Some of Calvin’s followers carried his belief even beyond what he believed.
The hyper-Calvinist position maintains that the matter of salvation is and must be all about God – that the whole nature of God is destroyed if man is not already programmed to receive Christ as Savior from the very beginning of his life. Otherwise, it cannot be true, that if man has anything to do with receiving Christ, then God’s plan is not all about God and nothing about man.
I find the conclusions of this group to be very suspect and flawed. I, too, am a student of the Bible.
(2) In the first place, the plan of salvation is all about God – God sent Christ to die for the sins of mankind. The hyper-Calvinists would probably agree up to this point. God Himself initiated the plan of salvation. Man had no role in making this plan. So those that God programmed from the very beginning to be saved must believe and accept the plan of God, according to the Calvinists. This assumes that man is a robot, a programmed person.
(3) However, man has a free will, given to him by God Himself. No one can show from Scripture or from observation of man in real life, that he does not have a free will. One person robs a bank or murders someone–another person does neither.
(4) Then I would ask the hyper-Calvinist this: prove to me that man has no free will. Perhaps they are saying that man could have a free will in his life, but does not have the free will to receive or to refuse salvation, offered by God.
Man cannot have a divided free will. He either has free will in his life or he doesn’t. So denying man’s free will negates their entire argument.
(5) Now we very much need to consider one of God’s attributes: foreknowledge, which means that God knows everything and all things in advance, before events occur. I can scarcely imagine that anyone with any knowledge of God whatsoever would dispute this attribute of God’s.
It is not wrong, nor inconceivable to try to apply each attribute of God to how He uses that attribute.
Since foreknowledge means that God knows everything about everyone from the very beginning, we must understand something that many have been confused about and have used to form the wrong conclusion. God’s foreknowledge and where this leads Him may be different from His desires concerning a man or a nation. Foreknowledge does not necessarily mean God’s approval.
Does anyone believe that God was pleased with the decision of Adam and Eve to disobey and eat of the fruit of that tree that God had warned them not to eat of? Did God program them to sin? God forbid!
Now to continue and to approach the matter of free will, we see the steps God took concerning all of mankind. First, God had foreknowledge of everything and everyone. Next, God made an election (or a calling), electing those who would come to Him and be saved, the manner of His salvation offer by and through Jesus Christ. And God elected to absolutely fulfill the destiny that God had for them. Look at Romans 8:28-30. (verse 28)
“And we know that all things work together for God to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (verse 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.” (verse 30) “Moreover, whom He did predestinate them He also called: and whom He called He also justified, and who He justified, then he also glorified.”
There is nothing in Scripture that definitely states that those God foreknew that would accept Christ would have a future based upon their acceptance of God’s salvation. But one would also be led to believe that those choosing Christ of their own free will would also be those selected and called to full salvation, and predestinated to go to heaven, in accordance with their free will choice.
Predestination means that God will, without fail, carry those He has elected (or called) to heaven as their final home.
So we have God’s foreknowledge, His called (elected) ones, also justified and guaranteed to reach the promised destination or end. This agrees with the free will of man, which God gave to him. Free will cannot be denied. Free will does not fit with man’s being a robot, or a programmed person. If you don’t believe this, explain Romans 10:9-13 (the choice about Jesus that all must make – belief or unbelief).
(6) I believe that our hyper-Calvinistic friends might agree with the Scripture verse which says: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
I believe they would, but here is the hang-up. They believe that man cannot, of his own free will, receive Christ as Savior (because they say that man has no free will at all). I am saying there is no such thing as divided free will. It can never be shown or proven by Scripture or in earthly life.
(7) Now we come to choices. The Bible shows that throughout man’s experiences on earth, he is continually faced with choices. The first and foremost of these choices is whether to obey or disobey God–in anything. I am talking about salvation and any other choice in life. Did not Adam and Eve have a choice to obey or to disobey? How about Cain? How about Moses? How about the Apostle Paul? Peter? Barnabus? Timothy? Onesimus, etc?
Look at Romans 4:1-4, especially verse 3,
“For what sayeth the Scripture? Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Now this incident came before the Ten Commandments (The Law) were given, and also before Christ came to earth to teach, suffer and die for man’s sins. Did Abraham have a choice to believe God and act upon that belief, or not? Don’t dare try to tell me that the Bible is not full of choices for man–it is simply not so.
(8) Now explain this to me, also. What was the purpose of the extensive animal sacrifices throughout the period of time before Christ came to earth? Speaking of man…do you mean that man had no choices to make about salvation, since God had already determined which group of people would receive Christ? If all of this had been previously determined by God, what purpose did the extensive sacrifices serve?
(9) Now let’s go further than this. Why send Christ to earth to teach, to suffer, to die the death of a criminal, the death of a cursed person, if God had already decided who would be saved and who would be lost, not based upon man’s free will, but upon God’s decision of justice. I will admit that God would have the right to do this–to put His justice ahead of every other attribute He (God) had. but it seems to this humble writer that God would not have needed to send Christ to earth at all. If Christ’s coming to earth had nothing to do with man’s freedom of choice, then what was God’s purpose in sending Christ at all?
(10) Now, onward we go. What other attributes besides justice does God have and how are they used in the Bible? Let’s look at love, mercy and grace.
It is obvious that God has love, or nobody would be alive on the earth. A person who is saved (no matter in what manner he was saved)–is not a perfect person. God’s saved and grateful people will tell you that. We who are saved are not perfect…just forgiven.
You can certainly agree or disagree with me about God’s love–but as we look at John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world…” and as we look at Romans 5:8: “But God commended (showed) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…”
we see that these verses certainly show and announce love, regardless of God’s motives in sending Christ to earth.
Now love, God’s love, would have to be His reason for mercy and grace. Disagree if you wish, but mercy and grace absolutely have to do with Christ’s great sacrifice.
Mercy is defined as God’s decision to withhold from us the justice we deserve as sinners, as those falling short of God’s perfection. (His failing to give us what we deserve.)
Grace is defined as God’s decision not to punish us for our sinfulness (giving us what we don’t deserve).
Mercy and grace tell of the same thing in a different way. (The two verses I have stated in point #10.)
God withholds from us the punishment we deserve and fails to punish us for what we obviously deserve.
(11) Now, again, going onward. Our dear friends, over-burdened by hyper-Calvinism, are confused about gifts. We should all know what a gift is. Now there is a completed gift and a potential gift.
I believe I am correct in this: a gift is a gift is a gift. A thing offered as a gift is still a gift, even if it is not received. It remains a potential gift, offered with the same love from the giver, whether received or not. Now, if the gift is received, it can fulfill its intention. We cannot really cheapen the gift if it is offered and not received (accepted).
Now, the gift of salvation is from God the Father, by and through Jesus Christ, the Son, who is also God (John1:1-3) and the gift is Christ Himself.
(12) Now, to finish my presentation…God’s glory. He created the heavens and the earth, and also man. I will admit, that God, viewing His handiwork could realize some satisfaction and glory from His creation of the heavens and the earth.
But the real glory must come from His creation of man. How can God receive any glory from a disobedient man or woman? NO. He gets glory from man’s obedience and this obedience begins and ends with: “Christ in you, the hope of glory”!!
And obedience comes with the exercise of free will.
-Composed by Bill Figley (May,2015)
Professional Musician, Student of Government
and Politics, Navy Veteran W.W.II