by Michael Bremmer

Michael Bremmer

(1) If God does not unconditionally elect His own, then why do Christians pray for a love one's salvation? If the sole determining factor in one's salvation is that he or she chooses to believe, then why pray? Will not God say, "I really would like to help but it is up to the individual whether they will be saved." "But God," the believer cries, "Can you help them believe, even just a little bit?" To which the Lord replies, "I could, and in fact I could out right cause them to believe, but you know if I did that for the one whom you love so dearly I must do it for all; you know I must be fair!" Ridiculous you say? Then why pray? We pray because in the theology of the heart all Christians are Calvinists.

C. H. Spurgeon, in his characteristically humorous manner, writes: "An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free-will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying, 'Lord, I thank Thee I am not like those poor Calvinist. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody has 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 Spirit 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. That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah! When they are preaching and talking slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it." (Freewill-- A Slave).

(2) The doctrine of unconditional election is subjected to the same objections as Paul's teaching on election in Rom. 9. If the apostle Paul is teaching something other than the unconditional election of sinners unto salvation, then those who listened to his teaching would not have objected that his view of election was unjust. Would anyone object, for instance, to the doctrine of election if all that Paul meant is that God elected the Church? Or that God elected nations to particular blessings? Not likely. Would anyone honestly object if what Paul is saying in Rom. 9 is that God elected those whom He foresaw would believe and persevere? Certainly not! We like these views of election!

Paul's listeners objected to his teaching for the same reason people still do today; because Paul is saying that God has chosen some and excluded the rest by an act of His sovereign choice. They object because God's choice is not based on any merit whatsoever in the one whom He chooses. It is only to this teaching - taught by Paul, Christ, and Calvinists - that any can object, "What shall we say then, is there no injustice with God?" (vs. 14), and, "Why does He still find fault? For who resist His will" (vs. 19). If our understanding of predestination does not lead to the same objections used against the apostle Paul, then our understanding of predestination is wrong. Notice carefully that the apostle Paul does not say to his objectors, "Oh, no! I did mean that God sovereignly chooses whom He wills! Goodness gracious, that wouldn't be very fair. No, what I meant to say was God looked through eternity and picked out all those He saw would be worthy of His gift, and choose them." Rather, Paul answers his objectors by saying, "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why have you made me like this,' will he? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use" (vs. 20-21).

The objections raised against the apostle's teaching are the death blows to Arminianism. For the Arminian goes to great lengths to prove that there is nothing objectionable in how God treats His creature. For example, the Arminian says God gives sufficient grace to all, enabling all to repent and believe if they choose. Who can object to this? Yet they did object to Paul's teaching.

Nevertheless, the FLSB on Rom. 9 comments: "This verse does not mean that Jacob and his descendants were elected to eternal salvation while Esau and his descendants were elected to eternal damnation. Rather, it was an election of Jacob's descendants to be the channel of God's revelation and blessing to the world." Now imagine, if you can, someone standing up and objecting saying, "Then why does He still find fault, for who resist His will?"

The FLSB goes on to say: "Observe that according to ch. 9-11, the majority of Jacob's descendants failed to carry out their calling and thus were finally rejected by God. Furthermore, those who were not 'loved' (i.e., the Gentiles) obeyed God through faith and became 'children of the living God' (vv.25-26). Again we ask, Who could object to this? Yet those listening to Paul did object to his teaching!

The notes for verse 15 go on to say: "This verse emphasizes the freedom of God's mercy. His overflowing active compassion cannot be earned or controlled by humans, (vs. 16). He has willed to have mercy on all." And verse 18: "God intends to show mercy upon those who repent and believe on Jesus as Lord and Savior, while hardening all those who refuse to repent and choose to continue in their sins, thereby rejecting salvation in Christ. This purpose of God does not change for any person or nation." Will this view of election summon the same objection as with Paul's teaching? Will there be someone who will object to the Arminian view by saying: "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" Not very likely! Man by nature loves the Arminian view! The Arminian must show there is no objection in the way God treats His creatures. They are, therefore at a loss when it comes to verse 19. This is especially true when we consider one of the general Arminian principles, one that governs much of what they say and how they interpret Scripture. The principle is that whatever may be one's providentially ordained outward privileged, everyone has a real and true means and opportunity--which when approved upon will lead to more grace. Within the Arminian scheme, there is no objection about the injustice of God. By this, one can only assume that the Apostle Paul was not Arminian.

(3) If one rightly understands the biblical doctrine of the depravity of humanity, the question must be asked, Who then can be saved? If, as the Scriptures teach, and the WCF affirms, that "Man, by his fall and state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or prepare thereunto" (6.3), how can anyone be saved? Some, honest enough to see this problem, outright denied the doctrine of the depravity of humanity. Others, not wishing to deny the doctrine of depravity, have invented the idea of prevenient grace. According to this view, God gives this special grace to all people, and it erases the effects of the fall. This enables one to exercise their freewill and choose to believe or reject the gospel. Obviously, this teaching is essential to Arminian theology.

Lets set aside for the moment the fact that there is no Scriptural proof at all for the doctrine of prevenient grace and assume that this prevenient grace is in fact true; and the Holy Spirit does this preparatory work on all people, enabling all, equally, to repent and believe the gospel. Why then do all not repent and believe? Why do some reject the gospel? Why is it, when two people sitting side by side hearing the same gospel message, one repents and believes while the other rejects and scoffs at the very idea?

If the answer is, "Because one, of his own freewill, chose to believe, while the other chose not to believe," we would restate the question, " But why did one of his own freewill chose to believe, while the other did not? This is the heart of the matter between our Arminian brothers and Calvinists. Do some believe because they are more intelligent? Or more gullible? Do some believe because they have a propensity toward things of a religious nature? Maybe because of their upbringing? Do some believe or not believe because of the way the gospel was presented?

The assertion that one believes, while another does not, is because one simply chooses to do so--and this is the only reason-- displays great ignorance. As stated before, choices are not made in a vacuum. There is a myriad of internal and external factors shaping how we think and the choices we make. The will is not some freeborn sovereign entity, able to exercise itself despite any external and internal factors. So if the Holy Spirit does this prevenient work on all, then these external and internal factors will be what influences the choice made, whether to believe or to reject the gospel.

However, since it is our Sovereign God who ordains all external and internal factors of our lives, which are part of and determine the decisions we make, in the final analysis, nothing is accomplished by denying the biblical doctrine of unconditional election. Either way, it remains God's choice, as the apostle Paul said: "And what do you have that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4.7). Therefore, Calvinists reject the Arminian teaching of special grace since it is not found in the Scriptures (in fact Scripture states just the opposite in Rom. 9.15-16) and ultimately, it does not solve anything for the Arminian since it raises more problems than it legitimately answers.

(4) "If God foreordains by His eternal purpose all things that come to pass, and if among the things that come to pass are the salvation of some men and the loss of others, then it follows with inevitable logic that He foreordains both of these things." (J. Machen, The Christian View of Man, P.57).

(5) Lastly, the doctrine of unconditional election is not a doctrine one would be inclined to invent. What one would be incline to invent are those arguments advanced against the doctrine of unconditional election. The doctrine of unconditional election is divine revealed truth, plainly and clearly set forth in the Word of God.

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