Various Thoughts On Reformed Theology

‘There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.’ ~C.S. Lewis from The Great Divorce (1946)

“TULIP” Calvinism Compared to Wesleyan Perspectives
http://www.crivoice.org/tulip.html

The Triumph of Arminianism  (and its dangers)
http://www.crivoice.org/arminianism.html

According to Reformed Theology:

#OnlyPredestinedLivesMatter

#OnlyCalvinistLivesMatter

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Early Warning Signs Of Adult Onset Calvinism
http://theblazingcenter.com/2015/10/early-warning-signs-of-adult-onset-calvinism.html

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 https://www.facebook.com/soteriology101/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

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An ex Calvinist does a great job systematically destroying Calvinism

http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html

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Calvinists state: “Finding out who He is can be confusing”

As I was coming home from work today I noticed on the marquee of a local Presbyterian church the title of this week’s sermon:

“Curious About Reformed Theology?”

Clearly they don’t believe in predestination, because if they did they’d know it’s a waste of time trying convince people of something they don’t have a choice in believing or not believing….

When I got home I looked up their mission statement. It reads:

We believe that God created us for a relationship with Him and with one another. Today, finding out who He is can be confusing.  We want to have a conversation with you about God and His Son, Jesus.”

Confusing? Wait a minute, I thought there was nothing we could do to draw people to Jesus…  I thought we have no choice in the matter to accept Him (e.g. have a relationship with Him). According to Reformed Theology either one is predestined to have a relationship with God or they are predestined not to have a relationship with God. Sounds pretty straight forward to me from a Reformed Theology perspective  and nothing that Presbyterian church can say or do will change anyone if God has already predetermined that He does or doesn’t want a relationship with them…

They’d be better off telling people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ than wasting time on the Gospel of John Calvin.

 

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 No Strings Attached

By Billy Graham

 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
—2 Corinthians 9:15

 A gift is not a gift unless it is accepted. God has given you His Son, but ownership is conditional on acceptance. God does not force His gift on us, but He asks us to receive by faith the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. A person who deliberately refuses God’s offer of love, mercy, and forgiveness is lost. Most people gratefully receive a gift when given in love. The greatest sin that a person can commit is to refuse God’s love.
 http://billygraham.org/devotion/no-strings-attached/

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“…If God loves me, why does He not make me good? God wants sons and daughters in heaven; He does not want machines or slaves. He could break our stubborn hearts, but He wants to draw us towards Himself by the cords of love. “”

THE WAY TO GOD by Dwight L. Moody
Kindle pages 17-18   and also at
http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/Moody.The.Way.to.GOD.html

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 …and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…    Revelation 1:5

DL Moody said of this passage “it might be thought that God would first wash us, and then love us. But no, He first loved us. “

Who does God love? Everyone in the world not just few.

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

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Who Started The Reformation?
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his “The Ninety-five Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. This was indeed a historically significant event. However, many people think that Martin Luther started the Reformation but as you can see in Dave Hunt’s article the efforts to reform the church and keep it on the right track had been an going activity well before Martin Luther:

 June 2000 Newsletter: A Great Betrayal                    Hunt, Dave June 1, 2000

 “…For 1,000 years before Luther, Europe saw persecutions, burnings and drownings of evangelical Christians who had never been Catholics and were not called Protestants. That term would only later be attached to those excommunicated from the Church for protesting its evils. A movement among priests and monks calling for a return to the Bible began many centuries before Luther. Priscillian, Bishop of Avila, could be called the first Reformer. Falsely accused of heresy, witchcraft, and immorality by a Synod in Bordeaux, France in A.D. 384 (seven of his writings which refute these charges have recently been discovered in the University of Wurzburg library in Germany), Priscillian and six others were beheaded at Trier in 385 and many martyrdoms followed. Jumping ahead to the late 1300s, John Wycliff, “morning star of the Reformation,” championed the authority of the Scriptures, translated and published them in English and preached and wrote against the evils of the popes and transubstantiation. Jan Hus, a fervent Catholic priest and rector of Prague University, was influenced by Wycliff. Excommunicated in 1410, Hus was burned at the stake as a “heretic” in 1415 for calling a corrupt church to holiness and the authority of God’s Word.

 Such early reformers set the stage for Martin Luther’s Reformation. Luther himself said, “We are not the first to declare the papacy to be the kingdom of Antichrist, since for many years before us so many and so great men…have undertaken to express the same thing so clearly….” For example, in a full council at Rheims in the tenth century the Bishop of Orleans called the Pope the Antichrist. In the eleventh century Rome was denounced as “the See of Satan” by Berenger of Tours. The Waldensians identified the Pope as Antichrist in an 1100 treatise titled “The Noble Lesson.” In 1206 an Albigensian conference indicted the Vatican as the woman “drunk with the blood of the martyrs,” which she continued to prove…”

The complete article is at http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5704

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Christian Apologetic Research Ministry’s (CARM) (Tony Miano and Matt Slick ) Maligning of Mark Cahill
http://blog.savetheperishing.com/?p=3805

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114 Contradictions from Calvinists
http://blog.savetheperishing.com/?p=2911
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WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION?
http://martycomer.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/what-has-happened-to-the-southern-baptist-convention/

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Hitler & Calvinism (humor)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sEIbwZIeQE

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Hardened Hearts
“…but I think I can safely say that God never hardens hearts that would otherwise be soft. God simply brings the hardness to the surface; He does not make the heart hard. He does not make blind the eyes of those who want to see, but apart from His intervention they would never see. Nothing but the foolish blasphemy of men would say that God hardens or blinds.

Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee on Isaiah 6.9-10

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And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.  Mark 3:1-5

 “Dr. Graham Scroggie notes that the word for “anger” here is in the aorist tense in the Greek and it carries the sense of momentary anger. The Greek word for “grieve” here is used in the present tense in the sense of a continuing grief. So what we find here is this: “When He had looked round about on them with anger” — just a flash of anger, not a grudge or with malice aforethought. But “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” was something that He carried with Him. He always had that awful grief because of the hardness of their hearts.”
Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee on Mark 3:5

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Calvinism Quiz

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It is criminal to put heretics to death. To make an end of them by fire and sword is opposed to every principle of humanity.”
John Calvin: The 1st Edition of The Institutes of Christian Religion, 1536

It is interesting this phrase appeared only in the first edition of Institution and was later erased by Calvin in subsequent editions.
As shown inJohn Calvin: the Unchanged, The Golden Rule, and Radical Reformation vs Magisterial Reformation John Calvin certainly changed his views on this from a Biblical view to an unBiblical view.

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Calvinists have begged me to suspend my website because I could be causing people to go to hell. They tell me I am being divisive for merely discussing the issue. My reply is basically that they must not really believe in Calvinism if I could cause someone to do what God has predetermined otherwise. Also, it is not my discussing the issue that is divisive; it is their counter attacks that are divisive, as they are the ones who don’t want to agree to disagree.

Along the same line I ask Calvinists why they even want to debate me or argue about what they perceive to be errors in my criticisms of Calvinism. After all, if I hold certain views that are contrary to theirs, if I am in error, and if Reform Theology is correct then my position, right or wrong, is precisely the position God intended me to have. If God intended me to the position I have then why even hassle me? Do they want me to go against God?

The mere fact that Calvinists want to debate and correct non-Calvinists disproves predestination and Calvinism.

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Dave Hunt’s response to the question:
I think it is stunning that…the most influential Christians of the past 2,000 years have been Augustinians…

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Why Fight About Calvinism?
<snip> Dave Hunt: …that’s one of the first things I say in the
bookand I explain why I was very reluctant to write the book.  But in fact, we began hearing of more and more arguments, churches splitting, people aggressively saying Calvinism is THE gospel and I quote a number of evangelical leaders of today saying this is pure Christianity, this is the gospel, and some of them even saying that if you don’t preach the five points of Calvinism, you are not preaching the gospel.  Now that’s pretty serious I think.  I have friends who are Calvinists who wouldn’t believe that, but I’m quoting some of the major leaders who say that.</snip> more at http://www.thebereancall.org/node/1082

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“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
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Congratulations, you’ve been elected
Election is a means of describing or of identifying those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation. For example when a person runs for elected office they must accept the office or position. If you elect a person to office and they refuse to serve nothing is accomplished. This is best illustrated by American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman when he was being considered as a possible Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1884. He declined, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.” Therefore when someone is elected they must freely agree to the position to which they have been chosen or elected.

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If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will…then we may take it it is worth paying.”

C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity
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Why were we created?

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…   Acts 17:26-27

 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. Acts 17:30-31

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The Parable of the Talents

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” Matthew 25:24-27

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Mark Cahill: Calvinism and the Bible
http://www.savetheperishing.com/calvinismstatement.pdf

testimony of an ex-Calvinist at the SBC convention
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npF1qhi2Xvk

Here is a radio interview of Mark Cahill on Way of the Master Radio years ago (this has nothing directly to do with Calvinism but in a round about way it does).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmhpL2rQHLs

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What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered. Matthew 21:27-31

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come…

…”Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’  Matthew 22:1-3;9

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There seems to be a growing movement by those in the Reformed Theology movement to distance themselves from John Calvin (basically repackaging bad doctrine into something more modern and appealing), apparently they recognize that his unchristian-like behavior and bad theology on many issues is hurting the cause.  The truth is Reformed Theology cannot distance itself from John Calvin or Augustine. Trying to take John Calvin out of Reformed Theology is like trying to take Charles Darwin out of evolution. Ultimately you end up where you began.

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A Passover thought

So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. Exodus 11:4-6

The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. Exodus 12:5-7

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. Exodus 12:12-13

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants…” Exodus 12:21-24

The salvation of the Israelites was provided by God, all they had to do was heed the call. If they chose to not heed the call the first born in the family died. If they heeded the call the first born were saved.  The Hebrew slaves were not the cause of their salvation, God was, but they had to act.

Those who profess Calvinism, or the doctrine of predestination, claim that if we are able to freely accept God’s salvation without coercion or being created specifically to accept the gift of salvation that we are the cause of our salvation (the implication being that we don’t need God). That is not true. Believing and acting on God’s calling does  not engineer our own salvation. Salvation came to use through Jesus and what He did for us. Heeding God’s call and accepting the gift of salvation is required to benefit from what Jesus accomplished for our redemption. Yes, we can accept or reject it. But if we accept it, it was still the work of Jesus that saves us, not our own doing.

Sleep Like A Calvinist
The following is not meant to be an attack on Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, just an observation on how some pastors take an otherwise good message and ruin it by interjecting a personal and non-biblical opinion which sadly detracts from it.

Recently I watched a video titled “Am I Elect?” in which Mark Driscoll answered the following text message question, “A friend heard this sermon and is doubting her faith. I think it’s an attack from Satan how can I encourage her?”  

Driscoll’s response was “Revelation 12:10 says that Satan is the accuser of the children of God and he accuses them day and night. Satan loves to get Christians to doubt in the goodness of God.”

So far so good, I agree with this initial response, it is absolutely correct.

But then he adds a hypothetical question that was not asked in the text message, “Some of you may be here asking this question ‘Am I Elect?’ The Bible does say that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We should ponder whether or not we do know Jesus…I will say this: you know you are elect if you care about it…”

When Driscoll states how Satan tries to get people to doubt their salvation I am in agreement. Satan spiritually attacks all believers; my guess is he doesn’t have to waste his time on non-believers.

What I object to is Mark Driscoll turning this into a veiled attempt to work Calvinism into the discussion. All believers are the elect, however when a Calvinist starts talking about “the elect” he is referring to those who were predestined to accept Jesus.  The second part of his statement where he says ‘if it bothers you’ then you are one of the elect is unbiblical and unsupported by the scriptures. It is opinion. I am not saying it’s wrong. I am saying he should not make the statement with absolute authority. It may be true at times and at other times it may not be. There are people who because of spiritual attacks doubt their salvation that truly are saved, but there are people who doubt their salvation for good reason, they have never accepted Jesus and think they are saved by being a good person or all roads lead to home.

Driscoll’s response is a Calvinistic Kum-baya good feeling, almost New Age,  answer. Driscoll then says “If you love Jesus then you are one of the elect.” Again no disagreement from me here except I don’t think Mark Driscoll and I have the same understanding of the elect.  

To say “Oh, if it troubles you then you are one of the elect” may or may not be true, but it has nothing to do with Calvinism, which he specifically injects a few moments later in the video. The elect are not those who were predestined to believe in Jesus as their Savior but are those who heard about Jesus and came to accept Him as Lord and Savior, period. All believers are the elect. This has nothing to do with Calvinism one way or the other except that Calvinism teaches a person is one of the elect before he accepts Christ as Lord and Savior while those in the non-Calvinist camp teach that a person becomes one of the elect when they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. See http://www.freewill-predestination.com/election.html.  

Where I really lose Mark Driscoll is at the end of the video. Driscoll states “if your friend is struggling with this what I would encourage her to do is to not look at her sin, but to look at her Savior, and to not listen to Satan’s accusations, but to listen to God’s word and to search her heart to see if she does love Jesus and if she does she should sleep like a Calvinist.”  

Once again I agree with the first part of his answer, but I disagree with him when he gets into the weeds.  I am glad that I DO NOT “sleep like a Calvinist.” The sad truth is John Calvin doubted his salvation, even his own last will shows he lacked assurance of his salvation. R.C. Sproul admitted he was “terrified” when he wondered if perhaps he was “not one of the redeemed.” Why did they doubt? They doubted because Calvinism teaches that God gives some people “false salvation.” The Calvinist wonders “How do I know if I have saving salvation or if I have been given false salvation?”  Apparently one can’t know, until the end of their life and then examine their works. How would you like to be on your death bed wondering, “Did I do enough to know that I am one of the elect? What if it was not enough? What if I was given false salvation because God doesn’t want me in heaven?” Again, I am thankful that I don’t sleep like a Calvinist; I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  For more on Calvinism and assurance of salvation read http://www.freewill-predestination.com/works.html.

Mark Discoll went to the opposite extreme of what Calvin believed, claiming matter of factly that if you are concerned about your salvation then you are one of the elect. The implication being, if you are one of the elect, you are a Calvinist. But Driscoll is just as wrong as John Calvin.

One other thing… if Mark Driscoll believes in Calvinism then his earlier statement “Satan loves to get Christians to doubt in the goodness of God” is either meaningless or he does not believe what he is saying. After all if a person’s actions are predetermined by God then Satan has no
effect one way or the other in getting a person to doubt God. Gee isn’t that comforting and reassuring?  

It is such a shame that Mark Driscoll took a legitimate concern and provided an otherwise excellent answer and then ruined it by putting a Reformed Theology spin on it to advance the Calvinist cause.  

Disproves Total Depravity

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13


Experiencing God Day By Day
by Henry Blackaby

Devotion for Thursday, December 03, 2009
http://www.christianbook.com/html/devotion/experiencinggodblackaby_64.html

Wishing to Be Healed

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time,He said to him, “Do you want to be made well? John 5:6


Jesus asked a man a question that appears to have had an obvious answer! He came upon a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years and who was sitting beside a pool of healing. Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. Why would Jesus ask such an obvious question? Perhaps
the answer was not so clear. Bartimaeus was blind, yet when he cried our for Jesus to have mercy on him, Jesus asked what he wanted Him to do (Mark 10:51). It would have seemed apparent that the foremost concern of a blind person would be to receive sight. There were times, however, when Jesus considered it important for people to verbalize their need and specifically ask Him to heal them.

Just because we are spiritually sick, or just because we are near a place of healing, does not necessarily mean we want to be made well. We may attend church regularly, but choose to remain sinful. Our generation has taken many of the activities that the Bible identifies as sin and has labeled them as addictions or character flaws or the result of an abusive upbringing. We act as if having an addiction is sufficient excuse for disobeying God’s commands. As Christians, we are no longer helpless victims of our sin. There is no sinful habit or past hurt that is beyond the healing touch of our Lord.

Have you gone year after year without receiving spiritual healing? God is capable of freeing you, but you may have become comfortable in your sin. You may not want to be healed. If you really want to receive spiritual health, God can give it today. He wants you to ask Him.

10 July 2009
Today is the Reformed Theology crowd is celebrating the 500th birthday of John Calvin. At least it’s just candles that are burning today…

On the Calvinist websites I’ve looked at all of Calvin’s admirers are claiming there would have been no Reformation without men like Zwingli, Luther and Calvin. How little trust in God these people have. Also they ignore the fact that there several facets to the Reformation, see Radical Reformation vs Magisterial Reformation

The truth is Christians had opposed the errors of the Catholic church for centuries, people who had never belonged to the Roman or Eastern Church. Even within the Roman Church (or out of) many years before “the Reformation” Christians were trying to reform the Catholic church, so lets not give Luther or Calvin all the credit. The trail was already blazed.

3 July 2009
Present at the Synod of Dort in 1618 was Bishop John Davenant (1572-1641) from England who said:

It may be truly said before Augustine and Pelagius, there was no question concerning the death of Christ, whether it was to be extended to all mankind, or to be confined only to the elect. For the Fathers…not a word (that I know of) occurs among them of the exclusion of any persons by the decree of God. They agree that it is actually beneficial to those only who believe, yet everywhere confess that Christ died in behalf of all mankind…

Augustine died in AD 429, and up to his time, at least, there is not the slightest evidence that any Christian ever dreamed of a propitiation for the elect alone. Even after him, the doctrine of limited propitiation was but slowly propagated, and for long but partially received.

James Morrison, The Extent of Atonement, (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1882), 114-17.

2 July 2009
It is your decision to choose or reject Christ, but it is not of your own free will.”

John H. Gerstner, A Primer on Free Will, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1982, 10.)
OK, so you’re to blame if God predestines you for hell. That’s confusing and God is not the author of confusion.

Contrast this to H.A. Ironside:

The gospel preacher can declare without any kind of mental reservation the blessed fact that whosoever will, may take the water of life freely (Revelation 17:22). This is not at all a question of being allowed to take Christ as Savior. It is an earnest entreaty to do so.

H.A. Ironside, What is the Answer? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervon, 1944) 43-44.

Extremes
On the one side you have Universalism that says Jesus died for the sins on everyone and that everyone is saved when you believe on him or not.

On the other side you have Calvinism and Reformed Theology that says Jesus died only for a few select people that were predetermined to be saved and everyone else was created specifically to spend eternity in hell.

The truth is Jesus died for all, but every person has to make a personal decision to repent and accept God’s free gift. God wants a saving relationship with everyone.

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Anyone who has read my whole website knows I have recommended to material from Ray Vander Laan and others who do a wonderful job of explaining Jesus and His ministry in context of First Century Judaism that we with our Greek thinking overlook or just don’t get and unfortunately miss.  There are so many things that we read in the Bible and miss the significance of. The following is just one of many example (Vander Laan is by no means suggesting we need to become Jewish first, he merely uses these things as illustrations). At the last Passover Seder (which we call the Last Supper) that Jesus celebrated before his crucifixion the Bible tells us:

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you…”  Luke 22:20

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.”This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. Mark 14:23-24


Most of us assume that Jesus is just alluding to the blood that would be shed on the cross for the remission of our sins, and that much is true. But for first century Jews it had additional meaning, something they would have recognized. The following is from the April 1999 Focus on the
Family Magazine
:

His Body His Blood by Ray Vander Lann

In the first century, when a young Jewish man reached marrying age and his family selected an appropriate wife for him, the young man and his father would meet the young woman and her father to negotiate the “bride price,” the figurative cost of replacing a daughter. The price was usually very high.

With negotiations complete, the custom was for the young man’s father to pour a cup of wine and hand it to his son. His son would turn to the young woman, lift the cup and hold it out to her, saying, “This cup is a new covenant in my blood, which I offer to you.” In other words, “I love you, and I’ll give you my life. Will you marry me?

The young woman had a choice. She could take the cup and return it and say no. Or she could answer without saying a word-by drinking the cup, her way of saying, “I accept your offer, and I give you my life in response.”

On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples sat together celebrating Passover. The disciples knew the liturgy very well; they had celebrated Passover all their lives. When it came time to drink the third cup of wine, the cup of redemption, Jesus lifted the cup as the disciples would expect and offered traditional Seder thanks, which are used to this day: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, for giving us the fruit of  the vine.”

And then He offered it to them but said something they probably didn’t expect: “This cup is a new covenant in my blood, which I offer to you.”

There are many meanings to that statement, but one of them, in common, ordinary language, was, “I love you, and the only picture I can think of that will describe the power of my love for you is the pure love of a husband for his wife.”

It’s hard to know what those disciples thought that night. Maybe a few chuckled a bit at the picture of Jesus making a marriage proposal, which must have seemed totally out of place in a Passover Seder. And yet, they may have understood Jesus’ willingness to die, be buried, and eventually raised to say, “I love you, and as my Father promised your fathers, I’ll pay the price for you.”

Whenever Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we must be mindful of Jesus’ offer. He still says, “I love you.” He still says, “I offer you my life.
Will you be my bride?” The taking of the cup is a solemn moment, for it is in that moment that one looks to the Heavenly Father and says, “Yes, I accept your love, and I give you my life in response.”

also see by Ray Vander Laan:
Marriage Customs http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=1608
Wedding Plans http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=2096
Jesus the Bridegroom http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=2097
Seder and Marriage http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=1642

Also see “Echoes of His Presence” by Ray Vander Laan, Zondervan Publishing House, 1996, Chapter 2, p. 15

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Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there.

And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.”

William Booth (1829 – 1912) a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General (1878-1912). http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7520

 

 

 

 Knock knock (no joke)

Jesus said:

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him,and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

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So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:12

 If we have to give an account for our actions then clearly we are responsible for our actions and obviously have free will. If our actions were predetermined we would not be responsible for them.

 

 

 The Unpardonable Sin

Reformed Theology talks about “irresistible” Grace, yet that doesn’t quite square “the unpardonable sin” which is rejecting the call from the Holy Spirit.

I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. Mark 3:28-29

 “…And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:31-32

 “…Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son .” John 3:18

 John the Baptist said, “…Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 3:36

 The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ (John 3:18; 3:36). Thus, speaking against the Holy Spirit is equivalent to rejecting Christ with such finality that no future repentance is possible. ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man,’ God said long ago (Genesis 6:3). …In the context of this particular passage (Matthew 12:22-32), Jesus had performed a great miracle of creation, involving both healing and casting out a demon, but the Pharisees rejected this clear witness of the Holy Spirit. Instead they attributed His powers to Satan, thus demonstrating an attitude permanently resistant to the Spirit, and to the deity and saving Gospel of Christ

[Henry M. Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible (Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers, 1995), emphasis added.].

 www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/unpardonablesin.html

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I just read on a Reformed Theology website an article warning how the spread of Islam in Europe was going to overtake Europe if people didn’t “do” something to stop the spread.

 Actually I have no problem with that sentiment, except to say this “doctor” of Reformed Theology apparently doesn’t believe in Reformed Theology or Predestination after all, because if he did whether Europe is taken over by Islam or not would mean that the outcome was predetermined and that we can’t “do” anything to combat it because it is God’s will.

 He’s right, we need to “do” something, and that something is to tell those in Europe (both the Europeans and Muslims) about Jesus and that they have a choice to make!

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  God uses Christians to appeal to nonbelievers

Paul tells us:

 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

 If we have no choice in accepting or rejecting God’s salvation then why is God using Christians to make His appeal to non-believers? If it’s already been determined then no appealing is required. So once again we see that we do indeed have free will to accept or reject God’s gift of salvation.

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  Calvinists “GOTCHA” Questions

Here’s a Yes or No only question: “Do you still beat your wife?”

 If you have never beaten your wife there is no way to answer it yes or no without looking like a wife-beater. Yes (I still beat my wife) or No (I don’t beat my wife anymore).

 How about this one: Yes or No: “Is God so powerful that He can create a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it?”

It’s a silly question that doesn’t even deserve consideration. However, my answer to that is “That would go against God’s nature, why would He want to do that?”

 “Either/Or” questions fit in the same category as “yes/no only” questions; they purposefully limit your ability to give a correct answer so that the other side can use the limitation in their favor.

 Calvinists have their own GOTCHA questions to try to prove their doctrine of Predestination or Reformed Theology. They try to overcomplicate a simple issue by oversimplifying the issues. “GOTCHA” questions are carefully skewed to give a limited response.

 GOTCHA questions are how the Scribes and Pharisees tried to trip up Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus and the Apostles never seemed to answer the questions the way the Scribes and Pharisees anticipated (as those who are responding to Calvinists challenges should not be coerced into doing either); rather they gave a reasoned response that basically rephrased the issue correctly.

 Here are a few standard questions GOTCHA Calvinists ask:

 a. Who gets the credit for your decision for Christ: You or God?

The questions should be “Who gets credit for your salvation?” and the answer is God because Jesus died and paid the price for my sin. Looking for credit for the decision on my part is silly as a decision is required. Getting “credit” is not the issue. Yet Calvinists will always claim that “accepting” is “earning.” See further explanation in b.

b. If we can accept or reject God’s salvation doesn’t that mean that we had a hand in our own salvation?
That’s like saying if I am drowning in a violent storm and a rescuer throws me a line that I get credit for the rescue for grabbing and holding on. I could have very well have said, “I can get back to shore on my own” and refused to take what was offered, drowning in the process.

 Accepting and grabbing the line and holding tight is not “earning” or being the cause of the rescue, it is merely recognizing I have a choice or decision to make. If I refused the line the fault of my death would be mine… unless you’re a Calvinist in which case it wouldn’t be my fault because I had no choice (though Calvinists will still tell you it was indeed your fault even though you had no choice to grab or not to grab the line, your fate was already decided.)

 ...And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him… Matthew 14:28-31

 In Matthew 14:28-31 Peter did not walk on the water by his own power, but by the power from Jesus. Peter was doing fine until he took his eyes off Jesus and his doubt got the better of him. Peter was saved (from drowning) after he called out to Jesus. Jesus was there all the time and available.

c. Which came first, your decision or regeneration by God?

This is an either/or question that seeks to distract from the real issue. They go hand in hand and cannot be separated. God approaches everyone and everyone has the same decision to make, to accept God’s gift or not.

 d. Where did you get the desire and ability to come to Christ?

See c. above.

 e. Where did your repentance and faith come from, you or God?

See c. above.

 f. If we can accept or reject God’s salvation doesn’t that deny God’s sovereignty?

No, it is the Calvinists saying that God can only accomplish His will by controlling every action which denies and limits God’s sovereignty. Knowing that God accomplishes His will while allowing us free will shows how all powerful He really is.

 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. Romans 8:28

 g Does God “know everything”: To answer “no” denies God’s sovereignty and to answer “yes” implies that predestination is correct.

Answer: God knows everything He wants to know.

h. Does anything take God by surprise? To answer “no” implies predestination is correct and to answer “yes” denies God’s sovereignty.

Answer: Even God says at least three different times that people do things that He didn’t command or think of:

“‘The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the LORD. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire–something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.” Jeremiah 7:30-31

“This is what the LORD says…For they have forsaken me …They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal–something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.” Jeremiah 19:1-5

 [Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:] “They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.” Jeremiah 32:35

 Calvinists are asking the wrong questions purposely to create confusion and doubt.

 Here’s the questions I ask instead, not as “GOTCHAS” but instead looking at the Word of God as a whole and not narrowly focused:

 a. What did God create that was not good?

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

 b. Did God create sin?

Sin entered the world when man disobeyed God.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12

 c. Why did God create man?

God created man in his own image… Genesis 1:27

 God created man for a relationship with Him. God did not say “I created some for a relationship and some merely to send to hell.” Man was created in God’s image, therefore He would not have created sinful, evil, men, unless you’re willing say that is God’s image too. I’m not willing to do that.

d. Did God create sinful man?

Man was created in God’s image, therefore He would not have created sinful, evil men, unless you’re willing to say that is God’s image too, something I’m not willing to do. The Bible tells us:

God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.  Ecclesiastes 7:29

 Sin is a consequence to allowing free will, and because God loved man so much He provided for man’s salvation.

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; Psalm 5:4

 The LORD loves righteousness and justice Psalms 33:5

 e. Do people ever do things that God tells them not to do? If so what is the result? Reward or punishment?

Death is the result of sin and disobedience and entered God’s creation when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.

…Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”Genesis 3:11-13

This is what the LORD says…For they have forsaken me …They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal–something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. Jeremiah 19:1-5 (also see Jeremiah 7:30-31)

 Some who follow Reformed Theology say “who are we to say what’s good and what’s not? If God makes us do something it is not for us to decide if it’s good or not.” In effect they tell us if God caused us to do something (sin) then it must be a good thing….

God’s Word tells us what is good and what is not and God does not contradict Himself. The purpose of the Bible is to record God’s Word and plan for us. It is our instructions for living in this world.

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I’ve heard many people at church mention after they have recovered from a cold or flu that it was OK to be sick because God caused it to happen for a reason. They will tell you the “only” reason they were sick was because it was God’s will. That is indeed a possibility, sometimes illness is a means God uses to get our attention and coax us into a certain place or action. But it is also a possibility that their cold or flu, or even something serious like cancer or a woman being raped is not caused by God but is sometimes merely the result of living in a fallen world.

Remember that the Bible says God can use all things for our good.

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. Romans 8:28

[Now notice that all things are working together for good for them “who are the called” ones, and it is “according to his purpose.” This is something that is hard for a great many people to swallow. “The called” are those who not only have received an invitation, they have accepted it.—J. Vernon McGee’s Thru The Bible]

I have benefited from calamitous events that I don’t think that God caused, the events could have been the result of living in a fallen world or by my poor choices. But because God is all-powerful, thankfully, He is able to use the worst of events for His glory and our good.

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   Testing

The purpose of our lives on earth is to glorify God and part of that involves having a personal relationship with Him, just as it will be in heaven.

 There is another aspect of our earthly being which is that prior to an eternity in heaven with God (or in hell without God) we are tested. You could also call it a refining process, like gold and silver, to get rid of impurities so that it does not enter heaven…

 Some people are tested by hard times and adversity. Some fail the test while others in similar circumstances are drawn nearer to God and pass the test. Put another way some people in the exact same situation reject God and some realize their dependence on Him. Both were given the same opportunity.

 Some people are tested with an easy life and plenty. Some people fail this test because their good circumstance makes it hard for them to realize their need for God. Yet others pass this test and always realize their need for God. According to Jesus this is the hardest test and yet people jest that this is the test they would rather face. Perhaps. But viewed from the standpoint that it’s eternity, not our brief time in this life, that we’re talking about maybe we should think twice about desiring this test.

 An article in a recent The Alabama Baptist wrote of Albert Mohler at the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference, “Mohler said every person attending was probably a Calvinist to some degree. Belief in inerrancy, substitutionary atonement, divine omniscience and the perseverance of those who accept Christ all owe something to Calvinism.

 No Albert, I have to disagree with you on this. We owe it to the Holy Spirit, not a man or his doctrine. I’d say that every person attending probably believed in free will to some degree because Calvinists spend so much time trying to “convince” everyone they are right.

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Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10:1-4

Notice Paul said it was his “heart’s desire and prayer” that his fellow Jews would be saved. Paul did not say, “I have no one to pray for because God has already determined who will be saved.” He did however say that it was Christ that makes us righteous “for everyone who believes.” It is Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection that makes us righteous. But we have to believe it in order to take advantage of it. Then Paul continues: For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says,

“Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Romans 10:10-13

 It doesn’t get much clearer than this. We have a choice to make from our heart and the Lord’s blessing are available “to all who call on him” again based on what is in our heart. We can harden our heart or we can open it to God.

Lurkers

One hears all the time of pastors or associate pastors that come into a new church by hiding their true doctrine and agenda. I’ve also seen this with Sunday School teachers as well. I call them Lurkers. Even when directly asked about their position they dance around the issue and claim “I believe in the sovereignty of God” or some such vague answer. Well, I too believe in the sovereignty of God, so it is a moot point.

Sometimes they even state they are not a Calvinist when in actuality they are, you will know them by their fruit. If it walks like a duck…

In 2004 baptistfire.com Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said:

When you are called to a church, be sure that you are a man of integrity and you disclose your full theological position to the church to which you are called. Many a church has called a pastor only to find, only to discover, a couple of years in, that he is determined to take the church in the direction of a Calvinistic church. He never told them that up front. He may even have deliberately misled them. One of my sorrows in hiring professors across these years is that I’ve often asked that question and gotten a misleading answer and found out later that this man was in the classroom perpetuating the system of Calvinism.

 Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, made a similar point in SBC Life.

Act with personal integrity in your ministry when it comes to this issue. Put your theological cards on the table in plain view for all to see, and do not go into a church under a cloak of deception or dishonesty. If you do, you will more than likely split a church, wound the Body of Christ, damage the ministry God has given you, and leave a bad taste in the mouth of everyone. Let me give an example. I am pre-tribulational/premillennial in my eschatology. It would be inappropriate for me to interview with a church and continue the discussion if I discovered that it was committed to an amillennial position.

Now, let me address our topic. If a person is strongly committed to five-point Calvinism, then he should be honest and transparent about that when talking to a church search committee. He should not hide behind statements like “I am a historic Baptist.” That statement basically says very little if anything and it is less than forthcoming. Be honest and completely so. If it is determined you are not a good fit for that congregation, rejoice in the sovereign providence of God and trust Him to place you in a ministry assignment that is a good fit. God will honor such integrity.

Pastors, when looking for a church home be honest when asked (and if you’re not asked bring it up) and don’t dance around the question. Otherwise it makes you dishonest and a liar. And please, don’t make us have to guess where you stand.

 http://www.alliancenet.org/pub/mr/mr98/1998.06.NovDec/mr9806.faj.zwingli.html