Are Calvinists Robots?

By Dr. Ken Matto
(John 8:32 KJV) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
One of the most common accusations that the free will camp throws at those who believe in the Doctrines of Grace is that God doesn’t make anyone robots. Of course, they are talking about the idea that a person has a free will and possesses the ability to accept Christ and become saved any time they want to. They believe that God has done everything He could to facilitate the salvation of man and now it is up to the individual to exercise their free will to become saved. What irritates this camp is the biblical truth that God elects to salvation those whom He named before the foundation of the world.
(Rev 17:8 KJV) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Those who believe in the Doctrines of Grace are normally labeled “Calvinists.” Now where the free will camp errors is that we do not proclaim the doctrines of John Calvin as Gospel. John Calvin died in 1564 but it wasn’t until 1618-19 at the Synod of Dort when a summary was created which laid out five basic points which Calvin taught. They are represented in the following manner:
Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints
These teachings have been described by a simple acronym. TULIP. In this monograph I do not plan on going into an in depth study of all the points since there are existing studies of these subjects on this site. Basically, I want to address the incorrect moniker given to Calvinists as robots and show from Scripture that it is the believer who is free and not the unbeliever.
The Unbeliever’s First Dilemma
If you are going to understand salvation, you must first start at the beginning, which is the condition that the unbeliever is in. Nothing will be left to conjecture but will be backed up by Scripture. Whether somebody believes the Scriptures or not is an indication of their spiritual level.
(Col 2:12 KJV) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
In this Colossians verse, we are told that the Lord Jesus Christ was physically dead and it was God who raised Him from the dead. The word translated “dead” in the Greek is the word “nekrous” (nekrous) which carries with it the meaning of “lifeless, useless, or dead.” In other words, before the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead, He was dead! There is no other way to understand the above word. Nekrous is a derivative of the word “nekros” which means “dead, lifeless, or useless.” Let us look to see if this word will help us in our understanding of the unbeliever’s state.
(Eph 2:1-5 KJV) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: {2} Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: {3} Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. {4} But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, {5} Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(Col 2:13-14 KJV) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
As we look at these two groups of verses, three times we come across the word “dead.” Each of these words are translated from the same word in the Greek which described the condition of the Lord Jesus before He was raised from the dead. The word being “nekrous” which means “dead, lifeless, or useless.” This means that God is describing the spiritual condition of the unbeliever as being dead or lifeless. Since God is using the same word to describe the physical death of Jesus and the spiritual state of death for the unbeliever, that means God is placing the spiritual state of the unbeliever on the par with the condition that the body of Jesus was in before His resurrection. God describes them equally as both being dead.
If you refuse to believe that the unbeliever is spiritually dead, as we have openly seen, then you also cannot believe that Christ was dead from the cross experience. How can I make that statement? Very easy, because God uses the same word to describe the physical condition of the body of Jesus and the spiritual condition of the unbeliever. The following two verses concerning the death of Lazarus reinforce this truth with the word “nekrous” used in each verse to describe the condition of Lazarus before he was raised from the dead.
(John 12:1 KJV) Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
(John 12:9 KJV) Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
Lazarus had died and was already in the tomb for four days when the Lord Jesus raised him from the dead. Did the Lord Jesus raise a living man or a dead man to life? The Scriptures are very clear that Lazarus was dead. In fact, in four days the body would have begun to decay a great deal. So we plainly see that the situation of the unbeliever is akin to the dead bodies of the Lord Jesus and Lazarus. So there is no question that a person is spiritually dead before God quickens them or makes them alive, AKA grants them salvation.
The Unbeliever’s Second Dilemma
Those who proclaim the free will of man in salvation, claim that a person has the ability to see their sin and to seek God for salvation. They will use verse such as the following:
(Luke 11:10 KJV) For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
(Isa 55:6 KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Now when we look at these verses, it may look quite obvious that anyone can seek the Lord and ask for salvation. These verses look like God has given man the ability to seek Him and if we allow these verses, and ones like them, to stand alone without comparing Scripture with Scripture, then we can come to that conclusion. However, for proper biblical understanding, we must take into account other Scriptures which deal with this subject.
(Psa 14:1-3 KJV) The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. {2} The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. {3} They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Psa 53:1-3 KJV) The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. {2} God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. {3} Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Rom 3:10-11 KJV) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
On three occasions God says that there is none that seeks after God. One cannot read these verses and then claim that an unsaved person has the ability to seek God for salvation when God plainly says that no one seeks after Him. On one hand God is saying that no one seeks Him, yet on the other hand, He tells us to seek the Lord. Contradiction? Or must something happen before a person can seek the Lord?
The Unbeliever’s Third Dilemma
One of the other major proclamations of the free will camp is that a person has to repent of their sins and then turn to Christ. First, the word repentance means a change of mind. How can a person who is dead in sins change their mind? A dead person cannot make any changes in their life. Now below is a verse from Acts where God is commanding people everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 KJV) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Now when we look at this verse, we immediately ask the question. Is everybody in the world repenting of their sin? We get a quick answer to that question just by looking around us. Sin is multiplying at a fast rate which means everyone in the world has not repented. The same situation must occur in a person’s life that occurs in the person that seeks God. Something must happen first before a spiritually dead person can repent. The following verse gives the completion of the above verse.
(2 Tim 2:25 KJV) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
Here we see that while God commands that all people everywhere repent, the only way a person can repent, is if God grants it to them. God’s command is fulfilled by His own action because of our inability to respond in a dead state. When God grants someone repentance, He is granting them salvation. So we see plainly that a person cannot repent of their sins unless God initiates salvation in their life to be able to repent of sin. A person in a dead state does not respond to the commands of God because they are spiritually dead! So, even though God’s command to repent is universal, only those whom God grants it to, will respond. It is akin to the Gospel going out to all the world but very few are elected to salvation.
The Unbeliever’s Fourth Dilemma
Another tenet of the free will camp is that not only does a person repent before they come to Christ, they must exercise their faith. As we have seen, the unbeliever is dead and unable to seek or repent, then how could one believe that a spiritually dead person can initiate faith?
(Hab 2:4 KJV) Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
Here God makes a distinction between the unbeliever and believer. The soul of the unbeliever is not upright in him but the just, meaning the saved, shall live by the faith of Christ. The word “upright” carries with it the meaning of “to be straight” or “to be right.” The soul without salvation is dead.
(1 Cor 12:9 KJV) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
When we look at this verse, we see that faith was considered one of the provisional gifts in the early church. Once the Bible was completed, the gift of faith was transferred to every true Christian in the body of Christ. In other words, there are no special people walking around today that have a special gift of faith to work some kind of miracles. All the supernatural miracles had ended when the Bible was completed.
(Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Here we see that faith is listed among the fruits of the Spirit. A person who does not have the Holy Spirit cannot have faith. Therefore, faith is given to a person after they become saved and not before. Both the fruits of the spirit and the spiritual gifts are available only to those who are saved.
(1 Tim 6:11 KJV) But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
In this verse, Paul is counseling Timothy to flee the sins of the world and to follow after six things. What do we find among that list of six things? Faith! Only a saved person can have faith and follow after faith. The words “follow after” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “pursue.” So the Bible is counseling a saved person to pursue faith.
In this section, we see that an unbeliever cannot exercise any type of faith because of their spiritual deadness. We see faith comes from Christ, plus it is a universal spiritual gift in the body of Christ, a fruit of the spirit, and can only be engaged in by a child of God and not an unbeliever. In other words, faith comes after salvation and not before.
Section Summary
We have seen from Scripture and not from John Calvin or any other theologian the following dilemmas the unbeliever faces.
1) They are spiritually dead
2) They cannot seek God
3) They cannot repent on their own
4) They do not have any working or effectual faith
Sad Result
The unbeliever is totally incapable of initiating any salvation in their life. Unless God opens their spiritual eyes and grants them salvation, they remain in a perpetual state of spiritual death, unable to seek God, repent, or have faith. This means the unbeliever lives in a state of sin. They go from sin to sin and can never break the cycle on their own.
Let us look at the etymology of the word “robot.” The word “robot’ comes from the Latin word “orbus” which carries with it the meaning of “orphan.” The word has been around since 1923. The word “orphan” dates back to the Fifteenth century and, of course, carries with it the meaning of a child without parents normally because of their death.
(Psa 68:5 KJV) A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
In the above verse we read that God will be a father of the fatherless. Who are the fatherless? The Christians have God as their Father but the unbelievers do not have God as their Father, they have Him as their Judge. This means that the unbelievers are orphans. Which means they are the robots.
Now a modern definition of a robot is “a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks.” Unbelievers go from sin to sin which means their lives are sin. A robot does that which is repetitive. An unbeliever is one who sins repetitively. A person addicted to alcohol drinks it repetitively making them a sin robot. A person addicted to pornography is a sin robot. A person addicted to anything is a robot because they continue to do the same things repetitively. So those who are in an unsaved state are the robots of society since all they know and do is sin.
Calvinist Robots?
The reason the free will camp calls us robots is basically because of their willful ignorance of the truths of Scripture but primarily because they think they have free will and if God “imposes” Himself on a person by saving them without their permission, then they claim that God made a robot. They claim that God doesn’t make any robots because He respects our free will. However, we have already seen that it is God who initiates our salvation because we are spiritually dead, which is an indisputable biblical fact.
Free Will?
Man’s will is enslaved to sin and death, therefore a dead and enslaved will cannot be free at the same time it is a prisoner. (John 8:34 KJV) Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. The word “servant” in this verse means “slave.” What freedom does a person have when they are a slave? They are the property of their master. Sin is the master of the unbeliever. Humans have free will in small areas of life such as what car to drive or what kind of clothes to wear because these are all physical matters. Salvation is a spiritual matter and man has no control over spiritual matters. We have already seen that man’s will is enslaved to sin and the result of that enslavement to sin is spiritual death. Remember when Adam and Eve sinned? God told them that they “would surely die.” What happened? When they fell, did they fall physically or spiritually? In other words, did they physically die at that moment or did they spiritually die? Of course, we know they lived on in the flesh which means a spiritual death took place. The problem with the free will camp is that they make no distinction between the physical and the spiritual, and that is their big mistake and the reason that their understanding is darkened in the arena of salvation. The spiritual must be separated from the physical. Once that happens, understanding of God’s salvation plan will take place.
Freedom in the Gospel
Before I get into the aspects of the glorious freedom of the believer, I want to address another attack which the free will crowd throws at us. They claim that the “once saved always saved” people preach that we can go out and sin and do anything we want because we are saved. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever encountered. It comes from the mind of a juvenile. No true Doctrines of Grace adherent would ever counsel anyone to sin as they please because their salvation is secure. I have seen more holiness among the Calvinist crowd than I have among the Holiness people. True Calvinists never presume upon the grace of God by living a sinful life. This does not mean that we do not sin but we respect our salvation a lot more than someone who thinks they are in control of it. (1 John 3:8 KJV) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Since we have seen that the true robots are those who are of Satan, let us look at the freedoms the believer possesses in Christ.
The Soul is Free of Sin
(1 John 1:7 KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
One of the greatest freedoms that the Christian possesses is that our souls are completely cleansed of sin. This means that we are free to serve Christ without any guilt or stain of guilt of sin on our souls. The moment that Christ cleansed us, we were qualified to go to Heaven because every vestige of sin was removed from our soul. Our soul is as clean as if we never sinned.
Free not to Obey Sin
(Isa 58:6 KJV) Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
Another great freedom the believer has is the ability to say no to sin. The Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them and He gives them the strength to say no to sin. Whatever bound or oppressed us in our old life, need not bind us again since we now have the strength to avoid the pitfalls of the old man.
Free from the demands of Law for Salvation
(Rom 3:28 KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
The true Christian does not have to do anything to maintain their salvation since our salvation is all of Grace. We need not place ourselves under the yoke of any deeds of either the law or any institution for salvation. Our salvation was accomplished by Christ in total, lacking nothing.
The Son Makes Us Free
(John 8:36 KJV) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
As Nicodemus did not understand the nature of salvation, neither do they who feel we must adhere to some type of rules or practices. The Christian is free from all of the bondage of religion and systems.
Free from Hell
(Rom 8:2 KJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The believer does not have the penalty of Hell hanging over their heads. They know that if the Lord takes them, they will immediately go into the presence of the Lord for eternity.
Satan has no Authority over the True Christian
(John 14:30 KJV) Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
As Satan has absolutely no authority over the Lord Jesus Christ, he possesses no authority over the redeemed of God. Satan is a defeated foe and we never have to worry about him. He may hinder our ministries and cause havoc, but we are secure in the Lord Jesus Christ who has total rule over Satan.
As we have seen, the true robots are the ones who are unsaved. They must obey their programmed impulses to sin, as they go from sin to sin. On the contrary, the true Christian is made free in Christ. A person who is free is not a robot as they are not programmed like a robot. Obedience to Christ is a joy because of the salvation being granted. The free will camp places themselves in charge of their salvation, which displaces God as the grantor. If anyone is in bondage to robotic salvation, it is the free will camp since they have to exercise their free will constantly to maintain their salvation, which is nothing more than maintaining it by works. No Thanks, I would rather have Grace because God is the one who sustains us.