Can a fallen, sinful man in the flesh, have the ability to choose and believe God?
We are sinners and in the flesh. Only the effectual grace of God can bring us to faith, according to Calvinist R.C. Sproul. If we say, “I choose to believe in Jesus…” that’s free will that makes us sovereign, undermining God’s sovereignty.
To be saved (go to heaven), the first step is to believe. If we can do that on our own, there are three arguments Calvinists pose.
- Fallen man is flesh and cannot please God. (Romans 8:7)
- Unregenerate sinners are blinded and can’t choose Jesus. (John 6:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
- Predestination: God chooses certain people to be saved. (Ephesians 1:11)
3 Reasons why the fallen man can and cannot respond
1. A person “dead to sin” can reject Christ
For Calvinists to say, a “dead sinner” cannot respond means he also cannot refuse. Why would Jesus say He will deny those who deny Him (Matthew 10:33)?
Dead to sin does not mean we cannot respond, it does, however, separates us from God. However, Jesus tore the curtain that separates us 2,000 years ago.
In fact, the apostle Paul invites those who are “dead in sin” to awaken, arise, and believe. (Ephesians 5:14; 2:8-9)
2. Jesus commanded to bring the Gospel BOLDY everywhere, even die for it
For Calvinists to say all of us who are “dead in sin” cannot respond to the Gospel makes sharing the Gospel futile. Some heard the Gospel and said yes, even if they don’t understand it. That seed, when watered planted well grows.
Likewise, some Christians believed, received, and walked with Jesus, but others rejected Him eventually. It shows a man is capable of accepting or rejecting.
God’s offer is for everyone but has limits
We were dead spiritually, separated from God. But a person physically alive has a choice. That offer is only during man’s lifetime because we only die once.
Those who are stubborn, God abandons (Romans 1:26), which means there are those who respond. The question is, did God cause them to say yes, or did they do it on their own, undermining God’s sovereignty, as R.C. Sproul puts it.
3. Receiving a gift does not mean we took part in what the giver did
When we receive a gift, do we take part in what the giver did? No, the reason God’s gift is called “grace,” which is freely given. Our part is to accept the gift.
To say the act of receiving is work is extremely legalistic, if not ridiculous. To begin with, why would God tell us to share His precious gift to the “dead” who cannot respond.
- God gives an offer to believe. (John 3:16)
- Man has a choice to believe after hearing the Gospel. (John 5:24)
- We can have faith if we’ve heard the Gospel and believe. (Romans 10:17)
- God tasked us to proclaim the Gospel so others can hear and grow in faith. (Matthew 28)
- Jesus wants many to be saved, the reason we boldly share the Gospel for all to hear. (1 Timothy 2:1)
Jesus, who is “The Word,” can open the eyes of unbelievers—the reason He commanded us to share the Gospel
In Acts 26:17-18, Jesus appoints Paul, “I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light… so they may receive forgiveness, sanctified by faith (believing).” God’s words open the eyes of unbelievers.
For this to happen, someone must be sent to preach. Sinners won’t know there is hope unless we proclaim Jesus—who wants many to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).
Even if we proclaim the Gospel, Calvinists pose three problems that are Biblically correct
A reprobate cannot understand the Gospel; they need regeneration. God chooses those He will save because He is sovereign, and knows who will and won’t respond.
In conclusion, Calvinism is strong and weak. In closing the argument, God always gets the glory—not us. He causes and moves all things because He is sovereign!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.“
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come“
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.“
“Go and make disciples of all the nations…“
1 Timothy 2:1
“… This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.“
Outline on Gospel apologetics.