One of the biggest and most misleading arguments Calvinism (Reformed Theology) uses is the false premise that God predestines some sinners to Hell with no chance of salvation because HE withholds from them the very ability of them to BE saved. They justify this outrage against God’s character by saying that He can do this thing because He is SOVEREIGN, and as such, He can do whatever He chooses.
Well God IS sovereign; that fact is completely Biblical. What is NOT Biblical, however, is the false assertion that because God is sovereign, He can and does act in a manner that directly contradicts both His intrinsic character and nature. In other words, God CANNOT be or do ANYTHING that negates or contradicts His own character – the very essence of who and what He is.
Is God utterly sovereign? ABSOLUTELY. Does His sovereignty bind or prohibit Him in any manner, or cause Him to act contrary to His nature? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
ALL MANKIND stands guilty before a holy God. “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). ALL of fallen, sinful mankind stands guilty and justly condemned before holy God (Romans 3:10).
There are none who are less or more guilty than anyone else – ALL of fallen mankind stands guilty before the One who is the fountainhead, the superlative – the very essence of that which is Justice, Holiness, Righteousness, Mercy, Love, Grace. The Ancient of Days is the very wellspring of each of these, and is the very essence of these ideals before whom all humanity stands “condemned already” (John 3:18).
So, the Calvinist and reformed theology position is that God’s sovereignty thus allows Him to act CAPRICIOUSLY – to arbitrarily choose to save SOME of humanity while condemning others to an eternal Hell for no other reason than that He can do so because He is sovereign.
Now, if this is true, then this is a HUGE deal for EVERY SINNER (which we all are). IF the Calvinist doctrine of “unconditional election” is Biblical, then that has unequaled and devastating ETERNAL consequences for those who would be destined to an eternal Hell with absolutely NO possibility of EVER being saved. Yet this is precisely the tenant of Calvinism – that God PREDESTINES SOME sinners to receive saving grace, yet He PREDESTINES other sinners to Hell with NO POSSIBILITY of receiving saving grace; that He can be justified in doing this because He is sovereign, and as such, can do whatever He wants merely because He can.
But does this belief reflect God’s intrinsic character and nature, or is this belief actually a slap in the face of the very essence of WHO God is? Does God’s sovereignty mean that He can or does act in a manner that is outside of His intrinsic nature? This is the question we will examine.
Only a genuinely sovereign God could offer fallen man the freedom to choose to accept or reject His freely offered gift of salvation by grace.
The “god” of Calvinism and reformed theology is RESTRICTED, not by God’s sovereign abilities, but by what CALVINISM THINKS or ASSUMES His sovereignty is.
The truth is that only a truly sovereign God is ABLE to freely offer salvation by grace to WHOSOEVER WILL accept it. It is because of His supreme sovereignty that He is ABLE to offer ALL of fallen mankind the SAME OFFER of grace that NONE of us deserves. Only He can do this BECAUSE He is sovereign.
None of us are worthy of God’s grace. ALL of us are guilty, justly condemned sinners deserving of Hell. God would have been completely within His sovereign righteousness to condemn us ALL to Hell.
When Adam CHOSE to rebel – when Adam fell BECAUSE he chose rebellion over obedience – God could have done any one of these things:
- He could have obliterated Adam, Eve, and the entire creation that was tainted by Adam’s rebellion.
- He could have made a new race of humans with NO CHANCE of rebelling and NO CHOICE of freely loving and obeying his creator – in other words, God could have made an automaton with NO chance of rebelling and NO freedom to choose to love or reject God’s love, or
- He could have destroyed everything including the angelic host and been complete within Himself. Because God is BOTH singular and diverse, He is a TRI-UNE being complete within Himself. Yet God did NONE of those things. Instead, God did the unthinkable. In fact, He had already planned to do the unthinkable BEFORE He ever spoke the words “Let there be…”
What was this unimaginable choice God made? That GOD HIMSELF would die in our stead to pay the infinite penalty of sin for ALL of His fallen creation. That God the Father would send God the Son – the 2nd Person of the Tri-une Godhead, to pay the penalty for the sinful rebellion of all mankind that God FOREKNEW – knew beforehand – that Adam was going to choose (Isaiah 46:9-10; Revelation 13:8).
God Himself had already chosen to send His Son to redeem sinful man. Because He IS Love and Mercy, as well as being Righteousness and Justice, it was by HIS own death that He made provision for the redemption of fallen man by His own sacrificial death, burial, and bodily resurrection. God Himself had already determined (before the foundation of the world) that His Son would pay in full the penalty of sin that His (God’s) own Justice and Righteousness demanded. He could do this, not because He HAS love and mercy, but because He IS in His very essence, Love and Mercy personified, just as He also IS, in His very essence, Justice and Righteousness personified. He IS these things. These superlatives – these traits, do not merely describe Him; they ARE WHO HE IS. They are His very character and nature.
God who IS Love, CANNOT act in any way or in any manner that is anathema to His very Nature. He IS both Love and Justice; both Mercy and Righteousness. This is the entire point and the necessity of Calvary.
For God to offer salvation to only SOME guilty sinners and not ALL guilty sinners would be for Him to Violate His own character and nature – it would Violate WHO HE IS. It would also violate His Sovereignty by making Christ’s death INSUFFICIENT for the atonement for Sin that has infected ALL mankind. It would violate both His character of Mercy and His character of Justice.
The truth is this: the words of scripture are clear and unmistakable; WHOSOEVER means JUST THAT. ALL means ALL (Romans 10:13), and Christ stating emphatically that HE is the propitiation for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD means exactly that – His death paid the penalty for the sins OF THE WHOLE WORLD. Period (1 John 1:2).
When God plainly states that He “is NOT WILLING that ANY should perish (and He is speaking perishing eternally) but that ALL should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), then He means EXACTLY THAT. He is not willing for ANY to perish eternally, so He has provided a way of salvation for all who will receive it (John 3:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 1:12; John 3:36; John 5:24; Acts 16:30-31).
The gospel of God’s grace from the Garden of Eden to the end of the Millennial Kingdom and into the onset of eternity has ALWAYS been God’s grace freely offered to “whosoever will.” Any other position constitutes the preaching of ANOTHER GOSPEL, which is both forbidden and cursed by God (Galatians 1:8-9).