I was told the other day by an adherent to Calvinistic theology that (and I quote):
“The free human will can do a lot of things; but it cannot will anything pleasing to God; because the natural human mind cannot submit to God’s law.”
The first thing/question that popped into my head after thinking about what they said was, “A free will that’s only free enough to do things that do not please God? Doesn’t sound very “free” to me.” After all, if a person has no free will concerning their will toward God they have no will at all!
But then I started thinking about what the scriptures say (outside of the plainly contradicted verse of Romans 2:14) concerning people before they became a Christian and whether or not their will had any will to do the will of God and one person in particular came to mind, and that was Cornelius. Cornelius is a case that simply reveals how wrong Calvinistic theology is when it comes to their complicated and contradictory teaching on the free will (or the lack thereof) of men and women, for the scriptures (with emphasis added) say concerning Cornelius that:
“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius! “And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” (Acts 10:1-7)
Cornelius was a good man, but like all sinners who are not in Christ he was not saved. But despite the fact that he was not saved, i.e. he needed to be quickened due to being dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1-5), Cornelius did things that were pleasing to God, and they were pleasing even to the extent that the Bible says that his works reached Heaven itself! That’s right; Cornelius did things that were pleasing to God before hearing and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. Cornelius was doing what Calvinism says can’t be done – he willed, and he did things that God took note of in a positive way. Sure, Cornelius still had to come to the Father through the Son because his good works could never justify his sinful deeds, but the point still remains, and that point is that God Himself took note of this man’s free will that willed to do the will of God.
Furthermore, take note of what the angel of God said to Cornelius. It was the angel who told Cornelius that Peter would tell him what he must do. What had to be done had to be done by Cornelius and it had to be done of his own free will, for if his will was anything other than free it would not have been Cornelius who was doing it, nor would there have been anything for him to do. There was nothing that he could do to make God owe his salvation to him, but something had to be done by Cornelius’ will, which willed to please God, in response to the gospel of Christ for this was and still is the will of God concerning the lost (John 3:16).
This is why I say that Cornelius was no Calvinist and you shouldn’t be either!
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)