Predestination destroys legalism. If salvation is by Christ ALONE, it leaves no room for boasting or trusting in ourselves, even a little. It strips us bare and forces us to abandon all hope in our own wisdom, will-power, efforts or rules. The Scripture declares: “It is because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:30-31)
This is not to say that Reformed people cannot be legalistic. Unless we daily remind ourselves of the gospel we all tend to invent ways to trust in ourselves, Reformed believers included. It means to say, rather, that if UNDERSTOOD CORRECTLY the doctrine of salvation by Grace ALONE in Christ ALONE will have the real effect of stripping us of all legalism, or trusting in our own (non-existent) righteousness. Again only God’s grace can reveal this. When we understand that God “will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.” (Rom 9:15) it will strike us down to the core of our being … so that we can only look up to Christ.
Visitor: Please explain to me what you mean by God will have mercy on who he will have mercy on. Would you try to say that God would send someone to hell without a choice of accepting and serving Him?
Response: Thank you for your question. First, “He will have mercy on whom he has mercy” is not my words but a direct quote from Scripture (Romans :9:15, 16). That being settled, let me answer your question…. everyone who hears the gospel are presented with the command or summons to believe. But according to the bible, no one would ever respond positively to the gospel of Jesus Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Left to himelf, man is in bondage to his corruptions and does not understand or desire the true God and think that the gospel is folly (1 Cor 2:14). Only God can open his eyes, ears and heart to the gospel. Man’s moral inability to believe the gospel on his own does not alleviate him of the responsibility to do so. We owe a debt we cannot repay … but this does not make God change his standard for us. The debt MUST be repaid. So Jesus does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.
Visitor: Thanks for your response. I would agree that the Holy Spirit convicts you of your need for Christ. But I find nowhere in the bible that people are predestined to hell. God chose us in past eternity, Christ saved us at the cross, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our helpless state and need for salvation. If we don’t accept Christ as the only way to Heaven then we are doomed.
Response: Thank you.I would encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 1 & 2. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit, by nature, hate Spiritual truth. The Spirit merely convicting someone, as you say, does not make him love or trust in Christ. According to the Bible more needs to take place. His nature needs to be changed for this to even be a possibility, according to 1 Cor. So God has no need to coercively predestine them to hell. They do very well choosing to go there themselves. That is the natural choice of everyone apart from God renewing their heart.
Jesus said “The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing …no one can come to me unless God grants it” (John 6:63, 65) and “all that the Father give to me will come to me” (John 6:37).
These two statements made in the same discussion plainly show that no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it through the quickening work of the Spirit …and all to whom he grants will come to faith in Christ.
It does not say some of those the Father gives Jesus will believe, but “all“. Also it clearly shows that they do not believe unless God first gives them to the Son. Jesus is not ambiguous here.
“The greatest judgement which God himself can, in the present life, inflict upon a man is, to leave him in the hand of his own boasted free-will.” – Augustus Toplady
Visitor: As you said you choose to go to hell but when convicted by the Spirit that you can’t get to Heaven without the free gift of Christ. You make a choice. I realize our flesh doesn’t naturally want Jesus. You hear the word the Holy Spirit shows you your need but there is free choice.
Response: I believe you are basing this idea on your assumptions and not on the text of Scripture. Can you from scripture where the Bible teaches free will anywhere?
God gives commands and imperatives to believe, yes. But what we ought to do is not the same thing as what we are able to do. A command reveals, not our ability but our duty. You speak as if God may be under some kind of obligation. But God would not God be perfectly just if he decided to save no one? God gives either justice or mercy to people in this life, but no one gets injustice.
You have not interacted with any of the Scripture I posted. You have only made orphaned assertions. I would like to see how you interpret John 6:63, 65, 37 and how my understanding of these texts is wrong. It says that the Spirit gives life (or quickens) and that no one can believe in Christ unless God grants this quickening. Not merely conviction.
Visitor: I don’t have the Bible in front of me to read the verses you gave. I didn’t say God was obligated to do anything. And I don’t seem to be wording things just right for you. So we may have to agree to disagree. As Warren Wiersbe said some things of God are a mystery. I don’t have the time or inclination at my time in life to argue such things when I can better spend my time worshiping and serving our Lord.
I would ask one more question did Adam & Eve choose to sin of their free will?
Response: Thanks again for you note…. Although I asked it of you, I see you were unable to provide any Scriptural evidence for your view of free will. You would think if it were true you would be able to come up with something off the top of your head since the Bible is such a voluminous work of God’s revelation to us. At least in a few places. Doesn’t that strike you as a little odd? If you cannot provide solid biblical evidence, we can only reason that you have built an entire view of Christianity based on a human tradition, not explicit ideas from Scripture. You are, therefore, basing your view of salvation on unaided assumptions, are you not?
Likewise, the passages I posted are not mystery but revealed Scripture. The Scripture speaks of these things plainly so this is not about opinions or something God has left to mystery. I agree that there are mysteries in the Scripture but the doctrine of unconditional election and monergistic regeneration are not one of them since they are both revealed doctrines. I think if you are honest before God you would take the time in the Texts I posted to you to see what it says there and let them shape you. If Jesus thinks it is important enough to put in Scripture, that we are to read, then obviously it is not something he meant for us to avoid.
Finally, your question about Adam and Eve reveal that you have not really understood what is being said here. Adam and Eve were not in bondage to corruption. When we say men have no free will we are talking specifically about the state of man after the fall … Jesus said he who sins is a slave to sin. And that which is a slave is not free. Only Christ can set us free. Thus when we say men have no free will we are not speaking of coercion… that God somehow coerces us to reject him. The history of this doctrine is about the nature of man. He is not free because, by a necessity of his fallen nature, he is in bondage to sin. He is dead in sin, without the Holy Spirit, so he rejects Christ of necessity, not because God forces him to reject Him.
Augustine once said, “Through freedom man came to be in sin, but the corruption which followed as punishment turned freedom into necessity.” In other words, before the fall men were “able to sin and able not to sin” – . After the fall, men are “not able not to sin.” So the question you are asking misunderstands the question at hand. Those who are not able not to sin have no free will to believe the gospel. Left to themselves men hate Christ and will not come into the light (See John 3:19, 20)
Source: John Hendryx | monergism.com