Scriptural Word Concepts Held in Tension

The Universal Extension of Grace /The Specific Application of Grace

Call, calling, called / Predestinated, predestined

Invite, inviting, invited / Ordained, foreordained

Whosoever / Elect, election

Come / Chose, chosen

Seek, sought

”But without faith, it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

Here one must ask, “Why should God reward that which He is initially responsible for, i.e. faith?”  Why should God reward “believing that He is” or the “diligently seeking of Him?”

Wesley points out that God is not to be understood only as the absolute sovereign creator of the universe, but also as the moral governor of the universe.  As sovereign creator, He is not required to reward the sun for shining.  The sun is created to shine.  On the other hand, as governor, He allows human freedom within the context of his sovereignty.  It is not natural for man to exercise faith, believe that He is, or diligently seek after him.  If this were the created natural inclination of man, there would be no need to reward him, for what would be God’s expectation.  But God does not expect righteousness from man in the same way that He expects sunshine from the sun.  God allows the limited exercise of free will.  God extends His grace to the just and the unjust alike.

“And thinkest thou this, O Man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?  Or despiseth thou the riches of His goodness and the forbearance and the longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality and eternal life.”

 Romans 2:3-9

Only a few verses (less than 10) deal with the specific pre-determined will of God, and even those leave us wondering what those verses mean.  This writer agrees that the concept of foreknowledge is implicit in the Scriptures and agreeable with the general thrust of Scripture, but disagrees with the determinism and fatalism of Calvinism.


“From the Latin de plus terminus, “end.”  In philosophy, the idea that all that happens is casually fixed and cannot happen any other way; the belief that all events in the universe, including human actions, are controlled by previous conditions.  Many forms of Calvinism are variations of theological determinism.”


“From the Latin fatim, meaning ‘that which the god’s ordain to happen.’  The belief that God, because He is all knowing and all-powerful, foresees and causes according to His divine foreknowledge every event in a person’s life and in the universeThese events must occur; they cannot happen

When God’s sovereignty is taken to be so wooden, the resulting fatalism is devastating to evangelism, missions, and ultimately to the nature of God and human beings created in His image.”

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.  But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?  But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.  Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?  When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.  Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.  Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

 (Ezekiel 18:20-28 AV)

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

 (Revelation 22:11-12 AV


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