Making All Men See

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, "It is easier to fool people than it is to convince people that they have been fooled." I agree with him. Religiously speaking, I was one of those "fooled" people for four decades of my life. Satan's "ministers of righteousness" (II Cor. 11:13-15) working inside the church were effective in blinding me to "God's Grace Program" while feeding me a steady diet of law based performance. I began my "recovery" from Satan's trap (II Tim. 2:26) thirteen years ago when I unexpectedly came face to face with the "key to understanding the Bible" (Luke 11:52). My education and edification in God's program of grace has progressively stabilized my life just like God promised it would in Romans 16:25. May this blog be used of God to liberate the world's largest religious denomination---"ignorant brethren". (Rom. 1:13)

Calvinism on Trial

Voltaire is quoted as saying, “I read in the Bible that God created man in His own image---and shortly thereafter man returned the favor!” Even though Voltaire was not a Christian, he was very familiar with man’s sinful tendency to create “gods” to worship. In this essay I want to examine the “god” of Calvinism. Much like the rest of Christianity, Calvinists are in one sense polytheistic; they have created “gods” of their own making. There are Strict Calvinists, Moderate Calvinists, Hyper and non-Hyper (differing especially on reprobation and the extent of the atonement and whether God loves all men), 5 pointers, 4 pointers, 3 pointers, 2 pointers, TIP UPers, Calvin Calvinists, Thomas Fuller Calvinists, Arthur W. Pink Calvinists, Presbyterian Calvinists, Baptist Calvinists and many other sorts of Calvinists. The largest group of Calvinists that I have encountered are the Calvinists who are merely following someone who allegedly follows Calvin.
I have spent the last 20 years of my vocational life as a juvenile court judge. Essentially, a judge’s duty is to hear a controversy impartially and render a decision consistent with the evidence presented and the law. The purpose of all judicial proceedings is to arrive at the truth. Based on my education, background and training, I decided to give Calvinism a bench trial. With that in mind, follow along as I conduct a thorough and sifting cross examination of Calvinism. At issue in this trial is…does the evidence of the Bible lead an honest inquirer to embrace some or all of the following doctrines put forth by Calvinists?
Concerning the Five-Points of Calvinism, Loraine Boettner, a Calvinist, has stated… “prove any one of them true and all of the others will follow as logical and necessary parts of the system. Prove any one of them false and the whole system must be abandoned." (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, pg. 59) Since Mr. Boettner is considered an authority on the subject, I would encourage you to follow his advice and abandon the system if you find one of the “Five-Points” to be wrong.
I will not waste my time cross examining “hyper-Calvinism” because even the “balanced Calvinists” disavow them. Here is what Colin Maxwell, a “balanced Calvinist” says about “hyper- Calvinists”:
“Hyper Calvinism is a real danger and as true Calvinists, we need to put as much ground as we can between us and the 'hypers'. Every doctrine has it's 'hypers' but truth is always balanced and needs to be kept so. If the unbalanced lead the unbalanced...they too will fall into the ditch. "
When it comes to the 5 points of Calvinism, the reality is that we cannot be fence sitters. We all must form definite views as to how depraved the human heart is, the grounds of our election by God, the extent of the atonement, whether the elect can ultimately reject the grace of God and whether or not and on what basis those professing faith will infallibly make it home to Heaven.
Now, let us turn our attention to what Colin Maxwell, calls “balanced Calvinism”. Mr. Maxwell urges me to GET MY FACTS RIGHT ABOUT CALVINISM. In order to fairly state the doctrines of Calvinism I will only quote (in context) from recognized contemporary Calvinist sources. I am not interested in maligning John Calvin or memorializing him. I will also leave the evaluation of the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon to the Lord. Whether you love these men or despise them, I think we would all do well to heed the words of Scripture “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psa. 118:8) Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.” (Rom. 14:4) The truth of the matter is that God did not include the ministries of Calvin or Spurgeon in His Holy Word. I would much rather spend my time studying the writings of Peter, James, John and Paul than defending or desecrating Calvin, Knox and Spurgeon. I want to leave a clear and accurate record of how God used my life for His honor and glory. Therefore, I will write my own articles, preach my own sermons, and fulfill the good works that God has foreordained that we should walk in rather than debating the life and ministry of the saints of yesteryear.
Here are the doctrinal beliefs of Mr. Maxwell (“a balanced Calvinist”) in his own words:
1. Total Depravity/Inability... “Men by nature are dead in trespasses and in sins (Ephesians 2:1) and dead men cannot repent or believe except through grace (Acts 11:18/18:27) This being the case, they must be given life in order to believe. The soul thus regenerated will infallibly believe in Jesus Christ. This is effectively taught in the same gospel of John (3:3) Nicodemus was told that he needed to be born again or born from above (as opposed to being born from within) It is taught again in John 1:12-13 where those who received and believed Christ were born...of God. As John draws his gospel to a close, he addresses those unbelievers (unsaved) among his readers. His purpose in writing was that they might believe in the Person of Christ and in so doing they will have life through or in His name. This is life as opposed to condemnation and death (Cp John 5:24) The life given in regeneration which enables the sinner to savingly believe starts to develop and it becomes evident that its possessor really is a Christian with all the evidences we have come to look for being made clear. It is my experience that Arminians (as you call them) fear that Calvinists are giving life to sinners who might not believe. The life given in regeneration (as stated above and repeated here for emphasis) will not break down. There are no still birth's or abortions in God's regenerative operations. Those who are regenerated will come to Christ.”
“It is true that unless God draws a person, then they are absolutely unable to come. Such is the hold of sin upon them, that they love darkness rather than light (John 5:39) and so will not come to Christ that they might have life (John 5:40) This truth, however, does not rob man of his responsibility to come to Christ, since failure to do so is punished (John 3:18/36). God draws His elect to Himself through means i.e. gospel preaching and evangelism. Knowing the terror of the Lord, Paul sought to persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:14) and urged men to seek the Lord (Acts 17:27) It was none less than the Lord Jesus Himself who said that men ought to strive to enter in (Luke 13:24) - again a wholesome and necessary emphasis on man's responsibility. When Jesus called Lazarus to come forth from the grave, even though he could not come in himself, the call contained the power enabling him to do so. When we preach the gospel, the call itself contains the power enabling the elect to repent and believe the message to the saving of their souls. If we keep emphasizing the sovereignty of God to the exclusion of man's responsibility, then we slip into fatalism and that is the road to nowhere.”
“A non Calvinist can not substantiate where Calvinists believe that men are driven or dragged to Christ. One certainly can't prove it from the major Calvinistic Confessions. We believe that men come willingly to Christ, being willing in the day of God's power (Psalm 110:3) We do not believe that any one has come to Christ unwillingly. Sometimes we let non Calvinists away with too much when they misstate our position.”
2. The Grounds of Election by God…” I do NOT run with the idea that salvation is conditional. Salvation is of grace from the very beginning (predestination and election) to the very end (glorification). If you make it conditional upon our obedience, then we effectively become our own saviour, at least in part. That is not the teaching of the word of God which says simply that "Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9) My salvation is dependent upon three things:

[i] The decree of God the Father who elected us
[ii] The suffering of God the Son who redeemed us
[iii] The power of God the Holy Spirit who regenerated us and indwells in us for ever”
3. The Extent of the Atonement…”We don't limit the worth of the atonement (God forbid) but we do limit its purpose i.e. to make atonement for the sins of the elect alone and not those of reprobates. Can any one produce clear quotes (in context) to show where Spurgeon taught anything contrary to the 5 points of Calvinism? We took the time (a labour of love) to show what Spurgeon wrote and said on the 5 points of Calvinism, both collectively and individually and of Calvinism as a whole. You can find the fruit of this labour in the CH Spurgeon Index page. There is no doubt that Calvinists disagree among themselves on certain issues, but this seems to relate more to the application of these doctrines, rather than the basic five points. Although he very carefully, (and rightly) refused to make Calvin his master or sat content to merely glean his doctrines from Geneva, yet Spurgeon said that none believed these doctrines more than him.”
4. Irresistible grace… "There is a time when the Spirit of God stops striving with men (Genesis 6:3) and this is when they resist His convictions and He "leaves them alone in their darkness to dwell" But we believe that the elect cannot always resist Him - that there comes a time when the Spirit prevails and they are born again. We call this irresistible grace."
5. Perseverance of the Saints…”Salvation always produces results and if these results are missing, then we may safely conclude that there is no salvation there. A tree that does not produce fruit is a dead tree - there is obviously no vitality in the roots. It is not for us to say, "Well, I better work to show that I am saved” or (even worse) "I better work in order to be saved.” The child of God will rather say, "I want to work to bring glory to God my Saviour.” What often happens is that the child of God just manifests his good works, as a consequence of his salvation, without hardly thinking about it at all.”
Now let me cross-examine the doctrines of Calvinism as stated by Colin Maxwell and draw some Scriptural conclusions:
I. Total Depravity/Inability.
Question: If God has to open the heart of an unsaved person before they can have a relationship with Him, then how was Lydia “a worshipper of God” before He opened her heart?
Calvinists use the conversion of Lydia to demonstrate that God has to open the heart before people can have a relationship with Him. However, please note that God was not opening the heart of a totally depraved rebel. Lydia was already “a worshipper of God” before God opened her heart. According to Calvinists this is not suppose to happen. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. (Acts 16:14) Lydia was also very wise in that she “attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul”.
Passages that speak of God changing a man's heart or giving a new one do not teach Total Depravity/Inability. It is not uncommon for Scripture to speak of man's inability to do things without divine assistance; yet, this does not make man wholly passive or unable. For example, in Psalm 127:1, we read: Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Solomon is not saying that man is passive and cannot erect a house or guard a city until God supernaturally removes an inability toward building or guarding. This is figurative speech conveying man's ultimate dependence upon God in all things.
Question: Did God have to grant Abraham a new nature before he could make the decision to leave Ur of the Chaldees? Was Abraham’s call to faith "irresistible/invincible”?
According to Colin Maxwell, “Men by nature are dead in trespasses and in sins (Ephesians 2:1) and dead men cannot repent or believe except through grace (Acts 11:18/18:27) This being the case, they must be given life in order to believe.” However, isn’t it peculiar that the Bible praises Abraham’s faith rather than God’s invincible grace or unconditional election? If Abraham is merely a passive recipient of God’s election and grace, why should he be commended?By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9: By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. 11:8-10)
Question: Jesus sometimes “marveled” at the unbelief of his hearers. Now, if Jesus taught “Total Depravity/Inability”, what sense does it make that He would marvel that men would disbelieve God? "And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching." (Mark 6:6)
Question: If unsaved men and women are totally unable to respond to God, then why is God constantly reproving them and holding them responsible for their responses to His instruction?
Calvinists contend that John 6:44 is the clearest statement in the Bible of man’s total inability to respond to God unless first acted upon by God… “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.The “drawing" in vs. 44 is assumed by Calvinists to be the work of “Irresistible or Invincible Grace” renewing the sinner so he can and ultimately will believe the gospel. But just what is the “drawing" of which Christ speaks? Well vs. 45 explains it… “ It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” The sinner comes to Christ by first listening to the Father and learning from Him. The biblical order is listening, learning and coming to Christ. There is nothing in the text that necessitates a Calvinistic concocted “effectual call” on a totally disabled unbeliever.
The following Scriptures are in complete contradiction to the erroneous doctrine of unsaved man being totally blind and deaf to the things of God … “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19: Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:18-20) Here Paul clearly contradicts the Calvinistic teaching that unsaved men are totally unable to respond to God. In fact, His wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men precisely for the reason that God hath shewed it unto them; He has manifested Himself to them. According to the Bible, God can be clearly seen…Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22) According to Calvinism, unsaved man is unable to look to God. The Biblical pattern is look and then be saved; not the reverse.
In 1 Kings 18:21, the worshippers at Mt. Carmel were invited to choose that day whom they would serve, either Baal or God. Was Elijah asking the people to do something they could not do or were the people only carrying out that which God had already determined in eternity past?
In Isaiah 5:20, the Jews were certainly capable of choosing between good and evil. The Scripture reveals how they changed good for evil and evil for good: "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” They had the ability to discern between good and evil, otherwise how could they have changed it?
Romans 1:17-32 is clear that man has chosen evil and is not predetermined to do so. Romans 1:28 clearly says, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” Let’s get the sequence right here: men chose to reject God in their thinking and the consequence was a reprobate mind---not the reverse, as Calvinists teach.
In Acts 17:30 we find that God commands all men everywhere to repent; and that having so commanded, He expects they can and will. In 2 Peter 3:9 we find that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. If they should come, then they can come. God does not mock men by asking them to do what they cannot do. In Acts 11:18 we are told that God hath granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life. Notice that the repentance comes first and it results in life. (John 1:12, 3:15, 16, 36, 5:24, 6:40, 7:39, 12:36, and 20:31). These Scriptures all show that spiritual life follows upon the sinner's belief… "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing ye might have life through His name.” In Acts 16:31 Paul said, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” The Calvinist would twist it to read, "when thou art regenerated by the Lord Jesus Christ thou shalt believe." Again, in John 5:40 Jesus rebuked the Jews when He said "ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” It was not that they could not come, but that they would not come.
Unsaved Cornelius was devout, God-fearing, just and prayerful; an angel of the Lord even talked with this “totally depraved man” before sending Peter to bring him words of salvation. Every aspect of the details of Cornelius’ life and salvation experience contradict Calvinism. God says some pretty complimentary things about this “depraved sinner” and even lets him converse with an angel about the words of salvation he would soon hear from Peter. According to Calvinism, this can not be. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2: A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. 3: He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4: And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. …And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” (Acts 10:1-4, 22) “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (Acts 11:14)
II. Unconditional Election.
John Calvin taught that before the world began God had already declared eternal judgment on some for reasons man cannot understand:
“Who then shall be saved? That is what His sovereign will decides and nothing else. It is purely a matter of the divine sovereign will which, doubtless for good reasons known to God Himself, but none of them relative to anything distinguishing one man morally from another, chooses some and rejects the rest" (Calvin’s Institutes III, chapter xxiii, page 10).
According to John Calvin, "The reprobate like the elect are appointed to be so by the secret council of God’s will" (Calvin’s Institutes II, chapter xxii, page 11) and "…their doom was fixed from all eternity and nothing in them could transfer them to a contrary class…" (Calvin’s Institutes III, chapter iii, page 4). Also, according to Calvin, "…Not all men are created with similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is either predestined either to life or death" (Calvin’s Institutes III, chapter xxiii).
Colin Maxwell substantiates unconditional election based on Jonah 2:9…“Salvation is of the Lord”. Wouldn’t it have been helpful if God would have said “unconditional election is of the LORD” as Mr. Maxwell would have the verse to read? Wouldn’t it have been helpful if the verse said that “salvation is exclusively of the LORD”. When a Calvinist wants to prove unconditional election he joyfully quotes, Salvation is of the LORD! When discussing “total depravity” Mr. Maxwell tells us… “God draws His elect to Himself through means i.e. gospel preaching and evangelism. Knowing the terror of the Lord, Paul sought to persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:14) and urged men to seek the Lord (Acts 17:27) It was none less than the Lord Jesus Himself who said that men ought to strive to enter in (Luke 13:24) - again a wholesome and necessary emphasis on man's responsibility. When Jesus called Lazarus to come forth from the grave, even though he could not come in himself, the call contained the power enabling him to do so. When we preach the gospel, the call itself contains the power enabling the elect to repent and believe the message to the saving of their souls.”
Now which way is it Mr. Maxwell? Is salvation of the LORD or does man have a responsibility in it? If man has a responsibility in it, as you admit, then you have exposed unconditional election for what it is---a lie! In the preceding paragraph you said… “When we preach the gospel, the call itself contains the power…” Now let’s get this straight--- unconditional election is conditioned on (1) a preacher (2) articulating a call containing the power to enable repentance (3) if you happen to be lucky enough to be one of the elect. I get it---there are three conditions to the doctrine of unconditional election. Now what if there aren’t enough preachers or the preachers misstate the gospel or they correctly state the gospel call to a non-elect person; does a failure in any one of these conditions frustrate God’s work of salvation? Words do mean things, except to a Calvinist! In their “imaginary Christian world” you can be going up and down, traveling east and west, and hot and cold at the same time. If you can not reconcile total depravity with unconditional election, it simply proves you are sane.
Question: The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God is one of Calvinism’s all-time favorite Biblical illustrations proving that God is Sovereign and chooses or damns whom He will. Now that is a reasonable conclusion until you ask this question---Why did God or why would God need to harden Pharaoh's heart, if Pharaoh already was totally depraved and non elect?
I have read one of Calvinism’s best and brightest theologian’s answer to this question and it would have won an Academy Award for best actor. He attempts to answer the question when in reality he didn’t have a clue. In the middle of his answer it became apparent to him that his answer made no sense to him either. A doctrine making sense is not a requirement for a Calvinist. Just shut up and be a good peasant and recite what the reformed priesthood tells you even though you can see it is nothing more than a system of baffling, almost mystical theological complexities and contradictions piled one on top of the other.
Question: If Paul believed in “unconditional election”, why did he tell the Corinthians that he wanted to “gain the more” and “save some”?
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1 Cor. 9:19). “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some: (1 Cor. 9:22). Isn’t the election of the saved already assured without Paul’s help? How could anything he do in his life or ministry have any affect upon the elect? The truth is Paul sacrificed so that men would be saved. “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:33). If election is sovereignly predetermined and irresistible, these verses make no sense.
Question: If the Bible teaches “unconditional election”, wouldn’t Paul know that the elect don’t need persuading and the non-elect can’t be persuaded! “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Cor. 5:11).
Question: Does it make any sense that Paul could preach “unconditional election” and at the same time wish himself accursed from Christ for his unsaved brethren according to the flesh?
“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3). Does Paul have more compassion than God? If God elects people to hell, Paul should be thrilled that God’s will is being carried out in Israel. Does Paul care more about the destiny of the unsaved than God? We are convinced that the cry of Paul’s heart here is merely a mirror of the cry of God’s own heart for all lost sinners.
Question: If God unconditionally elects some to destruction according to the good pleasure of His will, why would Jesus weep over Jerusalem’s rejection of God’s prophets in Matthew 23:37…O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
First of all, a Calvinist must assume that the reprobation of Jerusalem was “the good pleasure” of the Father. If that is so, why was it so displeasing and heart-breaking to Jesus, who was always in agreement with the Father’s will? Shouldn't Jesus have also been "pleased" with the Father's reprobation of these people?
Secondly, Jesus is attributing the lost condition of Jerusalem to her own unwillingness, not the absence of election. Jesus was willing to receive them but they were unwilling.
III. Limited Atonement/Particular Redemption.
According to reformed theology, Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.
Question: Is it possible for certain people to perish even though the blood of Christ bought them?
The Bible mentions certain people who are in danger of perishing, even though Christ died for them. Peter wrote…“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2: And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Pet. 2:1-2). Here were men "bought" who never experienced salvation.
Question: How can Calvinistic preachers sincerely offer to non-elect men what has not been provided for them? How can they offer them a free gift if the gift has not been purchased for them? How can they urge them to drink from the fountain of life if no water has been provided for them? How can they tell them to be saved if the Lord Jesus Christ has not provided for their salvation?
The man-made doctrine of “Limited Atonement” reduces the preaching of the Gospel to a mere mockery. If the Reformed preacher was really honest about it, he would need to preach his "gospel" along these lines:
"There is a high likelihood that Christ died for you."
"I am absolutely confident that God probably loves you."
"There is a good chance that Christ might have shed His blood for you."
"I would not be surprised in the least if salvation has been provided for you."
"Hopefully Jesus is the propitiation for your sins."
"There is a possibility that Christ died as your Substitute."
"I bring you good news, maybe."
"If our loving, gracious, omnipotent God has chosen to save you since before the foundations of the world, He may be at this moment regenerating you to salvation as one of His elect. If my presentation of the Gospel makes sense to you and you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is proof positive that you were one of God’s elect all along. If you will hold on to your faith (persevere) to the end of your life, you will indeed demonstrate that you truly were a child of God. If you do not persevere to the end, it will demonstrate that you were a professor of salvation, but not a possessor of salvation. Now you can thank Him for saving you and never forget that salvation is totally of God.”
"Christ died for you only if you believe that Christ died for you (thus proving you are elect), but if you do not believe this and if you continue in your unbelief until the day you die, then Christ did not die for you." (This stuff can drive you insane.)
Those who hold to a definite or limited atonement do not present the gospel in this way, but would not such a presentation be consistent with their theology? Would it not be a correct and sincere way of sharing with the unsaved?
Question: Why are the non-elect unable to believe, according to Calvinism?
The answer is not found in the Calvinist's appeal to some vague, ill-defined “moral inability to believe”. The answer is far simpler: Unbelievers are unable to believe because God made them that way. In Calvinistic terms, He reprobated them; that is, He did not want them to be able to believe the Gospel, and so they can't.
This has led to a big problem which thoughtful Calvinists have acknowledged:
“The problem which we [Calvinists] face here is, ‘How can a person be a free and responsible agent if his actions have been foreordained from eternity’?" (Lorraine Boettner, Predestination, p. 208). And that is exactly correct! Calvinism's doctrines weave a confusing web of contradictions which most Calvinists simply ignore and which no Calvinist has ever been able to reconcile.”
“On the one hand, Calvinists correctly preach that God is just (Deut 32:4), righteous (Ps 145:17) and compassionate (John 3:16). Yet, on the other hand, they say God commands faith from all mankind, when the majority of people aren't merely unwilling to believe, but cannot believe because they are unable to believe. Only the cruelest hypocrite could do what Calvinism says God does and seriously expect others to call Him merciful, just, righteous and loving.”
Question: Based on the teachings of Calvinism, God placed death upon certain men before the foundations of the world. How can this be since sin and death were not introduced into the world until the fall of Adam?
In John Calvin’s thinking, God appointed some of His future creation to eternal damnation. God, in His omniscience, knew that death would not come into existence until Adam fell. Genesis 2:17 states, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." It was at the time of Adam’s fall that God placed death (physical and spiritual) upon the human race, not before the creation of man, and certainly not before man’s fall into sin. The Bible says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Death did not pass unto men until man’s sin, "For since by man came death…" (1 Cor. 15:21). Notice also that at the time of Adam’s sin, death (physical and spiritual) passed "upon all men" not a "class" of men as Calvin taught. It is worth noting that the Bible clearly teaches that men will suffer God’s eternal judgment of their sin after they are righteously judged by God at the future Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Nowhere does the Scripture teach that God has appointed certain men to perdition prior to their creation by Him.
We know from the biblical record that all of God’s creation was good including man, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…" (Gen. 1:31). We also know that God created all men for His pleasure as Revelation 4:11 states, "For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Did God predestinate some to eternal destruction? Did it please God to determine eternal death to some before their creation by God? In Ezekiel 33:11, the Lord makes a very interesting statement about Himself. He says, "Say unto them, as I live, sayeth the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked….” Notice that God prefaces His statement with, "As I live." How long has God lived? The Scriptures teach that God is eternal and immutable. . .that is, He changes not. Therefore, from eternity past God has never had any pleasure in the death of the wicked. To say that God applied spiritual death to certain men prior to the fall of man not only makes God a liar regarding His statements about His creation work, but also displays a significant lack of trust in God’s revealed Word. Romans 8:29 says we are predestinated “to be conformed to the image of His Son.’” Predestination is not God from eternity saying, “This man goes to Heaven and this man goes to hell.” Predestination teaches me that when I believe on Christ, when I have trusted Him as my Saviour, I may know on the authority of God that it is settled forever that some day I am to become exactly like my Saviour. Predestination has nothing whatsoever to do with sending certain people to heaven and others to damnation as Calvin taught. Predestination’s purpose (according to Scripture) is to conform the believer to the image of God’s Son.
Question: If God has already judged men’s eternal destiny before the world began, why is He seen in Revelation 20 judging men’s eternal destiny?
A Calvinist will make God judge man and his sin before God’s time of judgment as given in His Word. This judgment, according to Calvin, will not be relative to anything that would morally distinguish one man from another, but rather is purely a matter of God’s will. Is this what the Scripture teaches? No! It is not until the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation chapter twenty that God’s eternal judgment for man’s sin takes place and God’s official declaration to those who chose not to believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ is applied to the unbeliever. When this happens, these unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire forever. This is the teaching of God’s Word: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20: 11-14).
A Calvinist would believe that those who are described as "cast into the lake of fire" are those who, before the foundation of the world, were decreed by God to be there. According to the Bible, men will be judged to the lake of fire because their name was not found written in the Book of Life. . . "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). The Scripture also teaches that men are judged according to their works (Rev. 20:13). An unbeliever’s judgment is qualified by God in two ways: first, his works; and second, his name being found in the Book of Life. Nowhere in Scripture can we find the false teaching that God in eternity past decreed some to the lake of fire. According to Jesus Christ, the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41) who rebelled against God and lost their right standing with God; He did not make hell for the devil and his angels according to the good pleasure of His will. He made it in response to their rebellion. So it is with man.
What terrible loss awaits the Calvinist who makes God to be something that He is not. God is a saving God. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). How wonderful that God would conclude the Holy Scriptures with a Gospel invitation to "whosoever will” as a final warning to Calvinists.
IV. Irresistible Grace/Invincible Grace
Question: If God’s grace is invincible, then why is God presented in Scripture as striving with man to be saved when God has not purposed to save them in the first place? This is not only illogical, but presents God as insincere and hypocritical in attempting to do for them what He has no intention of doing.
Listen to Colin Maxwell’s answer this question:
“As I read the Scriptures, I see Christ weeping over whole city of Jerusalem and yet when all is said and done, when He could have saved each one of them, He didn't do so. We may say that they were lost through unbelief. This is true, but it is also true that every last one of us would have been lost through unbelief, unless God gave us saving faith. He evidently does not give saving faith to every man and evidently did not give saving faith to those in Jerusalem...yet He wept indiscriminately over them all, and did so with real, genuine, holy and true tears. From the information that is given to us in the Bible, I cannot reconcile it all but, despite the apparent contradictions, (emphasis mine) I see both truths in the Bible and consequently preach them both. I have everything in these truths with which to encourage myself as a gospel preacher and those sinners who will give ear to the gospel which I preach.”
Consider the following email exchange between Colin Maxwell and another defender of Calvinism. Mr. Maxwell would have us believe that Calvinists balance the Sovereignty of God and Man’s responsibility. Notice that “the moderator” admits that he has zero articles on Man’s Responsibility to post on his forum. (Now why would you suppose that might be? Could it be that it is irrelevant or possibly that it contradicts the Calvinism’s definition of the Sovereignty of God and we can’t have that?) He thanks Mr. Maxwell for writing one and allowing him to post it on his website:
“Pastor Maxwell, I am a moderator on a forum called Doctrines of Grace. We had a recent request from a new member for an article about Man's responsibility in relation to God's sovereignty and salvation but we had no articles on the subject of Man's responsibility. I found your article and thought it was well done and have added it to our articles, but I wanted to check and make sure it is OK with you. I put a link to your site at the bottom and also linked to your related article on God's Sovereignty. Feel free to drop in for a visit. Sincerely,”
The Word of God teaches that the Grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11). Since God has provided saving grace for all men, and yet all men are not saved; can we conclude anything other than men do resist the saving grace of God?
The Bible gives several clear instances of men resisting the Grace of God. Jesus stood over Jerusalem and said that He wanted to gather them unto Himself, but they would not (Matt. 23:37). When Stephen preached the Word of God to the Jews he said that they were stiff-necked and that they were resisting the Holy Spirit … “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” (Acts 7:51). The writer of Hebrews, when describing those who draw back unto perdition (Heb. 10:39), said that though they were sanctified by the blood of Christ, yet they had done despite unto the Spirit of Grace (Heb. 10:28,29). Here it is plain that the blood of Christ was available to them for salvation, but was refused. The Spirit of God strives with sinners to bring them to repentance and faith according to Gen. 6:3… “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” This verse also states that God will one day give man up when His grace is continually resisted.
When a “balanced Calvinist” is asked the question, “Why preach the Gospel?” he will respond, “Because that is the means God uses to save men.” Is evangelism the means by which God saves the elect? Will our conscious decision to not evangelize affect the elect? Will there be any less souls in heaven if I choose not to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Question: What does a Calvinist mean when he talks about proclaiming the Gospel and exactly what is the purpose for doing so?
Greg Harris is a well known home school conference speaker, author and reformed doctrine pastor in Gresham, Oregon. He lays out his beliefs in the following website:
“THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION - The Gospel is the good news that the death of Jesus Christ was a once for all substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. Christ satisfied the demands of God’s holy justice and appeased His holy wrath. He purchased God’s saving grace for all who believe and justified God for His common grace of kindness toward all sinners who do not believe.
Jesus Christ is therefore the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name under Heaven by which anyone can be saved. Our ability to respond in faith to this Gospel is itself provided by the free and unconditional selection of God. The Gospel is therefore effective only in those who, by the grace of God, are born again and thereby willing and able to genuinely repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ alone to save them. This Gospel is to be sincerely preached to all people in all nations without bias or prejudice. True conversion is characterized by a new life of love that delights to walk in the obedience of faith and is zealous to do good works that are pleasing to God.
Salvation is the free gift of God. In it the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner by God’s judicial decree. Thus justified by faith alone he is accepted by God and his debt for sin is forgiven. The believer is thus reconciled to God as Father and adopted as His child into His eternal family. He is liberated from the law of sin and death and empowered by the Spirit of God to walk in new life.”
Now compare this gospel of salvation presentation with the Apostle Paul’s presentation to the Corinthians “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;[4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: "(I Corinthians 15:1-4).
The definition of “Gospel” to a Calvinist is in reality a statement of reformed doctrine with a few facts about Jesus death on the cross mixed in. While Greg’s presentation of the gospel does contain a few elements of gospel truth (even a broken clock is right twice a day), it is primarily a restatement of Calvinism in the TIP UP mode absent any scripture:
“saving grace for all who believe”; “common grace of kindness toward all sinners who do not believe”; “unconditional selection of God”; “The Gospel is therefore effective only in those who, by the grace of God, are born again and thereby willing and able to genuinely repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ alone to save them.”
Question: What influence did Calvinism have on the lives of R. G. Ingersoll, a famous agnostic, and Charles Taze Russell, a false prophet?
Calvinism teaches that only those to whom God has determined in eternity past to come to Him, will come. Let us remember that Calvin believed, "The reprobate like the elect are appointed to be so…" (Calvin’s Institutes II, chapter xxii, page 11), and "Their fate was the direct immediate appointment of God" (Calvin’s Institutes III, chapter iii, page 4).
Consider the words of the famous agnostic Col. R. G. Ingersoll who wrote over a century ago these poignant words to Christians who had saturated themselves with Calvinistic teaching and thought:
“The Bible was the real persecutor. The Bible burned heretics, built dungeons…and trampled upon the liberties of men. How long, O how long will mankind worship a book? How long will they grovel in the dust before ignorant legends of the barbaric past? How long, O how long will they pursue phantoms in a darkness deeper than death? Unfortunately for the world, about the beginning of the sixteenth century a man by the name of Gerard Chauvin was married to Jeanne Le Franc, and still more unfortunately for the world, the fruit of the marriage was a son, called John Chauvin, who afterward became famous as John Calvin…. This man forged five fetters for the brain. These fetters he called points. That is, predestination, particular redemption, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. About the neck of each follower he put a collar, bristling with these five iron points…. Who can estimate the misery that has been caused by this most infamous doctrine of eternal punishment? Think of the lives it has blighted. . .of the tears it has caused. . .think of the millions that have been driven to insanity by this most terrible of dogmas. This doctrine renders God the basest and most cruel being in the Universe. Compared with Him, the most frightful deities of the most barbarous and degraded tribes are miracles of goodness and mercy. There is nothing more degrading than to worship such a God. Lower than this the soul can never sink. If the doctrine of eternal damnation is true let me have my portion in hell, rather than in heaven with a God infamous enough to inflict eternal misery upon the sons of men" (From Col. R. G. Ingersoll’s Fourty Four Lectures Complete: Heretics and Heresies , circa 1875).
It would seem obvious that if an unbeliever such as Col. R. G. Ingersoll can see the terrible discrepancy of Calvinistic teaching then a Christian who is indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit should be able to do so as well.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, experienced this very same bewilderment. In the book, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom it explains, “Charles’ parents sincerely believed the creeds of Christendom’s churches and brought him up to accept them too. Young Charles was thus taught that God is love, yet that he had created men inherently immortal and had provided a fiery place in which he would eternally torment all except those who had been predestined to be saved. Such an idea repulsed the honest heart of teenage Charles. He reasoned: A God that would use his power to create human beings whom he foreknew and predestinated should be eternally tormented, could neither be wise, just or loving. His standard would be lower than that of many men." The article concludes with "…turning away from church creeds and searching for the truth…" (page 43). Did young Charles find the truth? No he did not, and neither have millions of other Jehovah’s Witnesses. One can only wonder how many false cults and other heretical groups had their beginning from the ideas of John Calvin and others who taught that God only came to die for a select group of people.
Question: What kind of man was John Calvin and how did he advance his teachings?
A person should not study the teachings of John Calvin without also learning about his life. While we must be cautious about making erroneous statements about the lives and teachings of prominent Christian leaders from the past, we can draw some conclusions from books of the era in which they lived. I think the old adage, “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see” is useful to the Christian. However, there is significant historical documentation that John Calvin had little love, little patience and little tolerance for those who did not believe his Institutes. Criticism of Calvin's Institutes was considered heresy for which the sentence was death by burning at the stake. To his dying day Calvin preached and taught from his works.
John Calvin's murder of people who held different doctrinal views, his incomplete gospel, his placing of his own writings above the Bible, his distortion of God and the Scriptures, and his dependence upon infant baptism places into question his salvation. In all of his writings you will not find a clear declaration of his salvation by faith in the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Calvinism has continued to decline over the centuries because John Calvin's technique of terror is no longer allowed for the spread of his theology. I think it is interesting that in the very geographical area where Calvinism had its strongest roots in American history---New England---is today the least churched area of our nation. That fact alone speaks volumes to me of the legacy of Calvinism.
It is considered and adjudged that Calvinism incorporates so much doublethink that it is impossible to explain with reasoned arguments. It is blind to its own blindness. All you can do is back away quietly and pray for those who are blinded to their own doublethink. We must be constantly vigilant because various strains of Reformed theology are spreading throughout the Body of Christ today. I'm not attacking people but ideas. No doctrinal system is exempt from the Bible's command to “prove ALL things; hold fast to that which is good.” (I Thess. 5:21) Implied in that test is the tossing out of whatever is found to be false.

Looked at objectively, Calvinism is nothing more than a system of baffling, almost mystical theological complexities and contradictions piled one on top of the other. It is a tradition so revered and so exalted that most Christians are assumed to be not intelligent enough to understand it fully. Therefore, we require an intellectual elite - a Reformed priesthood - to explain it to us as if we were medieval Catholic peasants.
I am convinced that Calvinism is one of the most subtly malignant forms of theological blasphemy infecting the Church today; it ranks right up there with the Charismatic Movement. By the way, Greg Harris proudly proclaims that he has incorporated both heresies in his Household of Faith Community Church. What he really has built is the “Tower of Babel”.
The Calvinists I've met will insist on asking me why I reject the possibility of a sovereign God electing certain ones to save and damning the rest, if that's what He wants to do? I don't reject that possibility at all. God could do exactly that if He chose to do so. You see, the point is not, “Can't God do whatever He wants with His creation?" Of course He could, He's God. The real issue is, "What has the God, who cannot lie, promised to do, according to the Bible? In order for Calvin's view of election to be true, God MUST BE a cheat, a liar and a hypocrite. It is unavoidable!

God would have to be a CHEAT because He appears to extend saving grace to ALL when He really hasn't. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:11)
God would have to be a LIAR because His clearly and repeatedly offers salvation to ALL, even though He has no intention of saving all who hear His offer. “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12: For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13) It is very clear from the Scripture that God is a saving God. From Genesis to Revelation, God voices His desire for the lost to be saved. The Scripture teaches, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). Divine language cannot be made any clearer!

God would have to be a HYPOCRITE because He has sworn to damn corrupt human judges for doing essentially the same thing He does with those He has not enabled to do what He commands them to do (i.e., believe). “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11: Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12: Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalms 2:10-12)

The God of the Bible does not cheat or lie. He truly is "righteous in ALL His ways, gracious in ALL His works" (Ps 145:17). He acts in accordance with that in all His dealings with man, even when He pours out wrath.
Question: If men are not elected or predestinated to salvation as John Calvin taught, then how are men to be saved?
Galatians 3:8 says that, "…God would justify the heathen through faith.” Faith is the means for salvation and Jesus Christ has provided the way of salvation. Faith always has an object and for the sinner this will be Jesus Christ and His work on the cross for them. Men put their faith on the perfect finished sacrifice of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ whose blood was shed for them and who rose again bodily from the grave. This salvation is given to anyone who will admit his lost condition as a sinner and place his faith in the work of Christ on the cross. The Bible teaches unconditional salvation but not unconditional election; Greg Harris and thousands like him believe in an unconditional election with multiple conditions to obtain it--- “The Gospel is therefore effective only in those who, by the grace of God, are born again and thereby willing and able to genuinely repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ alone to save them. True conversion is characterized by a new life of love that delights to walk in the obedience of faith and is zealous to do good works that are pleasing to God.” (Greg Harris)
Romans 4:5 clearly teaches, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The act of accepting salvation is surely man’s act, and that act is faith. The free act of God in bestowing salvation is grace.
Jesus gave a clear illustration of what faith in Him means. He said to Nicodemus: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). The Israelite in the wilderness showed his faith by looking on the serpent of brass that hung on the pole (see Num. 21:5-9). In this one act of faith was expressed an utter helplessness and an acknowledgment that God’s provision was his only hope. He did not understand the significance of the serpent, nor why it was made of brass. He did not analyze his faith to see if it was sufficient. He did not question the intensity of his look. He surely claimed no merit for looking. There were just two things in his mind: his own absolute hopelessness and the sufficiency of God’s provision. And this is all that there is to that faith through which the lost are saved. There is no power in faith that contributes to salvation…."The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
Through faith (that is the acknowledgment of one’s own utter helplessness and hopelessness and the casting of one’s self upon God’s provision) God is able to act in grace. That is the meaning of: "It is of faith that it might be by grace.” That is also the meaning of: "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). The meaning of faith then, as well as the meaning of grace, excludes all human merit. Romans 10:17 is clear about the origin of faith when it says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is clear from the Scripture that man is the one who must hear and believe. John 5:24 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” If the Word of God is distorted and the gospel is skewed by saying only certain ones can believe and Jesus Christ may not have died for them, then man will not hear and faith will not come.
Election and the related words---to choose, chosen or elect--- are used of God’s selection of men or agencies for special missions or purposes; but there is no basis for the doctrine that God has predestined a definite number of mankind to eternal life, and the rest to destruction. Election is the act of God’s holy will in selecting His own methods, instruments, and times for carrying out His purposes.
1. Israel was elected by God to be His people. This election is as a nation. Some individuals in the elect had faith in God and others did not. This election is the Old Testament covenant between Israel and God and is the basis for naming the scriptures the Old Testament, meaning Old Covenant.
Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4: For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called the by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
Israel failed to keep her part of the covenant with God because a large majority of the people did not worship God. Israel resisted the call and the grace of God by their free will. Although Israel was the elect of God as shown above, individuals within Israel rejected God; and therefore, the entire nation was considered by God to have rejected Him because of the rejection by the majority. Still, Israel remained the elect until being temporarily set aside because of their rejection of Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Paul announces God’s decision to set Israel aside as His elect nation in Romans 9-11.
Jeremiah 3:6-8…The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. 7: And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8: And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
2. The church (the body of Christ) is elect. This election is not a guarantee of salvation but rather a guarantee of salvation by grace based on the individual's faith in Jesus Christ's death for the forgiveness of sin, and faith in His resurrection for the giving of life. Colossians 3:9-13…”Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10: And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
The Body of Christ, the Church, was foreknown by God, called and formed according to His will, predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28), justified by Christ's death and will be glorified upon the Rapture of the Church to meet Christ in the air. All of these blessings were hidden in God from the foundation of the earth in what Paul calls "the mystery” (Eph. 3:1-3) A person becomes a part of the Body of Christ by belief in the truth of the gospel (I Cor. 15:1-4).
The following verse indicates that the Gentiles are the elect but not as yet have obtained salvation. Paul is hopeful that they may obtain salvation but the wording shows the possibility they may not. This verse clearly contradicts the teaching that election is equal to salvation. 2 Timothy 2:8-10… Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10: Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Romans 8:31-33… What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
3. Individual Persons are elect. Election does not determine individual salvation and it is not a guarantee of salvation. God does elect some individuals to carry out His purposes on earth. Some people are not willing to do the righteous will of God so He uses their evil deeds to carry out His purposes. God uses the faithful and obedient man to do His righteous works. The following verses show that Pharaoh rejected God and hardened his heart against the will of God. God responded by sending ten plagues against Pharaoh to show His power and to declare His name in all the earth. God continued in Exodus 9 to harden Pharaoh's heart to bring to the surface that which was already there. Exodus 7:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. Exodus 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
Romans 9-11 is a favorite passage of Calvinists to substantiate unconditional election. However, Paul is not speaking of individual men’s eternal destiny as Calvinists would have us believe; he is discussing the historic missions of men and nations i.e. Egypt, Israel, Pharaoh, Jacob and Esau. The Apostle Paul uses the story of Pharaoh as an example for Israel. Like Pharaoh, the nation of Israel chose to harden its heart to its Messiah, Jesus Christ; therefore, God has the right to turn to the Gentiles with the gospel of salvation by grace. The Gentiles were not God's people but now they shall be called the "sons of the living God”.
Paul’s whole doctrine of sin in the book of Romans assumes that Adam fell freely and voluntarily. His sin was contrary to the will of God. It equally assumes that all men who perish do so by their own fault. The salvation of all mankind is the aim of the gospel. God… “who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4). Christ came to be the “Saviour of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10). The conclusion which emerges from Paul’s discussion of the mysteries of God’s providence and purpose with individuals is not to demonstrate unconditional election. Paul concludes that God may choose some and reject others; He may appoint some to one career, others to another; His ways are past finding out; He may do what He will; but whatever He does, Paul says it is to the end … that he might have mercy upon all (not just on some group of elect favorites)(Rom. 11:32).
God elected Saul to be King over Israel and to save His people from the Philistines, but King Saul chose to turn against God in disobedience.
God elected Esau to serve his brother Jacob. However, Esau chose to resist God’s will and several generations later his family’s spiritual condition led God to declare, “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated.” (Mal. 1:1-4) God did not declare that He hated Esau at his birth; it was several centuries after his death.
God elected Paul to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. God, in a special confrontation on the Damascus road, urged Paul to accept divine election. First, He blinded Paul with a bright light; then Christ personally spoke to Paul. The scripture clearly says that Paul was resisting the call of God (kicking against the pricks), and a powerful action by God was required to win Paul's submission. Paul's response was immediate and complete submission to Jesus. (Acts 9)
4. Jesus Christ was elected by God to take away the sin of the world…“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” (Isaiah 42:1).
When reduced to its simplest elements election is twofold: First, God elected a plan of salvation which He accomplished in Christ. Man may either reject this plan or accept it. Second, God elected an agency to make known His plan of salvation (the nation of Israel and then the church-the body of Christ).
To be the elect of God does not mean that you are one of God’s pampered favorites. It is responding by faith to His plan, His purpose and His program that He is carrying out in the earth.
In Ephesians 1:4 the Bible teaches that the saints are chosen in Him to be holy and without blame before him in love---not predestinated to salvation. We are not chosen to be put into Christ, ‘but chosen in Him’. When a sinner believes/receives/trusts/depends upon” the gospel of the grace of God, he is “accepted in the Beloved”. In other words, you are “chosen” in Him in the sense that Christ and His work on the Cross is the only basis of God “choosing” you. God is not arbitrary as to why He would “elect” anyone; it is on the merit of Christ. Therefore it is not about “your election”; it is about God choosing to place sinners who believe the gospel ‘in Christ’ to share HIS ELECTION.
Some Bible Texts Calvinists Rely On
1. Acts 4:28…For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
What was "determined before”? The death of Jesus Christ! This death had been prophesied as a part of God's plan (Luke 22:21-22; Acts 2:22-23). The Jews did not realize that they were fulfilling God's plan and He did not force them to kill His Son; they were accountable for their own actions. This is why Peter tells them to repent for putting Him to death on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38).
2. 1 Corinthians 2:7…But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
The context of this verse clearly shows that it is God's plan of redemption that was foreordained. In verse 5 of the same chapter the power of God is in the gospel. This is also confirmed in Romans 1:16. The gospel is the issue in this passage. In times past it had been a mystery, not revealed (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-9). But now this plan is revealed as the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:3,5). This was for our salvation. It was part of God's eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:8,11). The dispensation of the grace of God is not an “afterthought” with God; He had planned on doing this before He created the world. (II Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2)
3. Romans 8:28-30…And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [29] For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
We need to ask ourselves who is under consideration here? According to verse 28…them that love God. (not a few elect ones whom God loves) and the…called according to His purpose. How do we identify who the “called” are? Is it those who are called by a still, mysterious voice or is it those who are called by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit giving them new life? The right answer is no! Sinners are called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Those who hear, believe and trust the gospel are referred to as "the called" (Galatians 1:6). In Romans 8:28-30 we can see the unfolding of God's plan. God determined to send a Saviour to die for all mankind. His death, burial, and resurrection were all foreordained. In that sense God predestined our salvation. It was not that He selected us individually to be saved or lost; but that those who believe and trust the gospel would be saved (the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The individuals who believe and trust the gospel are justified and glorified.
What is predestined in Romans 8:28-30? That we should "be conformed to the image of his Son.” Therefore, it was God's eternal plan that we become His children through Christ. We are God's chosen people, not individually selected, but as an agency (the church the body of Christ). The Body of Christ is God's chosen vessel to glorify His Son here on earth and ultimately in the heavenly places, just as the nation of Israel was (and will be) God's chosen vessel to glorify His Son on the earth.
We are adopted into a position of being "in Christ” by believing and trusting the gospel (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-6).
How does God decide who will be His children? The Scripture says, "... through Jesus Christ;" "... through His blood;" and "... according to the riches of His grace." The focus of being predestined is based on the work of redemption performed by Jesus Christ our Lord. I believe and trust that He did the work, that He paid the penalty, that He was righteous, and I rest in His complete work of redemption.
The Calvinist sees a divine order in vs. 29 of "foreknown", "predestinated", "called", "justified", and "glorified”. But once again, the context must be taken into account. The previous verse begins this whole progression with the words, "And we know that all things work together for good to them THAT LOVE GOD, to them who are the called according to His purpose”. If one is going to insist that the order of this progression be maintained, then I would insist that we begin at the beginning, which is vs. 28…"them THAT LOVE GOD.”
Furthermore, remember that being called has to do with our calling to service, not to salvation. When someone comes to "love God" through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, this sets him or her on a preordained path which God has already set forth. God has already "foreknown" what He will do for those who believe. He has already decided to predestinate them to the image of His son, call them into His service, justify them and ultimately glorify them. The whole point here, in the context of Romans 8:28, is that for those who "love God," everything will ultimately work out okay, because God has predetermined this course for anyone who will believe. This does not mean God has plotted every detail of the believer's life in advance, only these major points.
4. Romans 9:11-13...(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) [12] It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. [13] As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Those who believe in Calvinistic predestination say these verses prove that God elects certain individuals because it states---before they were born God loved Jacob but hated Esau.
The word "children" in the text can be understood as nations based on the context of what has preceded and what follows. Genesis 25:22-23...And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. [23] And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
These words coupled with those of Malachi, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Malachi 1:2-3), are cited by Paul to show that we are to understand this passage is speaking about two nations, and not two individuals. Therefore, these words are used in a national, not in a personal sense. This is evident from historical facts also. Jacob never exercised any power over Esau, nor was Esau ever subject to him. Jacob, on the contrary, was subject to Esau, and was afraid of him. First by his messengers, and afterwards personally, he acknowledged his brother to be his lord, and himself to be his servant (see Genesis 32:4; 33:8,13). However, in the national sense Esau did serve Jacob! 1 Chron. 18:13...He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David.
This passage clearly shows the nation that resulted from Esau (Edom) was under subjection to the nation that resulted from Jacob (Israel). From these verses the true sense of the words immediately following "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated" (Malachi 1:2-3, Romans 9:13) fully appears; that is, that what Paul had already cited from Genesis 25:22-23 concerning the two nations, referenced by the names of their respective heads, Jacob and Esau, was but the same in substance with what was spoken fourteen hundred years after by the Prophet Malachi. The unthankful Jews had, in Malachi's time, demanded of God wherein He had loved them: Malachi 1:2-5...I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, [3] And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. [4] Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. [5] And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.
It is very clear from these verses that the Prophet Malachi does not speak at all of the person of Jacob or Esau, but of their respective descendants, for it was not Esau in person that said, "We are impoverished; we will return and build the desolate places.” It was the Edomites! If the prophet Malachi speaks only of the descendants of Jacob and Esau, then it is equally evident that the Apostle Paul speaks of them in the same way.
· God chose the Jewish people from all others, and revealed Himself to them. Thus they were the elect in the sense that they were to be an instrument for God in the world. They failed in their elect purpose and were thus set aside by God as announced to them by Paul in Romans 9. If Calvinists were consistent in their interpretation of Romans 9, they would teach that “Jacob have I loved” (all Jews are elect/saved) and Esau have I hated” (all Gentiles are reprobated/non-elect).
· If Calvinists were consistent in their interpretation of Romans 9, they would teach that God, in His providence, revealed Himself to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul. They gladly received the Gospel but the Jews that rejected it were rejected of God. Thus the elect became reprobate, and the reprobate became elect.
· If Calvinists were consistent in their interpretation of Romans 9, they would teach that the Jews, the descendants of Jacob who rejected the salvation of Christ, became precisely like the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. They built, but God pulled down their mountains and heritage are now laid waste. They have rejected the Lord that bought them and so have brought upon themselves swift destruction.
5. Jeremiah 1:5…"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
This verse says nothing about choosing Jeremiah for salvation. Indeed, it clearly shows
the point I have contended all along, that election is to a position of service. In the case of Jeremiah, it was to be "a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah was "sanctified," or "set apart" to this ministry before he was born.
6. Romans 1:6-7… Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: [7] To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word "called” is explained by Calvinists and “reformed theologians” as an "effectual calling," and means chosen or elected by God for salvation. They make much of the distinction between the words, "called" (Gk. kletos) and "chosen" (Gk. eklektos) in Matthew 22:14. They would suggest that God calls many but only the elect believe. This is not the point at all. The meaning here is that God calls many for service but only chooses for His service those who do respond in faith. The Calvinist’s definition of “called” makes no sense at all when applied to Matthew 22:14…Many are called (elected, chosen to salvation) but few are chosen.
But why does it say "many" are called instead of "all" are called? It is because the context in Matthew 22 is about a King sending our his SERVANTS to invite people to a wedding. Israel was that servant called of God to invite the world to a wedding. Only a few responded and were thus chosen to carry out this commission. Only those who believed could be chosen to that position.
7. John 15:16…"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye shouldgo and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.”
This passage is often referred to to show that only the "chosen" can be saved. I remind you that Christ is addressing His twelve apostles (this is the upper room discourse) and is referring not to their salvation but to their calling as apostles.
8. Acts 5:31 & Acts 11:18…"Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
I quote these two verses together, because they present the same principle. When it speaks of "giving" repentance to Israel and to the Gentiles, it is not referring to a supernatural endowment of repentance to individuals. Rather, it refers to God's offer of repentance to the nation of Israel and later to the Gentiles. Clearly, not every Israelite responded by repenting, any more than all Gentiles have. But the offer was extended to both.
9. Acts 13:48…"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
Many Calvinists see this verse as the last word on predestination and final proof of their position: "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” It appears to be saying that those who were already ordained to be saved, believed. But is this the sense of what Luke is saying as he writes? Two major points must be considered. The first of these is the grammar. By comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can gain a clearer understanding of the word, "ordained." The Calvinist automatically takes this word to mean “preordained" or "foreordained." But the same word is used in I Corinthians 16:15, where Paul writes, "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints).” Here the word "addicted" is the same as the word translated "ordained" in Acts 13:48. When these Gentiles heard the gospel, they were "addicted" to it and, therefore, they believed it.
A second consideration here is the context. Two verses back, Luke wrote, "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Note carefully that these Jews which Paul addresses were responsible for their own lost condition: "seeing YE PUT IT FROM YOU, and JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY of everlasting life.” They made their own choice to reject the Word of God, but the Gentiles, on the other hand, were "addicted" to it.
10. Romans 11:5…"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
Following on the heels of verse 4, Paul affirms that even now, there is a remnant of believers among the Jewish people. But now it is not according to God's election of Israel, rather, it is under the auspices of the "election of grace"; that is, Jews (or anyone for that matter) who believe the gospel today are not part of a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an HOLY NATION...” (I Pet. 2:9). Rather, they become part of a chosen Body, the Body of Christ. It is the Church, the Body of Christ that God has chosen to serve Him in this Dispensation of Grace. Therefore, anyone who believes today becomes a part of the "election of grace."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

number of visitors