As many of you already know I’m a Calvinist also known as a Reformed Baptist also known as a Predestinationist. I know this is a difficult subject within the church for many people. You simply say the word “Calvinism” and anyone who believes in free will is inclined to come at you cocked and ready to fire with long debates as to why you’re wrong. The same thing happens to Calvinists whenever they hear someone say that our salvation is based on our response to God rather than on His grace in choosing to save us.Whole churches get torn apart because of this highly debated topic. I don’t mean to cause some kind of disagreement among any of you who may be reading this, but I’m writing this to try to clear the air, to help you to understand Calvinism a little better, and to perhaps make you think.
To begin with I’d like to state what I believe. I believe that we’re dead in sin, that we’re much like the blind man that God gave back His sight who then must rely on God to be led through life. That long before we’re born, long before the Earth was even created, we we’re predestined by God to either be saved or not. I believe that everything that happens in our lives is under God’s control, from the very moment of birth to the moment of death. Everything is in God’s hands.
Dead In Sin Vs Sick In Sin.
What about being dead in your sin? Many people confuse it with only being sick in our sin. What’s the difference? A dead man is just that dead, he can’t ask for help, he can’t take a pill to make whatever ails him go away, he’s utterly helpless–he is beyond hope. A sick man can go to the doctor and do things like drinking water, taking supplements, taking his medicine, and getting a lot of rest to make himself well. A good friend of mine explained it this way “If you went to a cemetery and called out to all of the dead people and offered them life, would anyone answer you? Nope. Dead people are unable to chose life, and spiritually dead people are unable to chose Jesus. Jesus must choose them.” (Here’s the link to the whole post http://guitarwitharmsblog.weebly.com/blog/why-im-a-calvinist ) I highly recommend checking out his blog, he’s a pretty talented writer. : )
Ephesians 2: 1-9, And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The biblical teaching on predestination can be summed up with the five points of Calvinism called TULIP: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints.
Whenever this topic is debated you often have people claiming that your view of Calvinism isn’t supported by the Bible and that it’s just a man-made doctrine. A friend of mine who is also a Calvinist was once told that, because he was one, he believed lies of satan. I think that if people would put all the name calling and harsh debating aside for a moment they would be able to see that the Bible does in fact hold proof for Calvinism. In fact, for most of the Christian era, the Calvinistic camp was once the main camp in Christianity .
Romans 4:9-25, Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
One question that those who believe in free will must answer is this: Deciding to be saved is a work in and of itself, so if good works don’t save us, how come that work would?
Romans 9: 9- 23, For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 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? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated, that right there is great proof for this because if you read the story of Jacob and Esau from the very beginning you can see God working in Jacob’s life, every step he took somehow lead him to God, so that in the end not only was he saved but became the father of a young man who would later save the lives of many because of God’s great everlasting providence. This verse will tie into a later part of the post. God says that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, not whomever decides to follow Him, not whomever says a little prayer and writes their name in the back of their Bible or who sings a few Christian songs one-two days a week but on whom He wills. Just because someone says “I’m a Christian, I love God with all my heart” doesn’t mean they mean it and it doesn’t mean they’ve been saved.
In Matthew 7:21 the Lord said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”. Just because someone likes the idea of being saved, of going to heaven, doesn’t mean they love God or truly wish to live a life for Him. Wanting to go to heaven doesn’t automatically mean you want to give up sin to do so.
Romans 9: 16-17, 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.
Our will as humans is normally very small and selfish and nothing can change that except for the power of God, who has to come in and rip every last shred of human selfishness out of you before you can truly live for Him. Because of this, our will to be saved is small and our hunger to be saved will only grow once God starts working in us. And it says here, that He raises us up for His glory, that He may be proclaimed in all the Earth, He doesn’t have to save you and He doesn’t save you so you can be safe and happy but so you can bring Him glory so that you can cry to the world “Not by my own works, but by God’s works.”
Acts 2: 38-39, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Everyone whom He calls to Himself, this wonderful gift s for those whom the Lord calls, again it does not state that whomever comes to Him but whom He calls. So, over our lives He works us and tends to us, guiding us every step of the way till one day we no longer reflect ourselves but Jesus Christ the Son of the one Living God.
The way I see this is this: I often think people misunderstand the mighty power of God, as they see Him incapable of saving us that He has to sit back and hope dearly that we pick Him over our sin. So, without going into that topic because that would have to take up a whole blog post just to talk about His mighty power and what He can do, I’ve gotten some Bible verses together just to remind you.
Psalms:50:3 “Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.”
Psalms:46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Isaiah: 45:7 “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. “
Ephesians:1:19-21 “And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
And one last one that really sticks me as one of the best ones to show His great power, one that I doubt many see as an example for this.
Genesis:1:1 ” In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God created everything from the smallest stone you may not see as important to the tallest trees to you and me, He’s the one who brought Israel out of slavery, He’s the one who flooded the Earth, He’s the one who brings daylight, and who gave David the power to kill a man much more powerful than himself. Don’t you think that with all of this power He has the power to save us without our help?
But What About Those People Who Want To Go To Heaven But Aren’t Allowed To?
This is another argument made by free willers, that God would in fact be evil if He didn’t save everyone but they miss a key point, Jesus didn’t have to die, He didn’t have to come and pay that great price for our sins but He did. He endured hours of pain had everything you’ve ever done wrong poured on Him and He still remained on that Cross. None of us had to be saved, we all deserve to go to hell and to suffer for what we’ve done. But because He had mercy on us, because He had compassion on us when He didn’t have to and saved some, we don’t have to face hell but have a chance. The truth is you didn’t have to be saved, He could have ignored you but didn’t. So, it is a great gift that we can never hope to repay that He saved some when He could have saved none.
9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” You see Simon was amazed with the power these men had, he didn’t know or care as to where the power came from, he saw that having power would make him popular among the people, as many “preachers” today do (e.g. Joel Osteen) they like being known as a man of God, they enjoy being looked up to as someone great much like the pharisees in the Bible, they prayed where people could see them and did things for God where people could stand in great awe of them but they weren’t really following God. They were of the world instead of in it, thus they were never saved to begin with and they had no real interest in being saved; they simply wanted the rewards of being saved. The truth of the matter is that those who truly want to be saved have been given that desire from God; these are also given the perseverance to continue to pursue God. God wouldn’t create the longing in us only to close the door in our faces, God can’t lie and He’s given His word that He would never to do that.
God would be an evil God if He decided who to save and who not to…Right?
This is perhaps the biggest argument free-willers make against predestination, claiming that God would have to be evil not to give the option of salvation. They say that it isn’t in God’s character to act in such a cold hearted way. What people often overlook is that God didn’t have to save anyone, He wasn’t held to some kind of contract that said that He would save us, yet He chose to anyway. He could have left us to fend for ourselves but because He had compassion and love for us, enough to send His son to His son to endure death on the cross and His Father’s holy and justified wrath against sinners poured out on Him, in order to save His flock from a just deserved sentence to hell for what we’ve done. They also ignore that, in the Old Testament, God only called one nation for His own–Israel. That means, that every other nation on earth was not called to be His people. Is that not what He does today? Call those whom He has decided beforehand to call?
Looking at John 3:16
“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV) Pastor R. C. Sproul said “What does this famous verse teach about fallen man’s ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing. The argument used by non-Reformed people is that the text teaches that everybody in the world has it in their power to accept or reject Christ. A careful look at the text reveals, however, that it teaches nothing of the kind. What the text teaches is that everyone who believes in Christ will be saved. Whoever does A (believes) will receive B (everlasting life). The text says nothing, absolutely nothing, about who will ever believe. It says nothing about fallen man’s natural moral ability.” You should consider reading the entire article (Here’s the link: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/mans-ability-choose-god/)
Romans 8: 28-30, 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.
God bless you all,