Tag Archives: calvinism

Not of the will of man

A friend of mine recently asked me what I made of John 1:11-13:

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Calvinists (of the sort who deny free will) like to point to this passage, especially verse 13, as proof that man cannot choose to place his faith in Christ.

The first thing that needs to be pointed out here is that “His own” in verse 11 are the Jewish people. “Borne not of flesh and blood” refers to the fact that it is not physical dependency that determines one’s placement within the promise of Abraham. This sentiment is also echoed elsewhere by Paul in Romans and Ephesians.

Verse 13 is very far removed from verse 11 in that Jesus is primarily addressing the notion by the Jews of his day that they were among the chosen people and because of that they were guaranteed to be the “children of Abraham” who were to inherit all of God’s blessings.

So verse 13 is emphatically stating that the blessing is not seminal. It does not pass down generation to generation no matter what the fathers or “will of man” is. The Jewish audience of John would likely remember Jacob and Esau here and how Esau was not included in the promise even through his father clearly wanted him to be.

This idea of the promise not coming in the form of the law or according to the way the Jews expected it to come is at the heart of John’s whole gospel. To make verse 13 to be about a philosophical notion of whether man can actually place their faith in Christ is actually to go against the whole book John wrote by ripping it out of the clear context it is in.

For example, John goes from his introduction straight into John the Baptist who preaches according to the soon to be Old Covenant based on law. Then John moves to Jesus, then Nathan (law), then back to Jesus (wedding). So I would say that verse 13 is simply referring to the core theme John is writing about throughout his book, namely that Jesus is the promised messiah through which the blessings foretold will come.

In sum, you can’t say that verse 13 of chapter 1 has anything to do with our inability to place our faith in Christ since that is exactly what John is persuading his audience to do.

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The Calvinistic Adventures of Doug

Josh Lowery, A friend of mine from Facebook has created a series of videos exploring the idiosyncraties of Calvinism. This series is titled “The Damned”, and it provides a pretty good synopsis of some of the biggest problems in Calvinism.

Doug’s first taste of Calvinism

Doug’s Theological Trap

It’s the Glory, Stupid!

Force feeding

Theologizing le Babel

Libertarian free will vs. compatabalism

Here is a great question I received recently via Facebook

I’ve been thinking about libertarian freedom lately. What exactly does “nature” mean? 1. The compatibilist says we can only act according to our nature, while the libertarian says we can act against it. If our nature is to sin, then couldn’t we come to Christ without His drawing since we can act against our nature? 2. Libertarians believe in causeless actions. There is no sufficient cause for us to make decisions, only “external influences”. But, if our actions were causeless, then doesn’t that undermine the cosmological argument? What are your thoughts on this? Thank you.

Additionally

The principle of causality holds that every event has an adequate cause. If this is so, then it would seem that even the act of free choice has a cause and so on back to God (or infinity). In any case, if the act of free choice is caused by another, then it cannot be caused by one’s self.” Things don’t just happen. We need causes. Likewise, our actions need a cause and they cannot originate from ourselves because then something would cause itself. Again, libertarian freedom would seem to undermine the kalam cosmological argument.

My response:

The compatabilist seeks to redefine the word “will” to mean something that, in the end, is not a “will” anymore. The compatabilist likes to equivocate on the word because they know the word MUST be used and rather than admit their system is flawed to the core, they would rather do violence to the fabric of language itself.

Once you pin them on their butchering of the English language there are really two options. 1. Get them to use words in their proper sense or 2. cease the conversation since a productive communication is impossible if your opponent is going to be so intellectually dishonest as to twist words to the degree that language itself stands in peril.

To answer further, advocates of libertarian free will (LFW) simply do not see the heart turning itself (an Augustinian statement) as an action. The will wills what the will wills. There are influences and limits that do come into play, but at some point, if we are to call the will a will, there needs to be a free and un-compelled choice between at least two possible alternatives. Otherwise we cannot be said to be free or to have willed in any meaningful sense.

As for undermining the KCA. If we are going to claim the will is necessarily part of a causal system, then we run into issues with God and His will. Is the compatabalist willing to take on the challenge of explaining the causal chain God’s will is subject to and how such a causal chain fits in with God’s aseity?

Our souls, the seats of our will, is what is made in the image of God. If our souls are causal puppets on external strings. What does that say for God?

I would therefore be weary of any man who wishes to place God’s will under causal arrest.

Does regeneration precede salvation?

RC Sproul writes:

Yes, the faith we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised. The issue, however, goes deeper. The question still remains: “Do I cooperate with God’s grace before I am born again, or does the cooperation occur after?” Another way of asking this question is to ask if regeneration is monergistic or synergistic. Is it operative or cooperative? Is it effectual or dependent?

This is an excellent example of the problem in viewing faith as a work under the law. You see, if Sproul is right and faith is a work under the law then it certainly does mean the debate between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is one of synergism vs monergism. However since it is impossible to show how faith is a work under the law (because it isn’t) raising the issue of monergism vs synergism is simply a red herring thrown out to merely obscure the real issue, which is what we mean when we say that man exercises his faith and that God does not “believe for us”.

And here is where we also get to see the double-speak employed by Calvinists like Sproul.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we can- not. We cannot because we are spiritually dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him for the dead.

That is very interesting, mostly because if people are dead in the way Sproul seems to think they are, then they can do _neither_ good nor evil. If God were to punish such a person, we would have to accuse him of literally beating a dead horse, that is, something that can do nothing other than lay there.

However the language of the whole of Scripture simply doesn’t support such a notion and Sproul knows it, that’s why he stated at the outset that:

“Yes, the faith we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised.”

Well if Sproul says that at the outset and yet by the end comes to the conclusion that we are totally dead without the quickening of the Holy Spirit, what is he doing in the interim to alleviate the apparently logical paradox he has created?

The answer: He fundamentally redefines what faith is.

In the reformed view faith is simply a mechanistic system predicated on a chain of causes that eventually rests on God. Where faith is traditionally and commonly accepted to mean an act of the will (albeit not a directly volitional act).

Therefore Sproul’s assessment that faith is evidence of regeneration preceding salvation is only valid if we add in a hidden premise that faith is merely a mechanistic output of a predefined set of inputs. The trouble with that view is that if the will is reduced to a machine where faith is nothing more than a product of a series of causal inputs (regeneration being one of them) then the very words used such as “will” and “faith” loose their meaning.

Moreover, on this view of faith, we end up begging the ugly question of why God does not choose to regenerate all men so that they will automatically choose to place their faith in Christ and be saved. Then again, this butts up against another ugly reformed doctrine which is that God does not really love all men nor does he want them to all be saved.

In the end, however, I would agree with Sproul’s assessment that regeneration precedes faith. That the Holy Spirit’s prior operation is a necessary precondition to one’s placing their faith in Christ. however it is far from certain that such regeneration is a sufficient condition for one’s placing their faith in Christ. Indeed, Scripture indicates in many places that it is not sufficient as we have many accounts of people freely spurning the love and drawing of Christ. In other words, regeneration may precede faith, but it by no means causes faith.

So while a positive contribution can not be made in regards to one’s salvation, a negative contribution (ie. choosing to reject the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto salvation) is certainly possible.

Some may point out, however, that Sproul thinks that people are dead such that they only do evil. And that “it would, perhaps, be “double-speak” if he didn’t believe other things in lieu of those two.”

This is where the double speak comes in. You see, if I were to ask whether sinful man sins of his own free volition then you would undoubtedly say “yes”. However, if I asked if man knew he were sinning you would either have to say no in order to remain logically consistent within your own system or you would have to say yes if you wish to affirm what the Bible says on the matter. You see, throughout Scripture we are entreated with language that makes it appear (that is, if we do not presuppose a doctrine that claims otherwise) that man knows he is sinning (in spite of knowing what good is) and yet chooses to forgo God’s will thereby making himself, of his own free will, a rebel just like Satan, the rebellious angel and Adam and Eve, the rebellious progenitors of our race.

However, men like Sproul seem to think that if they redefine “faith” and “will” to mean something which is slavishly enslaved to some other causal entity (ultimately controlled by God, so the number of gears in the causal machine is really irrelevant) they can use the same words the Bible does without doing fundamental damage to language itself. Faith or belief, while not a volitional action, is still an action taken by a will that must be free in some capacity or else the word is emptied of its meaning.

So when men like Sproul, who are smart guys that know better, equivocate on the meanings of the words they are using, they are being deceptive and dishonest. They are practicing double-speak in the classic Orwellian sense by attempting to subvert the very words being used. They would be more honest and respectable if they were to say what they plainly mean in language everyone can understand. But then, they would have to resort to mechanistic language wherein we would have to take great pains to avoid words like “puppet” and “robot” which, while derided by Calvinists far and wide, continue to provide an apt description of the epistemic bankruptcy of Reformed epistemology.

Consequently, this equivocation or redefining of words is one of the reasons that it is so hard to have a productive discussion with Calvinists. Then again, for a system of doctrine that ended up burning many men at the stake merely for disagreeing with it, I suppose being intellectually dishonest is but a small price to pay.

For an extended treatment of this topic I highly recommend this article from the Society of Evangelical Arminians.

Also, if you are interested in what I consider to be a more credible alternative to irresistible grace, I suggest overcoming grace.

By grace, through faith

A common thorn in the side of most Calvinists is Ephesians 2:8 which reads

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

To keep with the reformed doctrine of irresistible grace (ie. men being robots) they prefer to make the case that faith is included in the gift given from God.

The problem with your interpretation is that if faith is included in what is gifted to us then it makes the through (διὰ) superfluous and unnecessary given the context.

Rather, πίστεως (faith) is the conduit διὰ (through) which χάριτί (grace) is actualized.

Word for word it is: τῇ The γὰρ for/reason χάριτί grace ἐστέ you σεσῳσμένοι are saved διὰ through πίστεως faith καὶ and τοῦτο this οὐκ not ἐξ out of ὑμῶν of yours θεοῦ God τὸ the δῶρον gift/sacrifice/offering.

Further, Robertson’s Word Pictures puts it this way:

Neuter, not feminine ταυτη, and so refers not to πιστις (feminine) or to χαρις (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part. Paul shows that salvation does not have its source (εξ υμων, out of you) in men, but from God. Besides, it is God’s gift (δωρον) and not the result of our work. (emphasis mine)

For more context, this verse is almost the same as verse 5 before it but with the addition of “through faith”. Verse 5 reads:

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

If faith is part of the gift and is indeed necessary for salvation, why was it omitted in verse 5?

It seems that only by making the illogical leap to thinking of faith as a work12 can a person sustain the notion that faith along with grace is not of ourselves.

  1. Which should be rejected anyway since such a view of faith as a work would make verse 9 incoherent. []
  2. Galatians 3:6 among other verses point to the fact that faith is not a work under the law. []

How not to answer the question of evil

Here is Voddie Baucham Jr.‘s treatment of the question of evil:

A couple of things need to be observed here:

  1. Voddie completely dodges the question.
  2. Voddie turns the question around to be about the questioner.
  3. Voddie derides the questioner by assaulting their intelligence (his preamble regarding first year philosophy students is not only uncalled for but a clear appeal to authority, namely his own)

Man does not put God under a standard by asking the question. The problem with Voddie’s approach, which seems typical for most Calvinists, is that it attempts to avoid the real and serious question by attempting to turn it around to be all about the questioner. This attempt at trivializing a weighty subject is the paramount of both arrogance and ignorance in my estimation.

The issue is this: If God causally directs all events “for His glory” as men like John Piper have often claimed in the past, then

  1. How can we say that evil really exists (since all things are causally directed by God)
  2. How can we hold any other creature accountable for something they have no causal control over (beating a dead horse is the phrase that comes to mind here) and
  3. How are we to make sense of God claiming to be at war with something he secretly causes to bring about his ends.

You see, none of the above issues..

  1. ..depend on a standard of holiness that is independent of God (though I’m sure you’ll take the time honored tradition of redefining words in a desperate attempt to further weasel out of this problem) or
  2. ..have anything to do with the questioner, these issues would still exist even if all men (and angels) were wiped out in the next instant.

As one person pointed out in an earlier conversation regarding this issue. This does not have to be an issue that does great damage to Calvinism. Afterall, many Calvinists like Alvin Plantinga have long since accepted the fact that only by upholding the limited freedom of other causal agents such as men and angels, as the Bible clearly teaches, can we avoid the horrible implications raised in a causally closed universe. However this is a very damaging challenge against a particular brand of hyper-Calvinism which depends on a causally deterministic view of God in relation to His creation.

For any answer to the problem of evil to be considered even remotely good it needs to satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It needs to recognize the pain and suffering in the universe.
  2. It needs to acknowledge the reality and seriousness of the question. Flippant appeals to sovereignty, mankind’s depravity, or anything else simply will not do here.
  3. It needs to actually show how it is logically possible for evil to exist in a world created and sustained by an thrice holy God. This means showing both
    1. How evil can even exist and
    2. How God is truly separated from that evil

For a good example of how to answer the question of evil I recommend this material from Dr Little, this debate between Michael Brown and Bart Ehrman, and this lecture by Dr William Lane Craig.

Now because I don’t want you to form the opinion that all of Voddie’s material is worthless. Here is an excellent clips of him dealing with the issue of marriage and how men ought to love their wives:

Does responsibility presuppose freedom?

A friend of mine on Facebook posted the following video with the following claim:

No responsibility doesn’t presuppose freedom, but responsibility does presuppose authority.

Here is my initial response, along with the ensuing conversation’s highlights.

It presupposes both actually. Responsibility requires both someone to be held accountable and someone to be held accountable to. Both subsiquiently require a certain amount of freedom to choose. Both to set the standard of responsibility as well as whether to even attempt to live up to the standard set. To negate the freedom of either is to render them an object and not an agent. And objects cannot be responsible or authoritative. Humans aren’t objects, and neither is God.

Why do both [causal agents] require freedom?

They require freedom in order to be considered causal agents. I explained this in my previous note when I talked about how responsibility presupposes that both the one being held accountable and the one to whom we are accountable need to be agents and not objects.

You changed the question entirely to whether you were predestined to do one thing or it was entirely undetermined by any but yourself.1

No, I think your theological presuppositions are getting in the way of your understanding my question and its significance as to the present topic.

You asserted earlier that I am mistaken. Well that implies that I am responsible for presenting accurate information. So my question is whether my mistakenness is my own fault due to my own limited but free choices in what information to pursue and what propositional truth claims to maintain as true or whether I have no free will at all (not absolute freedom mind you, that is a straw man on your part) and thus have no alternative than to be mistaken about my assertions. In the former case responsibility and the subsequent admonition are warranted whereas in the second case responsibility is negated simply because there is nothing I could have done otherwise.

If our responsibility is founded on our freedom, how is it that Jesus Christ is held responsible for our sins instead of us when he did not perpetrate them?

Jesus was held responsible for our sins? That is news to me. I was under the impression that He willingly paid a debt He did not owe. However it is funny that you should bring this up as it lends itself further to the notion that men have limited freedom since their sins are just that, theirs, and not someone else’s. The very notion of sin, like responsibility, necessitate at least enough freedom on the part of the agent charged with sin to have possibly opted to not sin. Otherwise, if you negate any and all freedom whatsoever, or if you redefine will to mean something other than will, you are left with a logical contradiction (not just mystery) in that men sin by necessity and due to a causal determination outside of their own volition.

In the end, I think you understand the correct and logically cohesive argument since you state it quite plainly:
“If I am responsible, then I am free. I am free therefore I am responsible.
Then you give the further proof: If I am causally determined (by some thing other than myself) then I am not responsible, I am responsible therefore I am not causally determined (by some thing other than myself).”

Simply put, yes. This is correct since men are not robots but causal agents capable of making limited but truly free choices.

If responsibility is required then freedom to respond is available. Responsibility is required therefore freedom to respond is available.

Responsibility: definition

Responsible: definition

1 a : liable to be called on to answer b (1) : liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent (2) : being the cause or explanation c : liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties
2 a : able to answer for one’s conduct and obligations : trustworthy b : able to choose for oneself between right and wrong

So you see. The language of causal agency is etched into the very definition of the words used. So unless you want to take the route of being a pure deconstructionalist, wishing (freely) to remake the English language in your own image (by redefining words as you see fit) then I would consider this topic to be rather simple and resolved purely on account of the necessity of linguistic structures.

Responsibility requires the ability to respond by a causal agent. Causal agency entails some degree of freedom to choose. Or, in this case, “choose between right and wrong”.

To sum it all up. Those who disagree with the notion that responsibility presupposes the freedom to make real, morally significant moral choices are, themselves, mistaken. It is not God or any other outside agent or force that has caused them to be mistaken, their error is wholly their own.

Note, that if a person wants to deny the above paragraph they cannot simply say that I am mistaken since such a claim would, itself, necessitate the limited freedom to be 1. wrong and 2. responsible for correcting that wrong belief. The best someone who wants to deny true causal agency (aka limited free will) and who implicitly wants to affirm causal determinism can say is that I have been predestined according to forces wholly beyond my control (which goes without saying, but I feel the need to be overly specific and verbose here) to believe the way I do. They cannot, however, say that I am wrong in my beliefs. Because no matter how hard they try, they cannot get around the fact that to deny causal agency, which is the core of limited freedom, is to unhinge the whole notion of responsibility by destroying. And no amount of redefining words is enough to save such a wholly illogical and philosophically untenable position.

  1. After a previous response I received the objection that I was mistaken. The quoted comment, then, is in response to my question as to whom was mistaken, me or God. The purpose of this inquiry was to implicate the intuitive nature of limited freedom being asserted here. []

Subversive preaching: “Examine yourself”

A friend on Facebook posted the video above which gave rise to the following conversation:

Me:

I find such sermons where the underlying premise is “though you think you are saved, you MAY not be” to be absolutely deplorable and ultimately severely spiritually damaging. May God have mercy on all preachers who think they are doing any good in preaching such sermons and may God also fortify those unfortunate enough to sit through such horrible sermons to either ignore them or be strengthened enough to withstand the undue and needless spiritual consternation they cause.

What amuses me in all of this, though, is that such sermons are often preached by Calvinists, who also purport to hold to “once saved always saved”. Assurance of salvation indeed!

They:

Wes…..there is an epidemic of easy-believism in this country. Just say a quick prayer and bam, you are saved. Man cannot declare someone’s salvation, only God can do that. Unfortanetly, this is the way of the world. You are right, for the false convert, sitting through such a sermon must be “absolutely deplorable”. Wes, the Truth is not meant for comfort and to make one “feel good”. It is God’s Truth, and just because it may make someone feel it is “absolutely deplorable” does not change anything. Yes, once saved, always saved, but you actually have to be saved to claim this. As many who think they are, are not.

Me:

The point is that it has nothing to do with feelings in the first place. Sure, there is easy-believism in the form of making people feel good about themselves, but on the opposite end of the spectrum you have the preachers like Paul Washer who seem to think people should be emotional train-wrecks 24/7 and never content with their life or their walk with Christ.

The bottom line is if someone accepts the simple message of Christ’s life, death, and atonement for their sins per 1 Corinthians 15 then they are saved and can know it with certainty. Period. End of story. Any further preaching whose aim is primarily to introduce doubt in their lives as to their salvation is, quite simply, wrong (and quite possibly demonic). Now, we may want to more clearly define what it means to believe in the first place (and that is not merely mental acknowledgement/affirmation of a set of propositions) but we by no means need to preach sermons where we may inadvertently destroy someone’s faith because we are hell-bent on removing the tares from the wheat.

Also, “easy-believism ” is not really a problem. Failure to understand what one is believing/committing to is.

The Gospel is simple and easily to believe (with the drawing and assistance of the Holy Spirit that is) and it would be wrong for us to start throwing in additional unnecessary barriers to belief (beyond the limited and simple ones Jesus Himself established).

The problem is not that people are readily believing what is preached. The problem is that what is preached is not an entirely accurate portrayal of what it means to be a Christian.

They:

Actually Wes thats not how it works. What you just stated is in fact the false gospel that is damning many to hell. You cant just simply “believe” and be saved. There is no way I can detail this in a fb comment, but simply yes you must believe the gospel BUT then you must beg God to grant you repentance and salvation and IF you get saved you receive the Holy Spirit and are regenerated. Then you are called into a life of pursuing Holiness and Christ like charactor i.e. a covenant with God to keep his law. No one can not by any means earn salvation through works but good fruit or works is evidence of true salvation and the only proof. Washer preaches the way he does because the majority of this country are deceived and not saved. The TRUE Saints rejoice and delight in reproof and his teaching, if it bothers you maybe it is because one doesnt have the Holy Spirit therefore is not a child of God and doesnt appreciate the discipline of God.

Me:

God does not grant us repentance.

We repent before God. We may be drawn and aided by the inner working of the holy spirit, but to say that God “grants us repentance” is to destroy what repentance, by definition, is.

But you do elucidate one of the biggest problems we face here and that is not that people believe the Gospel but that the gospel is being changed (either knowingly or unknowingly) by Calvinists such as Washer through their understanding of election into “if you are elect, then God will change you, otherwise you are one of the reprobate and therefore screwed from all eternity”. Unfortunately such a gospel is really no gospel at all (and not really worth preaching either since it neither provides hope nor is it anything anyone can do anything about).

What is truly sad in all of this is that in an effort to preserve a man-made theological system we are quite wiling to do mortal damage to the faith of our brothers.

At this point my salvation was questioned. A tactic I’ve come to discover is par for the course, especially when debating with hyper-Calvinists.

They:

Wes….I’m not saying anything of the sort. Only God knows your heart, but everything you speak of screams “easy-believism”. If I offended you I am sorry, that was not my intent. I cannot believe anyone who is truly saved can speak of Paul Washer in the tone that you do. I’m done responding Wes. Again I am sorry if I offended you, but I can speak of no other but the truth. Please, if you cannot tolerate what I post here on fb, please delete me. For it will not offend me in any way shape or form.

Me:

I hate to take a short detour from the present thread’s topic to address this for a second:
“I cannot believe anyone who is truly saved can speak of Paul Washer in the tone that you do.”

That smacks of “I am of Paul”. Brother, that is a VERY dangerous and spiritually damaging road to walk down. I don’t think Paul Washer has absolutely nothing good to say, he does. But neither do I think he is right in regards to everything he says or does or, and more importantly, is he above reproach. Remember, the Bereans were commended for following up on Paul, the least we can do is the same for anyone who purports to be a teacher.

Back to this whole mythical specter of “easy believe-ism”. I simply don’t see it. The message of the Bible is clear, concise, and accessible by all. The fact that we reject it is only an indication of our hard hearts, but the present conversation has NOTHING to do with order salutis. Even though we are from different sides of the theological fence we ought to be able to agree that after one is saved they are, indeed, saved. In that respect, and based on the testimony of Paul’s wife above, I find absolutely no biblical reason to say that she was not saved before her emotional breakdown some many years later. Further, I would cite the emphasis on emotion in this case is actually what is detrimental to a person’s spiritual well-being. And it is quite likely what exacerbated the issue in question far more than any lostness (mostly because the lostness was merely a perceived one and not due to any objective Biblical definition of lostness).

So for offending/hurting anyone’s feelings. Brother, I simply don’t understand what you are talking about. Just because I disagree with you does not have any bearing on my emotional state. Further, my emotional state has no bearing on the facts or what needs to be said or expressed. What you seem to be alluding to smacks of some sort of hyper-sensitivity that I do not possess. And hopefully you don’t either. So if it is all the same to you, why don;t we agree to stay on topic, discussing it in a Christ-like fashion, and forgo worrying about eachother’s feelings?

They:

Wes, why do you think you are a Christian?

From here the conversation turns to be about me rather than the initial topic. This is, as I noted above, a common tactic popular among Reformed adherents. But it also serves to elucidate the subversive nature of this vein of teaching.

Where does it come from? Both Augustine and Calvin taught a view of the church where, in their view, there existed a global visible church and a local invisible church. Under this view all local congregations contained both reprobate as well as elect persons. It is from this view that men like Paul Washer either knowingly or unknowingly subvert the faith of millions by constantly calling into question their salvation.

By contrast, the Bible teaches us that we can be certain of our salvation.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. -1 John 5:13

Let no one, including (and especially) preachers, tell you differently.

John Calvin on John 3:16

Here’s a gem I ran across recently while reading the excellent book, Whosoever Will.

And indeed our Lord Jesus was offered to the world. For it is not speaking of three or four when it says: “God so loved the world, that He spared not His only Son.” But yet we must notice what the Evangelist adds in this passage: “That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but obtain to eternal life.” Our Lord Jesus suffered for all and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today, for we can obtain salvation in Him. Unbelievers who turn away from Him and who deprive themselves of Him by their malice are today doubly culpable, for how will excuse their ingratitude in not receiving the blessing in which they could share by faith.
John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ (London: James Clark, [1559] 1956), 141

A couple of observations here:

Calvin did not feel the need to restrict “world” to “the world of the elect”. In fact, Calvin appears to take great pains to maximize the scope here since it is apparent that He believes that the scope of the atonement has a direct bearing on the scope of the Gospel message.

Calvin curiously cited unbelievers who reject the Gospel as “doubly culpable”. This is a clear indication that Calvin believed satisfaction for sins to have been made for all persons otherwise one could not be “doubly culpable”.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16, NIV

Key texts affirming resistible grace

As I’ve been reading through the excellent rebuttal to 5 point Calvinism, Whosoever Will, I ran across a section that listed (with more explanation that I plan to give here, so buy the book if you want to learn more) a several key texts that provide evidence that God’s will is indeed resistible:

Additionally, here are several passages indicating Jesus’s understanding of resistible grace: