Posts Tagged ‘Calvinism vs. Free Will Theology.

28
May
18

For We are His Handiwork–Ephesians 2:10

If there is any question in anyone’s mind about Paul’s meaning in verses eight and nine, what he has written in verse ten makes it abundantly clear. First, notice that the purpose clause “in order that no one should boast” and the words “we are his handiwork/created work” are connected by “for, or because [γὰρ].” Paul is citing the reason that no one should boast and he places “of Him [αὐτοῦ]” in the emphatic position—“of him, we are the created work” to underscore the fact that our union with Christ in the new creation is his doing and not ours. This clearly accords with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 where he wrote, “In order that no human being should boast in his presence, but it is of him [God] you are in Christ Jesus. . .in order that just as it is written, ‘he that boasts, let him boast in the Lord.’”

If the synergistic view were correct, none of what is written in these passages would be true. According to synergism, God’s choice of sinners has been determined, not by his sovereign good pleasure but by his foresight of their free will decision. The Son has not secured the eternal redemption of any sinner in particular but has merely given sinners the potential for salvation if they will let Jesus save them. Jesus “draws” every sinner and the Father enables them to believe by giving all of them prevenient grace. He does absolutely nothing to distinguish between one sinner and another. If any sinner is saved, it is solely because he [or she] has cooperated with God’s best efforts and has thus distinguished himself from other sinners who have had equal opportunities but did not improve on them.

It is inconceivable, on the supposition that this view of soteriology is correct, that Paul could have written, “But it is of him that you are in Christ Jesus” since it would be of the sinner’s doing that is in Christ and not of his doing. If in all his best efforts to bring sinners to himself, efforts exerted toward all sinners equally, many will perish for eternity, one cannot accurately state that his most noble exertions have been effective in uniting any sinner to Christ. If there is no distinction in God’s efforts to save sinners, the factor or factors that distinguish one sinner from another must be in the sinner.

If God has done all he has intended to do to effect the sinner’s salvation once he has granted universal but ineffectual “grace” and has left the outcome to the sinner’s free will decision, the best one could say is that God has responded to the sinner’s decision and has united him to Christ in response to his faith, but in that case the reason for our union with him would be of our doing and not of him.

Paul is clear. We should not boast since it is God who has made us what we are spiritually. In creating us spiritually, he has performed a supernatural work that we could never have performed. Again, we should notice that the focus is entirely on God’s activity and not on ours.

31
Dec
16

Can Sinners Called by Grace Resist If They Want To?

We read in Mark 3:13, “Jesus went up into the hills and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.” It should be clear to anyone who reads this text that coming to Jesus is an act that results from Jesus’ desire and not from theirs and that such a call is effectual in its nature. He called and they came.

Often, our non-Calvinists friends like to amuse themselves by asking whether sinners who are called by God’s grace are able to resist that call if they want to and remain in their sins. This is their banal and misguided attempt to derail the Calvinistic doctrine that has regrettably been called “Irresistible grace.”It seems the burden of their question is whether sinners are forced to act like preprogrammed robots who are unable to choose what we desire.

In reality, they are asking the wrong question. The issue is not whether sinners could resist grace if they wanted to; the issue is whether any sinner to whom God has manifested his glory [the sum of his glorious attributes] in the face of Jesus Christ, would desire to resist him. Those whose stony hearts have been made pliable by God’s grace are not forced against their wills to become followers of Christ. Instead, in effectual grace, God has graciously removed the sinner’s persistent and pervasive disposition to resist his offers of mercy in Christ. The issue is that those whom God calls no longer want to resist him.