Should Preachers Call Sinners To Repentance Or Call Them To Pray For Repentance as Calvinists do? Jesse Morrell

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I saw on My Facebook today that a Calvinist wrote, “But you must repent.. That is to change your mind about God and about your sin but God even grants that repentance. So you must cry out to Him to give you repentance and faith.”

The Bible tells men to repent, not to cry out and ask God to give them repentance. You never see that anywhere in Acts. The Apostles called men to repent and told them to do it right now, not to wait for God to give them repentance as if it was God’s responsibility instead of their own. God is now calling all men everywhere to repent and He blames them if they do not. Jesus rebuked entire cities for not repenting! Sinners remain under God’s wrath as long as they remain impenitent. It is God’s will that all men come to repentance and it is not His fault if they don’t because their repentance is their own free will choice.

To tell people to do this, instead of telling them to repent right now, is really to tell them to remain impenitent. They should not put off their repentance but do it right now.

Charles Finney said, “Instead of telling sinners to use the means of grace and pray for a new heart, we called on them to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit, and pressed the duty of instant surrender to God. We told them the Spirit was striving with them to induce them now to give Him their hearts, now to believe and to enter at once upon a life of devotion to Christ, of faith, and love, and Christian obedience; We taught them that while they were praying for the Holy Spirit, they were constantly resisting Him; and that if they would at once yield to their own convictions of duty, they would be Christians. We tried to show them that everything they did or said before they had submitted, believed, given their hearts to God, was all sin; was not that which God required them to do, but was simply deferring repentance and resisting the Holy Spirit. Such teaching as this was, of course, opposed by many; nevertheless it was greatly blessed by the Spirit of God”

And Finney said that in his revivals, “Sinners were not encouraged to expect the Holy Spirit to convert them while they were passive; and never told to wait God’s time, but were taught unequivocally that their first and immediate duty was to submit themselves to God, to renounce their own will, their own way, and themselves, and instantly to deliver up all that they were, and all that they had, to their rightful owner, the Lord Jesus Christ. They were taught here as everywhere in those revivals, that the only obstacle in the way was their own stubborn will; that God was trying to gain their unqualified consent to give up their sins, and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their righteousness and salvation. The point was frequently urged upon them to give their consent; and they were told that the only difficulty was to get their own honest and earnest consent to the terms upon which Christ would save them, and the lowest terms upon which they possibly could be saved”

Call sinners to repentance. Don’t tell them to “pray” and “wait” and thus put off their repentance and remain in impenitence. Don’t tell them that it is God’s responsibility for them to repent, but that it is their own responsibility for them to repent.

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2 Responses to Should Preachers Call Sinners To Repentance Or Call Them To Pray For Repentance as Calvinists do? Jesse Morrell

  1. A Calvinist just said, “We don’t tell unbelievers to pray for repentance.”

    I wrote back: A Calvinist street preacher said just the other day, ““But you must repent.. That is to change your mind about God and about your sin but God even grants that repentance. So you must cry out to Him to give you repentance and faith.”

    And I’ve heard Paul Washer say the same kind of foolishness, that you should pray for God to give you repentance. This makes no sense. Why would an impenitent man pray for repentance, if he is impenitent? If he is praying for repentance, he evidently already has a repentant heart, so why is he praying for it? And if the impenitent cannot repent, how could they pray for repentance if such a prayer requires a willingness to repent? If we are going to tell sinners to pray for repentance because they cannot repent, we should also tell them to pray that God grants them prayers for repentance because they cannot pray for prayers for repentance unless God grants them repentance. And why stop there? If the impenitent cannot repent, we must go further. We must tell them to pray that God grants them prayers for prayers for repentance. And infinitely this progression must go if we grant the principle that the impenitent cannot repent.

    He also said, “We pray for God to grant others repentance, however,”

    What are you an Open Theist now? You believe that your prayers can help determine or change the future? In Calvinism, God has predestined all individuals for either heaven or hell and your prayers now in time cannot affect what God has already predestined in eternity past. It is not that God foresaw your prayers in eternity and answered them then to save so and so because God’s election, in Calvinism, is unconditional and not based upon foreknowledge. Nay, in Calvinism God foreknows it all because He has predestined it all. So even your prayers were predestined by God. And if predestined by God in eternity, they cannot now affect whether so and so was eternally elected or reprobated. The whole notion of prayers affecting the future presupposes that the future has not been eternally settled but God is now determining the future and bases some of His determinations upon our prayers.

  2. Someone wrote me and said, “Jesse, greatly appreciated your post. I wholeheartedly agree. But I wanted to get your opinion regarding 2 Timothy 2:25, where Paul says “Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth.” How is it that God grants repentance?”

    I said, God grants repentance by giving us the time, opportunity, and influence necessary to repent. But we ourselves must do the repenting. God gave the woman in Revelation “space to repent” but “she repented not.” God commands men to repent and He blames them if they do not. When it is said that God has granted repentance unto the Gentiles, the context of that passage shows that it means the opportunity of being reconciled and made right with Him and that salvation did not belong exclusively to the Jews.

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