Your website has been very helpful to me in understading the Bible throughout the past. I have a little issue concerning free will and salvation. I would greatly appreciate the wisdom you have to offer.
My brother and I are part of a local Bible study. A couple of people there hold to the Calvinistic belief of unconditional election. They are using John 6:44 and Romans 3:10-12 to support their belief.
Also, they claim II Peter 3:9 is referring to the Christain, that God only wants the Christain to not perish.
Also, in Romans 9:20, a person illustrated it this way: If I own a bunch of rags. I choose which ones to keep clean and others to wipe up oil. They're my rags, so who is anyone to tell me which of my rags i keep clean or trash. I think there was another point made.
If we got to choose salvation the glory wouldn't be God's because it would be up to us, but God gave us the gift of free will. Just because it is a choice to believe doesn't mean God isnt the one saving us. He is the one providing the gift. Am I right?
Am I correct to say: Jesus died for everyone. Jesus makes us right with God. Jesus is salvation. Salvation is a gift from God. We either choose to accept God's gift or perish.Those who have a genuine belief in Jesus are rewarded, and those who reject God spend eternity without Him. God does not create people for hell. The reason people are in hell is because they turned their hearts from God and chose sin instead.
Yet, in order to believe in Jesus, we need God to open our eyes because we are all sinful in nature and we don't look for God naturally. How does that work with free will? I can see how we would need God to open our eyes in order to believe. On the other hand, according to the unconditional election, God chose some for salvation and others to reject Him, which means God created those people for evil. But God is not evil, so unconditional election doesn't make sense. Those who believe in Jesus, is it because God opened our eyes or did we figure it ourselves or both or what?
I would greatly appreciate your help in piecing together answers from Scripture about this. It's a bit confusing. Thank you for your time.
I have discussed some of these issues before:
Regarding John 6:44, see: Does "draw" means God pulls people in with an irresistible force?
Regarding Romans 9:20, see: Does Romans 9 support Calvinism?
Regarding II Peter 3:9, I haven't heard anyone claiming that this verse only applies to Christians.
"For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:5-9).
The reason this world continues and Judgment Day has not yet arrived is because the Lord is reluctant for any should perish; thus, He is giving people (the ungodly who are reserved for judgment) ample time to repent so that they will not perish.
Since it is God's plan of salvation and not ours, our acceptance of His requirements gives glory to God.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
"For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men" (II Corinthians 9:12-13).
"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8).
Your statement that we are naturally sinful is incorrect. God does open people's eyes, but how does He accomplish this? "I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:17-18). God opened people's eyes through Paul by the teaching of God's message. It is through the reasoning with the Word of God that people's eyes were opened. That is why there are preachers. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14). It is not through a direct divine intervention by men teaching men. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Corinthians 1:21). Again, this is a scheme where God gets the glory because this isn't the way men would do it.
But in regard to the concept that people are naturally sinful, see: