What is the Church? Some would answer the church is a building where Christians meet. Others would say the church is something invisible, while others would say it is a visible society. There would be those that would when answering that question answer what they think the church is for, what it is supposed to do and where it is supposed to go. There are those that say the church is universal, while other say the church is local. There are some who say the church is Roman, others say its orthodox, and others say its catholic. A man was answering questions for a national poll. When asked for his church preference, he responded, "Red brick."Three pastors got together for coffee one day and found all their churches had bat-infestation problems. "I got so mad," said one, "I took a shotgun and fired at them. It made holes in the ceiling, but did nothing to the bats." "I tried trapping them alive," said the second. "Then I drove 50 miles before releasing them, but they beat me back to the church." "I haven't had any more problems," said the third. "What did you do?" asked the others, amazed. "I simply baptized and welcomed them into membership," he replied. "I haven't seen them since."
Sad to say this is not just a humorous story. For many churches it highlights the problem with the modern culture where the church is not seen as a high priority in many peoples lives, this includes many people who claim to be followers of Christ Jesus. There continues to be those who think that the church is the building and that they don’t need the church to be saved, that they can live without it. Yet is this the case from scripture. How important is the church?
What is the church in your estimation, do you love the church as Christ loves the church, that may be impossible because who can love as he has loved us. But you get the idea. Is the church a secondary issue to you in a long list of affections, when you think of the church do you get angry, frustrated upset. Look to Jesus Christ and see what his view of His church is.
Are you a member of His church? You are not a member just because you attend a church service on Sunday. But has the Holy Spirit caused you to see and confess that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God. Sinner believe on Him and be saved, Repent and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
Friday, 15 July 2011
Arminian Vs. Calvinistic Perspectives on Salvation
by Miff Crommelin
First of all, it seems to me that the primary message that God wishes to impart through the pages of scripture - His Book, the Holy Bible - is that He alone is involved in the business of salvation. Salvation is the saving of souls for eternal life which it pleases God to bestow on a people of His own choosing (the church) through the sacrificial death of God-incarnate, Jesus Christ - a death which sufficiently atoned for the sins of this chosen people. The Bible, then, is really all about two things: (1) Jesus, the Bridegroom who is anticipated in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament; (2) the Church - the Bride consisting of His people whom God foreknew and chose from before the foundation of the world. In the fullness of time when history comes to a close and all the souls of God's people are gathered together in heaven, there will be a 'marriage supper' for the Bridegroom and His Bride.
The Old Testament is a series of historical narratives involving another chosen people, the Jews, that anticipates, foreshadows or illustrates in a physical sense, future events that would be fulfilled or consummated in a spiritual sense in the New Testament between Jesus and His Bride, the Church. For example, God's dealings with the Jews foreshadows, or is a 'type' of, the Church (the 'ecclesia' or 'called-out ones') - the chosen people who constitute the Bride of Christ. The Jews did not choose God. In fact, scripture shows them to be a rebellious, stiff-necked (stubborn, dogmatic, inflexible) and often wicked race of people who continually wandered after other gods. But it pleased God that the Jews would be the wayward people who would illustrate and foreshadow His plan of salvation to all men, and also be the race through whom the Messiah, a Saviour, would be born, thus overcoming the finality of death and making eternal life possible. This plan of forgiveness, redemption and salvation would extend not only to Jews but also to Gentiles through a 'grafting in' of one chosen people (of the physical sort - the Jews) with another chosen people (of the spiritual sort - consisting of both Jews and Gentiles).
Not every Jew or Gentile is a chosen person, so I would have to say that Jews are not saved by virtue of their race, but by the circumcision of their heart - something spiritual that applies to all people who are 'born again'. However, for illustrative purposes it pleased God that Jews would be a 'chosen people' through whom His plan of salvation would enter the world. The physical tribe of the Jews of the Old Testament foreshadows the spiritual Church of the New Testament in the same way that Abraham's physical dealings with his only beloved son, Isaac, was a forerunner of the spiritual dealings that God the Father had with His only beloved Son, Jesus, the Christ. Abraham equates to God the Father in the same way that Isaac equates to Jesus. The only difference is that God spared the life of Isaac when he was about to be sacrificed by Abraham, but He did not spare Jesus from being sacrificed for the sins of His chosen people. The Jews were obliged to go on sacrificing unblemished animals to atone for the sins of their tribe because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This meant a lot of bloody sacrifices on a daily basis, but these were merely an imperfect ritual that foreshadowed an unblemished sacrifice in the New Testament, namely the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the world to be a perfect sacrifice - one sacrifice for all time that made no further sacrifices necessary.
Through Christ's crucifixion, God's justice had been fully satisfied and His anger satiated through His mercy - a sin offering made once for all people chosen from before the foundation of the world - a people whom God foreknew before Time, the World, and the Universe were even conceived. Clearly, this all happened in a spiritual realm because the physical universe, time, and space weren't even in existence yet. This business of God 'choosing' his Bride is further illustrated in the case of Hosea who chose Gomer, a common whore, to be his bride simply because he loved her. Then time and again he willingly did all in his power to have her return to him when she departed in pursuit of a host of other extra-marital affairs.
When a person reads the Bible, it would be well to keep these basic facts in mind as a 'frame of reference'. Scripture will naturally 'hang together' when the overall context and message of scripture is understood through the many 'types and shadows' - the physical illustrations experienced by the Jews in the Old Testament which pointed to future spiritual fulfillments. So too, various discrepancies and seeming contradictions can be overcome, and the Bible will no longer read like a collection of disconnected moral stories with only a word or two of wisdom to impart. Neither will the Bible appear simply as a collection of laws and rules of behaviour to be followed by those who want to be 'good', or to earn their own salvation through a regimen of good works. The important lesson is that God foreknew us and chose us from before Time and the World came into existence, thus we can do nothing to earn or add merit to our own salvation, neither can we lose our salvation by anything bad that we do. Like Elias, the Lord will relentlessly pursue his unfaithful bride and woo her back into the marriage so that she will eventually love and cherish him out of pure gratitude for his unfailing love and mercy. Others would 'give up' on an unfaithful spouse, but God doesn't do that. He's in it for the 'long haul' - a 'haul' that happens to last forever!
The Arminian seems to think that we can decide today or tomorrow to 'follow Jesus' and thereby qualify for eternal life. No, God chose us eons ago; we didn't choose Him yesterday or today. And, like Gomer, we now love Him because He first loved us. God chose us before we were even a twinkle in our earthly parents' eyes. But when our time came to be born into this world, a clock was started such that, if we are among God's chosen people, something or someone would eventually cross our path in a very casual way that would spark our interest and curiosity in spiritual matters. The fact that we were able to respond with interest to the gospel message was made possible by the subtle patient promptings of the Holy Spirit who brought the truth of scripture to our understanding. Our faith then arose out of this understanding, and it is this faith in God's plan of redemption through Jesus Christ that justifies, or makes one acceptable in God's sight. At this moment one is 'born again' (spiritually, this time) and aware that one is an adopted child of God - one who was chosen and is saved. Therefore, justification is by faith alone, not by works lest any man should boast, and faith comes by hearing the Word of God which contains the gospel - the 'good news' of God's plan of salvation.
Having sinned only once in our life, this single moral failing alone would be enough to disqualify us from enjoying eternal life with our Creator. That's the bad news. But all is not lost because God has a plan of redemption that makes everlasting life possible. That's the good news. Since everyone has sinned and fallen short of the sinless perfection that God requires, nobody would qualify for salvation no matter how good their works might be! There is no 'good enough' or 'grading on the Bell curve' with God. It's always 'all or nothing'. You're either absolutely perfect and saved, or imperfect and unsaved. The Law reveals our sin and shortcomings that we commit daily, if not hourly, through our speech, deeds and thoughts - any one of which would disqualify us for eternal life.
Thankfully, by God's grace and mercy, at least His chosen people do qualify for salvation because God's own sinless righteous perfection has been imputed to them. God therefore sees his Church clothed in robes of righteousness without spot or wrinkle - a sinful people like Gomer, deemed to be a worthy and chaste Bride of Christ - a bride who will live with Him forever. Then all the tears of sadness, sorrow, grief and hurt - the consequences of the sin in our lives - will be wiped away forever.
There is great liberty associated with sound doctrine because it takes the pressure off us to behave contrary to our nature in order to 'earn' our salvation through merit or good works. We can simply 'be ourselves' and go on with our lives knowing full well that we can never become perfect through our own efforts. God sees right through our attempted 'make-over' anyway (to be sweet and gentle while our human nature remains prone to sinful acts from time-to-time). We are born with a sin nature - the 'inner-man' that strives against the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the other nature that is now co-habitating alongside our own spirit within the temple of our body. The regenerated man or 'born-again' person now has two spirits residing within him, and these two are in conflict with one another as long as he is alive. Sometimes one dominates, then the Other. Paul lamented the power that the inner man still has on one's conduct, but gradually one becomes transformed more and more into Christ-likeness. As we become transformed by the renewing of our minds, our penchant for sinful habits begins to diminish and we become better examples of God's nature. We also become less inclined to reflect poorly on the gospel and the Christian faith. This process over time is called 'sanctification'. We may be increasingly sanctified in the period following our conversion, or being 'born again', but until we die we will never attain the full perfection of Christ because we will always have the sinful inner-man to contend with.
Even though we can never attain it through our own efforts, God demands absolute perfection from us. Thankfully He gladly imputes perfection to our account because of the obedient sacrifice that Christ submitted to at Calvary over 2000 years ago. God suffered and died on our behalf; He paid the penalty so that we might have eternal life - the Just died for the unjust. A substitute was provided on our behalf and God the Father accepted it. A ram was found by Abraham as a substitute sacrifice for the Jews, but the Lamb of God obediently went to the cross as a substitute sacrifice for us. That is why Jesus is worthy of all honor, glory, and thanksgiving. Our debt is cancelled because He paid it in full. That is the amazing plan of redemption that God had in mind from before the foundation of the world.
We must always remember, however, that Christ's sacrifice was not a 'gift'. A gift is something that is offered to us, and then we are obliged to make a decision on whether to accept that gift or not. If salvation is dependent on our 'decision' to accept 'Christ's sacrificial gift' by our own 'free-will', then a little bit of human involvement enters into the process of salvation. It may seem minor, but man can play no part whatsoever in salvation. It is all of God, so that He gets all the credit and glory. We cannot even glory in 'making a decision for Christ' or 'accepting a gift of salvation'.
Salvation is something God bestows on his chosen people whether they initially want it or not. But the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the lives of God's chosen people, drawing them; wooing them; and awakening their understanding so that they are 'born again' and eventually respond with joy and thanksgiving, as unfaithful Gomer did with Elias. The 'call' goes out and many hear the gospel, but only those whom the Holy Spirit is drawing - the chosen ones - will respond to it and return thanks and praise to God. Many are called, but few are chosen, and the chosen ones can be known by their thanksgiving. In the story of the ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks for the miracle of healing that all ten received. As in the 'common grace' that God bestows on all mankind - the sun, rain, food, flowers, etc. - God's benevolent call goes out and benefits everyone, but only the few who return thanks to God who created all things, can be counted amongst the chosen.
Once a person recognizes his/her acceptance as a member of the Bride of Christ, a person whose name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life from before the foundation of the world, he/she is pleased to participate in the Great Commission to proclaim the good news that you don't have to be perfect, or even try to be perfect, in order to be saved. Faith alone, not works or impeccable behavior, is what justifies.
God's exclusivity in the process of salvation leads to a great liberty and freedom to one who awakens to the fact that he/she is amongst the 'chosen' who constitute the Bride of Christ. The onus is not on us to be saved, but on God who has mercy on whom He will have mercy. He bestows salvation on whomever He pleases. He does all the choosing so that our so-called 'free-will' doesn't even enter into the equation. Free-will isn't even an issue because we are much like a lump of clay which has absolutely nothing to do with the Potter's decision to fashion it into a beautiful ornament or a bedpan. Once God has decided to turn me into a beautiful ornament, I remain that way, and I return thanks and praise to Him for choosing me for that honour. Grace and mercy has elevated me to a place of distinction, not debasement, irrespective of my thoughts or feelings in the matter.
As I understand it, the Arminian view of scripture would have us believe that salvation is not exclusively God's work and of His choosing, but that man - the lump of clay - has something to say to the Potter, thereby influencing Him as to what it will be fashioned into - a pot, an ornament, or a bedpan. Arminians believe that man is able to 'decide for' or 'against' accepting a 'gift' of salvation once they hear the call to be saved (the gospel) delivered by an evangelist, or by reading the Bible, or some other piece of Christian literature. This notion that man has the wherewithal to play even a minor part in his own salvation opens a 'Pandora's box' as it changes the business of God's exclusive act to one that is a shared act involving both God and man. Since Arminianism places an obligation on us to 'decide for Jesus and salvation', it also opens the possibility for us to 'decide' at a later date to be 'un-saved'. Man's involvement in the salvation process introduces a great deal of uncertainty as to one's current 'salvation status'.
If there is great uncertainty right now about his salvation status, the Arminian might go in search of 'spiritual gifts' like 'speaking in tongues', 'holy laughter', or 'being slain in the spirit' in order to assure himself and others that he is, in fact, saved. Or he might work extra hard to evangelize and try to earn some extra credits by seeing others saved through his time and effort spent in the Lord's work, perhaps on the 'mission field'. Suddenly 'good works' become an important part of life to merit our continued approval in the sight of God. The Arminian is always in a state of apprehension and uncertainty because some sins might not have been suitably confessed, or he beats himself up for continually 'falling short of the mark'. After all, how good is 'good enough' in measuring up to God's impossibly high standard for salvation? A wavering fear arises in the Arminian whose theology would have man play a small but vital part in his own salvation. There is no peace or assurance because one day the Arminian 'feels' blessed and thankful, and the next day he 'feels' totally inadequate and damned under God's critical eye. While the Arminian puts great stock in his 'feelings', the Calvinist places great stock in 'faith' - confident assurance of his eternal security because of God's promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter how miserable we might feel on a certain day. Martin Luther was similarly oppressed by feelings of inadequacy which led him to discover that men are justified by faith in God's finished work on our behalf, not by man's merit, or fickle feelings of being worthy and accepted. That revelation alone launched the Protestant reformation.
Arminians think that God is an 'enabler' - One who enables a born-again Christian to live righteously, and any shortcomings or ongoing sinful behaviour which he/she still manifests is a likely sign that this person isn't saved. In other words, obedience to the Law is necessary to be saved now that one is 'enabled' to be obedient. This is the same kind of oppressive theology that Peter was rebuked for by Paul when Peter listened to the Judaizers who tried to bring new converts back 'under the Law'. The Law is oppressive because nobody can measure up to it perfectly - not even the Judaizers who prided themselves in their ability to 'keep the Law'. Outwardly they looked pious enough, but inwardly they were full of 'dead men's bones'. They were phony, self-righteous hypocrites!
Arminians and Judaizers 'spy out the liberty' of Calvinists who are able to 'be themselves' without having to put on airs, or striving to become more 'holy'. They would like to bring Calvinists back under the bondage of the Law in order to have them also share in its oppressiveness. Only a theology in which man plays a part in salvation - albeit a minor role - can make one forget that he is a member of God's chosen people and therefore one whom God loves, warts and all, not because of his works and deeds, but in spite of them. Having no assurance of salvation themselves, Arminians and Judaizers try to be joy-robbers and 'party poopers' to those who do have that assurance.
The reason Arminianism is such a fickle theology is because it stands midway between sound doctrine and Humanism. Sound doctrine teaches that salvation is 'all of God' whereas Humanism teaches that salvation is 'all of Man'. Arminianism teaches that salvation is a hybrid - a process shared by both God and man because of man's 'free-will decision'. Humanism and Christianity don't mix, and any attempt to do so creates something akin to 'swamp water' - an insipid bitter brew that is neither hot nor cold and worth spitting out. Humanism denies the existence of God and openly declares in the Humanist Manifestos that man must save himself because there is no God who can save us. And since there is no afterlife, man must make a 'paradise' out of this earthly existence. How can one possibly reconcile Humanism with sound Christian doctrine? Arminianism tries but, understandably, it fails.
Sound doctrine gives one the liberty to 'be oneself' without having to 'measure up' to the Law or putting on a contrived 'mask of piety'. We don't have to wear clerical garb or 'wear our religion on our sleeve'. Neither do we have to deny ourselves certain behaviours although some acts are not convenient since they would be impediments in the furthering of the gospel. These would reflect rather poorly on the nature of God and His gospel because they are the very sinful things that exact a penalty from which we are saved, and for which Christ died. Why then should we continue in them? Out of gratitude to God we should desire to have less to do with the things that we were slaves to before we became aware of being chosen of God. If our misdeeds grieve the Holy Spirit, why hurt the One you love?
A child's misbehavior as seen by neighbors reflects badly on his parents. Similarly his politeness speaks well of those who are rearing him. Therefore, shouldn't we out of courtesy and love for our heavenly Father attempt to show our appreciation by minimizing our sinful behavior and being kind toward others? This isn't a salvation issue because that has already been dealt with exclusively by God, but it is an issue of removing any stumbling blocks to non-believers who might be seeking answers to spiritual questions, preferably from someone who obviously doesn't look like a hypocrite. Indeed, a Christian may not look or act much different from an unsaved person, since 'being saved' and 'chosen' are invisible qualities. But by their fruits you might get an idea of their status or conviction. The fruits of the Spirit are listed in the scriptures. These fruits emerge naturally and don't need to be 'forced' by an act of the will. Good fruits emerge because the Holy Spirit is at work within an individual, not because he has 'decided' to bear some fruit to earn his salvation, or to convince himself and others that he is, in fact, saved.
A church or preacher whose sermons declare a theology in which the parishioner is expected to behave a certain way; or do certain things; or make a decision; or accept a gift, imparts a barely perceptible 'nudge' or vibration that culminates in an avalanche or a landslide. It is the first hint that man has a role to play in pleasing God and earning his own salvation. This is a 'watershed issue' because it starts the snowball traveling down 'this' side of the mountain, rather than 'that' one. Unfortunately when the parishioner lands at the base of the Arminian side of the mountain, he discovers that he is worshiping another god - a god who makes up his mind about your eternal destiny based on a 'decision' you make, or don't make. This theology is a counterfeit.
Arminianism is a seductive effort to merge Humanism with Christianity. It is like trying to fuse clay with iron. It doesn't work. The fusion is unnatural and reminds us of God's admonition to 'separate yourselves, for what concord does Christ have with Belial?'. We are not to look for 'common ground' and try to 'understand' or 'reconcile' ourselves with those of other faiths. We are called to 'separate' from those of any other religion, including the man-centered religion of Humanism which articulates its tenets in the Humanist Manifestos. Liberal churches such as Anglicans, Lutherans and the United Church of Canada have more to do with man-made rituals and a social gospel than with sound doctrine. They have taken Arminianism to the extreme. Anglicans and United Church people would even have you 'walk the Labyrinth' while meditating, which places these churches well on the road to spiritual Humanism: the human potential movement, or New Age Movement. The Humanist Manifesto is at least being honest when it declares man-centered liberal Christianity to be an extension of its own religion.
Any church or pastor not preaching the exclusivity or 'sovereignty' of God in the matter of salvation should be avoided at all costs. Each sermon should expand upon a scripture or biblical text so that it reinforces awareness of God's sovereignty in all things, and the grace and mercy He has shown toward His chosen people through the forgiveness made possible by the ultimate sacrifice: God dying for the sake of man! In the fullness of time, a Marriage will be celebrated in the heavenly realm where God's chosen Bride will be presented pure and chaste to Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom. History, therefore, is going somewhere. Current events are not random or accidental. History is moving inexorably toward a climax when a chosen people commence living eternally with their Creator while those who vainly try to impede this climax from happening will receive their just desserts in some unpleasant state of damnation.
Sound doctrine, therefore, is very important because it enables us to see clearly the nature of the invisible God whom we serve, and His plan of salvation. Unsound doctrine, on the other hand, presents a fuzzy, out-of-focus image of Jesus or some other god that has no ability to save. There are many winds of doctrine to tempt one who is seeking after God, but the Good Shepherd knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice. When they have gone astray or lost their way, sheep will recognize their shepherd's voice and be led back to safety. The Lord will lose none of the sheep that were given to Him by the Father from before the foundation of the world. Like sheep we have all gone astray, but the Good Shepherd is faithful. He goes out looking for us and returns us to the safety of His fold. There is blessed assurance in this message - an assurance that Arminians and adherents of other religions fail to grasp.
Other religions require man to 'climb a mountain' where all the different paths [e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, etc.] ostensibly merge into one at the summit where God is to be found - the same god who was known all along under a different name by people of different faiths. In true Christianity, however, we don't go in search of God - He goes in search of his chosen people who have fallen short and gone astray. And He doesn't rest until He has brought each and every one home to safety. God does all the work; He gets all the glory and credit; we simply get lost and then bask in His goodness and mercy when He finally finds us. Then we return thanks and praise for His faithfulness and goodness for going to so much bother on our behalf!
We make Christianity more complicated than it is when we overlook the 'simplicity that is in Christ.' True Christianity is the least demanding religion of all since God does all the work. Therefore we are admonished to come 'all ye that are weary and heavy laden for my burden is light and I will give you rest.' It just doesn't get any easier than that - you don't even have to make a 'decision'! All other religions, Arminianism included, imposes a burden which progressively becomes more grievous. This burden may not be as obvious as the 'indulgences' sold by the Roman Catholic church to pay for the completion of St. Peter's cathedral in Rome, but the burdens of a 'works-oriented' theology such as Roman Catholicism, Jehovah's Witnesses, or simply 'having to make a decision' (Arminianism) leads progressively to more onerous burdens which, in the end, turn out to be the requirements of a false god who cannot save. They are no better than the philosophy of Scientology where each 'rung' up the ladder to spiritual enlightment costs a certain amount of money - a ladder which ultimately leads into the pit rather than paradise.
A person attending church should listen for the lesson in the sermon that connects Jesus, the Bridegroom, with his chosen people, the Bride of Christ. Most chapters or books impart some understanding by way of 'types and shadows' of God's plan of salvation and to whom it applies. This is the essence of a good sermon because there are many 'types and shadows' in which physical historical incidents serve as signposts that point to more profound lessons involving some future spiritual fulfillment. For example, Noah's Ark - a physical ark of temporal safety - is a 'type' of Jesus Christ who is a spiritual 'ark' of eternal safety. A preacher who habitually fails to draw out of scripture these kinds of revelations, fails to fix ever more firmly in the hearts of his parishioners an awareness of God's sovereignty and plan of salvation throughout the ages. Such a preacher isn't worth listening to.
Sermons aren't meant to be solely about how we are supposed to behave, or moralistic stories containing the escapades of some good and bad role models in biblical times. Sermons are meant to make us more familiar with the nature of God and to impart assurance of our salvation. Sermons should invoke in us a sense of gratitude for God's mercy and goodness so that we naturally return thanks by way of hymns and prayers of thanksgiving, and then desire all the more to share this good news with others within our sphere of influence. A sermon about social justice such as apartheid, or the blessing of same-sex couples, somehow doesn't inspire this kind of rejoicing. Properly taught, and motivated to participate in the Great Commission, we can become effective instruments in awakening others whom God is adding to the church. With, or without our help, he is adding to His Church daily those who should be saved - those whom He foreknew from before the foundation of the world.
While the Arminian is fretting as to his current spiritual status, perhaps contemplating the pursuit of a new spiritual gift in order to prove that he is, in fact, saved, the Calvinist is busy enjoying himself, confident in the assurance that nothing he has done will ever separate him from the love of God and salvation. If the Calvinist likes dancing, you might find him out on the dance floor enjoying the music, but ever ready and willing to share the gospel with new people he comes across. His new dancing partner might even be one who is spiritually lost and eager to know the Way of salvation. The Holy Spirit, unbeknownst to both, may have gently arranged this divine appointment on the dance floor so that another perplexed sheep might be brought home.
I was somewhat partial to Jacob Arminius when I began this exercise, but upon further reflection I see that the man-centered component of Arminianism is what spoils it. Man can play no part in his own salvation. If God isn't Sovereign in the act of salvation, then what other things isn't He Sovereign over? Is God also not Sovereign over current events and world history? Does man hold sway in everything? I don't think so. Scripture says that man may have his ideas, but it's God that ultimately orders his steps so that they conform to his overriding Plan. This means that all the petty conspiracies being plotted by elitists in high places can only go so far until they are brought to nothing in the fullness of time. Elitists dig pits for their own destruction. Why? Because of God's Sovereignty. He will have them in derision and laughs at their feeble attempts to undermine His Church - a body of chosen people who will stand forever because this was His plan from the beginning of time. And when the Lamb's Book of Life gets opened some great day in the future, there is only One who will be found worthy to open it because there was only One who had anything to do with the work of salvation that went on quietly behind-the-scenes throughout the whole pageant of history. What praise and thanksgiving there will be on that day!"
Calvinism's Different God, Jesus and Gospel
"It seems the Calvinist’s idol of a sovereign electing god needs more protection
than lost souls on their way to a fiery eternity…"
- Caryl Matrisciana and Brenda Nickel
The black text is what was submitted in an attack on Calvinism by Caryl Matrisciana and Brenda Nickel. The red text is my response…
My hope and prayer is that the Lord may use this feeble effort to glorify Himself in the fullness of the glory that He is worthy of, and that it may open the eyes of His elect that they may know Him. Jessie Hardy
Recently, the controversy of Calvinism has expanded to new proportions as questions persist regarding Calvinism's promotion of a different God, a different Jesus and a different gospel.
The controversy is expanding because of attacks from the Arminian side that just cannot bear to hear truth. In reality it is the Arminian who is promoting a different god, a different Jesus and a different gospel. I think a history lesson would be in order...
The first Reformers, incensed at what the Church of Rome had become, set about to bring the church back to sound doctrine as taught by the Apostles. The Roman church had become heretical and the cry of the Reformers was that “The just shall live by faith”. (Not Works of any kind whatsoever, including man’s “free will” choice). They understood that neither man himself nor Mary were co-workers in the salvation of men. That salvation was by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, Scripture alone, and Christ Alone, to the glory of God Alone. The emphasis being on, ‘Alone’ - therefore not by any act of sincerity on man’s part, nor by any intercession on the part of Mary, or any other human being. Furthermore, absolution could not be granted by the purchase of indulgences.
The Reformation was not a reaction to the heresies of Rome, it was a call back to the pure gospel as taught by the Apostles, throughout all of the scriptures, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, as taught by the prophets, and accomplished in space and time in the New Testament by the coming of Jesus. The Roman church had deviated from that wonderful Gospel to another gospel (something the Arminians are doing today) and have done so since before the time of Augustine and Pelagius. This deviation continued to the time of Luther and Erasmus and then along came Arminius who took issue with Calvinism. We are not Calvinist because of Calvin, we are 'Calvinists' only in so far as we are in agreement with much of what Calvin believed. (He was not the first one to believe as he did - the apostles believed it before Calvin was born). The five points of ‘TULIP’ came in response to five points put forth by the ‘Remonstrants’ (led by Arminius) when he challenged certain Calvinistic biblical truths some time after Calvin’s death. Hence, the term ‘Calvinism’.
The apostle Paul said that if anyone came preaching any other gospel to let him be 'anathema'. It is the Arminian who comes preaching another gospel, not the Calvinist. Look in history and you will find that this is true. Calvin was of the same mind as the Protestants, who were of the same mind as the Apostles. True Protestantism is Calvinistic whereas the Arminian belief has much more in common with the Church of Rome. So YES!!! The Calvinist does worship a Sovereign electing God, the God of Scripture, while the Arminian worships a powerless god who subjects himself to the “free will” of man. But a god who is not sovereign, is no god at all. Believe me, the true God of Scripture needs no protection from man, as if puny little man had any ability to protect the Sovereign of the Universe.
Calvinism claims to defend the orthodox, historic truth of the Bible and is therefore firmly entrenched, if not institutionalized, within evangelicalism. It has become increasingly difficult to find churches, leaders, ministries, study materials or "Christian" books that do not promote some aspect of Calvinism.
Calvinism cannot be entirely erased from churches, leaders, ministries, study materials or “Christian” books, unless we do away with the Bible completely. The Bible is where the sovereignty and election of God is spoken of throughout the whole of it. If we throw that away, then we need to throw the whole Bible away and write a new one which is more palatable to proud humans who see themselves as powerful enough to save themselves.
Calvinism does defend the orthodox, historic truth of the Bible, but unfortunately it is NOT firmly entrenched within evangelicalism. I wish it were! Arminianism is, in fact, guilty of falsely laying claim to be defenders of the historic orthodox truth and is, unfortunately, firmly entrenched and institutionalized within Evangelicalism including the majority of seminaries. Arminian churches are a dime a dozen and hardly anywhere is a church to be found that preaches the wonderful doctrines of grace. The person writing this article is accusing the Calvinist of what Arminians are guilty of. Only someone who is ignorant of church history and what it is that Calvinism stands for could possibly make these kinds of false assertions. I wish it were true that Calvinism was firmly entrenched within evangelicalism but, certainly and clearly, it is not.
This ear tickling, elitist philosophy has deceived many Christians into promoting a god (Notebook pg. 25) who doesn't love all men, with a savior who didn't die for all men (Notebook pg. 98), offered by a gospel that saves only the elect (Notebook pg. 82). The Bible clearly opposes Calvinism by teaching that God so loved the world (Jn 3:16) that He gave His only begotten Son to die for ALL men (1 Tim 4:10); even for the false teachers - obviously not elect (2 Pet 2:1); and that the gospel saves every sinner who believes from their heart (Rom 10:10, Jn 6:29). Both views can't be true.
Again, it is the Arminian gospel that tickles ears, and whose elitist philosophy has deceived many Christians into promoting a god who is not sovereign, but who sits in the heavenlies wringing his hands and wondering why people won’t choose him. This is a god who is subject to the “free will” of man making man’s ”free will” sovereign over this god. It proclaims a Christ who failed - after all, if he died for everyone, (and it is clearly evident that not everyone is saved), then he failed miserably. The shedding of his blood was ineffectual to those who are in hell. If he is indeed the savior of all men then why are not all men saved? The Bible clearly does not teach this. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all, and that He does as He pleases with all of creation and with his creatures. Furthermore, all that He does is perfect, holy and just. He is under no obligation to save anyone, but glorifies Himself in all of His attributes. He is glorified in both mercy and justice by saving some and passing by others. Since none of us are worthy of salvation, God would be just in condemning the whole of humanity but, because He is also a God of mercy, He saves some.
A sinner can only believe from the heart if he is given a new heart with which to believe. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; he cannot, and they are foolishness to him and must be spiritually discerned." Spiritual discernment is not possible for a person who has no spirit in him with which to discern. Flesh cannot spiritually discern anything. The Bible tells us that it is the spirit that is quickened and that the flesh profits nothing. Spiritually dead people cannot choose life; they must have some spiritual life given to them from outside of themselves in order to choose life. In other words, regeneration must be given before belief is possible. Dead men can do nothing to make themselves alive.
Of course ‘both cannot be true.’ There is only one Truth and that truth is that God speaks voluminously of His Sovereignty and of Election; it is all to be found in the Scriptures.
Many Christians have routinely come under attack for pointing out these disparities. Howls of insult come from the Calvinists as they marshal their forces to justify TULIP (Notebook pg. 55) through rules of human logic, scholarly arguments, historic creeds and confessions, and spiritual lineage traced from the Reformers to Augustine (Matt 23:30-32). They demand debates, cite non-Biblical sources, hurl accusations under the guise of "love", and shun the non-Calvinist....all the while saying they are interested in saving men through evangelism! It seems their idol of a sovereign electing god needs more protection than lost souls on their way to a fiery eternity.
Again, many of God’s people routinely come under the attack of Arminians for declaring the truth of Scripture. The howls of objection come from the Arminian Camp. They just will not have this God of Scripture to rule over them. They would rather create a god made in their own image. They are often mean-spirited and are, in fact, guilty of using raw human emotionalism and want nothing more than to silence the Calvinist who, incidentally, does not really seek out Arminians to debate with, but who will contend for the truth of Scripture upon hearing another gospel.
I am hard-pressed to find a Calvinist who hurls accusations as well as Arminians do. We are interested in preaching the gospel to everyone, knowing that God will quicken the hearts of His elect through our preaching, and the desire of our heart is that many will be saved. We are motivated because we love God, who first loved us, and we love him with all our heart, soul and mind and then love our neighbor as ourselves, knowing that upon this hangs all of the law and prophets. What love does an Arminian show in preaching a gospel that is not Biblically supportable? Theirs is a god who has no power to save and leaves everything in the hands of fallen men who have no will to choose him. Yes, we worship God who is sovereign over all, who elects according to His own purpose, and who needs no protection from us. What god does the Arminian worship since he seems to take issue with the God of Scripture? Yes, we are concerned for souls headed for a fiery eternity - concerned enough to preach a true biblical gospel to them knowing that God’s Word will not return to Him void and will accomplish that for which it was sent.
Calvinists also personalize the argument by claiming they're being accused of not being saved; an allegation, by the way, that many Calvinists freely apply to non-Calvinists (Notebook, Cults, pg. 21)1. This tactic is meant to back up their opposition by making them feel guilty for supposedly insinuating they aren't saved. It is the Lord who judges who has truly believed His gospel and who hasn't. Non-Calvinists are merely sounding the alarm. The question is which gospel has a person believed?
Unlike the Arminians, Calvinists can rest assured of their salvation. They know that it is altogether of God. They had no power to merit their salvation, by any “free will” choosing on their part, and therefore they understand that neither do they have the power to lose it. Salvation is of the Lord. We would love nothing more than for the Arminian to have the same assurance. Calvinists don’t much care whether Arminians believe that they (the Calvinists) are saved or not. They also believe that many Arminians are saved whether they see their salvation coming from their own “free will” choice, or from a God who elects. Fortunately we are not saved according to knowledge but are saved according to God’s will and purposes for His own glory.
I don’t know a single Calvinist who would be concerned with making an Arminian feel guilty. We are more concerned with standing for the God of Scripture when He is misrepresented to lost sinners. It is the Calvinist who should be sounding the alarm as Arminians are hell-bent on discrediting God in all of His wonderful attributes - His purposes, His sovereignty, His election, and His glory - by making Him appear small and dependent on the will of finite, fallen, human beings.
Many Christians, like Brenda who was saved through believing the true gospel, are afterward misled by trusted pastors and teachers into following four-point Calvinism. Others, such as Thomas Dickerson of Saving All the Nations ministry gives his strong and compelling testimony before leaders of the Southern Baptist denomination during the John 3:16 Conference at Woodstock FBC in Atlanta a few years ago. Thomas was raised in a committed five-point Calvinist church and never heard the gospel, yet thought he was saved because he could articulate Calvinism's "Doctrines of Grace" (Notebook pg. 55). Whether believer or unbeliever, Calvinism deceives and takes captive its followers, then coerces them to do the devil's will (2 Tim 2:26)
If Brenda and Thomas are saved, then they were saved by God. No spiritual leader, Calvinist or Arminian, has the power to save anyone. I understand that there are many Christians who are misinformed in both camps. Some grow up in homes or sit in churches where they are taught doctrine only, to the exclusion of the One to Whom that Doctrine points. There are some who make an idol out of doctrine, to be sure. Then there are others who grow up in homes or sit in churches where doctrine is neglected altogether, and they reduce Christianity to some emotional experience. Doctrine in-and-of itself, divorced from Christ, is nothing more than a dead letter. Then again, lack of doctrinal teaching where salvation is nothing more than a feeling or a decision, divorced from true doctrine, has no power either because feelings are fickle and subject to change. Doctrine serves its purpose when it reveals the nature, the character, the will, and the purposes of God concerning humans, and where God is glorified. It also reveals man to himself so that he may know the depth of his own depravity and just how dead he really was. Through doctrine one comes to know that, had it not been for this wonderful Sovereign, just, and merciful God, he would surely have been left in this state completely helpless to do anything at all to save himself, including “making a decision for Christ”.
The Calvinist knows that Had God not chosen him, he would have no hope whatsoever. We give God all the glory. He alone is worthy of honor and glory and will share His glory with no one - not even the Arminian who wants to lay claim to having the wherewithal to choose Christ and would glory in his decision rather than an all-powerful sovereign God. How dare this writer accuse the Calvinist of coercing its followers to doing the devil’s will? But then again, we shouldn’t be surprised; Christ himself was accused of doing the same thing by the Pharisees of His day. I have never heard a Calvinist throw such a low blow at an Arminian!
While outwardly the Calvinist uses the same words in evangelism as the non-Calvinist, the Calvinist has a very different system in mind (Notebook pg. 57) as he gives out the gospel. Problems arise when new converts, who trust the preachers they were saved by, also trust these preachers will feed them the pure milk of the word to grow by. Instead of pure truth, Calvinists who have been taken captive themselves, will coach the new believer into their mystery philosophy, and eventually teach that obedience, rather than faith, is the ultimate proof of their election. Jesus gave stern warnings about stumbling His little ones (Luk. 17:2) which should give pause to any Calvinist who immerses His trusting babes into this doctrinal scheme.
Only someone who is completely ignorant of what Calvinism teaches could have penned the above. I would admonish this person to read Calvin’s Institutes for herself as it is clear that she has absolutely no understanding of what Calvinists believe. It is the Arminian who has adopted the terminology of evangelism and infused a different meaning into it. New converts are not saved by preachers and teachers, they are saved by God. God only uses the preacher or teacher to bring about what He will do in the saving of souls. It is God who adds to the church as many as should be saved. It is the Arminian who then fails to teach and preach true Biblical doctrine to the new convert. Beginning with the work of 'making a decision for Christ' it is the Arminian who teaches a religion of obedience rather than faith while the Calvinist says simply, “The just shall live by faith.” It is the Arminian who calls new converts to a religion of obedience and works and tells them that they can arrive at being holy and righteous in themselves. The Calvinist, on the other hand, says, “Behold, I am vile - a man of unclean lips, I have no righteousness of my own, and any that I think I have is as filthy rags. I need an imputed righteousness and the only righteousness acceptable to God is the righteousness of Christ.”
It is His obedience and His righteousness that is imputed to us making us acceptable to God - a righteousness based on having no faith in anything of ourselves and complete faith in the One who did for us what we had no ability to do for ourselves. We place all of our faith in Him and Him alone. The Calvinist is not waiting for some second blessing to enable Him to be all that Christ is. Certainly, we are being conformed to His image, but we know that this will not be complete until we see him face to face. The Calvinist says, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” He knows that there is nothing he can bring to God that is of any merit, including his “free will” choice. Everything that he has to offer is tainted by sin, including his best efforts at obedience, holiness, righteousness, repentance, and even his prayers are tainted by sin. All that he needs must come from another who has no sin in Him - One who is pure, undefiled and perfect in every way. There is only One who qualifies, there is only One who is acceptable in the sight of God, only One who was perfectly obedient, and that One is Jesus, and Him alone. We place all of our faith in Him and His finished work on behalf of all of His people.
What incalculable damage is done through Calvinism's ideology that portrays God as a liar who says He loves all men but doesn't, and who says He desires all men's salvation, but secretly plots their demise. How can this possibly be the God found in the pages of scripture? What greater way for the enemy of our souls to hamper true evangelism than to convince Christians that God's sovereignty chooses, equips and brings the individually elected ones to faith without any effort by man (Notebook pg. 76,145) There's scarcely a need for witnessing in this case if preachers are merely evangelizing the elect. And what greater way to stagnate the Christian walk than to put Christians under a heavy burden of works that undermines confidence in the cross? It is interesting to consider that while the clarion cry of the reformers was "faith alone", in practice it turns out to be, "faith plus election plus works alone."
It is the Arminian who is guilty of doing incalculable damage by imposing impossible standards on the new convert and dishonoring God, who has already provided for them what they are now told to attempt to provide for themselves. It is to say that the righteousness of Christ is not sufficient, "I must add to this my own righteousness." This is a shameful trampling underfoot of the blood of Christ. It is putting Christ to an open shame; it is counting the blood of Christ as nothing.
The Arminian gospel imposes impossible works on the new convert who has been taught to place his faith in his own feelings, his own works and his own righteousness. This can lead many new converts to despair and to cry, “I just cannot be as obedient as I am supposed to be. I was more holy yesterday than I am today! Today, I have probably lost my salvation because of my bad behavior or my bad thought-life. I just can’t do this Christian thing, it is impossible. I cannot please God!” It can, and has, led more than one struggling soul to suicide. So the Arminian is really worshipping his own sovereign free will rather than worshipping the Sovereign God of Scripture. He is trusting in his own ability to make a choice for God rather than trusting in God Himself.
God does no injustice to any sinner that is not elect. That sinner has no desire for the things of God; he does not think that he has need of a Savior; he does not, in fact, believe in God, and thinks that those of us who do are archaic Neanderthals. The non-elect do not seek God and in their heart of hearts they hate God. Any sinner, who is seeking, shall find, but the only sinner who does seek is the one that God has called with an electing call (regeneration). There is a general gospel call that goes out to all men, and all men left in their unbelief will hate that call, and not even want to hear it. But the elect will hear, and they will seek God and when they seek, they will find. So God does not turn away anyone who is seeking Him, but not everyone will seek. The only ones who do seek Him are the ones who are enabled by God to seek. God does not plot anyone’s demise. Man can find his own way into Hell without any prodding on God’s part, but cannot find his way into heaven unless it is given to him by God to do so. God does not have to explain Himself to humanity. All He does is just and good. We are puny finite creatures with limited knowledge and understanding while God is infinite and has all understanding. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours. He certainly does not need us to defend His character by trying to judge Him by human standards. God does not save anyone against his will, neither does He send anyone to hell against his will. The natural condition of fallen man is to will 'against God' and the condition of the regenerated man is to will 'for God'. I highly recommend that the writer read Martin Luther’s Bondage of the will.
We are humans limited by space and time and because of our limitations we experience the choices that we make in life as free will choices. But we are also told in Scripture that a man’s heart devises his ways, but that it is the Lord who directs his steps.
I have no desire to hurt anyone who is Arminian, but my heart's cry is that they would search the Scriptures for themselves and in the searching of Scriptures would discover the Majesty of our Holy, Sovereign, all powerful God and that they would be laid low in His presence and see how small and helpless they really are to do anything to save themselves. I know that the Arminian gospel is much more palatable to human nature as it feeds the pride of man to believe that he has power over God by exercising his own free will, thus making God subject to it, and that man wants so badly to have a small part in his own salvation. I am not saying that all Arminians hold to this belief. Some are uninformed and some are misinformed. Some have never even heard the doctrines of grace and it is my hope that many will. What a peace and what an assurance they would have, not to mention a great love for a God who did all for them that they could not do for themselves - a Savior who said, “It is finished!” Whatever pathetic little contributions we think that we can add to what has already been done only ends up diminishing God’s glory while claiming a little of it for ourselves. Please do not glory in your own free will - glory in God! God said He would share His glory with no one. Therefore rest in Him, knowing that He has done it all.
I humbly submit this without animosity, but pressed to defend the faith and to testify of the greatness of God as revealed in Scripture against those who would defile the greatest truth and hope ever given to man. They do the greatest injustice to the Sovereign of the Universe by portraying Him as weak, small, and subject to the will of totally depraved sinners.
References:Because of the fall of Adam, all people are born separated from God and enemies to Him, with absolutely no ability or desire to seek God.
Job 15:14 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psalm 130:3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
Ecclesiastes 9:3 the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Mark7:23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.
Romans 3:9-13 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
……As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:…..There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…..They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Romans 8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be…..So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;…..Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:…
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We are completely powerless to do anything about our state.
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Although God would be just in leaving us in our lost state, because of mercy he chooses some from every race, every age and every people.
Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts:
Psalm 106:5 That I may see the good of thy chosen,
Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 24:22,24,31 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened……For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs…
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Luke 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
Romans 8:28-30,31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose….. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren…… Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified….. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Romans 11:28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.
Colossians3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect,
1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:8-9 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed……But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
God does not choose based on any of our merits, including any “free will” choice that we make. We are chosen from before the foundation of the world as decreed by God in eternity by Grace Alone.
Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
Matthew 20:15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Romans 9:11-13,16 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)…..It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger…...As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated…..So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Romans 9:20-21,23 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?.....Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?.....And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Romans 11:5-6 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…..And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Romans 11:33-36 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!....For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?.... Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things…..the weak things…..base things.….. things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Ephesians 1:4-5,11-12 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:…..Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,…..In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:…..That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
1Thessalonians 1:4-5 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God……For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him.
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
We were marked by God before the foundation of the world, Jesus prayed, “not…. for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9). His elect were fallen is sin, needed a Savior to satisfy God’s justice, Jesus’ sacrifice secured for all whom God had chosen and marked from before time began, redemption and eternal life. All who God has chosen, will be saved and justified on the basis of the finished work of Christ having imputed to them the righteousness of Christ. No one can lay any charge to the elect of God. They are regenerated, completely redeemed, eternally secure and clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 5:8-9 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…... Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Galatians 1:3-4 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,…..Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,
Colossians 1:21-22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…..In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
1 Timothy 1:15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Titus 2:13-14 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;…..Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Christ came for a particular number of people in order to fulfill the requirements of the covenant made in eternity by the Trinity. The elect, given by the Father to the Son were purchased by the crucifixion of the Son.
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
John 6:36-40 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me…..I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 10:11,14-15,24-26 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep….. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine…. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep…….. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly......Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me……But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Romans 8:32-34 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things…… Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth….. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Ephesians 1:4-6,7 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love……Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will……. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…….. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…..That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
The elect are chosen in Christ, redeemed by Christ and are now in union with Christ. The people of God are born again….spiritually resurrected, given the gift of faith, and are justified - not because we found Christ, but because he found us.
Isaiah 65:1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.
Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Ezekiel 7:3-9 Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations…… And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD…..Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come…. An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come…. The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains…. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations…. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth.
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:….Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 6:29,37,44,63-66 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent…. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out…. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day… It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life… But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him…. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father…. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
John 15:5,16,19 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing…. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you…. 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Romans 11:5-7,29 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…… And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work…..What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded….. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
2 Corinthians 3:4-5 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward….Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Ephesians 1:18-19 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Ephesians 2:1-9 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…….Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience…. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others…. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)…. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus…. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Philippians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
We are born with a bent away from God and toward self. We naturally want to believe that we have the ability to choose Jesus in our own strength, which leads us to a works-oriented self-righteousness. Scriptures tell us that He is the author and finisher of our faith. A true believer can do nothing to gain or lose his salvation. It is an eternal salvation. How can we lose what is eternal, and if we can lose it, then it is not eternal, and that would make God a liar which we know He is not! We have security in our salvation because He has secured it for us.
Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Jeremiah 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
Matthew 18:12-14 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?... And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray…. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 6:37,39 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out…. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:29-39 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren……Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified……What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?.....He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?.....Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth……Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us…… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter……Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us……For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,…. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:7-9 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:…..Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ…..God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Ephesians1:5,13-14 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will….In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you…. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1John 2:19,25 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us…..And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
1 John 5:4,11-13,20 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith…… And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son…. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life……These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God…. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
Jude 1:24-25 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Quotes:Barnabas, the associate of Paul, said in 70 AD: “Learn: before we believe in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak.”
Ignatius 110 AD: “They that are carnal [unbelievers] cannot do the things that are spiritual……nor can the unbelievers do the things of belief.”
Justin Martyr 150 AD: “mankind by Adam fell under death, and the deception of the serpent: We are born sinners…..No good thing dwells in us….For neither by nature or human understanding, is it possible for men to acquire the knowledge of things so great and so divine, but by the energy of the Divine Spirit…. Of ourselves it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God……He has convicted us of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life…. Free will has destroyed us; we who were free are become slaves and for our sin are sold…. Being pressed down by our sins, we cannot move upward toward God; we are like birds who have wings and are unable to fly.”
Clement of Alexandria 190 AD: “The soul cannot rise or fly, not be lifted up above the things that are on high, without special grace.”
Origen: “our free will……or human nature, is not sufficient to seek God in any manner.”
Eusebius: “The liberty of our will in choosing things that are good is destroyed.”
Augustine 370 AD: “If, therefore, they are servants of sin, why do they boast of free will…. O man learn from the precepts what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault that you have not the power …. Let human effort, which perished by Adam, here be silent, and let the grace of God reign by Jesus Christ…….What God promises, we ourselves do not through free will of human nature, but He Himself does by grace in us……. Men labor to find in their own will something that is our own, and not God’s; how they can find it, I know not.”
Martin Luther 1530 AD: “A man without the Spirit of God does not do evil against his will, under pressure as though he was taken by the scruff of the neck and dragged into it; he does it spontaneously and voluntarily…. With regard to God and all that bears on salvation or damnation, man has not “free will,” but is a captive, prisoner and bondslave….”
Clement of Rome 69 AD: “Let us therefore, approach Him in holiness of soul, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, with love toward our gentle and compassionate Father because He made us an elect portion unto Himself. ……. Seeing then that we are the special elect portion of a Holy God, let us do all things that pertain unto holiness…. There was given a declaration of blessedness upon them that have been elected by God through Jesus Christ our Lord…. Jesus Christ is the hope of the elect.”
Ignatius wrote to the Ephesians: “To the predestined ones before all ages, that is, before the world began, united and elect in a true passion, by the eternal will of the Father……”
Ignatius: “The multitude marveled that there should be such a great difference between the unbelievers and the elect……The Lord maketh election from His own servants…..Glory be unto God for the salvation of His holy elect.”
Justin Martyr: “In all these discourses I have brought all my proofs out of your own holy and prophetic writings, hoping that some of you may be found of the elect number which through the grace that comes from the Lord of Sabaoth, is left or reserved [set apart] for everlasting salvation.”
Cyprian 250 AD: This is therefore the predestination which we faithfully and humbly preach.”
Ambrose of Milan 380 AD: “In predestination the Church of God has always existed.”
Augustine 380 AD: “Here certainly, there is no place for the vain argument of those who defend the foreknowledge of God against the grace of God, and accordingly maintain that we were elected before the foundation of the world because God foreknew that we would be good, not that He Himself would make us good . This is not the language of Him who said, “You did not choose Me but I chose you.”
William Tyndale: “Now may we ask why God Chooseth one and not another; For God hath power over all of His creatures to do as He pleaseth.”
Martin Luther: “Although this matter is very hard for the “prudence [thinking] of the flesh,” which is made even more indignant by it and brought even to the point of blasphemy, because here it is strangled to death and reduced to absolutely nothing, man understands that salvation comes in no way from something working in himself, but only from outside himself, namely, from God who elects. But those who have the “prudence of the Spirit” delight in this subject with ineffable pleasure.”
Martin Luther in response to Erasmus: “I give you praise on this, Erasmus—that you alone, in contrast with all others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like—trifles, rather than issues…You, and you alone, have seen the hinge upon which everything turns, and aimed for the vital spot.”
Martin Luther: “There are two causes which require such things to be preached . The first is the humbling of our pride and knowledge of the grace of God. The second is the future of the Christian faith itself.”
Jonathan Edwards: “From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom He would to eternal life; and rejecting whom he pleased….But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another sense of God’s sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a DELIGHTFUL conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly bright and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God….And whenever the doctrines of God’s sovereignty with regard to the salvation of sinners were preached, there with it God sent revival.”
Whitfield: “This is one reason, among many others, why I admire the doctrine of election, and am convinced that it should have a place in the gospel ministry, and should be insisted on in great faithfulness and care. …..I shall only say, it is the doctrine of election which most presses me to abound in good works. This makes me preach with comfort, because I know that my salvation does not depend upon my free will, but, the Lord makes me willing in the day of His power; and can make use of me to bring some of His elect home, when and where He pleases.”
Charles Spurgeon: “Brethren we must always believe this and preach it, for it is the sum of all true doctrine. If you do not make salvation to be wholly of the Lord, mark my word, you will have to clip salvation down, and make it a small matter. I have always desired to preach a great salvation, and I do not think that any other is worth preaching….We cannot preach the gospel unless we preach the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah.”
Charles Spurgeon: “Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement…..yet if it was Christ’s intention to save every man, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for there is a lake of fire, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood…..We cannot preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought upon the cross.”
Justin Martyr 150 AD: “Having sometime before convinced us of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life, hath now shown us the Savior, who is able to save them which otherwise were impossible to be saved….Free will has destroyed us; we are sold into sin.”
Irenaseus 180 AD: “Not of ourselves, but of God, is the blessing of our salvation….Man, who was before led captive, is taken out of the power of the possessor, according to the mercy of God the Father, and restoring it, gives salvation to it by the Word; that is, by Christ; that many may experimentally learn that not of himself, but by the gift of God, he receives immortality.”
Tertullian 200 AD: “Do you think, O men, that we could ever have been able to have understood these things in the Scriptures unless by the will of Him that wills all things, we had received grace to understand them?….But by this it is plain, that it (faith) is not given to thee, by God, because thou dost not ascribe it to Him alone.
Cyprian 250 AD: “Whatsoever is grateful is to be ascribed not to man’s power, but to God’s gift. It is God’s , I say, all is God’s that we can do. Yea, that in nothing must we glory, since nothing is ours.”
Arnobius 303 AD: “You place the salvation of your souls in yourselves, and trust that you may be may be gods by your inward endeavor, yet it is not in our own power to reach things above.”
Lactantius 320 AD: “The victory lies in the will of God, not in thine own. To overcome is not in our own power.”
Athanasius 350 AD: “To believe is not ours, or in our power, but the Spirits who is in us, and abides in us.
Hieronymus (Jerome) 390 AD: “This is the chief righteousness of man, to reckon that whatsoever power he can have, is not his own, but the Lords who gives it…. See how great is the help of God, and how frail the condition of man that we cannot by any means fulfill this, that we repent, unless the Lord first convert us…. When He [Jesus], says , “No man can come to me, ”He breaks the proud liberty of free will; for man can desire nothing, and in vain he endeavors…. Where is the proud boasting of free will?.....We pray in vain if it is in our own free will. Why should men pray for that from the Lord which they have in the power of their own free will?
Augustine 370 AD: “Faith itself is to be attributed to God…..Faith is made a gift. These men, however, attribute faith to free will, so grace is rendered to faith not as a gratuitous gift, but as a debt…..They must cease from saying this.”
Tyndale 1520 AD “Many have a certain imagination of faith. They think no further than that faith is a thing which is in their own power to have, as do other natural works which men do …. But the right faith springeth not of man’s fantasy, neither is it in any man’s power to obtain it; but it is altogether the pure gift of God without deserving any merits, yea without our seeking for it, even faith is God’s gift and grace…. Faith rooteth herself in the hearts of the elect. Is it not… perverse blindness to teach how a man can do nothing of his own self, and yet presumptuously take upon them the greatest and highest work of God, even to make faith in themselves of their own power, and of their own false imagination and thoughts? Therefore I say, we must despair of ourselves and pray to God to give us faith.”
Martin Luther: “We become sons of God by a power divinely given us—not by any power of “free will” inherent in us!...What is hereby attributed to man’s own decision and free will? What indeed is left but nothing! Since the source of grace is the predestinating purpose of God, then it comes by necessity, and not by any effort or endeavor on our part.”
Charles Spurgeon: “The Holy Ghost comes, not according to our own mind or will, but according to the gift and purpose of the Lord. From top to bottom this salvation is of the Lord.”
Clement of Rome 69AD: “It is the will of God that all whom He loves should partake of repentance, and so not perish with the unbelieving and impenitent. He has established it by His almighty will. But if any of those whom God wills should partake of the grace of repentance, should afterwards perish, Where is His mighty will? And how is this matter settled and established by such a will of His?”
Tertullian: “God forbid that we should believe that the soul of any saint should be drawn out by the devil…. For what is of God is never extinguished.”
Augustine: “Of these believers no one perishes, because they were all elected. And they are elected because they were called according to the purpose—the purpose, however, not of their own, but of God’s….Obedience then is God’s gift….To this, indeed, we are not able to deny, that perseverance in good, progressing even to the end, is also a great gift of God.”
William Tyndale: “Christ is in thee, and thou in Him, knit together inseparably. Neither canst thou be damned, except Christ be damned with thee: neither can Christ be saved, except thou be saved with Him.”
George Whitfield: A true child of God though he might fall foully, yet could never finally fall.”
Charles Spurgeon: “I cannot comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.”
This list of quotes is taken from a collection of Michael Horton’s books, “Putting Amazing back into Grace” second edition, published by Baker Books, A Division of Baker House Co. Grand Rapids Michigan 49516