If God wants to save all—but only few are saved—is He not “weak” and “limited?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Calvinists pride themselves in (allegedly) “defending the sovereignty of God.” As they see it, if God is not in complete control of every last detail, He cannot be God. One of their central “theological impasses” can be summarized as follows: If God wants all people to be saved and go to Heaven, but not all people get saved and go to Heaven, then God must really not want all people to be saved and go to Heaven. Therefore, they conclude, God has already “elected,” “predestinated,” or “chosen” who will be saved unto eternal life and Heaven. As for those who wind up in Hell and the Lake of Fire, they must experience that awful fate because God did not select them for justification. Calvinists see no alternative view—for to hold to anything else is to detract from God’s Deity. They contend, “We cannot limit God to save those who chose to believe. Man exercising faith does not limit God, for God should be able to save whomever He chooses to believe, apart from the individual’s choice to believe.” (Calvinists say God is limited to save only those He has chosen, which itself is a limitation!! Such nonsense epitomizes the endless speculations of worthless theology!!)

One verse helpful in dealing with and making sense of this topic is Matthew 23:37. The Lord Jesus Christ, during the last days of His earthly ministry, issued a stinging rebuke in response to Israel’s corrupt religious leadership: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

Judgment would come upon Jerusalem. The Temple that Zerubbabel built and King Herod the Great expanded was no longer Father God’s house (John 2:16) or Jesus Christ’s house (Matthew 21:13). It would be vacated, free from God’s influence: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Now, it was Jerusalem’s house, Israel’s house! Thus, chapter 24 opens, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:….”

The Prophet Stephen, attempting to call the nation Israel to repentance and faith in Christ during the early Acts period, preached to its religious leaders in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” For centuries prior, God commissioned prophets or spokesmen to lead Israel back to Him. What led to the Babylonian Captivity? Read 2 Chronicles chapter 36 : “[15] And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: [16] But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. [17] Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.”

If English words mean anything, the Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen believed He (the Holy Ghost) could be rejected. God intended to have a personal relationship with Israel, He wanted to teach them His words, but they decided they would have none of it! It was not God’s fault; it was Israel’s fault.

Truth be told, Calvinists, in their zeal to defend their theological system, create more dilemmas than they do answers to foregoing quandaries.

Firstly, if people are justified to enter Heaven based solely on the fact God chose to give them faith—that “God chose them rather than they chose Him”—then we could blame God for people dying and going to Hell! Man is no longer accountable for his actions, for no matter what he chooses to do, God has predetermined what will happen to him. Why do people go to Hell? Using the Calvinist’s logic, it is God’s fault, for God did not choose to save them! This (convenient) blame-shifting originates in man’s sinful internal makeup, and goes all the way back to Genesis chapter 3.

“[9] And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? [10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? [12] And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. [13] And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

God gave Adam explicit instructions not to eat the forbidden fruit (2:16-17). Nothing was hard to understand. However, Adam made a willful choice and ate anyway (3:1-8). When God attempted to bring Adam to confession, Adam said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (verse 12). Adam blamed Eve his wife—but he said it in such a way so as to imply it was God’s fault. “You gave her to me, God! Had You not done that, I would not have eaten!” When God addressed Eve, she passed the responsibility on to “the serpent” (verse 13). So, whereas Adam claimed, “God made me do it because He gave Eve to me!,” Eve defended herself, “Satan made me do it!” (These two excuses are prevalent today—people caught doing wrong will either blame God or Satan. They refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.)

If someone dies and goes to Hell, it will not be God’s fault. He did not choose them for that eternal judgment; they chose it for themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ died in our place on Calvary’s cross, to pay for our sins in full, and was raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). However, if we do not take advantage of those merits by trusting Him as our personal Saviour, then it is not His fault when we go to Hell. He has done everything to prevent us from going to Hell—coming to die for our sins, and then telling us that Good News by writing His words in human language and preserving them in the English Bible—and then we have the audacity to say it was His fault and He sent us there?!

Secondly, we do not “limit” God when we say He has not chosen to save anyone unto eternal life apart from their faith. Also, we do not “limit” God when we say people are saved according to their faith in the Gospel as opposed to God selecting them to be recipients of faith. All we are doing is acknowledging the limitations God has placed upon Himself. Since He is God, He can choose to do something just as freely as He can choose not to do something. No matter what man will do, God does all His good pleasure… and 1 Corinthians 1:21 is part of His good pleasure. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

Whom does God want to save? One of the most important rules in Bible study is this: not only should we notice what is in the verse, we should also notice what is not in the verse. After hearing Calvinists, here is what we expected the Scriptures to say: “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he has chosen to believe,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he has predestinated to eternal life,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he chose,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them to whom he gave faith.”

According to the Bible, God is pleased to spiritually heal and give eternal life to those that believe.” He has limited Himself in this regard. If we have a problem with that Bible truth, then we have a problem with the Bible… and we need to go argue with the Bible. Whether we agree with it or not, the Holy Bible is right. Our sinful flesh does not like that. It wants to be its own authority. Too bad! Our flesh is not the authority!

“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also” (Romans 4:11). “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe(Galatians 3:22). “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

By the way, Calvinists will also claim we exalt man above God by claiming we are saved through faith in the Gospel. According to them, we should not emphasize our faith; therefore, they claim we should say “God gave us faith, God chose us to believe, God predestinated us,” and the like. They say, “God chose us—we did not choose Him!” Again, this is nothing more than a denial of the verses we just cited. God can still be God, and yet leave justification up to man’s choice of faith or unbelief. If man wants to believe God, God is still God. If man wants to disbelieve God, God is still God. Note: God’s nature, His omnipotence, is totally independent of what we do or do not do! Calvinists have an extremely warped view of the God of the Bible, and do not understand that part of His nature is resistible grace (as opposed to the Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace). We already saw Jerusalem reject Him. Israel in the Old Testament resisted Him. People even now reject Him—the very people for whom Christ died! That is their own fault. He values free will, and if they want to spend eternity without Him, He will give them over to their preference!

Also see:
» Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”
» Does God give us faith?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?

» Do some things happen by “chance?”
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?