salvation

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…)

A Million Good Deeds And We’d Still Be In The Hole!

Some are of the mindset that they can live a “good” life and do a few good deeds along the way and everything between them and God will be okay.

Now there’s nothing wrong at all with being a “good” person or doing good works, the world needs more of both; but to rely on these two things to ensure a right relationship between a person and his or her Creator is to fail to take into account the problem and reality of sin.

If good works saved a person then Jesus wouldn’t have had to die upon the cross. The fact that He had to shed His blood proves that we could do a million good deeds and we’d still be in the hole spiritually with our sins!  Rely upon good works for our salvation and we’re admitting we believe Jesus is optional.

This is not to say that God doesn’t expect good works from His people (read Titus 3:8 if you think He doesn’t), but this is to say that if your relationship with Jesus isn’t right, then your relationship with God is wrong (John 5:23).

The price of sin owed to God is above and beyond the value that any good deed holds (Romans 6:23). God’s word warns that in the end good deeds leave us in the hole while the blood of Jesus leaves us whole! EA

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

One of the “Greatest” Bible Verses

I don’t know the author, but there’s a breakdown of John 3:16 that shows how it is one of the “greatest” verses in God’s Word.

It’s called: The Superlative

FOR GOD – The Greatest Love

SO LOVED – The Greatest Degree

THE WORLD – The Greatest Company

THAT HE GAVE – The Greatest Act

HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON – The Greatest Gift

THAT WHOSOEVER – The Greatest Opportunity

BELIEVETH – The Greatest Simplicity

IN HIM – The Greatest Attraction

SHOULD NOT PERISH – The Greatest Promise

BUT – The Greatest Difference

HAVE – The Greatest Certainty

EVERLASTING – The Greatest Duration

LIFE – The Greatest Possession

Now how great is that?

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…)

Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 2 – The Bible Simply Does Not Teach We’re Born Sinners!

From Genesis to Revelation you won’t find a single verse that teaches all of mankind is born completely corrupt and incapable of anything good spiritually the moment we’re born! You would think that would settle the issue, but sadly it doesn’t. Despite the fact that the Bible doesn’t teach Total Hereditary Depravity there are some people who still love to try to make it do so!

People who teach we’re born sinners love to quote David when he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) They don’t love quoting it in context but they still love quoting it. But for some reason they don’t like to quote Job when he said, “But from my youth I reared him [the poor] as a father, And from my mother’s womb I guided her [the widow].” (Job 31:18) I wonder why not???

When did Job say he began guiding the widow??? So what did Job mean by that? Same thing David meant when he said he was conceived in sin! They were both speaking in hyperboles to describe the lifestyle they were living at that particular time. It’s not that David was literally conceived in sin any more than Job was literally serving the widow from the womb! They were symbolic phrases to describe the feeling they had in their heart.

People who teach we’re born sinners love to quote Paul when he said, “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3) They don’t love to quote it in context but they love to talk about how we’re children of wrath by nature – attempting to make Paul teach that we’re born that way. But they don’t like to quote Paul when he said, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,” (Romans 2:14). Again I wonder why not???

Never mind the context of Ephesians 2:3 that says the nature of wrath comes from disobedience in verse 2 or that the nature is actually talking about a learned nature, let’s pretend for a second that nature means we’re born completely corrupt, and by nature we can’t do anything good spiritually! If people are born with a nature that can’t do anything good spiritually then how did the Gentiles of the old world follow God’s law by nature??? If people are born with a nature that can’t do anything good spiritually and the heart is nothing but corrupt, then how did Jesus describe the heart as good and honest that the seed (God’s word – Luke 8:11) fell into in Luke 8:15?

How can any of that happen? It’s because we’re not born sinners! We’re not born spiritually depraved! Total Hereditary Depravity is totally wrong!!!

The Bible teaches that we are all born spiritually innocent and we become guilty like Adam when we choose sin over righteousness. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of “knowledge of GOOD and EVIL” – not the tree of “knowledge of EVIL and EVIL.” The heart of mankind goes astray from God – it’s not born astray from God! (more…)

Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 1 – What Kind of Seed Did the Fruit Lead To?

Ever heard of continental divides? They’re areas such as mountains that literally divide geographical regions by causing water to flow in two separate directions thus creating a continental division. Spiritually speaking, there are correlations to continental divides that I call doctrinal divides, and one of the greatest doctrinal divides around is called Calvinism, and once a person hits the waters of Calvinism the truth flows in a completely different direction. Calvinism is not just a doctrinal divide; it’s a “great” one! Why? Because Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Christ; and it all begins with Total Hereditary Depravity (a.k.a. being born a sinner).

Total Hereditary Depravity teaches the immediate lack of spiritual life and complete wickedness and lack of nature to do any good spiritually the moment one is born. It preaches that the moment we’re conceived, our spiritual heart is so completely fallen and full of sin that we can’t choose to listen to God. It means the moment a baby is born, they are spiritually lost and worthy of God’s judgment and condemnation!

But what does the Bible say about this idea??? Since it’s all blamed on Adam let’s go to the scene of the crime and investigate!

The scene of the crime is recorded in Genesis 3:1-11. There you’ll find that without a doubt Adam and Eve sinned! But the odd thing about it is that, contrary to Calvinism, I don’t see anything there about you and me!!! I see the “origin of sin” for sure – but not the famed “original sin” that I am supposedly guilty of when I’m born. From this point in the Bible, Calvinists say every single person born (except Jesus – which we’ll talk about in the next post) is born with a depraved soul! Why? Because we personally sinned in the garden? Nope. Because we’re born in “Adam’s image and likeness” we’re born the sinner that Adam was (Genesis 5:1-3). Calvinism says to be born in the image of Adam is to be born a sinner – no exceptions!!!

But there are more than a couple of problems with the above idea, but I want to quickly give two of them!

First off, whose image were Adam and Eve created in? (Genesis 1:26-27) It was God’s image! The same image that we bear to this day. Now if being in the “image of God” meant being without sin then why did they sin??? If the beginning of the human race could begin life without being sinners then why can’t we?

(more…)

Where’s Purgatory Again?

Read, “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to unto him” (Matthew 18:34) and some read into it the doctrine known as “purgatory.” Read purgatory into it and you’re not reading the whole lesson Jesus gave.

The man who was thrown into prison in the parable only avoided prison because his lord had compassion on him to begin with. He was facing a life sentence with no chance of parole. The debt he owed was un-payable and only his lord’s grace made forgiveness possible!

When a person sins we face a sentence that we can’t afford. The debt of sin we owe is un-payable and only forgivable by the grace of God through Jesus (Romans 6:23). Jesus either pays the whole price or he pays no price. If a person can’t work his or her way into Heaven (and they can’t – Ephesians 2:8-9) then logic teaches that they cannot work their way out of Hell.

The Bible teaches nothing about a “place” or a “state of being” between Heaven and Hell where someone “serves time while being purged of their sins” before going on to Heaven. The Bible teaches nothing about praying to Mary or other “saints” to intercede for those who have passed on. The Bible teaches nothing about paying the church for its prayers or any other benefits. The Bible teaches nothing because there is nothing to teach.

When the Bible talks about the price that was paid to keep us out of Hell it never refers to “indulgences!” It refers to the blood of Christ that purchased our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

When the Bible talks about our sins being purged so that we may be given an entrance into Heaven it never refers to a place of “purification!” It refers to the blood of Christ that purged sin from our soul (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:7).

The time of spiritual cleansing is before death – not after! Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart”. The apostle addressed his words to Christians who were presently cleansed – not Christians who would be cleansed at a later time! (more…)

Don’t Leave it up to “Good Fortune”

Things like horoscopes make me laugh. I mean come on, how many different ways can you say the same thing? One close cousin of the horoscope that also makes me laugh is the fortune cookie. What a combination! Good news every time and lottery numbers to boot! Have you ever wondered why your cookie never says, “You are going to win the lottery!” But anyways, despite the silly sayings that most fortune cookies contain, I got one not too long ago that made me smile. It said, “You will receive some high prize or award.” When I read that I thought to myself, “Hey, now there is one I can agree with” and it’s not because of my good fortune, it’s because of my faith.

Concerning his desire to live beyond the grave Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) Now what is part of that prize and why could he confidently expect to receive it?

We have one answer in 2 Timothy 4:7,8 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Paul did not rely on good fortune to receive a high prize or award. He did not leave it up to chance. He relied on his willingness to endure to the end. He relied on the promise of God made through the faith that was revealed through Jesus Christ. He relied on the grace of the only Righteous Judge that would give him that prize/award.

Christians are called to have the same mindset as Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1 & Philippians 3:15). We must strive to be like the apostle in our confidence in Christ and in our salvation; but this type of confidence will not be found in a cookie. It only comes from a right relationship with our Creator and Savior based on His directions found in His word (Romans 1:16,17, 10:17; Hebrews 8:10-12).  EA

If You Could See Your Sand

As a kid I could get mesmerized by a sand timer. It’s such a simple device made of simple parts, but the way it keeps up with such a complicated thing like time still captures my attention.

Sand timers point out a simple but important fact— whether we see it or not, time is passing by and it’s piling up right in front of our face. Moses penned long ago, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:12). More than likely, Moses had quite a bit more sand than you or I have but his sand still ran out.

If you could see the sand that represents all the time that you have in life passing by in front of you, would it cause you to do things differently? Would you appreciate each grain more? Would the “big things” seem a little smaller and the “little things” seem bigger? Would you think more often about what will happen when that sand runs out?

What we do with the sand we are given is important because one thing is for sure, after the sand runs out here there won’t be any need for it in the hereafter. EA

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.Matthew 25:46