John Newton in a letter to Rev. Thomas Jones (October 20, 1767): “As to myself, if I were not a Calvinist, I think I should have no more hope of success in preaching to men, than to horses or cows.”

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90 thoughts on “Cheer Up: It’s Almost Sunday and God is Sovereign”

  1. Alex says:

    Amen to your comment John Klein!

    I find it someone interesting this little post brought about so many comments.

  2. ET says:

    I want everyone to know that I totally believe GOD can do what he wants, he has every right, no question. If he made the decision for election he can and never has to explain it, period.

    I really like the spirit in how you guys respond to me, very impressive. (honest) Won’t it be tough to not see your child in heaven because God did not choose them. But on the other hand it appears he chose the entire family of all the Calvinists as they are all saved. What a mystery…….

  3. Rob Lombardi says:

    ET, if you were addressing your appreciation to me (among others), then no problem. I like to think through these theological topics from time to time and I wish more people are able to carry the conversation past the difficult parts and come out on the other side without breaking fellowship.

    I noticed you had another misunderstanding of Calvinism. You said, “it appears he chose the entire family of all the Calvinists as they are all saved”

    Calvinism doesn’t teach that. It teaches what the bible teaches. ;) That election is not based on the flesh.

    “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom 9:8)

    ” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Rom 9:13)

  4. ET says:

    This kinda sums it up,

    Explaining the relationship between the doctrines of election and salvation by grace can be perplexing for the teacher of God’s word. These two doctrines are widely debated by conservative Christians who divide themselves into two opposing camps, the Calvinists and the Arminians. We will examine the various positions, the terms used, and a brief history of the controversy. We will present a biblical solution that correctly addresses the issue, avoiding the unbiblical extremes of the Calvinists and Arminians.

    Calvinism
    John Calvin, (1509-1564) the Swiss reformer, theologian and philosopher, drafted the system of soteriology (study of salvation) that bears his name. The term Calvinism refers to doctrines and practices that stemmed from the works of John Calvin. The tenants of modern Calvinism are based on the works of Calvin that have been expanded by his followers. These beliefs became the distinguishing characteristics of Reformed churches and some Baptists.

    Simply stated, Calvinism claims that God predestined or elected some people to be saved and others to be lost. Those elected to salvation are decreed by God to receive salvation and cannot resist God’s grace. However, those that God elected to be lost are born eternally condemned to the Lake of Fire, with no hope of salvation.

    Calvinists are divided into three groups: the extreme Hyper-Calvinist, the Five Point Calvinists and the Moderate Calvinists. The Hyper and Five Point Calvinists hold to the five points of Calvinism, shown in the acrostic below. The Moderate Calvinist may accept one or more of these five points, but not all. The Hyper, and Five Point Calvinist teaching of limited atonement is generally rejected by the Moderate Calvinist.

    The controversy began between the Calvinist during the Reformation in the sixteenth century, and grew out of John Calvin’s teaching that some men were predestined by God to receive salvation and others condemned to hell. Calvin taught those that God, in His sovereignty, chose to be saved will be saved by God’s “irresistible grace” and cannot reject salvation. The remainder of humanity, not chosen by God to receive everlasting life, has no opportunity to be saved. According to the Hyper-Calvinist, God in the past decreed their damnation. Today this theology is known as Covenant or Reformed theology. This is taught by Presbyterian, Reformed, and a number of Baptists.

    This teaching is referred to as Five Point Calvinism. The five points are represented by using the acrostic below:

    T – Total depravity of man.
    U – Unconditional election.
    L – Limited atonement.
    I – Irresistible grace.
    P – Perseverance of the saints.

    Basically, Calvinism teaches that a man is totally depraved, and unable to receive salvation. The Calvinist assumes that man’s has no free in his coming to Christ and receiving salvation. He teaches that God, exercising His sovereignty, first elected and decreed certain individuals to salvation in time past. Christ’s death was not for all people, but only for the elect. God then extended “irresistible” grace to those He elected. Therefore, man had nothing to do with receiving salvation because God chose to save him and caused him to believe.(1)

    There are many strong objections to Calvinism. The main objection to the teaching is that God chose to save some and chose not to save others. This contradicts the biblical teaching that Jesus Christ died and paid the sin debt of all men (1 John 2:2); and that God “. . . will have all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4); and that God’s nature is to love, and to seek the best for all men (1 John 4:7-8, 16).

    Calvinism correctly teaches that once saved, a person cannot lose his salvation. It uses the term “perseverance of the saints” instead of using the better term the “security of the believer.” The word “perseverance” means to “continue on a course of action” or refers to steadfastness. This is a minor point, but a believer can and will sin and may sin to the point that God will take the person’s life. The believer is assured that he is secure in Christ and will go to heaven. Once saved, a person cannot be lost because he did nothing to earn his salvation and cannot do anything to keep or lose it. Salvation, according to the Bible, is totally the work of God, Once saved a person is kept secure by the power of God unto salvation.

    God said:

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

    “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30)

    Arminianism
    James Arminius (1560-1609), was the first to formally address this issue in writing. He attempted to “. . . modify Calvinism so that, according to him, God might not be considered the author of sin, nor man an automaton in the hand of God.”(2)

    He presented the view that God was indeed sovereign and elected men to be saved. He taught that election was based on God’s foreknowledge of who would by faith accept Christ and who would reject Him. He taught all men could be saved if they exercised their wills and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He rejected the idea that atonement was limited to a few and that God was the author of sin. Arminius insisted that Christ died for all men and saves all who receive Him by faith.

    Arminius was doctrinally weak in the area of eternal security of the believer. Eternal security means that once a person is saved, he cannot lose his salvation. Arminius thought the Scriptures were unclear and seemed to teach believers could lose their salvation.(3) Most, who identify themselves as Arminians, believe that a person can be saved and afterwards lose their salvation.

    Just as those that followed John Calvin carried his teachings to extremes, many who succeeded James Arminius carried the matter a step further, teaching that man had a part in salvation.(4) The Arminians, as they became known, teach that man took part with God in salvation. The natural conclusion of this was that salvation could be lost. If through man’s efforts salvation is acquired, then through his actions salvation could be lost. The belief can be expressed this way; Christ made the down payment on our salvation on the cross, however, once a person is saved he has to keep up the payments through being faithful and with good works. This is a serious error because it bases salvation on the ability of a person to merit his salvation by his good works. The Bible condemns this false teaching: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

    Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers in recent times, dealt with the matter by alternately preaching both salvation by grace and man’s responsibility to respond to God’s offer of redemption. He would preach election to salvation one Sunday and preach that man must exercise his will and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ the next. Like most Calvinists, Spurgeon made the error of defining election as referring to a person being chosen for salvation. The Bible teaches that what God elected was His plan for salvation, not which individuals would be saved. More will be said about this later. The Calvinist takes great stock in the fact that Charles Spurgeon was a Calvinist.

    Author Arthur Pink, also boldly taught that God has predestined some to be saved and equally predestined others to be damned to hell. Pink said the person predestined to salvation will absolutely be saved nothing he does can to prevent it. This is the teaching of Irresistible Grace. If God offers grace then it cannot be refused. On the other hand, the unfortunate soul who has been chosen by God to be lost is not offered grace, but is born for hell and cannot receive Christ.

    Popular Radio Preachers Who Are Calvinists.
    John MacArthur, of the radio program “Grace to You”, is a Five Point Calvinist. He states that the dispute over this matter is because man does not want to accept God’s sovereignty. He says the truth of God’s sovereignty offends man’s pride and his sense of fairness. MacArthur resorts to name calling and quotes Arthur Pink, calling those who reject Calvinism as being “merit-mongers.” He further states that some men reject the sovereignty of God in salvation “because fallen man wants to assume some responsibility–even if it is a very little–for having believed. He desperately wants some credit for having made the right choice.” (5) No sound biblical student would deny God’s complete sovereignty over all things. Nor would a believer who knows anything about the Bible and salvation teach that salvation is earned and thereby be a “merit monger.” That is a foolish assumption.

    The Bible is emphatically clear that man cannot merit his salvation; as it is the work of God. But the Calvinist mistakenly infers that if a man uses his will and believes in Jesus Christ, it means man is earning or meriting his salvation. That is an unacceptable conclusion to those who believe God’s word and reject the tenants of Calvinism, because it is not biblical.

    MacArthur further says that man is repulsed by the doctrine of election because it seems unfair that God would choose to save some, but not others. MacArthur says, “. . . the reason man so strongly wants to have a part in his own salvation is because he wants to exercise his pride.”(6) It is a serious error of MacArthur to judge the hearts of men he does not know. Further it is tragic that a man of his popularity would equate accepting Calvinism to the status of believing God’s word. According to John MacArthur, if you reject Calvinism you are not a Bible believer!

    There are many believers who do not fit into either of MacArthur’s supposed categories. They reject the Calvinistic view based solely on what the Bible says about the matter. These people, and the author of this article, reject both the Calvinistic and Arminian views and appeal to the Scriptures alone. There is compelling biblical evidence to reject both ideas. There are many godly people who totally accept the sovereignty of God and reject human pride or any participation of man in meriting salvation.

    David Jeremiah, of the program “Turning Point” is another prominent Calvinist. In a reply to a letter this author sent to David Jeremiah, one of his assistants wrote saying, “In the study of predestination and election our poor minds may not reconcile them both, but our faith knows them both and holds them both to be truth. Scripture is addressed to faith not reason.” (7) He further stated “Now do not seek to mix these two things (predestination and election) and still more emphatically . . . do not try to reconcile them. Profitless controversy and partisan feeling will be the only result. Who told us to ‘reconcile’ in our little minds, these seemingly contradictory things? . . . if you undertake to ‘reconcile’ God’s sovereign election with His free offer of salvation to all, you must sacrifice one truth for another.”(8)

    In this reply, David Jeremiah’s representative built a straw man in his poor attempt to defend this unbiblical teaching. His statement that “Scripture is addressed to faith not reason” is grossly unsound. Yes, we do live by faith: faith in God’s revealed word! Our faith is not blind, but based on God’s stated word. Biblically, God is not the author of confusion and further cannot lie or contradict Himself. It is a contradiction for God to state, “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 Timothy 2:4), and on the other hand decree, as David Jeremiah teaches, that some men are elected and born to be condemned to hell. The reason the Calvinist wishes to condemn those who disagree with them for trying to reconcile the matter is that their view is in direct opposition to what God has plainly stated and cannot be biblically defended. They correctly state that they cannot reconcile God decreeing to save some and refusing His grace to others, because you cannot “reconcile” truth with error. You cannot reconcile being a loving and just God, and on the other hand teach that He withholds His mercy and grace and condemns most of the world to hell, not allowing them to believe and be saved. It is an unreasonable idea that God’s word does not substantiate. There is no verse in the Bible that states that God has limited His grace or decreed that some men will go to hell without any chance of being saved. Not one verse in the Bible teaches irresistible grace. Calvinism is a false formed by men who dogmatically support an indefensible system with a flawed theology. The Calvinist dogmatically holds to his view regardless of its contradiction with God’s word.

    Calvinism is also contrary to God’s grace itself, which stems from God’s love and unmerited favor toward man. To accept Calvinism is to proclaim that God does not love all His creation nullifying His grace. It makes God unloving and unjust to most men on earth. It makes a man a robot in the matter of salvation. Calvinism restricts God’s love to only a part of His creation and makes untrue God’s statements that He loves the world (John 3:16). God is love and that is His very nature. He cannot go against who He is and deny His love to some.

    God says He is love. How then can the Calvinist say He is not? Not one word in the Bible limits God’s love. God’s love is offered freely, and is only limited by sinful men who will not accept His love. That is not God’s fault, but man’s. John 3:15-16 states plainly “God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son.” If you truly believe that statement from God’s word, you cannot be a Calvinist. Man goes to hell because he is a sinner who rejects God, not because God decreed him to burn in hell and refuses to allow him to repent (Romans 1:18-23). It is a perversion of God’s sovereignty and His grace to conclude He would violate His own nature and withhold His love toward the world. Does the Bible say that God loves the world and Jesus Christ, God incarnate in the flesh, came to the earth, suffered, and died for the sins of mankind? The answer is overwhelmingly YES! Then how can the Calvinist teach He didn’t? On what basis can he teach that God did not extend His love to all men?

    Does Calvinism give a biblical explanation of election?
    The beliefs of the Calvinistic system of theology misinterpret the Bible’s teaching on election. Christ died for all men. This can be seen in many passages of God’s word. To the contrary, Calvinism teaches that election is limited to a select few whom God chooses to save. However, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world and offers salvation to all who will believe. Note that this is plainly taught in the following verses:

    “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
    “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

    “Who (speaking of Christ) gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6).

    “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

    “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

    “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

    “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

    “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).

    “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

    Clearly, each of these Scriptures teach that Christ died for the sins of all men and wishes all men to be saved. Any teaching that contradicts this truth is false and this should settle the matter. It is understood that those that believe in limited atonement often counter by saying “the world” and “all men refers only to the “elect.” Surely, such a line of thinking is based on man’s faulty reasoning and not on sound hermeneutical principles. The clear meaning of the word “world” (cosmos), as used in the Bible, means the whole earth and everyone on it or the lost world. It is never used in the Bible as referring to God’s elect or those who are saved. The word “all” is all-inclusive. “All men” encompasses everyone. If God had wanted to limit the scope of salvation, He could have easily chosen a better word than “all”, “world” and “every” man! He chose these words because they convey the meaning God intended. He paid the price for all men’s sin everywhere in the entire world! He bought with His own blood the right to offer all men salvation. Limited atonement would mean he only suffered for those that will be saved, and is clearly an unbiblical teaching.

    The Calvinist must disagree with many portions of God’s Word to continue to teach that Christ’s death was limited to only a few men who would be saved. Matthew 7:13-14 and Romans 3:10-26 explains why men are lost and are condemned to hell. Romans 1:18-22 says:

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23)
    The verse says that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against men’s sin and that man holds the truth in unrighteousness. It states that God has revealed Himself to all men and therefore all men are without excuse. This begs the question . . . “Why would God reveal Himself to all men and base His wrath on the fact that men know the truth, but reject it, If some men could not respond to God’s revelation of Himself?”

    Further, the Calvinist must conclude that when he preaches the Gospel and presents salvation to his listeners he is doing so disingenuously. He must admit he is offering what some hearing him cannot receive because God will not permit them to. The Gospel then becomes Good News, only to the select few. The others, whom the Calvinist says are born for hell, are wasting their time even hearing of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, because they cannot receive Christ. They are, according to Calvinism, elected by God to an unalterable course to hell.

    The Calvinist who preaches, teaches and witnesses the Gospel is in reality lying to most of the people who hear him and he’s doing so in Jesus’ name. It is a lie to tell a man that if he will believe in Jesus Christ that he shall be saved (Romans 10:9-10) while, at the same time, believing and teaching most cannot accept Christ. According to Calvinism, the unelected are not offered God’s grace and most of the human race is doomed to hell. Technically and practically it is a lie to tell an unelected person he can be saved when he cannot. The Calvinist never gives any criteria for determining who is elected and who is not. The reason is clear; not even the Calvinist would go that far in their false teaching. Doctrinal error perverts God’s truth and corrupts the very Gospel the Calvinist claims to believe. The questions the Calvinist must answer are these: How do you know someone is elected? On what basis do you make such a determination?

    Jesus, speaking to Israel warned that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah would receive less punishment in the day of judgment, because Israel had the privilege of seeing and hearing the Messiah, but rejected Him.(See Matthew 10:15) He said the same thing of Chorazin and Bethsaida warning them of the results of their rejection of their Christ. “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Luke 10:13).

    Jesus stated that their condemnation was seeing His miracles and hearing His message, but rejecting Him as Messiah. This clear truth is another death blow to the heresy of Calvinism. Clearly, the people in these two cities, where Jesus presented the Gospel, willingly rejected the truth that they heard from Jesus Himself. Because of their rejection, Jesus said they would be judged more harshly than those who had not been privileged to hear the truth. If the people in these cities in Israel could not have responded to the truth after hearing it, because they were predestined by God to Hell, on what basis could God judge them more harshly than those who had not heard? Doubtlessly, God held them accountable for their sin of rejecting the truth, verifying that they could have responded, but chose not too. The people of these two cities condemned themselves to hell by their rejection of Jesus Christ. It was not God in His sovereignty who chose to send these people to hell. They were given a choice, but rejected it.

    The Great Commission to go into all the world and teach the Gospel loses its purpose in Calvinistic teaching. Why teach salvation to all the world if God is going to save the elect anyway? The Calvinist again will counter by saying that God commands us to preach the Gospel and that is God’s method to reach the elect. Again this is an example of the poor reasoning behind Calvinism. If the Bible teaches we are to tell all men everywhere they can be saved by trusting in Christ Jesus, but in fact has limited the offer to only a select few, then we become liars. It is a lie to stand before an audience and preach that God will save them if they will believe and put their trust in Jesus Christ, if God has elected that some of them cannot respond! God is not the author of lies; Satan is. (John 8:44) What a gross insult to the truth and to Almighty God to make God a liar, by this false teaching.

    Acts 17:30-31, explains “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

    God in this verse commands “all” men “everywhere” to repent. The use of the words “all” and “everywhere” makes it doubly clear that this command is not limited to a select few, but to everyone, everywhere, none are excluded. This passage teaches that man is responsible and will be judged for his sins. The basis of this judgment is the fact that Christ came into the world and brought salvation. You take away man’s responsibility to receive Christ as Savior if you remove a man’s chance to be saved. If you remove God’s offer of grace you leave God without a basis for judgment. God cannot unjustly condemn a man for not receiving something he was unable to receive. Revelation 20:12 states that at the final judgment of the lost, the unsaved will be judged according to their works, not because God decreed their damnation. How could a just God judge men according to their works when, because of His sovereign choice, He decreed them only able to do sinful works and denied salvation to them?

    God says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). The false conclusion of Calvinism is that some cannot be saved, because God decreed their damnation. This verse says the unsaved are condemned because they would not believe. Calvinism destroys this biblical truth. The Bible’s teaching of the nature of God shows us that He cannot be just if He decrees some to hell without giving them the possibility of accepting or rejecting God.

    Going back to the many verses stating that Christ died for the sins of the world, one must assume that Christ’s death was for the salvation of those who believe and the grounds of condemnation for those who do not believe. (9) The basis of man’s condemnation is that man is a sinner and justly deserves hell. That is mirrored by the marvelous love of God that offers man redemption, but does not force him to receive it. If a man responds under the convicting and enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit his sins are forgiven completely; he becomes a child of God and receives eternal life.

    “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where [emphasis added] to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men , in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

    IS ARMINIANISM BIBLICAL?
    Arminianism teaches that man has a spark of divinity in him and thus he can respond to the Gospel and be saved within his own ability. Yet, the Bible says all men are sinners without merit and saved by God’s grace apart from any works of man. Man cannot will himself to be saved and has no ability, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, to respond to God.

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
    “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

    “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Galatians 3:22)

    “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

    “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

    “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” (Romans 5:12)

    God is clear in stating that man is a sinner unable to save himself. Therefore to say that within man is a spark of divinity or goodness is to contradict God. The Arminian, who teaches that man has a part in his salvation, is making the same mistake as the Calvinist: using faulty human reasoning in interpreting God’s word. God says, “. . . the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). The carnal man has nothing to offer God for his salvation. God said that the natural man is “dead in trespasses and sin.” (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13) That which is dead has no life and cannot do anything for itself.

    Romans 10:13 says “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It must be concluded then, in receiving salvation, that person must be given the capacity to answer the call from the Lord. That is the work of the Holy Spirit who bringing conviction to the heart of man. Thus supernaturally God allows a man to respond. Verse 17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Therefore, it is clear that when a man hears the word of God, God enables him to believe and accept it. The Bible does not teach that man has a spark of divinity or man merits salvation by consenting to the truth the Holy Spirit enables him to understand and receive. Salvation totally the work of God and is a freely offered to man. (See Eph. 2:8-9, Romans 5:15-16, 18)

    The Greek word grace”is “charis” and it means “a gift one receives without any merit of his own.” Thus receiving God’s grace, through salvation by faith, is not a work of man by which one merits salvation. It is simply a matter of responding to the urging of the Holy Spirit and believing by faith that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. The person who is saved puts his trust wholly in Christ’s shed blood for his salvation.

    The Bible teaches that when a man is saved he receives everlasting life. The Arminian limits the meaning of the word eternal. He interjects that salvation is eternal only if a man maintains his faithfulness by his good works. Therefore the Arminian concludes that the word eternal does not mean everlasting. This plainly violates the correct meaning of the word. Something that is eternal continues forever uninterrupted. If an action can be discontinued it cannot be called eternal.

    The Arminian also falsely concludes that in receiving the gift of salvation a man innately has the ability to respond. He fails to recognize that man, being spiritually dead, cannot respond in his own ability, but can only believe and receive the truth when supernaturally enabled by the Holy Spirit. The Arminian, bound to his unbiblical system, assumes that if man has within himself the capacity to affect his salvation and has to maintain it through good works. He has degraded God’s plan of salvation by grace to a plan of salvation by grace plus works. Therefore, he falsely assumes that if a believer has the ability to accept salvation on his own, he then can stop believing and fall from grace. Thus the Arminian gospel is actually another gospel that is not “another” (Gal. 1:6-7).

    THE BIBLE COMMANDS ALL MEN TO BELIEVE
    The Scriptures tell us that man must believe on Jesus Christ in order to be saved. There are hundreds of Scriptures that teach that man must believe, trust and have faith in God.

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

    “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: {it is} the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)

    “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

    A man must believe; by faith receiving God’s offer of salvation. Belief is an act of man’s will. However, man has nothing to boast of in exercising his will and believing what God has said. The act of atonement for sin was accomplished by the Lord Jesus, not man. Suppose you received a gift from someone that offered it to you out of the goodness of their heart. They did not offer you the gift because you deserved or had earned it, but because they “willed” or wanted you to have it. In their love for you, they wanted you to have something nice. Reaching out and taking the gift does not change it into something you deserve, does it? Would your receiving the gift mean you had earned it or paid something for it? Obviously, the answer is no; the one who offers the gift decides, within themselves, why they give the gift, not the one who accepts it.

    The Calvinist is correct in stating that salvation is totally the act of a Sovereign God. He is wrong, however, when he concludes that a man receiving Christ is in some way working for, or meriting salvation. The Calvinist’s views are wrong when they take away man’s responsibility to receive Christ, stating God has decreed some to be saved and others to be lost and that grace is irresistible. God rightly commands all men to believe and receive His Son the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. A man cannot exercise his will outside the limits which God has set in place. Thus God has, in an act of His will, enabled all men to receive salvation.

    God Will Not Violate a Man’s Will
    One important truth that further refutes Five-Point Calvinism is that God will not violate a man’s will. God has not created man as a programmed robot with his life predestined. God’s plan allows man the freedom to choose for himself the course of his life. It was God’s sovereign choice to create man with the ability to reason and to love, which are acts of one’s will. Man can respond to God when the Holy Spirit enlightens his heart. That happens when a man hears the Gospel or, as Romans 1:19-20 states, when man responds to revelation which God shows him through nature. God elected the plan of salvation and what He designed it to accomplish. He gave man a will and allows a man to respond to God willingly and in love.

    The Calvinistic Teaching of the “Perseverance of the Saints.”
    The Calvinist uses human reasoning, unbiblically confusing the doctrine of the security of the believer with the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. The Bible clearly teaches a man can backslide allowing sin to rule his life. Hebrews 12:6-11, 1 Corinthians 11:32 and 1 John 5:16 teach that God will chasten a sinning believer even unto death to end his rebellion. The Biblical doctrine is the security not the perseverance of the saints. A saint of God can fail God, but God will not fail the saint. God gives eternal life to those who He saves and they cannot be lost, thus they are secure in God’s grace.

    The Arminian is wrong when he says a man can lose his salvation. Salvation is totally the act of God and not of man. When a man receives Christ he becomes a new creature, a saved child of God, indwelt by the spirit of God. He cannot be lost, once saved.

    Does Romans 8:29-30 support Calvinism?

    “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. 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. (Rom. 8:29-30).
    There is much debate over the meaning of God’s foreknowledge. The word “foreknow” is the Greek word “proginsko” (“pro” = before and “ginosko” means “to know”). The definition of the word is simple, “to know before hand.” God is omniscient and knows all things past, present and future. God is not subject to time and sees all things as present. The problem is that the Calvinist defines foreknowledge as being determinative. In other words, they conclude that if God foreknows something it means He causes it to happen.

    In Romans 8:29, the Lord used two words to convey His truth. He said, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.” The wording of the verse communicates two separate actions. One, God knew through His omniscient who would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, those He foreknew would believe He predestinated “to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.” If foreknowledge was causative He would not have stated that He predestinated what they would become.

    Because God knows the future, it does not mean He makes it happen. In His foreknowledge he also knows what would happen under different circumstances. For example in 1 Samuel 23:12, David asked the Lord if the men of Keilah would hand him over to Saul. God replied that they would. However, it never happened. David and his men left and went into the mountains of Ziph. God’s foreknowledge is simply that; He is omniscient without the limitation of time. God’s foreknowledge does not make an event happen.

    Proper hermeneutical principles would dictate that a passage be interpreted literally, observing the definition of the words and their grammatical construction within the sentences. In other words, we must take the statement literally at its face valve. Barnes, commenting on the word “foreknowledge” says:

    “The literal meaning of the word cannot be a matter of dispute. It denotes, properly, to know beforehand; to be acquainted with future events.” (10)

    The question is what does the word “election” refer to and what did God predestinate? God is omniscient and says God foreknew those who would be saved. Thus, He predestinated them “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” The verse does not say God predestined those He foreknew to be saved. Rather He states that those who are saved are to be conformed to the image of His Son.

    The word conformed means “to be made unto like fashion.” God’s plan is that believers are elected to be made in like fashion to Christ, meaning to be like Christ and to live godly lives.

    1 John 3:2 states that believers will be like Christ, (“we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”). Election then explains God’s plan for those who believe and are saved. God’s election was not which individuals would be saved, but what salvation would bring to those who are saved.

    Paul in Romans 8, states several blessing that God’s predestined plan gives the believer. Please note that these truths are in context Romans 8:28-29. The believer becomes a spiritual being as Christ, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9) Also Paul explains that believers are made joint heirs with Jesus Christ. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17) Romans 8:29 explains that this is God’s plan for what believers become in Christ.

    Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Election or foreordination established the result of salvation for those who will believe in Jesus Christ. It ordained that those who believe would be made alive (given eternal life) and declared in God’s favor forever. The Calvinist, in his blind sided view of Scripture, concludes that this verse means election is to salvation by God. Election rightly refers to the plan of what salvation accomplishes for the believer, not to whom God offers He grace, or whom He withholds it.

    The context of Romans 8:28 addresses God’s plan in salvation; that, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.” God is revealing the result of His plan of salvation, in that He is working in every believer’s life. This is expounded further in verses 31-39 that teaches assurance of salvation based on the work and plan of God.

    The context of verse 29-30 is clear. God is talking about a Christian living within the purposes of God. He is referring to His plan for believers. He is certainly not telling us that He chooses only to save certain individuals and condemn the rest to Hell. The passage does even infer that idea. In other words God is saying He is in control of all that salvation accomplishes in the life of a believer. This is God’s plan; whatever happens to the believer will work out for good. Further, the verse says this is applicable to those who are “called according to his purpose.” What purpose? The part of His purpose that all things work for good in a believer’s life. The verse is not addressing who will be allowed receive salvation, but the result of the circumstances of life the believer faces. God says believers are called by Him to live according to His plan. This refers to what God purposed salvation to accomplish; not who would be saved.

    Verses 29-30 continue the discussion and state that God predestined, or planned for believers to be conformed to the image of Christ. That means to strive to live like Christ. Christ is the standard that believers are to live judge their lives. Again, the verse is not talking about salvation but rather God’s plan for the believer after salvation.

    In verse 30, God says those whom He foreknew, He called, justified and glorified. Here is the work of God in salvation. Those God foreknew would believe, He called, justified, and glorified. God plainly states the calling, justification and glorification was for those He foreknew would believe and be saved. In the next verse God gives absolute assurance to the believer that God is working in his life, not only in salvation, but in eternal security. The believer is assured that God will carry out His plan.

    In 1 John 5:13, the Lord bases assurance of salvation on belief in the name of the Son of God. The verse says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” The basis of assurance of salvation given in the New Testament is belief in Jesus Christ. Salvation is never presented as being based on election by God. A person knows he is saved because he truly believes in Jesus Christ, not because he was elected to salvation by God. There is not one word, stated or implied, in Romans 8:29-30 that says God predestined some to salvation and condemned the rest to Hell.

    Does Ephesians One support the Calvinist’s view?
    Ephesians 1 is another passage the Calvinist misuses to teach God chooses to save some and condemn others. Let us examine the passage biblically:

    Ephesians 1:3-12
    3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

    4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    5 Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

    6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
    7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

    8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

    9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

    10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

    11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

    12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

    14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

    This passage in Ephesians is dealing with God’s plan for the believer. Verse three, introduces the discourse and states God has blessed believers with “spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” Note that the word blessings is plural, therefore it is referring not to a single blessing, but to multiple blessings. Verse four, continues stating the believer is chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world to be holy and without blame before Him in love. The verse does not say a person is chose “to” Christ but “in” Christ. The significance of using “in” instead of “to” means that the person who is saved and “in” Christ is chosen to accomplish a purpose of God. God is revealing what redemption will accomplish in the believer’s life. His plan is that, through His love, believers would stand before Him. Specifically, the passage says, “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4b-6) God’s elected plan is that a believer would be, holy, without blame (forgiven of all sin). Further, God predestinated that the believer would become an adopted child in the Lord Jesus Christ, which was God’s good pleasure to grant. God is explaining that those who are saved become His children and part of His heavenly family. (See Col. 1:12, 3:24; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 3-4) The believer then is elected to be to the praise and glory of His grace. All this God elected so that the believer is made accepted in the beloved meaning Jesus Christ. This passage does not say that God chose these to be saved, but rather He chose what they would become when they were saved.

    As in Romans 8:29-30, this passage explains God’s plan for believers in salvation. These passages are not saying that God made a sovereign choice to call some to salvation, and withholding that call from others. This passage does not state that God elected some to be born destined for hell, but rather presents God’s plan for the believer’s life in Christ.

    Verse nine, reveals that this was a mystery, a truth not previously revealed; that in the fullness of time He would gather together, as one, all things in Christ (v10). In the Old Testament God instituted the nation of Israel to be His witness to the world; the people to whom the Messiah would be born. In Ephesians 1, God is revealing His previously undisclosed plan for the institution of the local church, which is the Bride and Body of Jesus Christ on earth. The special relationship with God as part of in His family was not offered to Israel. The word family is found seventy three times in the Old Testament, but never used to refer to Israel. Israel was never called the “the children of God.” Six times believers in this dispensation are called the children of God. Believers today are in a special dispensation and are the Body and Bride of Jesus Christ. (See Eph. 5:30, Rev. 21:9, 22:17) This is the truth God reveals in this passage. He is not stating that He only offers salvation to a select few whom He elects to receive grace. g that He only offers salvation to a select few who He elects to receive grace.

    Verse eleven, further explains that God’s plan is “That we should be of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (v12). Believers are to bring glory to God and this was a purpose of His plan. This is what God elected for those that would believe.

    Verses 12-13, addressed to believers, says, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

    It is noteworthy that those who are saved are not sealed with the “Holy Spirit of promise” until they believe. This is an important point. Surely, if God had chosen them to be saved before the world existed, then in His sovereignty He would have sealed them to salvation before they believed. Ephesians 1 is not saying God predestined some individuals to be saved and others lost. The passage states that God predestinated that all who believe would be saved and subsequently “sealed” with the “spirit of promise” meaning that they would not be lost. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

    Does Roman Nine Support Calvinism?

    Often the Calvinists refer to Romans nine as proof of their false view of election. However, to properly understand the statements of this chapter we must first consider the context and subject being addressed. The failure to consider the context of this passage has resulted in its gross misinterpretation the same way as with Ephesians 1. The context of Romans nine is Paul’s answer to the question of Romans 3:1, “What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?” This discourse begins with this question and ends with Romans 11. Paul is addressing the misunderstanding Jews’ conclusion that they were in God’s favor because they were born Hebrews, God’s chosen people, and were assured of heaven and of God’s grace.

    John 3:1-7 an example of this error in Jewish thinking and was the reason for Jesus’ response to Nicodemus. Jesus explained to this Pharisee that he must be “born again”. Nicodemus believed that he was going to heaven would be a part of God’s kingdom because he was born a Jew. Jesus said, “Not so.” A man (Jew) must be born of water (human birth) and of the Spirit (spiritual birth) to be saved. He was saying to Nicodemus that in order to be saved you must be spiritually reborn, which happens when a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 3:15-16, Jesus continues, explaining how to be saved by faith. Paul explains in Romans 3-11, that the Jew, like the Gentile, is responsible to God. The Jew’s only advantage is that he has been born among a people tp whom God chose to reveal Himself, thus the Jews had the knowledge of God. Being a Jew does not preclude salvation, because as Paul plainly states in Chapter 10:9-10 salvation is a matter of faith.

    The Calvinist teaches that Romans 9:13-14 states that God rejected and condemned Esau to hell, but sovereignly chose to save Jacob. “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” However, this is not what the verse is saying. Paul is not talking about God decreeing Jacob to heaven and Esau to hell. Rather, God is saying He chose to use Jacob in his plan, and rejected Esau.

    The term “hated” used in Romans 9:13 means to “love less or to choose instead of.” It does not mean to condemn. Jesus in Luke 14:26 uses the same word stating, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Clearly, God does not require we “hate” our family, but in using the term He means we are to place Him before our relatives. God is also not saying He simply hated Esau and sent him to hell. God is saying he chose to reject Esau and He had good reasons. What God is revealing is related to His plan of bringing salvation through the Jews, mainly through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is to have the preeminence in our lives as Colossians 1:18 instructs.

    The word “hate” means to “love less” and in Romans 9, God uses the illustration of choosing Jacob rather than Esau to illustrate the point that being born a Jew does not save a person. God says He chose not to use Esau, the first born son, because he was not a man who loved and served God. His interests in life were worldly and did not include the Lord. The promise made to Abraham would normally be through his first born son. This promise was God’s plan for the coming nation of Israel and the Messiah. However, Esau showed no interest in his birth right and the sacredness of God’s promise. He thought so little of it, that he sold it for a bowl of pottage. Therefore, God rejected him as the natural heir of Abraham and Isaac and as the one through whom God would bring the Messiah who would be the Savior. The verse does not teach that God just chose to hate Esau, or that God in His sovereignty decreed to send him to hell, as Calvinism teaches! God did not decree to hate Esau, but rather rejected him because he rejected God. A false interpretation of God’s word always leads to confusion and false doctrine.

    Consider this. Suppose there are two brothers in a family. One is a rebel and always in trouble. The other is a Christian and lives for the Lord. Who would God choose then to serve Him? God is omniscient; would He choose the rebellious son who rejected God and His purpose for his life, or the faithful one who believed in God?

    It should also be understood that the names Jacob and Esau also refer to the progeny of both men. The Book of Obadiah makes this perfectly clear that God rejected the “house of Esau,” who were the enemies of the house of Jacob. God said He would destroy completely the house of Esau (also called Edom, Mt. Seir) and none of them would remain (Obadiah 17-18). The decedents of Esau hated God and for generations opposed Israel (Jacob) until God finally destroyed them. Hermeneutically, the passage is correctly interpreted in its context as referring to the Nation of Edom (Esau), not strictly to Esau who fathered the nation.

    Romans 9:20-21
    Romans 9:20-21 is also a passage that is misunderstood and incorrectly used to support Calvinism’s false idea that God predestined some to hell.

    “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”

    God is the “author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) In His sovereignty He has chosen what salvation is to be. Romans 9:20-23 is Paul’s second answer to the question asked in verse 19, “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” Vessels fitted for destruction are those that reject God. You cannot blame God for that, or make Him the cause of the rejection of Him. Paul is addressing the Jews that rejected Jesus as the Messiah. These people by their rejection of Christ, made themselves “vessels fitted for destruction.” Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies of His coming and work. He performed supernatural miracles that only God could do. (See John 3:1-2) Yet, in spite of all the signs and wonders God showed them, they rejected Him as their Messiah. Therefore, by their actions they condemned themselves. Nothing in the passages says God decreed to make them “vessels fitted for destruction.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Does not God plainly state in 1 Timothy 2:4 that He would that all men be saved? How then can the Calvinist totally miss the point of Romans 9-11 and suppose that it supports the idea that God, in His sovereignty, chose to send some to hell, excluding them from his plan of salvation?

    Paul uses the example of Pharaoh to illustrate his point. Pharaoh chose to reject God over and over.(Romans 9:17) Pharaoh refused to believe God and submit to Him. Is God to be blamed for Pharaoh ultimately rejecting God, especially after God showed him who He was by demonstrating His power repeatedly in bringing the plagues? The plagues was God demonstrating His power to Pharaoh to persuade Him to obey God and let Israel go. Pharaoh could have believed and obeyed God, but he chose rather to reject Him in the face of overwhelming evidence. Paul asked the question, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” (Rom. 9:14) In other words is God at fault for Pharaoh’s condemnation? The answer is “of course not” . . . Pharaoh condemned himself by rejecting God. There is plainly no support in this passage for God electing some to hell denying them the opportunity to believe and be saved.

    The statement that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” means that God permitted Pharaoh to resist Him. God did not make Pharaoh reject Him; that is the point Paul is making. Genesis 6:3, states that the Holy Spirit will not always “strive” with man. God does seek to guide and direct man, but in time, if the man resists God, the Holy Spirit will stop seeking to win Him and leave that man to his own devices. Man’s rejection of God does not allow God to work; God will not violate a man’s will. He will allow men to remain, as men choose, to be blind and hardened in their heart rejecting God. P> God further states, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” (Romans 9:14) God is not unrighteous which means He does that which is right. By God’s own principles He is a God of mercy. “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16) God’s nature is to offer grace and to show mercy. That is exactly what He did with Pharaoh. He repeatedly revealed Himself to Pharaoh through the plagues. God was doing what was right and offering him salvation. Pharaoh rejected God and refused to believe. Thus he condemned himself. The blame rests on Pharaoh, not God. God was righteous in offering His mercy to Pharaoh. It is a gross misinterpretation to suggest God revealed Himself to Pharaoh all the while knowing He would not allow Pharaoh to respond in faith. “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” (Romans 9:17) If Pharaoh could not have responded then God would be unrighteous.

    God is not to blame for the damnation of a man who chooses to be blind and hardens his heart against the urging of the Holy Spirit. God has gone to great lengths to bring men to Himself (Romans 1:20-21). God does not force man to believe or accept Him. He allows them to resist and exercise their own wills. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened because he was a sinful, proud man and would not give up his sin. He valued the slave labor of the Hebrews more than his own soul. He chose to reject God’s truth as John 3:19-20 says “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” James 1:13-14 says that God does not tempt men. God presented to Pharaoh the truth of who He was and His will. He did not tempt Pharaoh with the intent to prevent Pharaoh from accepting Him. To the contrary He revealed Himself to the Egyptian ruler that he might believe. Pharaoh refused to believe God for his own reasons and the blame rests solely on him. Pharaoh was condemned by his unbelief and by his own sinful nature (John 3:19-20, James 1:14-15). Nothing in this passage supports the idea that God in His sovereignty has decreed who would or would not be allowed to be saved. God did decree that all who believed would be saved.

    DOES 1 PETER 2:9-10 SUPPORT CALVINISM?
    “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:8-10)

    One major error of Calvinism is that it interprets the scriptures with the presupposition that Calvinism is the correct view. This eisegetical hermeneutic imposes an interpretation of the passage that fits this preconceived premise. The interpretation of a passage must be based on the definition of its words, grammatical construction, analogy of the faith, and its context. If these principles are ignored the interpretation will be incorrect.

    Applying proper principles of interpretation, note that the verse states that to the unbeliever Christ is “. . . a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient.” In other words these people to whom this verse is referring heard the word and stumbled at it. The word “stumble” is the Greek word “proskopto” and means to “strike or surge against.” They heard God’s truth, yet were deliberately disobedient. They knew it was God’s word, but they refused to accept Him or His word. God then says “. . . whereunto they were appointed.” The word “whereunto” refers to God’s plan, which because of their rejection of God’s word, would result in their ruin. Therefore they are appointed to God’s plan, that those who reject His mercy and grace, refusing to believe upon hearing the Gospel and being convicted by the Holy Spirit, would be condemned to eternal damnation.

    The passage cannot be said to support the idea that God is revealing who He decreed to be appointed to condemnation. The condemnation from God was because the person was disobedient to God. (See verses 7 and 8) That is what the verses state. Note that the disobedience was followed by condemnation. The passage is not stating that God refused to offer His grace, resulting in the person being elected to be eternally lost. It plainly states that the reason for their condemnation was that they were disobedient to God, not because He decreed they would be lost. If God decreed their condemnation He would not have referred to their disobedience as significant. God is not the cause of man’s disobedience, but it is man’s love of sin and refusal to bow in faith to God that brings condemnation.

    1 Peter 2:9 says “. . . But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people . . .” The misuse of 1 Peter 2 is a good example of the error of Calvinism. The Calvinists sees the word chosen and concludes that this refers to their view that God decreed in His sovereignty whom He would save and who He would not. They believe that God has chosen whom He will allow to receive Him and from whom He will withhold His grace. Those chosen are the “elect” and those not elected God condemns to the Lake of Fire with no chance of salvation. This is a false premise that is not found in God’s word.

    The Calvinist does not use a correct exegetical approach to interpretation. 1 Peter 2:9-10 contextually states what the believer is chosen to, not who would be chosen. The verse states that the believer is appointed to be a part of a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people.” Note that each of the words used describes what the believer is chosen to, not addressing individuals, but groups or classes of saved people.

    A “chosen generation” is not talking about an individual, but people within a time frame. A “royal priesthood” is referring to a class of people. Clearly, a “holy nation” cannot be applied to an individual, but to all believers and a “peculiar people” is referring to humans considered as a group of an specified number.

    1 Peter 2:8-10 exegetically gives no support to Calvinism. The Calvinist imposes his false view on these verses to support his faulty human idea. This passage is revealing God’s plan; not whom would be saved or from whom

  5. Bill says:

    Rob – I was reading an interesing interview with Jeff McSwain. He touched on how “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated” is a template that’s often given to be able to rationalize the idea that God loves some and hates others. But is Romans 9 – 11 really saying that? God did choose Jacob over Esau – no doubt about it – and that was important for that time in order to usher in the Messianic line. We know that God chose Abraham in order to bless the whole world. And in a sense, the beautiful thing about the big picture of all of Romans 9 – 11 is that He chose Jacob to keep the Messianic line intact in order to save Esau as well. God’s election is not one of excluding others. It is actually meant to always include others. In Romans 9, God says I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy. And Paul says, in the next paragraph “God will have mercy upon who He has mercy.” And it talks about “what if some people are made unto destruction and others for life?” And so all these words are used….I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy. And then 2 chapters later, we get the crescendo to it all in Romans 11:32 where he says, “God has given all men over to disobedience that he may have mercy upon all.” So it can be reasoned: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, so I will have mercy upon all.

  6. Rob Lombardi says:

    ET,

    That article is not really accurately or fairly represent Calvinism, but it does contain a lot of information. It sums up a very poor attempt at falsifying Calvinist theology. I could spend hours breaking it down and pointing out where they just got things wrong. I would prefer to know who’s writings I’m dealing with before I begin on such an endeavor. Do you really want to understand Calvinism, or no?

    It would be appropriate for you to cite where you are getting this stuff rather than just cut and paste someone’s writings here. I’m assuming you didn’t write it considering you’ve been asking questions. Where did you get it?

  7. Rob Lombardi says:

    Bill,

    “He chose Jacob to keep the Messianic line intact in order to save Esau as well.”

    Where did you get the idea that Esau was saved as well? This sounds like Isegesis, not Exegesis. Esau is consistently shows throughout the Scriptures as someone who was on the side of receiving God’s wrath, not divine election.

    Bill, you sound like you are a universalist from your comment: “So it can be reasoned: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, so I will have mercy upon all.”

    Are you a Universalist? If that’s true, then forget talking about Calvinism, there’s a huge mountain of issues to deal with in terms of the essentials: the Gospel.

  8. ET says:

    Rob,

    You are a good guy and I apologize for not adding this,

    Is Calvinism or Arminianism Biblical?
    A Biblical Explanation of the Doctrine of Election.
    By Cooper P. Abrams, III

    As far as Calvinism that’s not really important, the heart of my issue is my struggle with Election. I grew up on these verses not just Romans 9 and I’m stuggling…..

    “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
    “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

    “Who (speaking of Christ) gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6).

    “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

    “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

    “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

    “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

    “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).

    “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

    “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
    “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

    “Who (speaking of Christ) gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6).

    “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

    “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

    “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

    “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

    “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).

    “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

  9. John Klein says:

    ET,
    The harmony of God’s word will most certainly show us – not all will come. And, that the Gospel will be preached, therefore offered to the world. But propitiation is not secured by all. When 1 John 2:2 is seen in a proper view, it is obvious that the propitious offering of Jesus Christ is limited, limited to those that are in Christ. John purposes this small, huge speaking epistle to speak directly to this issue of truly being in Christ. 1 John 2:2 would have to be wrested out of the immediate context, as well as the context of the harmony of scripture, to mean that it is applied to all. Unless someone assumes universalism is correct – then we have NO Gospel! Of course this does not answer questions about God’s sovereignty; but as this very small sample I hope shows, allow the text to speak! And when in the need of harmony, allow scripture to interpret scripture. Yes, agonize over it!
    As an Assembly of God minister, theology contrary to Calvinism was hammered into me. Yet, I found years later, God’s glory was at stake. God’s sovereignty has become very sweet to me. It has brought me and my congregation a new and sweet, realization of our amazing VERY PERSONAL rescue from sin, death, ourselves, and hell.And to find, life’s purpose to glorify God in all things – yes that includes sufferings. Also to know that we may trust him always. By always I do mean…I may trust my God, whose hands are never tied, not even in salvation!

  10. I don’t think the controversy so much started with Joseph Arminius but perhaps between Augustine and Pelagius many centuries before if not earlier. Pelagius continually lived an honorable, godly life and made a case that was tough for Augustine to deal with, so when Pelagius said, “If I must, I can. If I cannot, I must not”, they took his words and began to lie and pretend he was saying something he never said, and that was that he claimed that a person could save himself without the sacrifice and grace of God. And then they pinned the name of Pelagius to this heresy. The Augustinians could not face the real words of Pelagius, so they extrapolated a heresy, a straw man if you will, and they called it Pelagianism.

    But, think about it. Would a God who would that none should perish be like a cruel maniac who throws his dog into the fire for failing to recite Chaucer on command? That is what people accuse God of when they say God throws mankind into hell for sin that God predestined him to live in. No. When we fell into sin, and we all fell into sin, we all did so by choice, and it would be meaningless and a fraud to come to God claiming to repent of sins that God had chosen for us. No, we have to take responsibility honestly for our own bad choice to go into sin. And it is not pride to confess that we are guilty by our own choosing. It is repentance.

    Pelagius did not contend man could save himself. Pelagius contended that each and every one of us could have lived a sinless life just as Christ did has we chosen to do so, but we all fell of our own choosing. He contends that Jesus did not cheat by giving Himself special abilities to avoid sin while denying us the same freedom. That is, He is not innocent while we are guilty because of God’s choosing, but because He chose to be faithful while we all chose not to be faithful. So, by choice, we have all sinned and taken ourselves off the path destined for heaven and placed ourselves on the path destined for hell, and having done so, we are utterly powerless to change direction without the grace of God and without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to pay for our sins.

    So, if Pelagius is understood and represented with integrity rather than slandered and tied to a straw man and burned for heresy, the heresy would not be called Pelagianism but rather a concoction of the imagination of Augustine.

    How can one repent of sins one had no ability to choose? God is absolutely sovereign, but that sovereignty does not exclude His ability to create beings in His image who are free to make choices. Nor does it mean He has to hard wire everyone in order to know what they will do in the future if God is timeless living in all times at all times.

    To say God is so sovereign he cannot create beings capable of free choice is a self-contradiction. And to say God predestined people to hell without sin is injustice and to say God predestined people to hell with sin is to say God is the author of sin. And to use the rebuke in Romans to hush such arguments is foolish it is the ones who believe in hyper-calvinism that these verses were intended to rebuke for the inevitable conclusions this line of reasoning leads to.

    No. Free will is an absolute must. There can be no sincerity of repentance without it–only false promises. After all, how can you turn away from sin if you have no freedom to choose to do so? How can you promise to stop sinning if it is God who chose for you to sin? And how can God choose sin for you without being himself worse than a tempter, but rather a tyrant who makes you sin and then punishes you for his own bad choices. That is not the God of the scriptures. That is not the God of the Bible. That is the god of scripture twisting, corrupted proof texting, and bad theology.

    I think of it this way: There are two bullet trains with doors locked–a train of sin, self worship, self glorification, pride, self indulgence headed for hell, and another train of full surrender to Jesus Christ, faithfulness. On one train, sin exists as does the imagination of salvation. On the other train, sin does not exist, and there is a reality of salvation. On one train, people throw Jesus nothing but their refuse–the stuff they don’t want to keep for themselves. On the other train people surrender all to Jesus and keep nothing for themselves. On one train, the pure living water is drunk 100% pure. On the other train, the water is 99.999% pure with the impure part being the most deadly poison of all–sin, and one drop is enough to kill a universe of people.

    Early in life, the first moment we had where we could choose which train to get onto, we chose to leave the train headed for heaven and get onto the train headed for hell, and the trains took off immediately without even a split second of delay, and we were rendered helpless and hopeless. But, Jesus paid the price to stop both trains so we could get off the hell-bound train and make the long trip back to the other train leaving our sins behind, surrendering to Jesus and becoming fully His.

    I can see flaws in this analogy, but until we see our sin as truly our own choosing and therefore our own guilt, we will always be powerless to repent of it in spirit and in truth, and we will always be holding back something of an excuse or justification or defense of sin feeling it was not by choice we were sinners, and therefore it is not truly our responsibility but only theologically and impractically so.

    I fear unless we understand our responsibility for our sin and accept the fact we can surrender all to Jesus, every time we sing “I Surrender All”, we will be lying to God as Ananias and Sapphira did. When we surrender our “some”, we keep the best parts of our lives for ourselves while giving Jesus only our refuse. And some say that is good enough, but I don’t think Jesus should be treated a like a dog under the table begging for our table scraps and grateful to receive them. He is Almighty God, God with us, Immanuel, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Alpha and Omega, Prince of Peace, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who was present in our creation and purchased our salvation with His precious blood on Calvary without which not one of us could ever be saved.

    The Bible tells us if I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayers. It says also that if we are in sin our sacrifices will be an abomination. That is why I would not dare to ask anyone to give an offering in church or take communion without first giving up sin, surrendering to Jesus and making sure there is no regard for iniquity in the heart, and to do that, we need the searching and the grace of God. God is not so impoverished that He cannot provide for His will to be done on this earth without the flood of money pouring in from some insincere, hypocritical zillionaire that a preacher is afraid to offend by taking a stand against sin. Who gave that millionaire his or her ability to earn that money? If it is not applied to the work of God, then it is stolen. Everything we own belongs to God. It doesn’t become God’s when we place it into the offering plate. It was always God’s to begin with. And it is a grave disservice to God and to the millionaire to play the coward and the liar and pander to the fear of man rather than rendering the message that God has put upon the preacher’s heart. Until that sin is broken, no revival need be expected.

    No, we are fully responsible for our own sin. Adam did not choose it for us, and God did not choose it for us. Yes, Adam and Eve had their wretched and horrible influence the moment they chose sin. But so did we all. Yes, through them sin came into the world, but also through us sin came into the world. Our own sin. Through them, their future generations were led into sin. Through us, people were led into sin and into hell. And it is time we turn from that, repent, and quit lying to God and telling Him we surrender all, and begin surrendering all as we say.

    As members of a congregation, we need not criticize the preacher for his sins if we will not repent of ours. How dare we lay onto the faithful preachers accusations only rightfully belonging to us and to preachers who are unfaithful? Why should those who surrender all to Christ bear the mark of “hypocrite” when their sins have been washed white as snow by the blood of Christ? If you have a faithful preacher, faithful elders, a church that believes in being faithful to God rather than being a whore pretending to worship Christ, then thank God because you are truly blessed and will be held accountable for what you do with that blessing. Will you surrender fully to God, or only pretend to do so? Will you lob theological arguments to defend yourself from having to make that full surrender? Or will you just obey Christ and do it? Are you looking for the approval of theologically arguing men or are you looking to Christ as the author and finisher of your faith and salvation?

    It is time we make “I surrender all” a true statement and stop making it a lie. Jesus is infinitely worthy of more.

  11. Rob Lombardi says:

    Daniel,

    Your understanding of free will is not biblical. You said, “Free will is an absolute must. There can be no sincerity of repentance without it–only false promises. After all, how can you turn away from sin if you have no freedom to choose to do so?”

    The Bible teaches that the natural man is a slave to sin. It’s all over the place:

    “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5)

    We do not desire God, but wish to turn aside to our own desires.
    “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. ” (Ps 14:1–3)

    You’ve mixed up man’s total depravity with God’s sovereignty when you say, “After all, how can you turn away from sin if you have no freedom to choose to do so? How can you promise to stop sinning if it is God who chose for you to sin?”

    Man is total depraved before God puts in him a new heart. After this act of supernatural regeneration of the soul, he has a new disposition to please God and is capable of doing so. Yet, there is an aspect of salvation that is already, but not yet. We are on a road to sanctification where we are now in the race, running the race of sanctification, struggling against the powers of the devil, the world and the flesh.

    I haven’t personally read it, and one day want to, but Jonathan Edwards Freedom of the Will is consistently recommended to understand the nature of man’s will, total depravity and God’s sovereignty.

  12. John Klein says:

    When one is apprehended by the the sight of the glory of Christ, by the Father’s pleasure and will, through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, one WILL be FULLY surrendered! If by thoughtful assumption we may arrive to any conclusion…I find that a God that makes Himself irresistable for His children to come to Him, is MOST loving! And…Considering that God is God, cannot God’s pleasure and wisdom, truly be love? Mystery also? Yes! Because God is God!!

  13. Rob Lombardi says:

    ET, send me an email through my website. I’ll send you a link to some audio you can listen to. Go to http://www.todaysreformer.org and then click on Contact on the top menu bar to send an email.

  14. ET says:

    Rob,

    I will e-mail you for sure. Danial your thougts are also very insightful thank you. This website is amazing,

    A question for both of you, without freewill aren’t we just acting out a play. Wouldn’t GOD want us to come to him because we love and choose him rather than he made us come to him. (I know without the Holy Sprirt we will not come) Election is realy saying an elect person cannot not be saved and a non-elect cannot be saved. Seems depressing because when your born you don’t have to do anything really if GOD elected you, just live your life and he will force the circumstances for your salvation regardless,you have no choice but to go to heaven and vice-versa. I struggle the thought that he may not have elected my 4 year old girl and no matter how many family devotions, bedtime prayers and Godly parents, teachers and friends she has she will still go to hell.

  15. ET says:

    Just to be clear, I’m not trying to stir up anything, I grew up in the East and was taught freewill all my life. I moved to the midwest 2 years ago and was then introduced to election. Election has shaken the foundations of eveything I’ve ever believed. I am in no way saying God does not have the right to do this he has every right to do as he pleases. I don’t understand what joy he could get out of election. When my daughter climbs up in my lap and says Daddy I love you unpromted my heart melts. When my kids follow in my footsteps because they choose to not because they are made to it melts my heart. Thanks Guys…..

  16. Rob Lombardi says:

    ET, “just acting out a play” is in a sense true, but the best play ever imagined from a perfect God. Add to that that he has perfectly executed the script such that all the players do exactly what He plans in order for His plans for the utmost display of His glory in His love, wrath, justice, mercy, kindness, long-suffering, etc.

    If it wasn’t for election, God’s sovereign plan for mankind would be broken. He would not have the control necessary to work good from evil and control the minutia of detail necessary for redemptive history of mankind.

    The link I was going to send you is a story about Joseph and his multi-color coat. R.C. Sproul explains how God’s sovereign control was necessary in this story for the entire story of salvation. Josephs father made a coat, the coat produced envy in the brothers, the brothers sold Joseph into Egypt, Joseph became the second-in-command in Egypt, Joseph’s family moves to Egypt, The people get enslaved by the following Pharoah, Moses kills an Egyptian and is banished to the wilderness where he meets God in a burning bush, Moses is used by God to free the people into the wilderness, the 10 commandments are given, resulting in sin and the prophets, and then the final sacrifice for sin by Jesus Christ.

    Of course there are many details left out. But think of it, all can be traced back to a coat. Sovereign Election just recognizes God’s sovereignty in all things, most importantly, God’s ability to draw the hearts of men to himself or harden them by leaving them to their natural passions.

    As for your daughter, remember, God uses men to accomplish His purposes. Your daughter may be hardened to the things of God today, but that is not to say that God may use your faithful prayers, and the perseverance of you, her father, as a means towards her redemption.

    “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14)

    Preach it brother, “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2Co 4:7 ESV)

  17. Hi, Rob, ET and Folks,

    I did not mean to imply or say in anything I wrote that man is not a slave to sin. He is. There can be no doubt about it. The point of disagreement is over how that came about. Augustine and perhaps Calvin might say it came about through Original Sin. If I remember right, I believe Augustine believed all acts of physical intimacy were sin, even between husband and wife, and therefore it would be impossible for mankind to procreate without committing sin, and that the sin of Adam and Eve is passed down the generations so that we are sinners by constitution and not by choice. And verses to support this are quoted out of context as proof texts including David’s deep repentance where he claims he was born in iniquity or sin. Still, to mistake this to mean we are constitutionally born sinners without our choice would make sin meaningless as it would be a guilt someone else chose and we were unable to avoid. Again, that brings us back to the mad tyrant who throws his dog in the fire for failing to recite Chaucer.

    We testify to the necessity of free will all the time in the way we speak and live out our lives. We live as though the demands of justice were predicated on our ability to choose. If some brute grabbed your hand, placed a knife into it and thrust your hand toward someone else killing them with the knife, only a mad or ignorant person would claim you were to blame. But, why? It was your hand that held the knife that was thrust into the body of another person and not the hand of the brute. No righteous court knowing the truth and seeing evidence for the truth would find you guilty of murder in the first degree but would find the brute guilty. Why? The brute was the one making the choice.

    So, if Adam and Eve made every person who ever lived sinners and removed from the whole human race the possibility of not being sinners, then it is their sin and it would be dishonest to blame the individual who had no choice in the manner. And if we are sold into slavery to sin, it is by Adam and Eve we are persuaded, but by our own choice that we surrendered to sin and became slaves to sin.
    And the fact we all did this does not remove from us the fact that we are responsible for our bad choices to go into sin.

    And this brings up another point, and that is the point of Lordship and the Kingdom of God. We are all members of a Kingdom with a Lord over that Kingdom, and the one we trust, have faith in, and obey is the Lord over our lives. If lust, if pride, if selfishness, if cowardice, if anything can get our trust, faith, and obedience away from Jesus Christ, then we are sold into slavery and that thing is our Lord — not Jesus. God is a righteous and loving and forgiving and merciful and a jealous God, and it would be unrighteous and unjust and reprehensible for Him to share His throne with sin. He cannot and will not do that. If something or someone can take our obedience away from Christ, then we can be sure that thing is our Lord. We will all give up sin or we will give up Jesus. We cannot do both, and we cannot do neither. Mammon or God will be our first love and our focus of worship.

    So, we don’t disagree over whether the human race was all sold to sin or slaves of sin. The point of disagreement is only over how it took place and whether Original Sin was constitutional or influential, whether the universal sale of slavery into sin of the whole human race was done from the start with Adam and Eve or whether it was done individually by each of us.

    Maybe the difference is not as important as it seems to me because either way, we have to repent from sin whether it was a sin we had a choice to enter into or not, whether we were sold into slavery to sin by our ancestors or whether we entered into it by choice.

    But, to me, the fact that Jesus was fully human and fully God and that He went through life sinless is evidence that it is possible to be fully human and live a life without sin. I believe Jesus took on the full human nature. He had a lineage that included Rahab the harlot, David the adulterer and murderer, and Adam and Eve, too, so if their sin made it impossible for us to avoid being sold into sin, then Jesus, too, must be a sinner sold into sin, and we know that cannot be true. Original sin has the feeling of the sin nature skirting around Jesus because not only is He the Son of Man, but also the Son of God. But, that does not remove from Him His place as the Son of Man.

    So, when the Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, I cannot find grounds for saying this was not by choice that we fell. I cannot agree that Calvinism is Biblical in this regard. I have to side with Pelagius and Arminius in this and believe their view is more faithful to scripture than Calvin’s.

    My concern at this point is over whether I am overstepping the authority for this group because if it is a Calvinist group that is for the purpose of promoting a Calvinist view of scripture, and if Calvinism is the foundation or central purpose for what this group teaches, I do not want to run afoul of the authority that God has placed over this group by coming in with a different doctrine and teaching that instead. So, if I am overstepping, I will not be offended if my posting is deleted and I hope you will accept my apology and forgive me for sharing my beliefs in what appears to be an open forum for exchange regarding this issue.

    What I am reading here is getting me to contemplate and study and pray for wisdom and understanding, but at this time, I would probably still be considered an Arminiest or Pelagian by many Calvinists, though I am sure people on both sides would consider ourselves to be rooted in the Bible and merely associated with other names by virtue of sharing the same understanding and belief concerning what scripture means. The nice thing about this is knowing that neither of us would want to turn against the Bible and denounce its authority as so many cults do when scripture proves their doctrines incorrect. Our disagreement is over what the scripture means, and we all reason from the foundational belief that God’s Word is God’s Word. And I appreciate you for that, and if it ends up correcting me, I will be thankful and know this has happened many times before and is a part of growing in Christ.

    Sincerely,
    Dan

  18. Kevin,

    Stop the madness!

  19. ET says:

    Mike,

    It is unfortunate that you call this madness I’m soaking this in and learning. I stumbled upon this site Googling “Piper” as his churches are in in Minneapolis. Is this site for the promotion / support of Calvinism, if so I will drop out and not create any more madness. I do apprecite the patience Rob has had with me and he and Dan although I don’t know either are smart, articulate, and an asset to anyone looking for the truth. Sorry this is not good for you……

  20. John Klein says:

    ET,
    Pastor John Piper is an absolute blessing to me! I am a Pastor and most definitely learn from sitting under his teaching. I would flee from a Pastor who could not sit under anybody. Pastor Piper and Desiring God Ministries are passionate for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, he was my son’s Pastor for about eight years until he left for Medical School. So, blessings in your searching and Desiring God Ministries is a nugget of gold!

  21. Rob Lombardi says:

    Perhaps the craziest part is the size of the comments. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such long comments. It’s certainly challenging to go through. For example, Daniel’s last comment appears to be written entirely by himself and it’s quite large. But I find that often, misunderstanding about election and Calvinism go off course at a root location and results in a stream of problems that could have been avoided if the root was properly understood. In this case, the holiness of God, the depravity of man, and the sovereignty of god are all roots that need better understanding in order to not go off course in the latter parts.

  22. ET says:

    Kevin,

    Thank you for your encouragement. Your blog rocks and I will visit it regularly. If I get out of line feel free to step on me. Thank you so much for having this open forum.

  23. Rob Lombardi says:

    Another good thing to study would be to look throughout the Bible and see how God has carried out his plans. He has an invisible hand that orchestrates events with amazing precision. Consider that He’s taken into account feelings and attitudes of individual people in very precise ways. For example, God’s plan with Joseph required his brothers to be filled with jealousy. It is no mistake that those brothers became jealous. God had total Sovereign control and although those brothers acts from their evil desires, God had absolute control over that. In the same way, he has control over salvation.

    “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” (Joh 6:39 NAS)

  24. Rob Lombardi says:

    Here’s something else to chew on.

    What are some ways that God effects a persons attitudes such that they rebel? Satan and demons, spirits of confusion, taking away His presence and restraints, sending judgement and punishments (e.g. plagues on Egypt).

    How does he effect our attitudes in good ways? Mercy, good gifts, long-suffering, regeneration, miracles, agents of grace (e.g. preachers, prophets, angels, the body of Christ) and I’m sure you can think of more.

    The above is just off the top of my head. It’s not exhaustive, but just a sampling of how God has exercised his sovereignty over the thoughts and desires of man.

  25. Phil says:

    A road less travelled……but necessary!…If Calvinism and Arminianism, Free Will and Gods’ Sovereignty were somehow easily explained and some common ground negotiated, there would be much less argument, divisiveness and schism. I use to shy away from these topics because of the lack of grace, and the posturing that created canyons between believers. But I have learned that these paths need to be travelled and negotiated. Not so much for the satisfaction of the ones arguing their passionate points of view, but rather that we solidify a grace-filled, merciful, logical, and penetrating apologetic to the lost souls. The ones we hope to speak the word of Christ to, the ones that the Holy Spirit will cause to leap off the dusty streets, with tears in their eyes and exclaim, “I believe!”….

    okay…cringe… i am ready for my flogging. thats okay.

  26. Rob Lombardi says:

    Phil, excellent. You will get no flogging from me.

  27. Bill says:

    Hi Rob,
    I got the idea of Esau being saved from Romans 11:32 – starting in v.30: “For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, v31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. v32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

    Would this not cover Esau? As far as being a true universalist, I would say no. However it would be fair to say that I lean closer to the universalist line of thinking than the calvinist views.

  28. Rob Lombardi says:

    Bill, that’s pretty adventurous. I haven’t really looked at this verse is great detail, but it seems that the context is a discussion of the disobedience or hardening of Israel (i.e. Pharisees, etc.) in order for mercy shown to Gentiles, so that in the end, there is mercy for both Gentiles and Jews. “All men” being categorically all, not specifically every single man.

  29. I’m sorry my comments were so long. I should be more concise and precise.

    I really love this discussion and I don’t feel it is madness at all. One thing I appreciate about the Calvinist is their rooting in scripture, and another is their rooting in the sovereignty of God. Several years ago when I was a vehement opposer to Calvinism I feel I was that way because of a misunderstanding. I saw eternal security as a doctrine teaching Jesus bought a license to sin without penalty and it seemed a contradiction to many scriptures that teach that liars, adulterers, fornicators, cowards, etc. would not inherit the Kingdom of God but would find themselves in the lake of fire.

    This is not what many Calvinists teach at all. In fact, they would say that if a person is a liar, an adulterer, a coward, etc., that this is strong evidence they were never truly repentant or truly saved in the first place. Either that, or if someone truly does slip back into being a liar or adulterer, etc., there would be some kind of assurance they would repent again before leaving this life.

    All in all, I believe that we are enriched greatly when we go to God in prayer for grace to understand scriptures that on the surface appear contradictory until we are able to grow through the process of resolving these apparent differences, and when we do, we come closer to understanding what God is saying better.

    I feel if I pound the table and say, “I have the only right and scriptural answer possible” and refuse to learn from Calvinists and seek God on this issue, I will have missed out on a great opportunity to grow. So, I am not at all offended but I appreciate others for helping to shine some light on this and helping me to see it from a different perspective. It’s almost like reading “synoptic” Gospels and getting different perspectives of the same thing. The picture can only get better.

    Thank you so much!!!!!
    Daniel J. Dick

  30. Oh…About God hardening Pharoah’s heart and such, I have often wondered whether this is a statement saying God reached in and deliberately caused Pharoah’s heart to harden for a purpose. That may be so.

    But, there is another perspective on this I want to explore in prayer and scripture reading, too, and that is seeing this almost like the situation where some cad flirts with a young lady and she says, “That guy makes me sick”. That does not mean that he found a petri dish with some kind of virus and gave it to the young lady to make her sick, but rather that she felt repulsed by the appearance of that guy.

    Some will insist this is what was meant by “God hardened Pharoah’s heart”. Others would insist to the contrary. I wonder what grounds there are to support either view.

    Also, regarding God loving Jacob and hating Esau, the Bible also tells us to love others but also says if we don’t hate our families, we cannot love God or enter the Kingdom of Heaven (I forgot the verse). In this situation, most of us understand hate
    to mean a strong preference for one over the other.

    Some use the Esau and Jacob thing to support the notion that God chooses who is saved and who isn’t by showing that God favored one brother over the other long before they did anything to deserve anything. That begs the question as to whether God is able to create humans with a free will, and if the answer is, “Yes”, then is He also able to know what they will do before they do it? If He cannot make humans with a free will but must destine their every choice, then is that a limit of His sovereign ability?

    Sorry, I’m probably adding to the “madness”.
    Thank you for your patience and great sharing!
    Daniel J. Dick

  31. ET says:

    WOW,

    You guys are very very informed… It’s almost seems to someone like me that the scriptures need a decoder ring to really understand it. I’m not intetionally being disrespectful but I just kinda read it and take it for what it says, literally. I have to as I know no greek or hebrew. It’s amazing to me how I can read the KJV and then someone comes along and says, “what God really is saying is” because you have to have Greek or Hebrew to decipher it. No wonder there are so many views…..

  32. Rob Lombardi says:

    ET,

    Thankfully, the essentials are easy to understand through the help of the Holy Spirit. The details of how some of these things work (e.g. election, the Trinity, sovereignty) is where it can get very complex.

    Disclaimer, I have no Greek, Hebrew training, or seminary. I took one undergraduate course on systematic theology, but have invested thousands in books, and have been a long time supporter of Ligonier and 9 Marks ministries. I’ve also jumped at nearly every opportunity to discuss Scripture in challenging ways, not to be quarrelsome (although sometimes I am and do), but for the purpose of finding the truth, understanding it, teaching it and sometimes getting rightly correct in the process. I suppose you can say I’m getting on the job training although my job is not a full time pastoral position, my job title is “Christian” and my job description is “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)

  33. Rob Lombardi says:

    Daniel,

    The two versus you mentioned are in different contexts and use different literary devices. Perhaps going back to this passage in Malachi will bring better understanding:

    ““I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’ ” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!” ” (Malachi 1:2–5, ESV)

    The Lord’s hatred towards Esau is associated with his hatred of the wicked; and it lasts forever.

    As for the other question about Pharaoh, how does God harden someone? He uses many ways, so I would look at the ways in the Bible by which evil was allowed to occur. God pointed out Job to Satan and gave Satan permission to torment (Job 1:8). God threw people into confusion (Egypt 14:24, Deut 7:23). He sends evil spirits (1 Sam 18:10, Judges 9:23). There are more Scripture like this and you can find plenty of instances where God is carrying out His sovereign plans. I would just be careful to think that God is the author or cause of sin in any of these instances, however He does it, He does it in a way that He remains sinless and perfect and He does it for His glory and for good and perfect purposes.

  34. ET says:

    At the judgement, the non-elect could certainly be condemed due to their sin. Wouldn’t they be able to look back at Christ and say but you didn’t die for me, the Holy Spirit did not call me, you made no path for my redemption?

    If so what would the Judge’s response be, I didn’t choose in the beginning to put your name in the Book of Life and you were not able to live a sinless life so whether I made a path to redemption for you or not the result is ethernal damnation? How does this bring GOD glory? Still stuggling in COLD Minnesota…..

  35. Rob Lombardi says:

    “Wouldn’t they be able to look back at Christ and say but you didn’t die for me, the Holy Spirit did not call me, you made no path for my redemption?”

    No, they wouldn’t be able to say that. Even if they were able to think or voice it, they would have no grounds to demand from God that He should have given them grace. Grace is grace, it is not required, or it would no longer be grace. If we were in their place we would recognize that God is completely justified in eternal punishing someone who’s sin is utterly sinful and has no place in the presence of God. When you come before God with sin you are coming before the one being that is more opposed to sin than any other being. In the holy presence of God, our awareness of our sinfulness would be so incredibly magnified that we would have no excuse.

    Consider Isaiah’s response:
    And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa 6:5 ESV)

    Consider God’s response to Moses on the Mountain:
    “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Exo 33:20 ESV).

    We are all without excuse, we can’t even use not having a chance to believe in Christ as an excuse:
    “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20 ESV).

    We are in no place to answer back to God:
    “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Rom 9:19-20 ESV)

    Scripture tells us this gives Glory to God:
    “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–” (Rom 9:22-23)

  36. John Klein says:

    ET,
    The depravity of man must be understood. No person deserves salvation. All live as enemies of the cross,Romans 5:10. But God does What is not even just for him to do, by grace He forgives sin. This lavish, seemingly foolish, extravagant, unjust love, was made just by the price of Jesus!! The amazing thing is, that God does open eyes to see Him, even though not ONE deserves this. There is mystery in this theology of God, yet He has given us enough in His word to see His sovereignty. Yes there are texts that speak of freewill, and there is some mystery in the understanding of being a yielded vessel; but the sovereignty of God sings through the entire Bible! If we begin to see things in a more God centered way, man’s depravity and God’s largeness and glory will bring a true perspective. We must finally decide…can God be the God of His word? And…is not God loving to cause us to come to Himself? God is most loving in the understanding of election, His pleasure lovingly causes His children to come to Himself. This is where a God centered understanding is essential – how large and important is God’s pleasure to us? I will tell you this, in today’s man centered theology, there is not much thought about God’s pleasure or His glory. Blessings as you search!!!

  37. Steve Eledge says:

    Why is it that everytime I see or hear someone claim that they take some middle position between Calvinism and Arminianism, they always attack the five points and say little about the faults of Arminianism. This unfair treatment of Calvinism is what ultimatly lead me to study reformed doctrine. It is in Calvinism that all of my fears such as losing my salvation, am I really saved, ect were addressed and I finally found peace in my Savior and his scriptures.

  38. ET says:

    Steve,

    If he picked you I’m sure you do have peace. Are you concerned about the 100’s of millions he didn’t pick? Perhaps not since you can’t help them…..

  39. Izec says:

    Job 38: 1-3

    Romans 11:33-35

    The Lord is sovereign and He is good.

    Romans 9:14-18

    To God be the Glory.

  40. waseem says:

    Dear Brother,

    Greetings

    I am from Pakistan. I have studied your web site, and have found it to
    be one of many wonderful sites offered on the internet which gets to the
    Truth of the Word of God. As is the case with others whom I have
    contacted, you have created material which is full of knowledge
    concerning development of religious faith. Living in Pakistan, we
    Christians face many obstacles in getting access to God’s Word. Most
    people in Pakistan speak Urdu, and are not capable of understanding the
    English language. Because of limited access in our native tongue, my
    people have a true hunger for fresh Christian Perspectives.

    Proficient in both English and my native languages, I would like to
    offer my services as a translator to you. Presenting your material in
    both Urdu and Punjabi would be a true blessing to the Pakistani and
    Indian people. For a nominal fee, I will enable you to bring the message
    of Salvation to a most deserving people. Please contact me for
    reasonable rates.

    Blessing you in advance for your consideration,

    In Christ,
    Waseem Yousaf

    Email: life4lord76@gmail.com

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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