Calvinism vs. Arminianism

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Calvinism vs. Arminianism

#1

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:30 am

I'll post this in several parts, dealing with each point of Calvinism as well as the Soveriegnty of God.

"I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God." -Martin Luther

Introduction

Without a prolonged personal testimony, most of my Christian life was spent in an Arminian Church. It was in this church that the Lord first saved me, and where I spent nearly 15 years in the ministry. It pleased the Lord to use His Word to convert my heart to Calvinism a few years ago. The transition was not an easy one, as I left many brothers with whom I had fellowship with for many years. Nevertheless, like Luther, my conscience was held captive to the Word of God.

The particular passage which both started and finished my Doctrinal overhaul was Romans 9:10-23 (especially the passage on Pharoah). I'll delve into this and other passages as I discuss what has been called “The Five Points of Calvinism”. But before I do, I need to emphasize that Calvinism is not just five points. As Charles Spurgeon proclaims, “It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” The “five points” are actually a biblical responses to the five points presented by the followers of Arminius at the Remonstrance, reviewed and rightly rejected by the Synod of Dort.

Do I believe that these Doctrines are important? Absolutely. I would not waste my time debating such if this were not the case. I do not believe that there is any such thing as what is now commonly referred to as a “non-essential” doctrine. Jesus proclaimed that man must live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16). To proclaim anything as a non-essential Doctrine is to refute these precious truths.

Do I believe that a man must be a Calvinist to enter heaven? Be it far from me to ever suggest such. I know of a number of Godly men of whom the world is not worthy, men who at the same time hold to the erroneous doctrines of “free-will” salvation which I now detest. I can rightly testify that God regenerated my own heart as an Arminian, despite the fact that I gave myself too much glory for such salvation. As George Whitefield proclaimed when someone asked if he thought he would see John Wesley in heaven, "I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him."

My stance on Calvinism begins with the absolute Sovereignty of God in ALL things. This sovereignty, by definition, means that nothing can happen apart from God's will. It is God who “works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11). “He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35). “our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases." (Psalm 115:3)

Isaiah 46:9-11
"Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, "My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,'
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it."


Most modern Arminians will also proclaim this truth, but the proclamation becomes mere rhetoric once their Doctrines concerning the salvation of man are examined. The God of the Arminianism wills the salvation of every person on the planet. The Jesus of Arminianism atoned for the sins of every person who ever lived. Yet, despite God's best efforts, multitudes still find a way to be cast into Hell. Thus, the will of the Arminian God is thwarted by the will of His own creation. The potter has become subject to the clay.

Jonah tells us that “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jon. 2:9). This is the clearest, most straightforward, no-nonsense Bible Doctrine of salvation, and I wish to know no other. I have no use for a temporary, man-initiated salvation. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that Paul and Silas used to overthrow the Roman Empire. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that Augustine preached that converted all of pagan Europe. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that the Pilgrims and Puritans used to shake off the bands of tyranny to found this United States of America. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that once shook the colonies and their European mothers in what was The Great Awakening. May we yet have another revival such as this one.

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#2

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:31 am

T — Total Depravity

The first point of Arminianism that the Synod of Dort responded to was their belief in Human Ability, the belief that man was not so affected by the fall that he could not come to God. They believed that man, of his own free will, could choose to come to God. The Reformers countered with Total Depravity, insisting that man is totally helpless and cannot be saved apart from the will of a sovereign God. So, what do the scriptures say?

Total Depravity vs. Human Ability

1.) Human Ability denies the need for the New Birth (John 3:3). A man must be born of the Spirit BEFORE he can even see the kingdom of God, let alone choose it.

2.) Human Ability gives natural man ability to receive the things of God, which the Scriptures specifically deny (1 Corinthians 2:14)

3.) Human Ability is expressly denied in Scripture (John 1:12-13, John 6:44, Romans 9:16)

Unregenerate man…
…is deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)
…drinks iniquity like water (Job 15:16)
…does not seek God (Romans 3:11)
…loves darkness and hates the light (John 3:19-20)
…is dead in trespasses (Ephesians 2:1)
…cannot understand things that are Spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14)
…is a slave to sin (John 8:34)
…can no more choose good than a leopard can change his spots (Jeremiah 13:23)

Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). It is by grace alone, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing that a man can do to "get saved", for that would be "salvation by works". He cannot "give his life to Jesus" because he has no life to give to Jesus. He is dead (Eph. 2:1)

Human ability (free will salvation) is unscriptural. You must be born again.

Now for two clarifications:

1.) Calvinists do believe in "free" will to an extent. It is man's free will that makes him guilty. The problem is that man's will has been affected the fall. As a result, man's choices are limited to what his own sinful nature will allow. If left to himself, he will always choose evil over good because he is an enemy of God. We are by nature children of wrath. We must be born of the Spirit FIRST, otherwise, we are leopards stuck with our spots.

2.) Total Depravity does not mean that man is as bad as he could be. There are definitely some men who are worse than others. No one would suggest that Ghandi and Charles Manson were equally bad. What total depravity means is that man is totally helpless in initiating his own salvation. Every part of man, body, soul, mind, emotions, has been depraved. Man, in this state, does not seek God on his own (Romans 3:11), nor can he know the things of God (2 Cor. 2:14). Dead people (Eph. 2:1) do not need good advise. What they need is new life, and only God can give that. Man must be born again.

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#3

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:33 am

U — Unconditional Election

The second objection to reformed doctrines brought forth during the remonstrance had to do with election. Both sides agree that God elected those who would be saved from the foundation of the world. After all, the scriptures clearly say so.

Inherent in the belief in Human Ability is the belief that God chose His elect based on the "foreknowledge" of the choice that they would make. Those who hold this view claim 1 Peter 1:2 as their prooftext.

1 Peter 1:2
"elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied."

However, does this scripture imply a foreknowledge of a choice, or a fore-loving of a sovereign God. To include free will in this scripture takes some creative literary gymnastics. What does the Bible say specifically about God's election?

Unconditional vs. Conditional Election

...God chooses his own heritage. (Psalm 33:12)
...God creates the wicked for destruction. (Proverbs 16:4)
...Many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14)
...As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
...He foreknew, predestined ,called; justified; and glorified His elect. (Romans 8:28-30)
...God chose Jacob over Esau “not of works” but “that the purpose of God according to election might stand”. (Romans 9:10-13)
...God creates “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” and “vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory”. (Romans 9:22-23)
...God did not appoint His elect to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
...The Pharisees were appointed to be disobedient to the Word (1 Peter 2:8,9) (and thank God they were).
...He chose His elect in Him before the foundation of the world, predestined them to adoption as sons, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Ephesians 1:4,5)
...We were predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. (Ephesian 1:11)
...He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. (2 Timothy 1:9)
...God from the beginning chose us for salvation. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
...Those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

The clearest statement regarding God's election is in His statement regarding Jacob and Esau in Romans 9:10-13. There is no getting around the clear message of the text. God loved Jacob and hated Esau, before they were born, before they had done any good or evil, not of their works, but so "that the purpose of God according to election might stand". Esau sought God's Covenant blessings with tears, but never received them. The scriptures are clear, God's election is not based on anything we do or will do, but is based on His will (Eph. 1:4, 5 ,11). It is unconditional. I would argue that if God was to choose between Jacob and Esau based on a foreknowledge of righteousness, He certainly would have chosen the honest, hardworking, and forgiving Esau over the lying cheating scoundral Jacob. But God chose Jacob, so the the purpose of God according to election might stand.

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#4

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:39 am

L — Limited Atonement

The third of the objections to the Reformed Doctrines by the Remonstrance was the concept of Limited Atonement. This is easily the most controversial of all of the points of Calvinism, so much so that not all Calvinists accept it. It you find a four-point Calvinist, the point that they usually reject is limited atonement.

The Remonstrance held that Christ's work was for every person on the planet. Arminian's today object to Limited Atonement as placing a limit on God. Therefore, we need to establish that both sides limit the atonement. Calvinists limit the recipients, Arminians limit it's power.

Calvinists prefer the term "definite redemption", as we hold that Christ paid the full price for the sins of His elect. Unknown to modern Arminians is the fact that, historically, Arminianism denies that Christ paid the full price for sins. Consider the following quote by a well known Arminian Professor.

“Many Arminians whose theology is not very precise say that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Yet such a view is foreign to Arminianism, which teaches instead that Christ suffered for us. Arminians teach that what Christ did He did for every person; therefore what He did could not have been to pay the penalty, since no one would then ever go into eternal perdition” - Arminan Professor Dr. J. Kenneth Grider, Evangel Dictionary of Theology, Edited by Walter A. Elwell, p.80.

I agree completely with Grider in the fact that, if Christ indeed paid for the sins of every single person, no one would then ever go into eternal perdition. This is what full payment means, that the debt has been fully paid. I often here the analogy of the "blank check" in Arminian Churches. Arminians hold to the idea of a potential payment, not a full payment. Arminians will object to this statement, but no matter how you slice it, their view of atonement holds that the debt for sins has not yet been fully paid "until we accept it".

Is this biblical? Did Christ make a full or potential payment for sins? What do the Scriptures say?

Universal Atonement vs. Particular Redemption

Christ does not make salvation a mere possibility, but actually saves HIS people.

...He shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
...Christ came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10).
...Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).
...We have actual redemption (Ephesians 1:7).
...Christ purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
...He gave himself to us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a peculiar (chosen) people" (Titus 2:14).
...He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking ... his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12).

Christ's work of redemption is finished. He said so Himself. Catch phrases such as "accepting Jesus" or "receiving His offer of salvation" are common among Arminians, but are foreign to the Bible. The scriptures are clear. Christ has paid the full price for sins, meaning that those whose sins he paid for CANNOT go to Hell. Biblical Salvation is not an “offer” that's just put on a table for us to accept or reject. As Calvinists, we believe that Our Saviour actually saves, and our Redeemer actually redeems. He has secured our eternal redemption (Heb 9:12).

So now comes the tough question. Whose sin did Jesus pay for? The Arminian and other free-willers will say everybody. The usually point to verses that mention "all men" or the "whole world". If this interpretation is correct, then we have some problems.

1.) If Christ made full payment for every person's sins, then no one could ever go to Hell. If so, then what kind of “payment” are we left with?

2.) If Christ work on the cross was intended to save every single person, then His work is a failure. His work did not accomplish what He intended.

3.) If Christ intended to save every single person, than He came to do His own will, not the will of the Father who elected those who would be saved.

As Greg Bahnsen writes, “Isaiah prophesied that Christ would "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied"; yet if Christ went to the cross with the intention of saving every individual, he certainly has been defeated and cannot be satisfied. But our Lord is not defeated; all power has been given to him in heaven and earth. His sufferings do accomplish what he intends, for the salvation he provides is not abstract and universal, it is particular and personal.”

Another problem with viewing "the world" as every single individual is that it would teach universal salvation. For example, if the referent of "world" in 2 Cor. 5:19 ("God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself") were taken to be every single individual, then that verse teaches that Christ's work was to the effect of reconciling every man to God (i.e. universal salvation).

Verses that use these phrases usually fall into one of two categories:

1.) They were written to Jews who expected Christ to establish earthly Israel (see Acts 1:6) as the world's superpower. Thus the “world” refers to all men without distinction, not all men without exception. (ex. John 3:16).

2.) They were written to a particular audience with a limited scope, and only referred to that audience. (ex. 2 Peter 3:9, see 1:1).

Objections: 2 Peter 3:9

2 Peter 3:9
”The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”

Does this scripture refute Limited Atonement? Does the scripture actually suggest that God's desire is for no person to perish, but that every person should repent?

When I was in the Arminian Church, this is the one scripture that I would use to battle Calvinism (Limited Atonement). However if we examine the verse closely, we see that it is one of the most powerful verses in support of Calvinism (Perseverence of the Saints).

First off, if the Arminian interpretation is correct, and God wants everyone on the planet to be saved, then we have two problems.

1.) God's Sovereignty is denied. I know the objections here, but there are no two ways about it. This interpretation means that God's will is subject to that of His own creation. He can't save anyone without their permission. If a sovereign God “who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11), and “does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3) wanted every person to be saved, then every person would be saved.

2.) God is confused. How can we say that God isn't willing for any human to to be destroyed when the scripture says that he created them just for that purpose?

Proverbs 16:4
"The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom."

Roman 9:22-23
"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,"

If God isn't willing for them to perish, then why did He create them for this purpose? (See Pharoah above.)

Now let's examine the scripture again in it's proper context:

2 Peter 3:9
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

The promise and the patience is “toward us”, not everybody. Who is "us"? Who is Peter writing to?

2 Peter 1:1
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:"

Peter is writing this to the elect, "To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ". This verse us absolutely true. God is not willing that any of his elect should perish, but that all of them should come to repentance. And they will.

John 6:37
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me"

God tells us over and over again in His Word, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy." In response to this, Paul deals with a couple of questions in Romans 9.

Romans 9:14
"What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?"

Romans 9:19
"You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?""

The question I have for my Arminian brothers to consider for now is, "Does your view of the Atonement prompt such questions?" If not, then it probably doesn't agree with Paul's view.

I admit that the very thought of this Doctrine, viewed from a "free-will" perspective, is offensive. It paints God as unfair. (Being a former Arminian, I can appreciate this more than most Calvinists.) My response would be two-fold.

1.) Consider the alternative, that Christ made full payment for the sins of many who are currently burning in Hell. That is just not acceptable.

2.) A God who was just and fair, and only just and fair, would in fact save no one. We would all be condemned to Hell because, in the light of justice, it is what we deserve. It is God's love that saves anyone, and it is apparent that God does not love everyone the same. (God loved Jacob and hated Esau.)

So who did Christ "secure an eternal redemption" for?

...He laid down his life for his sheep (not the goats) (John 10:11).
...He gave Himself for His Church (Ephesians 5:25-27).
...He gave himself to us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a peculiar (chosen) people" (Titus 2:14).
...Christ purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
...He shall save HIS people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christ died for the elect. Not one drop of His blood was wasted.

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#5

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:40 am

I — Irresistable Grace

We established earlier that man has no part to play in his own salvation. He is totally depraved. Man is unable to will himself to God's Grace. But can man do the opposite? Can man use his will do thrwart God's Grace?
We have already seen that "God chooses His own inheritance". Yet, can man, after being born again, say to God, "No Thanks"? What do the Scriptures say?

Irresistible Grace vs. Obstructable Grace

...We are born again not by man's will, but God's (John 1:12-13)
...The Son quickens whom he will (John 5:21)
...All the Father gives shall come (John 6:37)
...We are predestinated then called then justified then glorified (Romans 8:30)
...God's word accomplishes what he pleases (Isaiah 55:11)
...God gives eternal life to “as many as thou hast given” (John 17:2)
...It is not of him that willeth or runneth (Romans 9:16)
...Who has resisted His will? (Romans 9:19)
...God works in you both to will and to do (Philippians 2:12-13)

Man is powerless, either to accept or reject God's will, including His will to show mercy on whomever He chooses.

I recently heard an Arminian pastor preach a message on Ezekiel 36:26:

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

After a wonderful and detailed sermon on the need and the purpose of this new heart, he concluded with an altar call stating. "God wants to give you a new heart, if you'll only let Him".

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#6

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:43 am

P - Perserverance of the Saints

Can a person who is truly saved lose his or her salvation? Great care must be take in this one. We first have to get the Doctrine of Salvation correct, or we are on dangerous ground.

Just how is a person saved? As we have already shown, a person is saved only by the work of God. Man has no part to play in his salvation. Man is not saved by altar calls, repeating some prayer, or any other work. He is saved when God gives him a new heart, when he is born again.

This is important. We cannot assume that just because a person comes to the altar and repeats the sinner's prayer that he is indeed saved. Many, including myself, have known many people who have come to church, gone to the altar, and even got into the ministry. But as the parable of the sower shows, they did not have the right heart, so they fell away.

John deals with backsliders in 1 John 2:19

1 John 2:19
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us."

John was very clear. The backslider was never saved. He was "not of us". Jesus agrees, stating that He "NEVER knew" them. (Matthew 7:21-23)

What do the scriptures say about those who are truly saved?

...whom the Lord redeems he also keeps (Isaiah 43:1-3)
...Jesus seeks and restores the wandering sheep and it is not the will of God that one of them should perish (Matthew 18:14)
...the believer has everlasting life (John 6:47)
...they (the sheep) shall never perish (John 10:27-30)
...predestined unto adoption, not just justification (Ephesians 1:5)
...sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13)
...Christ has obtained an eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:12)
...those who are called will receive the promise of the inheritance (Hebrews 9:15)
...those who have the Son may be certain of eternal life (John 5:11-13)
...we are not of those who draw back. i.e. those who draw back are a different set (Hebrews 10:39)
...Born of incorruptible seed by Word of God (1 Peter 1:23)

Calvinists hold that "eternal life" means "eternal life", "eternal redemption" means "eternal redemption", and "incorruptible seed" means "incorruptible seed". Once God changes a person's heart, He is not going to change it back. Once that person is truly born of the Spirit, he will never become "unborn". If eternal life can be lost, then by definition, it is not eternal life.

Objections:

Probably the biggest objection to this doctrine is Hebrews 6:4-6.

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."

Actually, even the Arminian should be slow to interpret this scripture as he does, unless he willing to believe that a backslider can never be renewed again to repentance. Matthew Henry's Commentary is helpful in sorting out this most difficult passage. Here the writer of Hebrews shows how far persons may go in religion, and, after all, fall away, and perish for ever.

1.) They may be enlightened. Some of the ancients understand this of their being baptized; but it is rather to be understood of notional knowledge and common illumination, of which persons may have a great deal, and yet come short of heaven. Balaam was the man whose eyes were opened (Numbers 24:3), and yet with his eyes opened he went down to utter darkness.

2.) They may taste of the heavenly gift, feel something of the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in his operations upon their souls, causing them to taste something of religion, and yet be like persons in the market, who taste of what they will not come up to the price of, and so but take a taste, and leave it. Persons may taste religion, and seem to like it, if they could have it upon easier terms than denying themselves, and taking up their cross, and following Christ.

3.) They may be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, that is, of his extraordinary and miraculous gifts; they may have cast out devils in the name of Christ, and done many other mighty works. Such gifts in the apostolic age were sometimes bestowed upon those who had no true saving grace. (Matthew 7:21-23)

4.) They may taste of the good word of God; they may have some relish of gospel doctrines, may hear the word with pleasure, may remember much of it, and talk well of it, and yet never be cast into the form and mould of it, nor have it dwelling richly in them.

5.) They may have tasted of the powers of the world to come; they may have been under strong impressions concerning heaven, and dread of going to hell. These lengths hypocrites may go, and, after all, turn apostates.

Now hence observe,

1.) These great things are spoken here of those who may fall away; yet it is not here said of them that they were truly converted, or that they were justified; there is more in true saving grace than in all that is here said of apostates.

2.) This therefore is no proof of the final apostasy of true saints. These indeed may fall frequently and foully, but yet they will not totally nor finally from God; the purpose and the power of God, the purchase and the prayer of Christ, the promise of the gospel, the everlasting covenant that God has made with them, ordered in all things and sure, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the immortal seed of the word, these are their security. But the tree that has not these roots will not stand.

“Since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God”, hence approving of what the Jewish and Roman decenters did, they are in the same judgment as the Pharisees who commited the unpardonable sin, and cannot ever be renewed.

Clarification: This does not mean that we can choose to live however we want and count on Heaven. Eternal Security is not “fire insurance fo the wicked. This means that those who love Jesus will obey and perservere.

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#7

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:45 am

Why Evangelize?

This is the most asked question about Calvinism, and one that I often asked myself when I was an Arminian. If God has foreordained some to salvation and others to wrath, then why bother evangelizing? (There are actually some heretical Hyper-Calvinists who do believe this way.) There are several reasons why Calvinists evangelize.

1.) Jesus told us to (Matthew 28:18-20). If there were no other reasons, this would be enough.

2.) God could have chosen any number of ways to gather His elect, but He has chosen to do so by the "foolishness of preaching" (1 Corinthians 1:21). That is what is so great about the Great Commission. Not only does God save us, but uses us to expand His kingdom.

3.) We don't know, nor are we to presume, who the elect are. (Matthew 5:22). This is for God alone to decide. The worst criminal that you know of may be a sheep, while the most prominent pastor could very well be a goat.

Surely, no one could accuse giants of the faith like D. James Kennedy, R. C. Sproul, Charles Stanley, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield of ignoring the Great Commission. All of these men are pure Calvinists, and the last two led the last Great Revival that the world has known, the Great Awakening.

Someone once commented to Charles Spurgeon that if he really believed in Calvinism, he shouldn't bother to preach. I love Spurgeon's response:

“God has called me to preach His Word, and if I knew that all the elect had a yellow stripe painted down their backs, then I would give up preaching the gospel and go lift up shirt tails.” — Charles Spurgeon

As Calvinists, we can preach the Word, knowing that…

"So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:11)

This verse is always true, even if those who hear it end up in Hell.

One of the reasons why I believe these Doctrines are important is because they do affect the way the Gospel is presented. Once you accept the premise that man's will controls his own destiny, you will naturally form your gospel presentation toward that end, to affect the will of man. The modern "church growth movement" is very guilty of this. In all sincerity, they present God as a God who loves them and wants them to come to Him "just the way they are". The idea that repentance is needed becomes secondary, if it is even presented at all. The results? We have the 21st Century version of American Christianity, which is a weak, pathetic, superficial, imitation of the true faith.

The measure of the success of a ministry today is numbers. The more people who walk the aisles of a church, the “more successful” that ministry is deemed to be. Jesus' standard of success was quite different.

Matthew 5:13-15
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

According to Jesus, the real success of a ministry is measured by what happens outside of the church, being light and salt. If one likes numbers, Christians have the numbers. Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 75% to 90% of Americans proclaim Christianity as their faith, yet despite these numbers, abortion is still the law of the land, soon to be followed by gay marriage. This is what happens when the church abandons Doctrine and replaces it with pop-psychology and Christian entertainment. It's time for the church to take our salvation out of the hands of man, and put it back where it belongs, in the hand of Him who“is also able to save to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25).

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#8

Post by Felgar » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:02 pm

You typed this all yourself? If so, well done.

There's way to much to get into. Without going off and finding some very lengthy, very in-depth summary of doctrines surrounding free-will, I just want to share my own belief. Otherwise we'll just have two long recaps of doctrine and still not have actually discussed the matter.

Let me set aside the fact that limited atonement would ultimately undermine every single believers faith (mine too) and that no matter what you say, I will stand in faith that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. How could I believe that, if I didn't know that Jesus redeemed my sins?

I cannot accept the conclusion that God created even a single soul without the choice to be saved. Those who are created for destruction speak to God's timeless nature in that He still grants those people life, even though He knows their fate.

Now, we have 2 choices. 1) Believe that those people choose destruction and God's love is such that He "endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath," in order to provide every individual with that sovereignty of choice. or 2) Believe that God elects a very small number of people for salvation and the rest are elected for Hell.

Now I believe that 2) proposes that love is not predicated on any choice of our own (YES our purpose is to Love God - that is His greatest commandment) because it necessitates that people will love him only according to God's choice.

So then the ultimate issue is that if man did nothing to mess up God's plan for salvation (because we have no power to influence God), and if love is not of our own will (because only the elect can love God), then God seems to have sent the 'goats' to hell for no reason. Why didn't He elect everyone?

God is Love. Period. (1 John 4:8 ) And if we are commanded to Love God, then clearly we must have some understanding of Love. Well, my understanding says that a God who IS LOVE, could not possibly have created a universe where the majority of people go to Hell, when He could instead have created a universe with no Hell at all.

It's that simple - I refuse to believe that God creates beings just to suffer eternally. I believe that God loved the world and everyone in it enough to sacrifice His own Son for our salvation. Please address this: If we have no choice at all anyways, I can't even see why Adam and Eve sinned. Why would God throw away our salvation by causing Eve to sin, and then sacrifice Himself to gain it back?

You made one statement I'd like to end by commenting on.
The God of the Arminianism wills the salvation of every person on the planet. The Jesus of Arminianism atoned for the sins of every person who ever lived. Yet, despite God's best efforts, multitudes still find a way to be cast into Hell. Thus, the will of the Arminian God is thwarted by the will of His own creation. The potter has become subject to the clay.
That is exactly correct. God has allowed His infinite, Holy, Almighty, irrevocable will to be subject to the clay. That is the power of the message of God's love, and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For what else, besides God being subject to man, is the very crucifixion itself? It is just that - God comitting a wholly righteous act by submitting Himself to be murdered on behalf of the very people who turned from Him. That is the God I love, and the God I serve, and the God I CHOOSE to believe in.

If I'm wrong, then hopefully I'm elected and I guess I'll find out... Your doctrine offers me no assurance anyways, so I'll continue in faith following the Greatest commandment.
Last edited by Felgar on Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#9

Post by ochotseat » Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:40 pm

puritan lad wrote: Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 75% to 90% of Americans proclaim Christianity as their faith, yet despite these numbers, abortion is still the law of the land, soon to be followed by gay marriage. This is what happens when the church abandons Doctrine and replaces it with pop-psychology and Christian entertainment.
I posted a credible article stating that at least 82% of Americans accept Jesus as God. Now, abortion wasn't voted on by the people: it was approved by the Supreme Court over three decades ago. Let's at least be glad that partial-birth abortion was banned by Congress.
Your prediction about gay marriage isn't really accurate yet considering that most Americans oppose same sex marriage. Except for Massachusettes, no other state allows same sex marriage, and eleven states have already taken the liberty to ban same sex marriage recently.
Are you advocating a theocratic government for the United States and other Christian countries?

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#10

Post by puritan lad » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:12 am

Felgar wrote:You typed this all yourself? If so, well done.

Thanks. It's a modified letter I sent to many who wonder why I changed churches.
Felgar wrote:Let me set aside the fact that limited atonement would ultimately undermine every single believers faith (mine too) and that no matter what you say, I will stand in faith that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. How could I believe that, if I didn't know that Jesus redeemed my sins?
I also believe this. But the Bible does not say that whosoever chooses to believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Belief is not a choice, but rather a condition of the heart. Remember Jesus's own words, "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (John 6:65), and, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me" (John 6:37).
Felgar wrote:I cannot accept the conclusion that God created even a single soul without the choice to be saved. Those who are created for destruction speak to God's timeless nature in that He still grants those people life, even though He knows their fate.
How will you deal with Pharoah? God specifically stated that He raised Pharoah for that purpose.
Felgar wrote:Now, we have 2 choices. 1) Believe that those people choose destruction and God's love is such that He "endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath," in order to provide every individual with that sovereignty of choice. or 2) Believe that God elects a very small number of people for salvation and the rest are elected for Hell.
Do you really think that anyone of a sound mind would choose to go to Hell? Why are you saved? Is it not because God changed your heart and allowed you to believe? Why does He not do this for everyone?
Felgar wrote:So then the ultimate issue is that if man did nothing to mess up God's plan for salvation (because we have no power to influence God), and if love is not of our own will (because only the elect can love God), then God seems to have sent the 'goats' to hell for no reason. Why didn't He elect everyone?
My reponse, again, is that God owes no man salvation. We all deserve Hell, and if God were to act solely upon justice, no one would be saved. If God chooses to save some, that is His right.
Felgar wrote:God is Love. Period. (1 John 4:8 )
True, but God's love is a redemptive love, not a promiscuous love. There is nothing that the modern evangelical love more than to be told that "God loves you just the way you are". Read Psalms 5:5-6, but before you do, beware. You may be hit with a theological bombshell.
Felgar wrote:It's that simple - I refuse to believe that God creates beings just to suffer eternally. I believe that God loved the world and everyone in it enough to sacrifice His own Son for our salvation. Please address this: If we have no choice at all anyways, I can't even see why Adam and Eve sinned. Why would God throw away our salvation by causing Eve to sin, and then sacrifice Himself to gain it back?
Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God has decreed everything that would ever happen. He purposed and brings it to pass (Isaiah 46:9-11). Even our days were formed for us, when there was yet none of them (Psalm 139:16).
Felgar wrote:God has allowed His infinite, Holy, Almighty, irrevocable will to be subject to the clay. That is the power of the message of God's love, and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For what else, besides God being subject to man, is the very crucifixion itself? It is just that - God comitting a wholly righteous act by submitting Himself to be murdered on behalf of the very people who turned from Him. That is the God I love, and the God I serve, and the God I CHOOSE to believe in.
This is where I have a HUGE problem with "Free Will" Salvation. God is not subject to man, ever, under any circumstances. Read Psalm 115:3 or Daniel 4:35. He works ALL things according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:11). The Crucifixion was God's will, not man's. It was foreordained from the foundation of the world. God did not leave such an important event to be decided by man. What if Judas had used his free will to choose not to betray Christ? What if the Pharisees had chosen to just "live and let live"? What if Pilate had chosen to release Christ? What if the Jewish people had yelled, "Give us Jesus" instead of "Give us Barrabus"? Could you magine the results? We would all be men most miserable? Thank God that He did not leave this up to man's will, for they were "disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." (1 Peter 2:8)
Felgar wrote:If I'm wrong, then hopefully I'm elected and I guess I'll find out... Your doctrine offers me no assurance anyways, so I'll continue in faith following the Greatest commandment.
If you are redeemed, you know it. For the redeemed, this doctrine is a great comfort. For the unsaved or the hypocrite, it is frightening, as well it should be. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom".

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#11

Post by Felgar » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:11 am

puritan lad wrote:But the Bible does not say that whosoever chooses to believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Belief is not a choice, but rather a condition of the heart. Remember Jesus's own words, "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (John 6:65), and, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me" (John 6:37).
That's partly correct - without God's grace no person, in the history of man since the fall, could ever have loved God, because we are all completely corrupted. It is only through God's grace that we have the freedom by which we can make a choice whether or not to believe in Him. So the ability to believe is through God's grace, and the belief itself is a choice. Understand also that faith is not knowledge of God, it is acceptance of Him.

And the Bible does say whoever chooses. Faith is by definition a choice to trust God. But Jesus also demonstrated our choice: Jesus didn't say he gave living rain forced upon a few choosen, but rather living water free for anyone to drink.
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
"but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Do those passages indicate anything but a choice made to drink? Rain would be much more applicable if we had no choice. All that God has done, He has done so that every single person could come freely to Him. That is a God of Love.
puritan lad wrote:How will you deal with Pharoah? God specifically stated that He raised Pharoah for that purpose.
I already answered that God knew Pharoah's choices and therefore chose to deliver Isreal through them. And also please note that we don't know Pharoah's ultimate fate - he too may have believed and repented and been saved in the end.
puritan lad wrote:Do you really think that anyone of a sound mind would choose to go to Hell? Why are you saved? Is it not because God changed your heart and allowed you to believe? Why does He not do this for everyone?
Yup I do think that a great many of sound mind choose Hell. I am saved because Jesus provided living water to my soul and through God's grace, I drank.

And God does do this for absolutely everyone, and He tells us so. Don't forget that God has written His law upon our hearts - every man's heart from the least to greatest. (Jeremiah 31) Also all men inherently know of God because of that promise in Jeremiah, and one way God has made it known is through His creation. (Romans 1:19-20)

So then through God's grace, every man is freed from sin to the point that they can knowingly deny God and turn to sin or turn to Jesus and accept His living water - the justification that is brought through the redemptive power of His blood.

And in case you're thinking "well, most people don't really know of God or they would still never choose Hell" just keep in mind that Satan knew God in ways we can't even comprehend, and the very first created person (who knew God intimately, was free from sin, and likely the most intelligent human that ever lived) also chose to disobey God.
puritan lad wrote:My reponse, again, is that God owes no man salvation. We all deserve Hell, and if God were to act solely upon justice, no one would be saved. If God chooses to save some, that is His right.
Right. If God were fair actually every single person would go to Hell. Praise Him that He is not fair, but rather loving - that He so loved the world!!! that He offers everyone deliverance from sin, when in fact He never had to. God's judgement and punishment are fair and just, while His gift of salvation is loving and gracious.
puritan lad wrote:This is where I have a HUGE problem with "Free Will" Salvation. God is not subject to man, ever, under any circumstances.
Right, and it was therefore God's will that He reconcile Himself to man. Were it not, we'd all be doomed.
puritan lad wrote:The Crucifixion was God's will, not man's. It was foreordained from the foundation of the world. God did not leave such an important event to be decided by man. What if Judas had used his free will to choose not to betray Christ? What if the Pharisees had chosen to just "live and let live"? What if Pilate had chosen to release Christ? What if the Jewish people had yelled, "Give us Jesus" instead of "Give us Barrabus"? Could you magine the results?
Right, God knew before He created anything exactly what would happen. He knew the hearts of those people and made His plan according to it. He preordained Jesus' death because He knew Adam and Eve would choose to disobey. Since God is infinite, He's powerful enough to fullfill His plan while still preserving our fundamental ability to choose Him, which is ultimately the foundation of our Love. Love is founded upon choice; it's the only way it could happen that children of God could spend eternity in a loving relationship with Him.

Tell yourself honestly, does this sound like God saying "you have been chosen and you will therefore serve me"? Why is God knocking? You would claim He's already in. And if anyone else who's reading this understands my beliefs, please consider how we are even able to hear his voice...
"These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. ... Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:14, 20-21)
I will pray that you will continue to seek the nature of the Lord puritan, because it is God's promise that if you seek, you shall find. God bless.

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#12

Post by puritan lad » Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:40 am

Alot here. I've dealt with "the world" in my original post. There are a few points I want to address in particular.
Felgar wrote:Understand also that faith is not knowledge of God, it is acceptance of Him...Faith is by definition a choice to trust God.
Where do you get these definitions? I think that Spurgeon stated this best through his "Arminian Prayer".

"Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not-that is the difference between me and them."

Obviously, no one would utter such a prayer, but if a "free-willer" were consistent in their theology, this prayer would be valid for them. Your faith is not something that you contrived from your own resources. The very faith that you have is a gift from God, and not all have faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2).
Felgar wrote:He offers everyone deliverance from sin, when in fact He never had to.
That is the biggest difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. The "Free willer" states, "Jesus offers salvation". The Calvinist states that "Jesus Saves". In Free Will Theology, Jesus didn't actually pay for sin until we do something to accept it. In Biblical Theology, Jesus "with His own blood ..entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? Did He actually save anybody, or did He just make salvation a mere possibility for us to use our free will to accept? You would state the second, but the Bible disagrees, as I pointed out in my original post.
Felgar wrote:Tell yourself honestly, does this sound like God saying "you have been chosen and you will therefore serve me"? Why is God knocking? You would claim He's already in. And if anyone else who's reading this understands my beliefs, please consider how we are even able to hear his voice...
"These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. ... Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:14, 20-21)
What does Rev. 3 have to to with salvation? Nothing. It is a letter written to a church warning them against apostasy. Nothing is said about "choosing to be saved". As far as hearing His voice, let's view the words of Jesus Himself.

John 10:27
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;"

No choice here. Contrast this with the Pharisees.

John 10:26
"But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep,"

Pretty clear to me. Jesus sheep will hear His voice and follow Him. Those who do not believe are not His sheep.

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#13

Post by Felgar » Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:54 am

I'm obviously not going to convince you, but that is not my intent. I feel that others who read this have a legimitate chance to understand God's nature as presented in the Bible, and that is my only concern.

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#14

Post by puritan lad » Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:58 am

Good Enough Felgar. God Bless.

As I stated, I do not believe that one must be a Calvinist to enter heaven. However, I do believe that it is important. I believe that these Doctrines of Sovereign grace are essential for a true revival, which the world has not seen in nearly 300 years.

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#15

Post by ochotseat » Sat Aug 13, 2005 12:50 am

puritan lad wrote: I believe that these Doctrines of Sovereign grace are essential for a true revival, which the world has not seen in nearly 300 years.
And how would you describe that revival? By the way, you haven't answered my question. :P

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