The centuries old debate between free will (Arminianism) and Election (Doctrines of Grace) is still alive and well. Free willers contend that salvation depends upon their decision to choose Christ, while those who hold to the Doctrine of Election (aka Calvinists) say that God has chosen those whom will be saved before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The problem with the Arminian, or free will, teaching is that it contradicts the Bible’s teaching of a person’s state before conversion. I will show this to you in the following analogies:
To hold to the Arminian view, a person would have to believe that, before conversion, the lost sinner is only suffering from a disease and there is only one physician who has the cure for said disease. They seek out this physician and he offers them the cure for their disease, but ultimately it is their choice to take that cure. In essence, they can choose whether to be cured or stay sick.
To hold to the Doctrine of Election, you understand what the Bible says in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” The fourth word in that verse is important…..DEAD!!!! A dead person has no way of making any decisions. If we are dead in our trespasses and sins, as the Bible says we are, we cannot do anything of our own free will because we ARE spiritually dead. It’s like being a corpse lying on a slab. Jesus, being the Great Physician wouldn’t just stand there and say, “Here is the cure for your deadness” and then wait for us to respond. We can’t respond because we’re dead. No, Jesus would remove our old, dead, stoney heart and replace it with a new, soft heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). It’s at this point that we are regenerated….born again…..made alive in Christ.
Some people may then point to the verse about Jesus’ comment concerning the sick needing a physician, not the healthy. In three of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there is an account of Jesus speaking with the Scribes and Pharisees. Once again, they are questioning Jesus’ actions because he was eating with the tax collectors and sinners. They asked his disciples why he was eating with them. Upon hearing their question, Jesus replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Then he says afterwards, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” In this instance, the healthy/righteous are those who THINK they are fine. They believe they don’t need a physician. Their righteousness is SELF-righteousness (like that of the Scribes and Pharisees). The sick/sinners are those who have come to realize that they are sick and need healing from a physician and that there is nothing good within them that will save them.
It’s important to understand and interpret Scripture properly. The Bible plainly states that before regeneration, that we are dead in our trespasses and sins and not just merely sick. The dead cannot heal themselves. It takes the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the understanding of the gospel and that we contribute not one iota to our salvation.