Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Amazing Grace According to God


God: The Solution

“If a person believed that God has chosen only a limited number of people to be saved out of the larger race, he would have to conclude either that the universal texts do not mean what they appear to say, or that God has two wills in the matter, one which is well disposed toward all sinners, and another secret will which purposes only to be gracious to a few” (Grace Unlimited, Clark H. Pinnock, Editor, p. 13). It is clear that God desires all men to be saved, and therefore, grace is available to all who want it; Jesus actually did die for all men:

  • “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16)
  • “Who desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4)
  • “Who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (2:6)
  • “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11).
  • “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2)

Yet when we try to find a Scripture that clearly teaches that grace is not available to all men, and that Jesus did not die for all men, and that God actually does not “desire” all men to be saved – there is none. In addition, to say that God “desires” all men to be saved but at the same time made an arbitrary decision that would prevent all men from being saved – is to say that God Himself is the biggest reason why people are not saved. Or, in other words, when it comes to saving people, God is part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

The Real & Eternal Choice: Life or Death?

“If a person believed as Augustine did, that saving grace is an irresistible operation of God’s Spirit that overwhelms the unbeliever and creates faith in him, he would have to conclude either that all will be saved (for God is no respecter of persons, Acts 10:34), or if not, that saving grace is not made universally available” (p. 14). It is obvious that the Holy Spirit can be resisted: “You men are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did” (Acts 7:51). This verse clearly teaches that resisting the Holy Spirit is not only a possibility, sadly, it is a popular and frequent choice that has been made by many generations.

In addition, I never find God “creating faith” in anyone against their will. For example, the generation that came out of Egyptian bondage were a chosen and blessed people (1 Corinthians 10:1ff), a people for God’s own possession, and yet they forfeited the Promise Land because “it was not united by faith in those who heard” (Hebrews 4:2). These were God’s chosen people and yet it is clear that God had not miraculously created faith in their hearts. Rather, the Scriptures teach that faith comes from the process of hearing the gospel (Romans 10:17), and anytime we hear the gospel we have a choice whether or not to believe (Hebrews 3:7). In fact, the Hebrew writer who is writing to “brethren”, that is Christians (Hebrews 3:12), warns them about lapsing toward an unbelieving heart. This verse does not make any sense if God miraculously creates faith in the hearts of Christians.

The same point is seen in the life of Christ. Jesus healed every disease (Matthew 4:24), and even cast out demons. Yet there is one thing that Jesus never miraculously cast out of a man or healed, that is, He never cast out “unbelief”. This seems very strange if God miraculously gives faith to the individual and regenerates people against their will:

  • He preached and waited for Nicodemus to respond: John 3
  • He did not miraculously help the rich young ruler: Mark 10:22
  • He did not cast out unbelief among those in His own home town: Mark 6:6
  • He did not miraculously heal the unbelief in the hearts of His own disciples: John 6:60
  • He did not miraculously overwhelm His disciples when they manifested a small or little faith: Matthew 16:8

Even the conversation of the “chief of sinners” (Paul) on the road of Damascus was not the over-powering of a God-hater, rather, it was giving an opportunity to a badly mistaken man who up to that time had thought that he was actually serving God in persecuting Christians. Even after Jesus appeared to Paul, he still had to decide what he was going to do (Acts 26:19).

“The point is this: If God’s grace is truly intended for all sinners, and if all sinners are not in the end saved (Matthew 7:13-14), it must be (there is no other possibility) that the grace of God in the gospel isresistible, or to put it positively and more adequately, personal in character, so that the choice before mankind to choose between life and death is an eternally real one. This is of course the assumption underlying every such exhortation in Scripture” (p. 16).

  • “So choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
  • “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15)
  • “If the Lord is God, follow Him” (1 Kings 18:21).
  • “Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18)
  • “And walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16)
  • “Enter by the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13).
  • “Come to Me” (Matthew 11:28)

None of the above passages make any sense if God miraculously gives faith to some and excludes it from others. The unselected by God cannot obey any of the passages, for they are not invited, and the selected cannot “come” without a miraculous push from God.

Our Just God

“If a person believed that the concept of the divine plan and purpose entailed a smothering determinism in which everything that occurs takes place because God has decreed that it should, he would have to conclude that those that are saved and those that are lost are so as the result of God’s ordination, and that the glorious message of God’s free grace to all sinners is fundamentally misleading” (p. 16). Therefore, we reject such a view of predestination because it precludes a sincere offer of the gospel to all men:

  • “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 
    He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” 
    (Mark 16:15-16).
  • “That whoever believes in Him should not perish” (John 3:16).
  • “But in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:35).
  • “For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

“Often associated with soteriological predestination in classical Calvinism is the notion of cosmic predestination as well... Everything that occurs in time and in eternity, from the falling of a stone to the torments of the damned, has been ordained by God’s eternal decree... Such a notion, indistinguishable from fatalism, is inconsistent with human freedom and undermines the reality of history and man’s moral responsibility. Worse still, it makes God the author of sin, since every act of rebellion, including the fall of Dam and since then was, as with every event is, ordained in the secret counsels of God. It is with no small relief that we inform our readers of our conviction that Scripture teaches no such doctrine” (p. 17). It is obvious from Scripture that God is not the author of sin:

  • “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

“In one of Jesus’ parables, a question was asked as to why tares appeared in the field alongside the wheat. The Master did not attribute their presence to the sovereign decree of God. He said simply, ‘An enemy has done this’ (Matthew 13:28). In speaking of an ‘enemy’, Jesus is acknowledging that events occur in the world which God does not will and actions which He will eventually punish... The idea that God’s will is something which is always and infallibly accomplished does not derive from biblical teaching” (pp. 17-18). There are many other passages which make it clear that God is not the cause of everything that happens, that man has free will, and that the future is flexible for each individual depending upon the choices they are presently making:

  • “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (Luke 7:30). 
  • “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 22:37).

The good news is that there is no “behind the scenes” secret plan of God that excludes you or me, rather, God sincerely offers salvation to all. All who wish to respond to the gospel can respond, and all who wish to reject it, can reject it. So, what will you choose?