CALVINISM IS RIGHT ABOUT UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION—where the nation of Israel is concerned but wrong on the election and salvation of the individual sinner. Without national election of the seed line there could be no salvation, for the Redeemer, the GOD-MAN, must come into the human race at God’s time in order for a suitable substitute to be offered and the wages of sin not only be met but absolute justification assured.
GOD is not only Holy, Righteous and Just, His very nature is Love. His Holiness demands total separation from sin, His Righteousness obligates a suitable fellow to meet it, His Love demands a willing acceptance of His gift. God’s Love is never depicted in scripture as first making a sinner willing to receive it, then bestowing favor upon the one forced to receive or made willing to receive it. A robotic or mechanical relationship between two can not be love but a mere arrangement that is domination–whether among men or between God and man. Love does not allow one to force or coerce another to.correspond to it.
EVEN among men, a forced relationship is contrary to reason and conscience. The argument that man is so depraved in his natural state that he can not respond to anything higher than beastly lusts is contrary to the Bible, experience, and history. The grossest imperfection does not obliterate moral ability no matter how low the morals are claimed to be. Fallen man can still accuse and excuse himself and others. (Romans 2:15) “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21) The Lord gave enough light to Tyre and Sidon that they COULD have repented but not so much that they WOULD repent, although He definitely could have forced them to do so. The lack of Bible repentance and belief is totally laid to a free decision, not to the absence of a forced and coerced election or the total inability of man.
IN every case in the Bible, the lack of repentance and salvation of a man is laid on the doorstep of his refusal and never to the lack of God’s election. Of course Calvinism interprets all reference to the depravity of man as absolute and total, ignoring references to any moral ability of man.
GOD’S election is based in Christ and those in Christ are there due to God’s FOREKNOWLEDGE of their acceptance of Christ and not to an arbitrary election to put them into compliance. To every man enough light is given to accept or reject God: “That (Christ) was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9)
“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.” (Romans 8:29) In
THERE is a difference between the election of Israel above all others and the election of an individual in salvation. There is also a difference between salvation outside the Body of Christ and salvation of those in the Body of Christ. This is why God gave through Paul two specific instructions not given by any other Bible writer: “COMPARE” and “DIVIDE”
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
COMPARING spiritual things with spiritual things means there are critical differences between spiritual things that must be examined. It is the investigation and examination between good and good as well as bad and good. Such comparison is possible only by a regenerated man and when he wills to be enabled by the Holy Spirit.
Centuries of discussion over what John Calvin taught or did not teach is a wonder to behold. Any attempt to defend or disprove John Calvin is a waste of time. Besides, he was a man who originated nothing; he merely took what other believers had held for centuries before him, added some ideas of his own and put it in his “Institutes”. Due to the hotbed reformation time in which he lived and the fact that printing and publishing was available to him, he put in print what others already agreed or disagreed upon, and got the credit or the blame.
The issues Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Arminius (plus scores of others) dealt with are the same everybody had to deal with after God called “the apostle to the Gentiles”, Paul. His ministry brought the relationship of Law and Grace and the difference between Israel and the Body of Christ to the test.
A consideration that is totally absent from Calvinism is that of the differences between the dispensations of Law and Grace. To my knowledge there has been no consideration by Calvin or anyone else of what effect “rightly dividing the word of truth” has upon the doctrines of election and predestination.
My study that follows takes the mainstream approach of Calvinism under examination in the light of right division and the difference Paul’s revelation of the Grace of God makes on the argument.
Those who read passages like “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) argue that a man is not eternally secure and must do certain work to be saved or remain saved.
On the other hand, passages like Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” are quoted by those who believe work by man does not save or keep you saved.
It is from there the battle of words begin. One group calls the other “Arminians” and that group calls the other “Calvinists”. Each one begins to set forth doctrines to prove their position.
We should know that just because a person believes “once saved, always saved” he does not necessarily accept all the points of Calvinism ; the same is true of those who believe “you can lose it.” The big camps are Arminians and Calvinists but there are numerous other smaller groups within both and many disagree with the others.
Extreme Calvinism (T-U-L-I-P) has five petals or legs. It is the fifth leg that reveals the true nature of the whole system. Four finely tuned principles of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible Grace are meticulously constructed. The last petal was added to cover the first four doctrines and in this one, Perseverance of the Saints, is the flaw of Five Point Calvinism.
This major problem with the whole system of Calvinism remains to be answered. What about those who turn away, apostatize and deny or fail to live up to their profession? After all, when a man was so depraved (Total Depravity) that God arbitrarily selected him out of millions of others just like him (Unconditional Election), died only for him and not for others (Limited Atonement)—then passed by millions or billions of others just like him, and MADE him turn from his sins and accept Christ (Irresistible Grace)—for this “elect” man to throw it all away—that is a BIG problem in the system!
What’s to be done with the rouge hombre? Simple. Make another doctrine that says, “He was never ‘elect’ to begin with!” This dignified answer is found in the fifth petal “P” and stands for “Perseverance of the Saints,” It simply means that if he doesn’t faithfully endure to the end, he was a faker all along.
To those who believe “What saith the scripture?” and use even a small amount of reasoning, this is a problem. If good behavior is required to claim all the foregoing election, atonement, grace, etc., is this not a mere “paper” election? The system actually becomes a salvation by works.
After all, we do read, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6). In this present age,Grace plus works for salvation can not exist. Each excludes the other.
Another small but sticky problem for Calvinism is not the “Depravity” “Election” “Atonement” “Grace” nouns; the problem is in the descriptive adjectives. The first four are so obviously decisive, definitive, absolute, final, qualitative and even quantitative: “Total” “Unconditional” “Limited” “Irresistible” are so remarkable that the absence of a descriptive for the last petal stands out like a sore thumb. It is just “Perseverance”. Is it “total perseverance” “partial perseverance” ? How much? How long? What kind? What happened? Does missing church services one time disqualify the title,”elect”? Two times? How about ‘cussing’? Beating the wife? Drinking coffee? It just seems like doctrine that is so definite on four points could at least make an effort to describe the fifth one. The absence of definitive Perseverance makes the whole of none effect.
Those who would fall into the class of Arminians have a similar problem. If you can lose salvation, what effects the loss? Just how much sin or how long in it makes a saved person a lost person? A definite answer is not given. And, the application of the doctrine is sometimes so ridiculous it would make the comic section of the Sunday newspaper. For example, the Church of Christ (USA) says water baptism is essential for salvation. They also claim persistent sin can make you lose salvation. (never knowing how much sin) but they do not require water baptism to be saved again! If water is necessary for salvation and that salvation is lost, how can it be that water is not required to regain it? The Seventh Day Adventists are just as illogical with their “Mark of the Beast” Sabbath requirement. A person who observes Sunday worship and denies a Saturday Sabbath has received the “Mark of the Beast” and cannot be saved. They get the idea of the Mark of the Beast from the Book of the Revelation and leaving the Revelation definition of that mark, they construct their own definition of it! This is like a man who buys a Ford car and then uses a Westinghouse clothes dryer manual to do an oil change and brake job. Otherwise reasonable, intellectual, moral, tax paying people do some of the most ridiculous and insane things in church.
Now we’ve had some entertainment with the inconsistency and if it was not such a serious matter we might continue, but it is serious. John Calvin was serious enough to exact blood over it. Modern extremists are not. The times have changed and men can hold some of the strangest ideas with no real convictions.
Doctrines are taught and received with little logic and no Bible basis. I suppose we should not wonder that Bible doctrine is so. The times are such that a great majority of preachers stand in the pulpit, hold up a Bible and proclaim, “I believe the Bible is the word of God.” Within a few sentences you hear the same man say “Unfortunately, this verse is not translated correctly…” (Thereby, in one small leap, elevating himself over other men, centuries of proof, and even over God) With this attitude towards the Bible, it is no surprise that exact adherence to the context of the related terms, salvation, election, foreknowledge, predestination is rare.