For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Question: When Paul makes himself a slave to everyone, is that because he doesn’t know who the Calvinistically elect are, or because he sees everyone as a target for the gospel?
Answer: Paul’s focus is on winning souls, and he doesn’t see anyone outside of the gospel’s reach. A Calvinistic Limited Atonement is not in Paul’s evangelistic blood.
John Calvin: “‘To become all things’ means to adopt every sort of attitude as the situation demands, or to assume different roles in accordance with the way people differ.” (Calvin’s Commentaries: The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, p.195, emphasis mine)
Question: Does Paul think that by doing these things, it will make a difference in whether a person gets saved?
Answer: Why else would he do it? Calvinists say that this is merely the predestined “means” of conversion, but remember that according to Calvinism, Irresistible Grace comes first, and thus whatever Paul does, in the manner of his Gospel presentation, detailed at 1st Corinthians 1:17 and 9:19, is thus academic by that point. According to Calvinism, the real “means” is Irresistible Grace, and the rest is mere window-dressing, and having no real bearing at all, in terms of whether a person gets saved or not.
Dave Hunt writes concerning Calvinism: “‘He that winneth souls is wise’ (Proverbs 11:30) becomes meaningless; there is no persuading the damned, and the saved are regenerated without believing anything. ‘Come now, and let us reason together’ (Isaiah 1:18) is meaningless for the same reasons. The ‘great white throne’ judgment is also meaningless if God has willed every thought, word, and deed. The Bible’s call of hope for all--‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve’ (Joshua 24:15); ‘Seek ye the LORD while he may be found’ (Isaiah 55:6); ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor’ (Matthew 11:28); ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink’ (John 7:37)--all this and more is made meaningless by Calvinism!” (Debating Calvinism, p.334)
The problem with Calvinism is that it does not give the Bible clearer understanding, but instead insists that the Bible cannot mean what it says, and Calvinists have a number of tools to achieve this, whether by inserting “of the elect,” or by suggesting a hidden meaning with a “secret will” or by invoking special “means.”
Question: “Win more”? Win who?
Answer: Notice that Paul doesn’t mention anything about
winning only certain people who were fated to believe.
Paul submits himself as a slave to everyone indiscriminately,
in order that by it, he might win some. Calvinists ought to
take Paul’s understanding of “all men” and apply that to 1st
John Calvins: “…the reason why God elects some and rejects others is to be found in His purpose alone. … before men are born their lot is assigned to each of them by the secret will of God. … the salvation or the destruction of men depends on His free election.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.203, emphasis mine)
So how would that correspond with winning the lost? For if God has already decided who He wants to save, and who He wants to let perish, then how is anyone truly “won”? Furthermore, what would be the point of Paul’s sensitivity in preaching the Gospel, if those whom God wishes to be saved, will be saved, no matter what, being achieved by the involuntary Regeneration of Irresistible Grace? Also consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy concerning circumcision: “Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:3) Knowing that it wasn’t essential to salvation, Paul had him get circumcised anyway, simply for the sake of the Gospel, in reaching more people, so as to avoid letting it become an obstacle to the Jews getting saved. Calvinism’s answer? The “means.”
1st Corinthians 9:12: “If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.”
So the Gospel can be hindered? Does that mean that Irresistible Grace can be hindered? Calvinists would certainly answer, “No.” So, again, is Calvinism explaining the Bible, or explaining it away?