By Bill Pierce
Certain WORDS within scripture quotations have been CAPITALIZED and ITALICIZED to highlight and clarify the differences between the word of God and false doctrine.
FOREKNOWLEDGE WITHOUT PREDESTINATION
God has always given men the power to choose!—It is essential to the truth of the gospel to understand that God’s “foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23; 1Peter 1:2) certainly does not mean that God controls the men he created in his own image (Genesis 1:26) in the same manner as men control their computerized and programmed electro-mechanical robots. Since, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18), God “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). Nevertheless the scriptures clearly show that God’s foreknowledge in no way affects man’s God-given power to exercise free will and to choose between good and evil (Isaiah 7:15-16). With respect to the eternal state of his soul, every man may choose to receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith—by believing the gospel according to the scriptures (Romans 10:17; 1Corinthians 15:3-4); or he may also choose to reject God and his word in unbelief. Therefore God’s foreknowledge from the beginning of the world of what each man will do, does not interfere with his choice to receive or reject the Lord Jesus Christ! God leaves this choice completely up to each individual.
Only one reliable source—“Sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9; 2:1) is found in the scriptures (2Timothy 3:16-17). Sound doctrine is that which is ‘Founded in truth; firm; strong; valid; solid; that cannot be overthrown or refuted’ (Noah Webster, 1828). The Lord Jesus Christ—the Word, and his written words, are the only unchanging and reliable sources for sound doctrine. Therefore the apostle declared: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein” (Hebrews 13:8-9).
The contradictory doctrines of men—Any serious observer will agree that “in these last days” (Hebrews 1:2) the prophesied time has come upon us, “when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2Timothy 4:3-4; 2Peter 3:3). Speaking of the “doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12), Jesus said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7; Matthew 15:9; Ephesians 4:11-14; Colossians 2:20-22; 1Timothy 1:10; 4:1-5).
THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM
The poison TULIP of Calvinism—‘TULIP’ is an acronym for the so called five points of Calvinism, the very grievous, ridiculous, and damnable doctrines of the late French reformer John Calvin, 1509-1564. Regretfully these false and pernicious doctrines are being taught and received by many in these last days. Hopefully the reader will see the errors of Calvinism by the light of God’s word.
Another gospel—Men who teach and preach the false doctrines of Calvinism are preaching “another gospel,” and are “accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8). The “glorious gospel of Christ” (2Corinthians 4:3-4), “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4), is absolutely not limited to a certain group of predestined men, but brings “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE” (Luke 2:9-10). The gospel of Christ is still “the power of God unto salvation to EVERY ONE that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Four of the five points of Calvinism contradict the “holy scriptures” (Romans 1:2; 2Timothy 3:15).
1. TOTAL DEPRAVITY—This false doctrine teaches that because of Adam’s sin, men no longer have the ability to choose to follow God, refrain from evil, or accept the gift of salvation.
Men DO have the power to choose—Contrary to Calvin’s first point, the scriptures are very clear that God has always given, and continues to give all men the power to choose. Speaking of Jesus Christ’s first coming to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24), the apostle John wrote: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but OF GOD” (John 1:10-13). God gives all men the power to freely choose to receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, or to reject him in unbelief (Matthew 12:48).
Examples—Moses declared the word of the LORD to Israel, and said: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Joshua commanded the children of Israel in the promised land, “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15). The LORD said unto David: “I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee” (2Samuel 24:11-12; 1Chronicles 21:9-13). See also Proverbs 1:24-30; Isaiah 7:15-16; 56:4-5; 65:12.
2. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION—This false doctrine teaches that before God created the world, he predestinated certain people to receive salvation, and the remainder to be eternally condemned. The ‘evil god’ of Calvin’s imagination is a malicious genocidal murderer of men from the beginning of the world!
Chosen according to foreknowledge—Another word for “chosen” is “elect.” The saints who are IN CHRIST were CHOSEN “before the foundation of the world,” and they are said to be “ELECT according to the FOREKNOWLEDGE of God the Father” (1Peter 1:2).
CONDITIONAL ELECTION OF GOD—In the apostle Paul’s letter “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1), he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST: According as he hath chosen usIN HIM before the foundation of the world…” (Ephesians 1:3-4). It is extremely important and absolutely essential to understand that “all spiritual blessings” are received by those who are “IN CHRIST,” those who are “IN HIM”! God chooses no one who is “WITHOUT CHRIST [outside of Christ]” (Ephesians 2:11-12)! And no man was “IN CHRIST” until he was “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8)! When he is born of the Spirit he is baptized with the Spirit by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:11; 1Corinthians 12:13) into Christ’s “body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). At this time he receives, “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15). Those of us who are “IN CHRIST,” “have the firstfruits of the Spirit [and we are]…waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
The SEQUENCE of salvation—It is impossible for any man to be “born again” until after he is born of the flesh (John 3:3-7). Only then is he able to hear and believe the “gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to EVERY ONE that BELIEVETH; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Speaking of his death on the cross for our sins, Jesus said, “32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN unto me” (John 12:32). Therefore now, “In the day of visitation” (1Peter 2:12) when the Spirit of God calls an individual (Ephesians 4:4) by the “gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1Corinthians 15:3-4) he may choose to receive or reject the truth. Paul clearly explained to the believers at Ephesus, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12-14). According to the scriptures men trust Christ AFTER they hear THE GOSPEL. Then, AFTER they believe the gospel, God seals them with the Holy Spirit of promise “unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30): the day when the Lord will come back “as a thief in the night” (1Thessalonians 5:2) to gather his people up to meet him in the air (1Thessalonians 4:16-18), the day when their bodies will finally be redeemed (Romans 8:23).
The will of the true God—According to the scriptures it is God’s will for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:4). The true and living God “is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9). The true God predestinates no man to damnation or to salvation! With regard to the salvation of men, the scripture says, “there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 11:6). God said, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). When God sent Jonas to the wicked city of Nineveh to preach that the city would be overthrown in forty days, the people believed God and repented. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not” (Jonah 3:10). Jesus told the unbelieving Jews, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here” (Matthew 12:41).
3. LIMITED ATONEMENT—This false doctrine teaches that Christ died on the cross only for the sins of Calvin’s so called ‘elect.’ The apostle Peter warned of this heresy when he wrote: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2Peter 2:1).
God’s atonement is limited only by unbelieving individuals!—The scriptures reveal a great preponderance of evidence against Calvinism’s so called ‘limited atonement.’ The scriptures clearly state that the Lord Jesus Christ “DIED FOR ALL” (2Corinthians 5:14-15). When he came upon the shepherds on the night of the birth of Christ, the angel of the Lord “said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy [the gospel of Christ], which shall be to ALL PEOPLE” (Luke 2:9-10). Jesus himself said, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the WORLD through him might be saved” (John 3:17). The apostle John wrote: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1John 4:14). The apostle John wrote: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation [the only sacrifice for sins that is acceptable to the Father] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:1-2). The Father said to the Son, “I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47; 3:26). The one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1Timothy 2:5-6). Paul said that “we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1Timothy 4:10). By the grace of God Jesus Christ did “TASTE DEATH FOR EVERY MAN” (Hebrews 2:9-10). We believers “are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). By the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ “the free gift came upon ALL MEN unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18). God has made it possible for ALL MEN to be justified when they choose to repent from their unbelief! “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN” (Titus 2:11). God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30); and Jesus warned the unbelieving Jews, “except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise PERISH” (Luke 13:3-5)!
4. IRRESISTABLE GRACE—This false doctrine teaches that when the grace of Calvin’s imaginary ‘sovereign god’ comes upon one of Calvin’s supposed predestinated elect to save him, the man cannot resist. However the scriptures clearly teach that men can and do resist the will of the true and living God! Stephen accused the rebellious and unbelieving Jews, and said unto them: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). Their fathers “turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41). Jesus Christ lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34; Matthew 23:37).
Men CAN CHOOSE to resist the grace of God—God now commands “all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30) and to “believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (1John 3:23) so that all men might be saved, but the great majority of men choose to go against God’s will and command. It is not God’s will that any man perish, but that all men might have everlasting life (2Peter 3:9), but the free will of men exercised against the will of God prevents them from being baptized by the Spirit into Christ! Men are commanded, “Enter ye in at the strait gate” (Matthew 7:13), but many refuse to obey this command. Therefore the scripture says, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; 20:16).
5. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS—Perseverance means: ‘Persistence in anything undertaken; continued pursuit or prosecution of any business or enterprise begun’ (Noah Webster, 1828). Perseverance is used one time in the scriptures when the saints are commanded to persist in prayer (Ephesians 6:18). In his article: ‘TULIP and Reformed Theology: Perseverance of the Saints,’ the late R.C. Sproul, a strong Calvinist teacher wrote: ‘I think this little catchphrase, perseverance of the saints, is dangerously misleading…The only reason we can give why any of us continue on in the faith is because we have been preserved. So I prefer the term the preservation of the saints, because the process by which we are kept in a state of grace is something that is accomplished by God.’ The scripture does declare in agreement that the saints “are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Peter 1:5; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:38-39).
Preserved in Jesus Christ—I am so very grateful that God’s word always means what it says and says what it means! According to the scriptures the word should be “preservation,” and not ‘perseverance.’ For example, the scriptures say that the LORD himself will “preserve” his words “from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6-7). “The LORD preserveth the faithful” (Psalm 31:23); “his saints…are PRESERVED for ever” (Psalm 37:28; Psalm 97:10; 121:7; 145:20; Proverbs 2:8); “The LORD PRESERVETH all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy” (Psalm 145:20): “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and PRESERVETH the way of his saints” (Proverbs 2:8). The apostle Paul, a born again member of Christ’s body, wrote: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will PRESERVE me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2Timothy 4:18). In complete agreement with Paul, Jude opened his book with the words: “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and PRESERVED in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied” (Jude 1:1-2).
Chosen from the beginning—The apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thessalonians 2:13-14). Men must be “IN CHRIST” before they “receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:5)!
Sanctified: ‘Made holy; consecrated; set apart for sacred services.’ According to his foreknowledge God predestinated all men who would be “IN CHRIST,” because they were sanctified and justified after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD” (1Corinthians 6:9-11), “BY FAITH” that is in Jesus (Acts 26:17-18), “THROUGH THE TRUTH” of the word of God (John 17:17-19; 6:63; Ephesians 5:25-26; 1Thessalonians 5:23): all those whom Jesus would sanctify “with his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12; Acts 20:28).
ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD
Purposed in Christ Jesus—God’s “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:10) was “settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89) before he created anything! God’s purpose for all mankind is found IN CHRIST! God “hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to HIS OWN PURPOSE AND GRACE, which was given us IN CHRIST JESUS before the world began” (2Timothy 1:9).
One foreordained man—It was only after the actual death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred that it was possible for any man to be redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Peter 1:18-19)! Only the “Holy One” (Job 6:10; Psalm 16:10; Acts 3:14), God’s eternal Son (1John 5:20; Isaiah 9:6), who “was made flesh” (John 1:14): who “was God” (John 1:1) “manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1Timothy 3:16), “was FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1Peter 1:20-21). The Son of God was foreordained to die on the cross for “for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:1-2).
CHOOSE TO BELIEVE—If you have not been “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8), then you are “WITHOUT CHRIST,” and “WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD” (Ephesians 2:12). You “must be born again” (John 3:3-7) to “escape the damnation of hell” (Matthew 23:33). If you are an unsaved sinner, God promises you, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9)! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
During this time when “the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18) is being formed, God chooses only those who are “IN CHRIST JESUS” (Ephesians 1:1-4) to adopt as his eternal children. If you refuse to enter “the door” (John 10:9) by faith in Christ, you will not be chosen by God, because you are not IN CHRIST! Men can choose to receive or to reject the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). After the present heavens and earth are “burned up” (2Peter 3:10-12), the Lord Jesus Christ will sit upon his great white throne and judge “the dead” (Revelation 20:12), all those who made the choice to reject him. He will judge them by the written words of God. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). God invites you to choose everlasting life: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).