GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 589 • December 2, 2020
HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S CHOSEN ELECT?
Part Two of Two
Calvinists will insist that the fact of believing is indisputable irrefutable evidence of the sovereign God’s call and assurance of salvation and election. But sovereign will and choice does not require belief, to say nothing of acceptance and obedience, so the fact of one’s belief and conviction really proves nothing. A rebuttal is necessary to prevent the collapse of the Calvinist’s whole doctrinal position. They propose to prove their point by asserting another sovereign act of God which makes His will, His grace, and His gift irresistible – one is forced to believe it and none is able to refuse or reject it. Therefore they continue to insist that the very fact of believing is evidence of God’s call and God’s election.
But again there are logical ambiguities, implications and necessary inferences that make their contentions and conclusion unsustainable. Making man completely passive, without will and without ability to choose for himself and act upon his own choice necessarily implies something about God that nobody wants to defend or dispute. But can one really not refuse the call, not refuse to believe or respond to the call? If the call is irresistible and includes irresistible belief and acceptance then the person has nothing to do with salvation, it is all the work of God, by His grace through His faith not the person’s (which is the point they are desperate to prove). But then it must also be God who chooses who will be condemned to hell. Those He does not choose to save are necessarily chosen for destruction and hell. How can God be good if he arbitrarily chooses to give faith, grace, and salvation to some without merit but just as arbitrarily refuses to give the same grace, faith, and salvation to others but condemns them without blame or fault? Such an obviously prejudiced and biased God could not be impartial though He claims to be (Acts 10:34-35, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9 1 Peter 1:17), not really wanting to save all but wanting to condemn some, thus contradicting 2 Peter 3:9). If scripture is wrong here it would contradict 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – it would leave us and the world godless.
Scripture never says there is nothing one has to do in order to receive the salvation God offers and promises. Faith/belief is conjoined with other requisites and necessities, all of which must be present before the result can be salvation. It is foolish and futile to claim something promised under certain conditions and to believe it has been received without meeting the conditions. Being drawn or attracted to God or to Christ is not proof of direct irresistible divine action (John 6:44), nor does it necessarily mean they are predestined/elected (Romans 8:29-30). The attraction or drawing may come through the example of a Christian or the evangelistic efforts of a teacher. The light and salt effect of a Christian example (Matthew 5:13-16) may inspire others to seek to acquire for themselves what they admire in the inspiring example. The teaching of God’s word, especially the blessings promised in it, attract and draw those who hear it. The record of God’s works and their results in and for others, especially miraculous works and results, will draw many. God does the works, gives the words, and uses those who present Him faithfully to others – He draws us to himself through the examples and words of Christ, apostles and prophets, and ordinary Christians too, but He does not “push anyone’s buttons” to receive and respond to what others present of Him. There is no selective persuasion on God’s part; each observer will be attracted or not, impressed or not, responsive or not according to one’s own choice not by God’s choice. If they will not hear and respond to what God’s people say and do they will not be persuaded by a miracle done in their behalf (compare Luke 16:31).
There are a couple more points of Calvinists to be refuted. First, faith is not a gift of God for selected persons. One may or may not be seeking God or His plan of salvation, but every person ought to be seeking, asking, knocking and receiving (Matthew 7:7-8). God has not left himself without witness (Acts 14:15-17). He has not obscured His plans or His will so that it cannot be found. It may be found accidently by someone not seeking it but stumbling upon it or by someone seeking it and taking possession of it when he recognizes its value (Matthew 13:44-46). But God intends one to seek it, find it, believe it, evaluate it, desire it, and take personal possession of it. Notice how many verbs there are in that last sentence, how many things one is expected to do in regard to getting the blessings God has made available. God does not make an outright gift of faith to those not seeking it or withhold it from those who are. We are taught to believe, confess, and call upon the Lord in the faith we possess, but how can anyone believe or confess or know how to call if he has not been taught, that is, if he does not have faith? And how does faith come? How it is attained? By hearing the word of the Lord, by being taught and believing the teaching (Romans 10:8-17). Even believing is something one must do, not something that is or can be done for him. God desires that all come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4-5) – that all be taught and all accept the teaching.
Second, repentance is not a gift given to or done for select persons. Acts 11:15 does not mean God has repented for some but not for others. It means God has granted (in this case to Gentiles as well as Jews) the privilege of repenting if they choose to do so in order that He may then forgive their sins. How unkind and unrighteous and not good it would be of God if He refused and rejected the sincere repentance of any sinner. He desires and seeks – by inference accepts – the genuine repentance of any and all sinners (2 Peter 3:9).
The idea of any person wanting to be saved but being unable to do so because of not being one of the elect is absolutely foreign to the Bible. Any of us may be blind and unheeding to our own need for salvation, but that blindness is not because God prevents or does not grant and give the knowledge. It is the work of our enemy Satan, not of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
The Calvinist argues (in the article referenced in Part One): “If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, trusting Him alone for salvation, believing that His sacrifice is the full payment for your sins, congratulations, you are one of the elect. It follows then, if you are elect you cannot be lost, but if you are not elect you cannot be saved.”
How can anyone find such a message attractive? Oh wait. That’s the point. “You and your response to God and Christ and the Spirit and the gospel are irrelevant. You have nothing to do with your own election and salvation.” But we have said enough here to disprove and invalidate the whole doctrine of original sin and inherited depravity, predestination, and salvation by sovereign choice and action. To recover hope we need only to disprove the false unbiblical doctrine and return to the Biblical doctrine of free will based upon information and the grace of God who allows one to choose for himself what his destiny will be, so that no one can blame God for partiality – no one can accuse God and say, “Why didn’t You love me and offer to save me?”
Let me offer an analogy. Who are members of the military, those who have been drafted or enlisted or those who have been examined, accepted, and sworn in by the officials? Who then are the elect of God, those who have been called, those who have received the call, or those who have accepted and responded obediently and been certified by God? Whom does God certify and when does He do it? Only when one has accepted and obeyed and pledged himself (sworn himself to serve) and been acknowledged as accepted and approved by God as set forth in His word. Is there some “sign” that appears to certify him? No. No vocal affirmation, no visible change, no mark appearing on the forehead or hand – no “stigmata.” The “seal” in one’s forehead (Revelation 7:2-3, 22:4) is in his own mind. God said do it; I did it; I am as sure as can be that I now belong to Him. John’s first epistle was written so that one can know and be assured that he has been saved and elected by God. If one cannot say he/she has complied with God’s instructions, he/she cannot claim to be one of God’s elect – saved, name in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God’s record of the “born again” elect who are currently faithful to Him. <><>