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His Chosen Ones – Part 3

posted Nov 22, 2016, 10:21 AM by First Baptist

 

 

In this series of articles, we are trying to make sense of the verses in the Bible that describe believers as being “chosen” by God, His “elect ones” and “predestined” for salvation.

 

Typically, we think, WE CHOSE GOD . . . but more than a few verses in the Bible (actually, a lot of them) seem to put it the other way around – HE CHOSE US.

 

What do we make of this? And does it matter?

 

Why It Matters

 

What we make of this is the subject of these articles.  As to the significance of the issue, Christian apologist Randy Alcorn offers 5 reasons this issue is worth our serious consideration, even though none of us will understand it completely.

 

1.      To develop a deeper appreciation for God and his Word, which reveals him to us.

2.      To help us mirror Christ’s humility, as we bow to the wisdom of Scripture, even when its mysteries are hard to wrap our minds around.

3.      To teach us to embrace all of God’s inspired Word, not just parts of it.

4.      To foster unity in the body of Christ.

5.      To prevent us from becoming trivial people in a shallow age.

 

And so, let’s dig in.

 

Two Major Approaches

 

Last week, I explained the 4 major approaches to this matter of God’s sovereignty over and against human choice & freedom as it pertains to our salvation.

 

Of the 4 approaches, 2 of them have garnered the most attention and support. You’ve probably heard the terms:

 

Arminianism

named after Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609)

 

Calvinism

named after John Calvin (1509-1564)

 

A Brief History

 

John Calvin was a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation (the break from Catholicism) and a prolific writer & teacher. Jacobus Arminius was also part of the Reformation, but opposed some of Calvin’s views, especially as it pertains to the doctrine of salvation.

 

In 1610, followers of Arminius (not Arminius himself; he died in 1609) issued the Five Articles of Remonstrance, summarizing their disagreement with Calvinistic beliefs. Essentially, they were the five points of Arminianism.

 

In reaction to these five articles, leaders of the Calvinist (or Reformed) movement met and codified their own articles of faith, the Canons of Dort, in 1619. These became the five points of Calvinism.

 

The Essence of Their Disagreement

 

PLEASE NOTE: BOTH ARMINIUS & CALVIN BELIEVED IN GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN CHOICE IN SALVATION! It’s just that Arminius tended to emphasize human choice while Calvin tended to emphasize God’s sovereignty.

 

Arminians agree with Calvinists that human nature was damaged through the Fall. However, they believe humans still retain the ability to examine the gospel, believe it, and repent of their sins. As such, they believe God leaves it up to each person to either accept or not accept the gospel and doesn’t interfere in that decision.

 

Calvinists, on the other hand, disagree with the Arminian concept of free will and believe instead that the will of all humans is bound by their sinful nature and remains bound until God performs His regenerative work.

 

Quoting Randy Alcorn:

 

“Calvinists agree with Arminians that people have the ability to choose. However, they believe that sinners can only act according to the prevailing disposition of their will. Since the Fall, the human will is in bondage to a sin nature. So the choices of a fallen will are confined to the limits of a sin nature. Hence the Calvinist view of free will is more narrow than the Arminian view. Calvinists believe people are the active agents in their choices, are not forced (from the outside) to make those choices, and are fully responsible for their choices. [The difference is], they don’t believe people are able to choose contrary to their natures.”

 

The essence then is a disagreement over just how sinful we humans are, and what the Fall did to us. Are we CAPABLE of choosing Christ on our own? Or, does the sin nature render us INCAPABLE and in need of outside assistance?

 

I’ll let you chew on that this week.

 

Pastor Dan

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