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An Overview of Calvinism

Introduction | Total Depravity | Unconditional Election | Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace | Perseverance of the Saints


During my forty-year association with the system of Calvinistic thought I have heard any number of adherents talk about the “glories” of Calvinism and the manner in which it properly affirms the “sovereignty” of God. Having been a five-point Calvinist twice myself, I know and have made all the arguments.

This much is now clear to me. The person who commits himself to the Calvinistic Camp differs not a dime from the Freemason who is smitten with the “secrets” of Freemasonry. Members of both groups believe they’re really on to something special that has heretofore eluded the rank-and-file. Many Calvinists often refer to fellow five pointers as “grace” men, implying that a failure, reluctance or refusal to embrace the Five Points of Calvinism amounts to a denial of grace. In the minds of many Calvinists, the Gospel of Grace is no gospel at all unless anchored in all Five Points. I have heard and read a number of Calvinists who claim that the Gospel is the Five Points and the Five Points are the Gospel. If one takes this reasoning to its logical conclusion, the proof that one is saved is his or her embrace of the Five Points of Calvinism.

Most Calvinists will admit that the Five Points stand or fall together. They are a cohesive package. If it fails in any one point, the whole system fails, falls apart. At least the Calvinist is intellectually honest enough to admit that. The truth is Calvinism fails in all Five Points, not just one. In an effort to prevent it from falling apart, the Calvinist must resort to intellectual dishonesty. This intellectual dishonesty manifests itself in the deceitful handling of scripture. It’s the practice of citing a verse of scripture as a prooftext in violation of its context. It’s assigning a meaning to the ‘prooftext’ that the context disallows. When the Calvinist begins the “What do you do with this or that verse?” routine, the answer is simple. We ascertain the meaning of the text according to the context!

One of the foremost proponents of Calvinism in the present day is James White. I invite you to read: James White on John3:14-18 An Examination. It's my 'fair and balanced' analysis of his comments on the text in the form of endnotes. They're slightly tedious in places, but worth wading through if you're interested in knowing the truth. They also expose the intellectual dishonesty that he and other Calvinists employ in an effort to defend the indefensible and bamboozle the uninformed.

The Five Points of Calvinism are NOT rocket science. No “initiation” or special “enlightenment” is required to “get it” as some would say. They’re fairly straight forward. The most important fact is this: NONE of them are substantiated by scripture! And if the philosophical system of Calvinism ever gets its hooks into an individual’s thinking, he or she, by hook or by crook, will MAKE the scriptures substantiate them! The Bottom Line is this: God is NEVER glorified by that which misrepresents Him. If there IS a cardinal sin in Calvinism, it is that God is misrepresented. Let’s briefly review the Five Points.

The acrostic TULIP is the most familiar way in which students of theology attempt to remember the Five Points of Calvinism. T = Total Depravity. U = Unconditional Election. L = Limited Atonement. I = Irresistible Grace. P = Perseverance of the Saints. A succinct overview of each and a few comments are in order. This presentation is by no means intended to be exhaustive, but simply a basic primer to the system of Calvinistic thought.


Total Depravity

In the system of Calvinism, the fallen man is spiritually destitute and absent the first iota of ability or desire to make a move toward God. It is therefore necessary for God to make a move toward fallen man. On this point the scriptures and the Calvinist agree. But Calvinism does not stop there. What the Calvinist means by Total Depravity is Total Inability. That is, the spiritual death inherent in depravity is such that fallen man, apart from a sovereign act of regeneration prior to the act of faith, is totally incapable of hearing the voice of God and or believing the gospel message. Depravity affirms that an unregenerate man may not be as BAD as he can be, but is certainly as BAD OFF as he can be in the grip of spiritual death.

Now, the scriptures clearly teach that NO man can believe apart from grace. But Calvinism actually puts a limit on that grace by asserting that an arbitrary and sovereign act of pre-faith regeneration is the ONLY grace option available to God in the work of salvation. In other words, it’s ALL or NOTHING for God with no grace options between those two bookends. The biblical view, however, presents to us a drawing-convicting grace that has the ability to enable a lost man to repent and believe the gospel without an arbitrary regeneration prior to faith.

A clear refutation of this theory is found in Genesis Chapter 3. If we are to believe the Reformed definition of depravity, then Adam and Eve were as bad off as they could possibly be after eating the forbidden fruit. The first couple, having died a spiritual death due to disobedience, were able to hear the voice of God, comprehend what God said, conduct an intelligent dialogue with him and comprehend the consequences of their actions. There is nothing quite like biblical truth to destroy and bury Calvinistic speculation!

If (1) regeneration, or the new birth, marks the onset of spiritual life and sonship, and (2) justification is the act of God declaring the believing sinner to be righteous, then the Calvinist has some serious questions to answer. How much time elapses between life and faith? If the impartation of life is the beginning of sonship, then there is clearly a period of time during which a sovereign God has unbelieving, unjustified children, whether it’s five seconds, five minutes, five hours or five years! But John tells us: “he that beliveth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John3:36). Did you get that?! He that believeth not the Son shall not see life! For ANY intellectually honest student of scripture, that single phrase ALONE should be enough to slam the door on the regeneration-before-faith doctrine, and essentially destroy the entire system of Calvinism!

If Calvinism is correct on depravity, then the apostle John lied when he penned that verse. For John affirms that belief is the prerequisite to life whereas Calvinism teaches that life is requisite for faith. If regeneration precedes justification, then God has sons who remain unforgiven and under his wrath until they believe the gospel. Is this consistent with biblical teaching? If the Calvinist insists that the time period between life and faith is momentary within the context of hearing the gospel, it means that God is depending upon one of his messengers to deliver the gospel before regeneration can take place. So, the ‘glory’ or ‘credit’ that the Calvinist has surgically stripped from the sinner must now be attributed to the saint upon whom God depends for gospel delivery.

Additional Resources:

An Brief Overview of Depravity
Does Regeneration Precede Faith?
The Total Sufficiency for Our Depravity


Unconditional Election

In Calvinism, the logic dictates that since none seek after God, which requires God to regenerate beforehand those that shall believe, it must be that God chose those whom he would regenerate. And since regeneration guarantees consequential faith in the sinner, the spiritual order must be election, regeneration and faith. When John Calvin wrote his Institutes of Religion, he found the logic so compelling that it led him to the concept of Double Predestination. If Unconditional Election is true, then why not Double Predestination? It stands to reason that if God chose to save some and pass over others, and there are only TWO eternal options, then those he passes over for the Heaven option are by default consigned to Hell.

But that order CANNOT be the case because regeneration, per John and Paul, is an act of God that follows faith. Is the order then election, faith, regeneration? The Calvinist must reject this idea because Total Depravity tells him the sinner cannot believe without first being regenerated. Many students of scripture, however, are content with this order, but are hard pressed to explain what it is other than the irresistible grace of regeneration, which now follows faith, that brings the depraved sinner to a place where he or she believes the gospel. It is no doubt grace. But if it is grace that the sinner can resist or spurn, then it ceases to be sovereign grace. Moreover, if the order is election, faith and regeneration, how can election alone guarantee faith as an outcome? Could it be then that election was contingent upon what God foreknew the sinner would do? That is exactly how the doctrine is explained by a host of theologians. God knew how the sinner would respond to the Gospel and thus elected him on that basis. Faith and regeneration are exactly what God, in his prescient omniscience, knew would take place upon hearing the gospel. Therefore election is not causative, but nevertheless certain due to foreknowledge.

There you have it: election (based on foreknowledge), faith and regeneration. One will find this order as the tidy formulation of many theological systems. But there is still a problem—election itself. What does it mean, when does it happen, and to what are men elected? The general consensus is that God arbitrarily chose those whom he would save. But does that refer to initial salvation (i.e., justification), the entire salvation package (justification, sanctification and glorification) or something else? Election signifies a choice on God’s part. That much is clear. God makes the choice, not man. Even if one affirms that God choosing man is based upon man choosing God, it is still God that ultimately sets the terms for what he chooses to do.

Most discussion about Divine Election over the past seven hundred years has been based on a false assumption. The assumption is that God, before the foundation of the world, decided whom he would save, elected them for that purpose and passed over the others. One will find this as the predominant view in most statements of faith. Sounds straightforward enough, right? But here is the problem. Where in the scripture can one find a lost man or woman of whom it is said they were elected BEFORE they were justified? That person does NOT exist in the scriptures! He or she simply CANNOT be found. Men have been known by God (Jeremiah) and formed in the womb by God (David) before they were born, but not so elected before being regenerated.

The preponderance of biblical evidence demonstrates that election has to do with the unique privileges and service assignments that one inherits and receives respectively once a relationship with God is established. One only need consider Saul, Judas, the nation Israel and Jesus himself to see this pattern. The scripture says that all were chosen or elected by God: Saul to be the first king of Israel, Judas to be one of the Twelve Apostles, Israel to be the Repository of Truth and Progenitor of Messiah, and Jesus to be the Rock of our Salvation. The election of each had NOTHING to do with personal salvation, but rather a privilege they would enjoy and or service they would perform. Any study of election that begins with Jesus, the Elect One, can NEVER conclude with ANY of the Five Points in tact!

Again, most of the confusion about election is based on a false assumption. Students of theology have debated in vain for centuries over whether men believe because they are elected or are elected because they believe. That argument CANNOT be won because neither of these two viewpoints stands up under biblical scrutiny. Both are wrong because they’re based on the false assumption that election has do to with lost men. Election concerns believers! Both are wrong because they’re based on the false assumption that election settled forever (carved in stone) the number of lost men that God would save. Again, election is for believers, not the lost! Election is the sovereign act of God whereby he chooses, according to his own will and for his own purposes, to bestow upon believers the riches of Christ with all the privileges inherent therein, and to equip them with the spiritual gifts necessary to perform the service to which he calls them. If you search the scriptures, allowing each reference to election to be understood in its context, you will find every reference to be consistent with this statement.

The true biblical order: faith, regeneration and election. Once you discard all the false assumptions associated with the traditional definition of election, the ideas of conditional or unconditional election become irrelevant. It no longer matters when you understand the proper biblical view. Calvinism alleges that only the doctrine of Unconditional Election gives all the glory to God in the matter of salvation, and excludes man altogether as being a contributor to his salvation. The problem with Unconditional Election, however, is that it misrepresents God and his truth. Therefore it gives him NO glory whatsoever!

Additional Resources:

The Election of Grace
Election and the Last Days
Predestination and the Greater Homeland
Response to Calvinist's E-Mail
Liberty In Sovereignty


Limited Atonement

The doctrine of Limited Atonement affirms that Christ died for the sins of the elect alone. His vicarious death on their behalf guarantees their salvation. It is impossible that Christ should suffer and die for a sinner and that sinner NOT be saved. If Christ died for all, and all are not saved, then God has failed in his effort to save them. His purpose has been thwarted. Since no purpose of God has ever failed to achieve its goal, then the death of Christ was strictly for the purpose of saving the elect. All of them shall be saved.

The doctrine of Limited Atonement (or Particular Redemption) is a logical extension of Unconditional Election. If God predetermined by sovereign choice those that would be saved, passing over the rest in the process, why suffer and die for the rest? One might call this an economy of effort on God’s part. Why not secure the salvation of the elect and atone for their sins alone? Why ‘Waste’ the blood of Christ on the non-elect? If Christ died for all, and all for whom Christ died will surely be saved, then the whole human race would be saved. The fact that many die lost is evidence that Christ died only for that ‘Particular’ group known as the elect. Limited Atonement rises or falls with Unconditional Election. Either both are true or both are false.

Limited Atonement is easy to embrace logically once you subscribe to Unconditional Election. But it does have its problems. The first is the OT figures and types that picture atonement as all-inclusive of a group. When Adam and Eve left the Garden clothed in skins that God made for them, God had clothed the entire human race. Granted there were only two individuals at the time, but it is nonetheless an accurate statement. When Israel observed its Day of Atonement, the blood sacrifice was made on behalf of the entire nation. Yet we know that many within the elect nation, for whom atonement was made, died lost without ever establishing a relationship with God. When the Lord sent serpents among his people to chasten them for murmuring, the Lord instructed Moses to erect a brass serpent as a “Look and Live” cure for all who had been bitten by the fiery serpents. While the cure was provided for all the snakebite victims, not all that were bitten appropriated the cure, and thus died as a consequence. For ANY intellectually honest Bible student, the OT story of the serpent in the wilderness and our Lord’s instructive reference to it in John 3:14-15 should be sufficient to bury the doctrine of Limited Atonement.

The second is the plethora of scriptures that state clearly the all-inclusive nature of the atonement. Isaiah stated that all men like sheep had gone astray, and that the Lord had laid upon the Suffering Servant the iniquity of them all (Isaiah 53:6). You would be amazed at that gimmicks used by Calvinists to limit the “all” in this verse to the so-called elect. Paul made it clear that the living God is the Savior of all men, especially they that believe (1 Timothy 4:10). John said that Christ was the propitiation for our (believers) sins and as well as for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Paul affirmed that God will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

In John 12:46-47, Jesus said: "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." Jesus used the word “world” three times in these two verses. It cannot mean the "world of the elect" simply because Jesus included in that world every soul that hears His words and refuses to believe! In other words, the "world" as defined by Jesus consists of the elect and non-elect alike. The elect are those who believe; the non-elect are those who persist in unbelief. Jesus declared that He came to save them all, and that all were the objects of His love! These two verses alone, if properly understood in their context by the intellectually honest student of scripture, completely destroy the entire Calvinistic system!

The third is the Gospel and the preaching thereof. Paul penned for the church at Corinth the specific content of the gospel. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day. Christ’s death on the cross is the focal point of the gospel. The ‘good news’ for any sinner is to hear that God in Christ has done something about his sins. If there is a segment of humanity (the non-elect) for whom Jesus did NOT die, then it follows that nothing has been done about their sins and there is therefore NO gospel for them. One cannot be intellectually honest and deny this fact! God CANNOT save ANY man for whom Jesus did not die!

In order for the Calvinist to skirt this issue, he must redefine the gospel. It’s probably more accurate to say that he cuts out the provision part and leaves only the appropriation part. The gospel has two distinct elements. The first is the provision for our sins in the atonement. The second is the appropriation by faith of the benefit of the blood of Christ by the one for whom Christ died. Part one = provision; part two = appropriation. Again, no one who is intellectually honest can deny the two-pronged gospel message. But the Calvinist is NOT given to such honesty. He reduces the gospel to a single prong, which is “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). The Calvinist will go so far as to call this the ‘authentic’ gospel to sound credible (e.g., Al Mohler, Southern Seminary). Because the Calvinist has signed on to Limited Atonement, he has also signed on to half a gospel. Admonishing lost men that they can be saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is the truth. But it is not the WHOLE truth…and it’s NOT the full gospel. It’s HALF a gospel; a deficient gospel!

It should be apparent by now why it is the Calvinist is more comfortable-content with an appropriation-only gospel message. If we assume for the sake of argument that Limited Atonement is true, then NO Calvinist can look a sinner in the eye and say: “Christ died for your sins!” Nor can the five-point preacher look out over a congregation and proclaim: “Christ died for our sins!” He can’t affirm it because he has no way of knowing whether or not he’s speaking with or addressing the elect. If he tells a non-elect sinner that Christ died for his sins, he has lied to the sinner and misrepresented God. Claiming ignorance as to who the elect are does NOT relieve the Calvinist of fraudulentce. The solution to this dilemma is to give the sinner a half-gospel message. That’s the safe way out. Unfortunately, the closest the Calvinist can come to the ‘Provision’ side of the gospel is: “Christ [may have] died for your sins!” That, my friend, is a concept foreign to scripture!

Lewis Sperry Chafer was the Founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. He might also be considered the Father of Four Point Calvinism. Dr. Chafer faced the same struggle described above: How can a Five Point Calvinist preach the full gospel with good conscience? Chafer found himself wrestling with the gospel deficiency of Five Point Calvinism. In other words, he found the full-blown gospel and full-blown Calvinism to be incompatible and mutually exclusive! And he was correct!

His solution was to abandon Limited Atonement. Of course, the preponderance of biblical evidence made this rather easy to do. If you take time to read the atonement section of Chafer’s Systematic Theology, you will find all of the reasons why he opted for an all-inclusive atonement with universal application rather than the theory of Particular Redemption. The Four Point Calvinism of Chafer freed up his conscience enough to know that he would NOT be sending intellectually dishonest, half-gospel seminary graduates into the pulpits of the land (which is exactly what Dr. Al Mohler of Southern Seminary is doing year in, year out). Dr. Chafer continued to defend the other Four Points, which makes no sense to me. But at least he and his student preacher boys had a biblical gospel consisting of the requisite 'Provision’ and ‘Appropriation’ elements. It's a spiritual travesty that the flagship Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention has become a major breeding ground for half-gospel preachers!

Another practical issue for the doctrine of Limited Atonement is the impossibility of any objective assurance of salvation. If Christ did NOT die for all, then how can anyone know for certain that Christ died for them? The most ardent supporters of Limited Atonement, as a matter of intellectual honesty, must admit to this! The Calvinist literally jumps through linguistic hoops and looks for perceived loopholes in the biblical text in order to prove that the atonement is limited in its scope. Of course, there is no proof there. But the Calvinist wrests and twists the scripture anyway to manufacture what he thinks is proof.

Do you think the Five Point Calvinist is aware that he is destroying any objective proof whatsoever for his own redemption? If he affirms there is NO objective basis in truth for an all-inclusive atonement, he is also affirming that there is NO objective basis for his own salvation. How would he know with any certitude that Jesus’ blood had atoned for HIS sins? Would he cite the fact that he has believed on the Lord Jesus as the evidence, or claim an inward peace as proof? So what! Big deal! It is impossible to appropriate what has NOT been provided. Therefore an alleged act of appropriation CANNOT serve as the evidence of provision. The Calvinist can believe on the Lord Jesus as many times as he wishes and still end up in the Lake of Fire IF the blood of Jesus did not atone for his sins! It should be obvious at this point that for any Calvinist to argue against universal atonement is nothing less than an exercise in insanity...and perhaps stupidity!

Additional Resources:

The Gospel Deficiency of Reformed Theology
No Gospel in a Limited Atonement
A Clear and Present Danger
The "Look and Live" Object Lesson
Connecting the Gospel Dots,
The Saviour of All Men


Irresistible Grace

The doctrine of Irresistible Grace affirms that the call of God for the sinner to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is irresistible, always successful. The doctrine of Irresistible Grace is a logical extension of Total Depravity and Total Inability. Since God imparts spiritual life to the depraved sinner, essentially making him a son so he CAN believe, the act of regeneration makes the faith response certain. God does not manipulate the will or force faith to take place. Regeneration simply makes the sinner agreeable to the truth, and makes a free response on the part of the sinner inevitable. Thus grace is Irresistible, making for an Effectual Call.

In my mind, this point is probably the weakest of the five. If God regenerates sinners and makes them sons upon (or AFTER) the exercise of faith, the argument for irresistibility is lost. And there are very few biblical truths with more ironclad support than faith being the prerequisite for spiritual life. As we have said previously and as most Calvinists will admit, the Five Points stand or fall together. They all fall together here. Some of the saddest examples of the deceitful handling of scripture can be found in the writings of Calvinists as they seek to inject the regeneration-before-faith error into John Chapter 3.

Another false assumption of Calvinism based on Irresistible Grace is the manufactured distinction between a General Call and an Effectual Call. The general call is that which goes out to all men without regard for their status as elect or non-elect. The general call is made effectual in the elect by a pre-faith regeneration that has the inevitable exercise of faith as its result. So God opts to regenerate his elect so they can hear and respond to the gospel call while that same call falls upon the unresponsive dead ears of the non-elect. But wait a minute! There is no such thing as a lost elect man. The elect are in Christ, who is the Elect One. What makes the gospel call effectual is the fact that it is mixed with faith in those that hear it. The mixture of the gospel and faith brings the new birth (regeneration), which in turn results in God endowing the believer with the riches of Christ (election).

But, the Calvinist asks, from whence does the faith come? He cites Ephesians 2:8-9, and reminds us that faith is the gift of God. Faith is certainly impossible without the operation of grace. But the “gift” of God in those verses is salvation, not faith. It (salvation) is the gift of God. This text is another example of Calvinist dishonesty. But he feels he must do everything in his exegetical power to disassociate a lost man from faith. Else it is a work on the part of the man. The Calvinist argument juxtaposes monergism (God is the only one who works in bringing salvation) over against synergism (God and man both work to bring about salvation), and insists that monergism alone is biblical. The reasoning is that if regeneration is contingent upon faith, then man has worked to bring it about, and God does not get all the glory.

The problem with this erroneous logic that continues to be propagated by R. C. Sproul and others is that faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). The Bible suggests that the stronger a man is in faith, the more God is glorified (Romans 4:20). Biblical faith speaks of man casting himself upon the mercy of God with an awareness of his total and absolute inability to contribute one iota to his salvation. In passages such as Romans 4:5, 16, the apostle Paul paints a stark contrast between faith and works, and excludes faith from the works category altogether. Paul taught that it was faith that enabled grace to make the promise sure to all the seed (i.e., the elect). Reformed theologians who label as synergists and semi-Pelagians those who defend the biblical position of faith before regeneration have absolutely no foundation upon which to stand!

The Calvinist again insists that it is God who ‘grants repentance’ to lost men. He cites 2 Timothy 2:25 as a proof for this argument. I have no problem with this argument on its face. The ability to repent-believe the Gospel is rooted in God’s grace, without which no man can believe and be saved (Acts 18:27). But to offer this passage as proof that God arbitrarily decides to whom he will give repentance does damage to the context. The fact is God has granted repentance to every Gentile on the planet on the basis of Christ’s all-inclusive death and resurrection (Acts 11:18). But the granting of repentance (or the ability to repent) NEVER guarantees a faith response.

The context of 2 Timothy 2:25 has to do with those who “oppose themselves”. The fact is no sinner opposes himself until he hears the truth of the gospel and rejects it. Those to whom Paul refers are lost men to whom God granted repentance, but chose rather to “hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness” and were therefore given over by God to reprobate minds (Romans 1:18-28). The issue in the context is the manner in which the pastor should handle such folks (i.e., “in meekness instructing” them). Paul is referring to those who were exposed to Gospel truth, refused to acknowledge it, and were therefore abandoned to and entrenched in spiritual blindness and satanic bondage as a result. The issue is not whether God gives repentance on an arbitrary basis to rank-and-file sinners, but whether God would be pleased to give the ability to repent a second time (or third, fourth, etc.) through the God-like and tender approach of His representative—the man of God. This is yet another example of Calvinism disregarding a context in order to manufacture a proof text.

Additional Resources:

The Doctrines of Goodness
Continuing in the Grace of God
Ordained to Eternal Life (Part 1)
Ordained to Eternal Life (Part 2)
The Work of God


Perseverance of the Saints

The doctrine of Perseverance affirms that those whom God elects, regenerates, justifies and predestinates will continue to persist and grow in godliness. Perseverance is the sin qua non of true regeneration. A failure to persevere in the Christian walk is evidence that regeneration never really took place.

The main problem with perseverance from a biblical view is the lack of perseverance in folk we know were genuinely saved (Lot, Ananias, Sapphira, etc.). If Calvinism had affirmed the PRESERVATION of the saints, that would have been consistent with truth. But the doctrine of perseverance is a different animal! The doctrine of preservation puts the onus on God to save to the uttermost those who come to him through his Son Jesus. Its focus is upon GOD’S ability to KEEP his own. Contrariwise, the doctrine of perseverance places the onus on the professor of faith to endure or persist in the Christian walk until of end of life. Its focus is upon MAN’S ability to KEEP himself. Isn’t it ironic that a system that places so much emphasis on God getting all the glory for the salvation of man to make man’s ability to persevere the arbiter of true salvation?

The doctrine of perseverance is counter to assurance. The fact is one who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ is saved. He or she is predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. The GOAL of our predestination (conformity to Christ’s image) is NOT contingent upon perseverance. If it is, then NO believer can have ANY assurance of their salvation until they die and hear God say: “Welcome home! You persevered!”

The doctrine of perseverance is salvation by works. The Calvinist will argue until he is blue in the face that the perseverance of any saint is EVIDENCE of salvation and NEVER its CAUSE! He will insist that the issue is NOT the LOSS of salvation but whether a PROFESSOR was ever a POSSESSOR. I get it…and the Bible does indeed teach that there can be Judas-like folk, tares among the wheat and false brethren. But perseverance of the saints implies that we’re dealing with actual saints. So the argument is vacuous on its face.

The fact is not every believer perseveres until the end. In addition to Lot, Ananias and Sapphira we have the prophet Jonah. The last glimpse we have of this man of God is overlooking a repentant city and sulking in bitterness over those he felt were undeserving of mercy. In 1 Corinthians, we find a church full of saved folk (i.e., believers) who were living as carnal men, as if they had never been born again. Paul said some would be saved so as by fire with only wood, hay and stubble to show for their efforts. Others had died prematurely for their profane treatment of the Lord’s Supper, but were deemed to be asleep in Christ notwithstanding their lack of perseverance.

Here are a few questions for the Calvinist. How much perseverance is required to qualify as perseverance? Is it a matter of the DEGREE of godliness or its DURATION? We know it cannot be sinless perfection. Yet if there is such a thing as a line beyond which one is considered to have failed to persevere, what is that line? Does anyone but God know what that is? Is it a particular sin (adultery, drugs, divorce) or an aggregate of sins? Is it a denial of Christ? If that is the case, please explain Paul’s statement: “If we deny him, yet he abideth faithful. He cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Does perseverance mean that every GENUINE saint dies in fellowship with Christ (i.e., no sin left unconfessed)?

The Calvinistic doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is nothing more than old school Catholicism dressed up in orthodox language. It is salvation by works, pure and simple. It’s a sow doused with theological perfume, which means it's still pork on the hoof.


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