Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Why Did God Choose Me?

The differences between Arminianism and Calvinism over the issue of the doctrine of election are revealed when we seek to answer the question, “Why did God choose me?”

The Calvinist answer is that God chooses people purely based on His arbitrary choice.  God does not choose people because He loves them or because of faith in Christ but based purely on God’s sovereign choice.  Calvinist theologian Sam Storms writes:

To say that God is impartial means that he is not moved or motivated by human characteristics such as race or gender or color of hair or socio-economic achievements. When God set his electing love on some but not all, he was not influenced by wealth or power or beauty or education or skill or potential or any other human consideration. God favored the elect, God was partial toward them, because that is what he wanted to do. He was not obligated by anything in any person to show favor to anyone. If God grants preferential treatment to his elect it is solely because it pleases him to do so, and not because the elect distinguished themselves from the non-elect by fulfilling some condition, either spiritual or physical.

Arbitrary in His choosing.  God’s choosing is based purely on His sovereign right to choose.  It is not based on the person at all.  God does not treat the person as a person but a part of His plan.

John MacArthur defines unconditional election as follows:

It is the doctrine taught by Scripture throughout Scripture that God sovereignly, independently, uninfluenced by any other person chooses who will be saved and that that choice was made by God before time began, before the world was created in eternity past and that He is in response to that choice redeeming His chosen people through human history until finally they are all together redeemed and gathered into His presence forever.

Notice again that election among Calvinists is purely arbitrary.  It is based on God’s sovereignty alone.  Humans play no role in the Calvinistic understanding of election.

Yet I will be fair here that MacArthur (and most Calvinists) deny double predestination despite the fact that Calvin taught it from Romans 9:22-23.  MacArthur is clear that he holds that God merely endures the non-elect while not making them that way.  However, if the sovereignty of God is to be maintained (as taught by Calvinists) then MacArthur must ignore the role that God’s sovereignty would play upon the non-elect.  They are non-elect because God will it so and this is a fundamental point of disagreement from us Arminians.

The Arminian answer to the question of “Why did God chose me” is based on the Christ-centered approach to Scripture.  God chose me because of Christ (Ephesians 1:4-13).  Scripture reveals that the heart of God is fully revealed in His Son (John 1:14).  Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and Jesus was fully God and fully man (John 1:1).  Jesus is the heart of Scripture (John 20:31).  All of Scripture testifies about Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27).  Jesus is the very center of Scripture and we must view all things through Him and His saving work.

In light of the cross, election would then be based on the work of Jesus.  Those who embrace the cross become the children of God, the elect of God found in Christ (1 Timothy 4:10).  Jesus is the elect one and we are elect if we are in Him through faith (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  Jesus shed His blood for all men (Matthew 26:28) and His blood alone is able to cleans sinners from their sins (Ephesians 1:7).  Only those who appropriate the work of Christ are the elect of God (Romans 5:17).  Only those who trust in Christ alone are saved (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  God foreknows the elect (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2) because He is God and He knows all things but He does not make people believe but people believe out of their own freed will (John 6:44).  In Romans 9 Paul clearly shows that those who have faith in Jesus are saved and the Jews are lost because of their rejection of Christ and His saving work (Romans 9:30-31).  God’s heart is now to have mercy on all and not merely Israel (Romans 11:32).

Thus election in Arminianism is not arbitrary but is based on love.  I know that Calvinists claim that their teaching on election is also based on love but one cannot ignore the sovereign arbitrary choosing of God that, according to both Storms and MacArthur above, is based on God alone.  God, in Calvinism, then chooses people purely because He wants to and not because of Christ, faith, or even love.  It is His glory alone that God chooses people in Calvinism and hell exists because of God’s glory.

The fact that God treats people as people made in His image is a strong point for us Arminians.  Despite mankind’s sinfulness, God still reaches out to men and He still interacts with men based on love and God speaks to people in the Bible as people.  Even MacArthur acknowledges this.  He preached:

I think we preach whosoever will may come. I think we preach Isaiah 55, everyone that thirsts, come, come. Jesus says, “Why will you die? Why won’t you come?” Jesus weeps, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you, you that kill the prophets and stone those that are sent to you, how often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her brood, but you would not and now your house is left to you desolate.” Jesus pleading, Jesus weeping. Jeremiah 13, God weeps in Jeremiah 13, shedding tears over Israel’s apostasy and unbelief and disobedience and defection from the truth. And the heart of God is broken and the prophet says God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. So I…I see clearly that the Bible holds the sinner responsible. The Bible calls the sinner to repent and believe the truth.

And I agree.  God deals with people as people.  He calls them to repent. He calls them to turn.  He calls them to be saved.  The call of Acts 2:39 is that all can come.

The bottom line is that the Calvinist is hard pressed to define election apart from God’s arbitrary choice.  The Arminian position is that God deals with people on a personal level based on the work of Christ.  Election then in Arminianism is Christ-centered with Christ receiving the glory, worship, and honor for saving sinners.  His blood was not shed in vain as the gospel goes forth (Romans 1:16-17).

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