This Christian Journey:
Concerning Calvinism and
A Christian form
sent me the following question and my response follows.
I forward it to you because I believe many struggle with this same issue.
Your responses are always welcome.
Dear Brother Walter,
Thank you for your gracious response. I did go through your
website and read a little on 'Predestination'. And I was glad that you did not
incline to either Calvinism or Armininism. I too have found that Calvinism does
not hold the truth of Scripture and is detrimental to the full functioning of
the Body of Christ. I praise God for your very balanced view on this issue.
However, I have been, of late, wondering about the fact of
man's inability to repent. I understand that you do believe that man, of
himself, cannot repent and turn to
Christ. In a sense, I do agree that, if it were not for the Lord's mercy and
grace towards me, I would not have repented and turned to Christ. The Lord did
grant me repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
You mention in your Doctrinal Statement - "Man's basic nature
is so fallen he cannot repent by himself but must accept God's enablement with
sincerity of heart."
Now if this is true then why did our Lord Jesus, and the
apostles also, call upon people to 'repent'. If man cannot of himself repent,
i.e., change his mind about God and His Word, His view of himself and sin, etc.,
then why ever give out such a call. If only God can help people repent then it
would be more right to ask God to grant repentance than ask people to repent.
But probably, in all of this what we all really mean to say is - We ask people
to repent, and although they really can't do so without the help of the Spirit
of God working in their hearts, if they AT LEAST HAVE THE DESIRE TO DO SO, the
Lord helps them in doing so. Is this really what we all mean to conclude or is
there some thing else to this whole issue? Besides, throughout the Old
Testament, the children of Israel
were asked to 'choose' to follow God and choose His Word. Could they choose or
couldn't they unless the Spirit of God helped them? The Lord Jesus also clearly
mentioned that He often wished to gather the children of Israel under His wings ... but they
'wouldn't' - they did not want to come to Him. They were unwilling to come and
therefore chose not to come. Was our Lord wrong in putting the 'blame' on them
for not coming. Surely, He alone could have known the whole truth that, if this
were true, they would not be able to come to Him on their own.
And yet He 'blames' them for not coming. Is God unjust or unfair? Far be
it from us to entertain such a thought! Are people merely puppets under the
total and complete control of a God who determines who should turn to Him in
repentance and who shouldn't and then 'blame' those who didn't turn to Him and
actually punish them for not turning to Him?
For myself, I believe, that man is totally responsible for all
of his actions and decisions. Therefore he deserves to be punished and is
answerable for his actions. He needs to be told to repent since Christ and all
of His apostles urged people to repent and turn to God, yes and even 'commands'
repentance. However, when a sinner repents and turns to God, he should
acknowledge and realize that it was not his efforts or act of repentance or even
the act of turning to God that he is forgiven, saved, etc. but by the Grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ alone that he is in Christ.
In conclusion, all I can say is that the Bible teaches both
sides of the picture. In John chapter 6 our Lord Jesus clearly affirmed that no
one could come to Him unless the Father draws him to Him. At the same time the
Lord also affirmed that He will in wise refuse or turn away anyone who comes to
Him. So people are responsible to come to Him. How both these truths are to be
fully understood or reconciled - I leave it to the Lord. The very fact that both
these truths are taught in scripture, to me is clear proof that they are already
reconciled. They are truths, not for us to debate about or explain with logic,
but to accept in faith that the God of all the earth cannot do that which is
unjust. Praise be to His everlasting Name for evermore.
Dear Brother, I am only thinking out aloud and not in any way
trying to argue out my point, nor do I wish to enter into debates. Nor am I
trying to imply that you or your website is inviting arguments. I am much
younger than yourself. Besides, I have always been eager to learn from brethren
far more spiritual and matured than myself, such as you clear are. I trust the
Lord will make all things plain to me as well.
In Christ, an inquiring Christian.
Dear Brother in Christ,
I fully understand the discourse you have written and the
struggle we have in trying to fully understand the Word of God and all that it
I believe that every human being is fully responsible for
their choices and must either choose to accept or reject our Lord Jesus Christ
and His precious gift of eternal life.
I also fully realize that in order for us to repent we must first hear
the revealed Word of God (Rom 10.17), have our heart tuned and turned by the
Word of God, and willingly submit to the action of God's Word within us.
I fully believe that it is not God's will that any human being
should perish and thus God is inviting all of humanity to respond to His
gracious invitation to be saved. I
also believe that repentance is two fold; it is a human choice, but it is also
the super natural act of God. These
both work in harmony to work out the wonder of the new birth within us.
As we hear God's initiation, or Jesus knocking at the door of our heart
(God's Part in Christ – Rev 3.20), realize the reality and implications of His
initiation (The Holy Spirit's Part in awakening or illumination – 1 Cor 2.9-16),
respond to the God's invitation (Our human part – Rom 10.9-10,13), we experience
a super natural transformation (The Father's part in our New Birth – Rom 12.1-2;
John 3.3). So that in our
repentance and redemption there is the harmonious work of God and our human will
all at the same time. God does not
and will not ever force our decision, but He certainly stands ready to respond
to any sincere decision or hearth felt response.
In no way do I, nor will I, stand with the Calvinist that
would say it is all of God and nothing of our will.
At the same time I cannot say it is all of us and nothing of God.
It is both working in harmony together to produce that which only
confounds philosophy and reason. It is
the supernatural act of God moving in response to a broken heart and a contrite
spirit. It is the human being
realizing and confessing the greatness of His need, through the conviction of
the Holy Spirit, and his inability to work out the needed response on his own,
who then calls out upon God to work in him that which he can not possibly do on
his own. To which God is all too
pleased to respond with divine power and authority (Praise God!) and the New
Birth is the result.
Perhaps this helps, or perhaps it confuses, but it is my
mortal attempt to explain a deep spiritual truth that is far beyond our
intellects. None-the-less it is my
Thank you for your response and I would love to help you in
anyway that I can.
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