Arminian Today

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God’s Sovereign Choice

“You Arminians deny the sovereignty of God and you want all the credit for your salvation.  You want man to play his part so that God doesn’t get all the glory.”

These are common arguments that some Calvinists use when arguing for unconditional election.  Calvinists argue that only in Calvinism is God truly glorified in the saving of sinners.  How is this so?  The Calvinist argues that God saves sinners based on His own divine choice.  God is purely arbitrary in His choosing.  He doesn’t acknowledge anything in man nor is His choice based on their faith.  The choosing of God is based only on His own choice.  If asked why God chooses to save so few or why He chooses to save even the Calvinist themselves, the Calvinist will likely answer, “Deuteronomy 29:29.”

But what if God placed His election upon a condition?  What if God said that He would save those who believe?  Does not God have the sovereign right to say how He would save?  And furthermore, how does this rob God of His glory if in fact it is God Himself who has said in His Word that He would save people who meet His conditions?  Is God still not gracious in His giving of salvation that is so rich and free?

The Bible is clear that God saves those who believe.  See John 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14; 5:24, 40; 6:47; 6:50-58; 20:31; Romans 3:21-30; 4:3-5; 4:9, 11, 13, 16; 4:20-24; 5:1, 2; 9:30-33; 10:4; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 15:1-2; Galatians 2:15-16; 3:2-9; 3:11; 3:14, 22, 24; 3:26-28; Ephesians 1:13; 2:8; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 3:18-19; 4:2-3; 6:12; 1 John 2:23-25; 5:10-13, 20.  Hebrews 11:6 is clear that without faith is impossible to please God and the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  Faith is the condition that God places upon salvation.  Faith opens the door for our eternal salvation.  The work of salvation is gracious and without the aid of the Holy Spirit none could be saved (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:14).  The Spirit is the one who regenerates the sinner who believes (Titus 3:5-7).  The work of salvation is the grace of God (Romans 11:6).

Romans 5:1 tells us that we are justified through faith.  Notice we are not justified unto faith.  We are justified by faith.  Romans 4 is clear that faith is not a work that obtains salvation for in Romans 4 Paul the Apostle contrasts faith with works.  James 2:14-26 shows us that saving faith works.

God’s sovereign choice is that He will save those who believe.  This is for all people.  Jesus came to shed His blood for all (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2) but only those who appropriate His saving work by faith are redeemed (1 Timothy 4:10).  Those who reject the Son will not see life (John 3:18).  Jesus alone is the one mediator for all men before God (1 Timothy 2:5-6) because the will of God is for none to perish but for all to reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  God is clear in Ezekiel 18:32 that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but how can this be if in fact God has already chosen even before a person sins?

The wonderful truth of the gospel is that God will save sinners who come to Him through faith in His Son (John 6:47).  Peter preached in Acts 2:21 that everyone (all) who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  This promise is for all (Acts 2:38-39).  Romans 10:13 reminds us the same: that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  God is the gracious one that saves sinners.  God is the one that we point to, that we preach, that we exalt for sinners to come to faith and be saved.

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  1. With some views of God’s sovereignty, I have to wonder whether God Himself can make free will choices. It seems like He never had the freedom to choose to make His gift of salvation conditional.

    Is God unable to obtain His desired outcome without personally manipulating even the smallest aspect of His creation? What if His desired outcome was for a WILLING people, where individuals have been given a genuine choice to turn to Him or not? Would God’s sovereignty allow Him to choose a way that would give Him that outcome?

    Or is God a victim of his own sovereignty? [As defined by Calvinism}


    11/18/2014 at 6:16 PM

  2. It is rather amusing (as well as irritating) how strict or high Calvinists often seek to short-circuit the debate concerning God’s sovereignty, intentionally or unwittingly. If one maintains that God cannot be truly sovereign apart from exhaustively determining all things (as Calvinists often seem to do), then it may be rightly said that Arminians deny that God is sovereign. Upon a moment’s reflection, however, it should be evident that this reasoning is fallacious. The dispute between Calvinists and Arminians is not whether God is sovereign, but in what way(s) God himself has decided to exercise his sovereignty. Arminians maintain that God elected to create a world wherein his creatures are allowed a limited degree of indeterministic (contra-causal, incompatibilistic) freedom.

    Besides this, accountability for sin and the very concept of sin itself (i.e., disobedience to God and his law, lawlessness) do not bode well with exhaustive divine foreordination. Unconditional reprobation does not sit well alongside the Scripture’s declarations concerning God’s justice, goodness, and love. Also, I fail to see how God’s holiness could allow for him to everlastingly damn creatures whom he himself ordained to persistence in sin, unrepentance, and unbelief.

    J.D. Gallé

    11/21/2014 at 2:18 PM

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