Tag Archive: TULIP


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

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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

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