Are there a few Scriptures that seem to reflect the Calvinistic teaching that God foreordained every individual to salvation or damnation before He even created the world? Yes. On the surface, John 6:44 seems to support Calvinistic doctrine—until John 6:45 is consulted. If one does not consider the context of Romans 9, one might think Calvinism is taught. Two or three other Scriptures might seem to support their contention—until one looks closely at the text. But Calvinism disagrees with a multitude of clear-cut Scriptures in order to make its case.
This false system of theology cannot explain away these numerous passages; their attempts make it appear as though God is playing word games with His creation. Consider, for example, the way Donald Grey Barnhouse, in his commentary on Romans (Eerdmans, reprinted 1989), handles passages in which people are invited to come to God (of their own free will):
“Whosoever will” means “whosoever determines.” My next question is: “Who will determine to come to Christ?” The answer from the whole of the Bible is that, by himself, no man will determine to come to Christ. We read at the end of the Bible, “Let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will [whosoever determines], let him take of the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). I ask these solemn questions: Who will come? Who will determine? Who will take of the water of life? The answer comes from the whole of the Bible: Nobody, nobody, nobody…. Then why are the promises there? They are there to prove the total depravity of man… (4:1:41).
So, God is not only sovereign; He has a sense of humor, albeit, a little on the “sick” side. Imagine a parent saying to his crippled son, “If you want this $10,000 gift, son, walk over to me. C’mon. Walk over here to me, and I’ll give it to you.” “But, dad, I can’t walk. I want to, but I can’t.” “I know, son, hahaha. I just wanted to call attention to the fact that you are crippled.”
Consider the great invitation of Jesus: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). How surprising that the next verse does not read: “Oops, what am I thinking? You can’t really come of your own free will—because I didn’t give you any. Sorry, it’s just my little joke—to show you that you can’t do it”!
Just think of all the fun God had inspiring the Scriptures He did not mean to be written. According to The Calvinistic Bible (TCB), we should find the following:
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve” [but don’t strain yourself trying to decide because I already ordained what you would do from the foundation of the world]…“but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” [although it was not really our choice; God foreordained that I do it] (Joshua 24:15).
Poor, deluded Joshua! The whole Bible says nobody can make this kind of decision on his own. “Nobody, nobody, nobody.” He may have thought that he and the people had free will, but God had to will that all generation be faithful—just as He willed the next one to be unfaithful. Of course, one wonders why God conquered them with enemies so that they would cry out for deliverance, since there really is no lesson for Israel to learn about being obedient to Him. Whether they are faithful or ungodly, it is all a matter of His will—not because they love Him or have rejected Him.
Whatever did Solomon mean when he described some who “did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Pro. 1:19)? He writes as though man is a free moral agent. In fact, the whole beginning of Proverbs carries that perspective. “My son, hear the instruction of your father…” (v. 8). Why? “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (v. 10). Why not? If a man hangs out with sinners, it was fore-ordained, just as it is if he avoids such men. Why the warning?
Solomon also writes: “Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways” (Pr. 3:31). What is it with this guy? Why does he keep thinking that men have choices to make? Solomon would make a lousy Calvinist—and so would the Holy Spirit who inspired what he wrote. Notice below what God Himself said in Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.
Why is God inviting the people to life and good when He knows they can only do death and evil on their own? Who can choose life and good? “Nobody, nobody, nobody.” But God grants various conditions depending on which choice they make (blessing versus perishing). He then encourages them to choose life for the sake of their descendants. He had just given them the covenant of blessing and cursing in Deuteronomy 28, which also involves the people making the appropriate decisions. God makes so many eloquent pleas for His people to choose life, and yet Calvinists tell us that the whole Bible tells us that people can not determine, by themselves, to choose life.
Is God always insincere when He makes these pleas? He would be monstrous to do so. Consider the heartfelt plea of Ezekiel 33:11:
Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
How anyone can read all these passages yet think that man has no free will is mystifying. Israel could have answered back to this question: “You know why we will die—we don’t have any choice because you made us this way and determined the destiny of each one of us before the world was created.” God does not act foolishly. He would not beg the people to choose life if they were utterly incapable of doing so.
In Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth, he talks about the time period before the “Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good” (Isa. 7:15-16). The Calvinistic Bible needs to add an explanation to this verse—something like [Of course, no child can actually choose between good and evil.]
Why does the New Testament contain so many warnings against falling away, since 1) backsliding (or apostasy) was fore-ordained anyway, and 2) “once saved, always saved.” Yet Paul writes as though brethren were actually at risk (Gal. 1:8-9; 3:1, 5:4; 6:1). A true Calvinist would have to spend half of his life “explaining away” all of the Scriptures that involve choice or contain warnings against falling away. Hebrews admonishes us that we will be punished if we neglect our great salvation (2:1-4), if we do not mix the hearing of the Word with faith (4:2), or if we draw back (10:39).
These are just a few warnings. Why does Paul write to Timothy to take heed to his doctrine so that he will save himself and others (1 Tim. 4:16)? What difference could it possibly make—if everyone’s individual salvation was pre-determined? Why the emphasis on speaking as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11)? Why be concerned about truth at all (Pr. 23:23), since only those God wants to understand it will—and those He has predestined for torment could not understand it anyway? What value is a love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10), if a person can only have it as God’s gift?
Below is what God should have said to Cain, if Calvinism were true.
“And if you do well, will you not be accepted? [But you can’t do well, Cain, because since your parents sinned, you are totally depraved.] And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. [Actually, you will never do well, since I have already determined that you would not. I selected you to be a bad example.] And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” [Tee hee. You can’t really rule over sin. I just said that so that you would realize how powerless you are.] (Gen. 4:7, TCB).
Actually, the whole Bible is full of choices for man. It contains promises and encouragement for him to do right and condemnations for rejecting the truth. The Bible clearly teaches that each of us will have to give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:11-12; 2 Cor. 5: 10). How dull would be the Day of Judgment to hear all the wicked say, “You know why I did evil, Lord. You made me this way.” We would scarcely be rejoicing with the righteous who would be saying the same thing. “You know why we were righteous, Lord. You made us this way.”
If such were the case, the evil would not be worthy of condemnation, nor would the godly deserve praise. We all just read the lines that were in our script. God can only be glorified by human beings if we genuinely offer Him our love and obedience of our own free will.
THE FIRST MURDER
Alton W. Fonville
For even Christ pleased not himself…. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God (Rom. 15:3; Heb. 5:8-9; 10:9).
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phi. 2:5-8).
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning (Rom. 15:3-4).
The Bible plainly declares that “obedience to God” is the prime requirement if we expect to please Almighty God. Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated that in such a graphic way. He did not “do His own thing” as so many people want to do. He obeyed the will of His Father in all things, and “wrote the instruction book” for each of us to follow in order to also please God.
And the saying which we all hear so often, “when all else fails, read the instructions” has a definite bearing on our eternal salvation. Not following the instructions was behind the very first murder which was recorded in the Bible. The book of Genesis, chapter 4, records the details about Cain becoming envious and killing his brother Abel because God did not accept his “worship”. However, God did accept Abel’s. So, as we read, we ask, “Why did God not accept Cain’s worship?” The Bible tells us that also, but we need to study some more.
The New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11, which we commonly refer to as the “catalog of the faithful,” tells us:
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Heb. 11:4).
By faith means that Abel was following the instructions which had to have been given earlier, since “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Both Cain and Abel had, no doubt, heard the same instructions from God about how to offer acceptable worship, but Cain used his own wisdom and “presumed that his sacrifice would be just as good.” When it was not, he was angry with his brother instead of himself. This is so typical with people, even of this day and time. When they are asked “the reason of the hope that is within them” concerning things which they do in worship or teach regarding salvation, the first thing which happens is an angry reply. Instead of “sanctifying the Lord God in their heart,” being ready to obey the Lord and giving a “thus saith the Lord” for their actions, they want to set themselves apart and do “what pleases them.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a pastor of the local “Bible church” for his Bible authority for teaching that “saying the sinner’s prayer” made that person a child of God. His reply was typical. I got a short letter from him expressing his anger with me and even asking my forgiveness for that anger, and telling me that I did not show the love and compassion that Jesus taught. He made it clear that he did not want to discuss the matter or give me an answer to the questions which I asked of him.
Not only is this typical of denominations, even in the Lord’s church when the same questions are asked regarding Bible authority for certain practices and teachings, the first reply is usually anger. Some do not even show the common courtesies of an answer and just ignore the person who is trying to save a soul from death. 1 Peter 3:15 might as well be snipped out of the Bibles of many people, because it causes anger to arise in a hurry, which might even cause another murder. We need to “by faith” follow the instructions—Jesus did!
—337 Madison 4605; St. Paul, AR 72760
via Beacon (Pensacola, FL) December 22, 2008
THE SIN OF OMISSION
M. E. Slaughter
It isn’t the things you do, dear.
It’s the things you leave undone—
That give you a bit of a heartache at the setting of the sun.
The tender words forgotten, the letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.
The stone you might have lifted out of a brother’s way,
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say.
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.
Those little acts of kindness so easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels which we poor mortals find.
They come in night and silence,
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging
And a chill has fallen on faith.
For life is all too short, dear, and sorrow is all too great
To suffer our slow compassion that tarries until too late.
And it isn’t the things you do, dear.
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.