Dialogs and Commentary

Election Strawmen

By Dean VanDruff in response to a objections about the teaching of Jesus and Scripture in general that it is God who ultimately chooses, not man.

Table of Contents
  1. Whosoever Will May Come?
  2. Doomed to Destruction?
  3. Hypercalvinist Ghost Wrestling
  4. Calvinist Evangelists?
  5. For Clarity: Who Knows What?
  6. The Witnessing Style of Jesus
  7. Without Free-Will, we are but Puppets or Robots!
  8. Satan, the Original Free-Willer?
  9. If God is Sovereign, then He is NOT FAIR!
  10. Destiny and the Choices We Make
  11. How Can we "Love" God... if Predestination is True
  12. Man's Place in God's Universe

Mark 8:34 (KJV) "Whosoever will come after me..."

John 6:44 (NIV) "No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."

This is the answer to "whosoever will". Not just anyone. The only one who "will", according to Jesus, is the one whom the Father chooses. The few places where "will" and choice are mentioned or encouraged are not in conflict with the clear revelation of John 6:44, but are instead explained by it. It is not a question of two sides being presented where one is stronger, but of a single voice--in searing clarity.

When we eventually apprehend the word of God, often we do not exactly love it at first.

John 6:65-66 (NAS) And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

Jesus speaks to us where we are--in our ignorance and confusion. He says "follow me" and perhaps one in a hundred will. For those who do, He does not desire for us to remain in the sophistry of carnal "wisdom" and philosophy, but to finally come into the light. He wants us to know the truth of the matter.
Phil 2:12-13 (NKJ) ...Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to WILL and to do for His good pleasure.

Another contention that people bring up concerning God's sovereignty is the situation of the "negative case", or of those who will not believe. It is unpalatable to our unredeemed human sensibilities that it should be so, so we reject the idea. Yet God makes the negative case as strongly as the positive... even if we tend to be embarrassed by such statements and try to gloss-over or forget them as soon as we read them.

John 12:37-40 (NIV) Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."

Jesus said this kind of thing a lot, and there are many such teachings throughout the Bible. Here are a couple more.

Rom 9:22-23 (Phi) The potter, for instance, has complete control over the clay, making with one part of the lump a lovely vase, and with another a pipe for sewage. May it not be that God, though he must sooner or later expose his wrath against sin and show his controlling hand, has yet most patiently endured the presence in his world of things that cry out to be destroyed?

Rom 9:22c (NAS) ... vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

John 17:12b (NIV) "None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."

People often ask if we are Calvinists. I do not consider myself such, as I got my ideas from Jesus, Paul, Moses, and the Holy Spirit. I later found out Calvin agreed with them as well as me.

What gives many people mental hiccups is what is referred to as "Hyper Calvinism", where the accusation is that since God knows or has pre-chosen and pre-destined, then "what is the point of witnessing?", etc.

Supposedly, there are these people out there who say that since God knows who will be saved--even chooses them--(God thinks so, anyway, and has not been shy at saying so) that we should sit on our rear-ends and do nothing. Now, I know many Calvinists, and have never met one of these straw-men. In fact, several of the most zealous and effective soul winners I know are also very keen on Calvinistic doctrine.

But here is the point of absurdity that needs to be addressed in this.

God knows; He has said so. God chooses; He has said so. He wants us to know that He is in charge, and acknowledge this. BUT!!!!... WE DO NOT KNOW what it is He knows, at least in most cases. I know that HE KNOWS, but this does not mean that I or anyone else knows.

With me so far?

I have no idea if you will be saved, or if anyone else in particular will be. I know that God knows, but I DO NOT. Thus, "hyper-calivinism" exists better in the minds of those who need strawmen to argue against than as real life people. If they existed, they would indeed be a rather silly group. I have never met one, except in sermons by free-willers trying to manipulate a crowd via religious anger and shock. "Imagine, those horrible hyper-calvinists sitting around doing nothing to spread the gospel!"

God knows. He wants us to know that He knows. We do not know. Thus we preach, evangelize, repent, etc.

If you can respond to God, then do so this very moment in whatever He is challenging you with as the next step. For if you can, you can be sure it is God "in you" giving you the power to do so. It is not of human works, so that no man can boast.

Along the lines of election, please note the "witnessing style" of Jesus. Implicit in nearly all of His dialogs is God's Sovereign choice. He speaks the truth, and then is not shy in pointing out that many cannot receive it. God has made those who cannot receive what He is saying "blind" or "deaf". Imagine a modern teacher ending a sermon by saying: "Many of you can not accept what I am saying, because the Father has closed your ears..." But is this not exactly what Jesus said routinely? If one among us were to "follow Him" in this regard, what would we think?

On to the next impediment. My own prison of thinking before repentance was that "God HAD TO give us free will to make good lovers out of us--other wise we would be 'puppets'!"

But then it struck me that being a "puppet" was just the boast of Jesus. (We will look at a few verses in a moment along these lines, in case you are unaware.) He claimed to be the Father's "robot"--to use another popular pejorative. No... not claimed, but rather He BOASTED of this.

As followers of this humble servant, it is good to note what He boasted in--that He "DID NOTHING" not of His Father, and that He did "EVERYTHING" His Father willed.

He also said, I seem to remember somewhere, "Follow Me..." <wink>

Let us use more pejorative terms to take these accusations from the enemy and the resonance for error out of our souls.

Jesus boasted of being God's PUPPET; the Father's hand was "up His back", so to speak. Jesus "parroted" what God wanted said. Jesus was the Father's ROBOT, and rather proud of the fact as it turns out. He was a "COPYCAT" of God. He was pleased to be SUBMISSIVE to the will of the Father in all things, with a lowly SERVANT MENTALITY. He was a "Father pleaser" (a "co-dependent" relationship, I am sure... <smiles>)

John 5:19 (NAS) Therefore Jesus answered..., "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."

John 5:30 (NIV) "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."

John 12:49 (NIV) "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."

John 14:10,20 (NIV) "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work... On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."

So much for our judgment that "being a robot" (or however we would pejoratively phrase it) is a bad thing. Shall we accuse Jesus of such? Shall we strip the rare boast from His mouth, judging it "unworthy" from our carnal vantage point?

In direct counterpoint to Jesus's boast of being completely submissive to the Father, let us remember that Satan is the one who originally fell in love with the doctrine of free-will.

Isa 14:13-14 (NIV) ... "I WILL ascend to heaven; I WILL raise my throne above the stars of God; I WILL sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I WILL ascend above the tops of the clouds; I WILL make myself like the Most High."
Please note the differentiation between the boast of Jesus (being God's "puppet", if you will) and the boast of Satan ("It is up to me to decide!"). Who do we want to become more like, Christ or Satan? Whose doctrines and teachings do we want to be emphasizing?

Moving along, another question to consider is whether the doctrine of free will is--at its source--man JUDGING God?

God, you see, was "not fair" if He created the universe thus.

I certainly thought this when I was a free-willer, and the profanity of it never struck me. When it finally did strike me that my whole philosophy was based on me exalting my own standard of what I thought was "fair" above God's, you can imagine the verses that came to mind.

Job 38:4 (NIV) "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?"

Isa 29:16 (NIV) "You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"?

Isa 45:9 (NAS) "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker--An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'?"

... and so forth.

The carnal man insists that he has the power to control his own destiny. God has another opinion on the matter.

Even Judas was told to do what he did--and that "quickly". (John 17:12)

God IS. The great "I AM", however, is second guessed by His creation that is prone to lofty thoughts and imaginations and speculative universe re-design... of how things "ought to be" in man's "opinion" (read "judgment"). Thus, God's opinion on the matter is ignored as we jump into foreplay with our favorite "designer universes" of our own idolatrous making. The voice of "I AM" is even twisted into "conflict"--as if He were the source of confusion--as we jump into bed with our favorite false doctrines.

Yet God says:

De 32:39 (GLT) "See now that I, I AM He, and there is no other God with Me. I kill, and I keep alive. I wound and I heal, and there is no deliverer from My hand."

Even if God uses human agents to do this, let us not miss the point...

Luke 12:4-5 (NRS) "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!"

But we hope for better things than this, right? Remember that fear is the cost of entry--but more on that later.

If we hope for better, even this hope must be based on God's will, not ours.

Remember, He can make rocks cry out if He wishes. That He has chosen us instead is a blessing too great to consider. And I think He desires that we let go of our idols and pet theories and confusions... and enter into a "true and spiritual" worship over this. And He seems to be choosing people of late who have the worst credentials--like you or I. We are only a little less rock-headed than the stones, after all.

John 15:16 (Wey) "It is not you who chose me, but it is I who chose you."

So what about love? How can we truly Love God if He is right in His revelation--His self disclosure--about the way things really are? That it is He who chooses, not men?

Rom 9:16 (NRS) So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.

Along this line of inquiry, I found that nowhere in Scripture is the notion that we must be "free" to become valid "lovers" found. Not in the mouth or writings of any prophet, nor Jesus, not in any story or parable, nor any hint whatsoever. This is a purely human thought-bubble.

Rather, I found an entirely different causality--in God's opinion (if we are open to it)--offered. It is detailed at some length in the Acts 17:11 Bible Study on "Shame" if you are interested in exploring this answer further.

God has "put us in our place". The flesh screams in its prideful death throws, but after the fits of carnal instinct, we find it is a good place. Fit for a man. For I am not God; nor am I an animal. I am a MAN... who has found his place IN GOD. Yes!

Mat 21:44 (Wey) "He who falls on this stone will be severely hurt; but he on whom it falls will be utterly crushed."
Let God be God and let every idolatrous thought stumble over the "stumbling stone". Let every confusion that sets itself up against the knowledge of God be sent out of the bedroom of our thought. Now is the time to cast down such unclean and lofty meditations. We must trip over the stone of contention now, or have it crush us... perhaps very soon.

The fear of the Lord is the starting point... If this is absent--or only mentally assented to--or grown cold, then better go back to first things...

Rom 11:32-33 (NIV) For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Acts 17:11 Bible Studies
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