Calvinists Say They Believe In Choice
Quote from a Calvinist:
"I see every person as having a choice and leave the election part of it to God."
While I respect my Calvinist friend's statement I must reject the logic within that statement.
Calvinists believe that sinners have a choice when it comes to responding to the gospel but that sinners are incapable of responding in a positive manner causing them to always choose sin rather than salvation. Therefore, God elects (or chooses) some to salvation while leaving others to die in their sins.
Is that really a choice? I say, No. For to have a choice one must truly be able to respond to the gospel in either direction: positively or negatively.
I agree with my good Calvinist friend(s) that man does have a choice in the matter of salvation and that God only elects some to salvation. I don't, however, agree with their premise that God elects unconditionally (i.e., for reasons only God Himself knows) or that man will always choose sin over salvation. God elects or chooses for salvation those who will put their faith/belief in Him through Christ Jesus. (John 1:12-13; 3:15)
The Calvinist's whole system of soteriology (TULIP) is predicated upon man's so-called inability to respond to the gospel because man is "dead in trespasses and sin," man is a "slave to sin" and man is "under the rule of Satan." While these conditions plaguing mankind are true they do not render him incapable of responding to the gospel because God has graced us with that ability and He is drawing mankind to Himself.
This death that Paul speaks of is a spiritual death. (Romans 5:12) The only action mankind is rendered incapable of is a relationship with God. God says that those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24) Man cannot truly worship God unless his spirit is made alive through Christ. (John 3:3)
Man's heart (i.e., intellect/mind, will and emotions) is not dead and is not incapable of understanding his need for a Savior. That is why we have the law. The law was never meant to save mankind, rather it was meant to point man to his need of a Savior (Jesus/God come in the flesh) by showing man he was guilty of sin and destined to hell for breaking God's law. If man breaks even one law he is guilty of breaking all the law. (James 2:10) Jesus paid the penalty for man's sin. (I John 2:2) The gospel is offered to all of mankind and man must accept that offer of salvation by placing his faith/belief in Christ Jesus. That is not to say that man's heart will always be receptive to the gospel. We know that pride and the love of self are ultimately the cause of a man's heart becoming hardened toward God (along with other complex factors), but only God knows how a man's heart becomes SO hardened that he will not receive the gospel. (God also hardens a man's heart, but man first hardens his own heart.)
I agree with my Calvinist friends that man does not have the power in and of himself to be freed from Satan and sin. That power can only come from God through Jesus once man places his faith/belief in Jesus. (John 1:12)
Words and phrases in the bible like: believe, trust, seek, repent, reason, persuade(d), convince(d), study, search, will not, would not, whosoever (will), anyone, etc., not only imply ability, but they also refute the idea of 100% irresistiblity and the idea that man cannot respond positively to the gospel.
Also, scriptures like the one below show me that a man dead in his sins is capable of responding to the gospel. I don't believe God would try to persuade men who are dead in their sin to receive the gospel if they were incapable of doing so. Surely this attempt at persuasion isn't pure rhetoric? (The entire bible is full of such accounts of persuasion.)
John 10:37-39 "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."
If it is true that "dead" means "incapable," a person who's spirit has been made to come to life by Christ would be "incapable" of committing sin since he is now "dead to sin." (Romans 6:2, 11-14; Colossians 3:3; I Peter 2:24) And we know that Christians are quite capable of sinning.
As an aside: I have to wonder if the word "elect" is what trips up some to believe that it means anything other than "chosen." The words "chosen" and "elect" are synonymous just as Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost are one and the same. Who does God choose (elect) for salvation? Those who believe.