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Monday, January 12, 2009

Calvin / Arminian Viewpoints (Part IV - Final)

Okay friends,
this is my last post in this series and so we’ll discuss both the “I & P” in this discourse on this interesting, to say the least topic. Below is a reminder of what the “High or 5 point” Calvinism acronym “TULIP” stands for:

T……….the total depravity of Man

U……….unconditional election

L………..limited atonement

I…………irresistible grace

P………..perseverance of the saints

The “I” stands for irresistible grace. Some of you if you have been a Christian for awhile have probably heard the term “hound of heaven”. If you have, this means that when God wants ya, no matter you do, He is going to get you, you have no choice! Well this type of grace is sort of like that! Now it’s easy to get into semantics here by saying that if a person “fall’s away” who was once a believer, the high Calvinist would say well he was never saved to being with, etc” and so I want to stay away from that line of argumentation because at the core of this “I” is can a human being resist the grace of God in ANY form? Because if a human cannot, it would seem to me that there cannot be such a thing as a free or freed will! And then of course as we continue to see the “linkage” between these letters, we can see the connection in that it is ONLY those whom God has called (the elect) that cannot resist His grace, so His grace is also not (according to the high Calvinist) for everyone, but only for the “elect". This is something the Arminian does not and cannot accept! Rather the Arminian states that God has laid out a “prevenient or preceding” grace to “whosoever will”, and thus working in harmony with this preceding grace, man then accepts the call from God, thus he has a will of his own and is not a “robot or helpless slave”. For it is God who puts out this grace and the call, but it is man who accepts or receives this call. John 1:12-13 beautifully says it this way: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Notice the word received and the that it was the will of God whom the Scripture tells us in 1 Tim. 2:4 “desires that all men be saved” We simply need to only look around us to see the evidence that there are multiple millions of people who are resisting God’s grace (in whatever form you want to call it!) all around us, thus the evidence is clear! However the high Calvinist would state that the reason this is so is because all these people are not of the “elect”!

I submit such a statement makes this doctrine even worse in that the only answer can be that God predestined all these people for Hell, I know that sounds harsh but there is NO other truthful answer friends! This is also something the Arminian cannot and does not accept. John 3:16 and especially 17 make it perfectly clear what “God’s plan for man” was and continues to be:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Amen and Amen, so be it!! Our God has laid out His plan and has done all that needed to be done in order for man to have salvation, all is in order except the forcing of man’s freed will. Now another topic that is weaved in here is the Sovereignty of God and what part that plays. In the future, I will address this in a separate post. Yes friends, there is an elect of God and I pray you are counted among them and in order to be among this elect, the answer is to open your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ today and let Him in! John chapter 3 also tells us what this can happen as well as Romans 10:9-10.

And now let us discuss the “P”, the perseverance of the Saints. This perseverance is also called “preservation” and I have already in a sense discussed in this my previous post entitled “Eternal Security” part 1. Here is a brief but succinct definition of what High Calvinism teaches here:

Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints is also known as "eternal security." The word saints is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven. The doctrine asserts that, since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or will return. This doctrine is slightly different from the Free Grace or "once saved, always saved" view advocated by some evangelicals in which, despite apostasy or unrepentant and habitual sin, the individual is truly saved if he or she had truly accepted Christ at any point in the past; in traditional Calvinist teaching, apostasy by such a person may be proof that they never were saved.

One clear contradiction found in the above statement that a person who has fallen away, might return is when that is compared to Hebrews 6:4-6 which says:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. God states here that for such a person it simply is NOT possible for them to return, thus the only way the Calvinist can make sense out of this is to say that they were never saved to begin with or that they somehow can return. There is certainly a lot of Scripture to show us that the Christian life is indeed one of perseverance, but to say that God, because a person is somehow “elected” directly by him, can automatically make it through to the end in this life with all it’s troubles and hardships, is just not in keeping with so many passages that I have quoted throughout this study concerning the fact that we need to treat each day like it may be our last and that as 1 Corth. 15:58 states so emphatically: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. So while I agree we need to persevere, I do not believe that we have a “free” pass going through this life based on some special or invisible call made by God as I believe the high Calvinist would have us think. I, especially in this particular issue can quote Calvin himself who stated the following:

"the hearts of the godly are so effectually governed by the Spirit of God, that through an inflexible disposition they follow his guidance." (John Calvin)

"the power of the Spirit is so effectual, that it necessarily retains us in continual obedience to righteousness." (John Calvin)

The idea of God assuring one’s salvation just does not hold up in the whole of Scripture. We are not pawns placed in the hand of God, if that was what God wanted, I submit the “Tree” would never of been placed in the Garden of Eden, for in that tree was founded the very roots of a freed will and of choice!

Until Next Time,
Al