Calvinism: Who chooses?
This post is in response to Dr. James White from his August 5, 2014 podcast where he gave several challenges about the answers I posted on my blog post “Why are people not coming to Jesus?” Dr. White’s point was that if one believes that Jesus showed a person belongs to the Father before he belongs to Jesus, then it must mean that the sheep choose the shepherd. Is Dr. White’s statement true? Do the sheep choose the Shepherd if they respond to the Father first? This post will be the first in a series of posts that will answer the challenges of Dr. James White on the issue of Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism.
Dr. James White’s challenge: If people are given to the Son as believers, they are choosing the Shepherd
The biblical truth that is being challenged is Jesus’ teaching that people who fear God, first belong to the Father before they are given to the Son.
Malachi 3:16–18 (NASB) 16Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17“They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
John 6:37 (NASB) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
In Malachi 3:16-18, those who feared the LORD were heard and a book of remembrance was written. Does this mean that they were the ones who chose the Shepherd? No! God Himself must first do the work that prepares the sheep. God must first teach people to fear Him.
Deuteronomy 31:12 (NASB) “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
God prepares the sheep by teaching them about Him.
John 6:45 (NASB )“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
The LORD must first give His lovingkindness so that people may hope in Him. After teaching them, His eye and His ear are toward them. We see this in the book of Psalms:
Psalm 33:18 (NASB95) Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
Psalm 34:15 (NASB95) The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.
Those who hear from God and learn from Him will be wise, for the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
Proverbs 1:5, 7 (NASB) 5A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It is evident that God has to prepare us by teaching us and revealing Himself so that He is the initiator. No one could have faith in God without the revelation of God coming first.
Does responding to God’s invitation mean that we have chosen the Shepherd? It can’t mean that. In Deuteronomy 30:19 and Joshua 24:15, a decision is put to Israel to choose between life and death. Joshua makes it clear that he has chosen life. God did not say that Joshua was not allowed to choose life because it took away the Sovereignty of God. God initiated the choice in the first place. God had to instruct, teach and reveal His option for life.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB) “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
Joshua 24:15 (NASB) “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
I would like to ask those who think that making a choice to fear and serve God, how does responding to God’s invitation make us the initiator or the one choosing the Shepherd? Please show me where Scripture proposes such an argument? Jesus rightfully said that He did the choosing, but the Scripture records that those who fear the LORD would belong to Him.
Malachi 3:16–18 (NASB)
16Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.
17“They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
18So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
Who gives the word so that people may fear God? Who prepares His possession? Who spares the people? It is the LORD of hosts, the Shepherd, not the sheep.
Where does the Bible give any hint that responding to the LORD’s call takes away God’s Sovereignty and results in the sheep choosing the Shepherd? If you are one who is using this argument, where are you getting this argument? Is it truly a biblical argument, or is it an argument from a presupposition that requires a Calvinistic viewpoint imposed onto the Scriptures?