Category: Calvinism ?s


Plenty has recently been said about The Shack, however for those still desirous of defending its message and meaning, please carefully and biblically consider what the author actually believes about the Bible, humanity, repentance, and God’s forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.

A Reminder- As Christians, we must never be ignorant of deception and its destructive devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Very few lies, especially when designed to infiltrate the truth, immediately expose their true desires. Instead, much like a Trojan horse, they often mask their actual intentions by wrapping themselves in fragments of the truth. Once being brought in, they quickly plant seeds of doubt, deception, and distrust all designed to direct people outside the safe and stalwart walls of the truth, leading them, ultimately to destruction.

Lest we forget, Satan infiltrated the perfect, original garden, subtly planting deceptive seeds in the heart and mind of Eve. (2 Corinthians 11:3) He had (and continues to have) one clear outcome broken into three basic steps- Doubt, Deception, and finally, Destruction. 

Arguably, Young has accomplished Step 1, successfully entering the Christian world by means of The Shack. His newest book, Lies We Believe About God, clearly launches readers headlong into Step 2.

(Excerpts below are directly from Lies We Believe About God)

W. Paul Young on the condition of man-

“Many of us believe that God sees us all as failures, wretches who are utterly depraved.”

“Yes, we have crippled eyes, but not a core of un-goodness. We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others, and even all creation. Blind, not depraved is our condition.” (Chapter 2)

God’s Word on the condition of man- 

Romans 7:18– “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Romans 7:24– “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

W. Paul Young on Salvation and The Gospel-

“So what is the Good News? What is the Gospel?”

“The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.”

“God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.”

“Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!”

“Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12: 32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4: 10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1: 3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14: 20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).” (Chapter 13)

God’s Word on Salvation and The Gospel-

Jesus Christ- “I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus Christ- “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Jesus Christ-  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6

Revelation 20:15– “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

May we always carefully and biblically consider what lies beneath the surface of everything we read, watch, and listen to, especially as they relate to the Only True and Living God, His holy and sanctifying Word, and His salvation found solely in Jesus Christ.

“Then said Jesus to those… which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

Advertisements

Calvinism would say being spiritually dead means we are completely unable, like a dead body, to respond, even to the Gospel of God (Colossians 2:13), but is this conclusion actually found in the Bible?

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning is often used on biblically novice, non-Calvinists as a stepping stone into “reformed” theology. They will typically point to Jesus raising Lazarus as the prime example. (John 11:43) The argument goes something like this- Lazarus couldn’t hear Jesus because He was dead, rotting in a tomb, just like we are dead in our sins, therefore we cannot even hear God calling. And if we cannot hear God at any level, because of our deadness, then the conclusion is that God must need to first raise us from the dead for us to respond to His voice. This is the T for Total Depravity in the Calvinist acronym T.U.L.I.P. This then opens the door to the U-Unconditional Election, the L-Limited Atonement, and the I-Irresistible Grace.

At that point, many believers simply throw in the towel and begin to at least remain open, soft, and silent to Calvinism. Sadly, many have even been won over through the deadness of sin argument. But, in truth, the Lazarus argument is one developed through walking by sight, not by faith.(2 Corinthians 5:7) Deadness does not mean complete deafness.

By sight, it may appear correct to say Lazarus was dead and unable to hear the Lord, however Lazarus wasn’t dead, he was simply separated from his body. Lazarus wasn’t rotting in that tomb. His visible, physical body was. It wasn’t Lazarus who couldn’t hear and respond to Jesus, it was his body that was unable to receive soundwaves. 

Biblically speaking, death is not simply an animated, physical creature becoming permanently inanimate. Death is separation. Adam and Eve died the day they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, yet they lived for many centuries beyond that day. But the day they sinned they surely died. That is to say, they were separated from God in the spiritual sense. (Genesis 2:16-17)

When Lazarus died, he was separated from his body. When Jesus called to him, it wasn’t his physical, visible rotting corpse He was calling to. It was the Lazarus who was separated from his body four days prior and was arguably in “Abraham’s Bosom” with the other Old Testament saints.  Lazarus had bodily listened to Jesus speak many times before and most likely, like Mary and Martha, had already believed Jesus was the salvation of sinners. So the attempt to use Lazarus being called from the tomb as a biblical reason to believe in the Calvinist misinterpretation of deadness is frankly out of place.

Equating spiritual death with inability to respond to the Lord’s Gospel is specious at best and deceptively destructive at worst. Apart from the Spirit we most certainly cannot know the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-14), however, there are no Scriptures that teach man’s inability to at least hear and respond to the glorious Gospel.

After all, the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God does not save us so that we can then hear and respond to the Gospel. We all must first hear and respond (believe by faith) to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. 

“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. 

For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, Whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed. 

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? 

And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? 

As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:9-15

bible-verses-about-loveEvery born again believer who has been saved for any length of time is most likely familiar with Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The question, especially for a person influenced by Calvinism, is why is Romans 3:23 where it is in the Bible? It might seem pretty obvious why a verse explaining that everyone has fallen short of God’s glory is both in the Bible and in Romans 3, however, as we know, every Scripture must be read and understood in context of the verses before and after it.

Let’s first consider verses 21-22. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference…” All Christians, regardless of their Calvinistic predilections, would agree that the “all” in verse 23 means all. But as verses 21 and 22 explain, the whole reason verse 23 is where it is in the Bible is to support verse 22. Verse 23 deals with all having sinned which is the foundation for verse 22’s claim that all have the opportunity to at least believe the Gospel for there is NO DIFFERENCE for ALL have sinned. Again, the “all” in verse 23 means all to support the all in verse 22 meaning all. It might be just as well said, “If all had not sinned, then the righteousness of God would not be available to all who believe.”

When the reader allows Scripture, not man’s teachings, to define Scripture, then he is left with only one conclusion here. The righteousness of God is not attainable through the works of the law, but is only accessible by placing his faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. The person who desires to be righteous must believe in Jesus Christ. Who qualifies for such an invitation? Sinners. How many sinners qualify? All sinners. Why? Because there is no difference for ALL HAVE SINNED.  At least that is what these verses say.

But then one might argue, “If men can actually believe, then they can boast in their work of belief.” Again, what does Romans 3 conclude?  Verses 27-28 say, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Side Note: These last verses speak of the law of faith, not grace. Why? Because this portion of Scripture is focused on mankind’s need to believe. We are not justified here by so-called “irresistible grace”, rather by Jesus, in Whom all sinners can at least direct their belief/faith, hence the law of faith. Interestingly, Calvinism’s T.U.L.I.P. has no room for the this crucial law.

God-Write-the-Bible“Turn to your Bible and read for yourself in the only two chapters in which this word predestinate or predestinated is found. The first is Romans 8:29-30, the other chapter is Ephesians 1:5 and 11. You will note that there is no reference in these four verses to either heaven or hell but to Christ-likeness eventually. Nowhere are we told in scripture that God predestinated one man to be saved and another to be lost. Men are to be saved or lost eternally because of their attitude towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Predestination means that someday all the redeemed shall become just like the Lord Jesus”

“D.L. Moody used to put it very simply the elect are the ‘whosoever wills’ the non-elect ‘whosoever wont’s’. This is exactly what scripture teaches, the invitation is to all, those who accept it are the elect. Remember, we are never told that Christ died for the elect”.

“Whosoever means, whosoever.” Only a biased theologian, with an axe to grind, could ever think that it meant only the elect.”    ~H.A. Ironside

Interestingly, men are able to respond to a variety of invitations:  birthday parties, weddings, funerals, and even Facebook.  So why is it that so many believe that men are completely incapable of at least responding to God’s invitation of full and free forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection?

Too often people have believed that men are so dead in their sins that they are literally unable to even receive the Gospel.  They will say that the Bible teaches that men cannot submit to God’s law. Yet submitting to God’s law is not the same as accepting the Gospel/good news that Jesus died for their sins.

An Excuse: To say that mankind is unable to do anything but sin sounds a bit like an excuse for sinning.  Yes we are bound in our sins and trespasses, and it is true that some sins have such a hold over us that we, at times, are owned by our sinful lusts and passions, but to simply say we are unable to choose anything else takes our own decisions and accountability out of the picture.

A Few Questions:

  1. If we had no other choice than to say yes to sin, then why don’t all men sin in the same ways?  If we are really nothing more than “yes men” to sin’s desires, then why do some choose not to murder, steal, etc.?
  2. Also, if men are really so dead they can choose to do nothing but sin, aren’t we forgetting that dead men don’t choose anything?  Yes, dead men are unable to choose to do good, but they would also be unable to do wrong either.
  3. If we are totally unable to receive the invitation of God’s pardon from our sins, then why did Jesus bother to spend so much time calling, inviting, declaring, and appealing to men while He was here?

To say men are unable to receive the Gospel is simply and biblically unfounded, but to say we are unwilling to hear and follow the Lord God is a another story altogether.  Many who believe in the “deadness” of man, equating it to “inability”, attempt to use Romans 8 as a chapter to validate their doctrine.

Romans 8: Two Laws

The contrast in Romans 8 is the two laws – the law of the Spirit of God and the law of sin and death (verse 2). The law of God is death to the carnal minded man, but brought to life by the Spirit of God for those who receive God’s forgiveness in Christ alone. Once men are born again, they receive the power to become submissive to the law of God. The carnal man who is under the law of sin is clearly not willing to be “subject” to the law of God since he has not been born again.

Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” isn’t dealing with salvation, rather it’s laying the foundation for the spiritual reality of the old, carnal man which then sets a precedent for the necessity of the new birth in Christ Jesus.

Interestingly, one of the only insights in Romans 8 as to “how” a man is born again is found in verse 15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Emphasis mine)

Just because the carnal mind is at enmity with God doesn’t mean he is incapable of at least receiving the Gospel of God.  If we are capable of rebelling, we are also capable of asking God for forgiveness. This is plainly revealed throughout the entire Word of God.

(This is part of a larger overview of some of the major Calvinistic teachings being presented today.  For a more in depth look at Calvinism and its unbiblical teachings, go to:  “Calvinism in Light of God’s Word: A Variety of Resources” 

There are many young pastors and congregations that continue to be influenced by the doctrines of Calvinism from many of today’s most popular pulpit teachers. It is crucial that we guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! One way of doing this is to understand some of the major lies attempting to be fed to the flock of God.  See below for more in depth resources examining Calvinism in light of God’s Word.

 

Jesus said to them, “If any man wills [desires] do [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17

Articles:

Video:

Website Resource Pages on Calvinism:

Three Great Book Resources:

%d bloggers like this: