I have started hearing Calvinists use Ezekiel 36:27 to defend their view
because it says “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk
in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them.” The key
word here is “cause.” They view this as proof that Calvinism is true.
What do you say?
I would say that it this were the only passage on this subject, the
conclusion of Calvinists (ie. that this implies that God causes us to
become Christians or to go to Hell–that we are predestined and that it
has nothing to do with our own choice) would be a possible interpretation
of this one passage in isolation. I do not agree with this interpretation
at all, but this is not an outrageous interpretation of this one passage
if one is to ignore all other passages on the subject of predestination.
In fact, this is how the false doctrine of predestination is supported in
general. Calvin and others reached a pre-conceived idea–that a sovereign
God chooses us for salvation or damnation and that our salvation has
nothing to do with our own will–and then interpreted the relevant
passages in such a way as to make them fit the conclusion.
If you want more on predestination and “once saved, always saved.” you
will find quite a bit at my web site. For example, the outline on Hebrews
and the power point on “Salvation, Predestination and Falling Away.”
Also, if you do a search on “predestination” in the question and answer
portion of the web site, you will find more.
The question then, in this case, is what is the meaning of Ezekiel 36:27?
This passage is talking about what happens to us when we become
Christians. When we repent and are baptized, we receive the indwelling
gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). This Spirit “convicts us with regard
to sin” and “guides us into the truth.” (John 16:8,13). The Holy Spirit
does indeed work in our hearts to help us to follow God and to fulfill the
commitment we made when we became disciples of Jesus. God is willing to
guide us and to help us, but this is a very far thing from
predestination. Ezekiel 36:27 is a reference principally to what God does
to us AFTER we are saved, making it a particularly bad passage to use to
teach about predestination with regard to salvation. This is a good
example of how believers in radical predestination interpret scripture.
They scan the Bible looking for passages which, if taken out of context,
can imply that God forces us to be saved or to be condemned. They do this
without regard to so many clear statements in the Bible with regard to our
freedom of choice to follow Jesus or not.
John Oakes, PhD