Welcome to Radically Christian Q&A, the two-minute show where we answer your tough Bible questions with honest Bible answers. This show is brought to you by RadicallyChristian.com and Baker Heights church of Christ. Our question today is, “Can a Christian lose his salvation?”Continue Reading...
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Lately, many of the commenters on this blog have boldly asserted that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. In fact, many well-meaning religious folks have built an entire theology around the assumption that it is impossible for a Christian to fall away and lose his salvation. But what if that assumption is false?Continue Reading...
No doubt John Calvin did many good things in his life; and I am sure there are many points in his teachings and writings, which were biblically accurate. However, I completely and totally reject Calvinistic theology. Here are some of the reasons why I am not a Calvinist.
7 Reasons Why I’m Not a Calvinist
1. I Am a Christian – The first reason I’m not a Calvinist is that John Calvin was a man. I myself am a man, and know all too well, the sins and short-comings of mankind. That is why I do not now, nor will I ever, follow a man. Paul admonished the church in Corinth for following men, when they were saying, “I follow Paul” or, “I follow Apollos” (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4). Even if I agreed with Calvin on every theological point, which I do not, I still could not describe myself as a “Calvinist” because I want to follow Christ, and Him alone.
Similar to what Paul asked the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:13), I would ask those who are Calvinists, “Was [Calvin] crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of [Calvin]?
2. Man is Not Totally Depraved – Calvin’s theology begins with the doctrine of “Total Depravity,” the idea that man is born so totally and completely sinful, he is incapable of making a right choice. This idea of “original sin” is foreign to Scripture. Instead, Scripture teaches that sin is the result of willful disobedience to God (Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 3:4).
Calvinism allows man to say, “Sin is not my fault. It is my ‘sinful nature.'” However, Scripture teaches that sin is our fault. Scripture teaches that man has freewill and is able to choose whom he will serve (Joshua 24:15).
3. The Church Was Predestined – The Calvinistic idea of predestination is that every individual has been predestined for salvation or condemnation. Man has nothing to do with receiving salvation; it is completely up to God whether an individual spends eternity in heaven or hell. In the first chapter of Ephesians and the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul speaks of the idea of being “predestined.” Thus, the idea of predestination is a biblical concept. However, Calvin has confused the issue. Paul wrote that God chose “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) to save a group of people (the church). Nowhere in Scripture do we read the Calvinistic idea that individuals were predestined for salvation or condemnation. Paul wrote, “he predestined us” (1:5) and, “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined” (1:11). Concerning predestination, Paul always speaks in the plural (a group), not singular (an individual).
Allow me to illustrate: Suppose I told you today that in 30 years I was going to give every member of a certain Boy Scout troop $1,000. Thirty years from now, when those boys received the money, they could say as a group, “Wes predestined ‘us’ to receive this money.” However, an individual Scout could not say, “Wes predestined ‘me’ to receive this money.” It would not have been the individual who I chose, but the group. Just as God chose the group, Israel, to bless under the Old Testament, He has chosen the church to bless with salvation under the New Testament. In fact, Ephesians 1 ends this way, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vs. 22-23).
Paul wrote that God, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And Peter wrote, “he Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is available to anyone who will enter the Kingdom (the church) by being born again by water and the Spirit (John 3:1-7; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21)
4. Jesus Died for Everyone – For me, the hardest part of Calvinism to understand is the doctrine of “Limited Atonement.” Calvin and his followers teach that Christ only died for the “elect.” In other words, Christ did not die for those who are predestined for condemnation, but only for those who are predestined for salvation.
I cannot possibly believe that this idea could be reached by simply reading Scripture. It could only have been reached by the necessity of needing to support other man-made doctrines. Here is what Scripture says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should notperish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). And, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
5. Grace is Resistible – The Calvinist teaches that grace is irresistible. They insist that if God predestines an individual, then God will save him; there is nothing that individual can do to resist God’s grace. However, numerous passages refute this doctrine. First, is it easy enough to see that people like King Agrippa resisted the grace of God. Even though he believed the Scriptures, he would not allow himself to be convinced to receive God’s grace and put on Christ (Acts 26:27-29).
Second, if grace were “irresistible” it would making evangelism unnecessary. Why would missionaries need to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16), if it was God who irresistibly and miraculously converted men? Why would Paul say, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). If Paul’s preaching and example had nothing to do with the conversion of souls, someone ought to have told Paul that!
6. Christians Can Fall From Grace – The Calvinists teach the doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved.” The idea that if someone truly becomes a Christian, it is impossible for him to fall from grace. If you were to ask as Calvinist, “Can a person fall from grace?” Surely, the Calvinist would answer with a resounding, “No! There is no way a person can fall from grace.” Which baffles me, in light of Galatians 5:4, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Surely that answers this question for all time, doesn’t it?!
Jesus Himself taught that one could fall from grace, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6). If you need more convincing on this point, you can read my previous post on “Once Saved Always Saved.”
7. The Bible is My Standard – I believe in a simple gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB). I believe that God has revealed everything to us, through Scripture, that we need to know to be saved (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Salvation is not a great mystery, that only great theologians can decipher. Salvation is simple, easy to understand, and available to all through Jesus Christ.
This is what Jesus told the apostles, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:-15-16). The words of Jesus, and the words of the rest of the New Testament, could not be any further from Calvinism. Therefore, I want nothing to do with it!
I love you and the God, who wants all men to be saved, loves you,
One of the phrases I repeat to my son Malachi, multiple times during any give day is, “You have two choices…” The specifics of the choices differ depending on the situation, but the basics are always the same, “…You can disobey and get a spanking, or you can obey and not get a spanking.” You get the idea; and it’s probably the same in your home.
The problem comes when children try to create a third option. The third option is almost always disobedience without punishment. Let me illustrate how a conversation might go in my home:
I say to my son, “Malachi, pick up your toys and put them away.”
And he replies, “I don’t want to.”
“Alright, you have two choices, you can put away your toys and not get a spanking, or you can not put away your toys and get a spanking; your choice buddy.”
And as always, his response is, “Not get a spanking.” He decides very quickly he likes the benefits of option one.
But just because he chooses the benefits of option one, does not mean he will necessarily comply with the requirements of that option. He tries to create a third option where he does not clean up his toys and does not get a spanking. He, of course, is greatly disappointed when he inevitably (and painfully) discovers there is no option three. Eventually, he almost always comes to the realization that it is less painful to simply obey.
We see this same scenario played out perpetually between God and His children. God explains that there are two choices. One is obedience with benefits, and the other is disobedience with consequences. And God’s people have continually acted like children by trying to create a third option, disobedience with benefits and without punishment. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is almost entirely an explanation of the two choices God gave toIsrael before they entered the Promised Land. I would encourage you to read Deuteronomy 30:15-20:
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing theJordanto enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.
From the book of Judges, one can easily observe that the people ofIsraelthought life and prosperity sounded great, but obedience was not so appealing. They chose to disobey and were utterly confused when God disciplined them. You can hear the puzzled dismay in Gideon’s voice when he says to the angel of the Lord, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up fromEgypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian’” (Judges 6:13). This is the same Gideon whose father was an idol worshiper (Judges 6:25)! And he actually had the audacity to ask, “Why then has all this happened to us?” It should have been obvious!
Yet, are we any different today? Have we not invented our own “option three” when we come up with doctrines like Calvin’s “Perseverance of the Saints,” also known as “Once Saved Always Saved”? There are those who believe that once you are a child of God, God will continue blessing you and withhold from you eternal punishment on the Day of Judgment, regardless of how disobedient you may be to Him. It is the same old story of trying to reap the blessings, with no obligation to obey. However, this theology simply doesn’t align with the teachings of the New Testament.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:26-29)?
All of us, to varying degrees, have probably tried to pull this over on God. For all of us have the propensity to be like immature children; trying to create a scenario where we can continue to freely sin and yet avoid the punishment of God. And as my beautiful wife pointed out, this is not what Jesus had in mind when He told us to become like little children!
Because of what the New Testament says, I firmly believe these things to be true:
1. God’s grace is lavished on those who are in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-8). No matter the nature or the magnitude of the sin, when a man or woman is in Christ, the blood makes all past sins disappear; as if they never happened (Psalm 103:12).
2. For those who abide in Christ, there is continual forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:7). We continue to fall short of God’s expectations and God’s will for our lives, but the blood of Jesus continues to wash us clean. As we “walk in the light” the blood continues to wash away our sins, no matter what they may be.
3. Abiding in Christ (walking in the light) is not about perfection, but it does require obedience (John 15:10). If walking in the light were perfection, no continual forgiveness would be necessary since perfect people would need no forgiveness. However, walking in the light is about making every effort to obey. Every effort should be made to be obedient in our thoughts, our actions, and our intentions. When one finds he has sinned, he is commanded to repent (Acts 8:22). An unwillingness to repent, no matter the sin, is a disobedience with which God has shown little tolerance (Luke 13:3).
4. If a believer ceases to make an effort to obey, he will fall from grace. I have heard people say the very idea someone could have “fallen away from grace” is a contradiction in terms. However, the phrase is not man-made, it is God breathed. God said, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4). The Galatians were walking away from Christ in favor of the Old Law, and many had already fallen from grace. If it is possible for them to fall from grace, why would we consider ourselves to be any more secure? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Grace is conditioned upon our continual effort to be obedient to the truth.
5. God’s expectations are never unreasonable (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must understand God’s will is not too complicated for us to understand (Romans 12:2). What kind of a God would give commands, to people He created, which they were incapable of obeying? Christ proved perfection was possible, even under the Old Law (Hebrews 4:15). This is what makes His grace even more amazing, He is willing to forgive us for giving in to temptations which we are perfectly capable of resisting (1 Corinthians 10:13)! Praise God for His amazing grace!
I love you! God loves you! God bless you!