Category: Theology

Why Are Less People Giving The Gospel A Chance?

Why Are Less People Giving The Gospel A Chance?


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” –Albert Einstein

In Matthew 18, Jesus commands his disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (NKJV, Emphasis added) This command, known as the Great Commission, is to spread the teachings of Jesus to everyone with the hope of providing the same complete joy one receives by realizing their purpose and meaning in life. Unfortunately, this command seems to be more difficult to achieve today not because of the unwillingness of people to share the gospel but rather the unwillingness of people to accept it.

Evangelism today seems much harder than it did in the past. More than ever, the church has seen a greater resistance among people who do not want to give the time to listen to the gospel. Conversations may be harder to establish because as soon as Christianity is mentioned, some dismiss it immediately as if it were complete and utter nonsense. This reason is because of the belief that science and faith are incompatible and that science has proven Christianity false.

Faith through the Christian Lens

When the word “faith” is used to describe one’s belief in the Bible or God, one does not mean that it is the belief of something that lacks existential evidence but rather the total opposite. This faith is founded on evidence that is reasonable and logical. I know that some cannot clearly articulate their reasons and less, some do not have the education to provide a reasonable explanation but that does not mean that no evidence exists to support the Christian faith.

In fact, the Apostle Paul did not preach blind faith but rather taught with reason to those who listened. “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.” (Acts 17:2, 3, emphasis added) In respect to the resurrection, Paul used the accounts of first-hand eye witnesses, of both Christians and non-Christians, to corroborate the resurrection conclusion. In other words, many came to believe in Jesus for the reasons and evidence given to them along with the confirmation of miraculous signs.

Science is the pursuit of knowledge through observation that gives the best explanation for the natural world and events that occur within the natural world. This same systematic approach is taken to make sense of the Bible, more so, the existence of God. Whether it be the explanation for the cosmos or the creation of man, science is actively involved in theology. Amazingly, the great scientific discoveries of today can be used to soundly argue for the existence of a supernatural being and key historical accounts of the New Testament.

Science and Christianity Can Coexist

There is a huge misconception that science and faith are incompatible. Some feel that the Christian faith is no longer needed because science can now explain all natural phenomena and that believers just fill in the gaps with God. (God-of-the-Gaps Article) However, there is a great number of highly-academic scientists and philosophers, respected in their fields, who hold true to the belief that science does not dismiss God. To name but a couple of such people is Dr. John Lennox, mathematician of Oxford University, and Dr. Joel Primack, an American Astro-physicist who co-developed the cold dark matter theory that explains the formation and structure of the universe. These men, along with other brilliant men and women, have dedicated their lives to science and have shown how science has brought light to the necessary belief for God’s existence in order to best explain the birth and development of our natural world.

Albert Einstein, the great mind of the 20th century, said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The definition of lame is to be unable to walk normally because of an injury or illness. Without religion, science would lose its ultimate meaning of finding the truth because science can only test what is in the natural world where as the metaphysical would still be a mystery. In fact, the story of science and faith is more complicated to skeptics because scientists cannot escape the question of God. On the other hand, religion receives further light and support when science is involved to help explained the laws that govern our world.

In his book, Stealing from God, Dr. Frank Turek makes a convincingly sound case about how atheists would have to steal from the immaterial world in order to provide some explanation for the material world. Dr. Turek makes reference to Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule in 1953, and his book, The Astonishing Hypothesis, to bring to light a strong belief within the atheist community. “While you may think that you are a conscious, free, rational creature, that’s just an illusion, because you really are no more than a molecular machine. Every thought you have, every decision you make, is the result of chemical and physical processes over which you have no control. God does not exist. You are nothing more than a collection of molecules.” (Turek, 2015) If left alone, materialism cannot explain the beginning of the universe let alone the ability to think or rationale if we are just all molecules in motion. With religion, science receives more validity and value in its explanation while Christian faith benefits by further correlating its truth with the natural world.

Apologetics: Today’s Evangelism

The Apostle Peter wrote in one of his letters that we should “always be prepared to provide a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us].” (1 Peter 3:15) In this same manner, as believers of the truth, we should always be ready to give a clear explanation as to why we believe what we believe. Experiences and personal testimonies help to strengthen other believers and at best can promote curiosity in others to want to “test the waters.” But the best way to give a proper apologia is by correctly stating the facts.

To effectively evangelize, one should know what they are talking about. Spend some time researching the common misconceptions people have about Christianity and the Bible. Get to know why people find it difficult to accept the Gospel as a true historical account and present them with the reasons that corroborate the validity of the New Testament and why God is the best explanation for the creation of the cosmos. Many of the reasons why people discredit the Gospel is because they have only been presented with a one-sided science that purposely contradicts what the Bible actually teaches. Our job should be to present the truth of scripture and allow the recipient to decide what to do with the evidence provided.

Most important, evangelism should be done with love and patience. Far from a debate, evangelism should be a rich dialogue where the believer can clearly state reasons why they believe the Christian faith to be the true faith and how it perfectly fits in, not only with history and contemporary science, but with their own personal values and lifestyle. The morals that Jesus teaches are those of humbleness and care for our neighbor, teaching that we can all agree are beneficial to all of society.

Conclusion

Science is the means by which we can make sense of the world around us. Through observation and deep study we can separate the truth from what is false. This innate process by which we exercise on a daily basis shows humankind’s insatiable desire to find answers not only about how the world works but the purpose and meaning behind it. Some say that there is no meaning to life, that we are just animals living our part of the life cycle Earth permits us to live. Fortunately for those who hold true to the evidence that anchors the Christian faith, we see that the other side of science points us to something greater, something more beautiful than what the naked eye has ever seen. Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” For the believer it is that faith along with evidence that shows us how to fully experience that mystery who is willing to reveal Himself to us.

Reference:
Turek, Frank. (2015) Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case. Colorado Springs, CO: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Free Will: Real or Illusion

Free Will: Real or Illusion


Does free will exist? “Of course,” you say, “after all, I chose to read this article.” Fair enough. Free will seems to be such an essential part of our daily experience that it’s almost unfathomable to think that anyone would even question it’s real existence in the life of a human. Isn’t our day loaded with decision making at every point from the moment we open our eyes in the morning?

• Should I peel myself out of bed and head to work now (I so should!), or should I hit the snooze button and desperately cling to that extra half-second of sweet sleep?
• Cereal or a bagel? (There’s no time!)
• Iron a shirt or risk going wrinkled? (I’ll just throw on a nice sweater over the shirt!)
• Obey the speed limit or break the law? (I’m late to work!)

From the very trivial, to the very serious, the human experience seems to bare evidence that we are all endued with a powerful thing called free will. So why do people question its reality? The reason is because free will isn’t a peaceful ocean that is easy to navigate; it is a difficult concept when one considers some complexities. But first things first…

Defining Our Terms

First, by “free will”, I mean the power of contrary choice, namely, the genuine ability to choose one thing over another genuine option. Those who believe that man is a free agent believe that man’s choices are free and not necessary. By “necessary” I mean that man cannot do otherwise. In other words, when I ask if a person possesses free will, what I am asking is if he or she is a free agent, does he or she have to ability to make real choices. This may sound like a no-brainer, to use an Americanism, but the fact of the matter is that even among those who respond in the affirmative (i.e., man is definitely a free agent and makes decisions according to that ability he or she has to choose one thing over another) there are limitations and boundaries, all sorts of qualifications, that are set in place. Man is not free to choose to breathe under water without the aid of an invented apparatus, and if he attempts to do so, man would not be free to bypass the miserable consequences of such an attempt. What this means is that from the very beginning of any conversation about this, one must understand that nobody is referring to an absolute and unlimited free will whereby a human may do whatsoever he or she pleases without restraints of any kind. It is silly to somehow attempt to defeat the concept of free will by proving that man cannot violate the laws of gravity even if he wanted to, or that there are consequences to the choices we can make. The existence of free will is not refuted by the mere indicating that dropping a heavy stone on a gentleman’s head will put me in jail. Free will has its limitations – biologically, governmentally, socially, etc. All proponents of free will understand this and that is why at the outset I want to assert that what we are here discussing is free will as it pertains to what is logically possible to human beings, primarily, our moral choices.

Different Views

Those who believe that free will does not truly exist for humans can be divided into a few categories. Perhaps the main one here is the perspective of those who believe in a sort of fatalism, in which a metaphysical power/force moves all things to the end that this same power/force has determined. These fatalists do not believe in free will per say. Everyone is simply making choices he or she cannot avoid – i.e., his or her actions are not free, but necessary. Because the way in which words are used evolves over time, it is not a surprise that even fatalism can have spin-off concepts that are completely devoid of any metaphysical concept. Take, for example, Dr. Richard Dawkins, who believes that every person is basically pre-programed to do what he or she does.

Among those who deny free will, are the Calvinists. To be fair, Calvinists would take issue with me by stating this. From their perspective man is free but he is only free to do evil; it is common grace that restrains man from unleashing the full torrent of wickedness in his heart. Understood. One must allow Calvinists to state their own case. However, a key tenant in Calvinism is the idea that God has predestined absolutely everything that comes to pass. In this worldview, popularly called Divine determinism, man’s free will is simply an illusion because man is acted upon (by God). The only free will that exists in this view is God’s free will; every other will is subordinated to what God has predestined before the foundation of the world.

For the sake of time space, let me narrow the complex conversation down to the key topic. I come from the perspective that free will does indeed exist. It is part of being human and God has given it to us. The remainder of this article is dedicated to what I call “The Three B’s” of free will – the Beauty, the Blessing, and the Burden of Free Will.

The Beauty

How can one not find the most exquisite beauty in free will? More than cascades of glimmering water that lunge into the immovable boulders below, more than the golden rays of the sun as it disperses the night, more than fragile fields of roses that softy wave their colorful petals as they dance with the breeze, more than anything in nature, a human’s free will depicts the glorious love of God. This is because, for all the breathtaking beauty one can find in the sea, in the sky, or in the fields, none of it emanates beauty by choice. In his well-written pamphlet, Thoughts Upon God’s Sovereignty (1777), John Wesley puts it this way:

“[God] cannot reward the sun for shining, because the sun is not a free agent. Neither could he reward us for letting our light shine before men, if we acted as necessarily as the sun. All reward, as well as all punishment, presupposes free agency; and whatever creature is incapable of choice is incapable of either one or the other”

This paves the way for why free will is indeed a beautiful thing. Free will is what makes LOVE worth anything in relationships.

If your girlfriend gives you a kiss, what do you feel? Do you not feel loved? Suppose you had the power to control your girlfriend. Suppose you decided when she would give you a kiss, how she would give you the kiss, how long the kiss would last, what she would feel as she gave you a kiss, etc. Would the kiss still matter? I suppose it can. However, I would hate to be kissed by anyone and know in the back of my mind that that person ultimately had no real say in the matter. I use the word “ultimately” because one can get into weird semantics that could possibly demonstrate that at some point she did have a say in the matter. However, if I controlled every minute detail of the whole process, passion, result, etc. of the kiss, I one could hardly believe she had a say in the matter. You get the point.

What makes romance special is free will – the power of contrary choice. Your boyfriend did not HAVE to buy you that candy; your girlfriend did not HAVE to make you that cup of tea when you were sick; your friend did not HAVE to spend time with you watching that movie… On and on we can think of countless examples of what makes love (romantic or otherwise) meaningful.

I think this is what the Bible is trying to communicate when it says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) The point is that God did not HAVE to save us. There was nothing in us that He should love us or choose us. That is meaningful because God has free will; He could have chosen to not save us. As creatures made in the Imago Dei, we have this beautiful thing called free will as well.

The Blessing

Free will is a blessed privilege we enjoy, one that inanimate objects to not experience. Rocks and stones do not love. The waves of an ocean do not delight in the wind. But we humans can savor the sweet honey of someone’s love. Is this not a blessing? Free will may seem to be an abstract concept to some individuals. However, liberty is closely related to free will and, while some may not be able to appreciate the notion of free well, the notion of liberty most certainly resonates with them.

James Otis gave a speech against the Writs of Assistance in February of 1761. Writs of Assistance were written orders (i.e., a writs) issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official to investigate someone’s property. Basically, it was a general search warrant. However, Great Britain began to enforce these Writs of Assistance against the colonies by 1760. The way they were practiced was very unfair because any law enforcement official that had these Writs of Assistance could arbitrarily search anyone’s house. This law was abused in many ways; the individual doing the search was not even responsible for any damage he caused while searching. Moreover, any official with a Writ of Assistance could demand to go through your property without having to offer a valid and detailed explanation as to why. I can’t imagine some government official surprising me at my house and breaking things open, making a mess, and damaging things in the process. This is what continually happened in colonial America. Among other things, these Writs of Assistance were one of the factors that pushed the colonists toward a revolutionary war. One of my favorite lines in James Otis’ speech is as follows:

“Now one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle.”

I think the quote says a lot about as to the notion of liberty in colonial times.

Imagine such a thing. A man’s house is indeed his castle. James Otis and the founding fathers of the United States of America understood the sacredness of something so simple as a person’s house. What could we say about the sacredness of a person’s will? Is it not an incalculable blessing to be able to love out of your free will as opposed to loving out of obligation or coercion?

The Burden

A wise character from a Marvel superhero film once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” He was right and free will is no different. Free will is beautiful. Free will is a blessing. But free will is a burden; it is a dangerous sword to wield, one that got our primitive first parents (and their posterity) in a load of trouble. Someone once said that everybody has more or less freedom – more before marriage and less afterward. However, Adam and Eve enjoyed freedom and a wonderful marriage. It was the lamentable misuse of that God-given freedom that brought a curse upon the earth and the whole human race.

George Whitefield, the legendary preacher of the 18th century, preached a great sermon entitled, The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent. Look at his comments about what transpired in Eden:

“Never was nature more lively delineated. See what pride Adam contracted by the fall! How unwilling he is to lay the blame upon, or take shame to himself. This answer is full of insolence towards God, enmity against his wife and disingenuity in respect to himself. For herein he tacitly reflects upon God. ‘The woman that thou gavest to be with me.’ As much as to say, ‘If thou hadst not given me that woman, I would not have eaten the forbidden fruit.’ Thus, when men sin, they lay the fault upon their passions, then blame and reflect upon God for giving them those passions”

That is truly a fantastic insight. Suppose Adam, when called to give an account to God (Genesis 3:9, 11), had responded that he had no free will. Would such a response be valid? What would God have responded to such a claim? I doubt God would have bought it.

The possession of free will – that is, being a free agent – is a marvelous burden. I once was lovingly challenging a dear sister to repent of her bad attitude. She was easily angry, easily offended, and would tell people off. Frustrated with the things I was saying, she finally lifted her hands and shouted, “Well, if God wants me to be different He is going to have to take away my bad attitude Himself!” Fair enough. God actually wants to change us. But here’s the thing: God has decided to make creatures in His image, creatures that act, not creatures that are merely acted upon. We have a free will and we are responsible to use it for the love of God.

All in all, the topic of free will is one that branches out into endless subjects. At the very core of the way the Bible approaches this topic is the conclusion that every one of us will give an account for how we used our free will. Certainly, every one of us is born with a damaged will, one that is inclined to sin. We love darkness rather than light. Some Christians are experts at highlighting man’s inability to respond to God’s call. They believe God must regenerate man in order to exercise any good will toward God. However, if this is the case, then God can never rightly judge man since man is only responsible if he is response able.

Did Jesus claim to be God?

Did Jesus claim to be God?


Recently I bumped into an old friend that I had not seen for many years. Our friendship began in church where his father would regularly bring him to participate in the youth events at that time. Upon catching up with each other, he mentioned to me that he is no longer a Christian but had decided to convert to Islam due to the “false” information found in the Bible. When I asked him what was one of the leading points that drew him away from Christianity he quickly answered that “Jesus never claimed to be God.”

I was a bit perplexed and taken back with his response because I believe that are so many sources made readily available to the public to easily understand that belief to be false. I asked him to study the Gospel of John believing that he would see that what drew him away in reality was incorrect. He quickly responded with the notion that “those were John’s words writing about Jesus.” He was simply stating that we could not verify that Jesus actually said those words since that was written by someone else rather than Jesus Himself, therefore they could not be proven true.

Clearly, someone who has read and studied the Bible would not claim such a thing. I was saddened to see how my old friend’s answers were so unjustifiably wrong and naïve and even more saddened to see that he would allow himself to be so easily deceived into accepting claims without conducting the right research through reliable, unbiased sources. If one truly studies scripture, they will see that Jesus never denied His identity but rather further confirmed his deity in many ways.

Jesus: The Great I AM

When Moses was before the burning bush and asked who should he say sent him to free the Israelites, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me.” (Genesis 3:14) In fact, in the next verse, God tells Moses that I AM will forever be His name and even until today, God’s people identify Him as I AM. It is a name that is considered extremely holy and reverent.

Now with that in mind, let us consider what occurred in the gospel of John 8. In this passage, Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders of his time, questioning His authority:

53“Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:53-58, emphasis added)

Jesus did not answer in a manner to hide His identity. By Jesus stating that Abraham was waiting to see His day, He was explaining that His existence did not begin with His physical birth but instead specified His eternality. In verse 58, He uses “I am” not to show some existence in a particular time, but rather His identity, the same I AM that was used by God to reveal Himself to Moses and the Israelites. In this part of scripture, we can see how Jesus identifies Himself as the Great I AM, the eternal name of God.

Jesus: One with the Father

The disciples walked with Jesus for approximately 3 years. During this time, they witnessed the many miracles performed by Christ (yet, another proof of His deity). On one occasion, Jesus spoke to His disciples telling them that if they know Him, they know the Father. Phillip responds with a request asking Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9) Many have taken this verse and given it a meaning that is not a correct interpretation. Some have said that Jesus is simply telling His disciples that His actions give a better understanding to God’s nature. Jesus’s humility, goodness and mercy are those that the Father has and therefore, the disciples can see the Father in Him. That is partially true but not the main point found in the verse. Jesus is once again asserting His identity by showing, not only His relationship with the Father, but even more His divine nature as God.

In John 10, Jesus states that He gives eternal life, something that all Israelites knew that only God could do, and those that receive this eternal life are in His Father’s hands. But in verse 30, Jesus says, “I and My Father are one.” It is plain to see that Jesus is claiming that He and the Father are equal, similar and the same. These verses, and many more, show that Jesus never hid His identity but would make it known through His words and actions that He is God. The Jews clearly understood what Jesus meant when purposely using such words. In fact, in John 8:33, the Jews intended to stone Jesus for clearly understanding His claim of deity, His claim to be God.

John: An Eyewitness to Jesus

When I was told that these verses do not provide any justification because it was John who wrote them in his gospel and not Jesus, I found that to be a very big contradiction on his part. First, if my friend could not believe John, being an eye witness to Jesus’s life, ministry and miracles, then how could he believe another source that had no encounter with Christ? John’s gospel was written about 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection while the Quran was believed to have first been revealed 600 years later and then written a few decades after by a number of people who claim to have memorized different parts of Mohammed’s revelation.

Second, John, along with the other disciples and witnesses, were all willing to die for what they believed. All of the disciples, except John, are believed to have all been martyred for their faith. Why would someone die for something they knew was a lie? Even more, this does not explain why the many disciples and other followers were willing to die (and many did die) for their belief. If it were not true, many would have denied Jesus knowing that it would save their lives and the lives of their families and friends. So why admit to it, knowing that it would certainly lead to death? It had to have been true if they were willing to die for it.

Jesus himself said that He is the Bread of Life, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the Light of the world. The Jews knew that such descriptive claims were only unique to and reserved for God the Father, so as Jesus used these metaphors as declarations about Himself, He was not shying away from telling others who He was but rather giving a clearer description of who He is and why we should believe in Him as God.

Can a God who withholds His grace be all-loving?

Can a God who withholds His grace be all-loving?


Since the Protestant Reformation, there have been pious men who dedicated their lives to the Gospel with the purpose of glorifying God and exposing the truth of scripture. These men were so marveled by God’s omnipotence and sovereignty over the world that it encouraged them to follow His divine plan for their lives. Courageous men like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon relentlessly expounded the word of God to those who needed to hear the good news of salvation. Their impact was so great that their teaching and messages continue to resound centuries later. Unfortunately, there exists a great debate among the many doctrinal interpretations given by such men, one of the many being the doctrine of God’s grace.

In the fourth doctrinal point of TULIP—Irresistible Grace—it is said that God’s grace, when extended to a sinner, will regenerate them first, resulting in their conscious awareness of the necessity of God’s goodness. This causes for the sinner to submit to this irresistible call of God and accept God’s gift of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. This sounds excellent! But then a new question arises:why is everyone not saved? John Calvin attempts to answer this question in his Institutes of Christian Theology:

“Thus in the adoption of the family of Abraham, God gave them a liberal display of favor which he has denied to others; but in the members of Christ there is a far more excellent display of grace, because those ingrafted into him as their head never fail to obtain salvation…We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment.” (Chapter 21, Emphasis added)

According to Calvin, the reason why people are not saved is not because they choose to not accept God’s gift of salvation, but that God has denied it to them. Even more, it is to God’s pleasure that those that could be saved, but instead have been denied the grace that could irresistibly save them, are instead doomed to an eternal destruction. But now an even greater question arises: How does this characterize God as benevolent? Can a God who has the ability to extend His grace to all, knowing that it will draw everyone to salvation, but withhold it from some truly be a God of infinite love and mercy?

One of the most tragic events in history occurred on April 15, 1912 which was the sinking of the Titanic. When its construction was completed, it was believed to be unsinkable. Ironically, on its maiden voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg and of the carrying 2,223 passengers on board, 1,517 died. But what was more heartbreaking was the fact that many more could have been saved if it were not for having been denied access to lifeboats. Although the Titanic carried fewer than the required amount of lifeboats, that was still not to blame for the number of people that died that day. Many of the lifeboats that were onboard had a carrying capacity of 65 passengers but when lowered to escape death, many of these boats carried much fewer survivors than it actually could have. One boat was even recorded to have carried only 28 survivors! That means that 27 people, perhaps even a few more, could have been rescued but instead were left behind. The boat leaders of these lifeboats had more time, space and the capability to save more people but purposely—and for whatever reason—chose to save only a few.

Anyone with a healthy mind will agree that any person having the ability to help all but purposely choosing to only help some cannot be considered loving. That leader’s act of having saved just a few would be quickly ignored and could not be used in any way to defend their character as having done a good deed. If we can easily consider the actions of these leaders as being far from good, how much more can we perceive a God who is believed to be doing the same on a universal scale?

This same unpleasant understanding can be applied to the doctrine of irresistible grace. How can this doctrine hold any real credence whatsoever when Titus 2:11 states, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men”? This verse can be rationally understood to mean exactly what Paul meant; God’s grace and salvation has been made available to all men and not to just an elect group of people. This interpretation seems more plausible than that of Calvin’s and still defends the correct view of an all-benevolent God, leaving the sinner responsible for his choice for having accepted or rejected this gift that God has sovereignty over. Consequently, God is not responsible for the person’s results since He has provided a solution by His grace and through His Son.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Although many consider this verse to not contradict Calvin’s interpretation, it has a clear message that God’s salvation is offered to the cosmos—the world—and not just to the elect. Cosmos can be interpreted as the universe, the world and even the inhabitants of the world. This same term can be found all throughout scripture carrying the same meaning.

1 Timothy 2:4 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” If God truly desires mankind to repent and be saved, then He would not withhold His grace from them. Instead, scripture more clearly demonstrates that mankind is extended God’s grace, a grace that He sovereignly holds, and it is man who is held accountable for having accepted or rejected God’s gift. Even more, Jesus tells those waiting for the promise that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world (cosmos) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. (John 16:8) The Holy Spirit makes known to us our guilt so that we may make the right decision to look for the freedom of such a fault that has eternal consequences. This is what grace is, the offer of freedom from a deserving punishment by someone who is pure and innocent.

While we acknowledge and give thanks to God for the work and genuine passion of John Calvin, his dedication and imitable zeal, we cannot consider all of his teachings as infallible. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Paul was telling Timothy that scripture has a divine origin and it is not just a book written by man but rather it was man inspired by God to write His truth. Simply, the doctrine given to us by the New Testament writers did not originate from their own minds or developed by their own ideas by rather it was God-breathed. When God’s character is being questioned and contradicts His nature, then we should revisit scripture to find the correct interpretation. God does not choose some to be saved and leave others in their fallen nature to destruction. But rather God is love, and through His love, He sovereignly moved from heaven to come to Earth so that we may have the choice to accept the Hope that our souls so desperately need.