8-Arguments that make Calvinism; Reformed Theology, 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 by itself, but God working in our hearts.
- The act of receiving God’s gift is not “work.”
- God chooses who to save because He is sovereign.
1. Christ did not die for everyone
In semantics, God saying He wants everyone to be saved may actually refer to everyone He predestined, only those He elected to be saved. Mainstream evangelicals argue against it.
At the other end of the spectrum is “hypergrace.” Even without asking for forgiveness, everyone can be saved because all sins have been redeemed once and for all eternity.
Calvinists, Evangelicals, and progressive Christianity have good points. However, John 17:9 portrays a very difficult semantic.
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 “blanket salvation” in sharp contrast with Calvinist’s limited atonement.
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those, You have given Me because they are Yours.”
2. Does man have free will and the ability to choose?
Adam and Eve decided to disobey God. Both demonstrated their ability to choose. They were created in perfection and lived with God, but they clearly had free will.
But then, Paul points out that the “natural man” cannot respond to the Gospel unless there’s “divine illumination.”
2 Corinthians 2:14
“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised.“
3. 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 sinners.
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 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 based on deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…“
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 rather makes “sharing the Gospel” 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)
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.
4. 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” by itself. Rather, it’s God working in our hearts.
God preserves those those He foreknew would believe
To accept an invitation does not mean we took part in what the giver did.
5. 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…“
It sounds unfair that “God chooses” who to save. But in essence, “God preserves” those He knew will believe Jesus.
Perhaps, Jesus spoke to Paul because that is what will make him believe. Others God abandons because even if Jesus reveals Himself, they will reject Him.
“But as I stated, you have seen Me, and still you do not believe.“
“God preserves” those He knew will believe Jesus.
6. God’s foreknowledge and irresistible grace
It’s easy to believe Jesus, yet not everyone will choose to be His follower because we need to “give up sin” to follow Christ. But then, God can cause circumstances, such as brokenness, to make the Gospel irresistible.
However, God’s offer is limited. The door can shut anytime. [Parable of ten virgins]
7. Do we have “free will” to believe God?
We can say God led us to believe because He can make grace irresistible. But the decision to accept is still ours to make (free will) because God clearly did not choose everyone.
However, for strong Calvinists, these invitations are only for the “preselected” because Jesus died only for the elect.
- The conviction of sin gears our will to long for a savior (John 16:8). That’s God “drawing us to Him.” But the decision to respond remains ours.
- Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts (Revelations 3:20). He invites us to have fellowship with Him. For us to accept or refuse can mean free will.
- Apostle Paul also invites those who are dead to awake, arise, and believe in Jesus (Ephesians 5:14; 2:8-9).
Jesus died for everyone, but not everyone will accept Him.
8. Did God give me faith to believe, or did I do that on my own?
We need faith to believe, and faith comes by hearing God’s words (Romans 10:17). In fact, 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 choose 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!
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. Jesus commanded us to share the Gospel with 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.
Is repentance is a requirement for salvation?