Part 4: Irresistible Grace

Welcome back to my series on the Calvinistic TULIP. My Dad was joking that I should write on the acronym COFFEE, that is Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere. And I make his coffee almost every morning so why not write about it too? Just kidding. We’re going to stick to discussing Irresistible Grace today, although it may involve that Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere.

Due to the fact that my last post was not only late as a result of not being completed on time, but was 2,516 words long………this post should be significantly shorter.

As a Christian, just the phrase “Irresistible Grace” makes me want to sing and shout with joy. His grace is so beautiful and to me irresistible. However, the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistible Grace is a little bit of a different thing. Irresistible Grace often refers to not a gracious drawing to Himself, but an irresistible dragging.

In the Calvinistic systematic, in order for God to get full credit for giving the gift of salvation and grace, it must be accepted and used. Thus the gift must be irresistibly given and the receiver does not have the choice to accept it or not. When you give your brother or sister a present, do they have to use it? Are they forced to unwrap the present in order to receive the gift? It would be rude not to unwrap the gift and use it, but they do not actually have to completely unwrap and use it. When we refuse to accept and believe in God’s great gift, Jesus Christ, then we too are being rude. Here are some verses that talk about God’s grace or salvation being a gift:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” – Romans 3:23-24

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

[Note on this verse: Calvinists often quote this verse to mean that the faith is a gift of God and not of our own doing instead of meaning that the grace is not of our own doing. In the Greek, you find that because of feminine,  neuter, and masculine pronouns and nouns the “this is not of your own..” cannot refer to faith because of the feminine/ masculine/ neuter forms. Look this up and study it yourself, but I am not going to dwell on this too long.]

Unfortunately, many do refuse and rebel against God and do not enter into his grace. His grace was irresistible to me. Others do think it irresistible and do resist his wonderful grace. To those who have trusted in the grace of God. his grace is irresistible. However, his grace is not universally irresistible or all would be saved. Calvinists then have to say that God only offers his irresistible grace to those he has unconditionally elected to be saved.

The true definition of Irresistible according to Merriam-Webster is this:

“impossible to resist especially because of strength or attractiveness”

Impossible to resist? Is that how we always define irresistible? The word “irresistible” is often used as a hyperbole to mean something is attractive, but not to mean that it is truly impossible to resist. Technically, every single man and women has the choice to choose His grace and trust in Christ’s salvation. Before we are regenerate, his grace is not irresistible to us. Before we are saved, we are all rebelling against Jesus’ grace and love.

Where the differences come in between my view and the view that Calvinists take is that Calvinists (at least many Calvinists) believe that regeneration precedes faith. You can see John Piper’s message on this and why he believes it here (John Piper is a 5-point Calvinist). Here is Dr. Leighton Flowers response. Here is an article by Dr. David Allen on why he does not believe that regeneration precedes faith.

Thank you for reading this article! Once again I would suggest checking out Dr. Leighton Flowers website Soteriology 101 if you have questions concerning Calvinistic doctrines.

Check out the other parts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Have a wonderful week in Christ.

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

-Romans 5:15 (ESV)

All scripture quotations are from the ESV translation

Advertisements

Part 3: Limited Atonement

Hello, welcome to Part 3 of my Series on TULIP! Today I will be talking about the Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement, the ‘L’ in TULIP. I wrote a post a couple months ago on Limited Atonement vs. Unlimited Atonement so check it out if you haven’t read it yet. I have also researched the issue a bit more since then.

Limited Atonement is the least believed points of the Calvinistic TULIP. Those who believe only the other four points of Calvinism are often called ‘Four-Point Calvinists’ or ‘Amyraldists’. Here is an article on what that is from a Calvinistic perspective. Note that I do not agree with the article on several points, but that is all right.

The closest label to what I believe regarding atonement and Christ’s work on the cross can be summed up as Provisional Atonement. You can find an article here comparing the differences.

I see absolutely no biblical evidence for Limited Atonement. GotQuestions.org defines Limited Atonement this way:

Limited Atonement – Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and for whom Christ died will be saved (Matthew 1:21John 10:1117:9Acts 20:28Romans 8:32Ephesians 5:25).

The article I got this from here.

First, let’s address the proof verses verse-by-verse. I once heard this quote: “A text without context is a pretext for a proof text”. Keeping this in mind let’s go through these proof texts in context.

Mathew 1:21:

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (ESV)

Looking at different studies on Mathew (here), we see that Mathew was intended for a Jewish audience. This verse was a prophecy to Joseph that through Mary, Jesus will “save his people”. In the Old Testament who were “his people”?

“Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters.” Exodus 3:5 (ESV emphasis mine)

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10 (ESV emphasis mine)

“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:27 (ESV emphasis mine)

In the Old Testament, God had chosen for his people the sons of Israel, because Israel had honored God (Genesis 32:28). Yet, not all of the people in God’s chosen group chose to honor him.

So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” Judges 2:20-22 (ESV)

I was angry with my people;
    I profaned my heritage;
I gave them into your hand;
    you showed them no mercy;
on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy.” Isaiah 47:6 (ESV)

Just because they were included in the group of people whom God chose, does not mean they were truly following after him.

Now to move on to my point. “His people”  whom Jesus had come to save from their sins, seems to be referring to Jews, not Gentiles. But didn’t Jesus come to save Gentiles too? Yes, but as Romans says:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

If “his people”  is referring to Jesus’ people- the Jews -then the verse is talking about Jesus saving the Jews from their sins (not the ‘elect’). Does that mean that all the Jews will be saved? No. The verse says: “he will save his people from their sins”. Notice it does not say: “he will save all of his people(referring to Jews) from their sins”. Yet, in other places in the Bible, it says: “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 ESV)

Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world yet not all will be saved. Not all will accept his gift but all are offered the gift. I cannot see based on context that “his people” is talking about the ‘elect’ but rather I see it as talking about the Jews.

Their second proof text is this:

 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”– John 10:11

I think I will respond with a quote from Dr. Leighton Flowers that shows how Calvinists often rely on the negative inference fallacy. I found it here.

The 5-Pointer must invoke “the negative inference fallacy” in order to appeal to these last 6 passages as proof of their position. “The proof of a position does not prove its converse.” One cannot prove that Christ did not die for the whole by showing that he did die for a part of that whole. For instance, in Gal. 2:20 Paul says that Christ died for him, but no one would infer from that statement that Christ only died for Paul. Yes, some passages say Christ died for His own, His sheep, His church, but no passage says He died only for these. His atonement can be provided for all people while only those who believe are actually saved by His atonement. His death for His own, then, is part of the larger whole in which He died also for the world.

The next proof text is this:

 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9

Once again they are relying on the negative inference fallacy. On the surface, it seems that this verse could be implying that Jesus was only praying for the elect. Yet in other places, Calvinists use the word “world” to mean the elect in the world. For instance John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Let’s look at who he is talking about by looking at the context:

“While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” -John 17:12

Who are ‘them’? It appears very clearly to me that ‘them’ is referring to the twelve. Now look at later in the chapter at John 17:20-21:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

And also John 17:15:

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

John 17:17-18:

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Chapter 17 of John is not talking about Jesus praying for the elect, but about Jesus praying for his disciples and their future ministry. Only two chapters later, Jesus would be crucified and the disciples would need strength and faith. Another example of Jesus praying that his disciples’ faith would hold strong is found in Luke 22:31-34:

“‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.'”

The fourth proof text is Acts 20 verse 28:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

Once again inclusive does not equal exclusive. Those who have obtained salvation and excepted God’s gift of salvation have been obtained by Christ’s blood. This does not mean those who have not yet or have not chosen to accept Christ’s salvation cannot be obtained by his blood.

I would say almost the same thing about the next supposed “proof text”:

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

And “Us all”? How does that mean Limited Atonement? Simply because the letter was written to the Romans and it says “us all” does not mean those outside of the church in Rome were atoned for?

The final proof verse that GotQuestions.org offers is Ephesians 5:25:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

What or who is the church? The same site that gave the definition for Limited Atonement: GotQuestions.org, gives a definition for the universal church (as in not the local church but the entire church) here:

 The universal church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Who is the church made up of? Those who believe. Those who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Just because Christ loved and gave himself up for those (or anyone) who would accept his gift of salvation does not mean he died only for the “elect”.

Now that I have gone through GotQuestions.org’s proof texts, I would like to go through some of the verses that have particularly convinced me that the Calvinistic view of Limited Atonement cannot be biblical.

The one biggest verse that convinced me that yes, Christ did die for all and atonement is available for all, is 1 John 2:2

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

How clear is that! He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world! How do Calvinists miss the clear-cut message of this verse? They must read into the text and say the “the whole world” must mean “the elect that are in the whole world”. How can that be considered proper exegesis! I cannot see it as other than direct eisegesis.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” – Timothy 2:5-6

It doesn’t need to be complicated; all simply means all. You can’t insert words in and make it mean “all of the elect”, “all sorts of people”, “all of every kindred and tongue”. Christ did indeed die for all.

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;” –1 Corinthians 5:14

Calvinists often use the argument on this verse that “all” couldn’t really mean all here, because otherwise, it would also mean that all have died. Instead of concluding that a word couldn’t really mean what it clearly means or discrediting scripture, we need to ask questions like “All have died to or from what?”. Five-point Calvinists assume that saying that truly all have died would mean that all have died physically or all have died to sin, that is that all are saved. I think that the biblical answer is found in Romans 5 verse 12:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” -Romans 5:12 

Did you see the part about “death..to all men”? That sounds familiar. All have died. Because of sin. And because all have died through sin, Christ died for all men so that through him all might live. This is a sound answer that is both biblical and logical.

Here are some more verses that talk about Christ bringing salvation to all people, and dying for all the world:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” -Titus 2:11

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”– John 12:32

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”– 1 Timothy 4:10

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”-John 3:16

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”-Hebrew 2:9

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Isaiah 53. Verse 6 of Isaiah 53 says this:

All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.” -Isaiah 53:6

In the first half of this verse, “All we” and ” every one” are emphasized in the Bible. It seems as if God were trying to get across the point that:

They have all fallen away;
    together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
    not even one.” -Psalm 53

In the second half of the verse, it says “..And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”. Who is “us all”? I believe that the “all” in the second half of the verse is the same as the “all” and “every one” in the first half.

Thank you so much for reading this post! If you liked it please press the like button. Also check out my other posts on Calvinism: Part 1, Part 2, The Problems Calvinism Causes, and Limited Atonement vs. Unlimited Atonement. If you have more questions regarding the robust biblical alternative to Calvinism, I would suggest checking out Soteriology101.com or his Youtube channel here.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-6

All Scripture quotations are from the ESV translation.

The Stumbling Block of Calvinistic Election

I don’t usually post on weekdays or even post more than once a week, but I decided to do an in-between post this week for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I wanted to add more to my last post, but I did not want to make it to  too long. For another thing, I thought I wanted to address a particular part of Calvinism that doesn’t exactly fit in my series on TULIP.

The first point I want to make is this: the term Calvinist is a rather broad label. Not all Calvinists believe all five points of TULIP. Few Calvinists believe that God “sovereignly” decreed to damn certain people to hell and hates those reprobates. I am not criticizing Calvinists with this series. My hope for this series is simply to strengthen the faith of the many people struggling with Calvinism and “How could a loving God…?” by helping show that Calvinism has a robust theological and consistent alternative.

Today I am going to address the problems that Calvinism can cause in causing many people to doubt their salvation or doubt that they can be saved. This week I have been reading John Bunyan’s autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. As I was reading I came across a great example of the sort of doubts Calvinistic thinking can cause. Paragraphs 57-61 shows a part of his struggle with his doubts concerning the Calvinistic doctrine of Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement:

57.  Neither as yet could I attain to any comfortable persuasion that I had faith in Christ; but instead of having satisfaction here, I began to find my soul to be assaulted with fresh doubts about my future happiness; especially with such as these, whether I was elected?  But howif the day of grace should now be past and gone?

58.  By these two temptations I was very much afflicted and disquieted; sometimes by one, and sometimes by the other of them.  And first, to speak of that about my questioning my election, I found at this time, that though I was in a flame to find the way to heaven and glory, and though nothing could beat me off from this, yet this question did so offend and discourage me, that I was, especially sometimes, as if the very strength of my body also had been taken away by the force and power thereof.  This scripture did also seem to me to trample upon all my desires; It is not of him that willethnor of him that runnethbut of God that showeth mercy.  Rom. ix. 16.

59.  With this scripture I could not tell what to do: for I evidently saw, unless that the great God, of His infinite grace and bounty, had voluntarily chosen me to be a vessel of mercy, though I should desire, and long, and labour until my heart did break, no good could come of it.  Therefore this would stick with me, How can you tell that you are elected?  And what if you should not?  How then?

60.  O Lord, thought I, what if I should not indeed?  It may be you are not, said the Tempter; it may be so indeed, thought I.  Why then, said Satan, you had as good leave off, and strive no farther; for if indeed, you should not be elected and chosen of God, there is no talk of your being saved; For it is not of him that willethnor of him that runnethbut of God that showeth mercy.

61.  By these things I was driven to my wits’ end, not knowing what to say, or how to answer these temptations: (indeed, I little thought that Satan had thus assaulted me, but that rather it was my own prudence thus to start the question): for that the elect only attained eternal life; that, I without scruple did heartily close withal; but that myself was one of them, there lay the question.

John Bunyan was struggling with doubts and questions like am I the elect? Is there salvation left for me? Is there any point in trying to pursue faith if I cannot obtain it? Calvinists have very poor counsel for those hurting and doubting. When the struggling ask why, all Calvinists have to answer is that it is “God’s will”, to stop trying, or they answer with Romans 9:22 taken entirely out of context:

 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” ” (Romans 9:22 ESV)

You have but to look at the text in context, and not overlook hundreds of passages and you will find that all can be saved, that God loves all and wants all to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4, 1 John 2:2, John 3:16, 1 John 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Mathew 5:44, Luke 6:35, Isaiah 53:6, etc.)

In paragraphs 66-68 John Bunyan’s autobiography continues:

66.  After this, that other doubt did come with strength upon me, But how if the day of grace should be past and gone?  How if you have overstood the time of mercy?  Now I remember that one day, as I was walking in the country, I was much in the thoughts of this, But how if the day of grace is past?  And to aggravate my trouble, the Tempter presented to my mind those good people of Bedford, and suggested thus unto me, that these being converted already, they were all that God would save in those parts; and that I came too late, for these had got the blessing before I came.

67.  Now I was in great distress, thinking in very deed that this might well be so; wherefore I went up and down, bemoaning my sad condition; counting myself far worse than a thousand fools for standing off thus long, and spending so many years in sin as I had done; still crying out, Oh! that I had turned sooner!  Oh! that I had turned seven years ago!  It made me also angry with myself, to think that I should have no more wit, but to trifle away my time, till my soul and heaven were lost.

68.  But when I had been long vexed with this fear, and was scarce able to take one step more, just about the same place where I received my other encouragement, these words broke in upon my mind, Compel them to come inthat my house may be filledand yet there is room.  Luke xiv. 22, 23.  These words, but especially those, And yet there is room, were sweet words to me; for truly I thought that by them I saw there was place enough in heaven for me; and moreover, that when the Lord Jesus did speak these words, He then did think of me: and that He knowing that the time would come, that I should be afflicted with fear, that there was no place left for me in His bosom, did before speak this word, and leave it upon record, that I might find help thereby against this vile temptation.  This I then verily believed.

Praise to God, he did not let John Bunyan continue in his doubts and struggles but gave him hope and courage to find faith. As we all probably know John Bunyan did truly turn to God and wrote one of the most esteemed Christian book of all time beside the Bible, Pilgrims Progress.

Those who overcome their doubts concerning God and his love for all people, yet still do not entirely reject the doctrines of Calvinism, continue in this inconsistent frame of mind which if it does not take a toll on their strength of faith, it often leads other people around them into doubts. Here are two videos discussing:

  1. Calvinist John Piper’s response to a person struggling with finding faith (here).
  2. A young lady named Megan Phelps who left the church because of the Calvinistic teaching of Romans 9 (here).

Have a great week growing in the faith and confidence of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice!

 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!””

-Mark 9:24 (ESV)

All Scripture quotes are from the ESV translation

 

Part 2: Unconditional Election

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on Calvinism and its problems. Today we will be talking about Unconditional Election, the “U” of TULIP. What is the definition of Unconditional Election? The Calvinistic definition of Unconditional Election according to Wayne Grudem is this:

Election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.”(here)

This definition sounds good and all but it also applies that God intentionally “passes” over some people “not on account of any foreseen [dis]merit in them”. This is known as God predestining some people to eternal damnation.

Is predestination taught in the bible? Yes and no. Romans 8:29 says:

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”(ESV)

Calvinistic thinking has so infected our thinking that many stumble over this passage and very, very few people (Calvinists included) can explain it clearly in context.

First thing to note is the order. “Those whom he foreknew” is before “he also predestined”. Whom did he foreknow? We find the answer in the previous verse, Romans 8:28:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This verse (Romans 8:28-29) is to comfort those who love God that all things will work together for their good, that they are, as having accepted God’s love, predestined to become conformed to his image.  Often in their brains, people will mix up and paraphrase the order to read something like this:

“For those he predestined he also foreknew and destined them to be conformed to the image of his son” etc.

But based on the text, this is talking not about God predestining you to salvation, but him predestining all who accept his salvation to be conformed to the image of his son. God is  all-knowing, but he does give us free will. Because he is present in all places in time and on earth all at once, in the future, the past, and the present simultaneously he knows what we will choose.

There is a wonderful analogy to help us wrap our brains around God predestining those whom he foreknew. Imagine a plane is predestined by the director of the flights to fly from Chicago to New York. The tickets are available for free, however you have to go and pick them up yourself. There is more than enough room for everyone to fit in the plane and limitless available tickets. However, the particular people who decide to except the tickets and go on the predestined route are not predestined to ride the plane. Also imagine that the person directing the flights knew that a particular person was going to ride the plane. He would knew who was going to decide to accept the ride on the plane and he predestined anyone who would accept the ride on the plane to go from Chicago to New York. He did not predestine the people who rode the plane to get on the plane. He did not irresistibly force the tickets into their hands and force them by predestination and irresistible grace onto the plane. We will talk more about Irresistible Grace, the “I” in TULIP later.

Hopefully, that analogy helped. But does scripture teach Unconditional Election? If we look in scripture, we see that it does indeed show Unconditional Election, just not in the way that Calvinists teach it.

A great example of Unconditional Election is shown in the Parable of the Wedding Feast.

Mathew 22:1-3:

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.

And here we come to the first example of divine choice: the choice of the servants who where given the task sending out the invitation. The word “Elect” means “choice” so this is an example of God unconditionally choosing.

Mathew 22:4-7

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Here is the second example of God Unconditionally Electing: the choice of sending the invitation first to his unconditionally chosen people. The Bible speaks much about his love towards his people Israel. In the Old Testament God did lay down guidelines for those who wished to be part of Israel and feared him (For instance Rahab).

Mathew 22:8-10

 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Here is the third example of how God unconditionally chooses: the choice of unconditionally inviting both good and bad.

Mathew 22:11-14

 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Finally the fourth example of God unconditionally choosing: the choice to allow only those clothed in proper wedding garments to enter the feast.

The last sentence of the verse can be confusing. It says “For many are called, but few are chosen”. This verse doesn’t make sense in the Calvinist view either. From what I understand of 5-point Calvinist is that they believe that God only calls those whom he knows will be saved or “chosen”. If called and chosen are completely synonymous, then this verse would be a complete contradiction. I found a great explanation on bible hub of this verse here. Also note there are some parts I don’t quite agree with.

Many are called, but few are chosen – Our Saviour often uses this expression. It was probably proverbial. The Jews had been called, but few of them had been chosen to life. The great mass of the nation was wicked, and they showed by their lives that they were not chosen to salvation. The Gentiles also were invited to be saved, Isaiah 45:22. Nation after nation has been called; but few, few have yet showed that they were real Christians, the elect of God.

This verse could either mean #1: God calls all, but not all show themselves as the chosen, or #2 God calls all, but not all choose him as a result of his calling.

Both Calvinists and Traditionalists believe in Unconditional Election. Just not in the same way. Traditionalists believe that the gospel is sufficient to save, that anyone and everyone has the capability to accept the gift of salvation. Five-point Calvinists believe because we has Total Depravity, that salvation requires not just the gospel, but that God drags with Irresistible Grace those whom he chooses to be saved. But I believe that the gospel is sufficient to save, that the empowering of the Holy Spirit is enough to enable a man to choose Christ.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4

If God desires all people to be saved why would he “pass over” some of them when he could have saved them? God is more glorified by giving his creatures free will to choose him for themselves. Here is a quote by A. W. Tozer:

“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

The “elect” in my opinion are “those who have [already] obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).

Thank you for reading! If you have more questions on Calvinism and it’s alternatives I suggest going to Soteriology 101. Much of my analogies and points in this article were taken from Dr. Leighton Flowers’ work. The article from which I got the points on the Parable of the Wedding Feast is here.

If you have not already read it here is Part 1 of this series. Also here is my previous post on Unlimited vs. Limited Atonement.

One last point I would like to make. The issue of Calvinism has greatly affected the unity of the church, in that it has stirred up endless controversies and arguments (Titus 3:9). It has also caused many to doubt God and his great love for all people, often serving as a stumbling block for those who are weak in the faith (1 Corinthians 8:7-13). There are great blessings in discussing scripture with other believers (Proverbs 27:17) and we should use scripture to teach, reprove, correct, and train (2 Timothy 3:16). However, when discussing scripture, we need to be humble and gracious, in order that we may be built up (Proverbs 15:21 Peters 5:5). We don’t have to have perfect theology to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

-Ephesians 1:4b-10 (ESV)

 

 

Part 1: The “T” in TULIP

This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on Calvinism and it’s problems. I will be going through the Calvinistic acronym “TULIP”. Today we will be starting with the “T”. While the “T” is often defined as “Total Depravity”, most Calvinists either imply or include it as “Total Inability”.

Does the Bible teach Total Depravity? Absolutely! Psalms 53:3 says:

They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”(ESV)

And then again in Isaiah 53, verse 6 it says:

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;”(ESV)

Both Calvinists and Traditionalists affirm and believe Total Depravity.

The problem lies in Total Inability. Is man entirely incapable of accepting God’s gift of salvation? Is man entirely unable to repent of himself? We know that we cannot have works apart from God, so the question is, is repentance a work? First I would like you to think of what repentance truly is. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary repentance means:

“the action or process of acknowledging regret for having done something wrong”

(here)

If we are acknowledging regret for doing something wrong, first we must admit that we are wrong.

The definition of repent according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

ato feel regret or contrition
bto change one’s mind
Does that seem meritorious? Is regret or contrition a work? Are you unable to change your mind and turn from something?

 

Merriam-Webster’s legal definition of meritorious is:

 

 “deserving of honor or esteem”
Putting those definitions together, does “feeling regret or contrition” or “changing your mind”, “deserve honor or esteem”? I would say no. To me that is a contradiction. Many Calvinists however- though not all- believe that yes, repentance is a work.
However, salvation is NOT of us. Repentance does not grant us salvation of itself. It took Christ dying on a cross and calling us all to salvation. THEN he calls us to repentance. He gives us the choice to follow and repent, or go our own way and remain stubborn. And if we continue on stubbornly in our own way, although he has called us time and time again, he will use us in his plan to draw as many people as will come freely to him.
There are a lot more things I could say on this subject. However, others have said these things much better than I ever could. I would like to introduce you to Dr. Leighton Flowers. He is the author of Soteriology 101 where he includes his biography:
Dr. Leighton Flowers was named the Director of Evangelism and Apologetics for Texas Baptists in 2018. In addition to preaching on a wide range of biblical subjects, Leighton regularly travels to churches of all sizes to conduct seminars that specialize on evangelism and apologetics. He has participated in debates with leading apologists and led training conferences for the Annual Convention, Conclave, Apologetic Conferences, and the SBC Annual Convention.
He has many, many awesome videos, articles, and podcasts about all sorts of aspects of Calvinism and it’s problems. I ran across this powerful video when researching for this post, and realized that no matter what I did, I don’t think I will ever be able to express anything close to this on the power and purpose of the gospel. If you don’t watch any other YouTube video this week or month, watch this.
I would also encourage you to watch any of Dr. Leighton Flowers other videos. Here is his YouTube channel. Here is another video on Total Inability.
Also here is my previous post on Limited Atonement vs. Unlimited Atonement.
Thank you, and I hope this video blesses you as much as it has blessed me.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
-Isaiah 53:6-7 (ESV)