Calvinistic Criticism Refuted

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The teachings of Calvinism have pervaded many Christian churches today. They use Scripture to establish their beliefs and at times may seem ever so convincing. Yet, we must look at the context and compare other Scriptures to come to Biblically sound conclusions.
Calvinists at times blame us for ignoring the Scriptures that they claim to teach that salvation is entirely of God. Naturally, we do not believe that this accusation is just. In the first place, the Bible does not teach that the salvation experience is entirely of God without the necessity of any response or responsibility on the part of man. The terms "not of works" (Eph 2:9) and "not by works of righteousness which we have done" (Tit 3:5) are often quoted as proof that salvation is unconditional. By using the immediate context and related references, it becomes clear that "not of works" or "not by works of righteousness which we have done" etc. refers to three possible things. 1. To the works of the law (Gal 2:16, 5:4, etc.) 2. The provisional works of Christ which no man was worthy or able to do (Rom 10:6-10, Eph 2:8-10). 3. To the supernatural work of regeneration (Titus 3:5). We never give birth to ourselves physically or spiritually. The proper understanding of John 1:12 is simply that the new birth cannot be accomplished by any human bloodline, by any will of the flesh, nor by the will of man. It embodies the miraculous. The miracle aspect of our new birth belongs altogether to God.
Some time ago, the writer received a letter of criticism from one who believes that salvation is unconditionally effected and unconditionally eternal for those whom God wills to save. He accuses us of avoiding or ignoring certain Scriptures in our defense of conditional and Lordship salvation. He cited the following four references as examples.
1. “No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him” (John 6:44).
2. “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom 9:16).
3. “Hath not the potter power over the clay . . . to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?” (Rom 9:21)
4. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest” (Rom 3:21).
Now we may not understand fully all that may be embodied in these verses. However, we do not or will not intentionally ignore these or any other verses anywhere in the Bible. To be properly interpreted and understood, the above scriptures must be looked at in the light of their context and Scriptures elsewhere related to the subject. To illustrate: Christ's declaration in John 6:44 that "no man can come unto me except the Father draw him," must be compared with John 12:32,33 in which He promised, "If I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me." After Jesus was lifted up on the cross, was lifted up from the grave, and was lifted up far above all heavens" He fulfilled His promise on the day of Pentecost when He poured out His Holy Spirit on all flesh. The Spirit then began Its work of reproving "the World of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." Since Pentecost, the drawing power of God is universal. The "all flesh" means no one is excluded. Whether man responds correctly is his responsibility and choice.
“Not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth" is said in connection with God loving Jacob and hating Esau. God foreknew Jacob would be a man of vows, a man of the altar (Abel's way), a man who would choose to honor the God of his fathers and would be the kind of man He needed to head the nation that was to represent Him in the World. God also foreknew Esau would be a here-and-now, profane, immoral man. When it came to passing the God-promised blessing of Abraham and Isaac on to the next generation, Isaac in his human weakness willed to have that blessing passed on to Esau and Esau also willed to have it and probably ran for the venison his father requested for the occasion. But the blessing was not of Isaac who willed to give it to Esau nor of Esau who ran for the venison to get it. God's purpose to have that blessing go to the brother who chose to serve the God of his fathers could not be frustrated by the purpose or will of man.
The potter having power to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor (Rom 9:21,22) is said in relation to the nation of Israel and must be understood in the light of Jer 18:1-11. In this passage, God first declared His intentions to do with Israel what the potter does with vessels that are sometimes marred and remade in His hands. God made it clear that the marring and/or remaking of the nation was conditioned on their recognition of Him or their obedience to Him. Note how the "ifs" are used in this passage. Romans 9:29 clearly states that they were fitted for destruction after God endured them with much longsuffering and Romans 10:31 indicates that it was after He had in mercy stretched forth His hand all day long “to a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
When Israel was obedient to God, He made them a vessel unto honor, known as such throughout the whole world. When they persistently disobeyed God in spite of all His pleadings and warnings, He made them a marred vessel. If and when they return again unto Him, He will again make them a vessel unto honor. Lev 26 outlines Israel's history in advance of their being made, marred and remade based on a little word with immense significance - "IF."
What applies to Israel as a nation applies to individuals. We are made, marred and/or remade conditioned on certain "ifs" of the Bible. "If" is used more than 1500 times in the Bible.
"The righteousness of God without the law" (Rom 3:21) does not mean that we are righteous without the law of holiness. In the dispensation of grace, we are to follow "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb 12:14) and "he that doeth righteousness is righteous" (I John 3:7). Romans 8:1–4 says that the righteousness of the law is to be "fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh." For Old Testament saints, obedience to the ceremonial law, along with faith and a sincere heart toward God, constituted a way of righteousness for them (Luke 1:6). They were good, acceptable works for the time then present. However, since they typified and pointed forward to Christ's work of redemption on earth, and Christ was the fulfillment of all those ceremonial works; to practice them today as an expression of holiness would be a denial of Christ having fulfilled them and would constitute a falling from grace (Gal 5:1–4). Christ blotted out the handwriting of those ordinances, but He did not blot out the necessity of New Testament ordinances. In fact, to be kept from the delusions of the devil we are warned to "stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught" (2Th 2:11–15).
Unconditional salvation and eternal security advocates sometimes refer to Adam as an example of salvation being totally of God without any necessary response from man. The Bible does not say that Adam was saved alone by God’s pursuing and calling him.
Adam was, without any doubt whatsoever, a "once saved" man when God made him in His own image and likeness. When he disobeyed, he became unsaved. God's pursuing and calling Adam did not constitute his salvation or restoration of fellowship but simply proved to Adam that he could not sin without God knowing it and without having to suffer the consequence of his sin. The biblical record closes with Adam being a spiritually dead, lost sinner driven from the presence and fellowship of God.
We believe Adam was finally saved, but if he was re-accepted by God, who had driven him from His presence, it was only because he chose to come to God and be accepted the same way Abel came and was accepted. There is no other way.
God following and calling Adam, and then providing a way for his acceptance again was typical of Jesus coming into the world to seek and to save that which was lost and provide a way for our acceptance with Him at the cross where His heel was bruised.
We do not knowingly or intentionally ignore any Scriptures. We believe all things that are written in the law and the prophets and in the gospels and epistles. We would encourage everyone to do the same instead of following the Augustinian, Calvinistic fractional gospel emphasis which normally and ultimately leads to irresponsible attitudes toward God and His holy commandments delivered unto us. “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Heb 5:9).