For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
But according to John Calvin, reconciliation occurs long before: “the elect always belonged to God” and “while they are far away from him, he regards them in secret as his own.”
Calvin writes: “First he points out the eternity of election, and then how we should think of it. Christ says that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith, nor by any merit, but by pure grace; for while they are far away from him, he regards them in secret as his own.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.393, emphasis mine)
If some were already thusly reconciled, why Calvary? Why must Jesus suffer, if God already regards them in secret as His own? Calvinism diminishes the work of Calvary, and the mediatorship of Christ.
Calvinists don’t believe in this illustration, because it depicts Hell below, and Calvinists don’t think that they were ever on the path to Hell, and that they were always in good with God, all while being lost and enemies, which they attribute to Election. Election bridged the gap, not Calvary, in which Calvary was otherwise just the rubber stamp of Election. This is what Calvinism would have us believe.
“Now” received the reconciliation is interesting in light of the Calvinist teaching of the 3 salvations, that is, past, present, and future, in terms of a past election as a member of the secret elect, chosen mysteriously for a reason that no man knows, and in terms of a present salvation by an irresistible grace through which the secret elect are given the gift of faith, and the future salvation in which, by a persevering grace, one endures to the end. But if one “now” receives reconciliation, then what does that say of the tri-fold salvation depicted by Calvinists, in terms of a pre-Genesis reconciliation by Election?
Jesus Christ: The only One that can save you, having done the only thing that can save you. Now “be reconciled” (2nd Corinthians 5:20) as in, become reconciled, and not that one is not already [secretly] reconciled, through pre-Genesis Unconditional Election. Furthermore, we are not already reconciled, while being unbelieving enemies of God. Indeed, we have “now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:11) There is therefore “now no condemnation” to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
John Calvin explains: “…we are reconciled to Him when we are accepted by His righteousness.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.76, emphasis mine)
John Calvin explains: “With regard to ourselves, therefore, we are always enemies, until the death of Christ is interposed to propitiate God.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.110, emphasis mine)
- I see a conflicting message with Calvinism, in which God is reconciling people that are already reconciled, in secret.
- Since reconciliation is a relational term, how you can be relationally reconciled with God while being relationally an enemy of God?
John Calvin writes: “The apostle, however, seems here to be contradicting himself. If the death of Christ was a pledge of the divine love towards us, it follows that we were even then acceptable to Him. But now he says that we were enemies. My answer to this is that because God hates sin, we are also hated by Him in so far as we are sinners. But in so far as He receives us into the body of Christ by His secret counsel, He ceases to hate us. Our return to grace, however, is unknown to us, until we attain in by faith.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.110, emphasis mine)
One Calvinist responds: “Do Calvinists secretly believe that God chose them for some reason other than their need for salvation? Would I, as a Christian, believe that God chose me for some other reason than my need for salvation? Yes, I do. God chose me for His glory, for His pleasure, for His purposes. Sure I had a need for salvation. But that is not why He saved me primarily. In the Bible, God does not say He chose us because of our desperate need. He chose us before our need ever arose.”
Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer, writes: “If it is true that Christ died to redeem a specific number of people, namely those whom the Father had given him, it follows that all believers were redeemed at the cross two thousand years ago. They were cleared of all charges then, for God accepted the ransom payment. The certificate of our canceled debt was then given to us when we trusted in Christ. Paul said that the reason no one can bring a charge against the elect is that Christ has died for them (Rom. 8:24).” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.185, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, James White, writes: “When the time comes in God’s sovereign providence to bring to spiritual life each of those for whom Christ died, the Spirit of God will not only effectively accomplish that work of regeneration but that new creature in Christ will, unfailingly, believe in Jesus Christ (‘all that the Father gives Me will come to Me’). Hence, we are not saved ‘without’ faith, but at the same time, Christ’s atonement is not rendered useless and vain without the addition of libertarian free will.” (Debating Calvinism, p.191, emphasis mine)