Two tenets of Calvinism are Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace. As one examines these two foundational elements to a doctrine that most of the religious world recognizes and, at least partially, accepts; some very interesting principles are revealed.
Unconditional Election teaches that God “elected,” or selected, every individual that was going to be saved from the very beginning of time. It also argues that this selection was done without pre-conditions (thus the unconditional part). God did not make differentiation between the individual who would live a life in service to him and the individual who cared nothing for him. God simply chose people based on no criteria whatsoever. That being the case, if God chose you to be saved, there is no way for you to be lost. If God chose you to be lost, there is no way to be saved. Your eternal destiny was predetermined before the world began.
With Irresistible Grace, Calvinists build on the principles of unconditional election to teach another doctrine. They argue that when God wants you to be saved and extends his grace to man it cannot be denied. God’s grace is so strong man could not resist it and overcome it if he wanted to do so. Therefore, whether you want to be saved or not, if God’s grace is extended to you as one of the elect, the choice has already been made for you.
However, there is a problem with such reasoning. Calvinism has turned the responsibility of each individual’s salvation upon God. The argument, therefore, is that if you are lost it is God’s fault, not yours; because God did not select you for salvation. How does this measure up with Scripture? Consider the following:
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Pet. 3:9). Peter is adamant that God wants all men to be saved (he is not willing that anyone perish). If it is the case that God wants all men to be saved, then why would God unconditionally select men and women to be lost?
If, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), then why would he only extend his grace to some when he could cover all men?
If, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men” (Tit. 2:11), then why are all men not saved? Why should we have to bother with proclaiming the Gospel at all?
Even though God’s grace is extended toward man as an outreached hand waiting to be grasped, man has to respond by reaching out and taking hold of that grace through obedience (Heb. 11:6; Acts 22:16; etc.). Hence, God is long-suffering toward men (2 Pet. 3:9) with the desire that all men will obey him in faithful repentance and obedience; for there is not an individual on this earth God wants to be lost.
Unfortunately, many do not believe that statement. The Calvinist proclaims that God forces man to be lost, even against man’s own will. However, there is another group that argues God does not want them. If you have spent any time trying to teach people the Gospel you have come across someone who has said, “You don’t know the things I have done in my life; God would not want me.” Such could not be further from the truth.
Throughout scripture God has taken in and been willing to save people from all walks of life; who have lived their former lives in many different ways (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Consider for a moment that God saved Saul of Tarsus, who at best was an accessory to murder, if not a murderer himself (Acts 7, 9). He was willing to save Simon who was nothing more than a cheap con man (Acts 8). The Lord selected a zealot (a religious extremist) in Simon Zealotes, and one perceived to be a traitor to his people in Matthew, a tax collector, to be among the twelve apostles (Mat. 10:2-4). God added to the church slaves and jailers politicians and soldiers, poor and rich, Jews and Gentiles, men and women (Gal. 3:27-28). God did not exclude anyone from being able to come to him by means of obedience and the blood of Christ, nor did he state that he only desires a certain grade or group of people.
Who does God want to be saved? The answer is clear: everyone. Who is going to be saved? That is up to you. God has given us the ability to make our own choices in life. Therefore, we must choose whether we will comply with his commands and accept the plan that he has put in place. If we are lost, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.