Bible Studies By Susan Niswonger / a couple of years ago Share Tweet Pin Share The following is a devotional I received this morning. It left me with a feeling of uncertainty rather than hope. Any rebuttal that I can write would be sorely inadequate, so I asked one of my favorite thinkers and writers to stand in my place. Below the devotional is the commentary written by my son Steven who is much more eloquent then I am. I am so thankful we have all been chosen for salvation and that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Amazing Grace or Random Grace Tim Challies A while ago I received an email from a father, concerned about the task of sharing the gospel with his children. Here is what he sent to me: I have such a hard time grasping the notion of election as a father. I struggle with why so much of Bible addresses us as decision making/choice making creatures, appealing to us to recognize something and depart from sin and accept Christ. Yet if God is simply “zapping” us with irresistible Grace, it seems to me that our efforts for others to turn away sin and accept Christ is really not genuine. It seems rigged. Is there anything that can assure me that I have an influence on whether my child’s number is called? I certainly understand the heart behind this question. I, too, am a father and one who is deeply concerned about the eternal welfare of my children. I love them so deeply and desire nothing greater than that they would turn to Christ in repentance and faith Like this reader, I am sometimes tempted to express frustration with the way God has chosen to save a people for Himself. But through it all I know that his ways are not only good; his ways are best. Here’s the 3-part answer I gave this father: First, I think we need to have much greater confidence in God’s sovereignty than in the ability of our children to choose God without his foreordaining grace. Without God’s grace, none of us could ever turn to him. So we need to take refuge in God’s sovereignty and not make it an occasion of fear or dread. Second, I think it is helpful to see predestination as something that is of far greater concern to God than to us. While we see from Scripture that God has predestined his elect to eternal life, I’m not sure that it is helpful for us to think too much about who is among the elect and who is not. Third, we need to be careful in how we understand God’s work of election. Scripture does not say that certain people “had their number called” and others did not. Instead, we read that God chose some because he had special love for them. There is nothing random about it. Take adoption for example. When a couple sets out to adopt a child, they have a large number of potential children available to them. But somewhere in the process of adoption, they set their heart on a particular child. It is not that they have chosen this child randomly, but rather that they did so because their affections were set upon him. Their selection of a particular child is not unfair to the other children. One child was graciously selected for the special blessing of adoption while many others were not. Giving a gift to one person does not make it unfair to withhold a gift from another. While God has, indeed, ordained who will be saved, he has not told us who he will save. And so we are called us to take the gospel message far and wide, preaching it to all men and allowing God to work the gift of faith into those whom he has chosen for life. Our task in evangelism is not ultimately to win people to Christ but to faithfully preach the gospel message. If we preached that message, we have done what God calls us to. As believers, we must learn to rejoice in his goodness as well a sin his sovereign choice and grace. His grace is not random. It is amazing. STEVEN’S COMMENTARY The view expressed in the devotional is a most unfortunate viewpoint. Not only does it do nothing to assuage the fears the father has for his children, it paints a picture of God who is anything but sovereign. True sovereignty rises above emotion and reaction. 1. A sovereign God does not fear that some will not choose Him…He cannot have His pride hurt. Though this is not stated outright, the concept of God-fearing that He will lose control is underlying in Calvinism and that is why we as mere humans cannot possibly have free choice. God will never lose control regardless of the decisions we make. His sovereignty means that we must play by His rules no matter what. God’s sovereignty is not in the least bit threatened by our choices. 2. The metaphor of adoption is poor because it makes God passive. God is always active because He is the highest power and nothing can act upon Him making Him passive. A couple wanting to adopt is given a choice of what is available. They are passive in that they have no control over the range of selection. They did not create the children and then select which ones would gain their “special love”. God is the Creator. He is active in Creation, not a passive bystander. He does not pick and choose out of a fixed set over which He had no control, and then pour out “special love” based upon some inherent, attractive quality that we possess. Instead, He created each individual with the same opportunity and elements of spirit required to come to Him. If he did not create us equally, then God must be a vindictive creator that is simply toying with our lives. He then would have created those who have no choice or opportunity to worship Him, to praise Him, and to call Him Father. Likewise, there would be no value in our praise because it would not come out of a recognition of God’s sovereignty and worth, but would rather come out of obligation to our nature. Following that line of reasoning, Calvinism falls apart because it states that we are in a state of Total Depravity. If it is our created nature to worship, then we are not in Total Depravity. This causes acts of sin and righteousness to differ none at all…they are simply destiny and foreordained of God. We, as the created, have no choice in the matter of our actions. All of this leaves creation without value, worship without value, and, on the other side, sin without a negative value. It removes moral consequence from our actions. A consequence is the result of a sequence of actions. If created without choice, there exists no consequence dependent upon action; instead, there is simply destiny. No matter the choice, all actions lead to the same end. Given that knowledge, there is now no guilt to be found in acting in sin because you are either chosen or not chosen. Of course, you can see the slippery slope and danger of thinking too coherently about Calvinism. Calvinists would try to deny this line of reasoning by talking about God’s sovereignty and justice, but it all ends up being doublespeak. 3. God is no respecter of persons; therefore there can be no single, inherent quality that one possesses that will gain God’s love. God’s love is universal, as well as equal for all. His grace is also universal, as well as equal for all. The concept of grace is misunderstood by Calvinists. They view it more as a force that God uses to pull us to Him. Grace is simply the unmerited favor of God. It is not a force; it is the state in which each of us lives. It is by the grace of God that we live though we have sinned. It is by the grace of God that He provided Himself a sacrifice for our sins. It is by the grace of God that we have the opportunity to be saved. It is by the grace of God that we receive a blessing. God’s grace is available to all that are willing to receive it, but it does not actively force us toward God. God’s grace entices us to Him but does not push us. 4. If Calvinists are correct, then God has acted against His own will. The Bible states that it is God’s will that none should perish. If it is God’s will that none should perish and we have no choice to make (since God has made it for us), then none will perish. Calvinists will say that “none of God’s chosen” will perish, but that is not what the Bible says. If God is sovereign as Calvinists define it, then nobody will suffer hell since God doesn’t want anyone there. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this guy is confused in his concept of God’s self-revelation to man. Jesus is the revelation of God to man. He came to seek and save that which is lost. Do we not all fall into that category, even those not “chosen”?