Why Does One Person Believe in Jesus and Not Another?

, posted by Kevin Jackson

This is a question I sometimes get from Calvinists. They ask, “Why does one person believe in Jesus and not the other?” The short answer to the question is: One person chose to believe and the other did not choose to.

Now, let’s take a look at the question and flesh it out a bit. The root problem is that the question is posed from a deterministic framework, and assumes the answer. In effect, the questioner is asking, “What necessitates a choice that is not necessitated?” Arminians reject the assumption of the question. Through the drawing of Jesus, each person is given the capability to make the choice to believe. Because of God’s grace, any person and every person can choose to believe. There is nothing in the person or in his experiences that necessitates him choosing one way or the other.

This is what makes us responsible to God. A person is accountable for what he does (or does not do) only when he has the ability to do it, or to do otherwise. I don’t demand that my son flap his arms and fly, and then punish him for not flying. That would be unjust. Similarly, if a puppet pulls out a gun and shoots someone in the audience, the puppet is not accountable for his action, the person pulling the strings is. The puppet can’t do anything other than what the puppeteer determines. Only the ability to make genuine choices is what makes us accountable to God. And this fact is neglected by Calvinists.

Everyone innately understands who God is, because God has revealed himself to everyone. Paul writes that God has shown himself to everyone, that he has made his nature plain to us, and that we understand who he is. It is for this reason we are without excuse (Romans 1). Paul also writes that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to everyone (Titus 2). And John tells us that Jesus is in the process of drawing everyone to himself (John 12). So we have an understanding of who God is, we have an innate desire to seek him, his salvation has appeared to us, and he is drawing all of us. That is why the conscious rejection of Jesus is such a serious matter. Because we can do otherwise.

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