Question about the Implications of Calvinism

Hi everyone,

The church I grew up in, as well as the campus ministry I’m involved with, have arminian beliefs. I never knew much about the calvinism vs arminianism debate and really wasn’t interested in learning about it. However, many of my closest friends are calvinists, and the topic has come up a lot in conversation over the past year. I haven’t decided where I land in the debate, but the idea of calvinism really scares me. In all honesty, it has made me question my own salvation at times. I know there are many resources out there with general information about the two sides, and I have already done a decent bit of research. However, I have a few questions based on the assumption that calvinism is “correct.” If you consider yourself a calvinist or just know a lot about the mindset, then I would love to hear what you have to say. Also, this is my first post, so I hope it makes sense!

  1. How does someone know if they are one of the elect? This question makes me think of Matthew 7:21-23. I grew up being taught that you were saved if you “accepted” Jesus and what He did on the cross, pursued a relationship with God, and chose to follow. One possible answer is that you know you are one of the elect if you know the Lord’s voice. John 10 could be used to support this argument. However, I find this very subjective. If you ask 3 different people, who claim to be believers, what it means to know and hear the Lord’s voice, you could get three very different answers. Another possible answer is that you desire the Lord and are seeking Him out. Again, this feels a little too subjective to me because we’re all human and go through seasons where we make mistakes and choose something over the Lord. Under the assumption of calvinism, is it possible for someone to be searching for God and wanting to be saved, but they never will be because they weren’t chosen?

  2. Does God still love everyone if he didn’t die for everyone? I think about Esau who God always hated it. What are we supposed to make of this?

  3. On the RZIM Ask Away Podcast, I’ve heard Vince and Jo argue that if God’s main goal is for us to believe in Him, then he could easily accomplish that by “writing his name in the sky.” In other words, He could force us to believe. They argue that God actually provides enough evidence for belief in Him to be reasonable, but not too much to where we can’t freely choose it. This is because God desires a relationship with us; not just to make his existence known. Does this idea contradict calvinism?

Thank you so much for reading this 3-part question. Looking forward to hearing what y’all have to say! Also, I wasn’t sure what category to choose, so please let me know if there is a more fitting one. :slight_smile:

6 Likes

Hey Maddie @maddiebcampbell. Great question and sorry for all the confusion out there about this. To be completely honest with you, Calvinsim does not make sense to me at all. It just defeats the purpose of having a freewill and having the ability to love Christ by choice. How could God judge and send those to heaven then. I think it was wise that you ignored the debates initially. But @jlyons had put it so well on a different post so I thought I’d share that with you.

God Bless You.

3 Likes

Maddie, I don’t have answers to your questions but I just wanted commend your respectful attitude towards an opposing view and to encourage you to continue to try and understand things from your friends’ point of view. I also never knew anything about “Calvinist” doctrine until this last year when I started to do some research to know what they believe and why. The more I’ve learned the more I realize that there are often things we see sort of the same but from what seems different angles. It is very interesting. But one thing that has grieved me as I read about the different beliefs is the lack of respect many show to those on the either side of the fence on this issue. We Christians are to be united, and instead of seeing some as Calvinist and others as Amrmenian, labels that I hate using, we should be able to worship together in love and be open to discussing this topic while trying to understand an opposing perspective. Let us all strive for unity as much as we can, in love. Maddie, I hope you are able to get good answers to your questions so that you can better understand your friends. :blush:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:12-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

2 Likes

Thank you!

1 Like

This whole post was so helpful! Thank you for sharing.

2 Likes

Hello Maddie,

This is an awesome question and thank you for asking it. This is a debate that really causes a lot of friction. I may not have the answer to every question, let me be up front and honest with that. However, I believe that there is an answer, even if it’s not the one we want. So, as a Calvinist, allow me to give you my reasons for believing that.

First of all, I want to start off in Ephesians 1: 3-14 which states, “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.”

Why do I believe in the doctrine of predestination? Because it is so clearly in the Bible. Paul describes in Ephesians that we were predestined to Christ by God before the foundations of the earth were even laid. That we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to God’s purpose, and according to the counsel of His will. The word of God does not really mince words on this, it clearly states it to us, yet does not fully explain it…which is confusing, isn’t it? More on that in a bit.

Next, in Titus 1: 1-4, “ 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;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Here in Titus we see Paul’s reference to the elect of God and their knowledge of the truth, which was promised before the ages began. Again, this is another very clearly written passage that is an introduction to the letter Paul was writing to Titus. It refers to the idea that there are those who are elect in the location that Titus is ministering in. So, we see some good proof here that this idea of election and predestination is actually quite real.

Next, in Romans 8: 29-30, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Here we see Paul again telling us about the predestination of those whom He foreknew. Preceded by the verse telling us that “For those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” This gives us some comfort in the idea that even though we do not fully understand this, God is using it for good.

Next we are going to go to 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.”

Paul describes a lot here. He states that not all those descended of Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring. He says that the it is not because of flesh that any are children of God, but those of the promise that are counted as offspring. We also see a description of the children of Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, who even though they had done neither right or wrong, God said of them that the older would serve the younger. Why? In order that God’s purpose of election might continue, that it might not be of works, but of Him who calls.
This is pretty deeply described here. God has a purpose in His election, and some are elected, while others are not.
Then Paul goes into an intense discussion about God’s justice. He confronts the justice of God, presumably because this idea had already been misunderstood by some back then. Is God unjust because of this? By no means! Paul here states that on those whom God has mercy, He has mercy. Those On whom He has compassion, He has compassion, just as He told Moses He did in Exodus 33.
He also outlines this idea through a description of the dealings with Pharaoh ending at the statement that God has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens those whom He wills. Again, this is to the will and counsel of God.

Then Paul confronts the argument from people, well how can God be just then? For none can resist His will. Which Paul instantly answers with the statement, “Well, who are you O man? To answer back to God? Will what is molded say to the molder ‘why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay to make some vessels for honorable use, and others for dishonorable use?” And Paul then switches to a different perspective that perhaps God has demonstrated His wrath through such dishonorable vessels, in order that He might demonstrate how glorious His mercy is to those whom He has saved. Even some of whom are not Israelites, but gentiles as well.

One of the things that we confront in the idea of election and predestination, is the idea of God’s true power and sovereignty. Especially for people who live in countries that have an election and voting system, such as the US, it is difficult to understand the idea of God’s sovereign choice. But, when we come to God and His power, we are not discussing a democracy, this is the confusion I think we can get into at times. The kingdom of God is a Monarchy, THE Monarchy. Ruled undeniably by THE Monarch, the King of Kings, the true and Sovereign God of all things. If in the counsel of His will, He decided that some are elect, and others are not, what knowledge do we have to contend His Sovereign will with?

One thing is ultimately true in all this…whether one who is elected receives mercy, or one who is not elected does not, neither receives an unjust judgement. God is sovereign and good, just and holy, merciful to His children and wrathful to those lost in sin. But He is, above all, perfect in all He is and does.

So, how do you reconcile this idea?? Well…who knows? How are we to even begin to comprehend the true power and sovereignty of God? Some things are, quite truthfully, beyond our abilities. This is where faith becomes such a large part of it all for us. We have to accept that God’s will, and His counsel, are not things we can truly comprehend on some levels. One day, we will have the answers to these questions, but for now it is for us to trust in Christ…or not. All we have is what is clearly given to us in the Scriptures, which are absolutely true, and free from error. It is the word of God for us, and it is completely sufficient for our time here on earth.

Will there be those who desperately want to go to heaven, and who desperately want to seek Christ who will have no chance of getting there or knowing Him? Absolutely not…can we explain this? Absolutely not. How it is all reconciled and justly dealt is not within our grasp of understanding. But if you are drawn to Christ, and you seek to know Him and be saved, then the Holy Spirit has begun it’s work in you. You do not have to question whether you are elected or not, the fact that you are called to seek to understand Him and know Him answers that question.

I hope that this helps to provide some understanding on this and if you have any other questions please ask them. This is a very difficult thing to understand and I could type out an answer that is probably a book’s length, yet still not get through it all. But I hope that this gives you some answers to your questions and will be glad to answer any other questions that you have. May God grant you wisdom and understanding as you seek the truth that only He can truly give through His word, and the work of His Holy Spirit. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

3 Likes

Thank you so much Matthew! Reading through this was very helpful. Just to clarify, does the idea listed in the third part of my question contradict what you believe to be true?

@maddiebcampbell lad you asked! Welcome to the world of Theology - the lens through which we see and understand God. I know your journey will sometimes bring up more questions than answers, but that’s why we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us discern truth through the scriptures.

Unless you ask, I won’t go into Church History here to explain the roots of Calvinism and Arminianism, but know that this argument didn’t exactly start with John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius. It really dates back to Augustine and Pelagius in the 4th and 5th centuries.
I’ll begin with your questions as numbered.

  1. Someone knows if they are of the elect simply by believing the gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV Says “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and there are more versus I could site to the same effect. The non-elect think the Bible is simply a history book at best and an outright fairytale at worst. They would sooner believe in the Iliad as truer than the Bible. And in short, it is NOT possible for one to be seeking God and not finding him. John 6:43-44 ESV “Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

  2. I’m sorry, but God does not love everyone. It’s a popular phrase, “Jesus loves the sinner but hates the sin”. This is simply not true. Psalm 5:5 ESV
    5The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
    6You destroy those who speak lies;
    the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

    God’s holiness cannot allow him to love evil of any kind. This is the place where Calvinists come from. This is also what deepens your love for Christ!! How can you not want to live your life in devotion to the one who chose you and died for you as a propitiation for your sin? Who loved you before the beginning of time and wrote your name in the Book!? Is God not Omniscient? Does His sovereignty end where yours begins or is he truly sovereign? There are also examples in Scripture where God hardened hearts to His glory. Trust me, this may be hard to swallow or not seem “fair” to us as humans, but understand God’s Holiness and his justice and this will begin to make more sense. God told Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Isaiah 55:9 ESV “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

  3. Kind of does. God’s will is a 2-tiered concept - God’s decretive will and his permissive will. God’s decretive will means he decrees it and it happens. Like creation when He said “Let there be light” and it was so. God’s permissive will is displayed in His law. He said, “Thou shalt not commit murder” but people do. If God decreed it, we would not be able to, but it is his permissive will that he doesn’t want us to, but we can certainly choose not to follow this commandment. There are also many arguments about original meaning, context, etc. around the verses surrounding God’s will for ALL to be saved. What does ALL mean? All means all. Fine. Of what? All of the elect!

@Danageze said “It just defeats the purpose of having a freewill and having the ability to love Christ by choice. How could God judge and send those to heaven then.” This is a fallacy. As Ravi has said, “Were you free to ask this question?” Of course! But our free will has limits. Romans 8:7 ESV “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Paul states that the flesh cannot submit to God’s law. Our will is trapped in our flesh! The only way we can be drawn to God is by the regeneration of our heart which is initiated by God because we are one of the elect! If you know a person that is far from God, do you pray and say, “Lord - I know you have absolutely nothing to do with it since you gave us free will, but I sure wish my friend would accept your gift of salvation!” That’s preposterous! We know that God can and does change hearts.

@jlyons was copied here, so the quote was, “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.” This is simply untrue; however, this may be one of the hardest doctrines. Some even call themselves a “four-point Calvinist” because they accept four of the five doctrines (or points), yet reject the doctrine of Limited Atonement. Did Jesus die for the sins of all 9 billion people in the world plus all humans that ever lived or will live? Did Hitler miss out just because he didn’t believe? Would he have been saved if he just would’ve repented at the end?? No. If Jesus died for your sins, you will be saved. Not everyone is saved. Jesus didn’t die for everyone’s sins - only the elect. There’s also the idea of “effectual atonement” that some semi-Pelagians subscribe to, which states that Jesus died for all but it only applies (or is effectual) to the saved. You’re still in the same boat here - If Jesus died for your sins, then His death is sufficient.

Your next question is, “Then why would a Calvinist evangelize?” Because we are commanded to! Who are the elect? Nobody knows whose name is written in the Book of Life but the Father. We have to make sure and round everyone up so Jesus can return. :slight_smile:

I know this may not convince you - some of these doctrines are hard to swallow! But they are what Church fathers for centuries have thought and affirmed by and large. Why are we called Calvinists? Because he wrote the book explaining all these things and was possibly the greatest post-apostolic mind in history. He and Spurgeon… :slight_smile:

I pray you all receive this in the spirit of love and grace it is given.

In Christ,
Paul

2 Likes

Hey Paul @TXian, thanks for the reply. I have follow up questions for you.

  1. God created humans right? the elect and the non-elect? What he created was good too? Why did he create us knowingly to be non-elect? For us to suffer in the world and go to hell? Does he enjoy our suffering? Why should I follow such a God, out of fear to go to Hell?

  2. Are we created equal? Does God favor you more than your brother or sister?

  3. Are you saying God’s love is conditional? Why did he die for us when we have sinned, even for the “elect”, afterall he hates evildoers and cannot allow it in his presence? Only God is good and perfect. Even some people are so good that they love unconditionally at times. Are you saying humans have better ethics/moral standard than God?

  4. Why is there a field of apologetics? Are people just defiant and dont want to believe in God out of pure spite or is there is misunderstanding or past experience or lack of information that keeps them defiant at first but once you start explaining, they start to change. Are we to give up on someone if they say no this does not make sense and walk away? Does that mean they were the non-elects.

Is God, God of confusion? Does your worldview as you explain it actually make sense?

Thanks.

Thank you for responding to all of my questions Paul! I really appreciate your perspective, and it was so so helpful.

I do have a follow-up question about #2. How do you interpret scripture such as 1 John 4 where “God is love” as well as the classic John 3:16? What about all of the scripture listed in this post shared above?

https://connect.rzim.org/t/calvinism/31699/3?u=maddiebcampbell

1 Like

God created humans right? the elect and the non-elect? What he created was good too? Why did he create us knowingly to be non-elect? For us to suffer in the world and go to hell? Does he enjoy our suffering? Why should I follow such a God, out of fear to go to Hell?

He did create humans. He also created angels. Why did he create Lucifer if he knew he was going to fall? Did he create the lake of fire before the fall of Lucifer or after? Great questions! I don’t claim to know all of the mysteries of God - and there are a lot. His thoughts are higher than mine! You should follow God because He is your creator and He is love. His justice is also righteous and perfect. Salvation is not fire insurance - if that’s the only reason to follow God then one has missed the Gospel completely.

Are we created equal? Does God favor you more than your brother or sister?

Equal? On what level? God said he hated Esau but loved Jacob before they were even born? This does not mean he actually hated him, but the term is a Hebrew idiom that would translate closer to “love less” just like in the NT where Jesus says "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26) This actually means that we should “love them less” or in other words put Christ first.

Are you saying God’s love is conditional? Why did he die for us when we have sinned, even for the “elect”, after all he hates evildoers and cannot allow it in his presence? Only God is good and perfect. Even some people are so good that they love unconditionally at times. Are you saying humans have better ethics/moral standard than God?

Conditional? Are you saying it is completely and totally unconditional? Are you espousing universalism? What was the point of the OT covenant of sacrifice that in the NT was fulfilled in Christ? The only way God can see us as justified is because of the blood of Christ. Due to the fall of man we are at enmity with God and Christ’s death on the cross was not God’s propitiation to us, God is the object of Christ’s propitiation to make believers right with Him! God is love. He is Holy. He is just. For the wages of sin is death.

Even some people are so good that they love unconditionally at times.

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! No human is good. They may do “good” things but even the unrepentant atheist can do “good” acts. Luke 18:19 NASB And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

Why is there a field of apologetics? Are people just defiant and dont want to believe in God out of pure spite or is there is misunderstanding or past experience or lack of information that keeps them defiant at first but once you start explaining, they start to change. Are we to give up on someone if they say no this does not make sense and walk away? Does that mean they were the non-elects.

Apologia means to give an answer or a reason. This is a defense of our faith - not a tool to go out and beat unrepentant sinners into submission. Yes, there are some people that are defiant and think the whole idea of God is pure fantasy. Yes, there are some that have a misunderstanding or lack of information. We should hang in there and answer every questioner until they are satisfied! We have no idea who the elect are, and we are commissioned by Christ to go out and bring every one of them to faith!! Maybe they’re not elect - or maybe it’s not their time. Only God knows.

Is God, God of confusion? Does your worldview as you explain it actually make sense?

Absolutely not! God is God of Order, Sovereignty, Holiness, Justice, and Love. My Worldview (which I would argue is the same as yours) makes perfect sense.

Maddie asked a theological question and I gave a theological answer. I’m sorry if I ruffled your feathers. The simple answer is “go and make disciples of all nations” Does it really matter to the evangelist meeting a stranger on the street what the order of salvation or the doctrine of election is? Not really. Are you going to go out and tell a lost questioner that you’re not going to talk to them because you just don’t think they’re chosen? May it never be! I’ve seen and heard the witness of staunch New Age “prophets”, warlocks and witches, and other completely degenerate people who have come to Christ! The first point of TULIP is Total Depravity - a state we’re all in until God regenerates or softens our heart to the Gospel. In His time, according to His will.

In Christ,
Paul

1 Like

Hello Maddie,

No it doesn’t contradict Calvinism. The Bible does indeed teach a lot to confirm that statement. God doesn’t just appear in the sky to us, but He does give us enough evidence to make it reasonable for us to believe. Let’s remember that Jesus Christ performed miracles right in front of people’s eyes, and they still didn’t believe Him. He raised people from the dead, healed the blind, and lame, and sick and they didn’t believe Him. All they did was accuse Him of being allied with Satan(Matthew 9: 32-34), and then later they even asked Him for more signs(Matthew 12: 38-40), despite all that He had done already.

The thing about Calvinistic belief is that it’s basis is simply on what is in scripture, but there’s an issue. A lot of the answers people are looking for when it comes to the doctrines presented, there are not answers for, or at least not full answers for.

Let me ask a question…who wrote Romans? Can you answer that question? It catches you because some almost instantaneously think Paul, others think God did. So who wrote it? To say Paul is not wrong, to say God is not wrong. The grammar and writing style of Paul captured in the words of the scripture, yet still it is fully God as well.

Here is another question. Who lives your life as a Christian?
When you think about it, you are caught again. Do you live it? Does God live it? Even Paul wrote in a way that captured this mystery in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me, yet I live a life in flesh by faith. The Bible is full of answers and guidance for our lives, but it is also full of just enough information for us to glorify God, while still leaving some things to divine mystery.

The big problem with God electing everyone, or with Him looking forward and seeing who would choose Him and electing them, is that we might as well forget the election then. That isn’t His sovereign choice. What that comes down to is either everyone being chosen, or God choosing based off of some merit that we held, rather than Him. That is not election, because for there to be an election for people to be saved, there must be an opposite to that, people that perish. What we are told about this is that it was God’s sovereign choice from the beginning.

How was that choice made? How was it right? How do we reconcile it? We don’t know that. We are so tiny and limited in our abilities and comprehension. We need to be focused, not on understanding how God reconciles this, that is for the holy counsel of His good will to determine. We need to be focused on how gracious, and glorious He is, how much He loved us, that He would not just let us all perish forever. The reason we know of these things, is so that we can give even greater glory to He who deserves all glory forever and ever. Understanding in these matters is sometimes a thing for the other side of heaven, where we will be capable of understanding it.

I hope that answers your question without being too confusing Maddie. Thank you for your awesome questions and if you have more then please keep them coming. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

3 Likes

I’m glad you found it useful!

God is love. John wrote this epistle to believers - mainly to warn them of false teachers. I’m not sure what the question is.
John 3:16 seems to be pretty clear at face value, but there are a couple of issues with how it is broadly interpreted. Contextually, Jesus, a Jew, was having a conversation with Nicodemus, a Jewish Pharisee. They were both members of God’s “chosen people”. Jesus’s ministry while on earth was limited to the Jews mainly, so when Jesus says to him “the world” he didn’t mean literally our earth and the animals and all the globe. What he meant was not only the Jews, but people from all nations (Gentiles too) and whosoever believes will be saved - not just the Jews.

Hope this helps!
Paul

2 Likes

Thank you for the explanation on John 3:16! I guess I’m having trouble reconciling the two ideas “God is love” and “God doesn’t love everyone.” How can God be love if He doesn’t love everyone? I’m probably missing some logic here.

1 Like

Thank you Matthew! This wasn’t too confusing at all, and I do understand your point.

2 Likes

You’re good!!
It’s a hard concept to grasp as humans and exactly why many refuse it. Even John MacArthur said when he was first taught the doctrine of Election that he had a hard time with it. But as you study the Word, you’ll recognize it everywhere - In Jesus’s words and throughout the epistles. As you study and meditate the Holy Spirit will illuminate the Word for you. As @mmingus36 and I have both stated, some things are God’s mystery that we won’t be able to comprehend until He explains it to us Himself.

In Christ,
Paul

2 Likes

Hey Paul @TXian. No I was just trying to understand. I know I asked you a lot of questions. I was not saying you should not reply to Maddie either. Thank you for your reply. I am glad it does not matter in evangelism as you said. And as you said there are a lot mysteries and one day we will definitely know when we meet Christ.

God Bless.

3 Likes

I just want to mention something I once heard Ravi say about subjects such as these, and that is, when so many very intelligent people don’t agree on a certain issue, it means that issue is a complicated one. Of course many of us lay people take a different stance on the issue of election, but also look at the noted historical scholars who couldn’t agree. We can quote scripture over and over and tell each other, “See how simple and straightforward it is?” and still not always convince each other of our own view. I have been making a point to find out what is being said of this issue from different sides, and was surprised to find one I’d never heard of, and have read many articles, listened to debates, watched videos on YouTube, and read just one book, and there are things I see in common when learning about what both sides say. I could be wrong but it is like different people are seeing a part of the truth but not the whole, and the way they interpret that same thing depends on the angle from which they see it. I feel like we are all on the outside looking in at something a bit beyond our comprehension, which is why we all say it is a mystery. I personally see the issue of election from the “free will” or “non-determinist” point of view, but I am hesitant to tell anyone that this is absolutely how it is. I’ve seen so much from other perspectives that seem to contradict but also make sense at the same time. Let us be patient with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, all saved by the grace of god, and having assurance of that as we see God working in our lives through the spirit, knowing that there is so much that is true about this subject that we will probably never understand. God knows the whole truth and we can only struggle to partially comprehend it, and our way of understanding it will certainly be different depending on our upbringing, possibly culture, influences, and personality.

I have heard it said more than once that it may be difficult for some to grasp the concept of God having complete sovereignty because we come from a culture that values our freedoms and rejects an absolutely sovereign type of leader. But many of us with different perspectives on this issue have grown up in the same type of culture, so I struggle to understand why this even makes sense. And have past types of authorities in history around the world influenced whether Christians can imagine God as an absolute sovereign very easily or not? I do not currently accept the teachings of determinism, but I certainly believe God has absolute authority. The Bible speaks of it constantly and it is demonstrated in the Word over and over. This is just another point that I think we all agree on but have a tendency to not see think we don’t.

It is worth really trying to see things from each other’s perspective and not so readily condemn that someone see them so differently. I often feel like the “Calvinist” has just as much ground to condemn my point of view as I may of theirs because I can now see a lot of where they are coming from. I urge us all to remain united in our faith in Christ as our Savior and God who has prepared an eternal home for us and to remember that we are indeed brothers and sisters, no matter how we see certain issues. Let us not be so divided as we have been historically. Our God wants us to have unity and we must do our best to be obedient in that no matter our disagreements. Let us learn from one another and allow unity (in spite of different perspective) to grow and to grow us. God bless us all, who loves us all the same. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

(One nagging question that I’ve had as I study this subject is how, if we are led by the Spirit, can we not agree on this topic? That in itself is a big mystery to me. :thinking:)

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:1-4, 6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

5 Likes

Hey Carrie @gchop, you are quite right, we always have to try to see the other persons perspective and stay united. I think textual conversations dont send the true intent on replies too and sometimes can send the wrong messages. To answer your question, The Holy Spirit guides but cant force us to believe on a certain thing over the other in my opinion. I also feel, at the same time, the devil does tell us his view point too when I think about it. I am not in anyway referring this to the discussion above when I say that tho, just replying to what you asked.

I love the quotes too. Thanks.

Btw I think the idea of molinism helps me a lot to understand God’s sovereignty and free will. By William Craig below.

Hope it helps.

2 Likes

I have never understood the purpose behind placing trust in proclaiming “predestination” for one’s self in terms of attracting others to the body of Christ ?
For me it is theology bent on bequeathing discord ,lacking in humility, void of edification, the reversal of progress of the peace rather than promoting it .
For me I prefer rallying cries containing much less chest thumping , moving to be more and more like
Christ each day while my only boast being in my predestinated status of being " chief of sinners "
" To as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God "

3 Likes