I remember the day when I first met my Savior. It was so unexpected. At this time I was not a serious seeker. Though I had grown up in a Christian home and had for much of my life desperately wanted to get saved, at this time in my life, it was not something I thought much about. Life has to go on. If someone asked me then if I was a believer, I would have to think about it for a while. Then I would tell them, “I'm certainly not a disbeliever.”
I was attending a Christian liberal arts college. With several of the other students, I was in a gospel band. I love to sing. I've always loved to sing. The words of the songs we sang were just the words of songs.
One evening those of us in the band went to North Park College to hear a gospel group called Andre Crouch and the Disciples. I asked one of our teachers to join us, but he said to me, “You guys. You seem so normal in class. But then you go to one of those concerts and suddenly, it's like you're possessed, you're jumping and bouncing all over the place. “Not me,” I assured him. “I don't bounce.”
So the concert began and I really enjoyed it. In the midst of the music, I heard some words, “take me back to the cross where I first met my Savior.” The words made me sad. “I've never been to the cross,” I thought.
My mind went through all the reasons I needed to go to the cross. I remembered situations where, at the time, I had excused my bad behavior. “I am so not innocent,” I thought. “What a pig I am.” But my thoughts returned to the cross; because of the cross, excuses were not necessary. I had a sense of the Lord's presence. I deeply understood that He cared for me, that He wanted me. I thought. “That is so nice."
And that was that.
And I've been a Believer ever since.
Did I make a really good choice then in accepting the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? I think so. Though it wasn't a choice in the ordinary sense of the word. It was more just accepting something that had been dropped in my lap.
Is this really good choice that I made the reason I deserve to go to heaven and not be condemned to hell? Again, I think so. I still can hardly believe it. It just seems too good. The Lord is too kind to me.
A choice means that one has two options. But at that very special time, it didn't begin enter my mind that I could choose to reject what I had just been given.
So that means I believe I was chosen, for I did not choose, not really; therefore I believe it is all of God and nothing of myself? I don't think I believe that.
But if I did believe that, must I also believe that God is arbitrarily; choosing one and rejecting the next? I know I do not believe that!!!
From beginning to end, the Scriptures tell the story of people who either chose to accept or chose to reject God. The book of Hebrews tell us: By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice. By faithlessness, Cain offered his own sacrifice and then made the choice to sacrifice his brother. By faith Enoch walked with God and thus never saw death. By faith Noah did as he was instructed, odd as his instructions might have seemed to him. There is no meaning to the word faith without an understanding of choice.
How can anyone dare to suggest that Scripture teaches an arbitrariness to God? Have they never read John 3:16? “Whoever believes in Him.” In Scripture, to believe is to will to believe, or perhaps, to will to not disbelieve. John 3:18 “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
Along that same line, can we dare to suggest that God is not absolutely, totally, perfectly good? His goodness may transcend our understanding of what is good, but it is never less than our understanding of what is good. Never would He reject one who comes to Him. As the Psalmist writes, “A broken and a contrite heart You will not despise.” The prophet Isaiah offers an open invitation, “Come everyone who thirsts, come to to the waters; and come he who has no money, come, buy and eat.” The Lord Jesus said, "Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden."
There are many Scriptures that speak of the choice being God's choice. But in the Scriptures we also read that God is not willing that any should perish. In Matthew we read of the Lord Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, “How I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing.”
It could be that John Calvin was not a Calvinist, if a Calvinist is one who denies man's need (capability) to respond to God, or if a Calvinist is one who believes God's choice of His chosen is mere arbitrariness, or if a Calvinist believes God's goodness has no relationship to our understanding of goodness.
But, as far as I am able to understand, those are the three main things that differentiate a Calvinist from your run-of-the-mill Christian. And that is why I am not a Calvinist.