Whosoever Will May Come
On his blog, Vincent Cheung writes: The following is an edited email correspondence.
When I speak to my parents and pastor, it is typical for them to bring up the line "whosoever will may come" as the statement that somehow proves man's free will and refutes the idea that salvation comes from God alone.
One of the most frequent fallacies that people commit is the fallacy of irrelevance. Therefore, whenever we come across an argument or objection that supposedly refutes what Scripture teaches, sometimes it suffices to simply ask, "So what?"
Like many of the objections from Arminians, this one entirely misses the point. Perhaps they have in mind Revelation 22:17, which says, "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (KJV). Since this is what God says, we readily agree with it, but then what? Who will actually come? It does not tell us. Or, to be more precise, why does anyone decide to come? What is the metaphysical and spiritual cause behind the person's decision and his change in disposition? That is the question. The statement from Revelation, or any other "whosoever" statement for that matter, tells us only about what is available to or what will happen to the person who comes. It does not tell us why anyone would come, or why a person comes when he does.
Here is something that I wrote in Born Again, my exposition of John 3:
I can say, "Whoever becomes a fish can breath under water." The statement is true, but it does not mean that a person can become a fish anytime he wishes. In fact, any inference about one's ability is strictly invalid, since the statement contains no information about ability except for the fish's ability to breath under water. Whether or not it is possible for a person to become a fish, one can infer nothing about it from the statement itself, but it only informs us as to what would happen to a person who turns into a fish.
Moreover, even if it is possible for a person to become a fish, the statement says nothing about how this is possible, or whether it is within the person's own power to do so. God is certainly able to turn a man into a fish, but a man "cannot make even one hair white or black" (Matthew 5:36). A statement like the one that I have made tells us nothing about a person's ability, but information about ability must be obtained elsewhere.
Whenever we are talking about something that is impossible with man â€“ such as for a man to turn himself into a fish â€“ it means that it will either never happen, or God must make it happen by his omnipotence.
I then offer an illustration from Matthew 19:23-26. Please see p. 53-55 for the complete section. Or on this site (www.vincentcheung.com), see Born Again (41) and (42).
Arminians have no respect for the actual language of the text, which means that they have no respect for its author. They are determined to infer from it whatever they want, even when a passage does not address the topic at all.
In answer to the relevant question of why anyone comes to Christ at all, the Bible says that it is God who chooses the person, changes his nature, and controls his mind, and that is what causes him to "come." We have established this from Scripture again and again, so we will not repeat the information here. Anyway, this is the biblical teaching that the Arminians must refute. As it is, their objection amounts to saying, "Calvinism is wrong because the Bible teaches that anyone who believes in Christ will be saved." But this does not even apply to the debate, since Calvinism does not assert that some people who believe in Christ will nevertheless be condemned. No, Calvinism agrees that all believers are saved. The question is and has always been who will believe in Christ, and what causes these people to believe in him.
Whenever you are confronted with an objection against the Christian faith, it is always advisable to question the relevance of what is asserted and make the opponent demonstrate its relevance. In this case, sometimes without being aware of it, it seems that the Arminians assume that God's command, which incurs human responsibility, also presupposes human ability or freedom. But as I often mention, although God's command and man's responsibility are inseparably related, there is no biblical or logical relationship at all between divine command (or sovereignty) and human freedom (or ability), or between human responsibility and human freedom. To say that we are responsible has nothing to do with whether we are free, but only with whether God has commanded and whether he will judge...
Posted by Vincent Cheung on October 8, 2006 at www.vincentcheung.com