Eternity is rushing towards us.
You and everyone else must be ready.
Lots of opinions circulate through the church about Calvinism. It’s a topic that’s on the minds of many. Those opinions range from sympathizers to those who are opposed to it. And, of course, many try to defend their own version of it because they’ve bought into it, in part. But the controversy is really settled understanding God and His Word correctly.
A gentleman sent me an email last week where he called Calvinism a disease. That got me thinking.
One definition of disease is, “An abnormal condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, inflammation, environmental factors, or genetic defect, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs, symptoms, or both.”
We know that infections start somewhere in the body. They have a point of origin before they spread. We hear of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, liver diseases, malaria, and many other diseases, but each of them had to have a beginning. The first cancer cell came from somewhere. If I destroy my heart, there is something I did that began the process of creating that problem in my life.
When I get into a discussion with someone who is a Calvinist, I sometimes will ask the question, “How did you get into Calvinism?” Interestingly, every single person, except one, has given me the same answer. They said they were reading a book or watching a video by someone and that began the process of changing their entire theology. Fascinating.
Who Are You Reading?
We did a newsletter a while back on the top ten books you would pass along to your kids and grandkids. Part of that exercise was to show us how we have to be careful about what we put in front of our eyes. If you are reading Macarthur, Sproul, Piper, Platt, Dever, Lloyd-Jones, Packer, Grudem, Pink, Lutzer, Mohler, Lawson, Bachhman, Duncan, Carson, DeYoung, Chandler, Keller, White, Washer, Horton, Chafer, MacDonald, and even names like Ryrie, Ironside, and McGee, then don’t be surprised when you begin to sympathize with or become a Calvinist.
I am doing a Bible study with some Ukrainian friends and one of the guys has a MacArthur Study Bible. I have had to warn him to be very careful of the notes below the text. Nothing, nothing, nothing is more important than the words that God wrote and not what men say in the margins.
What Do You Think?
I try and ask folks two main questions whenever this topic comes up. I’m just trying to ferret things out and see where we stand at the beginning of our discussion. Those two questions are:
By the way, how would you answer those questions? Think about them for a second and come up with an answer before you continue.
The First Question
So, the answer to the first question is yes, God makes it very clear that anyone and everyone can put their faith and trust in Jesus, if they so desire.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
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.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
It is really kind of simple, if you think about it. Your job is to believe, and His job is to save. Simple.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Is it that they could not or would not believe?
Interestingly, I have had plenty of people say no to that question. They explain that if you were not one of the elect, then there is no way at all for you to be in Heaven. They say that if God did not preselect you for Heaven, there is a zero percent chance you can get there. That is a fascinating answer. Not biblical, but fascinating.
The Second Question
The second question seems like it’s a really simple one to answer by just reading the Bible. But if any of us were to put transparencies over the Bible and read in our own thoughts, theologies, and philosophies, then verses can mean anything we or our teachers want them to mean.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
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.
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
That seems kind of simple. We receive Him, believe, and then we become sons of God.
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
C. Sproul, a purveyor and defender of Reformed theology said,
“If there’s one phrase that captures the essence of Reformed theology, it is the little phrase, regeneration precedes faith.”
That is not a biblical statement. You can only come to that conclusion if you have been indoctrinated by the philosophy of Calvinism.
According to Calvinism
I asked these two questions of a man on a plane flight one day. He said, “Well, I am reformed, so, no, there is not anyone in Hell that could have been in Heaven. And regeneration comes first, and faith comes second.”
As you can see, ideas have consequences. If you hold to the total depravity position of Calvinism, which really means total inability, then you can see how they arrive at their conclusions. The problem, though, is that the Bible―front to back―commands and directs men and women to put their faith and trust in Him.
You have to make decisions. You do it every day of your life. You are not a robot. And if you can make all of those decisions, then, yes, you can make the decision to follow or reject Jesus as well. Simple.
Deception is an amazing thing. The enemy loves to deceive believers and get them into false teachings. But I am not a robot. I have the ability to follow or not follow the philosophies of men. I have the ability―not inability―to be a Berean. Matter of fact, it is the only way any of us will be able to shun false doctrines in these last days. Is it time for you or someone you know to leave the false philosophies of Calvinism behind? Today would be a great day to do that.
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Until the Nets are Full,
Previous / Next newsletter