"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Last week my son had a Boy Scout Pinewood Derby Race. He placed about mid-way in the rankings for his age group. He’s a competitive boy, so average is not good enough. After thinking the whole race through and talking with some other dads I was able to figure out what happened. What I found was that we likely did not place first not because the car couldn’t roll fast enough or that it lacked weight to push it, but rather lacked the balance it needed to win. I was advised by multiple winners that their cars incorporated most of their weight from within the body of the car itself and not added on the outside, giving them more momentum. Just as those derby cars are driven by what is within them, we as humans are driven by the God who lives within us. Whether we like it or not, we are all connected to our creator from within. Our very souls were created to fellowship with and serve God. Spiritual concepts and elements have that balance just as the many circumstances of life. Just the right amount of something may be life-giving, while just a drop too much or little can destroy. The great thing is we are not discussing mercury poisoning or oxygen deficiencies in this article. We will however, be comparing the concepts of predestination (Calvinism) and free will (Arminianism). Before you mentally check out by thinking of this as some seminary-filled theology highlight reel, understand that your doctrine most likely already supports one of these views over the other. My goal today is not to force you to choose between these two schools of thought, but to help us find a happy meeting point between the two. We will lay out the two views when taken to the extremes, followed by a look at what can happen when a concept is applied in moderation. We will also look at how these two opposing views impact us, what measures we can take to maintain balance and tranquility in our spiritual walk with God.
While the early was fighting to stay alive, debates over the balance between man and God’s will was very little to non-existent. Catholicism dominated the scene for Christianity until the reformation. Once Protestantism took hold, the two opposing schools of thought began to form. There were those who interpreted the scripture as supporting the view of predestination, but on the other hand there were groups who felt that scripture only gives evidence of free will. It’s over 600 years later and men are still arguing the two opposing views. But why do we have to argue? It is obvious there are aspects to both views the scripture seems to support. Both the individuals who are chosen and those who choose are both supported by the Gospel that we dearly love. Why can’t there by a better way than to choose between who is right and who is wrong? Scripture clearly would never support doctrines of confusion so we will attempt to sort this issue out. For both views you find scriptures such as John 6:37 and later in John 15:16. You see in John 6:37 that it appears that the Father “giveth” Jesus all that He would have Jesus save. Calvinists would argue this is an example of grace that is irresistible because the Father has chosen them, but Armenians would argue that the Father “gives” individuals who have chosen to believe to Jesus rather than force. This one is pretty easy to figure out given the similarities between verses 37 and then in verse 40 when it says “believeth on him”. It is clear that God has allowed these individuals to be delivered into the hands of Christ because they have chosen Christ, not forced. When it gets sticky for Armenians is when you see scripture like John 15:16 where God tells us, “Ye have not chosen me”. Once again, the Armenians will argue that God is referring to the apostle status of the disciples while the Calvinists are saying that God is clearly telling us that we are chosen for salvation.
Now that we know the two opposing views we must ask, how does these views affect our faith? They affect us because they play a role in determining how you will live out your faith entirely. If you feel that all who come to God are simply just chosen then you may overlook the sinner who has rejected God in the past, but simply needs to be remembered in prayer. If you feel that men always choose their salvation, it is easy to forget who holds the keys to hell, death, and the grave. My views on these two concepts are much more moderate. While God obviously chooses a few elect that will play large roles in His work here on earth and heaven, it is obvious that not all individuals who will be saved were forced by God’s hand. He is a gentleman and even the scripture tells us, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” If God is forcing our hand, why is he knocking on the door of our heart rather than kicking it down like the D.E.A.? Men doing the great works for the Master such as the Billy Grahams and Martin Luther’s of the world were obviously chosen by God to be great leaders, but yet they could have rejected His calling. This is not to say there would be no consequences for rejecting His goodness, but there has to be free will. If men have no free will to choose then Adam and Eve would have never sinned from the beginning. Because they had the freedom to doubt, they did wrongfully so and we still suffer as man-kind today.
The great news is that because there is a free will (earliest example of choice: Genesis 2:15-17), we have a choice to apply these concepts of the two-opposing views where they belong. Having a closed gate view of salvation is obviously dangerously destructive to the Gospel message in general. Telling people they can be saved while also advising them they are chosen by God to be what they are can be counterproductive for the Kingdom of God. However, if you tell them that God offers salvation to all those who will accept it while also advising them there are those who have been chosen to do great works for God is helpful. Many of today’s Evangelical church have this moderate view of the two spiritual concepts. Pentecostalism believes in the election of God’s servant workers, while they also believe the Gospel should be extended to “all nations”. My suggestion to anyone is to always look to the scriptures as guidance when deciding any major theological supporting opinions. The Word of God never misleads and can be used as the measuring stick for all truth. As for right now, I believe that you are surely not here today by accident. God may have ordained this moment for you to be on this site reading this article today, but He has given you a choice. The choice is to choose to follow Him as your Lord and Savior, or to reject him today. I pray that above all earthly things, theological debates, and discussions that you will make the choice to believe in Him today if you haven’t already. God tells us that those who have sinned are headed to hell if they are without the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23). We do have the choice to abstain from sin, but all who were born fall short of perfection (Psalms 51:5, Romans 5:12). It is only through Christ that redemption is available (John 14:6, Acts 2:21). If you wish to make the commitment to believe in Him today as your savior, please click here to find out more or email us with your questions and concerns. We would love to hear your testimony or hear about your experiences in faith. Until next time, thank you for visiting S.C.M. and God Bless!
John 6:37 (KJV)
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 15:16 (KJV)
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
John 6:40 (KJV)
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Genesis 2:15-17 (KJV)
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Romans 3:23 (KJV)
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Psalm 51:5 (KJV)
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--
John 14:6 (KJV)
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Acts 2:21 (KJV)
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.