And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
God’s Word, which is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and dispenses “faith” in its hearers (Romans 10:17), “leads to salvation.” (2nd Timothy 3:15) But according to Calvinism, given a person’s Total Inability, only Irresistible Grace, rather than Scripture, can accomplish this. So what effect does Calvinism have upon the power of the Gospel?
John Calvin comments: “Scripture is commended very highly indeed when it is said that the wisdom necessary for salvation can only be found there, and the next verse explains this more fully. At the same time, Paul tells us what we should look for in Scripture itself, for false prophets also make us of it to find a pretext for their teaching. If it is going to bring us salvation we must use it in the correct way. What if somebody is only interested in curious speculations? What if he sticks only to the letter of the law and does not seek Christ? What if he perverts the natural meaning with false interpretations? Paul has good reason to recall us to faith in Christ, which is the center and sum of Scripture.” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.75, emphasis mine)
According to Calvinism, though, the Word of God leads to salvation only if accompanied by preemptive Regenerative Grace whereby all those of the alleged, eternal flock of the Father, are unilaterally, unconsciously and involuntarily made preemptively Born Again with a new heart in order to believe. That is the essential mechanism for Calvinism in order to get the alleged, eternal elect in the Father by Elective Grace, to overcome their Total Inability and receive faith to repent, believe and be saved.
As expected, Calvin agrees:
John Calvin writes: “In a word, Paul indicates that all clamorous sounding of the human voice will lack effect, unless the virtue of God works internally in the heart.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.104, emphasis mine)
In other words, the Gospel will “lack effect” if not accompanied by Irresistible Grace.
Calvin adds: “The minister’s teaching and speaking does no good unless God adds his inward calling
to it. ... Preaching alone is just a dead letter, and we must beware lest a false imagination, or the semblance of secret illumination, leads us away from the Word on which faith depends.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.278, emphasis mine)
Calvin writes: “Now let Pighius asseverate that God wills all to be saved, when not even the external preaching of the doctrine, which is much inferior to the illumination of the Spirit, is made common to all.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.109, emphasis mine)
Calvin indicates that the power of the Gospel is “much inferior” to the far-surpassing power of preemptive Regenerative Grace. Strange, though, that Romans 1:16 should highlight the “power” of the Gospel without mentioning preemptive regeneration. Moreover, the context reveals: “...holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2nd Timothy 3:5) The context shows that these people, though they may attend church, or appear moral, simply do not believe what the Bible actually says. So it is similarly tragic when Calvinists do not believe what the Bible says about its “power.” (Romans 1:16) This is not elevating man, but elevating the power of God’s Word in the hands of the Holy Spirit who, for His part, is truly willing.