Proverbs 22:6 instructs us as Christian parents to “train up our children in the way of the Lord so that when they are old they will not depart from that way.” We are to instruct our children while they are young to know the promises and provisions of the Lord so that their lives at a tender age might be built on a solid foundation. While this is no guarantee that the child will become a Christian or he or she will even walk with God at all, what is true is this; they will not forget what they were taught as children.
The Calvinist position that places one’s conversion solely on God basically negates the importance of this mandate found in Proverbs 22. Nothing the Christian parent does or does not do in the way of raising their children will have any effect on whether or not that child becomes a Christian. The testimony of the parent and the witness in the home has no bearing on who does or does not receive God’s effectual calling. One must also understand that the prayers of the Christian parent for the salvation of their children is of no value either if God has in eternity past determined who will and will not be saved. One may certainly say his prayers are necessary but that cannot be the case if God has indeed made the choice, with no respect to persons, as to who will be saved and who will not.
The thrust of Scripture is that salvation comes to those who believe and those who believe do so, at least in part, to the influences of the testimonies of those around us and the foundation established by the promises found in the Word of God. One of the issue that I believe Calvinism fails to factor into its theological system is the active work of the Holy Spirit in the world. The Holy Spirit is actively at work as these Christian influences are being experienced. For example, as Christian parents effectively train up their children in the way of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is actively working to build a foundation that will enable that child to look to Christ and realize their need to repent and place their faith in Him. Does this guarantee that the child will do so, No but it does mean that child will understand the need to do so and the benefits and consequences that are associated with their ultimate choice.
Calvinism focuses on one moment in time in the concept of effectual calling and regeneration as if that is the sole beginning of conversion. This concept completely erases any need for or any value of any prior experiences because prior to regeneration those influences fall on a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes. In other words, they are totally of no effect until regeneration takes place and that happens when God effectually calls someone to life as many argue is symbolic of Jesus’ calling of Lazarus from the tomb. Prior to Jesus’ command for him to come forth, nothing that was said or done while he was in the tomb has any effect on him coming out of that tomb with the exception of Jesus’ direct command.
This simply is not an acceptable Scriptural position. Consider Jesus’ command to some of the disciples, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17.) Here one could certainly see man’s role and responsibility suggested as Jesus tells these disciples their responsibility is to go and get lost men and His responsibility is to save them. He does His part as we do ours. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 certainly underscores this mandate for before we baptize anyone, they must be saved. What is interesting in this command is the phrase “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” This no doubt qualifies the statement, “making disciples of all nations” which could be interpreted “all men from all walks of life.” Disciples are “learners” or “students” and “followers” not dynamic mature Christians. They must be taught the truths revealed in the Word of God as revealed to us!
While it is true, Calvinist or not, that no one but God knows who will and will not be saved, there is a mandate to “go and tell” and there is a mandate to lead and teach our family and our neighbors the truths found in the Word of God. Romans 10:14 says, “14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Understand “preacher” is really “proclaimer of the gospel” which is the mandate of all those who have been born again. We do need to go. We do need to tell. We do need to train and instruct our children and our neighbors because the Holy Spirit is working in those testimonies and that teaching and the sewing of seed that may or may not come to pass until some later time. It may not come to pass at all. Our responsibility is not to save; that is God’s. Our responsibility clearly is to be fishers of men.
May we all be about the Father’s business, making sure we make the main thing the main thing, which is telling people about Jesus who has come to seek and to save those who are lost! How does He do that? God’s Word tells us that He saves those who repent and believe and all who call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. I believe all are saveable if they will repent and believe by faith that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He say He will do.