Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation/Calvinism

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Calvinism Part III - When the Gospel Becomes a Lie

Since the Calvinist does not know who the elect are he cannot, with any integrity whatsoever, tell a non-believer that God loves them enough to sacrifice His one and only Son for their sins.

Carol Brooks.

Index To All Sections

 Part 1: An Introduction to John Calvin and his Doctrines of Grace

Part 2Introduction to the acronym T.U.L.I.P - each letter standing for one of the five fundamental tenets of Calvinism.
  2A. Total Inability
2BUnconditional Election
 2C. Limited Atonement
 2D. Irresistible Grace
  2E. Perseverance of The Saints

You Are Here 001orange Part 3: When the Gospel Becomes a Lie
Part 4:
Godís Sovereignty, Character and Will.
Part 5:
Hypocrisy Unlimited
Part 6:

Part 7: The Sins of Augustine. Early Church Theologians


When the Gospel Becomes a Lie
There is little question of the importance placed on preaching in the Bible. It is the essential means by which God's message is communicated to people who, if they are to be saved, must believe this message and repent (Romans 10:14). Paul says it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:15-16). Jesus Himself instructed His disciples to "go into all the world and teach the Gospel".

God Loves You
I would however like to consider one more aspect of Calvinism...

A Christian who does not hold to reformed beliefs reads verses like John 3:16 and takes them literally. However, since the Calvinist does not know who the elect are he cannot, with any integrity whatsoever (and without without crossing his fingers behind his back) tell a non-believer that God loves them enough to send His Son to pay the price for their sins and that God's desire is that they repent, follow Jesus, and eventually become part of the Father's eternal kingdom.

See  The Message of the BibleSalvation   and   Heaven

Considering that Jesus said only a few will find the way. it is safe to assume that the vast majority of people that a Calvinist preaches the Gospel to are being told something that simply isn't true. In order to continue evangelizing they try and justify doing this. Note that in the following statement made by John Rothra (Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Divinity) "They just might come to believe" is a euphemism for they just might be one of the elect. (Emphasis Added)

    We can share the Gospel with everyone and pray that they accept Jesus because we know that there is a chance they just might come to believe! ... As a "five pointer," I can say with confidence that I do not know if the next person I come across is a believer or an atheist. I do not know if they are elect or reprobate. What I do know is that I must share Jesus with them and give them an opportunity to respond. [01]

When the smoke clears, we are left with the fact that ANY attempt to persuade an unbeliever to repent and come to faith in Christ conveys the impression that he can choose to do so. It is absolutely inexcusable to stand before an audience of any size and preach that God will save them if they will put their trust in Jesus if, as Calvinism believes, God has limited to the offer to only a select few.

Hope Trumps Honesty
The Calvinist can only hope that the person they are talking with is elected by God and should the person actually repent and be baptized, they have to further hope and pray that the person is not a false convert who will believe for a while and then fall away.

Yet his page on How to Be Saved, John Rothra says (Emphasis Added)

God provided the only way to be saved. The only way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ. The good news is that this gift is offered to whomever will accept it. This gift is given freely out of God's love and grace... You can be forgiven and be saved if you believe in Jesus as your savior. God promises that whoever confesses and believes in Jesus will be saved... If you sincerely prayed and received Jesus into your life, God has done something wonderful for you!... May God bless you in your new life in Christ.  [02]

Now that's addled... even someone who boasts a Master of Divinity. It is a perfect example, of the contradictory statements made by the highly 'educated' in regard to the extremely straightforward and uncomplicated message of salvation.. 

In an effort to address this problem the Calvinist site Gotquestions.org says... Note the two points I have underlined.

Yet another argument against limited atonement is that it is a hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel and to evangelism. Those that use this argument will say that if an evangelist cannot say "Christ died for you," then his effectiveness in presenting the Gospel will be limited. Or they will say that if only the elect will be saved, why should the Gospel be preached at all? Once again, these objections are easily dealt with.

    The Gospel is to be preached to everyone, because it is the power of God to salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16) and it is the means that God has ordained by which the elect will be saved (Romans 10:14-17). Also, the evangelist does not need to tell the unbeliever that "Christ died for your sins" specifically. All he needs to proclaim is that Christ died to pay the penalty for sin and provide a way for sinners to be reconciled to a holy God. Believe in Him and you will be saved...  [03]

In the first place telling many, if not most people to "believe in Him and you will be saved" is a lie. In the second place, when have you ever heard any evangelist or preacher de-personalize the message to the point it conveys nothing more that a general statement that Christ died to pay the penalty for sin. On the contrary the effort is always made to convince the hearer/s that they themselves are sinners who desperately need to be reconciled with a Holy God.

Certainly the first evangelists did.

Were Peter, Paul and Silas Guilty of the Same Deception?

Acts 2:37-38 tells us that on Pentecost when the crowd in Jerusalem heard what Peter had said they were deeply affected and asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they should do. Peter's reply directed at every single person in the audience was ... "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 NASB)

    If only the elect among them were able to repent and believe, Peter was a barefaced liar when he told them they (all of them) would receive the Holy Spirit 

Acts 16:30-31 Similarly, Paul and Silas did not beat around the bush when asked by the Philippian jailer what he (the jailer) had to do to be saved. Their reply was almost identical to Peter's on the day of Pentecost (above)...  "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

    Unless they KNEW beyond a shadow of doubt that their listener/s were numbered among the elect how could Peter, Paul and Silas have said what they did?

And apart from actively preaching the Gospel, Paul also prayed for the lost.

Praying for the lost
In the opening verse of the tenth chapter of Romans Paul said his "heart's desire and my prayer to God "was for the salvation of his fellow Jews. (read the final verses of the preceding chapter in order to establish context) salvation. 

I can be reasonably certain that there are many Calvinists who pray for the salvation of unsaved friends, family and acquaintances. However in doing so they are not being very consistent with their own theology, because if every individual's salvation or damnation has already been pre-determined, it would be a complete waste of time to pray for the souls of the unsaved. If Calvinism is true then any prayer, including Paul's, for the unsaved accomplishes nothing.

So, in order to be consistent the Calvinist should not pray for the lost (an exercise in futility), and since he does not have any assurance that the person he is preaching the Gospel to is one of the elect, he the risk of being a blatant liar when he preaches the Gospel to an unsaved person,

But, even worse, the Calvinist pray-er or preacher cannot know if he himself is saved? In fact ...

How Can Any Calvinist KNOW He is Saved?
Lets return for a moment to John L. Rothra of John Rothra Ministries, who says.. (Emphasis Added)

    We do not know who it is God chose to save. We do not know if the person we encounter is elect or not merely by looking at them. The only time we become privy to this information is after the fact, either after they confess their faith in Christ alone, by which we know they are elect, or after they die without faith in Christ, by which we know they are not elect. [04]

Actually this is not true. There have been many who have "confessed their faith" in Christ as savior, then some time later have fallen away. The standard answer to this problem provided by Calvinism is that they were never really saved in the first place.

Remember what was said about there being such a tremendous variance in beliefs amongst Calvinists that in a room full of Calvinists, you'd be hard-pressed to find even two that believed everything about the Bible the same way. See Introduction to the Five Points for details In line with this, John Murray, who was teacher of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for many years does not agree that a person confessing their faith in Christ alone tells us that "they are elect". In his book - Redemption Accomplished and Applied, he says Jesus

    "set up a criterion by which true disciples may be distinguished" and that "criterion is continuance in Jesus' word". (All Emphasis Added). [05]

In other words, only a genuinely saved person - a "true disciple" will endure to the end. However, according to the Bible this is not true. The Scriptures issue warnings against falling. What is important to note in the second quote is that one has to be in the faith before one can fall from it.

    Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

    But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,  (1 Timothy 4:1 NASB)

It is interesting that John Murray went on to say that it is possible to exhibit all the outward signs of faith - but yet not be genuinely saved

    The Scripture itself, therefore, leads us to the conclusion that it is possible to have a very uplifting, ennobling, reforming, and exhilarating experience of the power and truth of the gospel, to come into such close contact with the supernatural forces which are operative in God's kingdom of grace that these forces produce effects in us which to human observations are hardly distinguishable from those produces by God's regenerating and sanctifying grace and yet not be partakers of Christ and heirs of eternal life. [06]

But here is the problem.

Not only can the observer be fooled by a person's outward signs of faith in Christ and his zeal for Christ and his kingdom, but the person concerned can be fooled as well.

If salvation is solely of God, and it is entirely His decision whether or not to extend His saving grace to any individual, then no one can know with any degree of certainty that he or she is a recipient of that grace. Your "faith" may be just the result of fervour stirred by persuasive preaching or your own human reasoning. It may be a temporary phase which you will, in time, grow out of. Your "born again" experience may be the result of a mystical experience the likes of which are experienced by people of many faiths and persuasions.

People have fallen away who themselves have been fully persuaded that their faith was of paramount importance in their lives. They demonstrated all the fruits of the Spirit, and had even spent much time in the pulpit.. But something went horribly wrong. In at least one case that I remember reading about, an immense personal tragedy caused a person to fall away from God. Unfortunately none of us can say with 100% certainty that we would not react the same way. 

If you are a Calvinist, all you can do is keep "working" at it and hope like the blazes that you are not wrong, and you are indeed one of God's elect. If you happen to be one of the elect, then you are assured of being able to persevere to the end.

Somehow that doesn't give me a very warm feeling.

John Calvin - Hope In An Unknown

It is claimed that John Calvin's several volume long Institutes of the Christian Religion explores both "knowledge of God" and "knowledge of ourselves" with "profound theological insight". He himself claimed that Institutes was meant to "aid those who desire to be instructed in the doctrine of salvation".  Yet the tragedy was that far from being able to rest on the unshakeable promises of God, his only hope was that God had indeed selected him to be saved... something he had no way of knowing.

    I confess to live and die in this faith which He has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than His predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which He has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ and accept the merits of His suffering and dying, that through them all my sins are buried; and I humbly beg Him to wash me and cleanse me with the blood of our great Redeemer,so that I, when I shall appear before His face may bear His likeness. [07]. (Emphasis Added)

Yet the Word of God tells us

    These things have I written unto you, that ye may know (Greek eido) that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. [1 John 5:13]

(eido literally or figuratively means to see, and has been translated so in literally hundreds of New Testament verses. However ,by implication eido means to know, or to be sure of)


 End Notes
[01] John L. Rothra. March 11, 2009. An Evangelistic Five Point Calvinist is Possible.

[02] John L. Rothra. How to Be Saved. http://www.jrothraministries.com/how-to-be-saved/

[03] Got Questions Ministries. Limited Atonement - is it Biblical? http://www.gotquestions.org/limited-atonement.html

[04] John L. Rothra. March 11, 2009. An Evangelistic Five Point Calvinist is Possible.

[05] John Murray. Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Reprint edition (December 12, 1955 Pg. 151

[06] John Murray. Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Reprint edition (December 12, 1955 . Pgs.153

[07] Steven J. Lawson. The Expository Genius of John Calvin. Reformation Trust Publishing (March 1, 2007). Page 17


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