lazarus,
"Lazarus, I invite you to come forth," or
"Lazarus, I offer you life. Please accept it!"


Was it a conditional offer or a life-giving summon?


The former requires conscious acceptance by, but the latter presupposes lifeless passivity of, the invitee! How did Christ deal with you when you were dead in trespasses and sins?

John 11
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days....
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Do you ask questions?


Try asking a few, please. Thanks. Then we can consider them together in order to rightly divide the word of truth.

Let me ask a few questions.
1. Did Jesus invite the dead Lazarus to come forth? Or did His life-giving voice summon the dead man to life?

2. Did Jesus command the disciples to do anything to assist Him or for Lazarus before He had brought him to life?

3. Was there anything the disciples could do for Lazarus who was dead in the grave? Garnish his tomb, perhaps? Did the disciples foolishly offer to assist Christ in raising the dead man?

4. When did Jesus command the disciples to do something for the benefit of Lazarus?

Ask some relevant questions if you wish to rightly divide the word of truth.
Go to now, and ask some questions; may the Lord bless you. 

Well-meant offer/invitation extended... to whom???


You are sincerely invited; it is a well-meant offer!

Well-meant offer/invitation

Here is an instant of well-meant offer from the LORD

Isaiah 1
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Isaiah 1
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.


Unto whom is the offer/invitation made?
- Children whom the LORD has nourished and brought up
- Children in rebellion against the LORD
- Children who are ignorant of their LORD
- Children who do not consider their LORD
- Children laden with iniquity
- Children who are evildoers
- Children who are corrupters
- Children who have forsaken the LORD
- Children who have provoked the LORD unto anger
- Children who have gone away backward
The offer is made to those whom the LORD has saved out of Egypt.
(Be kindly reminded that those whom the LORD nourished and brought up are capable of all these evils! Harsh facts but truthful. )

Unto whom did the LORD invite to reason together with Him?
- Surely those capable of reasoning together with the LORD.Who are they?
- Surely they can't be those still dead in trespasses and sins!

What is offered to them, unto what are they invited?
- The forgiveness of their grievous sins as the LORD’s children: “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
- Their enjoyment of temporal blessings as the LORD’s children: “ye shall eat the good of the land.”

What are the conditions of the blessings offered?
- Willingness to cease from all their evil ways, and obey the LORD, “… if ye be willing and obedient.”
- These conditions can be met by the LORD’s children nourished and brought up by the LORD.

What are the consequences of rejecting the offer/invitation?
- They shall suffer the temporal destruction in the hand of the LORD: “… but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.”

What is the nature of this offer?
- The complete solemnity and sincerity of this offer/invitation is emphasized...“For the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
- In case they think such invitation is too good to be true, it was necessary for the LORD  to emphasize the sincerity of His infinite goodness to His stiff-necked rebellious children is magnified.
- Yes, the incredible offer has come out from very mouth of the LORD Himself.

=======================

Here is a wonderful note of the offer/invitation from the Lord to His people.
No eternal salvation is offered to the dead in trespasses and sins; abundant spiritual blessings are offered to those whom God, by His free and sovereign grace, has effectually called unto eternal salvation.  The Lord offers abundant of life to those whom He has freely bestowed eternal life; He does not offer eternal life to the dead in trespasses and sins.

=======================

(from a weekly update by Jonathan R. Crosby)

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).

Never forget these precious words – If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

Never forget these precious words – first, examine yourself about your thirst. Do you thirst for Christ and spiritual things?

Never forget these precious words – second, examine yourself about truly coming to Jesus Christ in life-changing faith.

Our Lord Jesus aggressively offered His Spirit to any thirsting person that would come to Him by faith for abundant living.

He promised a supply of the Holy Ghost from God after Pentecost that would be incredibly superabundant and overflowing.

There is no one and no thing that can satisfy the soul of a child of God like the Holy Spirit can and will do for all true believers.

By His divine power He can bless you with internal assurance, confidence, joy, peace, and hope that is unknown to natural men.

By His divine power He can bless you with internal strength for victory over temptations and to bear fruit for perfect godliness in His sight.

Never forget these precious words – If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

But this is not the only place this invitation occurs!

I will share one with you now, and another one Sunday.

When our apostle – John, son of Zebedee – closed out the whole Bible, closed out the N.T. canon, and closed out Revelation, he repeated it!

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).

You may think the Spirit, the church, and hearers are speaking to Christ and asking Him to come, but that is not the context.

The context is a conclusion to the book in various aspects of practical duties.

The context is a thirsty person coming to Christ for His living water (21:6; 22:1).

The context is one whose will has been changed to take the water of life freely.

The second two sentences of the verse are clearly us coming to Christ, not Him coming to us.

In light of the context, the Spirit, the church, and noble hearers encourage others with an invitation to Christ for salvation and the Spirit.

The gospel of Jesus Christ – the good news and glad tidings of Him and His glorious kingdom – has many invitations, private and public.

Jesus invited Andrew (John 1:39). Andrew invited Peter (John 1:42). Philip invited Nathanael (John 1:46).

Jesus invited the woman of Samaria (John 4:16). She in turn invited the men of her city (John 4:29).

This invitation is entirely consistent with the Old Testament:

Isaiah 2:1-5
Isaiah 48:16-19
Isaiah 55:1-5
Micah 4:1-2
Zechariah 8:21-23

This invitation is entirely consistent with the New Testament:

Matthew 11:28-30
Matthew 22:1-10
I Thess 1:5-10
I Corinthians 2:6-13
Romans 15:6-12
Romans 15:27

Our goals for this Lord’s Day:

1.    To obey the gospel invitation of Christ
2.    To hear the glory of God from a Psalm
3.    To finish this study of the Holy Spirit
4.    To recall Christ’s death in the Lord’s Supper
5.    To fellowship and worship our Commander

Inviting a dead couple to a dinner!

Such a loving, affectionate couple, even in death.
A student asked a pastor about John 3:16, and was told among other things, this: "So John is actually giving an invitation to readers of his gospel to respond by believing what he is sharing. And by believing the person will have this life that he is speaking about."
=====

Student Joe replied:

I find the invitation idea very strange, and stupid too - i.e. giving an invitation to someone whom the Jesus Himself had already said is absolutely UNABLE to respond to the invitation!

Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he CANNOT SEE the kingdom of God... Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he CANNOT ENTER into the kingdom of God."

A man who does not have eternal life (i.e. not born again by God) cannot see, and cannot enter. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And spiritual things of the gospel of Jesus Christ are spiritually discerned. A man who is not born again, without eternal life, is utterly incapable of discerning nor perceiving spiritual truth, apostle Paul stated that fact somewhere.)

The invitation idea is very foolish and almost blasphemous. And the reason is this. The idea makes Jesus sounds stupid and confused. We are in effect making Jesus say contradictory things in the same breath. On the one hand, He stated and repeated in a categorical term, 'Except a man be born again, he CANNOT see... he CANNOT enter.' There is no spiritual life to perform those spiritual activities! Life must precede the activities of that life - it is that elementary. Then we go on and make Jesus say that He invites those who are not born again, i.e. those without eternal life, to see and to enter (to believe) IN ORDER to have eternal life!

I think only a very confused and silly man invites the dead men to eat the world famous Penang char koay teow, especially after he has made the plain declaration that 'except the dead be made alive he cannot smell nor eat anything!'

The superstitious and idolatrous Chinese offer roast pigs and flied lice to the dead that cannot eat. They often end up consuming the food themselves! This really amounts to mockery and taunting the dead! The so-called enlightened Singaporeans do the same here, like the folks in Penang also. It seems that this invitation to offer eternal life is no different!

And the worst of it all is that this idea attacks the very person and integrity of Jesus Christ. It contradicts His plain statement. It portrays him as a confused and illogical God/man! It makes Jesus a mocker of dead men - inviting the spiritually dead to perform a spiritual act in order to become alive spiritually, all the while knowing that they are spiritually dead and are utterly unable to do respond to such invitation. I shudder at such an idea.

I find such idea so illogical and grievous... despite the fact that the Bible says, God's children have been given sound mind.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

WMO = well-meant offer, or woolly-minded offer?


The filial Chinese sincerely offering roast pig to the dead;
even so, misguided preachers well-meaningly offer salvation
to those dead in trespasses and sins.

Some exchanges on the well-meant offer of salvation to those dead in trespasses and sins in the gospel proclamation.

Bob
Some allege the free or well-meant offer of the gospel is logically inconsistent. To affirm that God desires the salvation of all men (including the non-elect) but only decrees the salvation of some (the elect) is to posit a real contradiction, they say. I attempt to answer this charge in the post below.

Having framed the question of and summarized the objections to the well-meant offer of the gospel, we're prepared to defend the doctrine. And our first argument pertains to the doctrine's logical consistency. Claiming that God desires the salvation of a…

Stuart
I see the free offer/proclamation of the gospel; I do not see that as the same thing as "the well-meant offer" - which I do not find. I look forward to your next installment.

Rob
Will you address this in your next installment, Dr. G? I think this is a valid comment.

Bob
I think Deuteronomy 5:29, which I reference in the article above, actually affirms that God desires the saving good of those who never experience that good. Of course, there are those who attempt to resist that conclusion by offering other interpretations of the passage. But, as I'll show in a future installment on that text, their alternate readings are exegetically implausible and, I think, untenable.

I'll also look at a number of other passages--OT and NT--that support that notion that God's posture toward all men indiscriminately is salvific.

Bob
Thanks for taking the time to read the articles, Stuart.

Rob
Question: Is desiring something and meaning the offer from that desire the same thing, Dr. Bob?

Bob
I'm not sure I understand the distinction. There are some who believe God really offers the gospel to the non-elect but who deny that God in any sense desires the non-elect to comply with the terms of the gospel since that would conflict with his decree. In my opinion, you can't genuinely offer a gift you're not genuinely willing to give.

Brock
Stuart, one can get a good picture on what so many orthodox reformed theologians meant by today's term "Well Meant Offer" by reading here:
http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=7230
Calvin and Calvinism » The Well-Meant Offer
CALVINANDCALVINISM.COM

Stuart
Bob I think the difference is that we who make the offer have no knowledge of whom God has chosen. We are unable to judge this; barely able to make a credible determination of another brother's credible confession of belief. So we can freely preach the gospel to all, commanding all to repent and believe, knowing those given ears to hear will also be given the faith to accept His gift.

Rob
Dr. Bob, I agree. And I'm only asking this for my own sake in being able to answer others.

The distinction I think comes between desire that people not perish, and actually offering the non-elect a well-meant offer. I've heard people charge that for God to truly offer salvation through the gospel to people he doesn't ever intend to effectually save, is to question whether said offer is truly "well-meant." On the one level, as you point out, He may desire good things because good things (like people's eternal security) are worthy to be desired, but does that mean that His general desire for goodness logically must manifest itself in an actual offer of salvation that He actually means? Or is this, as they say, simply to leave them doubly without excuse?

Rob
Let me ask it this way:
To me, "well-meant" conveys more than just desire. It conveys intent. It's that "intent," not the desire, that I think is questioned by naysayers.

Bob
Stuart, I'm familiar with the distinction you posit. It's one advocated by John Gill and, more recently, Paul Helm. Helm refers to it as "blind compassion." The concept might be valid if it were the case that God had not disclosed his disposition toward fallen humans (elect and non-elect). But in fact, I contend that God has revealed to us his disposition towards even those who never receive the gospel. That disposition is one of desiring them to comply with the terms of the gospel that they might be saved (see Romans 2:4). This is why Paul viewed his compassion toward the lost not only as an image of God's own compassion but, more importantly, as an instance of God pleading with sinners (whether elect or non-elect) to be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:20). And it will not do, as I hope to show in future posts, to say God "feigns" such a desire or that he's merely "speaking after the manner of men." Just as the offer is bona fide, so the desire behind the offer is bona fide. If that's where the data of Scripture points us (I believe it is), then to Scripture we must bow.

Bob
Rob I don't have any problem with using "intent" or "desire" to signify God's disposition toward sinners indiscriminately (whether elect or not). Of course, I believe God is capable of having more than one intention or desire. But according to Romans 2:4, God designs his common grace with the "intention" of leading those who ultimately reject the gospel to repentance. BTW, even Reformed and Puritan authors were willing to speak of God's general desire for the salvation of fallen humanity in terms of "intent." Sometimes they even used the language of "longing."

Stuart
Bob Thanks for your reply. I look forward to the next article.

Rob
This is excellent, Dr. Bob. Very helpful.

Sing
Dr Bob, thanks for the interesting article.
I hope to review it later. This line caught my attention:

" In my opinion, you can't genuinely offer a gift you're not genuinely willing to give."
===========
On its own, it is a good moral statement. Anything less would be brass faced hypocrisy.

In the context of salvation and the gospel ministry, may I ask:
- To whom is the gift genuinely offered?
- Who do you expect to genuinely accept the offer?
- Them that are perishing or them that are saved? (If there is a third category, let us know.)

I hope these are fair questions.

1Cor 2:8 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
[When the gospel come to them that are saved, it is perceived as a message declaring the power of God in salvation; the same is perceived as foolishness to them that are perishing.]

Does God offer salvation to a man (one obviously without salvation) through the preaching of the gospel, or
Does God freely and sovereign effectually call a man out of his native state of sin and death to that of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ, and calls him to believe the truth of that salvation through the gospel ministry?

The issue involved is the purpose of the gospel ministry:
is the means to offer salvation to sinners dead in trespasses and sins, or is it the means to call them that are saved (effectually called by God already) to believe the truth of their salvation by God's free grace?

Thanks.

Brock
// I hope these are fair questions. //
Hi brother Sing; I think there are interesting questions around this topic. But could I add a few to the list?

* where in the Holy Scriptures do those who proclaim the gospel of Christ do so in a manner that partitions or distinguishes among the hearers? The exegetical example of proclaimers sharing the good news with elect and non-elect alike without distinction seems to be overwhelmingly in support of the "well-meant offer".
* what must the reformed believer do in good conscience with the texts that seem to explicitly support the offer? Rather than dismissing them as if the Bible does not indicate a well meant offer, opponents of the WMO need to present exegetical support that would indicate gospel proclaimers always made such a elect/non-elect distinction with their ministries, or scriptural support that indicates that such is the ideal.

It is not a sufficient theology to refute the WMO by looking at the evidence provided by the reformers who support the WMO and contemptuously dismiss it; those against the WMO must provide their own account, their own exegetical support, and build their own case; including a response to the data presented by the pro WMO crowd.

Sing
where in the Holy Scriptures do those who proclaim the gospel of Christ do so in a manner that partitions or distinguishes among the hearers?
========

Thanks for your question.
Your question presupposes the idea that the preacher has ability to know that there are elect in his audience, plus the ability to distinguish them from the non-elect. This is obviously a false presupposition. Probably the reverse argument of the false assumption explains for the well-meant offer: since a preacher cannot distinguish, therefore the salvation must be offered to all indiscriminately!

(It is an error to even believe that salvation is offered!!! Salvation purposed by God and secured by Christ is freely and sovereignly APPLIED to each elect personally when that elect is still dead in trespasses and sins. It is not offered, and needing to be accepted! It is amazing that such fable is even believed by the reformed people!)

The Apostles' commission involves specifically the feeding of Christ's lambs and sheep, John 21. They were specifically told the nature of their calling and ministry - feeding Christ's lambs and sheep.

They were to make disciples. They knew that disciples can only be made out of God's children, the elect whom God has effectually called out of their native state of sin and death to that of grace and salvation in Christ Jesus. They knew that only God's children can be taught and shown the truth of the gospel, the good news of their salvation.

Do the Apostles need to be able to distinguish the elect from the non-elect to know that their work is specifically for the lambs and sheep of Christ?

I said before, but it has been ignored or overlooked. Here is Apostle Paul description of his ministry:
2Tim 2:10 "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

Apostle Paul knew: it was for the elect's sakes. Did he have the ability to distinguish the elect and the non-elect in his audience? Is that even necessary?

Sing
* what must the reformed believer do in good conscience with the texts that seem to explicitly support the offer? Rather than dismissing them as if the Bible does not indicate a well-meant offer, opponents of the WMO need to present exegetical support that would indicate gospel proclaimers always made such an elect/non-elect distinction with their ministries or scriptural support that indicates that such is the ideal.
===========
Another good question, but based on a wrong presupposition.

You suppose those texts involve offering salvation to those dead in trespasses and sins.

There are hosts of texts that offers spiritual blessings to God's children will do the will of God, saving them all sorts evil consequences in this life.
There is a salvation which Christ has completely and perfectly secured, and then applied by the Spirit to us. There is a salvation that we must work out for ourselves in fear and trembling, in obedience to the Father's will. The offer is made in this context.

That is not the same as offering the salvation (which Christ secured for His people) to those dead in trespasses and sins.

a biblical distinction is the essence of sound theology.

Sing
WMO.... it took me a while to connect that as a well-meant offer. I thought it is a weapon of mass obliteration!
Maybe it represents woolly minded offer. ;-)

I have presented Scriptures to you, plain Scriptures making plain statements.

Brock
 Sing F Lau // This redemptive fact explains "all nations... every creature." //

Opponents of the Well Meant Offer consistently fail to provide exegetical support for a partitioned proclamation. They generally seem to argue against WMO in that it doesn't fit the categories of their systematic theology. But conclusions based on ST do not overturn the data provided by exegetical theology. And the exegetical data is a non-distinguished gospel proclamation without any encumbering restrictions.

Sing
Gospel proclamation, in the nature of the case, is non-distinguishing. To say otherwise is to presuppose the fictional ABILITY to distinguish them that are saved and them that are perishing (1Cor 1:18t). That is just a red herring. Just because gospel proclamation is non-distinguishing does not alter the purpose and intent of the gospel proclamation: to declare the good news of what God has done, and calling upon the recipients to believe the truth of their salvation.

That is completely different from the woolly-minded offer of salvation (obviously to those without salvation, i.e. still dead in trespasses and sins.)

There many passages that offer blessings based upon the obedience of God's children to God's will. But this in COMPLETELY different from the WMO's fiction/fable (2Tim 4:4) of salvation to those dead in trespasses and sins.

God sovereignly and freely applies the salvation, that He had purposed and Christ has accomplished, to an elect while he is dead in trespasses and sins; God does not offer salvation. If He does, NONE is capable of accepting the offer in order to be saved.

I was converted an RB while a student at Sydney University, continued in it as a pastor for 20+ years, and the gracious Lord opened my eyes... Amen.

Sing
Let me end with this:
"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him." - Leo Tolstoy –

Bob
Mr Sing F Lau, it's possible I'm not understanding the point of your dichotomies, that is, the "either ... or" options. As I read Scripture, I would answer your questions as "both ... and." That's how I understand the ministry of Jesus and the apostles.

Sing F Lau
Thanks, Dr Bob.
So, you believe that the purpose of the gospel ministry BOTH
- the means to offer salvation to sinners dead in trespasses and sins,
- and also the means to call them that are saved (effectually called by God already) to believe the truth of their salvation by God's free grace.

I always consider that approach as a smart position to take - you got both covered.
Jesus Christ said He came to save HIS people.
Jesus Christ commissioned His Apostles to feed His lambs and sheep. I didn't read Him instructing them to offer spiritual food to the dead so that they may accept the well-meant offer and eat and live. Feeding presupposes dealing with the living, those already effectually called out of their native state of sin and death. (The superstitious Chinese offer roast pig and peking ducks, hot-dogs, etc to their dead.)


Sing F Lau
Dr Bob,
I was just musing a bit. When you expressed this,
" In my opinion, you can't genuinely offer a gift you're not genuinely willing to give," (I think it is an excellent opinion, anything less is just sheer hypocrisy)
- did you have only the living, or BOTH the living AND the dead, in mind?


I hope I understand you rightly that you have only the living in mind.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Is that what your read? Did you read rightly?

What did you read?
Did you read INTO the text?


This meme strikes me as an apt illustration of the common phenomenon in christendom: people handling the same raw data, but end up with diametrically opposite conclusions.

The way a man looks at a subject is often, to a great degree, determined by his prejudices.

For example, two devout students of the Bible can study the exact same Bible but they end up with vastly different conclusions.

For whom did Christ die:
- One says Christ Jesus died for ALL men and made salvation possible for all men, and that salvation is offered to all.
- The other says He died only for His people and actually saved them to the uttermost, and this salvation is sovereignly bestowed to each of them.
(Others come up with the brilliant idea of "sufficient for all, efficient for them that believe, one leg in each boat!)

The divinely ordained purpose of the gospel:
- One says the gospel ministry is the means to offer salvation to those without salvation, i.e. still dead in their trespasses and sins.
- The other says the gospel ministry is the means to call those whom God has freely and sovereignly bestowed salvation to believe the truth of their salvation in Jesus Christ.
(Both the arminians and their cousins calvinists believe the former; a few RBs say BOTH, the former as well as the latter.)

Is this a conditional offer or a statement of fact:
- One says "whosoever believes has eternal life" is a conditional offer of eternal life (obviously to those without it, i.e. dead in trespasses and sins) that if they will believe, they shall receive eternal life.
- The other says "whosoever believes has eternal life" is a declarative statement about the believing ones, i.e. they have eternal life, freely bestowed by God when they were dead in trespasses and sins.
(Both the arminians and their cousins calvinists believe the former.)

The just shall live by faith:
- One says this is a statement on how the unjustified (i.e. in his native state of condemnation) is justified by God, he is justified by God by his faith in Jesus Christ. A man's faith is the instrument to get him justified before God.
- The other says this is statement on the conduct of the just, i.e. those who have been freely justified by God, that they shall live by faith, and not by trusting in their works. A man's faith is an evidence of the justified state.
(Both the arminians and their cousins calvinists believe the former.)

Many other examples can be cited but the few examples above is ample to prove the point.  The two are a world apart, as far apart as are "God is no where" and "God is no here."

However, they have one thing in common in SOUND only; both claim to believe in salvation by grace alone, EVEN THOUGH they actually believe quite different gospels.

Conclusion:
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him." - Leo Tolstoy –