2nd Corinthians 6:1-2
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-- for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.”
Paul references Isaiah 49:8, where today is the day of salvation.
One member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians: “The context is most definitely salvation. And yet, Paul is explicitly urging the Corinthians to not receive such salvific grace ‘in vain.’ How can this be if in fact God’s ‘effectual grace’ always fulfills its purpose (i.e. in regenerating the ‘elect’)?”
Question: How could Irresistible Grace be received “in vain”?
Answer: Calvinists are forced to conclude that this is just a hypothetical warning, not that it could ever really happen.
Question: Which “grace” is Paul referring to?
Answer: Atoning Grace, that is, Jesus’ death at Calvary.
Question: What’s the implication?
Answer: Since Jesus died for you, don’t squander what He did for you at Calvary and end up paying for your sins yourself in Hell.
Calvinists, on the other hand, do not believe that God assists in salvation through a proceeding grace (i.e. seeking, drawing, knocking, kicking, pricking convicting and opening a heart to respond to the Gospel), but rather, unilaterally acts through preemptive Regeneration (i.e. Irresistible Grace) on the appointed day, by unconsciously making those of the alleged, eternal flock of the Father, Born Again in Christ, in order to repent, believe and be saved. Therefore, how can someone make “vain” what would be unilateral and irresistible? If grace was resistible, only then could it be made in vain.
John Calvin: “Thus we are all admonished in the person of Christ not to slight the opportunity we have to obtain salvation. … Since God assigns a set time for the showing forth of His grace, it follows that all times are not equally suited to it, and since a particular day of salvation is named, it follows that the free offer of salvation is not open every day. This depends entirely on God’s providence for the only time that it is accepted is what Gal. 4.4 calls the fulness of time.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: II Corinthians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p.84, emphasis mine)
If salvation is an “opportunity” through an “offer,” then how is it simultaneously irresistible? Morever, how can you offer the opportunity for salvation to those whom Jesus allegedly never died for? (It should be noted that John Calvin did not dogmatically teach the doctrine of a Limited Atonement, as 5-Point Calvinists do today, and hence the reason why he may express salvation in such terms as being an opportunity and an offer.)
John Calvin: “Why does the day of salvation come? It is because it is the accepted time which God in His undeserved favour has ordained. In the meantime we must hold fast to Paul’s purpose which is to teach the need for undelaying urgency, so that we may not miss the opportunity, for it is displeasing to God when His proffered grace is received with coolness and indifference.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: II Corinthians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p.84, emphasis mine)
How can you “miss the opportunity” to receive a unilateral, unconscious and irreistible Regeneration? How can an alleged, Irresistible Grace, be “received with coolness and indifference”?
John Calvin: “This is a beautiful passage that has great comfort for us, since we know that as long as the Gospel is preached to us, the door into the kingdom of God is open to us, and there is raised up before us a sign of God’s kindness to invite us to accept salvation, for when we are called to receive it, we may be sure that we have an opportunity of doing so. But unless we grasp this opportunity, we must fear Paul’s implied threat that soon the door will be closed to all who have not entered at the right time. For retribution of this kind always follows contempt of the Word.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: II Corinthians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p.84, emphasis mine)
Interestingly, one Calvinist once shouted from the pulpit: “YOU THINK YOU HAD A HAND IN YOUR SALVATION!” and yet here you have John Calvin using such phrases as “unless we grasp this opportunity.”