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David Platt: ‘What is a Biblical Response to the Gospel?’ Answer: Calvinism?

Well known Reformed Southern Baptist pastor David Platt caused a stir last year by criticizing the sinner’s prayer – the traditional prayer most Baptists (and several other groups) teach new believers to pray to “accept Christ.”

At that time David passionately pointed out that the practice is not in the Bible, that our role is not to “accept” Christ, and that Christians should not practice something that is not in the Bible.

Recently, David sat down to answer some follow up questions about his statement last year. In this short video, David answers the question, “If there is not a specific prayer to pray, how then should we respond to the gospel?” Here’s his answer:

A biblical response to the gospel is fundamentally to repent and believe. To turn from sin and self, and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is the essence of the gospel call. Whenever I share the gospel – whenever we share the gospel – we call people to do this – to repent and believe. Now, at the core that involves a crying out to God in repentance saying I’m turning from my sin and I’m trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord of my life, and that’s where Romans 10 says, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When I’m sharing the gospel with somebody or even when I’m preaching and proclaiming the gospel, I want to call people to cry out to God for salvation. That doesn’t mean I need to say, “Okay, and if you want to do that then say these words: ‘follow me,’ or ‘repeat these words after me’ … it’s not that that’s even necessarily bad, but the reality is if somebody realizes that they’re a sinner before a holy God and that Christ has paid the price for their sin on the cross and they are broken over their sin and ready to trust in Christ as the Lord of their life … at that point it’s not really a matter of  ‘did they say the right words.’ It’s inviting them – ‘I invite you to call out to Christ for salvation’ – let them do that. Pray for them, pray after they call out for salvation, but at the same time be willing to let them be alone with God if they need to be. And encourage them in that. Don’t just kind of leave them, “Okay, let’s  take it or leave it.”

We urge people to cry out for salvation – we urge people to repent and believe, but in the process we want to be careful not to manipulate that in a way that we give them a box to check – and okay, now they’ve done this – they’ve checked this box off that we’ve told them they needed to check off – now their saved and everything  is okay. No, we want the Spirit to give that kind of assurance as He does this work in their hearts. We share the gospel, we call them to repent, believe, call out to God for salvation, and we let the Spirit of God create that work in that person, and it’s a beautiful, supernatural thing when that happens, and it’s the grace of God that we get to be apart of calling people to repentance and faith and belief in Christ. I can’t think of anything more exhilarating than seeing someone’s life transformed for all of eternity right in front of you.

I want to be careful even in talking about praying a prayer, inviting Christ into your life, and some of the different things people might get hung up on – this is a beautiful thing that happens – we just want to be as biblical as possible in calling people to commitment to Christ.

I appreciate David’s emphasis on calling people to repentance and faith, but there is a biblical response to the gospel that goes beyond what he states in the video.

As stated above, David is a Reformed Southern Baptist. That means he holds to a Calvinistic understanding of salvation (like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and many other popular contemporary pastors).

Calvinists believe that God predestined before creation the singular individuals who would be saved and those who would not (even though each passage that discusses predestination in the Bible refers to the plural church – something individuals choose to be part of or not). They believe that when a predestined individual hears the gospel preached for the first time, God triggers something within them causing them to understand they are one of the chosen. Specifically, the Holy Spirit enters that person causing them to be regenerated – that is, their old self dies and their new, recreated, forgiven and saved self emerges. This new self is given a new heart including new wants and desires. One is saved at the moment of regeneration, and the whole of the process is a sovereign work of God. For a Calvinist, anything done in an attempt to add to the completed work of God in the salvific process is akin to heresy, because we are “saved by grace, and not by works” – that is why the sinner’s prayer is out.

Calvinists believe being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit is wrong for the same reason they believe praying a prayer as part of the salvific process is wrong. To them, salvation for an individual is a completely passive process. One is either saved or they are not – the gospel simply proves what was already foreordained by God. David’s point in the video above is that any “crying out to God” should be done in response to what God has already done in an individual through the Holy Spirit, and, even though he doesn’t explicitly state it, what was foreordained before creation.

Let me be clear in saying that I appreciate David and his passion, but honestly this theology has some very disturbing ramifications.

First, Calvinism completely removes individual choice from the equation. According to that theology, one does not have a choice in whether they will follow God or not. Rather, God chose them before creation or He didn’t.

Second, if we take seriously what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, only a few will be saved in the grand scheme of things. If Calvinism is correct, then God created the majority of the world’s past, present, and future inhabitants simply to kill them and send them to hell for an eternity without their having a chance to be saved. Sorry, but that’s not the God I serve. The Bible makes it clear that individuals choose whether to surrender to God or not – He does not choose for us – and the consequences we face in judgment, whether good or bad, will be up to us. After all, 1 Timothy 2:4 states that God “wants all people to be saved” – not just a few. And what of the passages that state God gives people time to repent? That’s what God wants – our repentance.

In short, the Bible teaches that we either choose to follow Jesus, or we choose not to. We are not pre-programmed robots without a voice in the matter.

This is a very simplistic critique as there is a lot more to Calvinism than what is stated in this brief article. Much more could be said about the misunderstanding of what the Bible means when it discusses “works” in the New Testament (as this lies at the root of the misunderstanding David is perpetuating), but, in sum, Calvinism is what David is supporting in this video and the other that went viral last year. In my humble opinion, he is defending the theological tradition he has been fed more than he is strictly defending the scriptures.

I do appreciate David and believe he is my brother in Christ. I’ve enjoyed his books (especially Radical), look forward to more, and hope to shake his hand someday.

But I do wish he would reexamine some of his beliefs.

His voice is becoming more and more influential, and one who “just wants to be as biblical as possible in calling people to commitment to Christ” shouldn’t overlook something so patently simple as how people responded to the gospel in the book of Acts and early church history.

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UPDATE:

After being pressed by a couple of people who responded to this post, I did a bit more research and ran across an article David wrote for Christianity Today in which he responds to the criticism he received after his comments on the sinner’s prayer in 2012. In addition to this latest video, what inspired the above post were articles I’d read/statements I’d heard from credible sources (referenced here) regarding this issue last year.

Here is an excerpt of David’s response to those articles/comments – according to him they were spurious:

A three-minute video clip from an hour-long message I delivered at the Verge Conference in Austin earlier this year created conversation and eventually led to a resolution among Southern Baptists to defend the use of a “sinner’s prayer” in evangelism. Though I had some concerns with the resolution as it was originally proposed, I was pleased with the resolution that Southern Baptists eventually adopted, and I voted in favor of it. It was encouraging to see pastors and leaders together say that we need to be wise in the way we lead people to Christ, but such wisdom doesn’t necessarily warrant that everyone must throw out a “sinner’s prayer” altogether.

What grieved me about this issue, though, was the way it was reported in a few particularly prominent places that seemed to imply that this issue was dividing Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC, or even me personally from various leaders in the SBC. Some even suggested that as “one of the SBC’s Calvinist stars,” I am “against the sinner’s prayer” because I “don’t want the hopelessly condemned thinking they are saved or joining churches when they actually have no chance for life in Christ.” In addition to how nauseous such a label makes me, words really can’t describe how much a comment like this pierces my heart, for nothing (I hope and pray) could be further from the truth. Any cautions I have expressed with a “sinner’s prayer” have absolutely nothing directly to do with the doctrine of election, and I definitively don’t believe that certain people “actually have no chance for life in Christ.” Instead, my comments about the “sinner’s prayer” have been deeply motivated by a concern for authentic conversion and regenerate church membership—doctrines which many Calvinists and non-Calvinists, as well as a variety of Christians in between, would rightly value.

I believe without hesitation or equivocation that God loves all people in the world (John 3:16) and he desires all people’s salvation (2 Peter 3:9). As followers of Jesus saved by his matchless grace (Ephesians 2:1-10), we are compelled to go with urgency to all people to tell them compassionately of God’s love for them (2 Corinthians 4:5) and to call them clearly to repent and believe in Christ (Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:38). As we do this, I believe we simply need to be as biblical as possible (2 Timothy 2:15). Do I believe it is “wrong” for someone to pray a “prayer of salvation”? Certainly not. Calling out to God in prayer with repentant faith is fundamental to being saved (Romans 10:9-10). Yet as I pastor a local church and serve alongside pastors of other local churches, I sense reasonably serious concern about the relatively large number of baptisms in our churches that are “re-baptisms”—often representing people who thought they were saved because they prayed a certain prayer, but they lacked a biblical understanding of salvation and were in reality not saved. This, in addition to a rampant easy believism that marks cultural Christianity in our context (and in other parts of the world), leads me to urge us, as we go to all people among all nations with the good news of God’s love, to be both evangelistically zealous and biblically clear at the same time (Matthew 28:18-20).

The article also includes a transcript of a sermon David preached in which he articulates his understanding of the conversion process. His conclusion? It’s a mystery.

Read:

Oh, what a grand and glorious moment, when a dead sinner comes to life through a divine Savior!

And there is mystery to that moment, isn’t there? Verse 8: “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). How does this happen?

Think about the mystery here. One commentator said, “The operation of the Spirit is mysterious. What a lesson this was for a man who had been brought up in the belief that a person could and should save himself by perfect obedience to the Law of Moses and to a host of man-made, thoroughly analyzable, human regulations.” Another said, “The point here is that the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings.” Yet another said, “The new birth is supernatural, beyond human control or exhaustive human knowledge.” And it is, isn’t it?

How and when does the new birth happen, and who does what in it? Conversion, justification, regeneration—what’s the order here? Does God do all the work? Does man do anything? Is belief itself a free act of man or is faith a free gift from God?

And we all, in this room, based on Scripture, have differing answers to such questions. But we differ with humility, don’t we? Who among us has a market on the mind of God? Who among the finite, flawed men in this room is able to fully comprehend the infinite, flawless majesty of God in man’s salvation?

Let us behold the mystery of biblical conversion. Let us not attempt to explain it away. And let us certainly not try to debate it away, and in the process divide ourselves among the body of Christ. Let us each one (and I include myself) humbly discuss the things we do not know—things that have been discussed among Bible-believing Christians for centuries. And at the same time, let us boldly declare the truth that we do know—truth that has been proclaimed among Bible-believing Christians throughout the centuries.

We all know and we all agree that everyone who repents and believes in Jesus will be saved. And everyone who is saved will be saved by the grace of God. We know this together, we stand on this together, and we preach this together.

We tell men and women, boys and girls everywhere: repent and believe in Christ. Whether we say, “Pray this prayer after me,” is not the issue. The issue is that together we say, “By the grace of God in the cross of Christ, turn from yourself and trust in Jesus. Come from darkness to light. Come from death to life.” We urge people, “Believe in Christ. Follow Christ.” We tell them, in a day of rampant easy-believism, “Following Jesus will cost you everything you have, but he is worth it!” Repent and believe in him. Receive new life, eternal life. Look to him and live.

It appears that this topic is not as cut and dry as I was originally led to believe. Thanks to those who encouraged me to do a little more digging on this.

21 Replies

  1. It is amazing to me that our basic theology causes us to miss important details. But then again few are more familiar with that than those of us raised in a movement whose basic theology ignored the living indwelling of the Spirit and were so keen to “get it right” that we added reams of law to a simple walk and then condemned all who weren’t as smart as we were. Praise God for grace and the process of discipleship by which we are allowed to grow in wisdom without fear for our salvation.

    1. And to that I say, “Yep.” 🙂

  2. “Calvinists believe being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit is wrong for the same reason they believe praying a prayer as part of the salvific process is wrong. To them, salvation for an individual is a completely passive process”

    In the NT baptism is used in the passive voice nearly 100% of the time. That is why it is translated “be baptized” because it is something done to us. It is not done in the active voice, “Baptize yourself”. That, to me, is why I can hold the Ephesians verse about being saved by grace through faith, not by works side by side with the command to “be baptized” and not flinch. It all fits.

    1. Jody B

      Good point, Matt. I finally was forced to this conclusion as well.

    2. Everytime Paul brings up “works” in the NT he is specifically addressing a Jew/Gentile issue. For Paul, “works” is synonymous with “works of the Mosaic Law”. However, for Luther and other reformers “works” came to be synonymous with “any righteous works”.

      Baptism may be passive in that it is something done to an individual, but the commitment one is making to follow Jesus for life is anything but. I believe God expects us to work with the Holy Spirit in the salvific process. Through Jesus salvation is available to all willing to surrender to and follow Him. We choose whether we will do that or not, and baptism is the first step in doing so.

  3. Gary Greene

    Yes, Wes, it is amazing how close he came and then to stop so short.

  4. Poor Peter; if only he had studied under a Reformed theologian before he preached his Pentecost sermon calling people to “repent and be baptized…”

    And I echo the comment that Matt Dabbs made.

  5. Platt’s theology regarding Calvinism and predestination may well merit discussion but his comments here seem to have no direct connection to those themes. This seems to be somewhat of a bad-theology-by-association critique that doesn’t really address the actual message of his you are presenting. Perhaps you can present some teaching of his that actually illustrates his belief in predestination? Here is a fairly in-depth teaching from him on baptism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAmGifIj05w

    1. Thanks Cary – I haven’t watched the vid, but I did do some more digging and found an article David penned in response to the heat he took for his comments last year. It provided some clarity for me that I thought I’d already gotten, but it appears the sources I read before may have been spurious (at least according to David). I’ve updated the post.

  6. The main reason why Calvinists abhor a prayer in order be saved may be summed up by the following conversation I had with a Calvinist on YouTube.

    I asked him “So you were convicted of judgment (that you are on your way to hell) AFTER you had already been regenerated.”

    The reason I asked this particular question was to prove that the Holy Spirit can only convict a sinner of God’s judgment BEFORE regeneration and never AFTER a monergistic regeneration. The Holy Spirit cannot comfort a sinner by telling him that he is saved and at the same time also tell him that he is lost and on his way to hell unless he repents and believes the Gospel. That’s impossible. Jesus pertinently said that He had come to seek and to save lost sinners. It simply proves that no one can be truly saved unless they realize and acknowledge that they are sinners and lost (on their way to hell). That’s precisely why Jesus said: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (Matthew 9:12). The same logic applies to salvation. Those who do not realize and acknowledge that they are lost do not need a Saviour.

    This is how the Calvinist answered me.

    “The bible never says that God’s people [the elect] were ever bound for hell, it says they were chosen “in Christ” before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The conviction of sin is usually misinterpreted by God’s people to be the conviction that they are hell bound, the gospel explains to them that they are not, because of what Christ did FOR them.

    Conviction of sin is the belief in the reality of sin in light of God’s holiness and perfection. Many of God’s children believe this to mean that they are going to hell. They are not. That is why they need to hear the good news of their salvation, so that they can believe it, rejoice in it, and profit from it. The gospel doesn’t make their salvation true, their salvation IS TRUE and the gospel proclaims it to the Lord’s people who receive it by faith and profit from that understanding.”

    If this is what Calvinism teaches then it is not only a very dangerous doctrine but a false one leading multitudes of deceived people to hell.

    Calvinists like David Platt and Paul Washer have learnt to use all the right biblical phrases, like “call on the Name of the Lord,” but have changed the meaning thereof ever so subtly so that no one may notice. Isn’t that what they have done with words like “world,” “all,” and “whosoever?” For instance, how do they marry “For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) with Limited Atonement in the acronym TULIP?

    Here’s to remind us how Paul was saved. He was not monergistically regenerated on his way to Damascus. He was saved when he called on the Name of the Lord in Ananias’ home. (Acts 22:16).

    The Jesus Calvinism proclaims is not the Jesus of the Bible. Their Jesus is one who does not love and did not die for all people. In fact He hates the reprobate and loves the elect. John MacArthur declares: “Why did God not choose to love everyone like that? I’ll give you a good guess, and maybe not a guess, The reason God did not choose to love everyone savingly is because the love of God is qualified and controlled by His glory . . . by His glory.” And they dare to call this grace? What does the Bible teach? “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN,” (Titus 2:11). Nowhere in the entire Bible are we told that God IS glory. We are told the God IS love. He is the very essence of love and cannot do otherwise but to love ALL mankind.

    David Platt may be a passionate preacher but he’s a false teacher.

  7. David Platt wrote:

    “I believe without hesitation or equivocation that God loves all people in the world (John 3:16) and he desires all people’s salvation (2 Peter 3:9). As followers of Jesus saved by his matchless grace (Ephesians 2:1-10), we are compelled to go with urgency to all people to tell them compassionately of God’s love for them (2 Corinthians 4:5) and to call them clearly to repent and believe in Christ (Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:38).

    Calvinists believe without hesitation or equivocation that God loves all people but the kind of love they refer to is a temporal love. He provides the same sunshine and rain for all people; He showers many blessings on all people and even allows some of them to become stinking rich. Ask David Platt what kind of love he is talking about and he will have to tell you that he refers to this kind of temporal love God has for all people.

    Ask him about a saving or salvific love for all people, he will have to deny that God loves all people in this way. How do I know? Well, if you steadfastly hold to TULIP, you cannot believe that God loves all people in a saving way because limited atonement prevents Him from loving all people. You see, you cannot possibly believe that God loves all people savingly while you believe in limited atonement.

    Platt’s avowal that God desires all peoples’ salvation (2 Peters 3:9) is also a sham. No full-blooded Calvinist who believes in unconditional election can possibly believe that God desires all people to be saved. What he means, as RC Sproul explained, is that God in some sense desires all people to be saved but that He chose to save only some. He has this urge and desire to save all people but his sovereign grace demands of Him to choose only some for salvation. Don’t let Platt’s jargon deceive you.

    If Platt really means what he said in the above quote, he would have renounced Calvinism and TULIP in public a long time ago. Has he done so? NO! and he never will.

  8. Ty

    Here is a sample of the anti-Calvinist statements in Radical by David Platt:

    “Certainly few of us would be so bold as to say we ‘would just as soon God annihilate all those people and send them to hell,’ but if we do not take the gospel to them, isn’t that where they will go?” (p. 64).

    “What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which he created us?” (p. 75).

    “What if these radical Christians joined together in communities of faith called churches that were surrendered to the purpose for God’s people that has been primary from the beginning of time? Maybe, just maybe, together we would see the accomplishment of that purpose” (p. 83).

    “But according to Jesus, people are God’s method for winning the world to himself. People who have been radically transformed by Jesus” (p. 90).

    “Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory” (p. 93).

    “Making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people the Word of Christ and then enabling them to do the same thing in other people’s lives—this is the plan God has for each of us to impact nations for the glory of Christ” (p. 103).

    “God’s design for taking the gospel to the world is a slow, intentional, simple process that involves every one of his people sacrificing every facet of their lives to multiply the life of Christ in others” (p. 104).

    “In the process we are realizing that we actually were intended to reach the world for the glory of Christ, and we are discovering that the purpose for which we were created is accessible to every one of us” (p. 106).

    “…if you lean toward practical universalism, living each day as though it’s not absolutely urgent to tell others about Christ, then I invite you to approach this chapter considering the practical and eternal implications of what the Bible teaches” (p. 142).

    “Those of us who have heard about Jesus have had the opportunity to receive or reject the gospel, and we are responsible for our decision” (p. 149).

    “God sends his servants. His servants preach. People hear. Hearers believe. Believers call. Everyone who calls is saved. Now look back at this progression and ask one question: Is there any place where this plan can break down? Think about it. Obviously everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. No breakdown there. Everyone who believes will call. Many who hear (not all, but many) will believe. People will hear the gospel when we preach it to them. And God is most definitely still in the business of sending his servants. That means there is only one potential breakdown in this progression—when servants of God do not preach the gospel to all peoples. We are the plan of God, and there is no plan B” (p. 156).

    “If this is true, then the implications for our lives are huge. If more than a billion people today are headed to a Christless eternity and have not even heard the gospel, then we don’t have time to waste our lives on an American dream. Not if we have all been commanded to take this gospel to them” (p. 157).

    “In other words, for these 1.5 billion unreached and unengaged peoples, almost every individual within them is born, lives, and dies without ever hearing the gospel. Even worse, no one is currently doing anything to change their situation. No one” (p. 158).

    “Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven’t heard. That is unfair” (p. 159).

    “Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice? What if such sacrifice is exactly what it will take for many of the unreached people in the world who are presently hostile to the gospel to one day surrender their hearts to Jesus?” (p. 165-166).

    “This makes me wonder what would happen if we looked squarely in the face of a world with 4.5 billion people going to hell and twenty-six thousand children dying every day of starvation and preventable diseases, and we decided it was time to move this ship into battle instead of sitting back on the pool deck while we wait for the staff to serve us more hors d’oeuvre” (p. 171).

    “What happens when you and I take these words from Jesus and put them in a world where more than a billion people have still not heard the gospel? A fundamental reality snaps into focus: we are not praying. This is the only possible explanation for how there can be such great need yet so few workers. The multitudes are waiting to hear, and our most urgent need is to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out Christian into the harvest field” (p. 187).

    “There is a true God over this world who wants all people to bow at the feet of a loving Savior, and there is a false god in this world who wants all people to burn in hell” (p. 191).

    “When you or I open the Bible, we are beholding the very words of God—words that have supernatural power to redeem, renew, refresh, and restore our lives to what he created them to be” (p. 192).

    “If there are a billion people who have never heard the gospel and billions of others who still have not received the gospel, then we have an obligation to go to them. This is not an option” (p. 200).

    “Indeed, the church is God’s plan for multiplying the gospel to all nations, and where Christians lock arms with one another in communities of faith pursuing a radical Savior, the very gates of hell cannot stop the spread of God’s glory. So this is the final step in the Radical Experiment: commit your life to a community of believers that is intentionally multiplying the gospel by making disciples” (p. 212).

    “Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us. When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream (p. 216).

    1. Ty

      My question is, how could a 5-point card-carrying Calvinist say those things? Those statements are not merely about evangelism, but about what could happen if we don’t evangelize. There are also quite a few statements about free-choice. I am a non-Calvinist and I didn’t have a problem with anything written in Radical.

  9. brianchall1972

    Instead of forming my own opinion and then attempting to distort scripture to prove that point, I will just quote scripture in this post and let the Holy Spirit guide you.

    Romans 9:1-29
    God’s Sovereignty
    (Note: God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he didn’t have a choice in the matter)

    I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

    6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

    “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
    26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
    27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel[c] be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

    “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
    we would have been like Sodom
    and become like Gomorrah.”

    Acts 9:1-19
    Saul’s Conversion
    (Note: Saul had no choice in the matter but God told him what he would do and didn’t pose it as an option)

    But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

    10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

    Numbers 22:31-35
    (Note: Balaam was commanded by the Angel of the Lord to go… He didn’t have a choice in the matter)

    31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse[b] before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.” 35 And the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.

    These are just a few examples of God’s sovereign choice and and our lack of choice.

    Here are some additional scriptures regarding election and predestination. Contrary to an earlier post, predestination and election is not for the church as a whole but for individuals.

    Deuteronomy 7
    Mark 13:20
    John 15:19
    1 Corinthians 1:28
    Ephesians 1:4-5 (Critical to understand)
    2 Peter 2:16
    2 Thes. 2:13

  10. Kwame Adu-Gyamfi

    David Platt is reformed but he does not hold to a full Calvinistic doctrine. Remember he is also a Baptist. He believes that God is sovereign in all things but at the same time there is individual choice and we are responsible for the choices we make. And that the two actually go together and is in fact a mystery. He is more balanced in his views. He does not hold to a pure Calvinistic theology like John MacArthur. And I think its pretty harsh to call him a false teacher. He preaches the gospel unapologetically, which is not the sign of a false teacher.

  11. To believe, repent, confess, and get baptized for the remission of sins is the biblical respone to the gospel. But the Baptists have replace all of that with a monotone repeat-after-me recitation of something invented in the 1900s (maybe the late 1800s) called “the sinner’s prayer.” Calvinists oppose the sinner’s prayer, not because they actually want to get back to the biblical response to the gospel, but because they want there to be NO response to the gospel. Calvinists don’t like the idea of people doing anything, and praying is doing something, so they say its wrong.

  12. Philip Thompson

    Wes, Just to clarify, you are saying that David Platt is a Calvinist and that he believes in predestination aren’t you, because what you have given as an example is what Paul admonishes for all of us, “that you work out your own faith”. From what I gather from your article and videos, David is concerned that a “believer” comes to Christ and has a prayer spoken over them and they nod their head and move on. What he desires and should be the desire of every Christian is that anyone who comes to Christ would confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and that they would ask for forgiveness and change their lives for the better. He does not believe in the wholesale, everybody stand that raised their hand and repeat after me type of salvation, nor do I. Does that make me a Calvinist? Maybe, Maybe not. But I do know this, that whether Greek or Jew, Muslim or Budist, David has taken the message of Jesus Christ to a lot of people for the very act of their salvation and not his. Is Christ preached? Do people repent and come to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord? Yes! Paul says “and because of this, I rejoice. I too rejoice with Paul and with David and with all who come to know Jesus Christ and begin a new life in Him. Is it not the power of the Holy Spirit anyhow that brings us all to the knowledge that we all need a savior. I will go back and review again your text and see if I missed something, but this idea that David or I are Calvinist is mute to the saving power of Jesus Christ. BTW there are too many churches that are “come as you are leave as you were” and do nothing to enhance the Kingdom of God. God help us all who believe we walk in the light, but still reside in the darkness.

  13. “Every verse in the bible referring to predestination refers to the church in plural; which is something people choose to be a part of”

    God definitely has elected the church corporately; but they are corporately elect only because they are elect individuals. The church is the gathering of his people; called by his name; to the salvation that he has provided in Christ planned before the creation of the world. The true church is the fullness of God’s chosen individuals, and membership in the true church is not due to human choice, effort, will, desire, but by grace alone; unmerited in any part, and given according to the will and good pleasure of God alone.

    Not of him who wills; nor of him who runs; but of God who is rich in Mercy

    Upon whom does he show mercy? You know the answer: to whom he will be merciful.

    God is not limited by an unbeliever’s obstinate will nor his or her total disinterest in spiritual things. All things, including the hearts of all men; lay open before the Lord.

    This is so clear in scripture, old and New Testament. Election is individual first; and then corporate; the body of Christ is made up of all believers who have individually experienced the new birth.

    You must be born again, this is the work of God and the Spirit, and he does it certainly in certain individuals, and it was in God’s mind and volition to do it from before the world began.

    I digress, this post was not about election, forgive me if this seems out of place.

  14. 2 Peter 3:9-He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act.

    John 3:16-For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Romans 10:13-So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

  15. Due to our Radical Depravity our only choice would be to reject God. It is only through the regeneration of the heart that man can “choose” God. The new birth can only come by way of the sovereign will of God. For when did you sit down with your parents and discuss your birth? Thereby, when did you sit down with God and arrange your new birth? John 3, John 6, Romans 3, Romans 5,Romans 9, Ephesians 2, Colossians 1.

  16. Anabeth Greere, Ottawa

    Platt . . false teacher, cultist (calvinism), social “gospel” advocate. Let’s not waste our time on men and their silly ideas and philosophies. Avoid this fraud.

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