Gil VanOrder, Jr

THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 2. Fall 2017. Volume 36.

Dec. 16, 2017

2. Calvinists assume humans do not participate in their own salvation. God alone decides who will be saved.

Are we to assume that Rahab the harlot had nothing to do with her salvation when Jericho fell? If so, the Scriptures are very mis- leading, because they indicate she was spared due to her faith. Did Joshua and Caleb have nothing to do with the fact they alone entered the promised land? Or did God select them for reasons known only to him? Again, the Bi- ble leads us to believe they were allowed to enter the promised land because they alone had faith God could defeat the giants.

Consider the Old Testament story which most closely represents how salvation works - the Passover (Exodus 12). The Israelites were told they had to put lamb's blood on the doorposts of their home if they were to avoid having their firstborn destroyed. The wording of the passage would cause one to believe the choice was up to each individual household. Only those who believed in the power of the blood put the blood over their doorpost, and only they were the ones spared. Are we to assume that God had already decided who would be spared and that their faith in the lamb's blood was irrelevant? Did their decision to trust God determine their fate or was the whole thing monergistic? If so, why does the story indicate otherwise?

Are we to assume God was less than hon- est when he told the Israelites the only ones who would be healed were those who looked to the serpent lifted up in the wilderness? Or did God predetermine who would look up, so ex- ercising faith really wasn't their decision? Even though it was only those who looked up that were healed, must we assume they had nothing to do with who were chosen to be healed? Must we assume all this because humans do not determine their own salvation according to Calvinism?

Moving to the New Testament, Calvinists must assume that Jesus did not mean it when he told the woman with the issue of blood, "your faith has healed you" (Matt. 9:22).

When a blind man shouted to Jesus with the words, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me," Jesus asked the man, "What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51). The blind man said "Lord, that I might receive my sight." Jesus then said to him, "Go, your faith has healed you," and immediately he received his sight. Do Calvinists assume Jesus didn't really mean the man's faith determined his fate since humans are incapable of such things?

After the four men let the man sick of the palsy down through the roof to Jesus, Mark 2:5 tells us: "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Any unbiased reading of this story would lead one to believe that the man's sins were forgiven as a result of human faith. I'm sure that is what the men heard Jesus say. Wasn't Jesus moved to both heal and forgive based on the faith he witnessed?

In at least one case, Jesus even asked the seekers about their faith before he healed them. Matthew 9:28-29 records Jesus asking two blind men who sought him for healing, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said, "Yes, Lord." Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you." It certainly appears from the wording that it was their faith to which Jesus responded.

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus healed everyone who sought him for healing from all manner of sickness and disease. Matthew 4:23-24 tells us, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demonpossessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them."

Jesus could have selected just a few out of the crowds (the elect) and ignored all the others, but he didn't. Likewise, he could have waved his hand and healed everyone on the planet. But he didn't do that either. What Jesus did was heal everyone who had faith to come to him for healing. He rejected no one. Nor was it ever a case of irresistible grace. No one was ever healed who had no desire to be healed. The choice was always in the hand of the one seeking healing. Looking at Jesus (God in the flesh), one comes away with the belief that man has the choice to accept or reject God's gifts.

return to main index