“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.”—Galatians 4:22-24.
Here Paul likens Isaac’s birth to the New Covenant relationship, and Ishmael is compared to the Old Covenant. How do the Covenants relate to these two sons of Abraham?
GOD told Abraham he would have a son by Sarah. Because Sarah was past age, Abraham did not believe it possible for the promise to be fulfilled. So, falling back on the old-covenant principle of trying to do it in human strength and devising, Abraham took a concubine, Hagar the maid, to help things along.
The son born of this arrangement was compared to the old-covenant idea of “we will do.”
When Isaac was born of Sarah, it was a miracle of grace. GOD actually brought supernatural life into a dead womb so that Isaac could be born. This represents the re – generating miracle of grace that makes obedience possible under the New Covenant.
It does not depend on poor promises of man, but on the unfailing assurance of GOD. “I will put My laws into their mind, and write them into their hearts: and I will be to them a GOD.”—–Hebrews 8:10-12.
Only by the indwelling miracle grace of GOD can the law be kept.——Romans 8:7.
One fact appears in this allegory of the two covenants. The child of promise represents the New Covenant because Abraham obeyed GOD and followed His instruction in begetting that miracle child.
Those under the New Covenant are those who obey GODs Commandments. Ishmael represents dis -obedience to GODs way. Commandment – breakers are the ones who are operating under the old covenant.
“For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”—Hebrews 8:7,8.
Notice that is was the people that were faulty in this covenant relationship. They had promised GOD to obey [Exodus 19:5-8] to keep the Ten Commandments which are the words of the covenant [Exodus 34:28].
It was ratified by the sprinkling of animal blood [Ex.24:7]. The poor promises of the people failed because they tried to obey in human strength alone.
In comparison, the New Covenant was instituted and ratified by the blood of JESUS at His death [Hebrews 12:24; Matthew 26:28]. It went into effect when He died. “For a testament [covenant] is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”—-Hebrews 9:17.
Now get this about the New Covenant: “Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if be confirmed, no man disannuleth, or addeth thereto.”—Galatians 3:15
This means that after the death of CHRIST, nothing could be added to or taken away from the New Covenant. This is why JESUS introduced the Lords supper on Thursday night before He died – so that it would come under the New Covenant [Matthew 26:28].
But think about this question, and do not miss the importance of it. When did Sunday-keeping begin? All will answer: “after the resurrection of JESUS.” Then it could not be part of the New Covenant. Nothing could be added after the death of JESUS, the Testator.
People come and say that the Sabbath belongs to the Jews and the old covenant. Where does it say in the Bible that the new covenant was made with the Gentiles? It doesn’t. “Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh……….That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise.”—Eph. 2:11,12.
Next we want to mention the “ARK” of the New and the Old Covenant. Moses was only given a copy of what was already in heaven [Heb 8:1-5] which included the ark and the tables of the covenant [Heb 9:4].
From the New Testament [Covenant] we can clearly see that the Ten Commandments play a major role in the day of judgment [Revelation 11:18,19]. It is inclusive of the Seventh Day Sabbath of the fourth commandment, the LORDs day [Revelation 1:10]. [aka Saturday].
Christians must stop breaking the Ten Commandments! JESUS found them so important that He even kept the Sabbath Day holy in His deathbed after the crucifixion from Friday night till after Saturday night. He did not think it nailed to the cross! He also taught that the Sabbath is of such great importance that it must be kept even in the flight from persecution [Matthew 24:20].
Christians must stop breaking the Sabbath! John the last disciple at Patmos in A.D. 90 that is 60 years after the crucifixion was in vision on the Lord’s day [Revelation 1:10] and the only biblical Lord’s day is the Sabbath, aka Saturday of which JESUS is Lord [Matthew 12:8] and Christians that break the commandments and teach others to break them, would be in danger of the judgment.
Because we are under the New Covenant by our act of faith in accepting the promise of GOD to write His Law into our hearts, we are no longer “by nature the children of wrath, even as others” [Eph.2:3], but the children of promise.
The figure is apt. We become children of GOD by the sacrifice of our Lord who died for our sins, which is the transgression of the Law. By accepting through faith GOD’s promise of a new covenant relationship. Isaac also was a child of promise, an answer to an act of faith on Abraham’s part. Blending the two ideas, Paul really comes to the climax of his allegory with these words: “Now we Brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”
Abraham’s act of faith in believing GOD’S promise was counted him for righteousness. Our act of faith in believing GOD’S promise is counted unto us for righteousness. That is the way we acquire true righteousness, new covenant righteousness.
“And why did the LORD make His promise to Abraham? Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My Commandments, My statutes, and My Laws.” [Gen.26:5]. JESUS came to die so that these may find fulfillment inside us [Romans 8:3+4].
And how are those described who are literally waiting to be taken to Jerusalem who is above? “Here are they that keep the Commandments of GOD, and the faith of JESUS.” [Revelation 14:12]. No, Paul in Galatians does not teach freedom from the Law of GOD. He teaches freedom from the bondage of sin, freedom from transgression of the Law of GOD, through JESUS CHRIST and the new covenant relationship. Breaking the bondage and law of our inherited sinful nature.
There are websites that insist that the new covenant belongs to the literal nation of Israel rather than the new ‘spiritual’ nation. Yet their indexing shows that they also list at the same time sites that are called “New Covenant churches” who are Christians who do not belong to the literal nation of Israel. What a confusion! The Bible calls it Babylon.
Those websites usually misquote Jeremiah 31:31 where it does not say that GOD will make the new covenant with the nation of Israel, but with the house of Israel. There is a big difference. The confusion started in the 1830’s with the new Dispensationalists and the Scofield reference Bible.
GOD had set the nation of Israel an ultimatum to finish with sin by accepting the Messiah [Daniel 9] which is CHRIST the Saviour from sin [Matthew 1:21] which they rejected.
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion (Zion) the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Rom.11:26).
The context of this chapter makes it very plain that Paul was not talking about Israel after the flesh. Who is Israel who will be saved? Paul had just finished spelling it out in verses 16-25. he described how the Gentiles would be grafted into the olive tree representing the Jewish people. As the Gentiles (represented by the wild olive tree) were grafted in, they began to partake of “the root and fatness” of the Israelites (verse 17). “The natural branches, ” or Jews (verse 21), were cut off because of unbelief, and believing Gentiles were accepted as spiritual Israel.
In Galatians 3:29 Paul said, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The picture grows clearer still as we read Romans 9:6-8. “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:….That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”
So it is faith that makes one a spiritual Israelite, not the accident of physical birth. In the new birth that places Jew and Gentile into the spiritual family of God, all of whom will be saved.
Jesus came to break down the walls of partition. There is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles. That is why James could greet all the 12 tribes of Israel [James 1:1] because we are now all under the heading of spiritual Israelites. Salvation is of the Jews, Jesus said.
The Gospel of Salvation
is a matter of propitiation, a ransom, whereby our sins were washed away by Christ’s bloody death, which was offered as a payment to satisfy God’s holy law.
” Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Heb. 9:12
Works are important but they follow after salvation and are the product of Salvation rather than the means of it in the new covenant. [Rom 4:3,4 Eph 2:8-10 Rom 11:6].
The difference between saying that Salvation is by faith without works and that works follow and saying that Salvation is by faith with works or faith plus works is the difference between the true and the false Gospel of Grace and the new covenant.
The New Covenant Theology
was popularized by Augustine [Roman Catholic] and Calvin [Protestant] and developed into a theology called TULIP which stands for: 1.]Total depravity 2.] Unconditional Election 3.] Limited Atonement 4.] Irresistible Grace 5.] Perseverance of the Saints. The once saved always saved doctrine can be traced back to Gnosticism of the 2nd and 3rd century. Gnosticism was a religious movement that flourished during the second and third centuries A. D., and presented a major challenge to Christianity. Most Gnostic sects professed Christianity, but their beliefs differed sharply from those of the majority of the early Christians. The term Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis (“revealed knowledge”). The Gnostics taught that sparks or seeds of the Divine Being were imprisoned into certain human beings. Reawakened by knowledge, the divine element in humanity can return to its proper home in the transcendent spiritual realm.
The gnostics divided mankind into three categories: the spiritual (pneumatic), the carnal (hylic), and the in-between (psychic). The spiritual Christians were a special or higher class than the ordinary Christians. They were said to be saved regardless of what they did because they had received, as the elect of the good deity, a divine spark into their beings that allowed them to be redeemed. This teaching is strikingly similar to the Calvinistic doctrine that God elected some people to be saved and others to be lost.
Both Gnostic and Calvinists taught that any sinful action does not affect their eternal salvation. The dualistic Gnostic teaching was illustrated by comparing their spiritual nature to a pure golden ring and their material body to a pile manure. The ring can be placed into a pile of dung, but is not affected by the filthiness of the dung. Its purity remains unchanged.
Both agree that there is nothing that can cause a saved persons to loose their salvation. The Gnostic took this teachings to its ultimate conclusion by pursuing their own lust and passions without restraints. Calvinists, however, believe that Christians who are saved grow in sanctification, though they would not lose their salvation, if they did not.
The similarities outlined above between Gnosticism and the Calvinistic doctrine of “Once saved, always saved,” are too numerous to be ignored. They serve to remind us that the teaching of eternal security is pagan in its origin and stands in open opposition to the teaching of the Bible.
Calvinism is a theology that was developed by
John Calvin in the 1500s. He presented this
theology in his Institutes of Christian Religion,
which subsequently became the cornerstone of
Presbyterian and Reformed theology. It is also
called TULIP theology. Calvin himself did not use
the term TULIP to describe his theology, but it
is an accurate, though simplified, representation
of his views, and every standard point of TULIP
theology can be found in Calvin’s Institutes.
A Summary of TULIP Theology [also known as OASIS: “Once saved always saved”]
Total Depravity: Man is totally corrupt and dead in his sin so that he cannot even respond to the
gospel unless God sovereignty enables him, which only happens if he is one of the elect.
Unconditional Election: God unconditionally chooses who will be called to salvation. Calvin
believed that God also chooses who will go to hell. “[God] devotes to destruction whom he
pleases S they are predestinated to eternal death without any demerit of their own, merely by his
sovereign will. S he orders all things by his counsel and decree in such a manner, that some
men are born devoted from the womb to certain death, that his name by glorified in their
destruction. … God chooses whom he will as his children S while he rejects and reprobates
others” (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book III, chap. 23).
Limited Atonement: The death of Christ was only for those God will call to salvation. Calvin
denounced the universal offer of the Gospel. “When it appears that when the doctrine of
salvation is offered to all for their effectual benefit, it is a corrupt prostitution of that
which is declared to be reserved particularly for the children of the church” (Institutes, Book III, chap. 22).
Irresistible Grace: God’s call to the elect is effective and cannot be resisted. “That some, in
time, have faith given them by God, and others have it not given, proceeds from his eternal
decree; for ‘known unto God are all his works from the beginning,’ etc. (Acts 15:18; Ephesians
1:11). According to which decree he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however hard,
and he bends them to believe; but the non-elect he leaves, in his judgment, to their own
perversity and hardness” (summary derived from the Synod of Dort).
Perseverance of the Saints: Those who are elected and drawn will continue in the faith. “Those whom
God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally
fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they
may fall through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their
graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet
they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto
salvation” (Abstract of Principles, 1858).
SOME INTRODUCTORY POINTS
John Calvin has caused great and unnecessary divisions among God’s people because of his errors, and few things have hindered biblical evangelism more than Calvinism. It almost killed the Baptist churches of England
in the 18th and early 19th century. Among Calvinists, evangelism is done IN SPITE OF Calvinism, not because of it. Baptist historian Thomas Armitage wrote: “William Carey’s ‘Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathen’ was published in 1792, but found few readers and produced
little effect. To most of the Baptists his views were visionary and even wild, in open conflict with God’s sovereignty. At a meeting of ministers, where the senior Ryland presided, Carey proposed that at the next meeting they discuss the duty of attempting to spread the Gospel amongst the heathen. S Ryland, shocked,
sprang to his feet and ordered Carey to sit down, saying: ‘When God pleases to convert the heathen,
he will do it without your aid or mine!'”
Things were not much better when Spurgeon took his first pastorate in 1854. This situation is described in Spurgeon vs. the Hyper Calvinists by Iain Murray. Many Calvinists opposed Spurgeon and denounced invitations for sinners to come to Christ. For example, one Calvinist publication warned, “…to preach that it is man’s duty to
believe savingly in Christ is absurd” (Earthen Vessel, 1857).
It is important to understand that Calvinism is an unsettled theology. Calvinists are seriously divided among themselves and always have been. There is Supralapsarianism vs. Sublapsarianism vs. Infralapsarianism. “The
Supralapsarians hold that God decreed the fall of Adam; the Sublapsarians, that he permitted it” (McClintock & Strong). The Calvinists at the Synod of Dort were divided on many issues, including lapsarianism. The Swiss Calvinists who wrote the Helvetic Consensus Formula in 1675 were in conflict with the French Calvinists of the
School of Saumur. The are Strict Calvinists and Moderate Calvinists, Hyper and non-Hyper (differing especially on reprobation and the extent of the atonement), 5 pointers, 4 pointers, 3 pointers, 2 points. In America Calvinists were divided into Old School and the New School. As we have seen, the Calvinists of England were divided
in the 19th century.
Whenever, therefore, one tries to state TULIP theology and then refute it, there are Calvinists who will argue with you that you are misrepresenting Calvinism. It is not so much that you are misrepresenting Calvinism, though. You might be quoting directly from various Calvinists or even from Calvin himself. The problem is that
you are misrepresenting their Calvinism! There are Calvin Calvinists and Thomas Fuller Calvinists and Arthur W. Pink Calvinists and Presbyterian Calvinists and Baptist Calvinists and many other sorts of Calvinists. Many
Calvinists have never read Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion for themselves. They are merely following someone who follows someone who allegedly follows Calvin.
Calvinists believe that they have the right to reject or modify some parts of or conclusions of Calvin. We also have the right to reject the entire thing if we are convinced that it is not supported by Scripture!
It is not wise to follow John Calvin; he was unsound at the very foundation of the Christian faith. Calvin never gave a testimony of the new birth; rather he identified with his Catholic infant baptism. Note the following quotes from his Institutes: “At whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life” (Institutes, IV). “By baptism we are ingrafted into the body of Christ … infants are to be baptized … children of Christians, as they are immediately on their birth received by God as heirs of the covenant, are also to be
admitted to baptism” (Institutes, IV).
Calvin was vicious toward his enemies, acting more like a devouring wolf than a harmless sheep.
Historian William Jones observed that “that most hateful feature of popery adhered to Calvin through life, the spirit of persecution.” Note how he described his theological opponents: “…all that filth and villainy…mad dogs who vomit their filth against the majesty of God and want to pervert all religion. Must they be spared?” (Oct. 16, 1555). He hated the Anabaptists and called them “henchmen of Satan.”
Four men who disagreed with him on who should be admitted to the Lord’s Supper were beheaded,
quartered, and their body parts hung in strategic locations in Geneva as a warning to others. He burned Michael Servetus (for rejecting infant baptism and for denying Christ’s deity). Calvin
wrote about Servetus, “One should not be content with simply killing such people, but should burn them cruelly.”
God does require His people to choose between Calvinism and Arminianism! The Bible says
“prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). The Bible itself is the test of truth, not some man’s systematic theology. We have the right and responsibility to test every theology by the Bible, and we are free before the Lord to reject any part of it or even all of it. We do not have to make a choice between human
theologies. I can stand strictly and exclusively upon the Bible itself. It is the sole authority for faith and practice. Many Calvinists won’t allow that, though. James White, author of “The Truth about the King James Bible Controversy” and he urged us to “defend Arminianism.” If he is not a Calvinist, he is surely an Armenian.
Some of the things that we appreciate about Calvinism. Though we do not agree with Calvinist theology, there are many things that we appreciate about Calvinism, especially in contrast to the shallow, man-centered theology and evangelism that is so popular today even among fundamental Baptist churches. Four things come to mind:
First, Calvinism exalts God as the sole Author of salvation and gives glory to Him alone. In this, it is exactly correct and perfectly biblical and right on target. There is no salvation apart from God. There is no good in man and there is nothing he can do to achieve his salvation. It must be of God entirely. Except that God in His mercy and grace has provided salvation in Christ and has drawn men to this salvation, convicting them and enlightening them and granting them faith and repentance (which are both gifts of God), no man would be saved. All glory to God.
Second, Calvinism humbles man and gives him no role in salvation and nothing to glory of. This is the flip side of the previous point, and in this, Calvinism is perfectly scriptural. The Bible gives man nothing whatsoever of which to glory. Salvation is entirely of God and nothing of man. Romans 4:2 says that if Abraham’s salvation were not entirely of God he would have something to boast of, but of course that is impossible because no man can ever boast of anything before a thrice holy God. Even man’s righteousness, his very best deeds, is but filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6).
Third, Calvinism gives eternal security to the believer. Calvinism promises eternal security to the believer, because it knows that (1) salvation is entirely of God’s grace and thus depends nothing whatsoever on man’s puny works whether good or bad, (2) God has elected and ordained the saved person to a glorious eternal inheritance,
and (3) the saved persevere in the faith through the effective working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In this it is right on target.
Fourth, Calvinism teaches that the elect will give evidence of their calling. The Calvinist knows that salvation produces a dramatic change in a person’s life, and in this he is right on target. Any “salvation” that does not result in a change of life and direction and thinking and purpose is not a biblical salvation.
CENTRAL ERRORS OF CALVINISM
1. Augustine and Calvinism turns theology into philosophy
Calvinism goes beyond biblical statements in an attempt to systematize the mysteries of God. John Calvin was a philosopher; his Institutes are extremely philosophical. It was first written when his mind was still filled with the
philosophy that he had studied as a Catholic priest.
Theology is simply believing and interpreting the Bible. Period.
The Bible warns against philosophy and leaving the simplicity of Christ (Col. 2:8; 2 Cor. 11:3).
And yet Calvinism is not simple; it is very complicated. James White often makes the claim that Dave Hunt doesn’t understand Calvinism, even though he of reasonable intelligence and hasstudied the issue. This highlights the complexity and philosophical nature of Calvinism. It results in an elitist mentality. Consider some of the terms that James White uses in his debate with Dave Hunt: compatibalism, monergism versus synergism, electing grace vs. irresistible grace, effectual calling vs. general calling, effective atonement vs. hypothetical atonement, libertarian
free will vs. the bondage of the will. Other Calvinists speak of objective grace and subjective grace, natural ability and moral ability, mediate vs. immediate imputation of Adam’s sin, supralapsarianism, sublapsarianism,
infralapsarianism, and antecedent hypothetical will.
We believe that Calvinism is more akin to philosophy than to sound Bible theology.
2. The Calvinist system tries to reconcile things that cannot be reconciled in this world.Consider Acts 13:48 and Acts 13:46.Verse 48 is a pet Calvinist verse: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” The Calvinist says, “See, here is a plain statement that those who believe are those who are sovereignly ordained to believe.”
Yet in verse 46 we see a different story. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Here we see that salvation is associated with man’s response to the gospel. These Jews did not go to Hell because they were not part of the elect but because they refused to believe.
Consider John 6:37 and John 6:40
Again, John 6:37 is a favorite Calvinist proof text. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” The Calvinist finds his doctrine of sovereign election and irresistible grace here.
Yet John 6:40 says, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” This is not Calvinism. Here the sovereign will of God is said to be that each and every sinner who believes on Christ will be saved. Here the sovereign will of God is to allow men a choice in salvation, and a great many other verses agree.
Consider John 6:44 and John 12:32
John 6:44 is another Calvinist proof text. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Calvinist finds sovereign election and irresistible grace here.
Yet John 12:32 says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Here we see that God is drawing all men to Christ.
How can these seemingly contradictory things be reconciled? Calvinism doesn’t have the answer, because its proposed solution ignores or twists too many clear Scriptures.
We do not believe these things can be properly reconciled in this present world. We should simply let them stand and not try to force them into a perfectly formed theological system. God truly elects and man truly chooses. God elects and yet every man is urged to be saved and every man can be saved. God elects and yet sent His Son
to die for the whole world. God elects and yet does not want any sinner to perish. All are equally true and Scriptural, so let them stand.
3. Calvinism’s doctrines are contrary to the plain teaching of God’s Word.
The Bible vs. the Calvinist doctrine that faith is a work
Calvinism says that grace means man cannot do anything, cannot even believe, because otherwise grace would not be grace and the sinner would have something to boast of.
First of all, this is unscriptural, because the Bible plainly says faith and believing are not works
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
Furthermore, this doctrine is unreasonable. Salvation can be likened to receiving a gift, accepting a pardon, and taking a life preserver. If someone purchases a nice gift for me and I accept it, do I have anything to boast of? If I am in prison on death row for my crimes and the governor mercifully offers me a pardon and I accept it, have I done anything that I could boast of? If I am drowning in the ocean and a boat pulls alongside and offers to rescue me and I allow them to do that, have I thereby had some part in my salvation from drowning? Have I done
something I could boast of? Of course not. When the sinner hears that Christ loves him and died for him and rose from the dead and offers him eternal salvation and the sinner receives that salvation, that is not works. The sinner has nothing to boast about.
The Bible vs. the Calvinist doctrine of the total depravity of man
The Bible teaches that man is morally corrupt (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-18) and dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) and spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), but it does not teach that man cannot respond to the Gospel. It teaches, rather, that God enables men to respond, giving them light (Jn. 1:9), drawing them (Jn. 12:32), convicting them (Jn. 16:8), calling them through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14), and commanding them to repent (Acts 17:30) and believe on Christ (Acts 16:31).
The Bible vs. the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace
Consider Cain. Gen. 4:6,7 — “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
God spoke to Cain and urged him not to act on the jealous anger that was burning in his heart, and yet Cain resisted God’s will and murdered his brother. God gave Cain a choice.
Consider the world before the flood. Gen. 6:3 — “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”
God strived with men before the flood and had Noah preach to them for 120 years while the ark was building, but they resisted God and rejected his warning. God’s will can be resisted and rejected.
Consider Israel of old. Rom. 10:21 — “But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
We see that God wanted to save Israel and continually reached to them, but God’s salvation was resisted and rejected.
Consider Israel of Christ’s day. Matt. 23:37 — “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” John 5:40 “And ye will not come to me, that ye might
Here we see that the sovereign will of the Son of God, who desired to save Israel throughout her history and who sent His prophets to her, was refused.
Consider the unsaved of our day 2 Cor. 4:3-4 — “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Here we see that men are blinded because of their own unbelief and they are lost because they reject the gospel. It is God’s sovereign will to save every sinner (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9), but sinners can resist Him.
Consider the unsaved during the reign of the antichrist 2 Thess. 2:10-12 — “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be
damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Why will these sinners perish? The reason is stated plainly, and it is not because they are not among the elect. It is because they resist the Gospel and reject the truth.
The Bible vs. the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement
God loves all men (Jn. 3:16).God has commanded that the gospel be preached to every person (Mark 16:15).
God wants to have mercy upon all (Rom. 11:32).
God desires to reconcile all men to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19).
The promise of faith by Jesus is for all (Gal. 3:22).
Jesus was a ransom for all men (1 Tim. 2:6).
Jesus tasted death for all men (Heb. 2:9).
Jesus bought even unsaved false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1).
God desires all men to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9).
Jesus provided propitiation for all men (1 Jn. 2:2).
The iniquity of all men was laid on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6).
The Calvinist’s doctrine of limited atonement is contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture.
The book of Hebrews refutes the Calvinist or TULIP doctrines of unconditional and “sovereign” election and irresistible grace, that God sovereignly and arbitrarily chooses who will be saved and irresistibly and absolutely draws them so that on one hand it is impossible for the non-elect to be saved and on the other hand it is
impossible for the elect not to be saved. If this were true, the Holy Spirit would not give such dire warnings and exhortations to professing believers about the possibility of apostasy, because if they are elected they could not possibly perish and if they are not elected, nothing they could do would change their status.
Consider, for example, the following passages:
Consider Hebrews 2:3: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.”
This exhortation makes no sense in light of Calvinist doctrines. If election is as the Calvinist teaches and it is a matter of an individual being sovereignly chosen by God, how could the elect neglect salvation and how could the non-elect do anything other than neglect salvation?
Consider Hebrews 3:12-14: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence
stedfast unto the end.”
If the elect are predetermined “sovereignly” and if election has nothing whatsoever to do with the sinner himself and if he is irresistibly drawn and sovereignly kept so that he surely perseveres, what could this exhortation possibly mean? How could the sovereignly elected, irresistibly drawn elect depart from God, and how could the
non-elect do anything other than depart from God?
Consider Hebrews 4:9-11: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
How could this exhortation possibly apply to TULIP type election?
This passage says the rest of salvation is something that every person must seek to enter into and all are urged to do so, but the doctrine of “sovereign” election teaches us that those elected to God’s rest are predetermined solely by God and they have no choice in the matter and will assuredly enter into His rest.
Consider Hebrews 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
If TULIP theology is true, why the exhortation? How could the elect fall away? And how could the non-elect do anything but fall away?
Consider Hebrews 10:26-29: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
Again, if TULIP theology is true, why would such an exhortation be given to professing believers? If they are sovereignly elected, they will surely persevere and if they aren’t they surely won’t. According to Calvinist doctrine, it has nothing to do with them or what they do.
If election is “sovereign” and “unconditional” in a Calvinist sense and the believer has no choice whatsoever in the matter of salvation, these passages don’t make any sense.
If, on the other hand, election involves an element of foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2) and involves a personal choice on the part of the sinner (“whosoever believeth,” Jn. 3:15, 16; 12:46; Acts 10:43; Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 John 5:1; Rev. 22:17; etc.), the exhortations and warnings in Hebrews make perfect sense. Because if this is true, and we know that it is because the Bible everywhere teaches it, then the sinner, being given light from Christ (Jn. 1:9) and being drawn by Christ (Jn. 12:32) and being convicted and enlightened by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8) can, because of this gracious divine enablement, either believe on Christ or not and it is also possible for a sinner to come close to salvation without actually possessing it. Therefore he needs to be exhorted to believe on Jesus Christ truly and sincerely and not to turn away before he has been genuinely born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and adopted into God’s family.
Predestination in Ephesians 1:3-14.
This passage is a great hymn of praise for the spiritual blessings God has bestowed upon believers through Jesus Christ. Paul states that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4). Note that the “us” refers to the Ephesians as a whole. God had predestined all of them to salvation, without the exclusion of a single person.
God’s criteria for choosing people before the foundation of the world is that they “should be holy and blameless before him.” “Thus, God predetermined the kind of character upon which He would bestow all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ-namely, a character that would represent a holy and unblemished life. In this way, all have the opportunity to conform themselves to the characteristics that God requires. When Paul says, ‘having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,’ he is stressing that God predetermined that those who would be holy and without blemish would be adopted as children.”
An important thing to note when studying the verses about predestination, is that nowhere the Scripture indicates that predestined believers will never fear that they might fall away. “Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18 about “those who are perishing” and those “who are being saved.” Both phrases employ present participles, indicating that the individual destinies are not yet ‘sealed.’ Predestination applies only to the present situation. The Bible tells of God predestining people living at that time to what they are at present, but not to what they shall or can only be.”
Romans 8:28-30 from a Corporate Perspective
When we examine Romans 8:28-30 from a corporate perspective, the meaning of Paul’s statements becomes clear. “Whom he foreknew” simply means that God foreknew every individual to whom He gave life. This passage does not speak of the specific time at which God foreknew certain specific individuals before they came into existence, but of every person to whom He gave life.
“He also did predestinate to be conformed in the image of his Son,” simply means that God predetermined and preplanned that every human being would be like Christ, by living a holy and righteous life.
“Those whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” God predetermined what all human beings should be by calling them through the Gospel to be what He wants them to be.
“And whom he called, them he also justified.” This statement refers to those who actually responded to the call and received from God the justification and finally the glorification.
“The Called According to His Purpose,” he provides a thorough exegesis of Romans 8:28-30. First, examine the phrase, “whom he called,” it shows conclusively that the call was issued to all, but only those who responded came to be designated as “the called.”
“Reference to believers as ‘the called’ and ‘the elect’ does not in any way imply the positive, unconditional reprobation of other men. The corporate election of Israel to temporal privilege did not constitute the reprobation of the rest of the world, for the way always was open for all men to become proselytes and to share in the heritage of Israel. Furthermore, Israel was called to be God’s channel of blessing for all mankind. In like manner, the corporate election of the Church does not constitute any reprobation of the rest of mankind. To the contrary, the Church is to be the vehicle of grace and salvation for the world. The Israel of God comprehends all men potentially, and the election of grace may be realized in any man. ‘Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none other” (Isaiah 45:22). The call is to all, and all who respond in faith to God’s universal call are ‘the called according to his purpose’ and those whom he justified.”
Next, the phrase, “whom he justified,” it shows that God has acted through Christ to justify all men who will meet the conditions for justification. He stresses that the ground of this justification is the grace of God but the condition is a believing, obedient faith. Paul makes this point clear in Romans 3:26, by stating that God “proved at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.” It is evident that God’s justification is offered, not arbitrarily to selected individuals, but to al who have “faith in Jesus” and obey the Gospel.
The function of predestination in Romans 8, is not to teach that God arbitrarily elects certain individuals to be justified and glorified while condemning others to destruction, but that believers have nothing to fear, because nothing can separate them from “the love of Christ” (Rom 8:85). This point is made in Romans 8:31-32, the very verses that follow immediately the passage about predestination. Paul draws this conclusion from what he said about predestination, justification, and glorification: “What shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?” (Rom 8:31). God gave his Son “for us all,” not for a selected few. Calvin’s notion of a limited atonement for a selected few, is foreign to the teaching of the Scripture.
Its acceptance stretches through much of mainstream, evangelical Protestantism. Due to the influence of John Wesley, Arminianism is perhaps most prominent in the Methodist Church. It is opposed to Calvinism and closer to biblical truth.
Jacobus Arminius (aka Jacob Arminius, James Arminius, and his Dutch name Jacob Harmenszoon) (1560-1609], was a Dutch Reformed Theologian and (from 1603) professor in theology at the University of Leiden. He wrote many books and treatises on theology and is known for his opposition to the five points of Calvinism, though in actuality he objected to only three: unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace.
Arminianism holds to the following tenets:
Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation
Salvation is possible by grace alone
Works of human effort cannot cause or contribute to salvation
God’s election is conditional on faith in Jesus
Jesus’ atonement was for all people
God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe
Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith
2.Corinthians chapter 3
Paul writes in 2.Cor.3 that the letter of the law kills but the spirit gives life. The Holy Spirit brings conversion and as a representative of Jesus writes the law in our hearts and minds. With the mind we understand that the law of our GOD is good, just, holy and spiritual [Romans 7:7-14] and from the heart we obey when GOD supplies us with the love for it.
It is now no longer we that can do it, but through GOD and His power.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? GOD forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?…..even so we also should walk in newness of life. [Rom 6:1-4]
In the next chapter  Paul shows the struggle with his old nature which we are left with. But in chapter 8 shows the victory over sin just as our Jesus overcame and then gives us the clincher: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, GOD sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” [Rom 8:3+4]. So we hope that we have answered with the Scriptures of how we as Believers can keep the law but walking after the Holy Spirit and not after the fleshly lust of our fallen nature. The allegory of Paul in Galatians also confirms this.
Note: The Abrahamic Covenant of circumcision has been replaced by the circumcision of the heart, even though it was given by the old testament: “Cast away from you all transgression…..and make you a new heart and a new spirit. A new heart also will I give you; and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away your stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”–Eze.18:31;36:26
See also covenants