“The God of Scripture is able to save perfectly and completely all He desires to save: the fact that not all are saved leads inexorably to the truth of divine election. Therefore, CBF [“Chosen But Free” by Norman Geisler] denies this divine truth and instead replaces it with the idea of ‘determinately knowing’ already reviewed in chapter two" (James White, “The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler’s ‘Chosen But Free’”. Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000, pages 99-100).
There are two problems with White’s quote that I desire to tackle. The first involves his quote regarding God: “The God of Scripture is able to save...all He desire to save.” Is God able to save everyone He wants to save? YES. The Bible is unwavering in its view of God as the Almighty Sovereign...
However, the Bible tells us something different about WHO God actually saves (than White and other Calvinists). While God desires ‘all’ (everyone) to be saved, He does not save everyone. Why? According to White, God doesn’t want to save everyone. To the contrary, Scripture has something different to say:
“Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost (completely) THOSE WHO COME TO GOD THROUGH HIM, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, NKJV).
God will save, but He will save under ONE CONDITION: that we come to God by grace through faith in Christ. This is the way God has, in His Sovereignty, chosen to save some and not others.
In Hebrews 5:9, we are told that those who receive eternal salvation are “all who obey Him.” Obedience is the condition by which some are saved and others are not. In addition, Paul calls faith “the obedience” in Romans 1:5 (NKJV calls it “obedience to the faith”), demonstrating that to obey Christ is to have faith in Him. Jesus’ words in John chapters 3 and 5 testify to belief as the condition for eternal life:
John 3:15---“whoever believes”
John 3:16---“whoever believes”
John 3:18---“he who believes...is not condemned”
John 5:24---“he who hears My word and believes”
John 5:40---“you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life”
Further chapters in John show the same thing:
John 6:29---“this is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in Him whom He sent.”
John 6:40---“everyone who sees the Son and BELIEVES IN HIM...”
John 6:47---“he who BELIEVES in Me”
John the Baptist tells of belief in Christ (3:36), and even John’s prologue talks about those who believe being “as many as received Him...those who believe in His name” (1:12). Last but not least, John challenges his audience in chapter 20:
“But these [things] are written that you may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that BELIEVING you may have life in His name” (20:31).
I picked John’s Gospel as justification because the Gospel itself tends to be the favorite of Calvinists. And yet, there is so much Scripture pertaining to hearing His Word and believing in Him. I wonder what Calvinists say about these Scriptures? Hmmm...
Next, White claims that, because all do not come to Christ, Christ does not desire everyone to be saved. According to White, general revelation shows us truth about God: that God does not desire the salvation of everyone. However, Scripture also gives us truth about ourselves as human beings (Rom. 1:18-32), and the fact that many do not come to Christ is not because Christ doesn’t want them...but rather, they do not want Christ:
“because, although THEY KNEW GOD, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful...” (Rom. 1:18ff)
The heart of the matter is that, while man knows the truth, he refuses to live according to it. Instead, he “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). He chooses to live his life as though he were ignorant. As a result, God gives him over to his desire---if he wants to live as though he is depraved (1:28) in mind, then so be it; he will act as such.
James White and fellow Calvinists desire to place responsibility on God. But if God truly does desire the gospel to be preached to “every creature” (Mark 16:15), not just a select few, then doesn’t this imply universal opportunity for salvation? Surely it does! And it is this, coupled with the world-wide voice of creation (Rom. 10:17-18, Ps. 19:4) that testifies to a God who calls all people, every person, to Himself---while refusing to make them come...