7-Arguments that make Calvinism strong and weak on man’s “free will” to believe Jesus
- A reprobate cannot respond to the Gospel unless the Lord regenerates him.
- Believing and receiving Jesus is not work itself, but God working in our hearts.
- God chooses who to save because He is sovereign.
- The Gospel should be shared with everyone because it’s a command.
1. Can a person “dead to sin” respond to God’s offer of salvation?
Being “dead to sin” separates us from God. For Calvinists, we’re not only separated but couldn’t possibly respond or believe Jesus, because we are all reprobates (wicked and rejected by God).
That may be true, but in the New Covenant, Jesus restored our relationship with God; so we can freely and boldly come to God and receive mercy.
For Calvinists, salvation is a predestination. God chooses who to save. For evangelicals, everyone has the “free will” to come to Jesus.
“Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace…“
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…“
2. Can a reprobate mind believe and receive Christ?
Speaking for myself, my reprobate mind cannot choose Christ. I rejected Jesus repeatedly. But my circumstances always led me back to God.
I believed the Gospel because I feared hell. God put fear in my heart (Jeremiah 32:40). I did not seek Him—He sought me.
Not everyone is a reprobate, but everyone is born sinners
However, we can’t assume everyone is reprobate. The characters of Mary, Job, and Noah, who was called “perfect in his generation,” refute that.
Both Calvinists and Evangelicals agree reprobates need regeneration
Across faith, we pray for the lost so their eyes can be opened and believe the Gospel. For “hyper Calvinists,” regeneration is exclusively predetermined by God, which makes asking Him to save someone is rather futile.
God’s sovereignty can override our “free will“
God led someone to pray for me. But I can also say that God inspired that someone to have the burden to pray. Hence, it goes back to God’s sovereignty, His predetermined will. (John 6:44)
Why then do we need to pray and ask God to save someone if He has predetermined their destiny? [Read commentary]
In Calvinism, “unconditional election,” an aspect of predestination, means God chooses who to save. God leads only “the elect” to salvation but those not chosen, the reprobates, get justice without condition. For evangelicals, there is “free will” to choose Christ.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him… ”
2 Corinthians 4:4
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel….“
“Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.”
We can freely and boldly come to God and receive mercy.
3. Does the act of receiving Jesus mean “work”?
Accepting a gift is a response to an invitation. It does not imply we took part in what the giver did. Interestingly, the apostles invite us to “share” in the suffering of Christ.
The point is, our response to believe and receive Jesus is not work itself, but God working in our hearts.
To accept an invitation does not mean we took part in what the giver did.
4. Why would God intervene to save some but abandon others?
In His mercy, God chooses to pursue certain people, while others He knows would never accept Jesus—He abandons. (Romans 1:24-27)
Nonetheless, the offer has to be given to everyone. The reason for the “great commission.”
Christ died for all, but those who reject Him are not God’s choosing. Still, those who God knows will believe, He leads them to Jesus (John 6:44). Hence, we go back to God’s sovereignty.
“… God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts…“
God preserves those those He foreknew would believe
It sounds unfair that “God chooses” who to save. But in essence, “God preserves” those He knew will believe and Jesus.
Perhaps, Jesus spoke to Paul because that is what will make him believe. Others are abandoned because even if Jesus reveals Himself, they will reject Him.
“But as I stated, you have seen Me, and still you do not believe.“
5. God’s foreknowledge and irresistible grace
Using myself as an example, I believed Jesus because God made the offer irresistible by showing me hell is real.
God causes circumstances, such as brokenness, that make the Gospel irresistible.
God’s foreknowledge of apostle Paul meant God had to meet him halfway. Satan blinded Paul. He only believed when Jesus revealed Himself on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-19)
The offer is limited, the door can shut anytime
To be saved, we need to believe and repent. The problem, God, won’t always be asking and offering. We’re destined to die once; afterward, we face God’s judgment.
The parable of the Ten Virgins illustrates God’s offer is for everyone. But many refuse, reject and disown Christ.
Demons also believe, but they have no offer of salvation. Jesus did not die for demons or angels but for us because of God’s great love (John 3:16). Hypergrace assumes a blanket salvation in sharp contrast with Calvinist’s limited atonement.
Christ died for all, but those who reject Him are not God’s choosing.
6. Is “free will” really ours?
We can say God led us to believe. He can make grace irresistible. But the decision to accept is still ours to make (free will) because God clearly did not choose everyone.
Also, the conviction of sin gears the will, which in the end is man’s choice. In fact, Jesus knocks at the door of your hearts (Revelations 3:20). He invites us to have fellowship with Him. To refuse or accept means we have a choice.
Apostle Paul also invites those who are dead to awake, arise, and believe in Jesus (Ephesians 5:14; 2:8-9).
However, for strong Calvinists, these invitations are only for the preselected and that Jesus only died for the chosen.
“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Will you respond?
7. Did God give me faith to believe, or did I do that on my own?
It’s clear God can rearrange our circumstances so we can choose or reject Him. That choice is ours to make. We call it faith though we’ve not met Jesus in person.
We need faith to believe, and faith comes by hearing God’s words (Romans 10:17).
Although we are “free to exercise faith,” Jesus is the author and finisher of faith; He is the “Word.”
This means God can cause us to believe and have faith. In the same way, He can choose who to give mercy to or who to refuse.
God can cause us to believe and have faith.
“He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
“You did not chose Me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and you should bear fruit…“
“Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.“
The Gospel is for everyone!
Scripture confirms God saves those He wills. However, we do not have the mind of God to know whose heart He is working it out with. It is a command to share the Gospel with everyone.
There is no excuse to know God. His laws are written in our hearts; creation speaks of God!. Whether or not God foreknew who will believe or not is irrelevant—the offer is for everyone.
“Ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.“
This topic is open for critique and healthy debate: Feel free to comment and share your knowledge about the subject.