Archive for October, 2010

Irresistible Grace ?

October 29, 2010

A passage Calvinists like to use to prove their theory of "Irresistible Grace" (that the elect can’t help but decide to serve God) is 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." But this verse is not teaching God miraculously forces people to become Christians. Instead the way God draws people is found in the very next verse. Verse 45 reads, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." So God doesn’t force men to come to him; instead they come to God as the result of teaching and learning from the word of God.

Paul said to his readers, "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Romans 2:4), so they were not forced; instead, they were led by God to repent. Romans 10:16 says "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith then, is not something forced upon us. II Thessalonians 2:14 says people are "called … by our gospel" not by some miraculous mysterious voice. II Corinthians 5:10 teaches our conversion is a result of divine persuasion – so it can be resisted by the closed minded (Matthew 13:15). It is not intended by God to be irresistible.

Does The Holy Spirit Teach People Today Separate And Apart From The Word?

October 26, 2010

Quoting from a recent email message I received:

the bible also talks about a lot of things which if taken literally without the … Holy Spirit, lead to the dangerous "works salvation"

This is typical of most religious people who are not completely committed to accept whatever God’s word says on any subject. Many passages like James 2:24 teach we are "justified by works and not by faith alone," and there is not one passage teaching salvation by faith alone, yet this correspondent says the Holy Spirit is telling her something different than what the Bible says "literally."

Don’t we realize the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible? Why would the Holy Spirit tell an individual something different than what he wrote for everybody in the scriptures? This reminds me of all the "women preachers" who say the Holy Spirit has called them to preach when the Holy Spirit wrote I Corinthians 14:34-35 which clearly precludes women from teaching in the church assembly.

I Corinthians 13:8-10 teaches that miraculous gifts are not still in operation today. And I think people realize the Holy Spirit is not really revealing to us today, as they are not adding to their New Testaments what they claim the Holy Spirit told him.

God’s word is all we need in establishing doctrine (II Timothy 3:16-17). Whatever it (the Bible) says on a matter is the total truth on that subject. Unequivocally, the Holy Spirit will not tell anybody something different than what his book says.

Why Is Infant Baptism Wrong ?

October 20, 2010

Acts 8:26-40 tells us the story of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. According to Acts 8:35, “Philip … preached unto him (the Ethiopian) Jesus.” Evidently “preaching Jesus” includes preaching the necessity of baptism, because when “they came unto a certain water … the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” In our vernacular, verse 36 would read, “what’s keeping me from being baptized?”

Notice how Philip replied to the eunuch in verse 37 – “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Now just going by normal language rules, that would imply that if the eunuch did not believe, Philip was saying he couldn’t be baptized. This illustrates the main reason “infant baptism” is not scriptural – it is required that a person believe first before he is baptized, and infants are not capable of believing.

So Acts 8:37 is very clear on this aspect of baptism. Infant baptism then is obviously a commandment of men, and those who teach such are worshipping God in vain (according to Matthew 15:9) and therefore will not go to heaven. Those who believe and practice such are not abiding in the doctrine of Christ and therefore do not have God (II John verse 9), and a person certainly cannot go to heaven without God.

Do you see why it is so important that we practice Jesus’ religion Jesus’ way?

To listen to a fair and friendly Bible debate on infant baptism, click here: http://98.131.169.180/Debates/Audio/InfantBaptism-StrawbridgeDonahueDebate20090619/index.htm

Does Falling Away Prove A Person Was Never Saved To Begin With ?

October 13, 2010

A Calvinist reader of “Doctrine Matters” weighed in on the “once saved always saved” issue by saying:

keeping on proves your faith is genuine

This is a common tack taken by “once saved always saved” advocates. Their argument is that if a person falls away, that proves they were never saved to begin with. For example Hebrews 3:12 (“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God”) is a passage commonly used to defeat the “once saved always saved” theory. The Calvinists’ common reply is that this verse is describing false brethren, only pretenders. But this reply ignores the context. Verse 1 of the same chapter says about these same brethren that they were “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.” The chapter has to be talking about true Christians then, doesn’t it? Non-Christians are not “holy” and have never been “partakers of the heavenly calling,” have they? And so if a true believer changes his heart to unbelief and departs from the living God (as Hebrews 3:12 says is possible), that would prove a saved person changed to being a lost person (John 3:36b), right?

Hebrews 3:1,12 is a classic case of where a passage clearly disproves a false theory, so advocates of the false theory place an interpretation on the passage that contradicts its obvious meaning, and violates the context of the passage. The immediate context is always part of what a passage teaches.

To listen to a fair and friendly debate on the “once saved always saved” issue, click here: http://98.131.169.180/Debates/Audio/OnceSavedAlwaysSaved-GarrettDonahueDebate20061013/index.htm

I John 2:2 Versus The Limited Atonement Theory

October 7, 2010

A very humble friend of mine who is also a Calvinist replied to a recent “Doctrine Matters” message which used Luke 19:10 to prove the Limited Atonement theory false. Here is what he wrote:

You also have a limited view of the atonement. Everybody except Universalists limit the atonement. You limit it’s accomplishment. You believe the death of Christ on the cross made it possible for all to be saved but actually saved none.

I think my friend is confusing “atonement” with “salvation.” The Bible teaches salvation is “limited” to those who believe and obey (II Thessalonians 1:8, Mark 16:16), but the Bible teaches the “atonement” is general, or unlimited. There are many verses that prove this, but for now let’s look at I John 2:2, which reads:

And he [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The word “propitiation” is a theological term that may be confusing to us. According to Thesaurus.com, it is a synonym of the word “atonement” which we are discussing in this article. To confirm this, the word translated “propitiation” in I John 2:2 is the same Greek word that is translated “atonement” in the Septuagint version of Leviticus 25:9. I John 2:2 then makes it clear Jesus died not just for “our sins” (the sins of Christians), but for the sins of the “whole world.” Is there anything confusing about this term “whole world”? I think everybody without an ax to grind understands the phrase to mean every person without limit. It would have to include the non-saved, because it is set in contrast to Jesus being the atoner of the saved as mentioned earlier in the verse.

So the truth is “the death of Christ on the cross made it possible for all to be saved,” and actually saved all who are going to be saved. Nobody will be saved unless Jesus’ death does the saving. To illustrate suppose a Major League Baseball player pays $1000 for 100 tickets at $10 each so that all 100 orphans in an orphan’s home can go to watch one of his games. If 20 of those orphans decide not to go to the game and those 20 tickets go unused, that doesn’t mean the MLB player didn’t pay for their entrance. No, he paid for their entrance, but they didn’t take advantage of it. His generosity made it possible for all 100 orphans to go, and the 80 who did go were actually paid for by the baseball player. See the parallel?

One other point. Our last message mentioned how that many Calvinists have a new theory that Jesus did die for all “generally,” but not in such a way that their sins were paid for. Remember, I called this 4 point Calvinism with a powerless atonement. This theory is contradicted by I John 2:2 which makes it clear that in whatever sense Jesus died for the saved, he also died for the “whole world” (i.e., the saved and unsaved). That is the force of the expression “not for ours only, but also for … the whole world” – Jesus died for the lost in the same way (in the same sense) he died for the saved.

I John 2:2 clearly says Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Therefore his is not some “general” death that doesn’t pay for sin. So why would any Bible believer want to fight the obvious point of I John 2:2? – what do they have to gain?

A Calvinist Chimes In On Their Limited Atonement Theory

October 1, 2010

The following is how a Calvinist replied to the last Doctrine Matters message which proved false the Calvinistic theory that Jesus did not die for everybody:

Christ … died for the elect specifically and for all generally in that the death was sufficient.

This is new for John Calvin adherents to admit the truth that Jesus did die for “all.” A cardinal Calvinistic doctrine is that Jesus couldn’t have died for all unless all are going to be saved, because that would mean Jesus died for some who are not saved – and according to Calvinism that would mean some of Jesus’ blood was wasted. But this reasoning is not sound because Jesus’ death for all gives everybody an opportunity to be saved. If Jesus died only for a few, then those he didn’t die for couldn’t be saved. Because of what Jesus did, everybody can choose whether or not they want to serve God and be saved (Josh 24:15, Matt 11:28-30).

But recently we have Calvinists saying Jesus did die for all generally, but still not everybody can be saved. Now that definitely would be a waste. That would make Jesus dying for people that can have no chance to be saved. They couldn’t even be saved if they wanted to be. Talk about a powerless atonement; it can’t get any more insufficient than that.

The following are just a few of the passages that teach Jesus died for all people …

I Timothy 2:6 who [Christ Jesus] gave himself a ransom for all …

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

I John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Which means all may be saved if they so choose …

II Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, … but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

I Timothy 2:4 Who [God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

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 12:46 I am come … into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him …

Four point Calvinism doesn’t work any better than the five point version.