Can a good Calvinist encourage someone to “choose Jesus?”
Yes, I know the Bible teaches that men are so horribly deprave that they will not — even cannot — call upon Christ on their own. No one seeks God. No one naturally and independently chooses him.
I also know that God’s Word speaks of God’s own sovereign, eternal election. He predestines his own. He is the one who chooses certain men and women.
However, I am also aware of Scripture’s presentation of the Holy Spirit. He is most gracious, all-powerful, and always successful. Magnificently, he resurrects, resuscitates, reforms, renews, regenerates, and/or revives. Working in perfect tandom with the Father and the Son, he is the Person who makes non-choosers choose.
Therefore, when preaching, evangelizing, or discipling, I have no problem putting these theological concepts together and encouraging my hearers and friends to “make wise choices.”
And neither did St. Peter in Acts 2:37-41:
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Peter understood the heinousness of sin and human inability.
He also understood the electing grace of the just and particular God.
St. Peter relished in the exclusive, all-sufficient cross-work of Christ. He knew Jesus was the only possible substitute for sinful men. He knew Christ saved men, because men could not save themselves.
Peter and his evangelizing friends understood their need of the Holy Spirit’s power. For this they waited. For this they prayed. In this they ministered.
However, knowing all this, Peter still looked at his sinful neighbors and lovingly commanded them to “save themselves.”
Friends, let us not be so “Calvinistic” that we cease to evangelize. (For this would not be honoring to Christ or Calvin.) Let us perpetually find the lost and encourage them to believe, repent, choose Jesus, and “save themselves.”
In addition, let us not be fatalistic in our preaching or our personal practice. God is sovereign, and he chooses to exercise his sovereignty through Spirit-led personal choices. So whether we are coming to Christ for the first time or living for him, let us all choose wisely and “save ourselves” a world of trouble.
Then let us continue to grow in biblical truth and Gospel awareness. As we grow, in knowledge, we will more and more give him praise for causing us to choose and consequently “saving ourselves.” With increased biblical knowledge ought to come increased personal humility and increased spiritual praise.
Finally, today, let us who are divinely blessed, choose wisely, and enjoy even further blessing. Let us continue to “save ourselves” and glorify our sovereign Savior. He is sovereign; we are responsible. He has chosen to give us choices. Now choose properly.