There are some groups around that love to emphasize the doctrine of predestination and election. There is, of course, nothing wrong with the terms, they are Biblical.
The problem comes when there is only a strong emphasis on these words, and a few others. When this happens, there is usually a neglect of other key doctrines that would otherwise help align those teachings with other ones, providing a fuller and more balanced view of the way God really does things.
You say, what do I mean? I’m talking about Calvinism. Calvinism is strong in saying that God chose some to go to Heaven. Of course, it also implies that God also chose some to go to Hell – if not directly, then by simply not choosing them to go to Heaven. It teaches that they were elected and that God irresistibly drew them to choose salvation – the TULIP doctrine. It also says that those who are elected will persevere to the end (not for salvation, but because of it). Another word frequently used in this camp is the “sovereignty of God.” Yes, I do believe that God is sovereign – but not in the way they do.
In talking to a number of people of this persuasion, I have noticed that it particularly attracts the more intellectual types. It sounds good to some, and I have to say it – there often is (not always) a degree of pride that goes with it.
There are several things wrong with this view. The primary one is that of the love of God. If Calvinism were true, then there is no need for God’s love to be mentioned at all. He would only need to irresistibly draw (force?) them to become saved. Instead, we see over and over that God drew Israel to Himself with love, which would be unnecessary from the Calvinist point of view: “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love” (Ho. 11:4). Let me also say that only love can explain Calvary (John 3:16).
It is truly futile to say that man does not have a free will. The Bible quite plainly teaches that he does. Adam and Eve had a choice. Eve chose wrongly – then shared it to involve her husband. Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and then when it was clear what path he chose to take, God further hardened it – but God clearly tells us it was Pharaoh’s choice from the beginning. We are also told that God punishes because of wrong choices deliberately made.
When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, He did not condemn them because God had not drawn them to Himself, but rather because when drawn, they chose not to come: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).
Here are two other verses where the Bible plainly teaches that the Israelites had a choice – then chose not to obey the Almighty:
#1 – Deuteronomy 8:20 “As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.” This verse was a warning against Israel turning away from God. If they did, God would judge. Not much perseverance there.
#2 – Jeremiah 29:19 “Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD.”
Notice that in this verse, that God sent the prophets to call them, but Israel chose to neglect the message. Men and women today are the voice that God uses to call people to salvation, and His Holy Spirit works with them.
Another instance of free will is seen after the rapture, which I believe to be very soon. In II Thessalonians 2:10,11, we are told that many will not be given a second chance to be saved, because they already had (at least) one chance: “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth.”
These people, who will take the mark of the beast when offered, did not receive the truth of Christ and of His salvation. They are judged with this damnation because they had a chance and could have received the Lord Jesus as their Savior – but they would not. Never does the Bible say they could not believe!
We also need to note that in the Tribulation that many of those who have not heard are given a chance to believe. That is not saying that all will hear – but many will – and many will believe!
As far as perseverance goes, Calvinism claims that those who believe keep on serving Christ faithfully. According to them, revival won’t be necessary for the elect. Many people who believe these doctrines are rather indifferent toward evangelism and mission work. Some are zealous towards these things, though, I gladly admit. Jesus said that if we are following Him, He will make us fishers of men. Here are two verses that deny the doctrine of perseverance:
- Mt 24:12 “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
- II John 8 “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
Both verses demonstrate that if perseverance were true, then it is not very effective. In the first verse, it is seen that their love for God can grow cold, and in the second we see the effect of a cold heart of a believer towards God – rewards can be lost. If it were true that a believer does truly persevere, then their heart would not grow cold and no rewards would ever be lost.
So much more could be said about these doctrines, but I need to keep the post relatively short. I do not doubt that there will be some comments.
I hope this is helpful,
Evangelist Mike Valles
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