Who Accepts Whom?

A Look At The Doctrine Of Predestination

 

"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee"

 ---Psalm 65:4

 

The message in this study is for Bible believing Christians who have a love for the truth as found in God's holy Word. The subject pertains to God's grace and it is a message preached by the great men of God who sparked the Protestant reformation. It is a message preached by Luther and by Spurgeon and by men like Matthew Henry. It is a message that has changed in recent history. Oh yes, there are a great many believers today who say they believe that we are saved by God's grace alone but then they present the Gospel in a way that is not by God's grace alone but by the will of man. I know, for I was one of them and I was taught by them. But my prior opinion and perhaps yours, was not based on a deep delving into the Word, but rather a superficial teaching that did not deal with difficult questions, like "Why would God predestine anyone to Hell?" or "Why do I need to witness to anyone if God predestines people to be saved?" or "If Jesus died for the whole world then why did Jesus say that most people will go to Hell in Matthew 7:13?". Indeed, how could Christ die for the whole world and also just for those that 'accept' him? Are there no clear answers in God's Word to such questions? Does the Bible contradict itself?

 

Many Christians today, both true and false Christians, are preaching that to get to Heaven, one must 'accept' Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour as if individuals have any say in their own salvation. But when we look at the related Bible verses, in context, we will see that salvation is entirely of the Lord. It is His doing, from start to finish, and it is marvelous in our eyes. God's plans will not be frustrated by those who are in rebellion against Him. He positively will save whom He pleases, when He pleases. It is all according to His good pleasure without any help, approval, or acceptance from sinful man. Please don't misunderstand, we must receive Christ into our hearts, and we will receive Him, but only AFTER He draws us and converts us as you will see in the scriptures, as presented below.

 

 

WHERE DOES SAVING FAITH COME FROM?

 

We may think that we choose God but it is God who gives us the desire to want Him and the faith to be able to trust Him. God is the giver of every aspect of salvation even regarding repentance and faith:

 

John 3:27 - "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

 

God has to enable sinners to repent:

 

Acts 11:18 - "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

 

2 Timothy 2:25 - "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth"

 

God has to give people faith as a gift so that they can believe on Christ:

 

Ephesians 2:8 - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God"

 

Regarding salvation, man has absolutely nothing to contribute: "knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?" (Revelation 3:17).

 

Until God puts a new heart in us we are just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, who hid from God after they sinned. Until God draws us and converts us, we have no desire for fellowship with Him or His children. Instead we run from Him and His messengers and we consider His commandments burdensome and His Lordship something to be scorned.

 

 

WHO DOES THE CHOOSING?

 

Here are some Bible verses that are very clear about this matter of God choosing us - without any approval from us ahead of time:

 

John 15:16 - "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit"

 

John 15:19 - "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

 

2 Thessalonians 2: 13 - "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth"

 

Matthew 22:14 - "For many are called, but few are chosen."

 

John 6:44 - "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

Psalm 65:4 - "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee"

 

Acts 13:48 - "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

 

James 1:18 - "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

 

 

CAN OUR WILL OVERPOWER GOD'S WILL?

 

When we first look at John 1:12 it sure looks like it is we who choose Christ:

 

John 1:12 - "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name"

 

But then, when we look at the next verse, we can no longer draw that conclusion:

 

John 1:13 - "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

 

So we can conclude that in John 1:12, God, by His will, converted people into His sons, thereby enabling them to receive Him and to believe on His name. One who is a child of darkness will certainly not receive Him.

 

Then when we read the first chapter of Ephesians, all we see are references to God and His will, not our own will:

 

Ephesians 1:4 - "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will"

 

Romans chapter 9 is a section of the Bible that makes no sense at all if we are to believe that man chooses to accept Christ, of his own free will:

 

Romans 9:15 - "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. "

 

Isaiah put it well, regarding who is in control of things:

 

Isaiah 46:10 - "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure"

 

 

WHO SEEKS WHOM?

 

Romans 3:11 - "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."

 

Romans 10:20 - "But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me."

 

5 Luke 19:10 - "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. "

 

Note that Jesus seeks us - we don't seek him, because when we are unsaved we don't even know that we are lost (see Romans 3:11 and 10:20 above). Once God shows us that we are hopelessly lost Hell-deserving sinners, we can cry out to Him to have mercy on our lost soul and to save us from the wrath of God. It is this recognition of one's sinnership and God's holiness that occurs at salvation, when God opens our spiritual eyes as He did with Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 6:5 - "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

 

The only way that Isaiah could see the Lord's holiness and his own sinfulness was if God reached out and gave him the ability to see:

 

Romans 11:7-8 - "7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day."

 

John 9:39 - "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. "

 

We cannot manipulate God and make Him save us just because we say a sinner's prayer in which we 'accept' Christ as our Saviour. As spiritually blind sinners, we are entirely at the mercy of God to seek us out and to heal us of our spiritual blindness:

 

Matthew 20:30 - "And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, 0 Lord, thou Son of David. "

 

God certainly causes a person to care about their sins, just as He enabled the two blind men mentioned above, to have faith in Christ to heal them. However, God saves people in His time and in His way. The two blind men in Matthew 20 were healed by the Lord's touch. The blind man in John 9 was healed by the Lord making clay by spitting on the ground. In either case, these three men would never have been healed if it were not for the Lord coming their way and granting them healing.

 

 

IS NOT SALVATION ALL BY GOD'S GRACE AND HIS POWER?

 

Romans 5:6 - "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."

 

There are many people today who think they are truly saved and truly right with God because some well meaning Christian told them to say a sinner's prayer and if they really meant it, they would be saved on the spot (regardless of what God had to say about the issue). A person might sincerely say a prayer to accept Christ (on his or her own terms) but never intend to forsake their sins because the Holy Spirit has not yet convicted them of their sins.

 

Whether we want to admit it or not, the act of accepting Christ is a 'work' because it is something that man does that he can take credit for and this kind of thing cannot happen in God's plan of salvation because He has declared that no one will be able to glory before Him (Romans 4:2). Also, as all true Christians should know (even those that preach that unsaved man has a free will) ­salvation is "not of works lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9). Charles Spurgeon made this point quite clear in his sermon "Free Will - A Slave" where he recites a prayer that someone might pray if they believed that we 'accept' Christ as our Saviour of our own free will:

 

 

“Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to Hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; They had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am, It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not - that is the difference between me and them.”

 

 

The Bible says that salvation is a gift of God (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8, etc.). It is a gift that no unsaved sinner wants as Paul pointed out in Romans 3:11 where he wrote that none seekth after God. The old man does not want to accept Jesus. He wants to be his own lord and master:

 

Isaiah 53:6 - "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way"

 

Only God can change us into a creature that is willing to submit to Christ's Lordship:

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

 

It is this new creature that accepts Christ's lordship. The old creature is at war with God:

 

Romans 8:7 - "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

 

Romans 8:8 plainly states that an unsaved person cannot please God and so they cannot accept Christ as their Saviour and Lord because they have not the will or the desire to do anything that would please God. God must put His Spirit in us so we will want to know Him, trust Him and please Him.

 

 

DOES GOD PREDESTINE PEOPLE BASED ON HIS FOREKNOWLEDGE?

 

Many Christians are told that God has looked into the future to see who would accept Christ and therefore those people are the ones whom God has predestined to be saved. Where is this idea stated in the Bible? This idea is a false doctrine, perhaps based on a misunderstanding of scriptures like Romans 8:29 and Romans 11:2. If God ever looked forward in time, the only thing He saw was this:

 

Genesis 6:5 - "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

 

If we look at Romans 8:29 and Romans 11:2 in context, we will see plenty of evidence for election by God's sovereign grace and zero evidence for that election being based on God looking into the future and seeing people accepting Christ:

 

Romans 8:28-33 - "28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."

 

God foreknew that there were none that seeketh after God (Romans 3:11) and knowing that, He had no choice but to call people out of the world if He was going to have a people for Himself. God does the electing. Sinners do no elect themselves to be saved.

 

Romans 11:2-7 - "2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day."

 

Note in verse 5 above, that election is according to grace, NOT according to foreknowledge. If it was according to foreknowledge of our acceptance of Christ, it would be according to works and not according to grace. Note also in verse 7 that God blinded the rest. He did not intend for the rest to be saved, only His elect. Does that sound unfair? Remember, "who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?" (1 Cor. 2:16) and also "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. 16:4). Also, if God were to be fair, everyone would end up in hell.

 

 

GOD FIRST OPENS A PERSON'S HEART

 

Acts 16:14 - "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. "

 

Ezekiel 36:26 - "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

 

Note how many times God says "I will" or "will I" in the 2 verses from Ezekiel 36 above, because "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). All we can do is praise God when He saves us. God will cause us to walk in His statutes after He puts His Spirit in us. And so we can see from scripture that it is the new heart, the heart of flesh, that accepts Christ and His Lordship, NOT the heart of stone!

 

 

WHAT ABOUT THE LIFE-PRESERVER ANALOGY?

 

Have you been told that the salvation process is analogous to a man drowning? The rescuer (i.e. God the Father) throws the drowning man a life-preserver (God the Son - Christ) but the man must do 'his part' to be rescued. He must reach out and take the life-preserver in order to be saved, or in other words, he must 'accept' Christ after hearing the Gospel. This analogy has a huge flaw to it. How does a dead man grab a life-preserver? According to the Word of God, fallen men are not drowning - they have already drowned - they are dead (spiritually) and at the bottom of the ocean:

 

Matthew 8:22 - "But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."

 

Romans 11: 15 - "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"

 

John 11:25 - "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live"

 

Luke 15:24 - "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."

 

 

DO THE DEAD HAVE ANY PART IN RAISING THEMSELVES?

 

Jesus physically raised Lazarus from the dead without any help or even any initiative or free will on the part of Lazarus (See John 11:43). Lazarus could not come to Jesus until he became physically alive again. Likewise, spiritual life must be imparted to a person before they will want to come to God:

 

Colossians 2:13 - "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses"

 

 

WHO HAD OR HAS A FREE WILL?

 

Adam and Eve had free will, a will capable of obeying God, until they sinned and became cursed with spiritual death, severing their relationship to God. They then became immediately reprobate just like all their offspring are at birth. This was evidenced by the fact that they hid from God and they started blaming others for their sin rather then confessing their sin and seeking forgiveness from God. True Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have the power and desire (i.e. the will) to accept Christ's Lordship, to keep God's laws: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13). True believers not only have the power to keep God's laws but they take joy in pleasing God: "I delight to do thy will, 0 my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psalm 40:8). Reprobate mankind has no such joy: "it is abomination to fools to depart from evil" (Proverbs 13:19).

 

 

WHAT KIND OF WILL IS MAN BORN WITH?

 

The Bible declares that man is born with a predisposition, a will, to sin:

 

Psalm 58:3 - "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."

 

Children go astray as soon as they are born. They do not need to be taught sin. It is their nature to sin. That is the curse of Adam. It was a most horrible curse. It is like a disease, a moral contamination, that is passed on from generation to generation. It has affected everyone of Adam's descendants:

 

Romans 5:12, 18, 19 - "12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ... 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. ... 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

 

But you say, "It is not fair. Why should I have to suffer for the sin of Adam?" Who are you to tell an infinitely holy and infinitely intelligent God what is fair and what is not fair? Likewise, was it fair that a sinless Saviour had to be brutally beaten and then crucified to purchase salvation for fallen mankind? No, it was not fair. It was grace, amazing grace. The very fact that man does not think God is fair, is confirmation that man is corrupt, because he has the idea that his Creator is defective in some way. Should you not rather assume that God is right and you, with your puny imperfect brain, just don't understand the Almighty?

 

Here is further biblical confirmation that unsaved man is not free to choose what is right. He has a will indeed, a will that is certainly free to commit any and all kinds of sins and a will that delights in doing just that. But man's will is a will that is in bondage to sin, a will that only Christ can set free:

 

John 8:31-36 - "31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

 

Let us not be like the Pharisees who protested against Christ's declaration that they were in bondage to sin (John 8:33). Let us just humbly and honestly admit that such is the state of unsaved man, precisely as scripture proclaims.

 

 

CAN WE GIVE BIRTH TO OURSELVES?

 

John 3:3 - "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." We have about as much to contribute towards our spiritual birth as we had with our physical birth. God is the potter. We are the clay. He makes us without our help:

 

Romans 9:21 - "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"

 

Jeremiah 18:3-6 - "3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. "

 

God is not sitting around somewhere waiting and hoping for sinful man to accept him. Christians are God’s people because God makes them His people, His sheep:

 

Psalm 100:3 - "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."

 

 

ARE PEOPLE SAVED AGAINST THEIR OWN WILL?

 

Nothing is too difficult for God. He is capable of saving people in spite of their own will, as it was with the apostle Paul who was quite busy about his work of persecuting Christians when God decided it was time to convert Saul to Paul on the Road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9 and chapter 26). Has God converted you yet? If not, pray for Him to have mercy on your soul. Cry out to God; plead with Him, to deliver you from the wrath to come.

 

What kind of a will do the unsaved possess? Not a will to please God:

 

Romans 8:8 - "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

 

The Bible has nothing positive to say about unsaved man's ability to do anything pleasing to God:

 

Isaiah 59:1-4 - "1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. 4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. "

 

 

SHEEP VERSUS GOATS

 

One point that can help us to understand this matter of "who accepts whom" has to do with Bible references to sheep and goats. Here are some related verses: "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:32-34, 41).

 

Matthew 10:5 - "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

 

Note that lost sheep become found sheep but goats do not become sheep. Also, lost sheep do not find themselves nor is there ever any mention of them seeking the shepherd, but there is mention of them going astray and going their own way:

 

Isaiah 53:6 - "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

 

Notice that the words "us all" refer back to the sheep, God's elect, as confirmed just two verses later in the same chapter of Isaiah, by the use of the term "my people":

 

Isaiah 53:8 - "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken."

 

Note also how it is the shepherd who seeks the sheep and not the other way around:

 

Matthew 18:12 - "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?"

 

 

WHAT IS LIMITED ATONEMENT? IS IT SCRIPTURAL?

 

Limited atonement (also known as Particular Redemption) refers to the fact that Christ's death was not literally for every person ever born or conceived. It was a transaction whereby God paid for the sins of those He came to save and those alone:

 

Acts 13:48 - "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

 

"As many as were ordained" is a clear reference to limited atonement, is it not? John 17, verses 2 and 9 indicate the same thing:

 

John 17:2 - "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him."

 

15 John 17:9 - "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."

 

Christ was a ransom for many, but not for all:

 

Matthew 20:28 - "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

 

No one would end up in hell if the ransom for their soul was paid.

 

1Corinthians 6:20 - "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

 

Are the unsaved bought with a price? Was the ransom payment on their behalf? No. The ransom was only for "as many as were ordained" and not one more.

 

To further clarify this issue of limited atonement we need to look at what the Bible is referring to when the word 'all' or the term 'the whole world' are used in regards to salvation. Otherwise, we will think there is a contradiction when we look at various scriptures that appear to be saying that Jesus died for every single person in the entire world, even those that do not receive Him.

 

 

WHAT IS MEANT BY “ALL”, “THE WORLD”, ETC.?

 

A great deal of confusion about the issue of man having a free will to receive Christ is caused by the use of the words 'all', 'whosoever' and 'world '. These terms come up in the verses that many people try to use to justify the idea of a 'free' will. We will see that Bible writers use these words to point out, primarily to Jewish believers, that the Gentiles are now to be included in God's plan of salvation. Careful examination of scripture verifies the above statement:

 

Romans 10:13 - "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

 

At first glance this verse looks like anybody and everybody can be saved UNTIL we look at the verse immediately preceding it:

 

Romans 10:12 - "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." ... That is, God plans to save both Jews AND Gentiles. There are many other verses that can be confusing if taken out of context such as shown here:

 

2 Corinthians 5:15 - "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

 

The confusion is cleared up if we read further:

 

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 - "18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

 

Obviously in verse 19, God was not saying that He would not impute trespasses to anybody at all in the entire world, but rather He had to be speaking of the elect - both Jews and Gentiles. The fact that a verse says "whosoever" or "all" does not negate scriptures like John 6:44 which says that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him or Romans 9:15 which says that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. God does not contradict Himself. So when we see a verse like:

 

2 Peter 3:9 - "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

 

We know it must mean that God desires that none of His elect should perish, especially when we look at the verse in context. Because then we will see that two verses above, God is planning to destroy ungodly men, which makes verse 9 (i.e. not willing that any should perish) sound like a contradiction to what was stated in verse 7:

 

2 Peter 3:7 - "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. "

 


Since God does not contradict Himself, we know that when we read John 3:16, the phrase "for God so loved the world" must mean that God loves people (His elect) from all nations:

 

Revelation 5:9 - "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation".

 

Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon on particular Redemption, had some additional light to shed on this issue of how words like "all" and "world" are used in scripture:

 

"... "the world has gone after him" (John 12:19). Did all the world go after Christ? "then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan" (Matt 3:5). Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? "Ye are of God, little children", and the whole world lieth in the wicked one" (l John 5:19). Does the whole world there mean everybody?

 

The words "world" and "all" are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the "all" means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts -- some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile..." .

 

 

WHAT ABOUT THE SIN OF UNBELIEF?

 

Some people that claim that man has a free will to accept Christ are also saying that the only sin that keeps a person out of heaven is the sin of unbelief. That idea probably comes from this verse:

 

John 8:24 - "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."

 

Now, are we to understand that Jesus died for all the sins of all the people in the world EXCEPT for the sin of unbelief, so that everyone in hell has had ALL their sins paid for by Christ, EXCEPT for the sin of unbelief? How do you get such theology from John 8:24 or similar passages dealing with believing or not believing in Christ? Any single sin of any kind will damn a person to hell:

 

Isaiah 59:1-4 - "1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. 4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity."

 

Ezekiel 18:4 - "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

 

Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

 

Luke 12:48 - "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

 

Note that there is no special mention of the sin of unbelief in the above verses. People who end up in hell will be punished for ALL their sins, not just the sin of unbelief. Believing in Christ is something that all men are commanded to do, yet all men are incapable of doing unless the Father draws them:

 

John 6:44 - "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

John 6:65 - "And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

 

In addition to believing in Christ, God commands the human race to do a multitude of things that they are incapable of doing in their fallen state. And let us not forget this declaration either:

 

James 2:10 - "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

 

 

HOW DOES GOD SAVE SOMEONE?

 

God saves people through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God:

 

Romans 10:17 - "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

 

God has chosen to use believers to get the Word of God out, to sow it in men's hearts:

 

Mark 4:15 - "And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts."

 

Once we have preached the Gospel to someone it is up to God to do what He wills with our seed sowing. Never-the-Iess, we are obligated to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers to water the seed that we sow and to pray to God to have mercy on the souls of men just as Moses interceded for Israel.

 

 

A WORD PICTURE OF THE NEW BIRTH

 

John 16:21 - "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world."

 

What a wonderful picture of the new birth! This passage in John 16 is ever so descriptive of being born from above. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, our souls become grieved over our sins to the point of not being able to bear the grief any more, comparable to a woman giving birth to a child, as the Word says. We then cry out to God to 'deliver' us and He graciously does, since it is by His grace that we are going through the birth pangs - being convicted of the depth of our sin. (Why else would we sin all our lives and then all of a sudden start caring about our sins, if not for God opening our eyes at this point?) Then, by God's grace, the burden of sin is lifted off of us and placed on Christ, just as a woman is relieved of her travail when her child is brought forth. Similarly, as a woman is joyful that a new life has entered the world, the new creature in Christ experiences the joy of their salvation for the very first time, as the burden of their sin rolls away.

 

Note that it is the woman going through childbirth that is a picture of a person being converted, and not the woman's child. There are many parallels here to the new birth of a Christian. I'm sure it is not uncommon for a woman to call upon God as the time of her delivery approaches, just as a sinner calls upon God to save him from the wrath to come. The birth of a child must be a time of great concern and fear for a woman because it can be a matter of life and death, for herself and for her child. Likewise, the birth of a believer is a time of great fear of the Lord, seeing how the Bible says, "the fear of the lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7). God causes us to have a holy and reverent fear of Him when He saves us. We see this in Isaiah chapter 6 where we read the prophet's description of what it is like to stand before a thrice-holy God:

 

Isaiah 6:5 - "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

 

When God saves a person, they are awakened to the fact that, without Christ's righteousness, they themselves as well as the people all around them, are spiritually unclean... morally filthy... their works are detestable... their thoughts loathesome:

 

Ezekiel 11:18-20 - "18 And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. 19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."

 

Notice again (as was mentioned above in the section "GOD FIRST OPENS A PERSON'S HEART") that it is God's will and not our own that brings about a conversion of the human heart.

 

 

WHY DOES GOD SAVE SOME PEOPLE AND NOT OTHERS?

 

This is a question that can best be answered by another question: "For who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" (1 Corinthians 2:16). We do know that whatever God does, it is for His own good pleasure:

 

Luke 12:32 - "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

 

Ephesians 1:5 - "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will"

 

Ephesians 1:9 - "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself"

 

Philippians 2: 13 - "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

 

If we look at Romans chapter 9, we will find one reason why God saves some and not others. It is a very sobering passage:

 

Romans 9:22 - "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory"

 

Is not God saying that He is showing the redeemed just how much a gift of grace they receive from Him? When we look at how hard-hearted and rebellious the unsaved around us are, we are reminded of our own sinfulness, especially before we became saved. We also get a striking picture of the depravity of man that serves as a testimony to how fair and just God is in the damnation of sinners. If not for the grace of God, no one would be saved.

 

 

WHY WOULD GOD SEND ANYONE TO HELL?

 

This is surely a sixty-four thousand dollar question. It of course relates to the paragraph above (Why does God save some people and not others), but it goes beyond that question to the real heart of the matter - the matter of man's heart:

Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

 

The heart of man is wicked and deceitful, and so he will never have a proper or perfect understanding of the justice and mercy of God. In his unsaved condition, he will always think that God is not fair with regards to the damnation of sinners. How can we tell God whom to love and whom to save? If you were king of a kingdom, and you were infinitely smarter and holier than any of your subjects, would you not think it presumptuous of any of them to tell you whom to love and whom to have mercy on?

 

To better understand the doctrine of predestination we must come to grips with the fact that God does not love everyone even though that may be what we were taught in Sunday school or in seminary. Not all popularly held beliefs in the Church are scriptural, as these verses point out:

 

Psalm 5:5 - "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity."

 

Psalm 11:5 - "The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth."

 

Believe it or not, a Christian cannot honestly go around saying to everyone indiscriminately "Jesus loves you." and "Jesus died for you." Nor can a Christian honestly state that "God loves the sinner but hates the sin". Before and until God saves a person, they are His enemy:

 

Romans 5:10 - "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

 

Why, you ask, would God create people that He hates? Certainly a 'fair' question, but I am not God and so I can not necessarily answer such a question to your satisfaction. However, I can tell you what God has said this about the subject:

 

Psalm 76:10 - "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."

 

God uses the wrath of man to glorify Himself. In spite of what anyone may think, God really is in control of this earth:

Proverbs 16:4 - "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. "

 

God will restrain evil when He sees fit and He will allow the wicked to commit evil to bring glory to Himself at some later date:

 

Psalm 2:1-4 - "1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."

 

The wicked and their demise are a testimony to the justice of God. We must remember, if God was to be fair, then He would cast every single human being who was ever born and who will ever be born, into Hell for all eternity. But, in His infinite mercy, He has gloriously decided to save some, to have a people for Himself, who will share in His glory for all eternity, through no merit of their own whatsoever. Thanks be to God, for saving a wretch like me!

 

 

WHY WOULD GOD TELL US TO RECEIVE  CHRIST IF WE CAN'T?

 

Why indeed, would the Bible say over and over that in order to become saved we must believe the Gospel, we must repent of our sins, we must receive Christ, we must do all sorts of things that we cannot possibly do as spiritually dead beings? The Bible is full of commands that no one is capable of obeying. Take just this one for instance:

 

Mark 12:30 - "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

 

Does that mean we are not responsible for obeying? Should God lower His standards and get rid of all His commandments and give us commandments that are easy to comply with? Should our nation get rid of its laws because so many people are having trouble abiding by them? Are not the people in prisons the ones who seem least able to keep the laws? Does that make it unfair to punish them for their crimes?

 

Admittedly, there are many scriptures that say we must believe in Christ to be saved. So how can we believe in Christ if we don't have a free will? Don't fret, God has given us the answer to that puzzling question:

 

Philippians 1:29 - "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake"

 

So being able to believe in Christ requires a work of God, as further stated here:

 

John 6:29 - "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."

 

John 6:65 - "And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

 

So we see that God is quite capable of doing what is impossible for man to do in and of himself:

 

Matthew 19:24-26 - "24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. "

 

 

UNSAVED MAN COOPERATING WITH GOD?

 

Have you ever witnessed to a Catholic, a Catholic apologist in particular? Do they not say that a person must cooperate with God's grace in order to maintain their works-based salvation. They consider this cooperation to be a lifelong process. In a similar fashion, free-will Baptists and others say that the will of God works with the will of man to effect a man's salvation. This idea is unscriptural. The Bible says that the will of God works AGAINST the will of man and vice versa:

 

Galatians 5:17 - "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."

 

To say anything else is to make man better than he is. He has a sin nature that is continually rebelling against his Creator as we quoted earlier:

 

Genesis 6:5 - "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the 25 earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

 

Look at what Paul said, and this after he was already saved:

 

Romans 7:18 - "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not."

 

Paul said "to will is present with me" because as a saved individual, the Spirit of God was in him, warring against the flesh, in which dwelleth no good thing. However, an unsaved individual does not have the Spirit of God and so that individual cannot cooperate with God.

 

As mentioned earlier, the Bible says that the unsaved man wants nothing to do with the will of God:

 

Proverbs 13:19 - "The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil."

 

 

WHERE DID THESE MODERN METHODS COME FROM?

 

Where did people get their modern-day ideas for presenting the Gospel? Certainly we can learn wrong doctrine when verses are taken out of context and combined with plausible explanations. When error is repeated often enough, it can easily become accepted as fact. Also, in the interest of seeing people saved, we can invent methods of evangelism that give us the results we are looking for - ­tangible evidence that our efforts are bearing fruit. The problem with this approach is that "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9) and so only God can give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7). Any attempt on our part to give the increase will yield false fruit or at the very least, fruit that is not ripe yet. This is not a numbers game where we can use psychology or other techniques to coax a decision out of people.

 

In addition, we are not doing God a favor by accepting Him. When did Jesus ever tell people to bow their heads and close their eyes, so that lost, Hell­ deserving sinners would not be afraid or embarrassed about raising their hands to 'accept' Him? In fact, did not Jesus say:

 

Mark 8:38 - "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

 

Did He not also preach repeatedly and strongly about Hell, saying:

 

Luke 13:3 - "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

 

His message is not a gospel molded to fit the comfort zone of the sinner. His Gospel is an ultimatum: "EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH", albeit an ultimatum that we cannot comply with until He enables us to. The modern methods put man in the driver's seat, believing that he can choose God anytime he wishes, just by raising his hand in church or by reciting a "sinner's prayer". Man is not the sovereign Lord of the universe nor is he even master of his own fate. God alone is Supreme, and anything that happens in this world of His is by His own choosing for His own glory.

 

Rather than asking people to raise their hands while nobody is looking, to 'accept' Christ as their Saviour in secret, as it were, would it not be more scriptural to just warn the lost as fervently as possible, to flee the terrible fury of the wrath of God. We cannot fail if we generously and prayerfully give out God's Word, avoiding words of men's wisdom. God's Word is powerful and will not return void. We should always urge people to come forward after a service is over to talk to elders or counselors about any concerns they may have regarding the condition of their soul and regarding the only way to escape the coming judgment. In this way, people who have questions can be more thoroughly instructed in the doctrine of salvation so that they do not get the impression that they are saved when they are not.

 

 

WHY PREACH IF SALVATION IS ALL UP TO GOD?

 

This is one of the main concerns about Calvinism of the free-will camp. They think that if all Christians were Calvinists, no one would share the Gospel. Not to worry. A good Calvinist knows his Bible. For instance, he knows what it says in Romans chapter 10:

 

Romans 10:14-15 - "14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

 

He also knows what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, James 5:20, 2 Timothy 4:5, Ezekiel 33:8, Hosea 8:1, 1 Corinthians 9:16, Luke 14:23 and elsewhere, about the need to preach the Gospel of grace. If we truly love the Lord we will be anxious to tell as many people as possible about Him and to warn them to flee the wrath to come, just as He himself did and just as He commanded us to do:

 

Mark 16:15 - "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

 

We will preach the Gospel even if we believe we had no 'free' will to choose to be saved, because we know that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13) and it is His good pleasure to use vessels of clay to preach the Gospel and to give those vessels the desire and ability to preach what God wants preached. This does not mean that we are mere puppets of God. What it means is that before God saves someone, they are slaves to sin (see John 8:34). When they become saved, they become servants of Christ and they receive power to do the will of God: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21).

 

 

SO WHAT IS A HYPER-CALVINIST?

 

Contrary to the claims of some free-will gospel promoters, a hyper-Calvinist is not the same as a Calvinist. A Calvinist believes that the doctrines of grace are the doctrines of the Bible. Also, a Calvinist understands His total inability to participate in raising himself to "newness of life" (Romans 6:4) and he also is grateful to God for having mercy on his soul, so he does his best out of thankfulness to God, of sharing the Gospel with those who are lost. Now a hyper-Calvinist is a selfish, slothful and disobedient person who uses the doctrine of election and predestination as an excuse not to share the Gospel, claiming that if God has predestined people to be saved, then there is no need for him to share the Gospel. In contrast, a Calvinist understands that if not for the grace of God, if not for the good pleasure of the Almighty, he too would still be a spiritual blind man wandering about in the darkness of this sin-cursed world, oblivious to the fact that he is running headlong into the eternal fires of Hell where the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever and they have no rest day or night (Revelation 14:11). I venture to say that a true hyper-­Calvinist has no real understanding of God's grace at all and so he is not a true blood-bought disciple of Christ. If he thinks he is, he had better examine himself promptly and carefully to see if he indeed is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).