Friday, May 27, 2005which came first, the chicken or the egg...
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
John 3:16 is an often quoted Bible verse when one is objecting to Calvinism. The idea being, that if God says "whosoever believeth", then that means God has done everything He could, now He waits for the soul to "believe". The same argument is made with verses like these:
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9)
So are such verses the Achilles' Heal of Calvinism? Uh...no.
CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!! (I warned you that you'd get sick of me writing that...LOL)
Every verse in the Bible has an immediate context, as well as a global context. The problem with the John 3:16 objection to Calvinism is that it disregards the global context of Scripture. Here is an example of what I'm talking about:
"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:29-30)
So is this verse saying that we Christians should be a mutilated bunch? That whenever we sin with a part of our body, we should cut it off? The immediate context around these verses seem to indicate that it is the case, so what do you think, should we start chopping? Again...no. Why? Because the global context of Scripture does not support such a view. Peter didn't sow his mouth shut after he denied the Lord three times. Thomas didn't pluck out his eyes when he failed to believe, by faith, that the Lord had resurrected.
When reading verses like John 3:16, Romans 10:9 and Joshua 24:15 we must bear in mind the Whole Counsel of God, especially verses like:
"We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
We love God enough to choose Him, because He first loved us. When combined with Romans 5:8, the picture is perfect: God loved us (His elect) before we even cared to know Him (we were yet sinners).
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)
We choose and work out our salvation only because God gives us the will and the strength to do so. And for what? For His good pleasure.
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48)
Those who choose/believe in God are those who have been ordained or predestined by Him unto eternal life.
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16)
Really friends, could it be any clearer?
God, in His Scriptures sends out the general call to all men, elect and non-elect, to repent and believe on the Gospel, but only those He regenerates will answer that call. God most likely has done things this way because He has not purposed to speak directly to all His elect (as He did with Paul) to bring them to salvation, but rather, He uses the general "megaphone" method, knowing the reprobate will disregard the Good News, but His elect will "know the voice of the good Shepherd (John 10:14-16).
Praise God that eternal salvation DOESN'T rest in the feeble hands of Man... if it did, who among us could enter His holy rest?