Mon, May 16th - 11:42PM
In many ways the Reformation was a "back to the Bible" movement, but any enlightenment that Reformers had was because of the light of Scripture. Light comes from Scripture and not the Reformation. (Psalm 119:130) The Reformers did write and teach many important truths. For example, it is true that God foreknows everything and that He has ordained some events ahead of time and chosen some individuals for His purposes and it is true that salvation is by grace and the saved are kept by the power of God. But sometimes they went beyond the clear teachings of Scripture. We should test all things by God's Word and not Reformation teachings and traditions. All too often Reformers are considered the authority on election instead of Scripture. (II Timothy 2:15; 3:16)
The Bible teaches the total depravity of man, which simply means that man is a natural-born sinner who cannot earn or merit salvation. The Bible does not teach that unbelievers are lost because they cannot come to Christ; they are lost because they will not come to Christ. (John 5:40; Revelation 22:17; consider Acts 7:51) John 6:44 does not prove total inability. All men are drawn to God, but not all who are drawn trust Christ as savior. (John 12:32; Matthew 22:14; also consider Romans 1:19-20; 2:11-16)
Christ is the supremely chosen servant. (Matthew 12:18; Luke 9:35; I Peter 2:4) The saints were chosen in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3-4) Christians have no claim to divine election except as they belong to Christ. (John 15:16; Ephesians 1:3-5; II Timothy 1:9; I Peter 1:2) Election is emphasized as for witness and service, and not primarily for privilege. (Exodus 19:3-6; Isaiah 49:6; John 15:16)
Election is according to God's foreknowledge and not some random or arbitrary selection. (John 3:18, 36; Romans 8:29-30; I Peter 1:2) God calls people by the Gospel unto a conditional salvation, and they are saved through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth when they obey the Gospel. (II Thessalonians 2:13-14; Romans 8:28-30; I Peter 1:2; consider Romans 10:17) Consider that the rails of a railroad track are parallel and do not appear to join together, but both rails of a railroad track are essential for a train to move, and this is a good illustration of salvation. Both the sovereignty of God and the freewill of man are essential to salvation, and we invite error and misunderstanding when we emphasize one aspect to the exclusion of the other, or read into the texts ideas that are not there. For example, God chose believers to glorification and eternal life with God, but Scriptures never say that God chose anyone to go to Hell as unbelief is a work of man and not of God. God must do the saving for anyone to be saved, but those who die lost can only blame themselves. The salvation of those who were foreknown before the foundation of the world is completely the work of God, and the punishment of the lost is not based on God choosing them for damnation but is based on their rejection of Him.
The call to salvation is universal. (Isaiah 53:6; John 3:16-18,36; 4:42; Romans 5:18; II Timothy 2:3-6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; II Peter 3:9; I John 2:2) Scripture makes it clear that it is God's will for all to be saved. (Matthew 22:14; John 12:32; Acts 17:30; I Timothy 2:3-4; I Peter 3:9) Some have difficulty understanding that a sovereign God can desire something that does not come to pass, but consider Matthew 23:37, and if you are a believer consider this: Do you and other believers always fulfill the desire of God that is clearly taught in I Thessalonians 5:16-18?
The argument that the whole world would be saved if Christ died for the whole world is also contrary to Scripture. Jesus Christ died for everyone, including those who will not believe on Him. The blood atonement is sufficient to save the whole world, but it is only efficient to those who believe. (John 3:16-18; 3:36; 4:42; Romans 8:32; I Timothy 2:4-6; 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; I Peter 2:1; I John 2:2; 4:14)
Was it irresistible grace that saved Noah, or did grace bring salvation to Noah and his family? (Genesis 6:8; I Peter 3:20) Likewise with New Testament salvation, the grace of God bringeth salvation. (Titus 2:11; John 1:12; 5:40; Acts 7:51; Revelation 22:17; consider Proverbs 1:24-26)
If you open a jar of fruits or vegetables that are good even though they have been in the jar a long time are they still good because they persevered or because they were preserved? Genuine born again believers are not eternally secure because they persevere, they are preserved by God. (John 10:27-29; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Timothy 4:18; I Peter 1:4-5; Jude 1)
The relationship between the sovereignty of God and the freewill of man is an important subject that everyone should study, but there is need for cautions: Human nature often leads Christians to spiritualize disobedience or try to justify disobedience with Bible "knowledge," such as using doctrines on salvation to dismiss the importance of evangelistic endeavors and supporting missions. The sovereignty of God also means that we are obliged to obey His commands, including the commands to spread the gospel message and occupy till He comes.