In looking up some Scripture and quotes yesterday for my entry on the Ordo Salutis, I came across this article on faithalone.org, the website of the Grace Evangelical Society (Free Grace/No-Lordship position). The article was dealing with Acts 16:14, where, “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Here are a couple of quotes at the beginning of the article in particular with my rebuttals:
“What is God’s part and what is our part in salvation? There are few more difficult subjects than this one. One extreme is to so emphasize God’s sovereignty as to totally eliminate any human role in salvation at all. Reformed theology does this.”
Ha! Really? I’ve never said that, and neither have most historic Calvinists. And if Spurgeon, Whitefield, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, ever said something along those lines, please quote it. All historic Calvinists affirm man’s responsibility to believe. Man does indeed choose something in response to the Gospel call, either affirmation of its truth and acceptance, or denial and opposition. Calvinists deny man’s ability to choose anything other than that which is displeasing to God though, because of the corruption of his nature by sin. Man is by nature an enemy of God, a child of wrath, and does according to that evil nature. Apart from God granting eyes to see, ears to hear the Gospel, we would all choose to turn away from Christ when presented with Him and His work. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44) So we preach the Word (the Gospel, that Christ bore wrath in the place of sinners and rose from the dead, that if you believe you will be saved from His coming wrath), and the Spirit does His job in bringing to faith those whom He desires. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
The “extreme” view Mr. Wilkin is arguing against is called hyper-Calvinism, not Reformed theology. Hyper-Calvinists deny man’s responsibility and believe that God forces people either into heaven or hell (a sort of unbiblical Greek determinism). This is highly erroneous and unscriptural. Historic Calvinists (and myself) affirm the responsibility of man to believe in Christ for salvation. We believe that because of the corruption of his soul though, by nature, every area of his being has been infected by sin, including his will, desires, heart, and mind. As a result, the only thing he wills and desires is evil in God’s sight, for he can do no other, of necessity. The natural man is unable to overcome the corruption of his own heart, desires and will in order that he might see the value of Christ, believe, and thus be saved. “It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean but what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.” Man’s nature, his heart, his will, are like a well bubbling up with cyanide. The whole well (along with the source of the problem, the spring) is ruined unless it is dug up by an outside source, and the water replaced with clean, pure, fresh water. This is the very thing the Lord prophesied long ago He would do for us in Ezekiel 36:24-27, decisively removing our heart of stone, giving us a heart of flesh. In man’s plight of sin, spiritual ruin, and the corruption therein of his whole being, it takes a supernatural act of God (the work of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit) to raise us from spiritual death, regenerating every facet of our being so that we see who Christ really is and thus cannot help but trust in Him unto salvation. Jesus affirmed in John 3 that no one can even see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
“[Reformed theology] suggests that unbelievers are like rocks, totally incapable of responding to God.”
Bzzzzz. Wrong answer. Of course we affirm that man is capable of responding to God. The question is why does a sinner, dead in sin, ever respond to God positively, in faith? Where did his correct response come from if he was “dead in sin”? The answer is the work of the cross for us. The cross effected faith within us. As John Hendryx says (paraphrase), does faith arise on its own out of the unregenerate human nature? I see no where the Scripture affirms this. If the very foundation upon which a person makes choices is corrupted by sin, how can he make himself choose that which is good in God’s eyes (namely Christ)? We love Him because He first loved us, as 1 John 4 affirms. Something from outside of us must illuminate our minds, hearts, and yes, even regenerate our wills, so that we desire Christ and inevitably believe in Him. We need God to save us through and through. Apart from this gracious work, we would all choose to depart from God forever, in total rebellion against Him.
In sum, Mr. Wilkin would position himself as neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian, and yet at the same time he borrows fundamental theological ideas from both systems, inconsistently. In addition, his statements characterizing Reformed theology as true Hyper-Calvinism shows me just how much he does not understand Reformed theology really at all.
Hyper-Calvinism Section on Monergism.com – Please read these before accusing Calvinists of excluding man’s responsibility in salvation.
Also, here is a great example of good Calvinist preaching that God does indeed desire all men to be saved; I believe that with all my heart:
http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/arti … il.php?436