Chapter 35: SHE
PROCLAIMS SALVATION TO WHOSOEVER WILL ACCEPT
by Clarence DeLoach, Jr.
To whom is the call of the
gospel to be issued? Is it a call arbitrarily offered to some but withheld from
others? Are some predestined to be saved and others to be lost? Has individual
destiny been irrevocably fixed before birth?
A very large segment of the
religious world has been conditioned by the complex theological system advanced
by John Calvin. Calvin's teaching, generally designated "Calvinism," is summed
up by five basic ideas, one related to or growing out of another. Those five
cardinal doctrines are (1) the unconditional election and reprobation of
particular men, (2) a limited atonement, (3) total depravity, i.e., man's
inability to respond to God without divine intervention, (4) irresistible grace,
and (5) the perseverance of the particular elect.
The basic error within these
basic tenants of Calvinism is the denial of man's volitions. Man was created as
a being with the prerogative of choice. Adam and Eve were given the freedom of
choice. God ordered them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The consequences of their choice were made clear. The first couple understood
the directives and God urged them to make the right choice. However, God did not
force the right decision, because the greatest good is chosen good. Sadly, Adam
and Eve "transgressed the law" and sinned against God. (See Genesis 2:15-3:19;1
JESUS AND THE HUMAN WILL
Jesus makes it clear that the
will of man is involved in serving him. Of some he said, "Ye will not come to
me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40). Note the implications of this passage
in relation to salvation. It is personal - "ye will not come to me "! It
involves the will - "ye will not come"! One may accept or reject - "Ye will not
come"! Man is active rather than passive in conversion - "Ye will not come to
Jesus' great invitation was
universal in scope. Matthew records him saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). The very fact of
invitation implies the choice of acceptance or rejection.
Concerning the exercise of the
will, Jesus said, "If any man (note any man, not just those predestined) willeth
to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether
I speak from myself" (John 7:17). Thus, doing and knowing the teaching of Christ
is a matter of the human will.
GRACE AND THE HUMAN WILL
In writing to Titus, Paul
affirmed that ". . .the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to
all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Tit. 2:11-12). Please
observe from this passage (1) that God's grace has appeared to all men, (2) that
it brings salvation and (3) it teaches. If God's grace has been made available
to all men -why aren't all men saved? The answer, by implication is simple! All
men have not exercised their wills to embrace the teaching of grace, and respond
favorably to it.
SALVATION INVOLVES THE TOTAL
By creative design, God made
man an intellectual, emotional and volitional creature. With the intellect man
is capable of receiving and understanding factual information. With his
emotions, he is capable of being stirred and touched by what he receives. The
volition or will or man enables him to act upon what he understands. The gospel
message reaches the intellect, stirs the emotions and activates the will.
On the day of Pentecost we see
an example of the intellect, emotions and will being reached. The apostle Peter
presented evidence from the Old Testament Scriptures, from his miracles, and the
resurrection which proved Jesus to be the son of God. He reached their minds by
evidence and reasoning. Their hearts were stirred upon learning the truth about
Christ. Upon inquiring, they were told what to do (Acts 2:38). Their wills were
activated as they "gladly received the word and were baptized" (Acts 2:41).
GOD WANTS ALL TO BE SAVED
God is not aloof to man's
salvation! God longs to save! He wants all men to come to the knowledge of truth
(1 Timothy 2:4). "For God so loved the world, (not just a predestined few) that
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish
but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Of God's longing to save, the
apostle Peter said, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men
count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance? (2 Peter 3:9). The Hebrew writer
said of Jesus, "That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man"
God seeks men through the
gospel. The Thessalonians were "called by the gospel" (2 Thess. 2:14). Those who
are called are "chosen of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar
people" (1 Pet. 2:9). The called are those who "hear, believe and are baptized"
(Acts 18:8). They have exercised their volition and freedom of choice!
Interestingly, the Bible ends
with an invitation. Jesus said, "The Spirit (the Holy Spirit) and the bride (the
church) say, come, and let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is
athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely"
[Parenthesis and emphasis mine-C.D.] (Revelation 22:17).
It is the work of the bride,
the church, to issue that invitation to all men until Jesus comes. Calvinism in
general, and predestination of individuals in particular would nullify that
God is moving toward you with a
message of love, salvation and hope. Will you exercise your prerogative to hear,
believe and obey it?
From what human theological
system does the doctrine of limited salvation spring?
What is meant by freedom of
choice in religion?
How do such verses as Matthew
11:28 relate to the subject of limited atonement?
If God wants all to be saved (2
Peter 3:9) and has all power (Matthew 28:18), why are not all men saved?
How does God call men to
salvation today (2 Thessalonians 2:14).