|FOUNDATIONS: Studies in Bible Theology||
AND WHY I DISAGREE WITH IT
By RON HOSSACK
(It has been brought to my attention that an article which is
practically word for word the same as this one, appears at
http://www.victorybaptist.org.uk/tulip.html, and written by Curtis Hutson.
The term "Calvinism" is used by some people who do not hold Calvin's teaching on predestination and do not understand exactly what Calvin taught.
Dr. Loraine Boettner in his book, 'The reformed Doctrine of Predestination', says, "The Calvinistic system especially emphasized five distinct doctrines. These are technically known as 'The Five Points of Calvinism.' And they are the main pillars upon which the superstructure rests."
Dr. Boettner further says, "The five points may be more easily remembered if they are associated with the word T-U-L-I-P;
T - Total Inability;
U - Unconditional Election;
L - Limited Atonement;
I - Irresistible (efficacious) Grace; and
P - Perseverance of the Saints."
These are the five points of Calvinism.
I have heard people say, "I am a one-point Calvinist, a two-point Calvinist" and so on. Look at each one of these views as taught by Calvin and then see what the Bible has to say on each point. As with any Doctrine, it is no stronger than the foundation upon which it is built and it'll either be built upon sand or the Rock!
I. TOTAL INABILITY
By total inability Calvin meant that a lost sinner could not repent and come to Jesus Christ and trust Him as Savior, unless he is foreordained to come to Christ. By total inability he meant that no man has the ability to come to Christ. And unless God overpowers him and gives him that ability, he will never come to Christ.
The Bible teaches total depravity. But that simply means that there is nothing good in man to earn or deserve salvation. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9,
While the Bible teaches the depravity of the human race, it no where teaches total inability. The Bible never hints that people are lost because they have no ability to come to Christ. The language of Jesus was (John 5:40),
Notice, it is not a matter of whether or not you CAN come to Christ; it is a matter of whether or not you WILL come to Him.
Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept and said,
Here again notice, He did not say, "How often I would have gathered you together, but you COULD not." No. He said, "Ye WOULD not!" It was not a matter of whether they could; it was a matter of whether they would.
Rev. 22:17, the last invitation in the Bible says,
If it is true that no person has the ability to come to Christ, then why would Jesus say in John 5:40, "Ye will not come to me?" Why didn't He simply say, "You cannot come to me"?
Some Calvinists use John 6:44 in an effort to prove total inability. Here the Bible says,
But the Bible makes it plain in John 12:32 that Christ will draw all men unto Himself,
All men are drawn to Christ, but not all men will trust Christ as Savior. Every man will make his own decision to trust Christ or to reject Him. The Bible makes it clear that all men have light. (Jn 1:9) Rom. 1:19, 20 indicates that every sinner has been called through the creation about him. Romans 2:11-16 indicates that sinners are called through their conscience, even when they have not heard the gospel.
So in the final analysis, men GO to Hell, not because of their inability to come to Christ, but because they will not come to Him - "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
The teaching that men, women and children are totally unable to come to Christ and trust Him as Savior is not a scriptural doctrine. The language itself is not scriptural. The foundation of this doctrine is very shaky when looked at in light of what the Scriptures say and not what some men have said.
II. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
By unconditional election Calvin meant that some are elected to go to Heaven, while others are elected to go to Hell, and that this election is unconditional. It is wholly on God's part and without condition. By unconditional election Calvin meant that God has already decided who will be saved and who will be lost, and the individual has absolutely nothing to do with it. He can only hope that God has elected him for Heaven and not for Hell.
This teaching so obviously disagrees with the oft-repeated
invitations in the Bible to sinners to come to Christ and be saved that
some readers will think that I have overstated the doctrine.
So Calvinism teaches that it is God's own choice that some people are to be damned forever. He never intended to save them. He foreordained them to go to Hell. And when He offers salvation in the Bible, He does not offer it to those who were foreordained to be damned. It is offered only to those who were foreordained to be saved.
This teaching insists that we need not try to win men to the Lord because men cannot be saved unless God has planned for them to be saved. And if God has planned for them to be eternally lost, they will not come to Christ.
There is the Bible doctrine of God's foreknowledge, predestination and election. Most knowledgeable Christians agree that God has His controlling hand on the affairs of men. They agree that according to the Bible, He selects individuals like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David as instruments to do certain things He has planned. Most Christians agree that God may choose a nation - particularly that He did choose Israel, through which He gave the law, the prophets, and eventually through whom the Savior Himself would come - and that there is a Bible doctrine that God foreknows all things.
God in His foreknowledge knows who will trust Jesus Christ as Savior, and He has predestined to see that they are justified and glorified. He will keep all those who trust Him and see that they are glorified. But the doctrine that God elected some men to Hell, that they were born to be damned by God's own choice, is a radical heresy not taught anywhere in the Bible.
In the booklet entitled TULIP by Vic Lockman, Lockman attempts to prove the five points of Calvinism. Under the point, Unconditional Election, he quotes Ephesians 1:4, but he only quotes the first part of the verse: "He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." However, that is not the end of the verse. Mr. Lockman, like most Calvinists, stopped in the middle of the verse. The entire verse reads:
The verse says nothing about being chosen for Heaven or Hell. It says we are chosen that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
Under the same point, Unconditional Election, Mr. Lockman quotes John 15:16,
Again, Mr. Lockman, like most Calvinists, stops in the middle of the verse. The entire verse reads:
The verse says nothing about being chosen for Heaven or Hell. It says we are chosen to go and bring forth fruit, which simply means that every Christian is chosen to be a witness for Him and to practice soul winning. Proverbs 11:30 says,
Nowhere does the Bible teach that God wills for some to
go to Heaven and wills for others to go to Hell. NO. The Bible teaches that
God would have all men to be saved.
"I Tim. 2:4 says,
Those who teach that God would only have some to be saved, while He would have others to be lost are misrepresenting God and the Bible. Does God really predestinate some people to be saved and predestinate others to go to Hell, so that they have no free choice?
Absolutely not! Nobody is predestined to be saved, except as He chooses of his own free will to come to Christ and trust Him for salvation. And no one is predestined to go to Hell, except as he chooses of his own free will to reject Christ and refuses to trust Him as Savior. John 3:36 says,
Nothing could be plainer. The man who goes to Heaven goes because he comes to Jesus Christ and trusts Him as Savior. And the man who goes to Hell does so because he refuses to come to Jesus Christ and will not trust Him as Savior.
III. LIMITED ATONEMENT
By limited atonement, Calvin meant that Christ died only for the elect, for those He planned and ordained to go to Heaven: He did not die for those He planned and ordained to go to Hell. Again I say, such language is not in the Bible, and the doctrine wholly contradicts many, many plain Scriptures.
For instance, the Bible says in I John 2:2,
The teaching of Calvinism on Limited Atonement contradicts the express statement of Scripture. First Timothy 2:5-6 says,
The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Jn 4:42 says,
Again, I John 4:14,
The Scriptures make it plain that Jesus came to save the world. John 3:17 says,
No man will ever look at Jesus and say, "You didn't want to be my Savior." No! No! Jesus wants to be the Savior of all men. As a matter of fact, I Timothy 4:10 says,
The Bible teaches that Christ bore the sins of all people. Is. 53:6 says,
There are two "ALLS" in this verse. The first "ALL" speaks of the universal fact of sin -
And the second "ALL" speaks of universal atonement -
The "ALL" in the first part of Isaiah 53:6 covers the same crowd that the "ALL" in the last part of that verse covers. If we all went astray, then the iniquities of all were laid on Christ.
Not only did He bear the sins of us all, but the Bible plainly teaches that He died for the whole world. Look at I John 2:2,
If that isn't plain enough, the Bible says His death was for every man; (Hebrews 2:9)
Nothing could be plainer than the fact that Jesus Christ died for every man. First Timothy 2:5-6 says,
Romans 8:32 states,
Look at the statements - statement after statement:
John 3:16 has been called "the heart of the Bible." It has been called "the Bible in miniature." "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus died for the whole world. He suffered Hell for every man who has ever lived or ever will live. And no man will look out of Hell and say, "I wanted to be saved, but Jesus did not die for me.
Some argue that if Jesus died for the whole world, the whole world would be saved. No. The death of Christ on the cross was sufficient for all, but it is efficient only to those who believe. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross made it possible for every man everywhere to be saved. but only those who believe that He died to pay their sin debt and who trust Him completely fro salvation will be saved.
Again I quote John 3:36,
Everybody is potentially saved, but everybody is not actually saved until he recognizes that he is a sinner, believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the sin debt, rose from the grave on the third day, and trust Him completely for salvation.
The atonement is not limited. It is as universal as sin. Romans 5:20 says,
Isaiah 53:6 states,
IV. IRRESISTIBLE GRACE
The fourth point of Calvinism is irresistible grace. By irresistible grace, John Calvin meant that God simply forces people to be saved. God elected some to be saved, and He let Jesus die for that elect group.
And now by irresistible grace, He forces those He elected, and those Jesus Christ died for to be saved.
The truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as irresistible grace. Nowhere in the Bible does the word "irresistible" appear before the word "grace." That terminology is simply not in the Bible. It is the philosophy of John Calvin, not a Bible doctrine. The word "irresistible" doesn't even sound right in front of the word "grace."
Grace means "God's unmerited favor." Grace is an attitude, not a power. If Calvin had talked about the irresistible drawing power of God, it would have made more sense. But instead, he represents grace as the irresistible act of God compelling a man to be saved who does not want to be saved, so that a man has no choice in the matter at all, except as God forcibly puts a choice in his mind. Calvinism teaches that man has no part in salvation, and cannot possibly cooperate with God in the matter. In no sense of the word and at no stage of the work does salvation depend upon the will or work of man or wait for the determination of his will.
Does the Bible say anything about irresistible grace? Absolutely not! The Scriptures show that men do resist and reject God. Prov.29:1 states,
Notice the word "OFTEN" in this verse. If God only gave one opportunity to be saved, then man could not complain. But here the Bible says, "He, that being often reproved. . . ." This means the man was reproved over and over again. Not only was he reproved many times, but he was reproved often.
But the Bible says he "hardens his neck" and "shall suddenly be destroyed, and without remedy." That certainly doesn't sound like irresistible grace. The Bible teaches that a man can be reproved over and over again, and he can harden his neck against God, and as a result will be destroyed without remedy.
Again Proverbs 1:24-26 says,
Here the Bible plainly says, "I have called, and ye have refused. . .but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof." That doesn't sound like irresistible grace. God calls, and men refuse. Is that irresistible? God stretches out His hand and no man regards it?
Is that irresistible grace? No. The Bible makes it plain that some men do reject Christ, and they refuse His call. John 5:40 says,
That verse plainly teaches that men can and do resist God
and refuse to come to Him.
To these Jewish leaders, Stephen said, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost." So here were people; some of whom had seen Jesus and heard Him preach; others who had heard Peter at Pentecost; others who had heard Stephen and other Spirit-filled men preaching with great power. And what had they done? They were stiff necked and uncircumcised in their heart and ears. That is, they were stubborn and rebellious against God. The Bible plainly says, "They resisted the holy Ghost."
Notice the words of Stephen in verse 51, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." Here the Bible teaches that not only were these Jewish leaders resisting the Holy ghost, but that their fathers before them had also resisted the Holy Spirit. Stephen says that all the way from Abraham, through the history of the Jewish nation, down to the time of Christ, unconverted Jews had resisted the Holy Spirit.
God offers salvation to all men. Titus 1:11 says,
But man must make his own choice. He must either receive or reject Christ. John 1:12 says,
When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, he said,
Here again the Bible clearly indicates that God would have gathered them together as a hen gathers her brood, but they would not. That certainly shows that they could reject and resist Christ. "I would, but ye would not" does not fit the teaching of irresistible grace. So people do resist the Holy Spirit. They do refuse to come to Christ. They do harden their necks. They do refuse when God calls.
That means that those who are not saved could have been saved. Those who rejected Christ could have accepted Him. God offers salvation to those who will have it, but does not force it upon anyone who doesn't want it.
V. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
The Bible teaches, and I believe in, the eternal security of the born-again believer. The man who has trusted Jesus Christ has ever- lasting life and will never perish. But the eternal security of the believer does not depend upon his perseverance.
I do not know a single Bible verse that says anything about the saints' persevering, but there are several Bible verses that mention the fact that the saints have been preserved. Perseverance is one thing. Preservation is another. No. The saints do not persevere; they are preserved.
The Bible states in Jude 1,
First Thessalonians 5:23 says,
The Bible makes it plain that the believer is kept. He
does not keep himself.
The Bible says in John 10:27-29:
Now that doesn't sound like the PERSEVERANCE of the sheep or the saints. Here the sheep are in the Father's hand, and they are safe - not because they persevere, but because they are in the Father's hand.
Charles Spurgeon once said,
To be sure, the Bible teaches the eternal security of the believer. But the believer's security has nothing to do with his persevering. We are secure because we are kept by God. We are held in the Father's hand. And according to Ephesians 4:30, we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.
So I disagree with all 5 points of Calvinism as John Calvin
Calvinists would like to make people believe that if one does not teach universal salvation, he must either be a Calvinist or an Arminian. And since the Arminian position does such violence to the grace of God, many preferred to call themselves Calvinists. But a person doesn't have to take either position.
I am neither Arminian nor Calvinist. I believe in salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. I believe in the eternal security of the believer. I believe that Jesus Christ died for all men, and I believe what the Bible says,
But I disagree with all five points of Calvinism as John Calvin taught it.
In conclusion, let me say that Calvin and those who followed him claimed to believe and follow the Bible. They claimed to find at least a germ of the Calvinist doctrine in the Scriptures. But a careful student will find that again and again they go beyond the Scripture, and that Calvinism is a philosophy developed by man and depending on fallible logic and frail, human reasoning, with the perversion of some Scriptures, the misuse of others, and the total ignoring of many clear Scriptures. Calvin did teach many wonderful, true doctrines of Scripture.
It is true that God foreknows everything that will happen in the world. It is true that God definitely ordained and determined some events ahead of time and selected some individuals for His purposes.
It is certain that people are saved by grace, and are kept by the power of God. That far Calvinists may well prove their doctrines by Scriptures. but beyond that, Calvinism goes into a realm of human philosophy.
It is not a Bible doctrine, but a system of human philosophy, especially appealing to the scholarly intellect, the self-sufficient and proud mind. Brilliant, philosophical, scholarly preachers are apt to be misled on this matter more than the humble-hearted, Bible-believing Christian.
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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