1st Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
Question: What does it mean, that God will “not allow you to
be tempted beyond what you are able”?
Answer: Every time you sin, you didn’t have to, because God
provided a way of escape. Notice that this verse is about what
you are, and are not, able to endure. This is about choices, and
so even if the Calvinist wishes to relegate this passage to only
a secretly elect group, it fails to serve the Calvinist purpose,
since it still has people making their own choices, which is
something that Calvinistic Determinism has no room for.
Determinism requires that whatever we do, is actually just a
“link in an immutable chain of decreed events,” or otherwise,
according to such Calvinism, if it’s not decreed, then God has
absolutely no way of knowing what you will do, or what you
can endure. Freedom simply has no place in Calvinism, and
this passage is about freedom, though restricted to specific
Calvinist, James White: “How God can know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point….” (Debating Calvinism, p.163, emphasis mine)
Essentially, then, Calvinism is Open Theism, but with a deterministic decree. According to such Calvinism, God cannot know what you can endure, unless He has predetermined it, and thus Calvinism really is just a modified form of Open Theism. Arminianism, on the other hand, teaches that God can know all things, even the things that He does not determine. Calvinists like James White demand to know how, and Arminianism teaches that this is simply a product of God being eternal.
Question: How does God know what we can “endure”?
Answer: Either He knows it because He has intricately scripted it, as per the deterministic decree of Calvinism, or because God is omniscient by nature.
Question: If, for God to know what we can and cannot handle, in any situation, He must contemplate our state of being, in all of its seemingly endless potentialities, then wouldn’t this be a significant waste of God’s time and energy?
Answer: Being omniscient means that God cannot learn anything, so it’s not a matter of God having to tax His resources and process data. If God knows everything, then He must know that all at once.
Moreover, 1st Corinthians 10:13 is not about unfettered, Libertarian Free Will. It’s about Limited Free Will, but free, nonetheless.
John Calvin: “...He supplies us with resources we need, and sets a limit to the temptation. ...God mitigates temptations to prevent their overpowering us by their weight. For He knows how far our ability can go, when He Himself has given it to us, and He adjusts our temptations to that degree of ability.” (Calvin’s Commentaries: The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, p.214, emphasis mine)
For God to “adjust our temptations” means that He is working with our will, rather than predetermining whatsoever we happen to do, and that our resistance to sin is dynamic, which fluctuates according to our daily Christian walk with Him: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16, KJV) So when a Christian believer is walking close to the Lord, they will be able to endure greater temptation than when they are not walking close to the Lord. So when God sets our parameters, it’s a dynamic, ever-changing boundary. So this is now about a God who is infinitely in control and infinitely knowledgeable, whereas Calvinism requires that God determines all of it, in order to know any of it.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “God promises Christians that they never have to sin. He gives grace to aid the Christian so that the Christian can resist temptation, even though he is obviously able to give in to temptation. So if you take two Christians, and one gives into temptation, while another does not, then why does one give in while the other remains faithful? It cannot be a difference of grace--they are both able to resist the temptation. By the Calvinist argument, it must be because one has some good in him, apart from God or grace, and must be able to legitimately boast. But this is obviously, patently unbiblical, and shows how the Calvinist argument is invalid.”
Another member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “Romans 7:14-15 is relevant to the debate on libertarian and Compatibilistic free will. On the assumption of libertarian freedom, Paul is saying that there are times when in spite of the fact that in his grace God is at work to enable him ‘to will and to do’ what pleases God, Paul chooses wrongly and sins. The failure lies with Paul’s exercise of his grace empowered libertarian freedom. On the assumption of compatibilistic freedom, Paul is saying that there are times when God extends sufficient grace which enables Paul to desire to do the right thing but not enough grace which would enable him to carry out this intention, the result is that Paul chooses wrongly and sins. On this assumption the problem is ultimately that God withheld the grace which would have enabled Paul to translate God ordained intentions into actions (which God did not ordain for those circumstances). Or, to put it another way, God extends the ‘general grace’ which enables the believer ‘to will the good’ but withholds the ‘effectual grace’ which would enable the person ‘to do the good’. This compatibilistic approach is obviously nonsense. The context of this paragraph needs to be kept in mind. Paul’s objective in this section is to exonerate the Law of any responsibility for the negative role that he has assigned to the Law. The real problem with the Law is our fallen human. The experience of the divided self is evidence that the problem is ‘in me’ rather than with ‘the law’. I think Paul is describing one dimension of what every believer experiences from time to time.”
This makes for a great response to the Calvinist who asks why a person chooses one way over another? Here, indeed, you have two Christians with the same grace, and yet one overcomes the temptation, while another does not. The answer is free will, and as a result, some Calvinists infer that whereas the lost do not have a free will, Christians do. Nevertheless, it indeed becomes evident, that 1st Corinthians 10:13 is no friend to absolute, Hard Determinism.
Arminianism agrees that God is in control. However, Calvinism insists that the only way for God to really be in control is by controlling everything, that is, by scripting whatsoever comes to pass, in terms of whatever decision you ultimately end up making. However, at 1st Corinthians 10:13, God says that He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to handle, and will always provide a way of escape. This means that God sets the parameters, and you make the choice, and are responsible for your own decisions. God sovereignly establishes the parameters, and you make the choice. This is how the Bible reconciles the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.
Arminian, Daniel Whedon: “Necessitarians ordinarily argue that the supposition of an agent able to act either way by a power implanted within him is to suppose him placed away from the control of God.” (Freedom of the Will: A Wesleyan Response to Jonathan Edwards, p.266, emphasis mine)
Indeed, Calvinists suppose that unless God is all-determining, He cannot truly be said to be in “control,” and yet, the bewildered Arminian wonders how a free agent would otherwise dethrone the Almighty, and the answer is because the Calvinist believes that unless God determines a choice, God cannot foreknow it, and that’s where Calvinism gets in trouble, because Calvinism ultimately supposes that God cannot know anything, unless He has predetermined everything.