I recently received an email from a reader who expressed confusion as to whether he should believe that eternal life is available to everyone on the same terms, or whether he should lend any credence to the tenets of Calvinism (in particular, that Christ died only for the elect vs. everyone).
Following is the mainstay of my response:
Maybe I can help you, maybe I can’t. If God were to choose who was going to believe, that means He makes our decisions for us. Let me give you an example of what this false hypothetical would mean: It would mean that anything that I tell you, or anyone else, or don’t tell them, would be pre-ordained by God. What you choose to believe would also be pre-ordained by God. I cannot help anyone who thinks God pre-ordains who is going to be a believer, unless God pre-ordains that I will help them and that they will be helped by me.
Calvinism undermines the integrity of the gospel. Each of the five tenets of Calvinism strikes at the core of the gospel message. The tenets of Calvinism are often remembered as an acronym “TULIP,” which represents Total Depravity (the false view that people are unable to believe without having been first gifted faith or regeneration); Unconditional Election (the false view that God chooses who will believe); Limited Atonement (the false view that Christ died only for the elect); Irresistible Grace (the false view that the elect are irresistibly drawn to faith in Christ); and Perseverance of the Saints (the false view that the elect persevere in some unquantified level of sinning less and doing good works).
The truth is that anyone can believe the gospel; that God did not choose who will believe the gospel; that Christ died for the sins of the whole world; that people can resist and reject the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit; and that no one need evaluate his life for signs of persevering in the faith to know whether or not he has eternal life.
I am familiar with most of the scriptural arguments that Calvinists make, and they are making faulty interpretations. Most of them are predicated on God’s foreknowledge of all things that will be, and falsely assuming that because God knows, He chooses. Think about this for a moment: if God knows that a person is going to tell a lie, is He choosing for that person to tell a lie? Of course not! If He were to do that, it would mean that God caused the person to tell the lie. The Bible says that Satan, not God, is the father of lies.
A second predicate for Calvinists is that God will make happen everything that He wills. This is also not true. God’s will is that we love our neighbors as ourselves. It should not take very long to conclude that not everyone does this consistently.
Let’s look at some scripture:
1 Timothy 2:4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
This means that it is God’s will that all men be saved. But, we know from scripture that not all men are going to be saved. So, it is clear that God’s will is not always done. In fact, every time you do something outside of God’s will, or fail to do something that is His will, that is more evidence that man’s volition can override God’s will.
Matthew 23:37: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Here, Jesus expresses His will, but says that the Jewish people would not do it!
Romans 16:7: Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
How could anyone have been in Christ before anyone else, if everyone who was going to believe was chosen by God?
John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This doesn’t say “whosoever was chosen to believe.” It says whosoever.
John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
If God has chosen everyone who will believe, how could one of those people be condemned? Yet, everyone stands condemned unless and UNTIL they believe in Jesus as Savior. I have eternal life now, but there was a time when I did not.
John 20:31: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
The book of John was written to spur belief. It was for everyone, not just those whom God chose to believe.
Luke 8:12: Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
The devil certainly seems to think that everyone could be saved.
Hebrews 2:9: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
This makes it clear that Christ died for every person. His atonement becomes effectual for a person the moment he believes.
There are many other scriptural passages that eviscerate the false religion of Calvinism. I hope this post will be useful in helping believers refute Calvinism whenever they encounter it.
If you have questions about how to have eternal life, click here: THE GOSPEL
Thank you for this post. I have friends who have fallen into Calvinism and it is hard to discuss this with them. Many times when talking with them, even though they are agreeing, it is like the New Age, the words might be the same but the translation they are hearing is corrupt. I really like where you point out, “If God were to choose who was going to believe, that means He makes OUR decisions for us.” I once said to my friend, “If you are required to make a “Decision” for Christ and you abdicate your “Choice” by believing God is the one making the decision, can you be SAVED!? In essence are you passing off to God a responsibility that is yours….. I really have trouble with understanding the underlying motivation/reason for people believing this awful interpretation of God’s Word…..They think they are magnifying God but in reality their god is too small……….I also find that there are an awful lot of ex-Catholics that seem to be drawn and fall into it. I only wish I could understand the mechanics of it in order to counter it better. I thank you for your posting, Katie
Katie, thanks for commenting.
The Bible says that a person receives eternal life upon belief in Jesus as Savior.
I think there are people who have eternal life who get beguiled by Calvinism, but I also think that Calvinism is a hindrance to the spread of the gospel message.
One of the core problems with the false message of Calvinism is it changes the focus from the gospel message to whether or not one has been chosen by God to have eternal life. The proper response to the gospel message is to believe it, so changing the focus to whether or not God has gifted a person with faith is both non-scriptural and an impediment to a person understanding the gospel message.
As to whether Calvinism is particularly alluring to ex-Catholics, I cant say. But, there are some commonalities between Catholicism and much of reformed theology.
Katie, it’s always better knowing the Word vs. the counterfeit to counter, but sometimes knowing what it is they believe helps find the Scriptures in advance to be able to answer.
I think the simple reason is seen in 1 Corinthians 4:6
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
And 2 Cor 10:12
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
And then two really important things we see in Gal 2:4-5
1. False people sneak in
2. People allow them time to spread their lies so the truth of the gospel does not remain (also see 2 Cor 11:3-4), we are not to put up with these.
There are some resources, trouble is some are not people you’d want to listen to. This website among a few others are some good resources.
What an outstanding refutation of the false teaching of Calvinism.👍
I do wish that you would address the false teaching of soul sleep and universalism now permeating the Grace Believing Church.
Not all, but especially a pastor that taught me how to rightly divide the word of God 2 Tim 2-15 and now has done an about turn on these doctrines which are more in line with JW’s and Seventh Dayers. He is also teaching that their is no judgement seat of Christ for believers. Very sad to see Rodney Beaulieu going this route.
Blessings to you.
Dennis Klopper. New Zealand.
Dennis, thanks for commenting.
It is sad to see someone go off of the deep end and embrace the non-biblical teachings that you mentioned.