Calvinism

Calvinism, Christmas and Theological Incompatibilities

I’m sure that most people who follow a Calvinistic based theological point of view have never thought about it, but Calvinism and Christmas (and by Christmas, I’m talking about the whole gifting-giving aspect of the holiday) are just theologically incompatible.

One, acting right is expected if we want to stay off the naughty list – no excuses. There goes Total Hereditary Depravity.

Two, asking for what we need/want is necessary to getting it. There goes Unconditional Election.

Three, buying gifts for complete strangers is a common deed that is done. There goes Limited Atonement.

Four, there are people who always willingly leave their gift sitting under the tree. There goes Irresistible Grace.

And five, gifts come with responsibilities – abuse them and you can lose them. There goes Perseverance Of The Saints.

Now, all analogies break down at some point (and by that I’m talking about gifts that people give compared to the gift of God’s salvation), but I hope you can see how the accepted simple concepts of man’s gift-giving reveals how unreasonable Calvinistic theology really is in relation to gifts from God.

Maybe this is why poinsettias are the flower of the season instead of TULIPs. EA

Brethren, I speak in the manner of men…” (Galatians 3:15)

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Limited Atonement, Part 3 – The Bible is Clear, God’s Grace is a Gift Offered to Everyone

Contrary to Calvinism’s doctrine on “Limited Atonement” God’s offer of grace is not just for some – but for everyone who desires to receive it, trust it and obey it. I can’t tell you how many times the Bible says this, but I can tell you it says it more than once! And for something to be true the Bible only has to say it one time (and it must be said in the proper context), but when the Bible says the same thing over and over and over it might just be a clue pointing towards the obvious.

For example, when it comes to the reality of universal atonement the Bible says:

  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,’” Titus 2:11
  • And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.John 12:32
  • 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
  • Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.John 8:12
  • And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.1 John 4:14
  • 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 this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.1 Timothy 2:3-6

God commands all to repent (Acts 17:30), but He desires all to come to repentance through the offer of His grace found in His Son (2 Peter 3:9).

When a person preaches “Limited Atonement” then by default they have to preach a “limited gospel.” Talk about putting the gospel in a set of man-made doctrinal handcuffs! Imagine doing a Bible study, preaching a sermon, or putting up a billboard that says, “Jesus only died for some of you.” How effective! But that’s exactly what you have to teach when your doctrine and understanding of the cross is based on Calvinism. And let me tell you something – the moment the effectiveness of the cross is limited to a certain group, it stops being a sign of hope and it becomes a sign of hopelessness, which is the exact opposite of what it was designed to be!!!

So why, why preach something that so clearly goes against the true meaning of the gospel (Romans 1:16)? Because Calvinists have to! Because the first petals of the TULIP makes them! It’s the result of the Calvinism’s unavoidable downward spiral. Let me clearly explain what I’m saying in case you haven’t gotten it by now. (more…)

Limited Atonement, Part 2 – Limited Atonement is a manmade Limitation on the Gospel

Last time when we started a new study on the “L of the acronym that makes up Calvinism’s “TULIP” we saw that, contrary to the teachings of “Limited Atonement,” the possibility of salvation is not the same thing as enjoying the benefit of salvation; meaning that the incremental conclusion of Calvinistic theology which is demanded due to its teaching concerning “Totally Hereditary Depravity” and “Unconditional Election” is completely erroneous.

Now it is true that there are limits given by God when it comes to the benefit of salvation through Jesus, but contrary to the manmade limits that Calvinism places on the Gospel, the Bible does indeed teach that Jesus died for all, but we must be willing to believe that he died for all and for me as an individual. Let me show you what I mean.

Salvation through grace is God offering a stamp on a debt that says “Paid In Full!” That’s literally what redemption means. It means a Christian has been forgiven of a debt that we couldn’t pay. But the payment for our debt being available and the debt actually being paid off are, again, two different things. God’s redeeming grace has been made available to all to forgive all sins, but we must be willing to admit that we’re all spiritually bankrupt and then have a willingness to accept God’s mercy by faith. For example Titus 2:14 says:

[Jesus ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.

While we’re at it, also think about when Peter asked Jesus how many times did he have to forgive his brother who sinned against him, and Jesus responded by telling a story about a servant who had all his debt forgiven simply because the master had compassion on him (Matthew 18:27). That’s redemption! And that’s why I love to sing, “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

We can’t earn redemption because we can’t pay the price (Romans 6:23), but if a person refuses to acknowledge his or her debt and ask for God’s credit giving grace they won’t get it; but it’s not because the grace isn’t available.

Take for example John 1:29:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

As John said, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin. But just because Jesus offered Himself as the world’s atonement, that doesn’t mean all of the world will receive the benefit of it! Why not? Because the benefit of Jesus’ atonement is only received by faith (John 3:16-17).

Just like the children of Israel the night Egypt was judged for its stiffneckedness – it was God who gave the plan paid for by the blood of the lamb!!! But they had to apply the blood, through faith, to their own door frame to receive God’s grace. The point is too clear – accept the grace, receive the benefitreject the grace, receive no benefit. The plan was made available for all, but each individual had to respond, and a person’s failure to respond had nothing to do with a plan not being made available for them!

Take for another example John 3:14-15 which says:

(more…)

Limited Atonement, Part 1 – Setting The Wrong Limits

Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Christ from beginning to end. It changes the meaning of why Jesus came to the earth, it changes the meaning of what the cross stands for and it changes the invitation to man given by God through His Son. Calvinism in its own twisted way essentially teaches that mankind is equal but separate. Equal in that we’re all “born sinners” and in need of salvation – but separate in that we all can’t have it because only God chooses who will get it.

Up to this point we’ve considered the error filled teachings of Total Hereditary Depravity and Unconditional Election. Now it’s time to examine a new petal on the foul-smelling flower called Limited Atonement.

Unconditional election teaches that since you’re, make that we’re born completely depraved and not able to choose God or do anything good spiritually, the decision of whether we’re eternally saved or lost has already been made for us and there’s nothing anyone on either side of the situation can do about it! Now according to this line of thinking, God’s sovereignty chooses everything, including everyone, concerning salvation, and since his sovereignty never fails concerning salvation that means Jesus could not have died for everyone, because if he did and everyone isn’t saved that would mean God’s sovereignty failed.

So in a nutshell, Limited Atonement means: that Jesus died only for the unconditionally elect, purchased only their salvation, and that there is NO benefit in the cross whatsoever for anyone else other than God’s pre-chosen and unconditionally elect.

The doctrine of “Limited Atonement” in plain language says that before Adam chose to sin and his sin became our “inherited guilt” that we’re born with, God said, “I’m going to send my son for the lost, but not for all of them.” It takes the cross of Christ and says to mankind, “Get as close as you want to the blood of the cross, but the blood of the cross won’t take you any closer to God.” It takes God’s grace and rubs it in the face of the unconditionally rejected and tells them that they have a Creator who couldn’t care less about them!

Now the reality is, according to the truth of the Gospel, and which we’ll get into a lot more in the next lesson, the statements made above are completely wrong because the Bible actually teaches there is such a thing as universal atonementwhich is the exact opposite of Limited Atonement. Where the confusion comes in for Calvinistic adherents who are busy trying to unnecessarily defend “God’s sovereignty” is that they take universal atonement and equate it with universal salvation which is indeed a false doctrine.

But instead of limiting salvation to those who choose to place their faith in Jesus, as the Gospel teaches it should be done (John 3:16-17), Calvinism limits the atonement to limit the availability of salvation so “God’s sovereignty” is not controlled by whether or not someone chooses or doesn’t choose to believe. Because in case you haven’t figured it out – according to Calvinism you don’t even choose whether or not you believe (but that’s for a completely different “petal”).

So like I said, contrary to Calvinism, the Bible does indeed teach that Jesus’ atonement is universal – but universal atonement is not the same thing as universal salvation! This is where Calvinists get so confused…not because the Bible is confusing when it comes to this topic; rather they get confused because their dependence upon a manmade doctrine makes them close their eyes when they  look at such a clear biblical truth right in the face.

Now that we understand what “Limited Atonement” means and how it sets the wrong limits on the redeeming power of Jesus’ blood we can move on to have a greater understanding of how the far-reaching grace of God works through the atonement of Jesus’ blood in the next lesson. EA

And they were greatly surprised, saying to him, Who then may have salvation? Jesus, looking on them, said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27 – BBE)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 3 – Your Vote Counts

Election, election, election – it’s not just for presidents! Election is for God’s people…people who come to God by faith through Jesus. This form of election is created by God, but we must choose to participate in it. No one elects God to the throne! His government is a monarchy, but we choose whether or not we’ll join His kingdom. The ticket will not change: it’s Heaven or it’s Hell for every sinner, and we can choose Heaven! That is the wonder and grace of the gospel!

But this isn’t enough for some! For some, well, they want the choice made for them. They want their election to be “unconditional.” Not only do they want salvation to be unconditional – they want damnation to be the same! After all, how can one be “unconditional” without the other being the same??? If one person has his or her ticket punched for them then all must follow the ‘party’ line.

The fact is that when it comes to God’s election, a person must choose which ‘party’ they’re going to be a member of; but a person may ask about the people in Romans 9? Doesn’t this chapter prove God chooses people according to whatever His desire is and not according to what a person chooses to do in response to God’s desire?

Good question! Think about the people in Romans 9. How did they choose to react to God’s calling? From Genesis to Revelation a person can read about God’s plan to bring a Messiah into the world to save people from our sins, and from Romans 1 to Romans 11 Paul is saying that God had a right to extend His grace to the gentiles and a right to reject Israel because of their treatment of His election that comes through faith in Jesus. Look at how Paul ends Romans 9:30-33. He ends it by saying that very thing! Israel lost their election because they stumbled at (meaning chose to reject) that elect rock of God’s people – Jesus!

Romans 9:7 mentions Abraham. Why does Paul begin with Abraham? Why did God choose to use Abraham? Because God foreknew him! Genesis 18:19 says:

For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

Through Abraham the whole world was going to be blessed through One seed – who was that seed? It was Jesus (Galatians 3:16). And through Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, the promise would continue to be brought to fruition.

Romans 9:10-13 mentions Jacob and Esau. Why? Because when it comes to Isaac the Jews could say, “Isaac deserved to be counted in God’s elect and not Ishmael because Isaac was the promised child.” But in the situation of Esau (the older brother) and Jacob (the younger brother) the elder child would have his “promise of inheritance” pulled out from under his feet. And to make this even more interesting, before either of the children were ever born God chose who He was going to use to bring his purpose (salvation from sin) into the world! God predestinated Jacob to be used to bring God’s elect into the world because He foreknew him. And listen to this, God predestinated the service of Jacob, but nowhere does it say He predestinated the salvation of Jacob. Jacob didn’t “earn” anything, but he would answer the call that Esau rejected and traded for a bowl of beans!!! Don’t think so? Then read this:

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Hebrews 12:14-16) (more…)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 2 – Biblical Election by Faith Wins!

The concept of election is a biblically true and wonderful concept. The woeful concept of Calvinism’s “Unconditional Election” is biblically false. Calvinism takes biblical predestination which means God had a plan to pay the price of man’s sin from the beginning, and turns it into God buying everyone a one way plane ticket with no chance of cancelling the destination. According to Calvinism’s “unconditional election,” once you get on the plane…make that, once you’re forced onto the plane headed toward Heaven or Hell there’s no way off because your ticket is already punched!

Calvinism takes predestination through and turns it into predestination to. It has God throwing people into prison, throwing away the key and then saying we’ll be punished if we can’t get out!

Without a doubt, throughout Bible history, God chose to use certain individuals and nations over others – but the question is why did God choose to use them? Is it because God indiscriminately predestined some individuals to salvation and others to condemnation regardless of individual reaction like Calvinism teaches or is it because God knew exactly how those individuals would respond to His call?

Scripturally speaking the answer to this is clear! Doctrinally speaking, Calvinism muddies the water.

Where Calvinism falls short in its understanding is seen in the fact that God knowing what everyone will choose to do in their own heart when it comes to His commands is not the same as God making (irresistibly forcing) them do it.

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.1 Chronicles 28:9

Combine the clear language of God’s attributes from these two verses and what we get is God’s ability to make His will come to pass, not by overriding the free will of men and women, but by using that free will in our hearts to make His plans complete.

With this biblical principle firmly established we can now objectively look at one of the most, if not the most, “controversial” books in the Bible when it comes to predestination and whether God simply chooses His elect’s salvation for them based on nothing they have done or on something they will do.

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul says the avenue to Heaven has been predestined, but those who walk in it must decide for themselves! It’s all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we as individuals choose to do with it.

Now, what is the purpose Paul mentions in verse 28? The purpose is salvation in Jesus! This is the same purpose Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 1:9: “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,.

Verse 29 follows up by saying God foreknew individuals, not for-chose!!! The verse does not say ‘those He predestinated He predestinated’ does it? Why not? Because the truth of Biblical election revolves around God foreknowing those who would be His elect by their willingness to conform to the image of Jesus. (more…)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election

Despite what some in the religious world thinks or teaches, there are doctrines that are false and dangerous and Calvinism is one of them. Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. It changes the meaning of why Jesus had to die, it changes the meaning of what the cross stands for and it changes the invitation to man given by God!

Calvinism begins with Total Hereditary Depravity. It teaches that people are born completely wicked and so spiritually depraved and separated from God that we deserve hell the moment we’re born. Other than the obvious, another result of the doctrine teaches that we can’t do anything good spiritually or choose to love God and come to him in faith. So how can a person ever be saved if there’s no way that we can choose to do good, choose to believe or choose to come to God? What’s the solution???

The solution to that situation (according the Calvinism), whether we’re lost or saved, is that when it comes to salvation the decision has already been made for us and there’s nothing anyone can do about it! From that point on, the unconditionally conditional doctrine of Calvinism’s Unconditional Election walks in the door as a welcome or unwelcome guest; it all depends on what position you find yourself placed in spiritually.

When you get past all the “pleasant talk” Unconditional Election says that God doesn’t ask a sinner to do anything when it comes to responding to his offer of salvation through grace. This goes for both salvation and damnation! The real issue with unconditional election isn’t whether or not God has an elect people (because he does), it’s whether or not that election is unconditional.

There’s an inconvenient flip-side to Unconditional Election that’s not very logical much less scriptural. If a person is unconditionally chosen for salvation by no choice of their own, then the flip-side is that another person is unconditionally chosen for damnation by no choice of their own. To put it more plainly – the flip-side of being unconditionally elected is being unconditionally rejected!!!

Unconditional Election destroys the fundamental foundation of the gospel that says “whosoever believes should not perish” in John 3:16. Calvinism says “whosoever” doesn’t mean “whosoever” because “whosoever” means a choice; and unconditional election gives a person no choice when it comes to salvation or condemnation!!! The doctrine of Unconditional Election says “wait, we do have a choice – the choice we made when Adam sinned.” Talk about being disingenuous with words! What kind of choice is choice if it’s chosen for us?

A huge question is: If a person is unconditionally elected or unconditionally rejected without any consideration for personal response or responsibility then why did Jesus act a like a person is personally responsible? Think about it for a minute… (more…)