LETTER TO AN ARMINIAN ASSERTING THAT ‘CALVINISM’ ISN’T REALLY ABOUT CALVIN AFTER ALL
Once again please forgive my late response. I trust that all is well with you and your family. I realize that our friendship has reached an ‘uneasy level’ where we are NOT in agreement. But sir, trust me if this was a MINOR issue where we could ‘agree to disagree’ I would be more than willing do that. But this is an issue concerning the ‘crux of the matter’ as far as the ‘gospel’ is concerned and I must remain faithful to the message which God has delivered to me concerning His absolute sovereignty.
I would start by reminding you, that it was NOT CALVIN who said – “I lay down My life for THE SHEEP”! [John 10:11] Again it wasn’t Calvin who said, “No man CAN COME to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me DRAW HIM”! [John :44] Neither said he – “AS MANY as were ORDAINED to eternal life believed”! [Acts 13:48]
Now I want to make it very clear that we use the term “Calvinism” ONLY FOR IDENTIFICATION, and are NOT IN AGREEMENT with all that Calvin taught. That Calvin contributed a lot to the system that bares his name we do not deny. But even though we may quote a few things from the works of Calvin, our appeal is NOT TO CALVIN OR ANY CONFESSIONS OR CREEDS OF THE CHURCHES, BUT TO THE LAW AND TESTIMONY OF JEHOVAH.
Historically speaking, the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” – which go by the nickname of Calvinism – did not originate with Calvin. They are the result of a Synod held in Dort, Holland in 1618/19, after Calvin was long dead. Those of us who hold to Reformed Theology do so not because we are attempting to replicate the theology or ecclesiology of a mere MAN – John Calvin, but because we are convinced that the Biblical arguments and the conclusions stemming from that Synod are valid and our OWN EXEGESIS AND EXPERIENCE CONFIRMS THE FIVE POINTS.
If it could be proven that John Calvin was indeed a murderous wretch, an ‘Infant baptizer’ or whatever, still it would have no effect on the theology that sprung from the pen of the Reformers. In other words, the “guilt by association” tactic has no teeth!
If John Calvin believed what the Spirit of God has taught us in our personal study of God’s Word and our experience in our preaching ministry, then good for him! But it means NOTHING TO US!
We be persuaded that the Spirit of God would have by and by taught us these glorious truths WHETHER THERE WAS A CALVIN OR NOT!
No infant comes into the world knowing everything, but learns as he grows! Even so a truly born again child of God may have many misconceptions concerning the nature and method of his salvation at first, but if he is saved at all, then the Spirit will by and by teach him what He means when He says that “It is NOT of him that WILLETH, nor of him that RUNNETH, but OF GOD that showeth mercy”! [Rom 9:16]
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”! [Prov 4:18]
Whatever glorifies God 100%, THAT is what is right!
The doctrines of grace which we hold gives God ALL THE GLORY and puts man where He belongs, i.e. IN THE DUST!
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake”! [Psalm 115:1]
You are either an Arminian or a Calvinist! You either believe that Salvation is ALL OF GOD, or you believe that it is partly of God and partly of man!
There is NO MIDDLE GROUND!
Those who pretend that they are neither Arminians nor “Calvinists” are in reality hypocrites! They suppose that they are neutral! But in matters pertaining to the doctrines of Soteriology (salvation) there are NO NEUTRALS!
NOBODY IS NEUTRAL! EVERYBODY HAS A BIAS FOR OR AGAINST! You’re either a capitalist or a communist. You’re either a conservative or a liberal–a rightist or a leftist–right or wrong! Nothing short of right is right. There is no such thing as neutrality on anything. Even a battery has only two poles, positive and negative, and you cannot get them together without fireworks! No battery has neutral poles: You’re either alive or dead, hot or cold!
Oh, the neutral is always so fair! “I can see BOTH sides.” The Liar! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BOTH SIDES! Only ONE side can be right and only ONE side can be wrong, so in claiming to be neutral and pretending to see right and wrong on both sides, the neutral puts himself above everybody. He is the most righteous of all. He can see how everybody’s a little bit wrong but him and he is the only one right–the only one who really sees the truth, which he claims is somewhere in-between, which makes him the worst liar and most treacherous enemy of all! As Jesus said “He that is not for Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” [Matt 12;30]
You either believe fallen man is totally depraved and CANNOT come to God of his own ‘free-will’ or you don’t! [John 6;44]
You either believe God has elected a CERTAIN NUMBER and sovereignly ordained them to eternal life or you don’t! [Acts 13:48]
You either believe that Christ laid down His life FOR THE SHEEP and them alone, as he said He did, or you don’t! [John 10:15]
You either believe that the Holy Spirit DRAWS God’s chosen by an IRRESISTIBLE POWER or you don’t! [Jer 31:3]
And finally you either believe Christ saves FULLY AND FINALLY those whom He died for unto the end or you don’t! [Heb 7:25]
There is no MIDDLE GROUND HERE!
I know what have written might sound harsh and ‘un-loving’, but “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the TRUTH”?! [Gal 4:16]. “FAITHFUL are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”. [Prov 27:6]
If you choose to believe that fallen, depraved man has a ‘free-will’ to either accept or reject Christ, and that the spiritually dead man can respond to God’s call anytime HE chooses, you are free to do so. But I believe that if you are TRULY SAVED by the Spirit of God and have ‘the root of the matter in you’ [Job 19:28] then God will sooner or later open your eyes to the truth of that word – “it is not of him that WILLETH, nor of him that RUNNETH, but OF GOD that sheweth mercy”!! [Rom 9:16].
Dear Jim, to further dialogue and debate this issue would be a waste of time for both of us. I am sure you realize this by now. But please know that I shall be praying for you that God will be pleased to open your eyes to the truth of His absolute sovereignty and show you that our God is STILL the Absolute Sovereign who has ‘mercy on WHOM HE WILL and hardens WHOM HE WILL and NONE can say unto Him “what doest Thou”?! [Daniel 4:35]
BURNING (ARMINIAN) STRAW DUMMIES
by Randy Seiver
(Straw Man: Misrepresenting an opposing view in a way that is easy to refute.)
The usual way of arguing against one of the doctrines of grace is first, to misrepresent it so badly that no serious student of the Scripture would ever embrace it; then totally demolish it with arguments that have nothing at all to do with the issue. In matters of controversy, this practice is sometimes referred to as “burning straw dummies.”
A little honest investigation and serious study of the issues involved would cause the opponents of these truths to be far more reticent to speak against doctrines about which they understand so little.
Charles Spurgeon, addressing this very matter one hundred years ago, asked, “Why do they earnestly set themselves to confute what no one defends?”
It is the purpose of this booklet to clarify the issues in the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. It is intended to be neither an exposition nor a defense of the doctrines of grace, since there is already an adequate supply of good literature on that subject (see bibliography.). It is rather intended to define the limits of the debate, so that those who shoot their venomous arrows at these poor, despised creates called “Calvinists,” will at least know what their target is.
It is said that Mr. Spurgeon was, on one occasion, invited to debate the issue of infant baptism. His opponent suggested that they each, in turn, quote a verse supporting their own position. To this, Mr. Spurgeon agreed. His opponent stood first and quoted Matthew 19:14 — “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.” When his opponent sat down, Mr. Spurgeon rose and quoted his first text — Job 1:1 — “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.”
“Mr. Spurgeon,” his opponent said, “I fail to see what your verse has to do with infant baptism.” To which Mr. Spurgeon replied, “So, too, I fail to see what your verse has to do with infant baptism.”
Scripture verses have been quoted (and misquoted) almost endlessly to disprove the doctrines of grace. Yet, in most cases, we would be no further from the real issue if we said, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.”
The first “straw dummy” that we need to consider is the charge that “Calvinists” are man followers, who elevate Calvin’s writings to (or above) the level of Holy Scripture. In reality, the “Calvinist” is no more a man follower than is the “Arminian.” These are merely theological labels which designate a particular doctrinal position. Were it not for the woeful ignorance of Church history that exists today, these theological labels might prove useful in distinguishing doctrinal positions. However, this is not the case. The truth is that through the efforts of zealous, but uninformed, Arminian preachers and writers, the term “Calvinist” has been so tortured and twisted that few (if any) Calvinists would be willing to wear it without explanation.
The so-called “five points of Calvinism” were not even formulated in answer to the five points of Arminianism (the Remonstrants) until over fifty years after Calvin’s death. Their relationship to Calvin or to Calvin’s writings is only incidental. It merely arose from the fact that both taught the same truths.
In regard to the charge that Calvinists exalt Calvin’s writings to the level of Scriptures, we find another clear evidence of willful ignorance of the subject at hand. If those who give this impression knew anything about the Reformation, they would know that all of the reformers and their followers believed that the Scriptures alone are binding in matters of faith and practice.
Consider the difference between the “straw dummies” and the REAL issues in each of the five doctrines of grace.
Straw Dummy 1
THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY (INABILITY) CANNOT BE TRUE BECAUSE:
1. The Bible teaches that all are responsible to believe and repent.
2.The Bible teaches that man has a will (choice). Man is not a robot or a puppet.
3. Every man does not act as sinfully as he is capable of acting.
4. Even wicked men perform acts which are good in the sight of other people.
1. The Bible teaches that men, controlled by a sinful nature, are not able to believe or repent. The person who believes in free grace has no argument with the truth that sinners are responsible. What he denies is that God requires no more than man is able to do. For instance, God requires perfect obedience to His law from those who possess no ability or desire to obey it (Romans 8:7).
Man’s inability springs from his sinful and rebellious unwillingness. He CANNOT (John 6:44), because he WILL NOT .
2. The Bible does teach that man has a choice and that he acts freely in the exercise of that choice. The issue concerns whether a person, controlled by a sinful nature, will ever make the proper choice. The Bible teaches that man’s will is bound and controlled by his sinful nature; so that he cannot and will not choose Christ, believe the gospel, or forsake sin unless God, in sovereign grace, changes his nature (John 3:19-21, 6:44, 6:65; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14; Romans 3:11).
3. Every man, left to himself is capable of the most heinous sins. Every man at heart is the same (Proverbs 27:19) — deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
4. Men are wicked in God’s sight and totally incapable of doing that which is well-pleasing to Him (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29; Job 15:16; Jeremiah 9:3; Romans 3:10-18).
STRAW DUMMY 2
THE DOCTRINE OF “UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION” CANNOT BE TRUE BECAUSE:
1. Anyone who wants to be saved, can be. “Whosoever will May come.”
2. God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), but desires that all men repent.
3. We should preach the gospel to everyone. If God has only planned to save some, why should we preach to and pray for all?
4.”Election” and “predestination” are terms contrived by the Calvinists to cause confusion, bring division, and excuse a lack of evangelistic zeal (The issue is whether election ever took place or not).
1. The true believer in free grace will never deny that God has extended a free offer of mercy, in Christ, to all who hear the Gospel. To deny that “Whosoever will may come,” is to deny the clear teaching of God’s Word. The real issue, however, is whether any will desire salvation (in God’s way and on God’s terms) unless God gives him that desire (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:11; Psalm 58:3-5; John 3:14-21, 5:40).
2. Has God purposed to save every man? Since the Bible plainly teaches that God’s plan or purpose is always accomplished (Isaiah 46:10-11; Daniel 4:35; Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 115:3), It should be clear that He has not purposed to save everyone. If He had, everyone would be saved.
On the other hand, the Bible sets forth God’s elective purpose according to which He calls and saves His elect (Romans 8:28-30, 9:11; Ephesians 1:4-5, 9-11; 2 Timothy 1:9).
3. God has commanded us to preach to (witness to) every creature and pray for their salvation. We are not to be governed by what God has planned (which is secret to us), but by what God has commanded.
God has ordained to use means to accomplish His purpose (Romans 10:14-15). He does not save people apart from the use of means. Gospel preaching is one of the means that God has ordained to bring the elect to faith in Christ. Since we do not know who the elect are, we must preach to and pray for all.
The primary purpose for witnessing the gospel is that we might glorify God in our obedience and faithfulness to Him.
4. Every Christian who has carefully studied the Bible must believe in election and predestination. These are biblical words. The issue is whether election is conditional (based on foreseen faith) or unconditional.
STRAW DUMMY 3
THE DOCTRINE OF “PARTICULAR REDEMPTION” CANNOT BE TRUE BECAUSE:
1. Jesus’ death was sufficient for all men.
2. Jesus’ death was not limited, but was intended for all men.
1. The all-sufficiency of Christ’s death is not denied by the true believer in free grace. The Canons of Dort, which is the historical statement of the so-called “five points of Calvinism” formulated at the Synod of Dort (Dordrecht) 1618-1619, state:
“The death of the Son of God is the only and most
perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and
is of infinite worth and value, abundantly
sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.”
The real issue concerns the intent of Christ’s death. Did Christ intend to accomplish redemption, propitiation and reconciliation for every man? Did He intend to make salvation possible for all men? The free grace believer replies that, though Christ’s death is of infinite value and is sufficient to redeem every man (had this been God’s intention), the true intention of Christ’s death was to accomplish effectively the full salvation of the elect, and the elect only.
2. Since all men will not be saved as a result of Christ’s death, a limitation must be admitted. It must be limited either in its extent (in that it was not intended for all) or its effectiveness (in that it did not actually secure salvation for any). The real issue is not so much, “For whom did Christ die?” but “What did He do for those for whom He did die?” If we view Christ’s death as an accomplishment, then it could not have been intended for every man.
STRAW DUMMY 4
THE DOCTRINE OF “IRRESISTIBLE GRACE” CANNOT BE TRUE, BECAUSE:
1. Men often resist (and resist successfully) God’s offers of mercy in Christ (Genesis 6:3; Acts 7:51). They even resist and finally reject the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit Himself (Acts 24:25).
2. People have a choice in coming to Christ. God does not force them to be saved against their will.
1. While it is true that sinners always resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), the issue is whether the sinner’s continual rebellion is able to thwart the eternal purpose and powerful grace of God.
If at God’s appointed time (Galatians 1:15-16) He did not subdue the sinner’s rebellion, and make him willing to embrace Christ in saving faith (Psalm 11:3), then none would ever believe (John 6:44-45).
2. The issue is not whether God forces people to believe against their will but whether any would ever be willing without a prior work of God in their souls. Those who believe in free grace, believe that God, not man, is in control in the realm of salvation (Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 4:7; I1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:9; Matthew 11:20-27).
STRAW DUMMY 5
PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
Many who are otherwise Arminian in doctrine, claim to believe this truth. But, in reality, they believe neither the Calvinistic nor the Arminian doctrine at this point.
If the opponents of free grace argue against the proposition that God will preserve all who profess faith in Christ no matter what they do (totally apart from the necessity of perseverance), then they are “burning a straw dummy.”
This is not a Calvinistic position, but a four-point Arminian position.
The real issue has nothing to do with the necessity of perseverance. Both the Arminian and the true Calvinist are agreed at this point. The point of controversy is the certainty of perseverance.
The Calvinist believes that God so preserves and supports His elect in a state of grace that they will certainly persevere in faith and holiness unto the end. This perseverance is due not to the strength of their will or the tenacity of their faith but to the power and grace of God working in them.
Those who fall away and perish in their sins, give evidence that a work of grace has never occurred in their hearts. (Consider John 10:27-29; Romans 8:28-29; Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 14).
A BLESSED TULIP NEW YEAR TO ALL OF GOD’S ELECT
Why a ‘Tulip’ New Year and not a ‘Rose’ or an ‘Orchid’ New year? That is because the ‘Tulip’ to me is more than just a flower. The acronym TULIP represents the theology I hold, teach and contend for!
For the uninitiated, the essential doctrines of Grace concerning salvation, which the Reformers and Puritans (and all good Christians) cling to, are summed up in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. The Bible which is God’s Word contains an abundance of material for the development of each of these doctrines. Furthermore, these are not isolated and independent doctrines but are so inter-related that they form a simple, harmonious, self-consistent system; and the way in which they fit together as component parts of a well-ordered whole has won the admiration of thinking men of all creeds.
Prove any one of them true and all the others will follow as logical and necessary parts of the system. Prove any one of them false and the whole system must be abandoned. They are found to dovetail perfectly one into the other. They are so many links in the great chain of causes, and not one of them can be taken away without marring and subverting the whole Gospel plan of salvation through Christ. We cannot conceive of this agreement arising merely by accident, nor even being possible, unless these doctrines are true.
The question to ask yourself is: is the ‘faith of our fathers’ living in YOUR life? In your church? We sing the song: “Faith of our fathers living still…” and no doubt the faith IS living. But the question is, “WHERE is that faith living and confessed?” And, “WHAT is the faith of our fathers?” For the record it was expressed over 350 years ago by our church fathers at the Synod of Dordt , Netherlands by the acronym TULIP.
Now this ‘TULIP’ is more than just a dry set of doctrines for older divines to sit down and stroke their beard and argue about, but they are as a sweet pillow that you can lay your head on in times of trials, doubts and discouragements. These truths not only teach us that God is in control over all, but also that HE is working everything out — the good and the bad — for our good, and His glory. This sweet doctrine is medicine for the soul that you can take in any season of life, not just the coming New year.
Fewer doctrines of the Christian faith are more comforting than the truth set forth in the TULIP. They humble you in good seasons, provide you with hope in hard seasons, and give you joy in all seasons. The doctrine set forth in the TULIP are a constant nourishment for the soul.
Take for instance the very first letter of the TULIP – T which stands for ‘Total Depravity’. This tells me that there is a greater problem in me than just my external sinful actions. They are spontaneously springing forth from a foul and depraved fountain which is inherent in my innermost being. The Master told His disciples “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of!” [Luke 9:55] Which is another way of saying “your heart is deceitful above all things, and so desperately wicked: you have no clue!”
Men in general have quite a high opinion of themselves and their righteousness. They pacify their consciences with the delusion of the Pharisee who said – “I thank thee Oh God that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers etc” [Luke 18:11]
But as Spurgeon said long ago, “If God were ever to allow the fountains of the great deeps of depravity to break up in the best man that lives, HE WOULD MAKE AS BAD A DEVIL AS THE DEVIL HIMSELF IS. I care nothing for what these boasters say concerning their own perfections; I feel sure that THEY DO NOT KNOW THEMSELVES, OR THEY COULD NOT TALK AS THEY OFTEN DO. There is tinder enough in the saint who is nearest to heaven to kindle another Hell if God should but permit a spark to fall upon it. In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for IT IS A PAINFUL DISCOVERY FOR ANYONE TO MAKE; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord!”
“And He (Jesus) said, That which cometh out of the man, THAT defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man!” [Mark 7:20-23]
Notice that Christ is here not speaking of a ‘certain class of men’ but ALL MEN AND WOMEN IN GENERAL!
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit!” [Matt 7:17]
Incidentally Adam was the first or original ‘corrupt tree’ and all saplings that come forth from him are basically corrupt – i.e. Totally Depraved just like him! For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one! [Job 14:4]
And if all of this is true (and it is), then MY ONLY HOPE to live victoriously and fruitfully is to look to the One who IS perfect in every way! Only HE can cause me to bear fruit which is worthy of acceptance before the Father. In fact God Himself asserts to this truth saying, “From Me is thy fruit found!” [Hos 14:8] And again, “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5] But with His help “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” [Phil 4:13]
Oh what an encouragement is that for the coming year and beyond, dearly beloved.
The second alphabet of the TULIP stands for ‘Unconditional Election’. Now what comfort could that afford me?
Well, for starters it tells me that the only reason God elected or selected wretched old me for salvation is because He loved me. And He says so in His Word – “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: THEREFORE with lovingkindness have I drawn thee!” [Jer 31:3]
“God’s love for His Elect is immutable, irrevocable, and indestructible. His love is not like man’s. God’s love does not change, ever, under any circumstances or conditions. Having loved His own from eternity, He will never stop loving them in time. There is nothing we can do to destroy, or even lessen, the love of God for us [John 13:1]. Here then is a rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10).
– A.W. Pink
And if this great God loves me, then it stands to reason that it is going to be well with my soul not just for through the coming new year, but through eternity and beyond. Because unlike man God does not ‘fall in love’ but loves from eternity. And if He loved me from ETERNITY PAST then He will love me all the way into ETERNITY FUTURE.
The Bible says that the reason God ‘predestined’ me and ‘called’ me is because He ‘foreknew’ me (see Romans 8:29,30) Now a lot folks do not really know the real meaning of that word ‘foreknow’. In fact most Christians take that to mean to know beforehand. But though God does know ALL things beforehand (Acts 15:18) THAT is not what is meant when He uses the Word here.
When the Bible speaks of God knowing particular individuals, it often means that He has special regard for them, that they are the objects of His affection and concern. For example in Amos 3:2, God, speaking to Israel says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” The Lord knows ABOUT ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH, but He knew Israel in a special way. They were His chosen people whom He had set His heart upon. See Deuteronomy 7:7,8; 10:15. Because Israel was His in a special sense He chastised them, cf. Hebrews 12:5,6. God, speaking to Jeremiah, said, “Before I formed thee in the womb, I KNEW THEE,” (Jeremiah 1:5). The meaning here is not that God knew ABOUT Jeremiah but that He had a special regard for the prophet before He even formed him in his mother’s womb.
Jesus also used the word “knew” in the sense of personal, intimate awareness. “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity. “ (Matt. 7:22,23). Our Lord cannot be understood here as saying, I knew nothing about you, for it is quite evident that He knew all too much about them – their evil character and evil works; hence, His meaning must be, I NEVER KNEW YOU INTIMATELY NOR PERSONALLY, I never regarded you as the objects of my favor or love. Paul uses the word in the same way in I Corinthians 8:3, “ But if any man love God, the same is known of him,” and also II Timothy 2:19, “the Lord KNOWETH them that are His.” The Lord knows ABOUT all men but He only KNOWS those “who love Him, and who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28) – to put it plainly – THOSE WHO ARE HIS – i.e. the objects of His love and approbation.
The third alphabet of the TULIP stands for ‘Limited Atonement’ or as some would have it a ‘Particular Atonement’. What comfort is the truth of a particular atonement to me?
You know even in the daily affairs of life a thing has more value and worth when someone tells me that they did a certain thing particularly for ME. Whether it is something someone purchases for me or a meal one cooks for me etc it makes it all the more endearing when they tell me that they did it especially for me.
And truth is: what Christ did on the Cross was not for every Tom, Dick, and Harry and Jane, Jill and Mary but His passion of the Cross was done with ME in mind particularly and all of God’s Elect through the ages. As unbelievable as it may sound He would have gone to the Cross if I was the only one the Father gave Him to redeem!
Yes beloved, Christ did not die for all and sundry as some men would have us believe, but only for those whom the Father gave Him – i.e. His sheep! “I lay down my life for the sheep!” [John 10:15]
“Christ died not merely to MAKE POSSIBLE the salvation of all mankind, but to MAKE CERTAIN the salvation of all that the Father had given to Him. Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). As to WHO’S “sin” (i.e., guilt, as in 1 John 1:7, etc.) HAS BEEN “put away,” Scripture leaves us in no doubt— it was that of the elect, Christ’s sheep – the “world” (John 1:29) of God’s people!” – A.W. Pink
And the good news is, if Jesus died for ME personally then I am covered for now and for eternity! Because Christ did not go to the Cross to make me ‘savable’ but to ACTUALLY SAVE ME! The Lord did not cry on the cross saying that He STARTED something . . . but IT IS FINISHED“! WHAT is finished? My Redemption, my Justification and my Captivity to sin and Satan, that’s what is finished! Praise the Lord!
When Christ said “It is finished!” He meant … “It is finished – ACTUALLY, COMPLETELY, PERFECTLY, EFFECTUALLY, UNCONDITIONALLY, ABSOLUTELY, EVERLASTINGLY, IMMUTABLY, PERIOD!”
Not one single solitary sinner for whom Jesus Christ died will die unredeemed and be condemned and consigned to everlasting punishment. Rather, each and every sinner for whom Jesus Christ died is redeemed and will join the heavenly hosts in singing to Him, “Thou art worthy . . . for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation!” (Revelation 5:9). Can you say, “Praise the Lord!”
The fourth alphabet of the TULIP stands for ‘Irresistible Grace’. Now what comfort is this truth to me?
God irresistibly draws His elect! No honest child of God would ever refute that! Thomas Goodwin said, “God works with power, and can make the unwilling willing; if He undertake the conversion of a soul, IT WILL BE CONVERTED. All the pious workings of our heart towards God are the fruit and consequence of the powerful working of His grace in us.” And he’s right! And Luther adds, “The drawing is not like that of the executioner, who draws the thief up the ladder to the gallows; but is a gracious allurement, such as that of the man whom everybody loves, and to whom everybody willing goes.”
The apostle Peter writes – “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious etc” [1Pet 2:3,4]. Notice the phrase “to whom coming”, he says not to whom HAVING COME but ‘COMING’ a present continuous! We just don’t come to the Lord once at the beginning for salvation and get it over with, beloved! But we CONSTANTLY KEEP COMING EVERY DAY, many times during the day to be washed and cleansed by His Sovereign mercy, grace and the Word!
And the only reason that we constantly keep coming to Christ is because THE FATHER IS CONSTANTLY AND ‘IRRESISTIBLY’ DRAWING US by His Spirit, His Word and through His gracious providence. Come now think of it, WHAT is it for the most part that grieves you for your sins and backslidings and drives you back to Christ? Is it not His goodness? It is “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” [Rom 2:4]
Oh how many times have I provoked Him sore with mine iniquities and sins, and some presumptuous and grievous ones at that! I have at times weighed Him down with my sins as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves! [Amos 2:13]
And just as I am anticipating some severe judgment to fall on my head for my sins which I rightly deserve, God turns around and is nice to me and even sends me His Spirit to assure me that He still loves me just the same. Oh how this breaks my heart! Oh how it makes me loathe myself and fall at His feet as did the prodigal.
Yes beloved , John Newton was right when he penned that immortal hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ in which he states –
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
T’was grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
And the ‘Grace’ he was speaking of was this ‘Irresistible Grace’!
The fifth and last alphabet of the TULIP stands for ‘Perseverance of the saints’. This is one topic that I can write volumes on because the Scripture has so much to say about it.
No if’s ands and buts about it . . . . Once truly saved always saved!
If the Master asserted that no man can pluck His sheep out of His hand, and if that wasn’t enough no man can pluck His sheep out of His Father’s hand, then you’ve got to find me a being or power that is strong enough to unclasp the hands of the Almighty before you can convince me that my salvation can be lost!
“Regeneration is a radical and supernatural change of the inner nature, through which the soul is made spiritually alive, and the new life which is implanted is immortal. And since it is a change in the inner nature, it is in a sphere in which man does not have control. No creature is at liberty to change the fundamental principles of its nature, for that is the prerogative of God as creator. Hence nothing short of another supernatural act of God could reverse this change and cause the new life to be lost. The born-again Christian can no more lose his sonship to the heavenly Father than an earthly son can lose his sonship to an earthly father. The idea that a Christian may fall away and perish arises from a wrong conception of the principle of spiritual life, which is imparted to the soul in regeneration.” – A.W. Pink
So you see WHY a ‘Blessed Tulip New year!’ . . . because these are truths that I am going to meditate on and bless God for throughout the coming year and beyond. . . i.e. though I am so totally depraved and despicable, God still loves me and has chosen me to Salvation, and because of that my Lord Jesus has gone to the Cross and answered for every one of my sins; and not only that but God has not left this business of Salvation in my weak hands and to my sinful choice, but has Irresistibly drawn me and keeps drawing me to Himself , and because of this drawing and this preservation I SHALL be ultimately glorified and spend an eternity with the One who loved me and gave Himself for me!
“And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
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 8:28-30]
Now THAT is something to be happy about, Amen?
Happy New Year 2020! And ALL the glory is to GOD ALONE!
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake!” [Psalm 115:1]
“Salvation is of the LORD!” [Jonah 2:9]
YOU EITHER BELIEVE ALL THE FIVE POINTS OF THE REFORMED FAITH OR YOU DO NOT BELIEVE ANY
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
The Five Points of the ‘Reformed Faith‘ or the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ may be more easily remembered if they are associated with the acronym T-U-L-I-P;
T: Total Inability ;
U: Unconditional Election;
L: Limited Atonement;
I: Irresistible (Efficacious) Grace;
and P: Perseverance of the Saints.
“The Bible contains an abundance of material for the development of each of these doctrines . Furthermore, these are not isolated and independent doctrines but are so inter-related that they form a simple, harmonious, self-consistent system; and the way in which they fit together as component parts of a well-ordered whole has won the admiration of thinking men of all creeds.
Prove any one of them true and all the others will follow as logical and necessary parts of the system. Prove any one of them false and the whole system must be abandoned. They are found to dovetail perfectly one into the other. They are so many links in the great chain of causes, and not one of them can be taken away without marring and subverting the whole Gospel plan of salvation through Christ. We cannot conceive of this agreement arising merely by accident, nor even being possible, unless these doctrines are true.” – Loraine Boettner
Limited or Particular Atonement is one of the most difficult truths to accept! Our business is not to REASON about it, but to BOW to Holy Scripture. Our first duty is not to UNDERSTAND, but to BELIEVE what God has said.
R.C. Sproul was right when he said – “There are a host of folks who call themselves four-point Calvinist because they can’t swallow the doctrine of limited atonement. Sometimes they say, “I’m not a Calvinist and I’m not an Arminian, I’m a Calminian.” I think that a FOUR-POINT CALVINIST IS AN ARMINIAN. I say that for this reason: When I have talked to people who call themselves four-point Calvinists and have had the opportunity to discuss it with them, I have discovered that they were NO-POINT CALVINISTS. They thought they believed in total depravity, in unconditional election, in irresistible grace, and in the perseverance of the saints, but they didn’t UNDERSTAND these points”. [The Truth of the Cross pp. 140-42 (Capital letters mine)]
For WHOM did Christ die? We answer, Christ died for “God’s elect!”
“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins [Mt. 1:21]. Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” [Heb. 9:26]. As to WHO’S “sin” has been “put away”, Scripture leaves us in no doubt—it was that of the elect. “For the transgressions of MY PEOPLE was He stricken [Isa. 53:8]. Again the Lord’s own words are, “I lay down My life for the SHEEP” (not the goats)! [John 10:15]
“Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Jonathan Edwards]
People’s fanciful delusion of an Unlimited Atonement is reduced to this – “IF the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object, as though his believing WOULD MAKE THAT TO BE WHICH OTHERWISE WAS NOT”. [A.W. Pink]
“Calvinism isn’t a produce stand from which we can pick and choose which doctrines we wish to keep and pass over the rest in a sort of hermeneutical reprobation. Calvinism is an interwoven system of theology which must be accepted or rejected as a whole. From the acceptance of one point, one is compelled by simple logic to the acceptance of all the rest. You can’t deny one without denying them all. The four-point Calvinist is as consistent as a Psalm-singing atheist”. – Author known only to God!
REFORMED TULIP OR THE ARMINIAN DAISY
T: Total depravity – Every facet of every person everywhere has been marred by sin.
U: Unconditional election – God chooses those to be saved based solely on His will.
L: Limited atonement – Christ died only for those who are elect.
I: Irresistible grace – The elect cannot resist God’s call to salvation.
P: Perseverance of the saints – The elect cannot lose their salvation.
D: Diminished depravity – Humanity is depraved, but God uses prevenient grace to restore man’s ability to respond to Him.
A: Abrogated election – God bases His election on His foreknowledge of those who freely choose Him.
I: Impersonal atonement – Christ died for everyone, making salvation possible for everyone.
S: Sedentary grace – God calls everyone to salvation, but many freely reject it.
Y: Yieldable justification – The saved can fall from grace and lose their salvation.
The Arminian flower is a daisy because they pull the petals off saying, “God loves me. He loves me not.” This is uncertainty at its heights!
A closer look at the Calvinist acronym TULIP –
These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.
Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.
The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”
Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy”; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” (John 6:37).
Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.