Pet Sayings Exposed and Exploded number 6 God has done all He can to save you; now the rest is up to you
By David Heesen
What are we supposed to think when we hear a preacher declare this from the pulpit? Well, the key word is “think.” We’re supposed to think. And think deeply ... about the implications of such a statement.
Rather than stumble around in my feeble way and explain this, I’m going to let a real wordsmith take it from here. This is Phil Johnson in a message given March 9, 2007 entitled “Closet Calvinists (Why Arminians pre-suppose the doctrines of grace)”:
One of the things that first got me thinking seriously about the sovereignty of God was an incident that happened in a college Sunday school class in a Southern Baptist Church I attended the first year I was in college in Durant, Oklahoma, where I had a Sunday school teacher who hated Calvinism with a passion, and he wasted no opportunity to make a good argument against the sovereignty of God and his continual emphasis on that subject—I really was unfamiliar with Calvinism until he began to talk against it, and you know how college students are, they always want to investigate what the professors and they don’t necessarily want to take it at face value. And he got me thinking about and one Sunday, while this guy was taking prayer requests a girl in the class—somebody had said, “pray for my parents who aren’t saved—and the girl in the class raised her hand and said, “should we really be praying for our lost relatives, because” she said “it seems like a wasted effort to pray to God for their salvation if He can’t do anything more than He’s already done to save them?”
And I vividly remember the look on the face of that Sunday school teacher. This was clearly a question that had never occurred to him. I think his instant response was to turn pale. And so he thought about it for a moment, and you could see the wheels in his little head turning while he tried to think of a good reason for us to pray for the salvation of the lost. And he was so opposed to Calvinism that he couldn’t come up with one. And so he said, “you know what, I guess you’re right. There really isn’t any reason to pray for the lost. God has done everything He can do, and now it’s up to them. And from that Sunday on he never accepted any more prayer requests for people’s loved ones.
That just didn’t seem quite right to me. I had just done a Bible study in Romans 10:1, where Paul says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Not only that, I began to wonder why we should pray about anything in the realm of human relationships if God never intrudes on the sanctity of human free will. You know: Why should I pray for God to move my English teacher to look favorably on my work when she graded my paper if she is ultimately sovereign over her own heart? Those were questions I couldn’t answer, and I really struggled with questions like that.
But the more I studied the Bible, the more it seemed to challenge my ideas about free will and the sovereignty of God. One by one over a period of more than 10 years, the doctrines of election, and God’s sovereignty, and the total depravity of sinners became more and more clear to me from Scripture.
There you have it. I’m willing to bet you’ve heard it said, “If God is sovereign, then why pray?” See how mixed up we are? A better question would be, “If God is not sovereign, then why pray?”