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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Calvinism

Art Sadlier

From Sound the Trumpet!, December 2013

The most important issue in the Bible is the gospel, indeed it is the most important issue in the whole world, at least as far as men are concerned. No matter what a man may do or say if he destroys the gospel the curse of God is upon him. “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9)


Calvinism is another gospel; it is not good news but rather the bad news that God has already decided your eternal fate. You are only a puppet on a string. What kind of love is it that God would arbitrarily consign some men to hell?


Some of the men leading the promotion of Calvinism in recent years have been identified as, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur and John Piper.


The Calvinist cannot quote John 3:16, “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish” He cannot sing, "There is room at the cross for you." Is it whosoever will or whosoever is predetermined?


Calvinism has, in the last few decades, swept over Evangelicalism and is now making great inroads into what remains of Fundamentalism.


H. A. Ironside stated the following:


"Turn to your Bible and read for yourself, in the only two chapters in which this word ‘predestinate’ or ‘predestinated’ is found. The first is Romans 8:29-30, the other chapter is Ephesians 1.5 and 11. You will note that there is no reference in these four verses to either heaven or hell but to Christ-likeness eventually. Nowhere are we told in Scripture that God predestinated one man to be saved and another to be lost. Men are to be saved or lost eternally because of their attitude towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Predestination means that someday all the redeemed shall become just like the Lord Jesus.


"D.L. Moody used to put it very simply, the elect are the 'whosoever wills' the non-elect 'whosoever wont's'. This is exactly what Scripture teaches, the invitation is to all, those who accept it are the elect. Remember, we are never told that Christ died for the elect."


"Whosoever means, whosoever." Only a biased theologian, with an axe to grind, could ever think that it meant only the elect.


David Hunt stated,


"Giving man the power to make a genuine, independent choice need not diminish God's control over His universe. Being omnipotent and omniscient, God can so arrange circumstances as to keep man's rebellion from frustrating His purposes. In fact, God can and even does use man's free will to help fulfill His own plans and thus be even more glorified."


Never did Christ or His apostles or the early church attempt to force anyone to believe the gospel. The tolerance the early church had for the ungodly around them was not an acceptance of their errors. It was recognition that no one could be forced against his will into the kingdom of God. They attempted to persuade the heathen to believe the gospel, but never did they attempt to force them to do so - nor did they believe in a God who could or would. The gospel is the good news of God's love in Christ and can only be received willingly from the heart. Since Calvinism denies the necessity of choice, it was only natural that its adherents would seek to force their views on all dissenters.


The Bible presents evil as the result of man's free will choosing for self instead of for God. The Calvinist, however, in denying human moral freedom, makes God the cause of all evil, insisting that He "creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul." (Reformed Doctrine of Predestinaton - L. Boettner)


Dr. Jack MacArthur, Senior said, "Predestination is simply God's foreknowledge facing the future."


Dr. John Walvoord stated, "The plan God chose does not force anyone to be saved or lost, but simply means that He knows in advance what each of us will do." There are good Bible scholars who can refute Calvinism, so do not let the Calvinist intimidate you with his seemingly intellectual arguments.


God is a sovereign God, but we need to understand what sovereignty is and what it is not. We are indebted to Dan Proctor for much of the following:


1. When bad things happen, many times you hear Christians say things like, "God is in sovereign control," "Our sovereign God is still on the throne," "It's God's sovereign choice," "It must be His sovereign will."


2.  These phrases are thrown around and are supposed to bring some measure of comfort to those who mourn and go through tragedy.


3.  What does the Bible really teach about sovereignty? Let me shock you. The word "sovereign" and "sovereignty" are not in our King James Bible. The NIV substitutes the word "sovereign" for the word "God" over 300 times. Instead of "Lord God" they use the term "sovereign Lord." According to the Oxford English Dictionary the name "sovereign Lord" is one of 99 names the Muslims use for their God, Allah.


4.  The word sovereign was introduced into the English language by the French speaking sovereigns who governed England in the 12th century. It was originally a French word. It was almost used exclusively to describe a mortal, political leader, not the transcendent, Almighty God. Webster's Online Dictionary defines sovereignty as "supreme power over a body politic," again associating it with governmental authority.


5.  The word eventually got introduced into theology in certain religious circles and owes its impetus to John Calvin. He was a Frenchman and would naturally use such a word. The word "sovereign" encapsulates his French training for the priesthood, his denial of free will, and his teachings merging church and state.


IS SOVEREIGNTY A BIBLICAL CONCEPT?


Just because the word is not in the Bible does not necessarily mean that it is not a Biblical concept (example: the words "trinity" and "rapture").


If the word "sovereign" means supreme power, then yes, God is sovereign. Very few would argue with the fact that God holds supreme power. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Yet it is said of the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 that He is coming after the working of Satan with "all power". So, obviously, Christ holds all power, but hasn't fully exercised it all as of yet.


 So the question becomes, "How and when does God exercise His power?" Jesus had the sovereign power to call legions of angels before His crucifixion, but He chose NOT to exercise His power. Jesus said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."


Did Jesus have sovereign power that would have delivered Him from the Jews? Absolutely, but at that time He chose not to exercise it. One day Christ WILL fight and exercise sovereign power over this earth. This is the meaning of the word "omnipotent" and "Almighty".


With only one exception, these two words are used exclusively in the book of Revelation. When Christ returns to this earth, Revelation 11:17 says, “Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”


Christ will take to Him His great power and reign. At this time Christ will take "sovereign control" of this earth. cf. Revelation 19:6, 15, 21:22; 1Timothy 6:14-16. God's sovereignty over this earth will be exercised at His Second Coming. At this time, the anti-Christ and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), and Satan is bound in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-2).


At the present time, Satan does have power which he is exercising. Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24. We also discover in Revelation that God's power is controlled by His character and nature. 15:3, 16:7.


People who misunderstand God's sovereignty will sometimes say, "God can do whatever He wants to do. He is sovereign." This is a false notion. God cannot do anything that contradicts His nature and character. See Titus 1:2; James 1:13.


ILLUSTRATION


Of the tragic killings at Virginia Tech., someone may say, "We have to trust God's sovereign will and plan." This statement leaves you with the idea that God desired and willed that event to occur, that it was part of His "mysterious" plan. This is impossible because it would contradict God's righteous character. Satan is a murderer; senseless, brutal murder is part of Satan's character (John 8:44). Then who do you think planned and instigated and masterminded this event? Jeremiah 19:5 is extremely important to read.


Can God bring good things out of this tragic event? Absolutely yes. God will freely dispense His grace to those in need who seek Him and turn to Him. But we cannot make God ultimately responsible for the dastardly deeds of sinful man and Satan. They are out of the realm of His righteous nature and character.


God's sovereignty is also controlled and limited by His Word. God has freely and voluntarily limited Himself this way. See Numbers 23:19


To summarize - while God is sovereign, there are things He cannot do because they contradict His character or His written Word. Sovereignty is a Biblical concept, but when there is an overemphasis of God's power and a neglect or diminishing of His other attributes (love, mercy, grace, justice, truth, holiness, etc.), the result is false doctrine. God does not exercise His sovereignty in isolation of His other qualities. Over-emphasis on His sovereignty, results in a God who empowers and commissions wicked people to do sinful things that violate His righteous character and loving nature.


Christian, be very careful how you throw around the word "sovereign". God is not up in heaven pushing buttons and pulling levers and making everything that happens happen. Do not lay at His feet the evil and wicked