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The Gospel Deficiency of Reformed Theology

Do you remember the words, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"? Bill Clinton made this statement before a Federal Grand Jury on August 17, 1998, in response to allegations that he had previously lied under oath regarding a sexual affair with a White House intern. He further explained that the word "is" as understood to mean "is and never has been" would have an entirely different meaning than "is" as in "there is none". He argued that his former sworn testimony was "a completely true statement" because he had the second meaning in mind. My thought was that any politician who resorts to this kind of etymological hairsplitting to defend his integrity is desperate indeed!

Politicians are not alone in their ability to manipulate word meanings to their advantage. Theologians have done so for centuries in order to defend an interpretation of scripture or further a doctrinal agenda. Reformed theology is a case in point. One key issue is the meaning of the word "world" (Greek kosmos) as used by Jesus and the Apostles to describe the object of God's love (John 3:16) and the extent of the atonement (John 1:29). There is an interpretive axiom that says, "If the plain sense of scripture makes good sense, seek no other sense, lest you make the plain sense to become nonsense." The plain sense of "world" in John 3:16 is "humanity in its entirety (Jews and Gentiles without exception or distinction).

Reformed theology rejects the plain sense for another sense that is essentially nonsense, using a lethal mix of Aristotelian logic and misapplied scripture to arrive at a meaning of "world" that equates to the "world of the elect". It teaches that God loves only the elect and that Jesus died only for them, notwithstanding the plethora of scripture to the contrary. Reformed theology is truly Clintonesque in its attempt to redefine the "world" that God so loved, and reconciled to Himself through the death of His Son (II Corinthians 5:14-19).

At the close of His ministry, our Lord Jesus spoke these words: "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" (John 12:46-47). 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 context by the intellectually honest student of scripture, destroy the entire Calvinistic system!

Reformed theology is a speculative philosophical system that suffers from a major gospel deficiency! The scriptures reveal that the apostolic gospel message consists of two main themes: the provision God made for the sins of mankind, and the offer of forgiveness and life to all who believe it. The provision is expressed in the words "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3). In this passage, Paul was restating the core message he had preached to the Corinthians before they were saved, which is the same message he preached to every unbeliever he evangelized.

The offer is expressed in the words, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). The validity of the offer is absolutely contingent upon an actual provision for sin. So the only way Paul could have extended the offer to include the jailor's household was a conviction that Jesus had provided a sin satisfaction for every man in His vicarious death. Reformed theology is incapable of such conviction, and is therefore hamstrung by a gospel that only partially resembles that which Paul declared to the Gentiles.

Brethren, Jesus and the apostle Paul both proclaimed a universal offer of salvation backed by a universal provision for sin! Anything less is a departure from apostolic doctrine. Reformed theology, because it suffers from a gospel deficiency, should be rejected by every Bible believer. It was Jesus Who commanded the gospel to be preached to every creature. If there are some for whom Jesus made no provision for sin, how then can there be a gospel for them? And if the gospel offer is not backed by an actual provision for sin, how then is it possible for a Just God to hold the 'non-elect', for whom Christ did not die, accountable for rejecting a gospel that is 'non-applicable' to them?


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