The Accidental Calvinist

Oh, Calvinism—I don’t know if any doctrinal system has ignited more faith-feuds than this. Relationships have been fractured and churches have been split because believing men and women have allowed differing perspectives of God’s sovereignty to arouse the vilest parts of their sinful natures. Devilish pride and hellish rage have ravaged the hearts of Christians on all sides of this issue, dividing and sickening Christ’s beloved Body. It is for this reason that I have shied away from explicitly communicating my Calvinistic or Reformed (whatever you want to call it) theological position. I love the Church and have been fearful of causing unnecessary conflict within her—even among my little herd of faithful readers.

As I have tiptoed around the topic, I’ve told myself that God’s unrestricted control over all things (including salvation) is low on the totem pole of spiritual importance and not worthy of focused discussion. However, when I’m really honest with myself, I don’t believe that. The reality of God’s absolute sovereignty soaks the Scriptures from beginning to end. It’s not a peripheral theological matter; it shines unashamedly bright throughout the entirety of God’s Word. Additionally, the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty affects how I view everything in my day-to-day life. The way I pray, do my job, interact with other people, fight sin, and rest in Christ are all tremendously influenced by my belief that God is 100% sovereign 100% of the time.

Because of its undeniable clarity in the Scriptures and its comprehensive impact on the intellectually submissive Christian’s life, I am convinced that this Calvinism/Reformed Theology/Doctrines of Grace stuff is very much worthy of our attention, thought, and discussion.

Different people have different terminological preferences when it comes to describing this biblical system of belief. Though I once resisted the idea of calling myself a Calvinist, I now comfortably embrace the label. Am I “worshipping some man” or letting a fallible person—as opposed to the Bible—define my beliefs by doing so? No. I’m simply using the most concise descriptor to communicate what I believe the Bible teaches about God’s sovereignty. In fact, I “accidentally” discovered and began to [reluctantly] embrace this theology long before I ever came across the scary C-word.

As a 6-month-old newbie in the faith, I had never heard of Calvinism or Reformed Theology or any of the other terms Christians have coined to describe the limitless extent of God’s authoritative control. I was simply reading my Bible and kept coming across texts like Exodus 9:12, Proverbs 21:1, Psalm 115:3, Psalm 135:6, Daniel 4:34-35, John 6:65, John 15:16, Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:3-14, 1 Peter 1:1-3, Romans 9 (the entire chapter), and more. I wasn’t groomed by a specific denomination to read the Bible with sovereignty-sensitive lenses on. The truths were just there—in almost every Spirit-inspired book—staring me right in the face.

God controls the human heart.
God draws people to Jesus Christ.
God causes people to be born again.
God predestined some people to become his children.

This rattled me, as I was under the assumption that my conversion to Christianity had been a decision I made purely of my own volition. I mean, I did make a real, non-coerced choice to follow Jesus. That’s inarguably true. But what the Bible seemed to be saying was that God was wooing, influencing, and even changing me to ensure that I would make that choice. There was something—some effectual, divine work—taking place underneath my desires and decisions.

I didn’t know what to do with this, so I ran to my Christian friends for guidance. They initially told me not to worry about it, saying those passages in the Bible didn’t mean what they seemed to mean. My friends explained that some folks—pesky “Calvinists”—believed that God chooses certain people to be saved. However, such theology contradicts what we know to be true about man’s free will. “God is sovereign, but he doesn’t influence or interfere with our personal decisions,” they told me, “Our choices determine our destiny, not some ‘predetermined’ plan of God.” Because they were far more seasoned in spiritual matters than me, I decided to trust their perspective and lay my curiosities to rest.

For about three days.

I couldn’t read the Bible without being confronted by this stuff! I went back to one of my friends with Bible in tow and asked him to explain what these texts “really” mean. I didn’t get an explanation—he shut my Bible and slid it across the table back to me. He said God predestines no one, chooses no one, and persuades no one. God doesn’t decide who is or isn’t saved—salvation is a self-determined matter, hinging solely on our free choice to trust in Jesus. My friend then firmly instructed me to move on and stop thinking about this.

My pastor at the time seemed to share my friend’s perspective. In the weeks following, the doctrines of predestination and election were mentioned from the pulpit multiple times. Those who adhered to such teaching were portrayed as biblically ignorant menaces. This pastor’s fierce opposition to Calvinistic theology convinced me that these things I was seeing in the Bible couldn’t possibly mean what I thought them to mean.

So, for the next month, I read and listened to every anti-Calvinistic resource I could get my hands on. I was dead set on proving (mostly to myself) that God doesn’t predestine, elect, choose, or influence anyone to believe in Jesus. Another friend decided to join me in my endeavor, reading and listening just as fervently. One day, I came across a panel discussion entitled, “Election and Predestination: The Sovereignty of God in Salvation.” This obviously wasn’t the kind of anti-Calvinistic material I was searching for, but I decided to give it a listen. I had never heard of the panel participants—one of which was John MacArthur. I plugged in my headphones, ready to identify all the holes in their theology.

God had other plans.

Though I had predetermined to disprove these Calvinists, I unplugged my headphones with an acute awareness that these things about which the Bible spoke—predestination, election, God’s unrestricted sovereignty over all things—really meant what they seemed to mean. In the gut of my soul, I had known this to be true all along. Regardless of what my Christian friends and even my pastor at the time said, I couldn’t deny the plainness and clarity with which the Bible addressed this matter.

I text my friend/fellow researcher to inform her that I had just “accidentally” become a Calvinist. I expected her to be irritated with me and persuade me to keep digging for the truth. However, her response further convinced me that God was in total control of all things—even the little things—at all times:

“You’re not going to believe this, but the same thing just happened to me! I literally just finished listening to a sermon transcript of Charles Spurgeon’s, and I can no longer deny the fact that the Bible really does teach these things. God is sovereign over all things—including our salvation!”

God opened both of our minds to the stupendous reality of his unrestricted power and authority at exactly the same time. It was a revolutionary day for our faiths. God was big to us before—but now he was gargantuan. Our souls had rest before—but now the foundation of our peace was unshakeable. We had some level of confidence that we would persevere in the faith before—but now we knew with certainty that God would finish the work he began in us.

Why am I sharing this story with you guys? Because I know that some of you are reluctant, like I once was, to embrace a biblical perspective of God’s sovereignty. You struggle to understand how a loving God could choose to save some and not others. You find it hard to reconcile God’s righteousness with his willingness to allow so much evil to exist. You don’t understand how God can be in control of human choices and then judge some for not making the right choices. I get it! I still wrestle with these questions.

However, God doesn’t call us to fully understand him—he calls us to trust him. He requires us to wholeheartedly embrace every truth he has plainly revealed about himself—and his absolute sovereignty is one of the truths he has clearly and unashamedly communicated throughout the entirety of the Bible. God desires that you believe and be liberated by the truth that he ordains all things that come to pass. He desires that you believe and be liberated by the truth that he predestined you to salvation, called you to Christ, and will sustain you to glory. He desires that you believe and be liberated by the truth that he is sovereignly working all things—the good, the bad, and the ugly—for your highest good and deepest joy.

I want to invite you today to search the Scriptures, discerningly read through theological works, humbly listen to preachers who teach about God’s sovereignty, and pray for God to reveal this truth to your heart. God is unlimited and unrestricted in his sovereign control over all things, and resting in this biblical reality will enhance your faith in a million different ways—trust me. Below are a few resources that have greatly benefited me. I highly recommend you carefully consider their contents, if you so wish.

TULIP: John Piper (9 parts; this is the link to part 1)

Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility: C.H.Spurgeon

The Sovereignty of God: A.W. Pink

God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men: Jonathan Edwards

  • There you go again…trying to make me think…it hurts so bad…must have… Kardashians…

    • Milton Orgeron

      LOL!!! Kardashians are a better killer of brain cells than alcohol! 🙂

  • Mark Buzard

    Ugh, I wish you hadn’t posted this one….. I believe in free will, and it is Biblical. I don’t have to be a Christian, God gives me the choice…… and how on earth can we say God loves the world if He deliberately chooses ahead of time what people He will send to hell? I wouldn’t even want to serve that God.

    I get the once-saved, always saved…who wouldn’t like the idea of going to Heaven no matter what sins you commit once you say a little prayer…….. but why do you want to believe God picks and chooses who He will love and offer salvation, and who He won’t love and send to hell without ever offering them redemption? What kind of God would send people to hell who never. ever had a chance to become a Christian?

    God is sovereign, but offers salvation to all, and it is our choice to serve Him. We aren’t robots

    • Tom

      Excuse me but I have often heard this response to Calvinism: “how on earth can we say God loves the world if He deliberately chooses ahead of time what people He will send to hell?” But unless you believe in open theism, how does your position get God “off the hook” so to speak? If God is omniscient, doesn’t He know who will choose Him and who won’t when He creates them? If so, why would He create someone knowing they will go to hell?

      • Bruce Mercer

        john 3:16 should be translated God loved the world in this way that He gave His unique Son for all the ones believing. to suppose that God gives anything less than justice is unbiblical. He may give us grace or justice, but never injustice

        • Tom

          I completely agree. My point against Mark’s argument was that unless he is an open theist (a heretic), his Arminian outlook takes him to the same result.

    • Bruce Mercer

      what do you mean that man has free will?

      • Bob Mullins

        To me it ties in with Genesis… where God says ”Let us make man in our image’ by which i understand to include his characteristics too. So man has free will & sovereignty (over himself) as God does. its not rocket science.

        • Bruce Mercer

          man was created that way BUT then genesis 3 happened where man fell and his children were conceived in the image of adam (Gen 5:3). you are correct it’s not rocket sciencebut one does have to read all the verses. check out also 1 Cor 2&2, Rom 1-11, Eph 1&2, just for starters

          • Bob Mullins

            1 Cor 2:2 MSG I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. Back to the image thing… & also in harmony with the verse above… If man has free will then he will also be sovereign… for just as the Holy spirit knows the deep things of God… so man knows what he thinks & feels. slave or free that inner part of our being is sovereign as he/it has free will to chose how he will respond to any given situation.choice necessitates both sovereignty & free will which are both attributes of God. I agree that we have to keep the main thing the main thing. interesting discussion points here.

          • Bruce Mercer

            the bible repeatedly says man is in darkness, slave of sin, does not seek God etc. man makes choices but not against what he loves (his sin) nor does he choose who He abhors (God). man chooses according to his nature

          • Bob Mullins

            Which man are you talking about?
            It seems in your comment, solely about Unrepentant unredeemed man.
            But the believer is a new creation… clothed in the righteousness of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus empowered to live by the laws that God has inscribed in their hearts. The curse of Sin & death are Broken. Yes i may sin sometimes… but i don’t love my sin, rather I love my saviour who delivers me from this body of death. As for bowing the knee… I already have… daily for the last 51+ years. I choose to live in His smile…not in His Wrath. I am my Beloved’s ….and He is mine…and his banner over ME is Love. Not even death can separate me from Him for to live is Christ…To Die is Gain. Nothing can separate me form the Love of God in Christ Jesus. Why would i choose anything else.?

          • Bruce Mercer

            that is true but it is the work of God and His sovereignty not our choice but His. He regenerates His people so they can believe. unless He does all remain in darkness under sin and condemnation.
            why would anyone choose differently? because they don’t want to

          • Bob Mullins

            But man cannot be regenerated against his will… its the old boat -helicopter thing. God reaches out his hand to save us…but we have to take His hand. Faith is a gift. In revelation, speaking to the churches the Spirit says ‘he who has ears to hear…’ it was the hymn writer who said… ‘Lay hand on life…and it shall be, thy joy and crown eternally.’ I cant say that I am Calvinist or Arminian for there are cogent arguments for & against both as far as i can see. better to keep the main thing… the main thing. It was paul who said “I am determined to know nothing among save Christ…and Him crucified.” Blessings!

          • Bruce Mercer

            if faith is a gift it cannot come from within

          • Bruce Mercer

            regeneration changes the will of man by giving him a new nature .in his natural state man cannot believe because it would be choosing against his nature and the cross is folly to him (1cor 1&2), or as rom 8:5-8 says the man in the flesh (natural man) is at enmity with God and cannot please God in the flesh, thereby agreeing with hebrews 11 that says without faith it is impossible to please God meaning the natural or man in the flesh cannot believe.

          • Bob Mullins

            You have circular reasoning here…. you say the sovereignty & choice are Gods… but your last sentence asks ‘why would one choose differently? because they don’t want to.’ indicating that man does have a choice & therefore has free will and to have free will he has to be sovereign. anything less would be a slave or a robot/automanton. or at the very least compulsion. so which is it? …oh I forgot you won’t be able to answer because man doesn’t have choice…

            God doesn’t force us to love Him… he draws us to love him. if he wanted just to be worshipped he had that from angels ( a third of whom chose to rebel!) God seeks to restore the relationship he once had with man daily walking with him in the garden.

          • Bruce Mercer

            people do not want to because they are enslaved to the adamic nature. they choose what they want until God gives them a new nature (replace the heart of stone with the heart of flesh). as Jesus put it in John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again,[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

            4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

            5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit,[b] he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you[c] must be born again. 8 The wind[d] blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

            and John 6:37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”…..44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws[j] him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God.[k] Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me—….63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some among you who don’t believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who would not[o] believe and the one who would betray Him.) 65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”

            the word draw is also the one used for drag

          • Bob Mullins

            Some great scripture here… the verse that struck me was v40 ‘that everyone who sees the the Son…AND Believes in him’ Yes I get all the sovereign activity of the Godhead in Salvation, draw or dragged but to me it is inescapable that at some point there Has to be the exercise of free will is believing by faith. which in human terms indicates there are no guarantees that it will happen… Jesus exercised such faith on the cross. Forsaken of the father and at the point of bearing the sin of the whole world for all time… he freely chooses to put His faith in the father and says… ‘Father..Into thy hands i commit my Spirit’

            I feel I should end my participation in this particular discussion thread with this quote taken from https://gotquestions.org/Calvinism-vs-Arminianism.html

            ‘Ultimately, it is our view that both systems fail in that they attempt to explain the unexplainable. Human beings are incapable of fully grasping a concept such as this. Yes, God is absolutely sovereign and knows all. Yes, human beings are called to make a genuine decision to place faith in Christ unto salvation. These two facts seem contradictory to us, but in the mind of God they make perfect sense.’
            For some reason the song ‘Covered’ (Planetshakers) comes to mind.
            Blessings! BobM

          • Bruce Mercer

            as Jesus put it in John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again,[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” yes sees and believes. who can see? the one born again. that is why i posted the whole long passage to get to that. only those born again can see to believe. Jesus said it, John recorded it

          • Bruce Mercer

            it’s a choice but the unregenerate can only choose according to his nature. he cannot choose Christ because Christ does not appeal to him

          • Bruce Mercer

            we are not sovereign. we will bow the knee

  • Milton Orgeron

    I trust the comment tally will rise significantly once the Calvinist and Armenian bots sense the disturbance in the force. 😉
    It seems to me the Bible gives us both God’s perspective from timeless eternity, which looks to us like predestination/Calvinism, and our perspective from serial-linear time, where C follows B follows A and Z doesn’t arrive until after the other 25 letters, which looks to us like complete free will/Armenianism. I have heard both a respected Nazarene (Armenian) preacher, Gary Henecke, and a respected Presbyterian (Calvinist) preacher, R. C. Sproul Sr., come out sounding amazingly similar on this issue – not either/or but both/and.

    After all, the same Jesus who said “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him” also said “If any man comes to Me (an action taken by will), I would in no wise reject him”. So we can Calvinisticly prove we are of the elect by taking the Armenian free will action of coming to Jesus!

  • Bob Mullins

    So I got this wedding invitation…. i was chosen form a list of folks they wanted to invite but their venue could only take 100…. I was thrilled to be invited and called to the celebrations…. but couldn’t go as i had already committed to another friends wedding invite. So demote being chosen & called I had free will to decide which i went to…. The whole calvinist arminian thing is not just black & white. there are ways in which both are true…. both true to scripture. we see these sort of choices everyday in our mailboxes…. those adverts don’t appear by magic, but we do choose whether we respond to them.
    Are chosen to be called, or called to be chosen? Jesus said if any man come to me…. but he also said you did not choose me, but I chose you…. what is important to me that in Gods infinite & inscrutable grace & mercy I am forgiven and have been since before the foundation of the world…. but it became an active reality for me in time when I surrendered control of my destiny to his sovereignty….
    All this stuff sure messes with peoples understanding of the bible, and their theology… but the fact remains I couldn’t save myself. but at the same time I could have refused salvation…. at which point some would say ‘AH, that because you weren’t chosen or predestined for salvation.’ or is it just that we overlook that God sovereignly also made us after his own image…. which also includes his farewell & sovereignty. I don’t read or understand all the small print of some documents…. but but i do benefit from their provisions. Great thought provoking article Matt. Be Blessed! BobM

  • Don’t worry, Matt. We could tell you were a Calvinist. If anything, from the people you read and quote. 😉

    It’s okay to come out as a Calvinist. I’m an out-and-proud Calvinist too. 😝

    To God alone be the glory. Amen.

  • ONeil

    Matt, again we are on the same path. Everything you seem to through in your christian life seems to happen to me too and usually around the same time. For the past two weeks, I have been reading and studying on this. WOW, thank you Brother, God is really using you to speak with me. Sometimes I wonder if you really exist or if God is creating this blog to speak to me. I have been seeing Garrett Felender’s videos on youtube, Search-Tearstojoyministries on youtube, you’ll see lots of videos on his page especially with those struggling with sin and they have helped me a lot.

  • Hi Matt! Initially when I read your aticle, I said to myself “Isn’t this what I believe? Am I a Calvist too?”. I reacted with humor, because I truly didn’t want to think about this question. I honestly don’t remember what exactly I believed before the stroke, and I think there is a reason. In many ways I am a baby Christian again, relearning and rediscovering God. One of the things I have discovered in the last four years is the myriads of faiths and religions, all based on the King James Version of the Bible.
    While this is a fine Bible, my one of choice, for its comfort and sheer poetry;but it is also hard to read because it is written in old English. But there is something deeper, something that may have caused such a split amongst the faithful.
    I began posting Bible verses on Facebook and Google after that gay marriage thing, mostly out of anger and protest. But what good did that do? Okay, I declared myself a Christian publicly, and lost several friends because of my stance. Then my Sunday school teacher said something that really stuck in my mind: “You may be the only Bible a person reads.
    So I went back to Facebook at what I had posted and decided to start from the beginning: the book of Genesis. I get my Bible verses from blueletterbible.com. It allows for a user to read the whole Bible, verse by verse, with each word anotated and the Strong’s number given, definitions of each word, differing Bibles, devotionals, etc. I can also copy and paste quite easily into Facebook or a wordprocesser.
    As I began preparing my first posting, I noticed that the verse numbers can be totally seperated. At first it was a minor nucance (did I spell that right?). I had always read the Bible with chapter and verse numbers (as every one of us had). But now I was seeing it differently. There was none of that clutter, which made the Bible hard to read. I began to see it as a narative.
    This was a profound revelation to me. The Bible was originally compiled from a series of letters and histories from many different people from all walks of life. There were no chapters and verses originally. I still feel somewhat dirty, reading it without the verse and chapter numbers, as it was what I was used to. We all are. We were taught to memorize verse numbers and quote them. All of this was erased from my mind and I can only quote a few. The chapter and verse numbers were meant for study, not for reading. I wasn’t reading the God’s word properly, especially the New Testiment.
    So much division, interpretation and argument can be avoided if you read the Bible as a narrative (discovered you can get these Bibles off Amazon). I have not gotten to the verses that cover predestination yet. I have gotten about halfway through the Bible, and relearning it this way. My understanding of God’s word has grown exponetially as a result. My suggestion to anyone reading this is that they try it. It does take work, but can be done. Through reading it this way, I discovered that I have been freed from religion and ‘-isms’, and that I am a man of God.

    • Bob Mullins

      Blueletter Bible is Good…. but I Prefer E-Sword. (E-Sword.Net) it too is free has KJV & Strongs as standard, with many other free bibles, ( I love the ‘Easy to Read Version’ its so simple & clear.) plus you can purchase premium bibles like Message etc. plus all sorts of free & premium commentaries. a great prices. When studying I use the ‘parallel’ function where i can see a verse in however many versions I choose. (i have about 20 loaded on my iPad, & more on my main computer. A powerful functional bible study tool much of which is free. if you have a computer you should have E-sword. its easier to use than Blueletter’s dated interface.

      • Thanks for the info! I will check it out!

      • I did check out E-Sword and it is pretty awesome. I installed it on my computers at home and at work! Thanks!

        • Bob Mullins

          Glad you found it helpful… pass it on & Enjoy. I can get lost for hours in there!

  • ehhhidts

    “Because I know that some of you are reluctant, like I once was, to embrace a biblical perspective of God’s sovereignty. ” – Yes… because those who disagree with you are just weak in the faith and don’t believe in a biblical perspective, unlike you!

    Seriously, do you not see how arrogant this makes you sound? Acting like it’s not possible for two people to genuinely interpret the Bible differently, instead holding up your side as the One True Ring to Rule Them All and acting like anyone who disagrees (despite your lip service qualifier of “some”) only does so because they’re ~struggling.

    It’s amusing because in one sense you’re essentially comparing yourself to God, because you’re saying that if people disagree with you, they’re disagreeing with God and the Bible. Nope, I’m just disagreeing with your *interpretation* of the Bible. The two things are not the same. Do you think they’re the same?

  • Between here and Facebook, I’m seeing what I would consider ignorance or misunderstandings of precisely what the Calvinist and Arminian views are. (And they take lots of time to explain properly.) For one thing, they are completely incompatible from beginning to end, and 400 years of biblical-theological discussion and debate have made that abundantly clear. But I’d like to suggest that we all make sure we know precisely what we’re talking about when we’re talking about humans having “free” will. That’s become such a common phrase to throw around that we need to stop and ask what the Bible actually says about the ethical powers of the human will in our unregenerate (fallen) state. (And just because God commands everyone to repent and believe, doesn’t mean everyone already has the power to obey that command.) Here’s a little food for thought …

    When Did it Become ‘Salvation By Faith, Through Grace’?

    “To the Praise of the Glory of My ‘Free’ Will” …”
    Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVRrSO5wOj4
    Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5vYECqyT3k
    Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTjOrOz6G4w

    So, is faith a new ethical ability of our will that God gives us in the new birth or not?

    My two cents for what it’s worth.

  • Ron Berry

    From the article: “He desires that you believe and be liberated by the truth that he is sovereignly working all things—the good, the bad, and the ugly—for your highest good and deepest joy.” — Well, if that’s the case, if God desires it, then it will happen won’t it? Why write an article trying to convince people of this? In fact, why do Calvinists feel the need that they have to try to convince others of God’s sovereignty? If God wants certain people to believe in His sovereignty, they don’t have any choice in the matter. On the other hand, if God doesn’t want other people to believe in His sovereignty, they won’t, and they don’t have any choice in the matter. Either way, people don’t have any choice in the matter, so why bother emphasizing it? I find that Calvinists put a disproportionate amount of time emphasizing something that they and others purportedly have no control over.

    • Michael

      Ron, I was introduced to the Doctrines of Grace in college. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, so these teachings were foreign to me and difficult to accept. I’m not a theologian, I don’t ponder deep things or participate in great debates, no doubt I would be slaughtered in such attempts.

      I do not see Matt’s post as one to convince anyone that they must accept these teachings, but more to the point to express how the Doctrines of Grace have made a positive impact in shaping his beliefs, his convictions, his hope, his strength and comfort in fighting the temptation of SSA.

      Just two points I would like to make here, just please remember these are the ramblings of a simple minded man. I am sure someone could find infinite amounts of loop holes, just entertain me for while.

      #1 Assuming you have SSA – You did not make the decision to have SSA attraction, for lack of a better argument, You were born that way. We know in part that we will most likely never be rid of these desires, they may diminish, but for the majority, it will be a lifelong battle. Yet, even with that understanding we seek change, we look for hope and encouragement in the likes of Blogs like Matt’s. The gay community would say this is foolish, why pursue what we know might not change. We do it because we desire to walk in obedience to Gods will. We hope and pray for the Grace of God to impact us and change our hearts desire. We do not give up simply because we acknowledge it might not happen in this lifetime. A predetermined state like homosexuality does not negate our responsibility to walk in obedience to Gods will.

      #2 When God called Mosses to go to Egypt and set his people free, do you think for an instance that God was not already aware that indeed His people would be set free. Did Moses have the right to say to God, No, you will set them free anyway…I’ll just stay here and continue to pasture my flock. By no means, Moses was called to obey God. In the story, we see how God hardened Pharaohs heart, but in an instance God changed it and Pharaoh let the Israelites go. Whether the outcome has been predetermined or not, we obey the commands and calling of our Sovereign Lord. God is honored by our obedience to his predestined will.

  • mike

    I have always hated religion because the religious always think they know God by their neat doctrines and degrees to back them up.
    But knowing God is not theology nor is it works in the name of God. Take Matt. 7:23 for example. Jesus says to them: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”
    Why did Jesus not know them? Is it because their names weren’t on the predestination list? No. It was because:
    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    And what is that will? The “will” is Jesus command to love God and to love our neighbor as the way of the kingdom of Heaven for those redeemed by the Good News and empowered by the Spirit.
    But to do that “will” requires our will or choice. Because relationship is always based on two. The marriage relationship is a metaphor of us and Christ based on mutual sacrificial love. It is a choice between two parties not one.
    Clearly, I don’t understand “Calvinism” which in my brain is in the same category as Universalism an equally impossible doctrine for my mind to comprehend.

  • Michael Wayne

    Help me out here… I don’t understand how it matters to God what I think about this topic. I’ve only been a believer for about 10 years, and I don’t think I have studied this enough to say I have taken sides yet. I’m not even sure this is something God wants me to fully understand.
    Until then, I believe in the unerring Word of God, and I believe that He is at least as Sovereign as He says He is. I believe He indeed does give us the ability to choose, precisely because He does want us to choose Him. I believe He wants all of us to choose Him, but I believe it breaks his heart that so many of us won’t. I believe He loves us so much that He wants us to make that decision on our own.
    I am grateful that He gives me, a stained and imperfect sinner, the same invitation that He gives all the Saints. I am grateful that someone did make an effort to share Jesus with me, and I am grateful that I was finally, after 44 years, ready and willing to listen, ready to choose Him.
    I believe there are plenty of times in OT Scripture where God, although He had his own desires, would bend his ear to his people. He had shown his authority, but then, would accommodate the means to allow for his people to exercise their own will. But, God always got them to His end, God’s People are God’s People, by any means.

    Forgive me, but watching you guys joust over this reminds me a bit of the Dr. Seuss book about ‘Sneetches’, some had stars, some didn’t:
    “Those stars weren’t so big, they were really so small,
    you would think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
    But because they had stars, all the Star Belly Sneetches would brag,
    ‘We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches’.
    With their snouts in the air they would sniff and they’d snort,
    ‘We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain Belly sort!”

    And of course, the moral of the story:
    “That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
    the day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches,
    and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches,
    that day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars,
    and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.”
    Sneetches are Sneetches, by any means.

    • There is a lot of wisdom in the story of the sneetches. I have been saved since 1991, but because of the stroke that I had 4 years ago and the memory loss, I am a lot like a baby Christian. I have not exactly decided on a denomination, nor do I necessarily want one. I was bitter and angry at Christians for being SSA and spent many years without a relationship with God. Mercifully, He brought me back to Him though the stroke. I now have a relationship with Him, and really there is no room for religion or my individual beliefs. He is God. He is my Father, and He came for me.

  • Edward Borges-Silva

    I call myself a Calminian or an Arminianist, that is I believe that Calvin and Arminius both had valid perceptions and arguments with respect to their theology. And like the doctrine of the Trinity I do not claim to fully understand either completely. The doctrine of free will appears to me to be unassailably biblical, the doctrine of God choosing, drawing, persuading through the Office of the Holy Spirit seems equally so. I prefer to frame it this way: We are predestined in Christ Jesus, that is, as He was predestined as Lord and Savior to suffer and die for our iniquities, when we volitionally embrace Him as Lord for the propitiation of our sins, we then partake in His predestination. My former pastor who tends towards Arminianism was able to come along the road of Calvinism this far with me.

    • Bruce Mercer

      what do you mean man has free will? and how does your view on predestination square with ephesians 1?

      • Edward Borges-Silva

        As I said, I accept elements of both positions, by free will, I mean a purposeful volitional choice by the believer to accept and embrace God’s loving gift of grace. Allow me to quote from a marginal note from the Ryrie Study Bible, KJV. “God has determined beforehand that those who believe in Christ will be adopted into his family and conformed to his Son (cf. Rom.8:29). It involves on His part (Eph. 1:4); it is done in love (v.4); it is based on the good pleasure of His perfect will (vs. 5,9,11); its purpose is to glorify God (v. 14); but it does not relieve man of the responsibility to believe the gospel in order to bring to pass God’s predestination (v. 13).” To put it again in my own words, our predestination lies within the predestination of Christ, “slain before the foundation of the world.” We are “chosen in Him.”

        • Bruce Mercer

          that would be God’s will (john 1 :13 not ours. you have confused choice with will

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            I think this is, as is often the case, a question of semantical interpretation. I don’t think questions such as these are more important than the fundamental question of Who Jesus is, what He came for, and what we owe Him as followers and believers.

          • Bruce Mercer

            okay, free will yourself to be perfect the rest of your life

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            I made no claims to perfection, nor do I know any Christian who has achieved such a state, though the “doctrine” of perfectionism exists among some believers. But as you and I can come to no accord on our interpretation of the texts in question, it would be wise if we went no further with this dialogue.

          • Bruce Mercer

            if you have free will you can do it

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            That is a logical fallacy, free will does not equate to perfect practice.

          • Bruce Mercer

            no, the fallacy is you have free will. you don’t. you have confused choice with free will. people choose according to their desires not freely.

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            Pure sophistry and semantics.

          • Bruce Mercer

            not so. you fail to understand depravity as put forth in the scriptures. being a free moral agent is different from free will

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            I do not fail to understand depravity as put forth in scriptures. Humans are depraved by their very nature, it is their natural condition.

          • Bruce Mercer

            and that is why you don’t have free will

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            Whatever.

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            No you can’t. Free will does not allow you the power of an independent agent not subject to the countervailing will of other people. One may impose one’s will on others in certain circumstances, but not universally or with omnipotence.

          • Bruce Mercer

            but you say you have free will. being able to keep the law perfectly should not be construed as imposing your will on others. in fact you should not be imposing your will on anyone (except your minor children maybe). just admit it, man is a slave of sin until regeneration

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            Keeping the Law perfectly is a different issue than the imposition of one’s will on others. I have no conflict with the precept that man is a slave of sin until regeneration. However, given the sometimes odd construction people give to terms, it might be wise to define regeneration. I define regeneration as the state one attains to when they enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ which is demonstrated by a desire to walk with Him daily and endeavor to be obedient to His commands and instructions, declaring Him Savior and Lord. That said, I’ve yet to find a Christian who meets that standard perfectly, which is why confession and repentance are a continuing process.

          • Bruce Mercer

            no one said for you to impose your will. i said YOU keep the law perfectly. will yourself to do it.

          • Edward Borges-Silva

            Again, Whatever.

  • Shawn Ruth

    I wish that you hadn’t gone there…I won’t be reading your blog anymore…

    • Before you elect to do so, read the next one, because it is a part two to this blog.

  • Chelsea Dietsche

    Check out the Lutheran doctrine on the subject! You might find it very worthwhile. We believe God alone brings us to faith; that humans can’t “accept” God because it’s all His doing – but they can reject Him in pride and unbelief; and that God does pre-destine people to be saved – but doesnt pre-destine people for hell (since He wants all to be saved). While these points don’t make logical sense, we simply take the Bible at its word and understand that God is God, regardless of whether he fits in my lógica or not.

  • Ace

    Hey Matt,

    I’m a real big fan of your work and God has used you in so many wonderful ways that has strengthened my walk in Him; so thank Him and thank you. With that said, I’d HIGHLY recommend you check out this debate on the subject of calvinism.

    You will be SHOCKED by what you hear and learn. I’ll drop the link below.

  • Russell

    Not surprising that you believe this false doctrine. Once you believe in loadship salvation everything just falls into place. Keep going… you will be back to Rome soon along with rest of the loadship salvationists. One question Matt, how do you really know your one of the elect?

    • Bob Mullins

      Read Romans 814-16 recently?
      ” The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.15 The Spirit that we received is not a spirit that makes us slaves again and causes us to fear. The Spirit that we have makes us God’s chosen children. And with that Spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father.”16 And the Spirit himself speaks to our spirits and makes us sure that we are God’s children.”

      this is from the ‘Easy to Read Version’ but you choose any other that you consider ‘reliablel’ it won’t alter the sense or the truth. Frankly I am surprised that a believer should even need to ask that Question. A read of: https://gotquestions.org/lordship-salvation.html might be helpful.
      from following Matt’s journey from his earliest posts to the present there is no doubt in my mind that he’s saved. I have a feeling that when we do finally get through those ‘pearly gates’ we will all get a few surprises about how we actually got there!. for sure none of us deserve to be there or earned our place. so might be wise to check our eyes to be sure we haven’t got any beams in them i think. you are not the fount of all wisdom & doctrine any more than I am… so lets cut each other some grace & tolerance to rejoice in salvation.

      • Russell

        I am not saying I doubt his salvation. Not at all. First of all the Lord knows for sure and I believe that Matt is a sincere Christian. My question was based on the view that in Calvinism only those who persevere to the end “prove” they are really the elect. Therefore no one who truly believes in Calvinism can have any assurance of salvation since no one can ever be sure that he or she will endure to the end. That is just one of many problems with this view of salvation. The Bible makes it clear that faith in Christ alone is what is needed for salvation. My assurance can not be based on my behavior or how I feel but on the truth that Jesus says whoever believes in me has everlasting life.
        As for me being the fount of all wisdom and doctrine, I believe that I am. JUST KIDDING! Your point is well taken and I can see how my comment came off as arrogant, argumentative and rude and I apologize for that. I should have slowed down, prayed and then responded. Have a great day.

        • Bob Mullins

          Now Russell… that is a Good post! to me that showed what you meant the first time round… like you i am a disciple… something that was deeply impressed in me through my time with OM under the influence of George Verwer… he would constantly say the a disciple was a follower who was always learning. ok…so i am a slow learner… only been saved since 1965, only spent 3 yrs in ON India (& was a pretty awful missionary!) only been to bible school for a 6 week spring term course, only been a leader 38 years, only been an elder 25yrs, Even when i was the main leader of my church I was still driving buses in London for a living (mind you, that can teach you something of grace & patience!) Anywhoo i pretty much agree with your follow-up comment. your closing comments are greatly appreciated. Hey! I’m only a bus driver! (Happily Retired… best job I have ever had. LOL) Do you know why bus drivers have fewer accidents? 1. for every hour you spend driving they do 10. 2.they are at the front…the first bit to get hit. 3. they hate filling in paperwork made by incidents. so we learn to read the road. did you notice there was almost no doctrine in this post?

          • Russell

            Bob, I appreciate your humor. I doubt will meet this side of heaven but when I get to heaven I will look you up. What a day of rejoicing that will be. God bless.

  • L Kiser

    Which one is it where believing men and women have divine natures? That is the one I adhere to. I mean really? Is Christ’s work so puny that it is 2nd place to fallen nature? Humm…..

  • Bruce Mercer

    regeneration changes our will. if we are to believe it must be changed because the natural ,an sees the cross as folly (1cor 1&2) or again the man in the flesh is at enmity with God and will not believe nor can he please God (rom 8:5-8). as hebrews 11 says without faith it is impossible to please Him meaning the man in the flesh cannot have faith.

  • David Martinez

    I use to be a Devout Arminian, but my theology would change over time, then it just Exploded into “Calvinism”, it was New to Me. However, I am Grateful to have my eyes open. I understand both sides, but in the End there is Only One Side, God’s Side. When Our Lord was asked how should we Pray, Jesus gave us a model, there is one past where Jesus say’s, “…Thy Will Be Done On Earth as It Is in Heaven…”, so who’s will is done in Heaven? God’s, right? Not those who are in Heaven with God?
    I don’t think there is much Human Will being done in Heaven, just God’s. I am not going to get into the whole debate, but, God is in Charge right? It’s strange how in America many Christians believe in
    “Spiritual Pro Choice”, but not in the case of Abortion, you can be pro choice spiritually, but these same Christians do not want Pro Choice in other area’s of Our Society…