I am currently on vacation in Daytona Beach, FL. right now with my wife’s family. She has an Uncle named Barry who I love to talk with because he is not a Calvinist, and therefore he keeps me thinking through these things more than I normally would. During our conversation Barry continued to say two things against Calvinism that many others are saying as well. Below are the two comments from Uncle Barry and my response to them:
1) “I have a volitional will, I make choices.” To this I say, Yes! We do have a will that makes choices all the time. I can choose between all sorts of things all throughout the day. Between eating healthy and eating horribly, between voting for this person or that person, between wearing this shirt or that shirt. But, Ephesians 1:11b says this “…all things work according to the counsel of His will.” This means that all things in the universe, all my choices, are working according to God’s will, desire, and wish. This also means that none of my choices work according to the counsel of my will. But Barry is not just referring to this to show he can choose to wear a shirt or not, he is referring to his own choice to follow Jesus or not. To that, I would answer with Eph. 1:11b also, but go further. Why would a person who is sinful by nature choose something that is not sinful, namely God? We do not have the ability to choose what is good when we are sinful by nature. God must work in us to change our hearts so that we can choose Him. So yes, we have a choice, and it is a glorious choice. But the real question is, why did I make that choice? Because God was at work in me.
2) What about 2 Peter 3:9? 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” Barry brought this up because he thinks that I cannot believe this verse because I am Calvinist who believes in God predestining people to heaven and hell. To that I say, this verse is very true, and it shows us part of God’s heart; it does not show us ALL of His heart. God does desire that all men come to repentance, but the truth is God does not carry out all the things He desires. How do I know this is true? Because people are in hell as I type this. People in history have died in unrepentance and therefore have perished; that is a fact. But if this verse is descriptive of all of God’s heart, than God failed in bringing all people to repentance because many have never repented. God may desire that all men repent and be saved, but it is clear that God does not carry out all His desires fully. Therefore, if God does not carry out all of His desires, God must have a purpose for doing so.
No one spurs me onto a greater desire for God’s sovereignty in salvation, than a convinced Arminian. Thank you Barry, for causing me to think through these things.