The calvinists say that only the elect will be saved. What can you say about this? Thanks
Good morning and welcome aboard @Leny_Abawan. That is a question that could take up volumes. If you type Calvinist or Calvinism in the search icon above you will find many discussions that may be a blessing to you. In the meantime this is a forum that hopefully creates good dialog and friendships. If you could kindly let us know where you’re from and what brought you to connect that would be great. We look forward to having meaningful conversations and becoming friends with you. God-bless you and your journey.
Very good question, @Leny_Abawan!
The truth is that only the elect are saved - but what the Calvinists are wrong about is who can be among them. Absolutely anyone can be among the elect, among the chosen people of God. Because, contrary to the Calvinist view, God chooses, or elects, literally everyone to be saved.
II Peter 3:9 says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
I Timothy 2:4 says that God will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Calvinists will say, “But no - Jesus said that no man could come to Him except the Father draw him” - John 6:44.
Again, true - but Jesus also said in John 12:32, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
So God draws everyone, God chooses everyone. Why then is everyone not saved?
Because when the Groom says Will you? the Bride must answer I will!
While many are called, the few who are chosen are only those who choose Him back! Choose ye this day whom ye will serve…I set before you life and death; choose life!
So election has nothing to do with some people being chosen for salvation. It has everything to do with those who are saved being chosen, or predestined, for an incredible inheritance in the world to come - Ephesians 1:11-14.
I hope this helps you see through the confusion.
Hi Leny, Well, your question is so very common and, as indicated by Kel, fills up probably thousands of pages of thoughts and opinions.
It is true that the saved are the elect. I don’t have a problem with that because God says so. However, if I don’t know if I am one of the elect then I have to make a decision to believe or not, to exercise my God-given free will. So, to me, I don’t see a real purpose to going around in the circles of my mind. What does God want most? For us to believe what He has said!
I do see a serious problem with this Calvinist thinking, however. It came to light very recently when I was made aware of a person’s struggle believing whether or not he was saved because he was afraid that he might NOT be one of the elect. That is a very sad and frightful state of mind.
From my perspective, this article, “Who are the Elect and Why?” gives a pretty good response to the question.
I pray that if you are struggling with this that you find the peace of God that is only found in believing what God has said and offered. That if you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, YOU ARE SAVED! (Rom 10:9-10). That is the only work you must do and the only work God accepts. (John 6:29)
Thank you Sir Kel for the instruction. I appreciate it. I’ll try to search it on the icon above when I get the chance, a little busy right now for our Outreach Covid-19 project.
Thank you all for your kind replies. God bless
No, I am not confused whether I am one of the elect or not. I am confident of my salvation in Christ Jesus because I believe in Him and what He has done on the cross for me. I live for Him . I have been crucified with Him, I no longer live , but Christ lives in me. I am just concerned for those Christians who are not deeply rooted yet in their faith , they get confused, they become doubtful and not sure of themselves if they are truly saved or not because of this Doctrine of Election and Predestination.
Most of my professors in Bible School are into Calvinistic view. I respect them but I really am not convinced of their view. I once asked one of my professors if the “non-elect” will have no chance to be saved .My professor reply was, “None at all, only the elect will be saved”. So I said, “what about the Gibeonites in the OT, the Syrophoenician woman’s faith?”. And 1 Timothy 2:4 said, God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. But they will always say John 6:44
We were taught of this Total Depravity of Man. We cannot exercise our free will to believe in God because we are dead in sin and a dead person cannot response on anything and we need to be awakened by God’s Spirit. They say we do not have the ability to choose. So I mentioned about Joshua. , Joshua 24:14-14 states “Choose from this day whom you will serve”.
I just finished my study in Bible School last February . We were supposed to have our graduation ceremony last month but due to pandemic Covid-19, it was cancelled. I’ve been praying to God that I could still continue my study or have a deeper study of His Word through Masteral or even on an on-line study. I want to dig deeper into studying the Bible. I learned about Dr. Ravi Zacharias just this lockdown period. I first heard his name from one of our Bible professors three years ago, I think. I am thankful for RZIM Connect.
We are glad you are with us! Enjoy.
I don’t want to get too deep into this as it is still a doctrine that I myself am attempting to study and reconcile in scripture. What I will say is that when I first heard of this doctrine, I hated it a lot. I was absolutely against it and had no intention of actually giving it credit because it seemed so incredibly out of place. But as I have done some reading into it, I have found a lot things that have led me to pause and examine it more closely. I must say that as I continue to examine it, it has certainly gained some credibility. Let me share with you what I have seen thus far.
First of all, I know everyone goes to John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
Now, this gives some credit to the idea, but there is more to it. The depravity of man is no surprise to any Christian, or at least, it should not be. We are dead in sin, and thus incapable of reacting to the One who is Life by our own means. It is the Holy Spirit which resuscitates us with the ability to respond to Him, but it is still our responsibility to respond and follow Christ. Now, is everyone given this resuscitation? This regenerate heart? Let me share a few more verses.
Ephesians 1:3-14 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
According to Paul’s words here, we are predestined from before the foundation of the world. We have been chosen through the counsel of His sovereign will. Now, this is a hard doctrine to understand and accept, and I had a very difficult time with it until I started looking more into just who we are talking about here. This is God, the sovereign and holy creator of all things. Before even the world existed, He knew us and predestined us to Him.
People may see this as less than assuring. But if you are even examining yourself in reference to God, or trying to understand if you are elected…then you already have you’re answer by this doctrine. The total deadness of humankind in sin prevents us from having any reaction to the salvation through Christ, apart from the regeneration in our hearts given by the Holy Spirit. This is given through the sovereign will and amazing grace of God, who before the world’s foundations were laid, had predestined us to salvation in Christ, as Ephesians says, to the praise of His glory.
Again in Titus we see Paul referring to this in his introduction. “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.”
Paul again refers to the elect, chosen before even the ages began, who have this knowledge of the truth, in accordance with godliness.
Once again in Ephesians 2, we see our condition and God’s mercy toward us as His elect children. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Now, this doctrine is difficult to just accept. Why is that? As far as I have been able to think of, one of the biggest reasons is that, for those of us in the United States at least, we live in a democracy. In our country, we all have a vote on how things happen. We may not always win the vote, but we have the ability to cast one to support, or not support, a decision. But God’s kingdom is not a democracy. It is THE Monarchy, with God as the ultimate and perfectly sovereign King of Kings. There is no voting in such a Monarchy. Only God’s sovereign and perfect will can stand in His kingdom. This is hard to accept for many, but God is perfect and the ultimate good and just Being of the whole of heaven and creation. Us getting a say in His decisions would make no sense. To accept our “vote” would be to allow something less than perfect and holy to stand.
As for the idea that not everyone is elected? God’s sovereignty is described for us in Romans 9.
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” And as Isaiah predicted,
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”
God tells us that by His sovereignty, He will have mercy on those whom He has mercy, and compassion on those whom He gives compassion. Then we are given the same kind of answer that Job got during His answer from God, “who are you O man? To answer back to God. Will the molded say to the molder, ‘why have you made me this way?’
God has the right to make whatever choice it is that He makes. We, who cannot see as He sees, have no right to answer back to Him. Our only choice, if His Spirit draws us to Him, is to follow Christ, or reject Christ.
Now, having said I did not want to get too deep into this, I now realize I have anyway. Not to over complicate this, but I will add a video to the end of this that was made by R.C. Sproul that I hope will help you make more sense of this issue.
I hope that I have helped and not confused this matter. As I said, I too am still praying and meditating on this and seeking the guidance of God in learning the truth of His word, and His will for my life. I pray that God will give you wisdom and grace in finding the truth, as only He can show it to you. God bless you and thank you.
Thank you all very much.You explained very well about Calvinism .God bless you all.
Thank you Sir James. I love that simple yet meaningful illustration the Groom(Will you ) and Bride(I will):-). God bless
There is no question that RC Sproul was a very godly man; and led many to Christ and I deeply respect his ministry and life.
Personally; I believe Sproul’s viewpoint on the balance of God’s sovereignty and mans free will leans too far towards God’s sovereignty; and to me seems pretty close to the position of theistic determinism.
A question one could ask of theistic determinism; “If God, in eternity past pre-determined an individual’s salvation and destiny; (How) will God justly judge and cast into hell a person for not believing what they were incapable of believing?”.
Theistic determinism introduces many problems by eliminating free will, erasing genuine choice (love is one choice we make), and some atheists raise moral problems such as this gentlemen who asked Ravi the question:
It is a large area of study; if you would like to look at the other side; consider having a look at John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe’ He covers the topic in depth and gave me answers that both balanced God’s sovereignty and mans free will; Lennox covers Election of Israel and why they didn’t believe even though they were God’s elect people, vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy, the Romans 9-11 chapters, Pharaoh’s case, Jacob and Esau (Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated). In Lennox’s later book on Joseph; he also discusses the passage in Genesis where it was clear God was in control of Joseph’s life and the famine in Egypt and meant it for good. As Joseph said to his brothers “They intended it for evil, but God intended it for good”.
Here’s a few quotes on what is known as theistic determinism (from Lennox’s book):
Lennox, John C. Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith and Human (p. 56). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.
Ravi puts it so well in the article below.
I position the sequence of fact and deduction in the following way: Love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer. The story from sin to redemption is only in the gospel with the ultimate provision of a loving God.
There is no question that God is sovereign and in charge of history; and moves it towards his purposes and we also have free will (Personally; I believe that God keeps the world in such a state that the most possible free willed beings have the highest possible opportunities to turn to him).
Praise the Lord that He is in control of world events, including this current pandemic covid virus, and hopefully many will turn to Him as a result of this.
just a few thoughts, hopefully somewhat helpful.
I agree that there is a lot to be thought about and discussed here. I most certainly cannot, nor ever will I, claim to have all the answers. Some things, especially those within the council of God’s will, are far beyond any fallen human being’s understanding. I look at this all with a great degree of reverence, because my understanding will only allow me to go so far in some things. One of the things that really got me thinking about this was that, as God says in Romans 9, He has mercy on who He has mercy, compassion on who He has compassion. No matter whether He has mercy, or executes judgement, no one gets anything less than justice. I pray for as many people to come to Him as possible, but I also maintain a great amount of reverence to His sovereignty.
As Romans 9 also says, it is within His ability to create vessels for honorable purposes, and vessels for dishonorable purposes from the same lump. I see things like this and find it difficult to see in any other way. God’s predestination of His elect is very clear in Paul’s writings. I do not see this as His causing people to not be responsible for sin, as we are the ones who made the choices to sin in the first place. I see it as more of a choice of God, as to whether He will provide for us the regenerate heart needed to even respond to Him, or whether He will not. Would it be within His right to choose some and not others? Absolutely. Is that what has happened? I’m not sure I will ever fully be sure. This brings into the discussion things that we would have to understand about how a being of such infinite power and knowledge decides things. We understand from such a broken perspective and I think our biggest hope, is to humbly approach the word at what it says. Though I think the Bible also alludes quite clearly to some things it knows that we are incapable of understanding, expecting I imagine, that we will realize that some things are beyond us and our capabilities. This, I believe, develops only more respect within us for the sovereignty of God.
In the end, I know that I know Christ, and I will pursue to grow closer to Him and know His word as much as I can before I go to meet Him. But no matter how much I think I know, I am sure of one thing, there is a lot I do not, and cannot know. Probably there is more which I will have to be corrected on once I reach the glorified state where I can actually have, and understand, the knowledge I lack.
Thank you for sharing the book and I will certainly add it to my reading list. I am always interested to learn more about this subject, and the perspectives that others hold. I will say, I’m not an absolute Calvinist, but at the same time, I’m not an absolute Arminian either. I can only go off of what I read specifically in God’s word and try to meditate on it and seek God’s guidance in understanding it. Knowing of course, that I am not capable of understanding it all no matter how hard I may try. But thank you again Matthew.
Hi Matthew @mmingus36 (great name by the way ),
Yes you’ve hit the nail on the head; when we look deeply into these kind of areas and doctrine we fairly quickly run into the limits of our understanding. I definitely have; and this area has bothered me quite a lot over the years.
I think like you’ve alluded to the best approach is to come to God with genuine questions, from a humble heart. Like Abraham said after talking with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Yes, indeed He will.
If we come at some of these hard areas with a judgemental attitude placing ourselves over God (as if this is possible); then we have pride and are on dangerous ground. That’s basically what Satan did; saying I will be God. not good.
I think we don’t have to decide whether we are Calvinist or Arminian; we are simply Christians who might hold to slightly different views. John Lennox in his book half jokingly refers to himself as a Calaminian (both); there is a middle ground position called Molinism which for me is where I am currently. William Lane Craig talks about this position as well on his ministry site called https://www.reasonablefaith.org/
Anyway I will not seek to change your mind, that’s not my intent; just wanting to share in a hopefully helpful way; may we all grow closer to Christ as we learn more about him each day and seek to follow Him; and praise the Lord, we can rest in His finished work on the cross on our behalf.
God bless in the days ahead.
This is one of the reasons why I am not a Calvinist.
1)According to Calvinism, one should first be drawn in by God before one is saved since no one can, having lost free will on account of the original sin, respond to God.
2)The elect are saved only by God’s unconditional love and not of their special qualities or good deeds.
3)Since God has chosen only some people while they are not different from others before their being saved, we can say God has chosen people randomly.
4)Therefore, the elect are very fortunate because only they are saved while the unsaved are not different from them whatsoever.
I think luck being the determinant of salvation is absurd.
I’m pretty sure that Calvinists would take issue with your contention that salvation is based upon luck. They would argue that it is based upon the sovereign will of God and ask who you are to question God’s will. The real problem, to me, is that if God’s sovereign choice is all that separates those who are saved from those who aren’t, then His choice to save some is also a choice NOT to save others rather He specifically says it or not (an act of omission is still an act). Thus He had the power to save all from Hell, but He chose not to. That is the problem with refusing to acknowledge the free choice of humanity in accepting or rejecting God’s grace.
I think it is important to put the issue of Calvinism into some historical context.
- Calvinism was countered by Armenism soon after its formation. The basic difference between the two views is Calvinism is focused on the Sovereignty of God while Armenism is focused on the Free Will of Man in the area of Salvation.
- How God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Free Will interact at salvation is a mystery as both fully exist and are seemingly contradictory in nature.
- Reformed Theology comes out of Calvinism and is quite popular in the USA today among Protestants. All Calvinists subscribe to Reform Theology but not all Reformed Theology adherents subscribe to Calvinism.
- Calvinism met much resistance from the Church at large. It was considered a new idea and none of The Ancient Traditions accepted it as main stream thought. Generally Calvinism was/is thought to go to far concerning the sovereignty of God.
- Calvinism concerning the Nature of Man is a development of the thoughts of Augustine of Hippo concerning Original Sin. He was responding Pelagius who was proposing what came to be the Pelagian Heresy.
- Augustine’s concept of Original Sin was a new idea. It was accepted by Roman Catholicism but not by the other 3 Ancient Traditions (Eastern Orthodox, Oriental, & Church of the East) who subscribe to Ancestral Sin both then and today. The difference between Ancestral Sin and Original Sin is that Ancestral Sin states that the curse Adam received was physical death and a corrupt mind that always leads to personal sin. Ancestral Sin goes further to explain that Man is only responsible for actual sin not the sin of Adam. Original Sin states that Man is totally corrupt from conception.
There is a famous statement that says Heresy is a Truth Taken to far. I believe this can be applied equally to error in Theology. The problem with Calvinism and Reform Theology is that they take God’s Sovereignty too far and leave no room for Man’s Free Will. Pragmatically the major problem of Calvinism and some proponents of Reformed Theology is that they openly believe that only a person making a profession of faith is saved. This implies (and when pressed they admit) that children dying in the womb are lost. Such a position was never an apostolic position.
Finally there is now a scurrilous accusation going around in Reformed Theology that their opponents hold a Semi-Pelagian view in an attempt to lump their opponent with the Pelagian Heresy. This is in fact an admission on their part that they cannot respond Scripturally to those objecting to their Theology. A review of @jlyons excellent response above is an example of the Traditional Church view in juxtaposition to Calvinism/Reformed Theology.
my point is that the Calvinists hold that the election is unconditional.
Leny, quick question…do you have free will? Do you have the ability to choose?
- law of identity- free will = ability to choose; determinism= inability to choose
- law of non-contradiction- ability to choose is not the same as inability to choose; free will is not the same as determinism.
- law of excluded middle- either ability to choose OR inability to choose.
Which is right? If you choose INABILITY TO CHOOSE you have exercised an ability you claim you don’t have. Calvinists will then redefine determinism with compatibilism, however they are choosing different terms in order to argue against the ability to choose.
Predestination does exist. Ephesians 1 is clear, however read closely as to what has been predetermined. Paul is writing to a church, a group of believers. The things that are predestined are things that will be given to those who believe. There is no contradiction in the scripture. When reading Ephesians 1 where it say “you” or “we” substitute “those who believe” and the passage becomes more clear. EX. “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us (those who believe) with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us (those who believe) in him before the foundation of the world, that we (those who believe) should be holy and blameless before him in love, having predestined us (those who believe) to adoption through Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will.”
See how it casts a different light?
For a different perspective check out Soteriology101 with Leighton Flowers.