I’ts All About God — Part 1

April 19, 2008 at 8:02 am | Posted in It's All About God, Theology | Leave a comment

Romans 9:11-18.  There have been some lively discussions in our church on the Calvinism/Arminianism question in recent years.  I was asked to address the issue before our worship service one Sunday morning, when it came up in a class I wasn’t teaching.  I read passages like this, and it seems pretty clear that salvation is all God’s doing.  God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”  This sentence is the conclusion of the section, and it is stated as a general principle for all, not as a specific application to people groups like Jews and Gentiles.  I can see the possibility of interpreting some other parts of these difficult chapters as teaching a “corporate election,” which requires an individual response to make it specific, but I can’t see that interpretation here.  Salvation is entirely God’s doing – God’s choosing.  As believers, we love the scriptures that say things like “not by works, by faith,” or “not by works, by grace.”  But how often do we hear these similar words quoted: “not by works but by him who calls?”

A few chapters later Paul adds the words, “at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace, and if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:5-6)  We each have a strong desire to hold on to the idea that we had some part in our salvation, as though we were smart enough to believe in Jesus while the rest of the world was not.  But the depth of sin is such that we are not smart enough, and the deception of sin makes us hold on to the notion that we are!  When we do that, grace is no longer grace; it becomes a work of our own efforts!  This is what I meant that Sunday when I was asked about the question.  Before my sermon that Sunday, I said, “I believe it’s all about God.”  I am almost certain that a few who would dearly hold to the Arminian perspective responded to that comment with a hearty “Amen!”  I guess they haven’t considered the logical conclusion to which their beliefs will lead.  An Arminian perspective is not all about God; it is, at least to some degree, about me!

          On an interesting side note one lady, who has numerous questions about Calvinism, sang a special in church a few weeks after my comment.  She has a misunderstanding what Calvinism is about and says she can’t buy into the system.  However, the main line of her song was something like, “I couldn’t come to Jesus, but he came all the way to me.”  That sounds very much like a Calvinist!  To be consistent, an Arminian would have to sing, “Jesus opened the door, and I came to him.”

Someday I hope to add to this blog a growing list of Old Testament scriptures demonstrating that in the matter of salvation, it is all about God.  I seem to have run across many of them in recent months.

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