Much of the content of this position paper has been taken directly or indirectly from the following three sources: Grace Unlimited by Clark H. Pinnock, Vernon C. Grounds, I. Howard Marshall, and others; God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T. Forster and V. Paul Marston; and Elect in the Son by Robert L. Shank. For a complete listing of resources used, please see the bibliography at the end.
The goal of this paper is to articulate the doctrine of grace in the most biblical and coherent way possible. The conviction that God is good in an unqualified manner and that He desires the salvation of all sinners is the theological presupposition on which we have based our position. In the cross of Christ we see the will of God for the salvation of all sinners perfectly exemplified. As Paul says, “The love of Christ compels us, because we are convinced that one has died for all” (2 Cor. 5:14). In Romans 5:18 the apostle writes, “As one man’s trespass led to the condemnation of all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to the acquittal and life for all men.” According to John, Jesus “is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2). To each human being God offers forgiveness in Jesus Christ and the gift of sonship. As Jesus says, “It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Mt. 18:14). We consent to Paul’s judgment that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” and to Peter’s conviction that God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Therefore, we believe that the universal salvific will of the Father has become objectified in the atoning work of the Son according to these, and many other texts, so that no sinner can ever doubt that God loves him and desires to save him.
We believe that the biblical doctrine of election presents no threat to and exists in no tension with the scriptural doctrine of universal grace. Likewise, there is no paradox or “mystery” involved when the doctrine of election is properly understood. As Pinnock writes regarding D.A. Carson’s Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom, “Carson needs to distinguish contradiction from mystery. A circle is not and cannot be at the same time a square. An action is not and cannot be at the same time determined by God and freely chosen in a significant sense. To say it can be is not mysterious but self-contradictory. Trusting the Bible is not the issue–the issue is whether or not we wish to attribute nonsense to Scripture in our interpretation of it.”
It is our understanding that election is corporate (i.e. “in Christ”) and not particular. We do not believe that certain people are predestined to eternal life and the remainder predestined to eternal damnation. In Scripture predestination is a “setting out of a horizon” for believers, not a decree as to who should believe. We believe the Bible teaches in the Old Testament that Israel was God’s “elect” people (plural) and that in the New Testament it is the Church; which is made up of individuals who by their faith are now in Christ, with Him being the very Elect of God. Likewise, in the Old Testament true Israel was made up of those who responded in faith and obedience to God’s revelation at that time.
It is also our understanding that “election,” as taught by Reformed theologians, was not the teaching of the Early Church. And that in the first 375 years after Christ, no mention is made of it by any writer, great or small, in any part of the Christian church; with Augustine (354 – 430) being the first to teach this new and unorthodox doctrine. To the contrary, the early church fathers clearly taught that the genuine ability to accept or reject the Gospel was a gift given by God to every person. Oftentimes the Biblical view of “free-will” is misrepresented and confused with Pelagianism, which is 100 percent “self-effort.”
Jerome (347 – 420) strongly attacked the Pelagians and wanted to distinguish the Pelagian concept of free-will from the orthodox and Biblical one: “It is true that freedom of the will brings with it freedom of decision.”
F.F. Bruce calls Origen (185 – 254) “the greatest scholar and thinker of the church in the first three centuries.” Origen wrote, “Now it ought to be known that the holy apostles, in preaching the faith of Christ, delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on certain points which they believed to be necessary to everyone . . . This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the church that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition. There are, indeed, innumerable passages in the Scriptures which establish with exceeding clearness the existence of freedom of will.”
Justin Martyr (100 – 165) wrote, “So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God.”
Irenaeus of Gaul (130 – 200) was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus wrote, “And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice. If then it were not in our power to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others? This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free agent from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God.” Interestingly, Irenaeus wrote this in his work Against Heresies.
F.F. Bruce writes, “In the east there is none to match John Chrysostom of Constantinople.” John Chrysostom (347 – 407) is clear on this topic as well: “All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him.”
Again, the Pelagian view (i.e. “works”) and the Biblical and early church view need to be properly distinguished. In the Bible Paul always sets faith and works in antithesis. Paul does not say that unless faith comes by way of “irresistible grace” it would be “works.” Rather, he contrasts grace and works, but never faith and grace, for faith is never a work. There is no thought of “salvation by works” here; for repentance and faith are not works, but rather soul adjustments to God’s plan and will, and cannot be accomplished without the help of the Holy Spirit. (See God’s Strategy in Human History; pp. 243 – 248.)
Lastly, we think there is a distinct possibility that a Christian’s motivation to pray for and evangelize the lost can be greatly undermined, either consciously or subconsciously, by believing that some are “chosen” and some are not, as predetermined by God from eternity past. We will proceed by going through each of the five points (T-U-L-I-P) of Calvinism. The definitions for these five points have been taken from a paper by Dave Harvey. Also, we have used many of his expressions and the quotes he used for the fifth and final point. The five points of Calvinism are so interwoven, that if just one point is found to be unbiblical, the whole system completely unravels. We believe the Scriptures are replete with passages supporting the position we have taken on these five points.
And don’t you listen to any of these “interpreters of truth,” who say God has chosen some and not chosen others, and the ones that He has chosen will be, and the ones that He hasn’t chosen are no good; they’re vessels of wrath fitted to destruction and God created them to have the fun of damning them. Don’t you listen to such, what Wesley called “a horrible decree.” There isn’t anybody like that in the universe, sir. I don’t say there’s good in everybody, but I say there’s Somebody who likes them whether they’re good or not. I say there’s Somebody who’s emotionally concerned about them. Everybody matters. (A.W. Tozer, Each One of Us Matters)
One of the main reasons Wesley was so opposed to the doctrine of predestination was that he thought it destroyed any meaningful attribution of love and justice to God. Indeed, Wesley thought the doctrine represented “God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, and more unjust.” (The Works of John Wesley; Vol. 7; p. 382.)
[Point 1 – Total Depravity / Total Inability]
This doctrine teaches that the fall of man affected every part of man, that the whole of man’s being is corrupted by sin and that man is unable to choose good over evil in the spiritual realm and incapable of choosing to believe the gospel.
In contrast, we believe that man’s corruption has not affected the sinner’s creational God-given freedom to choose life or death; to believe in Christ or reject Him. Before regeneration, man is spiritually dead but not physically, intellectually, emotionally, or volitionally dead. This freedom and ability to be convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin, to be made aware of God’s existence and will, and to respond to the gospel is sometimes called “prevenient grace;” as it is a gift of God given to every person.
“It is inherent in the nature of man that his will must be free. Made in the image of God who is completely free, man must enjoy a measure of freedom. This enables him to select his companions for this world and the next; it enables him to yield his soul to whom he will, to give allegiance to God or the devil, to remain a sinner or become a saint.” (A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian; p. 29.)
It would be disingenuous and totally lacking in integrity, and therefore impossible, for God to command or invite someone to do something that He did not make it possible for that person to do (Acts 17:30; Mt. 6:33 and 11:28-30).
“Note Peter’s words to Cornelius, ‘Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him’ (Acts 10:34). The many appeals to men to seek God often are dismissed by Calvinists as merely symbolic rather than authentic, on the plea that man’s depravity makes it impossible for him to comply with God’s commands and appeals. Failure to recognize hyperbole, a frequent device in Biblical literature, has involved many an erroneous definition of human depravity that makes God’s appeals and exhortations ludicrous, if not shamefully insincere.” (Robert Shank, Elect in the Son; p. 204.)
Eph. 2:1-2 and 5:14; Mt. 8:22; Rev. 5:16 (i.e. “dead”)
Prov. 8:1-10, 17-23, and 30-36 (Wisdom Personified / Huge!)
Heb. 11:6; Jn. 16:8; Acts 17:27 and 30; Rom. 1:18-20;
Rom. 2:6-16 and 10:9-13; Rom. 10:21; 1 Tim. 4:2; Jas. 4:7-8
“Alongside the fact that man is ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1) must be set the prevenient grace given to all. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath.” (The Works of John Wesley, Vol. 6; p. 512.)
[Point 2 – Unconditional Election]
This doctrine states that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be objects of His undeserved favor and salvation. These and these only He purposed to save, by His own eternal decree. It teaches that this election cannot be conditioned upon anything good in those chosen, even foreseen faith.
As stated earlier, we believe that soteriological election is corporate and not particular. [For two thorough studies on this see The New Chosen People and Elect in the Son.] Jesus Christ and those “in Christ” (i.e. the Church) are the elect. Also, in the Bible, God’s foreknowledge always precedes His choosing. We think that exegetically this means exactly what it says, to know before the fact (i.e. foreseen faith). It never signifies, intrinsically, to predetermine, or to love, or to favor beforehand; but always to foreknow or prerecognize. [See the word study on this and other key words in God’s Strategy in Human History.] And to know something either in advance or after the fact is clearly not the cause of its happening (i.e. believing in or rejecting Christ). In Romans 8:28-30, it is not the purpose of the apostle to show or declare the surety of any particular individual’s passing through the stages of this scheme, but to show the indestructible and absolute surety of the scheme itself. The ark in Noah’s day was unconditionally predestined to outride the deluge, but it depended upon each person’s choosing to enter and remain within the ark as to whether he or she would be saved.
We agree with the following definition taken from Chapter 9 of Grace Unlimited: Believers are elect or predestined to a life of holiness and conformity to the Son. This salvific choice is cocomitant with foreknowledge and does not amount to an ineffable call to a chosen few but rather is the accompanying force with man’s faith-decision. To be sure, it is God who is the Great Initiator. (He sent Jesus, who suffered, died, and was raised to life. He sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and their need of a Savior. He gave us the Bible, the Church, etc.)
“Election is not God’s choice of a restricted number of individuals whom He wills to save, but the description of that corporate body which, in Christ, He is saving.” (The New Chosen People; p. 266.)
“Scripture does not teach that God has foreordained which individuals will become believers. All biblical statements about predestination make reference to predestination as a collective reality. God has decided that there will be a community of faith, but he has not chosen the individuals who will be part of it. This choice is left to ‘whosoever will.’ God makes salvation available; it is up to individual people to accept it or reject it. God does not choose individuals for salvation, for He wants all to accept His invitation and be saved. But He does choose some individuals to perform specific tasks. Such individuals may or may not be saved. Even when they are not believers, they can be used to advance the purpose of God without being part of those purposes (i.e. Cyrus and Judas; Isa. 44:28 and Jn. 6:70).” (Christianity 101; pp. 153 – 154.) God is no less “sovereign” via the non-Calvinistic position, because He is the One who has decided and chosen that the salvation process be the way it is (i.e. a universal gospel call given to free moral agents).
Both Paul’s and Jesus’ emotional responses and statements in Romans 9:1-3 and Luke 13:34 and 19:41 would not make sense if they understood ‘unconditional election’ to be the case. “In Romans 9:1-3 Paul stands in God’s presence as a believing seed of Abraham under excruciating agony for his people, like Moses (Ex. 32:32). If Paul believed that God arbitrarily chooses ‘some to life’ and ‘others to condemnation,’ his emotional state is hardly appropriate, even as their biologico-historico kinsman.” (Grace Unlimited, p. 194.)
There is a clearly conditional Scripture in relation to election found in 2 Peter 1:10: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall.”
“It is apparent from his frequent and extensive appeals to Romans 9:6-29 that Calvin considered it the cardinal and definitive passage on election. His misconstruction of the passage furnished him with three false premises on which he erected his doctrine of election and to which he accommodated all contrary passages of Scripture: (1) that the will of God is monothetic, having but one aspect; (2) that the unconditional election and reprobation of particular men is an inevitable corollary of the sovereignty of God; and (3) that in the impartation of salvation to individual men, God takes account of nothing in men (monergism). Calvin’s erroneous assumptions so completely conditioned his approach to the Scriptures that he found no place for the candid acceptance of the many affirmations of Scripture positing faith as a factor in man of which God takes account in salvation. It is evident from Scripture that the will of man is free and his responsibility in the matters of faith and repentance is real rather than hypothetical and symbolic. Calvin’s interpretation of Romans 9:6-29 ignores the significance of the rest of Romans 9 – 11, a misconstruction that collapses in the face of Romans 11:7, 14, 17-24, 32. The thesis of monothetism-determinism-monergism is refuted by many explicit passages of Scripture which posit human responsibility and agency and faith as a condition of salvation. However, as we have observed, Calvin evades the obvious import of such passages–by ingenious “interpretation” whenever possible or by burying the point of the passage beneath an avalanche of theological verbalsmog dealing with peripheral and tangential considerations far removed from the essential issue of the passage or by candidly asserting the existence of a ‘hidden purpose of God’ supposedly assumed by the Biblical writer, making the passage merely rhetorical rather than categorical. Reading from his theological heirs, one must conclude that they learned well the hermeneutical methods of their mentor. But there are certain passages which forbid such wonderfully ingenious treatment, as we shall observe . . . .” (Elect in the Son; pp. 113 and 145.)
“The ‘hardness’ of this text (from Chapter 9 of Romans) arises at least in part from assumptions which we tend to bring to it and our neglect regarding the flow and content of the surrounding text. . . . we tend to hear this text in terms of predestination and eternal destiny. This theological tradition holds that our eternal destiny has been predetermined. The inevitable question to such a view is the one which Paul’s hypothetical reader asks: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who resists His will?’ (vs. 19) This question, when it comes from us, only has validity if Paul is in fact concerned here with the matter of individual’s eternal destiny. On close reading, however, it becomes clear that he is not speaking about salvation and eternal destiny, but about God’s calling of individuals to service, and God’s use of events and persons in the accomplishment of His redemptive purposes, namely the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles . . . ‘The older will serve the younger’ (vs. 9 taken from Gen. 25:23) is not so much a statement of predestination as of prophetic foreknowledge . . . The strong expression ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’ must be understood in this historic context. [Since God is using Israel to accomplish His purposes–Edom’s (Esau’s descendants; whereas Israel is Jacob’s descendants) enmity sets it squarely against the purposes of God.] In contrast with God’s obvious love for Israel, the situation of Edom could only be interpreted as evidence of God’s lesser regard for it. The strong expression ‘Esau I hated’ must be seen as a typical example of oriental hyperbole, which expresses things in terms of extremes . . . (Rom. 9:13 / Mal. 1: 2-3) Neither in Malachi, nor in Paul’s use of it is there any warrant for the idea that God has determined in advance the eternal destinies of either Israel or Edom. Their historical situations, their “election” or “rejection,” are but temporary evidences of God’s sovereign freedom with which He moves history toward His redemptive purposes: ‘God so loved the world . . . .’ (Jn. 3:16), including Jacob and Esau, Israel and Edom, Jew and Gentile. [Hard Sayings of Paul; pp. 52-55.]
I. Howard Marshall writes, “Predestinarian language safeguards the truth that in every case it is God who takes the initiative in salvation and calls men to Him and works in their hearts by His Spirit. Salvation is never the result of human merit, nor can anybody be saved without first being called by God. Men cannot in any sense save themselves. It must be declared quite emphatically that the non-Calvinist affirms this as heartily as the Calvinist and repudiates the Pelagianism which is often, but wrongly, thought to be inherent in his position . . . God wants the wicked man to turn from his wickedness and live; He has no delight in the death of the sinner, and that is His last word on the matter. We have no right to go beyond Scripture and assert that He determines otherwise in the secret counsel of His heart (i.e. ‘hidden purpose’). He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). ‘Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life’ (Rev. 22:17). That is God’s final word on the matter.” (Grace Unlimited; pp. 140 – 142.)
“But by far the strongest objections to Calvinism are found in the phenomena of sin and moral evil. How can we say that God desires for all to be saved, when He has eternally decreed that some be lost? Some Calvinists, to be sure, wish to say that God predestined the elect for salvation but did not specifically predestine others for damnation; rather, He simply ‘passed over’ them and they are damned as a result of their own sins. This way of putting it has a softer sound, but it really does not make the situation any better. The sins they commit are the sins that God decreed they should commit, and He failed to choose them for salvation knowing that, in the absence of His choice, they will inevitably be damned. Whether or not this is described as a ‘decree of reprobation’ is merely a verbal matter.”
“Any view of divine sovereignty that implies arbitrariness on the part of the divine will, is not only contrary to Scripture, but is revolting to reason, and blasphemous. God cannot act arbitrarily, in the sense of unreasonably, without infinite wickedness. For Him to be arbitrary would be a wickedness as much greater than any creature is capable of committing, as His reason or knowledge is greater than theirs. This must be self-evident. God should therefore never be represented as a “sovereign,” in the sense that implies that He is actuated by self or arbitrary will . . . .” (Charles Finney’s Systematic Theology; p. 417.)
He (God) mocks proud mockers and resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Prov. 5:34 and Jas. 4:6) God gives; the humble do not earn. Nonetheless, there clearly is a “qualifier,” which is humility.
Ps. 105:43-45 along with Heb. 3;16-19; Lk. 8:11-15 (esp. vs. 15); Col. 1:15-23
Regarding Martin Luther’s view on election, Emil Brunner writes on page 342 of his The Christian Doctrine of God (Vol. 1): “This predestinarian determinism was later contradicted by his new understanding of Election, gained from a fresh insight into the New Testament . . . from 1525 onwards his teaching was different. He had freed himself from the Augustinian statement of the problem, and from the causal thinking of Augustine. He saw that this doctrine of predestination was speculative, natural theology, and he understood the Biblical idea of Election in and through Jesus Christ.”
[Point 3 – Limited Atonement]
This teaches that the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and His atonement for sin was not meant for every person, but only for the “elect.” And because of this atonement, it guarantees the salvation of the elect; salvation with the gifts of repentance and faith was purchased in the atonement for only the elect.
We take vigorous exception to this theology that denies that Jesus, the bread of heaven, means life for the world (Jn. 6:46-51) or that He has tasted death for every person (Heb 2:9). We believe that Christ’s atonement is made available for all and that God genuinely desires that none would perish, but that all would be saved. We believe that the atonement is universal and available to every person, and is limited only by a person’s failure to respond in faith.
Regarding these Scriptures (i.e. Jn. 1:29; Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:17-21; Rom. 11:32; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9; 2 Pet. 3:9; and 1 Jn. 2:22) Vernon C. Grounds writes, “It takes an exegetical ingenuity which is something other than a learned virtuosity to evacuate these texts of their obvious meaning: it takes an exegetical ingenuity verging on sophistry to deny their explicit universality.” (Grace Unlimited; pg. 27.)
“The classic text, used by Calvinists, to support the assertion that even faith must be given to men by God is Ephesians 2:8. But in the Greek text of this passage there is only one pronoun, not two; and that pronoun does not agree grammatically with the word ‘faith.’ The pronoun is neuter in gender, while the word ‘faith’ is feminine. According to all grammatical rules, the gift cannot be faith! What is referred to in this passage is God’s gracious gift of salvation, which none can merit.” (Grace of God, Will of Man; p. 77.)
“Among passages cited as affirming that faith is a gift of God are Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:9, and Galatians 5:22. With respect to these passages, however, context implies that the faith in view is not for salvation, but faith for Christian living and service. Ephesians 2:8 is sometimes cited, but . . . . The fact that touto is neuter and pisteos feminine forbids faith to be the antecedent of that. Many exegetes are agreed on this point, including Calvin.” (Elect in the Son; p. 111.)
“The Bible says Christ takes away the sin of the world and is Savior of the world. A study of the word ‘world’–especially in John, where it is used seventy-eight times–shows that the world is God-hating, Christ-rejecting, and Satan-dominated. Yet this is the world for which Christ died. There is not one place in the entire New Testament where ‘world’ means ‘church’ or ‘the elect,’ as many Calvinists insist. Considering the unequivocal force of such evidence, there is absolutely no logical reason to deny that when the text says ‘world’ it means ‘world,’ and everybody in it.” (Grace of God, Will of Man; p. 80.)
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all. [Isa. 53:6]
Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” [Jn. 3:14] Jesus said, “I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to Myself.” [Jn. 12:32]
Col. 1:15-21; Jn. 1:29, 3:16-17, and 12:47; 2 Cor. 5:14-19; 1 Jn. 4:14; Ezek. 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; and 2 Pet. 3:9
[Point 4 – Irresistible Grace]
This doctrine states simply that when God visits the elect with the grace of regeneration, that person will be regenerated . . . any resistance on the part of the elect person is overpowered by God, so that it is impossible to resist the grace of regeneration. It teaches that God elects, then He redeems, then He regenerates (i.e. “effectual calling”). Only then is an individual able to respond in repentance and faith.
We agree with the following definition, taken from Chapter 9 of Grace Unlimited: The call of God’s grace is not irresistible and limited to the elect; rather the “drawing” power of God is universally applied but effective only for those who accept it by faith. God’s grace and man’s faith are separate aspects of the same salvific act. (Jn. 3:14; 12:32)
Regarding the doctrine of ‘effectual calling,’ I. Howard Marshall writes, “The terminology is not Scriptural, and is due to an attempt to find an explanation why some respond to the call of God and others do not respond in the nature of the call itself. Rather, the effect of the call of God is to place man in a position where he can say ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ which he could not do before God called him; till then he was in a continuous attitude of ‘No.’ (Of course, Marshall affirms that this call is given to all.) . . . The Bible has the picture of a God deciding fresh measures in history and interacting with the wills of men alongside the picture of a God planning things in eternity past, and both pictures are equally valid . . . The predestinarian language is meant to affirm that God’s plan has all along been one of salvation, and that He created the universe in order to have fellowship with man.” Grace Unlimited; pp.140-141.)
“God is infinitely greater and freer than the cold abstractions of medievally minded reductionist theologians make Him to be.” (Gilbert Bilezikian, professor emeritus, Wheaton College.) For more on this see Chapter 8, “God as Personal,” in Grace of God, Will of Man.
A.W. Tozer writes, “So highly does God regard His handiwork that He will not for any reason violate it. For God to override man’s freedom and force him to act contrary to his own will (i.e. ‘irresistible grace’) would be to make a mockery of the image of God in man. This God will never do. God will take nine steps toward us, but He will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but He cannot do our repenting for us. It is the essence of repentance that it can be done only by the one who committed the act to be repented of. He will not force a man to repent. To do this would be to violate man’s freedom, void the gift of God in him, and be unworthy of both God and man.” (That Incredible Christian; pp. 29-31.)
“The doctrine of the irresistibility of grace is an essential corollary of the doctrine of unconditional particular election . . . Such concepts of grace as quantitive entity (i.e. only so many to be ‘elect’) and mechanical apparatus (i.e. mere puppets or pre-programmed robots being acted upon) are in radical conflict with the Biblical concept of grace as an attribute of God intrinsic in His being . . . With respect to God and His saving purpose, grace is not at all something extrinsic to His being which He arbitrarily manipulates or which He distributes quantitively from some sort of inventory. Contrary to many of Calvin’s explicit affirmations and the obvious implications of many others, the grace of God is infinite because God is infinite, and ‘the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men’ (Tit. 2:11) . . . With respect to Calvin’s hypothesis of irresistible grace, it is noteworthy that Hebrews 10:29 warns against ‘doing despite to the Spirit of grace.’ That the designation ‘Spirit of grace’ appears in the context of Hebrews 10:19 – 12:29, the longest of the five hortatory sections of the Epistle to the Hebrews which treats the peril of apostasy with such profound urgency, strongly forbids any assumption of the irresistibility of grace . . . The doctrine of ‘irresistible grace’ is a theological fiction.” (Elect in the Son; pp. 131-133.)
Jesus Christ came to reveal God, and thus revealed Him as Father (Heb. 1:13; Jn. 14:6-7). Reformed theologians teach that every person receives an outward call to repentance and faith, but only some receive an inward (or “effectual”) call, which equals “irresistible” grace. Imagine an earthly father, when he realizes that his home is on fire and about to be engulfed in flames, calls out (i.e. “screams”) loudly and clearly to two of his children to get out of the house; but calls in such a way (i.e. “very soft whisper”) to his other three children that there is no possible way for them to hear their father and thus escape a horrible dying in the flames. With the seriousness of damnation and salvation involved, such caprice ascribed to God would make Him the basest hypocrite in His own universe. Therefore, the question remains: Did God unconditionally elect some to be saved and some to be lost? If He did, then all of the universal invitations God gives in His Holy Word are hypocritical and criminal mockery, and the Bible is a strange contradiction. Surely an all-wise, good, and loving God would not do such a thing.
As Shank writes, “‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man,’ declared God in the days of Noah (Gen. 6:3). If the men of Noah’s generation were foreordained to damnation, as Calvin believed, in what sense did the Spirit strive with them, since they were but fulfilling their foreordained role in refusing the testimony of Noah? If no man, either elect or reprobate (or ‘passed over’) can resist the will of God, against whom or what is the Spirit striving when He ‘strives with man’? . . . ‘You always resist the Holy Spirit!’ was Stephen’s charge against his persecutors (Acts 7:51). If Calvin’s hypothesis of irresistible grace were true, how could this be? If they were reprobates by God’s eternal decree, in what sense could they be resisting the Holy Spirit by fulfilling their foreordained role in opposing the Gospel? Only as potential objects of election (i.e. salvation) could it be possible for them to resist the Holy Spirit; and the record stands that they did indeed resist the Spirit of Grace.” (Elect in the Son; p. 133.)
Regarding the time and order of when a person receives the gift of salvation and becomes elect, consider the following two Scriptures: Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Tim. 6:12). And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him . . . . (Eph. 1:13).
For it is with your heart that you believe and are (then) justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are (then) saved . . . . for ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will (then) be saved. (Rom. 10:10-13)
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” and “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” (Lk. 7:48-50) Note that it was her faith; not irresistible grace.
But concerning Israel He says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” (Rom. 10:21 / Isa. 65:1) Where is the “irresistible” grace here?
Ps. 107:6, 7, 13, 14, 19, 20
“Yea, I am persuaded, every person has, at some time, ‘life and death set before him,’ eternal life and eternal death; and has in himself the casting voice.” (John Wesley’s Sermon LXIII, “The General Spread of the Gospel”)
[Point 5 – Perseverance of the Saints (Guaranteed)]
This doctrine states that those whom God has called (i.e. regenerated) can neither totally or completely fall away, but will persevere to the end and will be eternally saved. Another name for this is “eternal security” or “once saved, always saved.”
Our understanding of Scripture is quite the opposite. Once again, we are in agreement with the definition written by theologian Grant R. Osborne in Chapter 9 of Grace Unlimited: Perseverance is a necessity rather than a guaranteed, final promise. It relates to man’s need rather than God’s protection. Security is the other side of that need, for God does promise His protecting power. However, the believer must avail himself to that strength, lest he slip away and apostatize from the faith. (For two superb studies on this, see I. Howard Marshall’s Kept by the Power of God and Robert Shank’s Life in the Son.)
We are also in agreement with J. Rodman Williams: “A doctrine of perseverance of the saints that does not affirm its occurrence through faith is foreign to Scripture, a serious theological misunderstanding, and a liability to Christian existence.” Williams firmly denies any unconditional preservation of the Christian and is convincing in his exegetical arguments, which were extensive. His critique of Calvin’s treatment of Hebrews 6 was penetrating and pointed. He says, “This is eisegesis and badly in error.” It appears that way to us as well. His arguments for the possibility of apostasy are numerous. A few are noted below:
Quoting I. Howard Marshall: “. . . in the New Testament the believer is not told that he is one of the elect and cannot fall away . . . He is simply told to continue in obedience and faith and to trust God who will keep him from falling.”
“It is sometimes suggested that the warnings of Scripture [against apostasy] refer only to a hypothetical possibility. This is said from the perspective that no true believer could actually ‘fall away’ from God. Such, however, is contrary to the most obvious meaning of the passages and the immediate context. Moreover, such an interpretation dilutes the seriousness of the warning.”
“‘In later times some will depart [apostatize] from the faith by giving heed to doctrines of demons . . . .’ (1 Tim. 4:1). This is no light matter, no suggestion of a temporary or partial falling away: this is apostasy–the departure from and abandonment of faith.”
“It is sometimes said that apostasy refers only to those who are not true believers. If persons fall away, this shows that they were not believers in the first place . . . Apostasy, as earlier observed, means ‘falling away’ in the sense of ‘departure,’ ‘abandonment,’ hence a forsaking of what one originally had, not what one did not have! Thus there is already linguistic self-contradiction in the statement above.”
“One of the mistakes made by those who affirm the invariable continuance of salvation is the viewing of salvation too much as a ‘state’ . . . hence if a person begins to ‘drift away,’ it is not from some static condition or ‘state’ but from a Person. It is a personal relationship that thereby is betrayed, broken, forfeited; this is the tragic meaning of apostasy.” [Yes, and so is the entire salvation process, from beginning to end, a “personal relationship” . . . And it takes two separate people (i.e. synergism) to genuinely relate.]
Reformed theologians, like R.C. Sproul and Anthony Hoekema, say that God uses such stern warnings of apostasy (Hebrews 6) as a means to bring about the perseverance of the saints, but that in fact, the possibility of ultimately falling away–for the Christian–does not exist. This position has serious problems. That God would motivate His people to persevere by threatening judgment for an apostasy which is both contrary to His promise, and impossible, raises questions of God’s sincerity and integrity and is therefore rejected. [The very same should, and therefore does, apply to His commanding all people everywhere to repent, etc–God’s very character is at stake (i.e. His love, goodness, truthfulness, sincerity, justice, fairness, and integrity). He would clearly not be these things if He made it impossible for some people to respond affirmatively to the very thing He commands or offers!!!]
We conclude that, without a doubt, Five-Point Calvinism is not Biblical and therefore to be rejected.
This is regarding Romans 3:10-12, where it says hyperbolically, that “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God . . . there is no one who does good, not even one.”:
Gen. 6:9 — Noah was a righteous man, blameless . . . .
Gen. 18:23 — Will you sweep away the righteous . . . .
Ps. 5:12 — O LORD, you bless the righteous . . . .
Ps. 37:16 — Better the little the righteous . . . .
Prov. 10:28 — The prospect of the righteous is joy . . . .
Mt. 5:45 — (Jesus said) He sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous . . . .
Lk. 1:6 — Both (Zechariah and Elizabeth) were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.
Lk. 2:25 — Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.
Acts 10:2 — He (Cornelius) and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
2 Pet. 2:7 — He rescued Lot, a righteous man . . . for that righteous man . . . was tormented in his righteous soul . . . . [Note: The vast majority of Scripture says that we can be and should be righteous.]
Mt. 6:33 — but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness . . . .
Mt. 7:7-11 — seek and you will find . . . .
Acts 17:27 — God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
Heb. 11:5-6 — He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Isa. 55:1-7 (esp. vs. 6) — Seek the LORD while He may be found . . . Let the wicked forsake his way . . . Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, and He will freely pardon.
Amos 5:4 — This is what the LORD says . . . “Seek Me and live; . . . .
Prov. 8:17 — I love those who love Me and those who seek Me find Me.
Jer. 29:13 — You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
Ps. 119:2 — Blessed are they who . . . seek Him with all their heart.
1 Ch. 28:9 — If you seek Him, He will be found.
Ps. 34:10 — those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Ps. 105:3 — let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Zeph. 2:3 — Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; . . . .
[Note: The vast majority of Scripture says that we can and should seek the LORD.]
As stated before, God doesn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t command those He created to do something that it would not be possible for them to do. Otherwise, He would be cruel, insincere, and hypocritical; and He would be guilty of criminal mockery.
Ps. 34:14 — Turn from evil and do good; . . . .
Ps. 37:3 — Trust in the LORD and do good; . . . .
Prov. 13:22 — A good man leaves an inheritance . . . .
Prov. 15:3 — The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
Mt. 5:45 — (Jesus said) He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, . . . .
It is wrong and dangerous to build an entire doctrine (i.e. “Total Depravity / Total Inability”) around one or a few small sections of Scripture that apparently are used in a hyperbolic manner.
Acts 20:21 — I have declared to both Jews and Greeks alike that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus Christ.
Also, regarding our being “dead” in our trespasses (Eph. 2:5)–Before we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ (yes, by His initiative and prevenient grace) we are dead spiritually, but not volitionally (i.e. mind / soul). This is obviously true.
Mt. 8:22 — (Jesus said) Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.
Eph. 5:13-14 — But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is the light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (It’s a choice to be made by the subject “You” understood.)
Rev. 3:1-3 — (Jesus said) I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! (Again, the subject “You” understood.)
Jas. 4:4-8 — Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God . . . Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.
Jas. 3:9 — With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness (i.e. free).
Rom. 10:9-13 — (It’s a person’s choice) . . . If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him form the dead, (then) you will be saved . . . “Anyone who trusts Him will never be put to shame . . . “Everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord will (then) be saved.”
Prov. 8:1-10, 17-23, 30-36 — Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? . . . she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding . . . My mouth speaks what is true, . . . All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse . . . Choose instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold . . . I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me . . . The LORD brought me forth as the first of His works (or – at the beginning of His work), before His deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began . . . before He made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep . . . and when He marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at His side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind. Now then, my sons, listen to me; . . . For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails (human volition and responsibility clearly implied) to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death. [This is wisdom “Personified” (i.e. Jesus Christ).]
Prov. 3:34 / Jas. 4:6 — He mocks proud mockers, but gives grace to the humble. (God “gives; ” they do not “earn.” But there seems to be a qualifier, which is humility.)
Ps. 105:43-45 and Heb. 3:16-19 — He brought out His people with rejoicing, His chosen ones with shouts of joy . . . that they might keep His precepts and observe His laws. Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all that Moses had led out of Egypt? . . . And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those (i.e. chosen ones) who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter because of their unbelief.
Ps. 107:6, 7, 13, 14, 19, 20 — Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle . . Then they cried out to the LORD . . . and He saved them. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains . . . Then they cried out to the LORD . . . and He saved them. He sent forth His word and healed them.
Col. 1:15-23 — He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible . . . all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together . . . For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God . . . but now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight . . . if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Jas. 2:1, 9 and 3:17 — My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism . . . but if you do show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as a lawbreaker. But the wisdom that comes from heaven (i.e. Godlike wisdom) is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Jn. 1:14 — We have seen His (Jesus’) glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jn. 16:8 — When He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: . . . .
Rom. 1:18-20 — The wrath of God is being revealed . . . since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Acts 17:27 and 30 — God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us . . . Now He commands all people everywhere to repent.
Rom. 2:6-16 — God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth (i.e. free-will choices) and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good (again, doing “good” is possible): first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (God does not show favoritism!!!) All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
1 Tim 4:1-2 — The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. [It is obvious from this that only those people, Christian or non-Christian, who continually sin and reject the Lord (i.e. His Word, Gospel, Grace, and Truth) have their consciences seared, etc.]
Lk. 8:11 and 15 — (Jesus said) This is the meaning of the parable: . . . But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (The first one lets the devil come in and steal the word from his heart. The second one believes for awhile, but in the time of testing he falls away. The third one also believes for awhile, but as he goes on his way he is choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.)
UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATING GOD’S SOVEREIGN CHOOSING
According to Calvinism or “Reformed” theology, it is God’s will and His sovereign choosing that certain people continue to sin (i.e. rape, murder, lie, steal, blaspheme, assault, get drunk, etc. etc.). It’s His will that they do not repent and believe, as He has chosen from eternity past, in His sovereign love, not to give them “grace.” Because of God’s sovereign choice not to give certain people, whom He lovingly created, this “irresistible grace,” He made it impossible for them to repent and believe. God sovereignly and lovingly chose to do this, even though in His Holy Word (the Bible) He “commands all people everywhere to repent” [Acts 17:30] and said that He “did not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” [2 Pet. 3:9]. This is a “mystery.” Also, because God chose to withhold this special “grace” from certain people, they are doomed and damned to suffer excruciating pain forever in hell, by this all-loving and perfectly just and fair heavenly Father. This is God’s sovereign choice according to His good purpose and pleasure and to His honor, glory, and praise.
However, it was very kind of God, concerning certain other people, that He chose them and gave them “irresistible grace.” This means that it would have been impossible for them not to believe and repent. He thus sovereignly chooses to give them eternal happiness in heaven, whereas He sovereignly chooses to doom all others to eternal suffering in hell. Again, this is the case, even though God says in His Word that Christ Jesus “came into the world to save sinners (and all have sinned)” [1 Tim. 1:15 and Rom. 3:23]; “gave Himself as a ransom for all men” [1 Tim. 2:6]; and “came from the Father full of grace and truth” [Jn. 1:14]. God is certainly good! And He is definitely loving, just, upright, impartial, reasonable, honorable, fair, gracious, faithful, and true! Is He not?
In summary, Calvinism is a predestinarian, deterministic, and totally fixed view of both God and history (past, present, and future). It is a horribly and hopelessly flawed doctrine and a gross misinterpretation of Scripture. Again, it teaches that certain people cannot possibly choose to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ, because God has not given them a “grace” that is “irresistible.” (They can only reject the Gospel, which is supposed to be “good news”!) And for no reason other than His sovereign choosing, God has decided to give this special “grace” only to certain other people. This makes each person nothing more than a “puppet” or “pre-programmed robot,” which can do only what God, in His great love, has so chosen for them to do. Doesn’t this doctrine seem to be pathetically preposterous, monstrous, totally irrational, and utterly absurd????
OTHER PERTINENT SCRIPTURES:
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. [1 Tim. 2:3-4]
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. [Tit. 2:11]
This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. [1 Tim 4:9-10]
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass (Adam’s) was condemnation for all men, so the result of one act of righteousness (Jesus’) was justification that brings life (potentially) for all men. [Rom. 5:18]
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that He might taste death for everyone. [Heb. 2:9]
He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. [1 Jn. 2:2]
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all. [Isa. 53:6]
Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Mt. 11:28}
Jesus said to the people of Jerusalem, “how I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” [Mt 23:37 and Lk 13:34]
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” [Lk 7:48-50]
Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” [Jn. 3:14]
Jesus said, “I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to Myself.” [Jn. 12:32]
WHAT IS TRUE AND SAVING FAITH?
According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (page 401):
The main elements in the noun translated faith (Greek – PISTIS) and the corresponding verb translated believe (Greek – PISTEUO), in their relation to the invisible God, are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgment of God’s truth; (2) a personal surrender to Him; and (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. [Jas. 2:14, 17, 20-26]
We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. [1 Jn. 2:3-4]
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. [1 Jn. 3:7, 8, 10]
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. [Tit. 1:16]
Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those that are His,” and “Everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn from wickedness.” [2 Tim. 2:19]
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. [1 Tim. 6:10]
Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. [1 Tim. 6:21]
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. [Jas. 5:19-20]
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. [2 Pet. 2:15]
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus replied, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” [Lk. 10:25-28]
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. [Eph. 4:20-24]
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor. He who has been stealing must steal no longer. [Eph. 4:25,28]
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. [Heb. 12:14]
Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink . . . ?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Then He will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?” He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. [Mt. 25:37, 40, 41, 44-46]
Jesus said, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” [Mt. 24:10, 12, 13]
Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” [Mt. 10:22 and Mk. 13:13]
Jesus said, “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” [Mt. 10:38]
Jesus said, “But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” [Lk. 20:35-36]
Jesus said, “I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with Me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels.” [Rev. 3:2-5]
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. [1 Thes. 1:8-11]
Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven.” [Mt. 10:32-33]
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself. [2 Tim 2:11-13]
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” [Jn. 15:1, 2, 6]
John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” And speaking of Jesus, he said, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into His barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Mt. 3:8, 10, 12]
Land that drinks in rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. [Heb. 6:7, 8]
Jesus said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” [Mt. 7:19-21]
Jesus said, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.” [Jn. 15:10]
Jesus said, “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” [Lk. 8:11-13]
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. [Eph. 5:5-6]
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. [Gal. 5:19-21]
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest. [Gal. 6:7-9]
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. [1 Cor. 6:9-11]
How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. [Heb. 10:29-31]
He who overcomes will inherit all this (i.e. eternal life / heaven). But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place is in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. [Rev. 21:7-8]
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and “A sow that is washed goes back to wallowing in the mud.” [2 Pet. 2:20-22]
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted of the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace. [Heb. 6:4-6]
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. [Heb. 10:26-27]
If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is right and just, he will live by doing so. I will judge each of you according to his own ways. [Ezek. 33:18-20]
Some have in fact turned away to follow Satan. [1 Tim. 5:15]
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. [2 Pet. 3:17]
And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. [Heb. 3:18-19]
For we also have had the Gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not share in the faith of those who obeyed. Those who formerly had the Gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. [Heb. 4:2, 6]
He (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. [Heb. 5:9]
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. [Heb. 3:12, 14]
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow (no repentance) brings death. [2 Cor. 7:10]
He (the Lord) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [2 Pet. 3:9]
He (Jesus) said, repent and believe the good news! [Mk. 1:15]
They (the apostles) went out and preached that people should repent. [Mk. 6:12]
Jesus said, “I have come to call sinners to repentance.” [Lk. 5:32]
Jesus said, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [Lk. 15:10]
Jesus said, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name . . . .” [Lk. 24:46, 47]
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” [Acts 2:38]
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out . . . . [Acts 3:19]
He (God) commands all people everywhere to repent. [Acts 17:30]
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I (Paul) preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. [Acts 26:20]
Through Him (Jesus) and for His Name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. [Rom. 1:5]
Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. [Rom. 16:25-27]
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. [1 Cor. 15:1-2]
Bilezikian, Gilbert. Christianity 101. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, 1993.
Boettner, Loraine. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Phillipsburg, NJ, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1932.
Brauch, Manfred T. Hard Sayings of Paul. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1989. Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Vol. 1 and 2. Philadelphia, The
Westminster Press, 1960.
Feinberg, John; Geisler, Norman; Reichenbach, Bruce and Pinnock, Clark. Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1986.
Finney, Charles G. Systematic Theology. Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishing House, 1984.
Fisk, Samuel. Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. Neptune, NJ, Loizeaux Brothers, 1973.
Forster, Roger T. and Marston, V. Paul. God’s Strategy in Human History. Wheaton, IL,
Hoekema, Anthony A. Saved by Grace. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989.
Klein, William W. The New Chosen People: A Corporate View of Election. Grand Rapids, Academie Books (Zondervan), 1990.
Marshall, I. Howard. Kept by the Power of God. Minneapolis, Bethany House, 1975.
McKinley, O. Glenn. Where Two Creeds Meet: A Biblical Evaluation of Calvinism and
Arminianism. Kansas City, MO, Beacon Hill Press, 1959.
Miley, John. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1 and 2. New York, Hunt and Eaton, 1893.
Pinnock, Clark H., ed. The Grace of God, The Will of Man: A Case for Arminianism. Grand
Rapids, Academie Books (Zondervan), 1989.
_________, ed. Grace Unlimited. Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 1975.
_________, ed. The Openness of God. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity, 1994.
Pope, William B. A Compendium of Christian Theology. New York, Phillips and Hunt, 1881.
Rice, Richard. God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Free Will. Minneapolis, Bethany House, 1980.
The Salvation Army. Doctrines as Set Forth in Deed Poll of 1878. London, Campfield Press, 1969.
Shank, Robert. Elect in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Election. Minneapolis, Bethany House, 1970.
_________. Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance. Minneapolis, Bethany House, 1960.
Sheldon, Henry C. System of Christian Doctrine. Boston, MA, Methodist Book Concern, 1912.
Sproul, R.C. Chosen by God. Wheaton, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 1986.
Taylor, Richard Shelly. A Right Conception of Sin. Kansas, MO, Nazarene Publishing House, 1939.
Tozer, A.W. That Incredible Christian. Harrisburg, PA, Christian Publications, 1964.
Wakefield, Samuel. A Complete System of Christian Theology. Cincinnati, Walden and Stowe, 1869.
Watson, Richard. Theological Institutes. Vol. 1 and 2. New York, Hunt and Eaton, 1823.
Wesley, John. The Works of John Wesley. Vol. 6, 7 and 10. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1984.
Whedon, D.D. Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 3, “Acts – Romans.” New York, Nelson and Phillips, 1876.
__________. The Freedom of the Will: As a Basis of Human Responsibility and a Divine Government. New York, Nelson and Phillips, 1874.
Wiley, H. Orton. Christian Theology. Vol. 1, 2, and 3. Kansas City, MO, Beacon Hill Press, 1941.
Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, Academie Books (Zondervan), 1989.