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Unconditional Election: People Still Go To Hell Before They Sinned

Whether one holds to singular predestination or double predestination, the results are the same: people go to hell first because they were not chosen.  Whether God is active in this rejection or not is beside the point.  Some Calvinists such as John MacArthur argue that God merely passes over the non-elect and leaves them in their sins so that they perish.  John Piper agrees and even states that God is glorified in this.  Some Calvinists such as John Gill are consistent and acknowledge that God is not only active in choosing His elect but He is active in the reprobation of the non-elect.

Either way, unconditional election holds that people still go to hell because of God’s sovereign choice even before time began.  This means that the sinner who died in 2012 went to hell because God willed it so.  Yes they went to hell for their sins but the first action was that God did not choose them.

The Arminian view is that sinners go to hell because of their own sins.  Calvinists would agree but Calvinism adds that God did not sovereignly choose to save that sinner.  He either passed over them (MacArthur) or He was active in their damnation (Gill).  Either way, because God chose not to save the sinner, the sinner goes to hell.  In this case, the sinner was passed over before time began or even if we grant that they were passed over after the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12). Either way, the sinner was passed over by God’s sovereignty and they do go to hell for their sins but there was also nothing to atone for their sins in the first place.  The sinner was doomed when they were conceived in the womb.

The beauty of the gospel is that Christ died to redeem all humanity (John 3:16).  All who will can come and drink and be saved (John 7:37-39; Revelation 22:17).  Jesus shed His blood for all people (1 John 2:2) and He is the Savior of the world (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14).  Jesus’ coming was good news for the whole world (Luke 2:10-11).  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45; Romans 5:15).  He is the Savior of all men especially of believers (1 Timothy 4:10).  The sinner who sins shall die for their own sins (Ezekiel 18:4).  The Lord’s will is for all people to repent (Ezekiel 18:32; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Peter 3:9).  Jesus even shed His blood for those who die in their sins (1 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Peter 2:1-3) but their unwillingness to repent leads to their destruction (Romans 6:23).

I Agree….

I agree with John Gill in this picture, hyper-Calvinism would make me sad too. John Gill

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/14/2013 at 6:25 AM

If I Became A Calvinist…

From time to time I read on a Calvinist blog or a site that the logical end of Arminianism is universalism.  Therefore, so the writers imply, that if they embraced Arminianism then they would likewise embrace universalism since this is the Arminians logical end.

For me, if I were to embrace Calvinism, I would embrace hyper-Calvinism.  Hyper-Calvinism is the logical end.  If you follow TULIP correctly, the logical end has to be hyperism.  I recently even heard a Reformed Bible teacher lecturing on hyper-Calvinism and he lamented that despite the success of the “young, restless, and reformed” movement, he believed that history showed that with the rise of Calvinism also followed hyper-Calvinism as young, zealous Calvinists go beyond the bounds and take Calvinism to places that Calvin never intended the theology to go to (though I think that Calvin was not always consistent).  This Reformed teacher warned that the next movement he saw on the horizon would be a rise in hyper-Calvinism.

Now for those who don’t know what hyper-Calvinism is (as some Arminians tend to think that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists), hyperism is the following:

The prefix “hyper” may be used generically to refer to anything that is considered “extreme” or which goes beyond the accepted norm. There is therefore a sense in which one may refer to Calvinistic views regarded as going beyond normal Calvinism as “hyper.” This non-technical use, usually as a pejorative term, has been applied to a variety of theological positions which fall outside mainstream Calvinism:

  • that God is the source of sin and of evil
  • that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
  • that it is wrong to evangelize
  • that God does not command everyone to repent
  • that there is no common grace, i.e. God only cares for his elect and has nothing but hatred for the non-elect.
  • that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord over it, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
  • that only Calvinists are Christians

I believe that the following is actually consistent if you logically follow TULIP.  Think about it.  If you hold to total depravity as taught by Calvinism than this means that mankind is dead in their sins like a corpse and even with the grace of God, they cannot respond to His call, they cannot hear His voice.  God must regenerate them first to give them spiritual life so that He can give them the gift of faith.  Now if this is true then it follows that God must do the complete work of regeneration and this means that God is the one who has chosen whom He will save and whom He will damn.  Before you run away from that by saying that God merely passes over the non-elect, even if He does do this, He still has not chosen them and condemns them in theirs sins.  It is not their sins then that condemn them to eternal hell but the sovereign will of God (Romans 9:22).

If God then is the One who elects whom He will save and whom He will condemn, it logically follows that He sent Jesus Christ to bear the sins of the elect.  This limits the atonement to only the elect and none more.  Further, whom Jesus died for on the cross will come to Him by His irresistible grace (John 6:44) and will be saved forever (John 10:27-29).

Now I had a Bible college professor who was a Calvinist and he always said he was a TULIPER.  He added E and R for evangelism and responsibility to avoid hyper-Calvinism.

Yet hyper-Calvinism is very logical.  Very coherent.  Consider evangelism.  Consider just a bit from a hyper-Calvinist blog I follow on Acts 17:30 (a passage that both Arminians and Calvinists use to teach that God commands all to repent):

Acts 17:30 is an exhortation to idolators to turn from their idolatry in light of the holiness and coming judgement of God. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry… Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious… Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (vs. 16, 22, 29) The context of Paul’s sermon to the men of Athens does not expound on the glad tidings of the gospel, nor is there a directive command to believe on Christ in the hope of eternal life.

Gospel invitations are particular and not general because Jesus came to call the sick who have need of the Physician. This gospel call excludes the self-righteous. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus only came to preach glad tidings to the meek, the brokenhearted, the captives, them that are bound, and all that mourn… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (See Isaiah 61:1-3)

Now what hyper-Calvinists often vent against the most is the idea of “duty-faith.”  This is the teaching that it is the duty of unbelievers to place their faith in Christ for salvation.  They see this as a false teaching and against the gospel of Christ.  For example, this hyper-Calvinist blog post that compares the words of Charles Spurgeon (who preached against hyper-Calvinism) and his predecessor, John Gill found here.  You’ll notice that the writer pits Gill against Spurgeon time and time again.  Gill was against duty-faith.  Gill followed through on his Calvinism and he believed that whom God had elected, they will be saved.  We need not call people to repent.  God will save His elect in His time by His means.

John Gill stated this against preaching a universal gospel call:

To which I answer, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, no, not to the elect: they are chosen to it, Christ has procured it for them, the gospel publishes and reveals it, and the Spirit of God applies it to them; much less to the non-elect, or to all mankind; and consequently this doctrine, or God according to it, is not chargeable with delusion and insult. When this author goes about to prove any such offers, I shall attend to them; and if he can prove them, I own, I must be obliged to think again.

He followed through.  Gill was consistent.

I applaud those Calvinists who are not consistent.  I do.  I am friends with several brothers like that.  In fact, in many ways they are Arminians in their gospel approach.  They preach as I do, that Christ shed His blood so that men can come and be saved.  They do as I do and preach the gospel to all men (Mark 16:15).  They have no thoughts about whether or not this person is elect or not.  They, like I, leave that to God.  They preach God’s salvation to the lost and allow the Spirit to do His work (John 16:8-11).  Yet they are not consistent.

Now let me state that if Arminianism leads naturally toward universalism, my question is this: which God would you rather serve? The God who loves all and desires all to be saved (or has saved if universalism were correct and the natural end of Arminianism) or the God who condemns people in their sins before time began and offers them no hope at all apart from His sovereign election?

In closing, I believe both hyper-Calvinism and universalism are wrong.  I believe they are extreme views.  If universalism is the logical end of Arminianism then I am happy to be an inconsistent Arminian as I am sure that many of my Calvinist brethren are happy to be inconsistent Calvinists.  Dr. Robertson McQuilkin always exhorted his students to “find the center of biblical tension and stay there.”  I say “amen” to that.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2013 at 10:00 AM

Arminian Thoughts on 1 John 2:2

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

1 John 2:2 is one of the most powerful passages for teaching the glorious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This verse alone implies several key points that Arminians affirm.  First, the verse implies that the atonement was for us, those who are the elect of God through faith in Christ.  We who believe in Jesus, trust in His grace to save us, believe that His blood was shed for our forgiveness and for our salvation (Isaiah 53:4-6).  We have come to see that Jesus is a wonderful Savior and that His blood is sufficient for our eternal salvation (Ephesians 1:7).  His blood cleanses us from all sins (Hebrews 9:14).  When Jesus uttered that it was finished in John 19:30, it was finished!  The work of salvation was complete in Jesus.  We can only be saved through faith in Him and by His grace (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and salvation comes not by works on our part but through faith in Him and His shed blood (Acts 13:38-39; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

Secondly, the Arminian sees the vastness of this great atonement.  We don’t just see our salvation and we bless God for saving us in Christ (Romans 6:23) but we also see the importance of taking the gospel to all nations because Jesus died for all so that all can come and be saved in Him (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We believe in the doctrine of unlimited atonement meaning that Jesus shed His blood not just for the sins of the elect as taught in Calvinism but we believe He shed His blood for all people (John 3:16).  The will of God is not for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9) but that all would be saved in Christ (1 Timothy 2:4).  In this sense, Jesus came to bear the sins of all (Romans 5:18) so that all can come and be saved (1 Timothy 4:10) and become the elect of God through His foreknowledge (Romans 8:29).

When it comes to 1 John 2:2, this verse is tough on many Calvinist theologians.  Even R.C. Sproul states, “On the surface this text seems to demolish limited atonement.”

Albert Barnes explain 1 John 2:2:

This is one of the expressions occurring in the New Testament which demonstrate that the atonement was made for all people, and which cannot be reconciled with any other opinion.  If he had died only for a part of the race, this language could not have been used.  The phrase, “the whole world,” is one which naturally embraces all people; is such as would be used if it supposed that the apostle meant to teach Christ died for all people; and is such as cannot be explained on any other supposition.

Yet we find Calvinist commentator John Gill saying,

Now let it be observed. that the phrases, all the world, and the whole world, are often used in scripture to be taken in a limited sense…in this epistle of John, the phrase is used in a restrained sense…in the text under consideration, it cannot be understood of all men…what may be observed and will lead more clearly into the sense of the passage before us, is, that the apostle John was a Jew, and he wrote to Jews: and in the text speaks of them, and of the Gentiles, as to be distinguished; and therefore says of Christ, he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, for the sins of us Jews only; but for the sins of the whole world; of the Gentiles also, of all the elect of God throughout the Gentile world.

In this sense, Gill reads into 1 John 2:2 what he wants to see and that is limited atonement.  Instead of allowing the text to speak for itself, Gill has to make the text not say what it clearly seems to say, that the atonement was for all.

Imagine taking 1 John 2:2 to someone who have never heard of Calvinism or Arminianism.  If we were to ask them to read the passage and then tell us what it means, even a child could see that John the Apostle is saying that Christ died to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.  If I asked them, “What does whole world mean?”  Again, a child would say it means all.  It would take someone telling you that Christ died only for the sins of the elect and thus a limited atonement in order for you to believe that 1 John 2:2 doesn’t mean all.

The Calvinist work of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown states this about 1 John 2:2:

Christ’s “advocacy” is limited to believers (1Jo 2:1; 1Jo 1:7): His propitiation extends as widely as sin extends: see on 2Pe 2:1, “denying the Lord that bought them.” “The whole world” cannot be restricted to the believing portion of the world (compare 1Jo 4:14; and “the whole world,” 1Jo 5:19). “Thou, too, art part of the world, so that thine heart cannot deceive itself and think, The Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me” [Luther].

I agree.  Christ is the Savior only of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10).

In closing, let me answer a brief reply I know that some Calvinists will then offer.  Some Calvinist theologians will state that in Arminianism, Jesus died to save no one for His blood only makes people savable.  In Calvinism, Jesus actually died for the salvation of the elect.  The problem with this is that both Arminianism and Calvinism believe that same here about Jesus’ death on the cross mainly that only those who believe are saved.  Salvation is by grace through faith (Romans 5:1).  Both Arminians and Calvinists teach that a person is only justified through faith in Jesus Christ thus no one is saved simply because Jesus died.  There has to be personal faith in Jesus’ shed blood to be saved.

Notice the wording of Romans 3:21-26:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Notice that all of this work of Christ is given to those who believe!  Certainly one can build a case that Jesus died for the elect (Galatians 1:4) but we can also build a case that He died only for Paul (Galatians 2:20) or the whole world (1 John 2:2).  Let us proclaim Christ to the lost and allow the Lord to draw in those whom He foreknew.  Let us not seek to limit the work of Christ when Scripture clearly does not.

HT: The Dark Side of Calvinism by George Bryson.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/26/2012 at 10:00 AM

Pray Without Ceasing

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Most religions require certain things when it comes to prayer.  For Muslims, for example, they are required to pray five times a day toward Mecca.  The Muslim must go through a cleansing ritual to be pure before Allah before praying.  They must always being their prayers by saying in Aramaic, “God is great” and then recite the first seven verses of the first Surah from the Quran.  The Muslim prayer is full of various bodily rituals as well.

Not so with the disciple of Jesus.  Because of the work of Christ, we are free to come into God’s holy presence because Jesus is our faithful high priest who ever lives to make intercession before God for us (Hebrews 7:25).  Because of the work of Christ, God seems me as holy when I come into His presence through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:10).  The blood of Jesus makes me pure before God (1 John 1:7).  I can now come boldly into God’s holy presence because of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).  I have access into God’s presence because of Jesus (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24).

This should be a cause then for us to pray more.  In fact, Paul the Apostle says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to pray without ceasing.  How can we do this?  What did Paul mean when he wrote these words?  Calvinist expositor John Gill has some insights into the text when he wrote,

Pray without ceasing. Not that saints should be always on their knees, or ever lifting up their hands, and vocally calling upon God; this is not required of them, and would clash with, and break in upon other parts of religious worship, and the duties of civil life, which are to be attended to, as well as this, and besides would be impracticable; for however willing a spiritual man might be to be engaged in this work always, yet the flesh is weak, and would not be able to bear it; and it requires food and drink, sleep and rest, for its refreshment and support; for all which there must be time allowed, as well as for other actions of animal life, and the business of a man’s calling. But the meaning is, that believers should be daily, and often found in the performance of this duty; for as their wants daily return upon them, and they are called to fresh service, and further trials and exercises, they have need of more grace, strength, and assistance, and therefore should daily pray for it; and besides certain times both in the closet, and in the family, in which they should attend the throne of grace, there is such a thing as mental prayer, praying in the heart, private ejaculations of the soul, which may be sent up to heaven, while a man is engaged in the affairs of life. The Ethiopic version renders the words, “pray frequently”; do not leave off praying, or cease from it through the prevalence of sin, the temptations of Satan, or through discouragement, because an answer is not immediately had, or through carelessness and negligence, but continue in it, and be often at it; see Luke 18:1. These words are opposed to the practice of such, who either pray not at all, or, having used it, have left it off, or who only pray in a time of trouble and distress, and bear hard on those who think they should not pray but when under the influences of the Spirit, and when his graces are in a lively exercise: the reason for this rule of praying with frequency and constancy is, because the saints are always needy, they are always in want of mercies of one kind or another, and therefore should continually go to the throne of grace, and there ask for grace and mercy to help them in time of need.

The great Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on prayer on March 10, 1872 from this text and he noted several points from the text.  Spurgeon noted that when it comes to prayer and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we learn 1) the use of the voice is not essential in praying, 2) the posture of prayer is not important, 3) the place of prayer is not important, and 4) the idea of particular times of prayer is not important.

Why?  Because the child of God can pray without ceasing.  We can pray in our cars.  We can pray while we work.  We can pray while we walk.  We can pray at any time, at any place, about anything.  There is no limit to the child of God’s praying.  Prayer should flow from our lips as we love on our Savior for what He has done for us.  Prayer should flow from our lips like passion for our true love.  God is not far from us.  He abides with us.

So pray, child of God, without ceasing.  He loves us (1 John 3:1-3) and He desires us to call to Him (Jeremiah 33:3).  The words, the posture, the position, the place is not important in prayer.  Just pray with faith in the Lord Jesus who can move mountains for His glory (Mark 11:22-24).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/25/2012 at 6:43 PM

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