Calvinism: Futile Hope and “Christian” Despair

I received an email today from a very dear, long time personal friend, Richard, with whom I have been sharing my faith continuously for probably 15 or more years. As yet, he has not made the decision to trust Jesus Christ alone as his Savior. He is a brilliant man, conservative politically and former military. We have had some wonderful personal conversations (at our home) and by email for years. I will share his email (with his permission – anonymously, of course) and let you, my readers, comment on it for his benefit.

Hi, Jack,

I need help in understanding the appeal of Calvinism, please.

I don’t see what its inherent appeal is.  Ok, I get it if I can sign on to a doctrine that says the Elect can be saved, PROVIDED I know that I’m for sure one of the Elect.

As I understand it, however, a Calvinist DOESN’T know that he’s saved.  All he knows is that he might be.  Why sign on to that?  It’s like enlisting in the Army in the hope that one MIGHT be paid and fed but having no guarantee.

There appears to be or have been a kind of frantic or, at least, anxiety-ridden, life that the Calvinist then leads not knowing his fate.  Apparently, as a way to deceive oneself, the Calvinist then works hard to achieve material success in life to kid himself that success is God’s way of saying, “Don’t worry.  You’re one of the ones I’ve chosen.”

But this apparently isn’t sanctified by official Calvinist doctrine.

Even before one embraces and embarks upon a hamster-in-the-wheel life, the new or would-be convert is still faced with the stark doctrine that the Elect are on a list that only God can see, which list, at least official/doctrinally, he may not be on at all.

Why would anyone jump on that initially?  If it’s unknowable what gets one onto God’s list, you live a life of Christian despair.

Do I have this right?

Stay warm!

Richard

Richard, you have nailed one of many problems of Calvinism, “Election.” I am so happy to read that you see the inherent errors in that teaching and will not fall for it. Obviously, by your question, you have done some serious thought and reading about Calvinism.

It is clear to any serious student of the Bible that the Calvinists have manufactured their teaching by taking God’s Word out of context and by building a religion based on men such as; John Calvin and Augustine of old days, and then the more modern purveyors, John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Francis Chan and many more. Their words seem convincing to the naive or the dedicated followers until they honestly investigate the teaching in light of a contextual study of God’s Word. It is no wonder that this theology so often morphs into a commitment or lordship type “salvation” message.

Calvinism seems to be growing by leaps and bounds which is not understandable since it has NO appeal to an honest, dispensational student of the Bible. From my experience it seems most folks who become Calvinists have either been raised in it or perhaps they trusted Christ in a Biblical environment and then chose the “appeal” of Calvinism as an easy way to shun any personal responsibility for themselves.

I will limit my comments for now as I am anxious to see what our discerning and faithful readers will have to say. We have covered this subject in several ways in past posts but this one is unique and personal to both of us Richard, and as you know Shirley and I pray daily that you will see and believe the Truth.
“And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. … If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:32, 36

That word “free” in the original Greek means “exempt (from obligation or liability) :- free (man, woman), at liberty.” One who is under the uncertain yoke of Calvinism can never be sure they are “elect” (their definition of the word) and thus they can never honestly say, “I am free (and secure) for all eternity.”

We can be FREE when we decide to believe that Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh, died on the cross for every sin of mine for all eternity.. History confirms He was buried and arose from the grave. Scripture confirms that and Jesus is alive today as an advocate for every one who has put their trust in Him for eternal life.

Richard, thanks for your note and the idea for this post.

Eternal Life IS FREE!!!

129 responses to “Calvinism: Futile Hope and “Christian” Despair

  1. Stephen, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    I agree that the Calvinist god is not the God of the Bible.

  2. Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the Continental united States of America, summed up John Calvin quite clearly:
    “I can never join Calvin in addressing his god, he was indeed an athiest, which I can never be; or rather his religion was demonism. If ever man worshipped a false god he did. The being described in his five points is not the God whom you and I acknowledge and adore, the Creator and benevolent Governor of the world, but a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all than to blaspheme Him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.”
    Note: This statement comes from a letter dated: April 11, 1823, written to John Adams in the eighth year of Jefferson’s presidency.

    Jefferson described Calvin quite well. Actually the five pillars of calvinism
    1. Total Depravity, (bound in sin)
    2. Unlimited Election, (partiality and racism)
    3. Limited Atonement (no atonement at all)
    4. Irresistible Grace (a forced or imposed belief system)
    5. Perseverance of the Saints, eternal security (no assurance of salvation)
    are all oxymorons which accurately describe the attributes of Satan himself as well as hyper-calvinists.

  3. Wise comments, Jack. Thanks friend!

    Bruce

  4. Dear Friends:

    I have just posted a new article that you will find very interesting and might even answer (or pose) some questions about the Global Muslim Jihad and Israel.
    Israel, Global Jihad and The Bible
    http://www.expreacherman.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/israel-global-jihad-and-the-bible/

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  5. Bruce and all,

    Thanks for your contributions to this Bible version discussion, which is just a tad off-topic. (apologies to my good friend Richard to whom this post was originally addressed).

    I suppose the ultimate answer is that we should:
    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15

    Just as a quick point I have showed Catholics the clear Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ using their own Douay Bible — but I would never recommend that Bible for serious study for an unbeliever or a new Christian. Another thought: we must do as the Apostle Paul begged, use words easy to be understood. The more we study the more we may be tempted to use “theological terms” unfamiliar to unbelievers and babes in Christ.

    And Bruce, (and others who might agree with Bruce) we may “part company” on this issue but certainly never our eternal relationship or our daily fellowship together in Christ..

    We should remember that the greater majority of folks we meet will be those who have never trusted Christ as Savior and many who may have been Christians for years but still babes in Christ. Thus, in every case, we must be clear with the Gospel of God’s Grace and doctrine, using words easy to be understood — Precious souls are at stake.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  6. Thanks for your comments, Jon.

  7. Jack: Amen to your last sentence in your comment … too many people can be derailed into senseless arguments regarding such things as debating the use of one literal translation over another rather than pouring our energy sharing the gospel and teaching people to study the Word.

    My only concern is that by cherry picking certain verses (i.e. John 3:16) that don’t have the exact phrasing you are looking for you open yourself up for debate both ways. The KJV has some appalling translation problems that are either confusing or misleading … such as:

    Gen. 1:2 uses the phrase “became” and is therefore a favourite amongst those who do not believe God created ex-nihilo.

    Acts 2:47 uses the words, “such as should be saved,” and ignores the Greek present tense form, “are being saved.” So the KJV shows a leaning here to predestination. Even E.H. Plumptre (one of the translators of the Revision (1881) of the KJV), said: “This verse takes its place among the passages in which the translators have, perhaps, been influenced by Calvinistic bias”

    But at least there is a balance in mistranslation between LS and FG in the KJV as they also mistranslate John 3:36 and the greek word apeitheo as “believe not” when the greek is clear that it is “obey not”. This verse has been used many in our Free Grace movement who use the KJV and it is actually one that those in the LS should be using 🙂

    All translations have some quirkiness that require the reader to do some study (thank the Lord for the many resources available). I would only encourage believers to grab a “word-for-word” translation like the KJV, NASB or ESV to try to get as close to the inspired original languages as possible.

    Califgracer: I appreciate your thoughts and concerns regarding the new NIV and the TNIV but have to strongly disagree with your reasoning against the ESV as you employ an ad hominem argument. It is just as easy for someone to list many heretics and nutjobs who love the KJV and the NIV as “proof” that they are biased translations (Marcella, this is the same dangerous line of thinking you are on in saying that you know bad people who read the NIV and the AMP … I was raised in a legalistic cult that used the KJV and yet I still see it as a beautiful translation … it was just misused by bad people. That being said, I definitely understand that it would make reading these difficult for you … much like a child who was violently ill after eating a particular food will have a strong distaste for that food).

    But, the ESV had a very diverse translation team so to say that it is biased toward a doctrinal stance based on those who READ it is not the greatest way to critique it. The men you listed (although I disagree with their Calvinist belief system) have chosen the ESV because of their strong commitment to the inherency of Scripture (expressing their preference for a literal translation (like the NASB) with good readability. I do, however, agree with your critique of the ESV’s Yoda language! And that is at least a fair critique.

    I am not a booster for the ESV (as I said I love to read and study with the KJV, NASB and even love some of the “dynamic-equivalence” translations) but I get a little worked up when people use bad logic to critique or cheer on a translation.

    In all of this I echo Jack … let’s be sure use our energy and pour out our lives in sharing the gospel and discipling people!

    Living all by His grace,
    J

  8. Thank all of you for your input. Three realities for me: The Word of God,
    the Blessed Holy Spirit, and fellow Christians! Read, study, pray, listen,&
    obey! God is great! God bless, John G.

  9. Hi friends in Christ,

    Great discussion!

    Jack and I part company just a bit on this subject. I guess that most of us tend to gravitate toward the version of the Bible that we used in our earlier years as believers. For me, that is primarily the NIV (1984 [original] edition). And yes, as Jack advised, I use it very cautiously in conjunction with the NASB, KJV, Greek Interlinear, and NASB Exhaustive Concordance. I avoid completely the TNIV and the 2011 NIV because of their push for gender neutrality; the latter changes “son/s” or “daughter/s” to “child/ren,” for example and “father” or “mother” to “parent/s.” You can only imagine the harmful possibilities of such wholesale changes. And let me give a strong word of warning about the New (2011) NIV: The latest version of the NIV is still called “NIV” by its publisher Zondervan. So if you choose to use the NIV, be sure to buy an older version (they are still available on Ebay). One thing that I like about the original NIV is, of course, its readability; but another is the fact that it contains copious helpful footnotes which often bring it more into line with the KJV. Perhaps a good compromise would be the New King James Version, although I have not used that version enough to comment on it.

    Regarding the ESV, I really must agree with Jack that this version is THE VERSION of the Neo-Calvinist/ Lordship Faith movement. The extremely radical sub-movement called, “The Revolution Church,” a.k.a. “Transformational Ministries,” and “The Infusion Church,” among other names uses it; so do many more mainline Calvinist churches. The names “Revolution,” “Transformational,” and “Infusion,” should be clear red flags that something very extreme and radical is going on there. By the way, it is my strong opinion that huge-selling Lordship Salvation books like “Radical,” by David Platt, “Crazy Love,” by Francis Chan, and “A Hole in Our Gospel,” by Richard Stearns are the GASOLINE ON THE FIRE that have fueled these radical extremist movements (this site has many articles and discussions on the latter two books). On a simple practical note, the ESV frequently uses disjointed (backwards) English phraseology. I call it, “Yoda-speak” (for all of you Star Wars fans).

    Contending for the simple clear biblical gospel of Christ Jesus,

  10. When I was in the New Age movement, a couple of my friends used the Amplified Bible and loved it. I read from one of those Bibles, and it had brackets around some words and phrases. I had the impression that the bracketed portions were there to try to explain what the verses meant. I had a hard time reading that Bible because the bracketed part was distracting to me, and I felt it was adding to God’s Word. The Amplified Bible does add to God’s Word. Revelation 22:18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” Proverbs 30:6 adds: “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”

    The cult I was in used the NIV Study Bible. The NIV leaves out some Bible verse.

    Here is a website that has alot of information about Bible versions:

    http://www.biblebelievers.com/BibleVersions.html

  11. John Gregory,

    I welcome Bruce and any others into this conversation.

    It is my impression that you don’t need any guidance from me with your background, knowledge and apparent discernment. As Scripture says, God’s Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.

    Just enjoy God’s Word.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  12. The discussion over which Bible translation to use won’t end untill Jesus
    returns. I also am a student of Greek & Hebrew, but this fact does not eradicate the problem! Listening to the advocates of each Bible translation
    only leads to more questions. Is the motive money or truth? Or both?
    I use the king James because I love the language. I use the New American Standard for the accurate translation ( even though from a corrupt
    text?). And lastly I use the Amplied. Will you please guide me with your
    thoughts on this?
    Thank You, & God bless!
    John Gregory

  13. Jon,

    Thanks for your comment..

    There are many reasons folks use their particular favorite brand of the Bible.. One thing I personally think is vitally important — I would not recommend the ESV or the NIV (and some others) to a new believer who is immature in God’s Word yet anxious to learn. As one matures, by grace, you or any other believer certainly may adopt whichever paraphrase or translation he pleases.

    Just one of many examples, as I have mentioned before — the KJV in John 3:16 says “only begotten son” whereas it disturbs me that in the ESV and NIV, almost identical phrase “only son.” It is theologically important that Jesus was physically begotten (only-born) by the Father. There is a stream of theology here — God’s proclamation, the Holy Spirit, the virgin Mary, etc. Why are the ESV and the NIV afraid of Christ’s, physically “only-born” theology in that verse (and others)?

    After all, some friends of mine use those Bibles and others and that is OK for them — their choice. I know in most cases they are mature enough to see, understand and compensate for the inherent errors.
    However, a few I know who came from good fundamental Bible churches have adopted the ESV and embraced Calvinism. I realize the book itself did not cause the change — but it could be because almost every Calvinist teacher and web site you read or hear, the ESV IS the recommended Bible.

    Jon, yes, with your education and knowledge (a student of Greek and Hebrew), you can sift the wheat from the chaff but please don’t assume brand new Christians discern the difference.

    And I pray we will concentrate on winning the lost to Christ and teaching (discipling) them in true Free Grace.

    In Jesus Christ eternally,J

  14. Hi Jack,

    I don’t want to derail this comment thread by throwing in a debate about translations (it’d make a great blog topic though … lots of people looking for some advice on wading through so many options).

    I am as “anti-Calvinist” as the next guy but can’t see how the ESV is a “Calvinist Bible” … it seems like a post hoc fallacy to say that because some prominent Calvinists have moved to using the ESV that it has as it’s roots a Calvinist bias. I am sure that Wayne Grudem’s endorsement moved a lot of the Reform guys to start using the ESV … but I know of many others who are not Calvinists who also greatly appreciate the accuracy of the translation.

    Like you, I grew up reading and memorizing the KJV but then moved to the NASB as a more up to date translation (by up to date I mean using more reliable and newly discovered ancient texts). I then moved to the ESV as it is a great balance of staying true to a literal translation (being a student of greek and hebrew it is so much easier to have an english translation with a more direct word for word correlation) and being very readable.

    Anyway, not wanting to start an unnecessary debate but wanted to share from someone as passionate about the doctrine of Free Grace and also greatly appreciating the ESV.

    God Bless,
    J

  15. Marcella,

    Thanks for the interesting story of your experiences.

    About Legalism, we have posted many articles about the “do or don’t and/or turn-from-sin-for salvation” legalism and then the legalists who promote a commitment or Lordship “salvation.” There’s is a lot of similarity between the two — they are both dangerous and un-Biblical.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  16. I also use the KJV Bible. I used to use the NIV Study Bible until I learned from an “exwitch” that it is a false version of the Bible and leaves out many references to God and Jesus Christ, along with some Bible verses being removed completely. The 2011 NIV is controversial and more gender neutral.

    There are a few KJV only churches where I live, and they are legalistic. I visited a couple of them. Neither of them celebrate Christian or Easter because of their claims to the paganism associated with these holidays. One of the churches didn’t put up a Christmas tree or decorations, but the other did. I was surprised to see the tree and decorations considering they said they don’t celebrate Christmas. They even sang some Christmas songs while I was visiting, but they do not have a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship service.

    I was corresponding with a woman who has a KJV only website. She’s pretty extreme on many things and is also into legalism. She comes out strongly about false teaching, false doctrine, etc., and is pretty firm that believers should not celebrate Christmas and Easter because of the paganism. I think it’s sad when people don’t celebrate the birth and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ because of legalism.

    Jack, that might be another good topic of discussion: legalism.

  17. Thanks Pearl,

    Good to hear from you. You are right about the militant KJVers.. Some I have heard say that unless you have a KJV Bible you must not be saved. I reject that.

    Great reading in Psalm 90.. It should serve as a warning yet much comfort and assurance to those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  18. Jon,

    Quick answer about KJV. I prefer the original KJV because when I trusted Jesus Christ that is the Bible I used then and throughout my ministry. I have found it most accurate when compared with the original Greek texts. There are times when one might like the Amplified Bible or other similar ones — but I have found many errors in the “easier to read” NIV, New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses), the Calvinist ESV, many others and in most of the newer “study” Bibles written by those who have an axe to grind.
    I believe the best route for study is lots of prayer, the original KJV plus a good concordance — my preference there is Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Then we compare Scripture in context with other scripture in context. Hope this helps answer your question.

    About your previous note, I did not misunderstand you — that being saved by faith in Christ is eternal.. and behavior cannot change that eternal relationship.
    Of course we must remember that disobedience, whether small or huge can bring discipline from the Lord.. but that discipline is never being kicked out of God’s family. Often that discipline can bring a believer back into a great fellowship with the Lord.

    For those who have trusted Christ and then later fall into a sinful lifestyle.. we should do as the Apostle Paul did with the Christians in 1 Corinthians. He exhorts, warns and chastises them — but reminds them they are still in God’s family. But as in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reminds them again of salvation in Christ by repeating the Gospel clearly. We should continue reminding and exhorting ourselves and other Christians of the joy and benefits of our eternal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Some soon forget intentionally or by neglect.

    We appreciate your kind words.. Please pray for this ministry. Thanks.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  19. Just yesterday I read Psalm 90 and was greatly encouraged by it. Even though the section I include refers to national Israel, I think it’s scripturally safe to say that God’s mercy is exponentially lavished upon the children of Abraham, the children of faith, who believe on the name of Jesus Christ:

    “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgment; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

    Eternal security is according to His faithfulness, thank God!

    P.S. Jack, forgive me for stepping in front of you before (as of my writing this) you’ve had the opportunity to respond to Jon’s KJ-only question. I’m sure you’ll have much more to add than my lil’ piece.

    Jon, “KJV-Only” folks are not all the same. There are some very militant and legalistic KJ-ers which ought to be avoided. But I wouldn’t let them keep you from studying the matter for yourself.

  20. Jack,

    Just reread through this comment stream and your response to Andy about Bible translations. Are you a “KJV-Only” guy?

  21. Hi Jack,

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I would never say that one needs to “follow Jesus” to be saved. What I said was that she made the “decision” to follow Jesus. In other words, she trusted in Christ or put her faith in Him. I would never want to put the legalistic yoke of Lordship on anyone.

    From what I understand (and am so thankful for this blog in helping me be freed from the bondage of this oppressive theology) there is nothing one needs to do as a Christian. I put my faith in Jesus Christ and I am now eternally secure. This has freed me up from the guilt and shame I carried for years of not reading my Bible or serving in my church enough or “giving my all for Jesus” or “becoming holy”. It is a freeing way to live knowing that I am eternally secure no matter how I live – that’s amazing grace! I have shared this with others and pointed them to your blog to try and help them see the truth.

    One friend of mine has been worried about his son who trusted in Christ as his Savior as a young boy but is now living in absolute sin (drugs and homosexuality) and has “renounced his faith”. I have shown him this blog to encourage him to not worry about his son’s eternal security, but the years of Lordship Salvation he has been under makes it very hard for him to rest in this glorious truth and not to try and tell his son that “a Christian wouldn’t live like this”. I have told him that a Christian SHOULDN’T live like that but holy living isn’t needed – only a trust in Jesus Christ – and his son has that. His son is living far from Jesus but as a child of God who chose to put his faith in Jesus Christ there is no way that his homosexual lifestyle changes that truth. Grace is truly glorious! I have ordered the book, Secure Forever” you recommend and hope it will help my good friend be able to rest in the grace of God. When I heard Marcella’s story, my heart broke for her as I see the same struggle in my friend. Her friend may say she is a Satanist but the Word of God shows us that is impossible as she is secure in Christ!!

    God Bless brother Jack!
    Jon

  22. Jon,

    Welcome and thanks for your comments to Marcella. Your premise is correct..Salvation is only by faith in Jesus Christ alone — but we must remember that an altar call or walking forward does not save.

    Also “following Christ” does not save.. but trusting Christ as Savior is the only salvation. These are two entirely different things… Salvation is believing what Christ has done for us… “following” is what we do for Christ.. not to be saved but because we are saved. Even some in Christ’s day — there were many who followed Christ without believing in Him for Salvation.

    Thanks for your comments.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  23. Marcella,
    Your friend who went forward at the altar call and got saved is saved! She may be “following” Satan now but you can’t judge her salvation by her works or actions … it is FREE grace! She made the decision to follow Jesus and is now eternally secure no matter what she may say or do now. So don’t worry about your friend and don’t put the unnecessary weight and judgemental attitude of Lordship Salvation on her. Pray that she steps back into the life she has in Jesus Christ but be assured that her eternal destiny is secure.

    J.

  24. Wow! John, I am touched that you, your wife, and the church members are praying for me. Thank you!

  25. Marcella! I second what Califgracer shared with you. Be aware that my wife, my self, & her Church members are holding you up in prayer.
    Personify the love of Jesus, spread the joy of the Holy Spirit, &
    show the mercy of God the father to all arround you. Doing that will be more
    than enough. Being a female I realize makes it necessary for caution.
    We are praying for YOU, God bless, John & Bea G.

  26. Thank you, Bruce, for your “ramblings.” SMILING! I’m always encouraged by what you say. I do not witness to people at work as I know that it could cause issues. I used to be very vocal about Christ and wanted to share my testimony with people. That’s when I ended up getting ganged up on by some people several years ago. One lady really tore into me and harrassed me, getting into my face, and everything. I went to the manager and told her I was being harrassed, but didn’t give the reason – that I had been talking about God. The manager talked to the lady, and she came to apologize.

    Thanks for the Bible verse, as well, Bruce, and your prayers!

  27. Bruce,

    Great advice to Marcella.. Wise as serpents but harmless as doves.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  28. Hi Marcella:

    Thanks for sharing about your work situation. I will pray about that for you.

    Most of the people with whom I work are not believers, but here and there the Lord has sent one into my pathway. Keep searching, they’re around. One that God brought into my life recently is a Christian, of that I’m convinced. But he is a strong Calvinist and that perspective always comes through in our discussions. We do have a friendship of sorts and we can speak in general terms about the Lord. I wish that our Christian talk could go deeper, but that Calvinist wall always gets in the way.

    If I may, let me give you a brief word of caution about witnessing in the secular workplace. For one thing, you are primarily there to work, so talking about Christ should be left more to slow times or break times. For another, some people are very unaccepting of the gospel and they will use every legal tool in their arsenal against you. I once had a man file a religious harassment suit against me at work for doing absolutely nothing more than handing a card of invitation to him to a church-sponsored community event at the fairgrounds. Later when the man could see that I had no intentions whatsoever of “harassing” him about my faith, he quickly backed off and was apologetic. But the damage was done; the warning to desist order was placed in my permanent work file and I have been curtailed considerably in what I am allowed to discuss at work ever since then.

    If I may just give you a sound biblical guideline, it would be 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” This verse has been a great help and comfort to me and it gives sound advice as well. Now, when a customer or coworker brings up the subject of Christianity or faith to me, I feel free to give, as the Bible says, an answer to them, because they brought it up first.

    I hope that some of this helps.

  29. John, that is wonderful about your workplace and how you have shared the gospel. I have been praying for a long time that God would bless me with a Christian friend at work, but I haven’t gotten one yet. It would greatly benefit me if I had another Christian to fellowship with at work. My workplace is very oppressive and often stressful for me. There are several people, who say they are Christians, but they are all involved with cults. One of those Christian men sexually harrassed me at work, then joined other co-workers to gang up on me a couple of years ago. I am very cautious around him because we work in the same department. I never told anyone at work about the incidents I had with him. Yet, I have not forgotten. There is one gal, who runs after this and that false teacher. She’s overly excited and tries to talk to me about them. I have warned her about false teaching, and I have told her that we must read and know our Bible so we don’t get deceived. I’ve warned many people at work about false teachers, but none of them have stopped supporting the false teachers. I pray for them. That’s all I can do. So many people find teachers, who say what they want to hear, so they continue to feed off of the lies.
    2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

  30. Marcella! Praise God for your testimony. I worked in a steelmill for 42 years. Started in 1966. I was a young Christian, twenty years old.
    When my co-workers found out that I was a Christian, the came at me with both barrels. I did not know that so many volatile atheists were out there! They ridiculed, laughed at, and told me that they did not want to hear anything about God.
    But, there were two older men who were Christian, who called me aside & helped me learn how to handle all of the combustible attacks. They taught me how to turn the athiest’s attacks by giving out the truth of Scripture. The truth of God is provable. By becoming a Christian Apologist, I was able to answer their attacks with not only the Word of God, but with the proofs that showed the Scripture true. When their attacks were answered with truth that could not be denied, the following happened: Some never bothered again, but more came back for more of the truth. We stood up for the truth. We proclaimed the truth. And after seven months, God had built up a Bible study of 27 people.
    All that I am saying is, continue to stand firm, do not let the enemy silence you, pray, and be guided by the Holy Spirit with His love in your heart. God is using you! Continue to contend for the faith.
    God bless, John G.

  31. Good point, Marcella!

  32. Bruce and Jack, you have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to me, as well. Thank you!

    We know when someone is sincere and really wants to hear the gospel and when a person is just out to cause conflict and argue. It’s best to walk away from the debating, arguing instigators. Pray for them, and let God deal with them.

  33. Hi Marcella:

    I am proud of you and I applaud you for your bold speaking out for the Lord and for the truth of the Bible and the Christian faith. You have been an inspiration to me!

    I tried debating with several atheists for a while online. I gave it up because I found it to be utterly frustrating and fruitless. Most of them are very snobbish, condescending and mean-spirited, from my perspective. Perhaps a few “outsiders” got the truth from the discussions. I did find it very fascinating that they were so passionate in arguing against a “God” whom they DON’T EVEN BELIEVE EXISTS! Perplexing, to say the least.

  34. Marcella,

    Hmmmm an atheist who leaves his false teaching for another. Frying pan to fire. Too bad..

    Good for you — be bold while showing God’s Love — “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” and remember that without them trusting Christ, they have no Eternal hope.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  35. I was on a “Christian” blog awhile back, and atheists flocked to it. Their mission was to argue, debate and mock Christians. At least one “atheist” knew so much about the Bible, quoted scriptures, but mocked and mocked so badly. How can anyone read the Bible and not believe in God? I guess the atheist wanted to try to prove Christians wrong. The atheists in that forum ended up arguing with each other. I work with a guy, who was an atheist. Someone prayed the “sinner’s prayer” with him, then laid hands on him so he became “spirit filled.” He’s now involved in a church that’s part of the Latter Rain cult movement. He heaps up for himself teachers having itching ears. I’ve talked to him about a few false teachings. I was once deceived, so when I see other people deceived, I pray for them. When opportunity comes up to talk to them, I do it, and I am very bold and vocal. I won’t tolerate false teachers, and I sure don’t like seeing people deceived.

  36. Pearl,

    What hot air? I thought it was just a cool breeze from the friendly hinterlands…

    Maybe that bunch of Gulf showers will help y’all some.. praying for y’all.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  37. I hear ya, Jack.

    Hindsight, perhaps I was coming down too hard. Though I didn’t come to believe in Jesus Christ as God until I was around 20, I always believed there was “a god” (which I think can be just as dangerous as not believing in a god, because “any” god will do!). It is hard for me to understand the mind of an atheist, though. I wonder if there really is such a thing.

    Sorry for the blast of hot air.

    We could use that H20; the lack of it here in Texas is making me mean! 😉

  38. Pearl,

    Excellent… Though I do understand that a person can believe that there is no God… But the more I study God’s Word, I find it less and less plausible that anyone could say, “There is no God.” I was there myself up until age 35.. But it was not fear that brought me to Christ but the logic of True Biblical Christianity, experiencing His creation, the thought of His Agape Love and then finding out that eternal life was, contrary to what I heard, absolutely FREE.

    BTW, come on down, we’ll let you borrow some water from our lake.. we went low-water for a while but we have plenty now. Ours is fed by the surrounding aquifer level so we will always have some.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  39. I like your new header as well, Jack. You know how much I love birds. We’ve got a blue heron which has visited us for years, but now that our pond looks like a moon crater, he’s spending his summer days wading elsewhere. 😦 Shirley’s got a good eye!

    “Trust & Obey” is a wonderful hymn, and I think it’s safe to say, given the following verses, that this begins microseconds before the moment of salvation. Death is only a gasp of breath away. Today is the day of salvation; I wouldn’t put it off any longer.

    “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;…” 2 Thess. 1:7-9

    and…

    ” For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 2 Peter 4:17

    If one doesn’t believe in the existence of God, then how does one get through one’s day being confronted by the miracles of creation?! How does one explain instinct? How does one explain the complexities of the “simple” cell? What about conscience? And if, like Richard Dawkins, one’s answer is that aliens are responsible for “seeding” life on earth, then where did they come from? Ultimately, one is left confronting God face to Face. Better now, setting aside rebellion for humility, than at the judgment of the dead. Without excuse indeed!

  40. Bruce,

    Thanks.. I had thought maybe the logical plural for Ibis would be Ibi, 😎
    but the dictionary corrects me (as it often does). Thus you are right, it is “Ibises.” I will have to correct my header caption.
    Note: Ibises are one of several large wading birds of the family Threskiornithidae.

    Just thought you might need that information some day.. We occasionally have white and Blue Herons plus all sorts of weird tropical birds and animals visit.

    The Lord’s creation is amazing!!!.
    “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:: Romans 1:20

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  41. Hi Jack.

    I love the new picture of the ibis(es).

    Thanks!

    Bruce

  42. Thanks John,

    That’s one of my favorite hymns!

    Bruce

  43. After reading the whole blog & trying to understand what all of us are saying,
    I realize that most of us are speaking the words, not only of Scripture, which
    are most important, but that we are also speaking the words of an old hymn.
    I am sharing this only in an effort to bring to all of us a period of
    worship. If this displeases anyone I beg your forgiveness.
    The hymn is TRUST AND OBEY. To me that is the GoodNews of God.
    ” Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus,
    but to trust and obey.” I am sure that we all remember these words, but if you don’t, please look them up! You will be blessed.
    God bless you all,
    John Gregory

  44. Thanks Christian Lawyer,

    Well said and I am sure those verses and remarks are comforting to all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.. and they will encourage any unbelievers to investigate the eternal words and promises of Jesus Christ.

    And I am excited that you said, “You also can experience a more abundant life.”

    Yes, believers must understand that Eternal Life and “Abundant Life” are two different doctrines just as you illustrated. Abundant life is available to believers only after they have been “united with Christ” by trusting Him for eternal life. Then, this abundant life is the fruit of studying His Word, growing in Grace, following His guidance and sharing one’s faith. (All of this not to be saved but because we are saved).

    Wonderful!! Thanks so much for those encouraging Biblical thoughts.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  45. IF ONE BELIEVES, ONE IS SAVED. PERIOD. SO IF YOU BELIEVE, YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, AND ARE ELECT AND SECURE!

    Jesus came to give each of us a new spiritual birth, a new beginning with God. Those who believe on Jesus’ name [whose name means “God rescues”] receive Jesus (John 1:12; 3:16). When you receive the Lord Jesus, you receive total forgiveness of all of your sins (Acts 10:43). Being united with Christ, you have eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). You also can experience a more abundant life (John 10:10b). Therefore:

    “… Repent (change your mind), and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15).

  46. How easily swayed these title changers seem to be to make their colleges, universities or ministry names pleasing and acceptable to people.

    Even though I embraced a false theology and fell deeply into deception, I will always be thankful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for saving me and making the truth of His Word clear.

  47. God bless you, Faith. We have alot in common. I came to salvation about the same age you did. I didn’t know what it meant to be a Christian, and I didn’t have the encouragement and support of other Christians. I had depression and was suicidal, too, and had a food addiction and other addictions. Isn’t it wonderful that, even though we stumble, fall and go through all kinds of things that we would deem horrible, God never once turned His back on us, even during the times we went astray? He’s such a good, faithful, loving and kind Father! I probably wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for God! I often tell people, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. God is faithful, and if you confess your sins and put your faith and trust in Him, He will forgive you and change your life.”

  48. Well you are right Jack- although, my situation was that I had parents that were not legalistic, but went to some churches/church schools that were. My dad was a strong believer and then he went into business for himself; became very successful- that is when he started to slip. He became very “important” in the business world and then in Christian ministries where he became a very close friend of Chuck Colsons and Prison Fellowship and other ministries. My dad changed and started to become more ecumenical- The ministries also took precedent over his family- you see this all the time. My dad is now with Christ, but I am still very sad I lost all that precious time that he could have discipled his daughter.
    Thankfully, I had to learn through struggle that my Christian life was not in the right with the Lord- I would never trade what I had to go through. Still want to learn and grow in the Lord to be more like Christ.

  49. Marcella, Faith, John and others,

    Thanks for your testimonies..

    But I am afraid your good results are not necessarily typical. I also know a young man whose father is an IFB pastor, was raised in this good Biblical but strict IFB church He left home and off to a presumed IFB college, (now Northland International University [NIU] — name changed from Northland Bible Baptist College).

    This young man complained about his strict upbringing. He graduated embracing a radical Calvinist “theology” and is now teaching it in a youth group as if it is the newly discovered, best thing to come around in years.

    A strict church and family life does not always equate to foundational sound doctrine in later life.

    I am so happy you folks did not fall for some false “theology” after your strict, early “religious” life.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  50. Oh yes I do agree John- I had a good foundation laid down even though there was some aspects to it that were not in the right. For one instance, the church that spoke the most on the damnations of hell and was the most legalistic had the most issues with adultery inside the church leadership- hmmm….. I wonder why?
    The good thing was that my parents, even though they did not thoroughly disciple their daughter in the Word (which I do think is the responsibility of the parents) they were not legalistic and also I had very good relatives that were solid Christians. What was lacking was the proper teaching and role of the Holy Spirit and THAT I wish I would have grasped much sooner, but God is so good in His grace and mercy.
    Thank you for your kind words John.

  51. Dear Sister Faith, My heart goes out to you because of the damage done by legalistic Baptists to you. And I agree with you. I only wish to say that I was brought up in such a Church. I do thank God that they were not Calvinists! Some of the legalistic churches (they do not need to be Baptist) are way too severe in their methods of ministry. But I will say this: from them I learned to be a Biblicist, & for this I will be eternally grateful. It was from the Baptist Church that I learned Biblicistic, Elemental, & Systematic Theology. It was in the Baptist Seminary, I found the Truth of the Word of God taught, explained, shown, lived out, & exemplified. My instructors may
    have been strict, but I praise God for that discipline. Yes! Some may be too strict, I cannot deny, but I, myself will always be glad for my strict Baptist upbringing. God bless you Sister Faith! And God speed you on your journey… A brother in Christ,
    John G.

  52. Thank you Marcella for your comments about your salvation. That is similar to mine, for I came to salvation at the age of nine. I was not discipled however and did not know much about the Holy Spirit, because I was raised around legalistic Baptists (no pants for women, etc.. you know what I mean all the don’t do’s or you will go to hell). It was not until the Lord allowed me to go through severe depression, anorexia, and being suicidal that I first realized the Holy Spirit was there. Oh I was a Christian, but did not have understanding- this therefore goes to show that a true Christian will be chastened. Like Jack or someone said here is that we DO NOT have the foresight to know the heart of man- only God does (thank goodness for that- would not want that job). The problem is that many of these men THINK that they do have that privy knowledge.

  53. Yes, that clears things up, Jack! God bless you!

  54. Marcella,

    Sorry I attributed your statement to someone else.

    You are right — The Bible is right.. Every believer in Christ is chastened (Greek: “paideuo” = disciplined, educated, taught, etc) for our good.

    My point is that we should not judge a person’s faith upon whether we perceive him as “being chastened.”

    Thanks for calling my attention to that. I hope it is clear now.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  55. I believe that was my statement: “Those who are without chastisement are not sons.” Forgive me if I erred or sounded judgmental or like a lordship salvationist. I based my comment on this verse from Hebrews 12: “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” I took that to mean that those, who are not chastened are not sons of God. Am I wrong?

  56. Andy,

    Bruce’s great comment needs no amplification but I would make a note about “repent” plus your statement about “Savior AND Lord.”

    On Marcella’s nice and informative comment… we must remember to define the words “repent” and “repentance” because they are so often misinterpreted. The words are correctly defined in the Greek (and Hebrew where she quoted from Isaiah) as a change of mind, think differently, specifically in the NT about Jesus Christ and who He is – the Savior. In the NT the word is never defined as “turn from sin”
    See our article here:
    https://www.expreacherman.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/false-repentance-perseverance-and-lordship-salvation/

    Now, your statement, I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior AND Lord. That is a great statement when properly understood. Jesus Christ IS The Lord God Almighty regardless of what we believe. When we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, we likewise believe that He is the Lord God in the Flesh.
    If a person does not believe that Jesus Christ IS the Lord God then Christ is not his “Savior” — because Christ would then simply be another man to that person and a man cannot save.

    As believers, we should be obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ — but our salvation is NEVER in jeopardy if/when we are disobedient or sin. As we see in 1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

    We are told in Hebrews not to harden ourselves to the Lord but throughout Scripture we are begged, exhorted and beseeched to obey, to put on righteousness, put off unrighteousness, etc and be obedient as sons. If obedience were automatic for believers then a great portion of the exhortations and pleadings in the Bible would be unnecessary.

    Thankfully ever Believer in Jesus Christ is sealed in Him for all eternity by God’s Holy Spirit — never to depart from the Lord. Behavior is never a condition to have or keep one’s salvation.

    You said, “Those who are without chastisement are not sons.” That is true but such judgment is not up to me, you, Francis Chan or John MacArthur, et al to determine another person’s son-ship. The word “Chasten” is ” to discipline or correct” and may not always be visible to pastors, other believers or the world. So let us NOT say to a person, “You are not being chastened so you are therefore not saved (a son of God).”

    Thanks for the interesting conversation.
    Please forgive any typos — as this is long and it is late for this old guy.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  57. Bruce, this is so true: “A Christian can never be at peace with sin . . . we cannot live comfortably with sin.” The Lord chastens those He loves. Deuteronomy 8:5 directed to the Israelites says, “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.” The Old Testament is full of accounts of the blessings that will occur as the result of obeying God, keeping His commands and obeying His voice. Those who are disobedient will be destroyed.

    Hebrews 12:3-11 says, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Chastisement or correction is not always pleasant, but it is necessary. I find that, after God has chastised me, I come away from that experience humbled and desiring to be more obedient. God will not allow us to be comfortable in our sins. We will be convicted, chastised and brought to repentance. Those who are without chastisement are not sons of God.

  58. Andy, I know your question, “Do you think it is possible for someone to believe and accept Jesus as their savior and not repent?” is directed to Jack. I will let him respond to that question, but I have some comments. I do not believe that it’s possible to accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior without repenting. Repentance is so important, and without it, we give ourselves permission to keep on sinning. I had some sins and addictions that I struggled with before and after I got saved. I didn’t know there was a Holy Spirit when I got saved, and it wasn’t until seven years later at a church I was attending that the Pastor talked about the Holy Spirit. I wondered what or who he was, so I did some reading of my Bible. It was then that I understood how we are convicted of sins by the Holy Spirit. My addictions started to become repulsive to me as I felt strong conviction by the Holy Spirit to not sin in those ways anymore. I kept falling into sin, repented and repeated this many times till finally the addictions were not attractive to me. When a person becomes saved, their sins are forgiven, but yet we are sinners, we struggle, and fall short daily. That’s why we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, Who forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

    Here are some scriptures on repentance:
    “This is what the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

    “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Matthew 3:5-10 Notice that the people confessed their sins when they were baptized. But when the Pharisees and Sadducees came, they were asked, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from wrath to come?” If we do not repent, we will face the wrath of God.

    John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:4

    Acts 26:20 says,“I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

    Read Acts 2. Peter is preaching and says, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified , both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ? Then Peter said unto them, Repent , and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:36-40

    There are many more verses on repentance, but this should show you how important repentance is.

  59. I appreciate your time and your response, and I will go back through and read the comments as you’ve suggested. As far as I know, I am not reformed or a Calvinist and “feel myself” to be nothing apart from the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. I was raised in a Nazarene church, but for most of my military career and changing churches about every 3 years, my family and I have attended Baptist churches, BUT more importantly I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior AND Lord. If I could just ask another question, after you were saved, did you still want to sin? Or did the Holy Spirit begin to move you to a more righteous way of living? More generally, do you think it is possible for someone to believe and accept Jesus as their savior and not repent? You state: “We are saved by Grace and kept by God’s Grace.” I agree 100%, and because I recognize my complete un-deservedness of that Grace, I BOTH physically and spiritually want to please my King and feel that I have a responsibility to do so. Not because I think my salvation depends on it, but because He is worthy of it. He is worthy of my first and my best. Thanks again for taking time out of your Saturday for me Pastor.

    Andy

  60. Jack, thank you for that information about the ESV Bible. I attend a church, where they use various versions of the Bible, including ESV and NIV. I know many versions are corrupt as they are rewritten by men, and some texts depart from the original meaning of scriptures. So, it’s not just the lordship salvationists and other false teachers, who are twisting the Word of God. Some writers of it are also twisting the truth.

  61. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for joining us.

    Jack’s answer was so thorough and well written; I will just add a few thoughts.

    1 John was clearly written to BELIEVERS! John makes that fact quite clear throughout the book. If you keep that in mind you will understand that his admonitions that you cite above are to Christians, to live lives befitting the great heritage that they already possessed in Christ Jesus and, as Jack said, it is an heritage that can NEVER BE LOST (John 10:27-29). Regarding your citation of verse 9, I am certain that you and I and most of the readers here would agree that Christians CAN AND DO SIN. There are several biblical examples of true believers whose lives were mostly characterized by waywardness. Lot, Samson and the Corinthian church come to mind quickly. Lot, although a backslider most of his adult life, nevertheless is referred to as a “righteous man” by Peter in 2 Peter 8. He lived continually in sin and surrounded himself with the worst of sinners, but, as Peter said, because he was a true believer in God he was “vexed” [troubled, tormented] over his ongoing sin. Lordship salvation teachers like Chan, Piper and MacArthur would most certainly have wrongly declared such a man an unbeliever and they would have undoubtedly consigned such a one to hell [I’m so glad that THEY are not the real judges]. The Corinthian church was made up mostly of backsliders to be sure, but Paul referred to them as “brothers.” And Samson, although backslidden in his walk with God for most of his adult life, is nonetheless listed in the Hebrews 11 “hall of faith.”

    I’ll finish with a select quotation which I gleaned from a commentary on 1 John: “A Christian can never be at peace with sin . . . we cannot live comfortably with sin.”

    Saved by grace and kept by grace!

  62. Andy,

    Thanks for your gentle attitude.. and I pray you are sincere about your questions. I will mention a few points which I glean from your note:

    If you have read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, you will find this on pp. 83-84. Chan says, “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are “lukewarm” are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.”
    Chan is a Calvinist, Lordship “salvation”teacher who tends to set up what he, not the Bible, thinks a Christian should be and if not according to his rules, they are not Heaven bound. FALSE TEACHING!!

    You may use the search box on this Blog and search for “Francis Chan” , “MacArthur” or “lordship salvation.” Bruce and I have written much about these folks and subjects and such a search will answer your questions about our position on those topics.

    Since you are using the ESV, I will assume you are either Calvinist or Reformed and feel yourself “chosen to salvation” or — one who has adopted Lordship “salvation” or both.
    The ESV is a poor paraphrase of the KJV and the ESV is by far the choice of Lordship “salvationists,” Calvinists, Covenant and Reformed teachers. Therefore I cannot discuss with you the misshapen teaching in the ESV context.

    However, just briefly, your quote from the book of 1 John is written by the Apostle John to his “brethren” (Heaven bound believers in Jesus Christ). (1 John 2:7 and 3:13) Thus if we believe that faith in Jesus saves eternally>/b> (I do and the Bible says we are) then those verses certainly can not possibly mean a person could ever lose their salvation or that they were never saved, does it? Study carefully and you will see that 1 John is written about fellowship — among the Brethren and the Lord.

    Those verses amplify the Apostle Paul’s treatise on the two natures of every believer and the constant conflict each of us have between our old and new natures. (Romans 7:14-22)
    John’s letter is a plea for his brethren to live lives fit for being called “brethren” in Christ. All believers and pastors should plea for that — but never threaten them (as do Chan and MacArthur) with the equivalent of: If you do not live according to “my” rules, then you are just lukewarm and not saved (going to Heaven).
    GRACE, Andy, Grace!!!! We are saved by Grace and kept by God’s Grace.

    So please study carefully the comments above especially from JanH, Faith, Marcella, David Wyatt and Bruce (CalifGracer). Using their references and our search box should help you study and begin to unfold the error of both Calvinism and Lordship “salvation,” therefore begin to see in yourself a real life of God’s Grace.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  63. Pastor Jack,

    I apologize for not being clear. I have to admit that I have only been reading your blog for a short time. But I’ll start with what seems to be your mainstay: “Lordship salvation” is a false doctrine. If I understand your argument, you say that LS is a works-centered theology of justification and that it disregards the truth of by grace, through faith, and that alone brings salvation. I guess what I was trying to get at is how can you argue that a desire to do good works is a consequence of salvation (not a requirement for salvation)? I have not read everything by Piper or Chan (two that I have seen in your writing), but what I have read of them did not sound like they believe works is necessary for salvation. Simply put, what I read them to say is, how can we not act out our faith (living righteously by the Holy Spirit) when we truly understand the love and sacrifice that is given to us and for us? Not to be saved, but because we are saved. For instance, 1 John 3:6-10 (ESV) says “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Am I reading this wrong, or does it not say that those who abide in him will not unrepentantly keep on sinning? I mean no disrespect with my questions. Thanks.

  64. Andy,

    Thanks for your personal beliefs and observations.

    We do not discount Jesus’ words but we read and study them in context and dispensationally..

    Please give us the referenced verse’s location, the context and the Bible version you quote.

    And please tell us what is your point? Are you saying if we don’t keep His word, we are not saved — or not a disciple (there is a difference)?

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  65. Can I ask a question in love? What do you do with Jesus telling us, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word (that does not say “should”), and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”? Combine that with the many verses telling us to test our faith by how we are living out our faith and what do you do? If the someone’s salvation is real, there has to be follow-on manifestations of that faith and love. Not because it is a rule for salvation (because that is completly free, no ifs and or buts), but because true salvation is too good not to want to show God you love Him. There is a very-real and true desire to please our Lord that comes from understanding the depths of what Jesus saved us from. That’s what Jesus was saying above. Otherwise, how can you possibly call it faith? How do you discount Jesus’s own words?

  66. FAITH……

    A personal note — I received your email and answered it twice but it was returned with notes that “Windows Live Hotmail” refused delivery of my email. Do you have another email address you can send via my website email form? I’ll try again. Also will check with my Provider and find out why if it is on his end. Thanks…

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  67. Dear friends,

    I just posted a new article about Campus Crusade for Christ which was spurred on by Marcella’s note above.

    Please visit and Comment:
    http://www.expreacherman.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/campus-crusade-gone-awry/

    Thank you,
    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  68. Yes, Jack, please do start a new topic on Campus Crusade for Christ. I knew it was off topic from what we have been discussing here, but someone mentioned Campus Crusade, so I had to put in my two cents worth. I have more to write about them, but will wait till you post the topic.

  69. Marcella,

    Thanks for that — with your permission, I would like to put that as a separate post. Campus Crusade has, from its inception, given a false message — but is terribly popular with College kids.. And I had a sort of indirect run-in with Bill Bright.. Interesting.

    If you say OK, I will use your note as a starter article for exploration of that group.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  70. Thanks to those of you, who have shared your testimony. It’s wonderful to hear how God calls sinners to repentance.

    I’m afraid Campus Crusade for Christ has fallen away from the gospel. In early 2012, their new name will be “Cru.” It’s because people are offended by Christ in their name, so Campus Crusade is going for a short name that will appeal to people. Here’s what Campus Crusade says, “There’s only one reason we’d change. We want to do a better job of connecting people to God’s love and forgiveness. It’s all about helping people experience the good news that Jesus offers.” Removing Christ is sad, but it’s even more sad when He’s entirely removed from the gospel. It reminds me of the Emergent churches. If you don’t agree with Campus Crusade’s new name, be prepared to be banned! I used to support them, but stopped doing that a few years ago due to their law filled gospel. There’s much on the internet about Campus Crusade’s association with the charismatic movement and Roman Catholic Church.

    http://www.ccci.org/about-us/donor-relations/our-new-name/press.htm

  71. I’m still laughing and wiping away tears on “coughing up a lung”. What a picture! Jan, remember that ghastly video production one commenter posted with the fiery flames, thunder and lightning, dreery downpours, replete with ominous threats against lukewarm Christians? Yikes!! LS in a nutshell, right?

    Yep. Irresistible grace plus special effects and apoplectic preachers gets ’em saved every time.

    JanH

  72. Thanks all,

    Wonderful comments from each of you. And thanks Pearl for that eloquent and concise explanation of the Gospel. Wonderful!

    Also, Bruce’s vivid and reality based observation is perfect — the blessings of being a believer in Christ: GOOD NEWS, the JOYFUL NEWS, the gospel of GRACE, ASSURANCE of faith, of CONFIDENCE in Christ in HIS FINISHED WORK.

    And to realize God gives it all FREE to me and you — no charge, no indebtedness, no turn or burn, no walk the aisle, no weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.. just an evidence-based intelligent decision on my/your part which is the difference between eternal Heaven or hell.

    Different people have different and valid experiences but without a doubt I personally would never have “believed” if I had been told I must walk the aisle, go up front, turn from sin, change my life, turn or burn, repent of my sins, etc and all the other dire but meaningless cliches of the day.

    The night I trusted Christ as my Savior I went in as an atheist and walked out a believer in Jesus Christ as my Eternal Savior. Lots of Scripture was used proving to me that God IS who He says He is.
    I knew I was terribly imperfect and missed, by far, the perfection, righteousness and Holiness of The God whom I had rejected (I am a sinner). It was explained that I had a sin-debt I could not pay, for which the penalty is eternal separation from God – eternal death in hell. I had a choice – believe that Jesus had done that for me or continue to reject Christ.

    It was simply vital that I believe the Gospel.. which was explained and which I finally understood. And having understood, I believed what I saw in God’s Word and put my trust in Jesus Christ for my eternal salvation — not in my puny and eternally worthless attempts at “good” behavior. Thankfully I was able to make that decision to believe right where I sat — without any histrionics.

    Since that night I have never doubted my eternal salvation. Thankfully as I study God’s Word over many years my assurance and confidence in the power of God’s Word and the saving Grace of Jesus Christ has grown exponentially. Jesus Christ WILL DO what He has promised — which is — keep me sealed in HIM for all eternity, regardless.. Guaranteed Heaven bound.

    I see by our Blog statistics that hundreds are reading this article and the comments since it was published. I pray if you are one of those who has never trusted Jesus Christ to be your Savior, please do so right now, right where you are. You will never regret that decision.

    Thanks to all for The Word and your great words of encouragement.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  73. Hi everybody ~

    I’m still laughing and wiping away tears on “coughing up a lung”. What a picture! Jan, remember that ghastly video production one commenter posted with the fiery flames, thunder and lightning, dreery downpours, replete with ominous threats against lukewarm Christians? Yikes!! LS in a nutshell, right?

    Great thread you have going on here, Jack.

    Richard, you’re a brave man, and obviously, in very good hands.

    I just wanted to address a point Richard made earlier in the conversation which I think a lot of unbelievers share:

    “If God is a loving God, I can’t understand why he would want one of his children to suffer an eternity of torment because that child doesn’t have faith in His existence.”

    It all goes back to Adam (btw, if folks believe in evolution, then I really don’t see how they can believe anything in the scriptures, particularly the first 11 chapters of Genesis, which divinely offers the only sufficient explanation for why things are the way they are and, given the scene which transpired in the garden, it’s the whole reason why Jesus voluntarily came to die in the first place as promised in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”)

    Just as God warned Adam and Eve when, by the free will given to them by their Creator, they chose to believe Satan’s lie that they could be gods themselves, they instead died spiritually in the very moment they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil, forever severed from God the Father, fellowship broken, without hope, abdicating their God-given dominion over all the now sin-cursed earth, giving Satan the sceptor, so to speak. Ever since then, he is the god of this world and creation is under his dominion…for a time.

    As the old testament unfolds, God’s plan begins to be realized in Abraham by the miraculous birth of his promised son Isaac, the first of many types of Christ progressively revealed. Later, Isaac’s son Jacob (now called Israel) has twelve sons whose names are the tribes which are the greater Israel. Judah is the line from which God chose for His Son to come.

    When Jesus finally arrives as the promised root of Jesse, David’s father, who was “no body special”, He also comes on the scene as “no one special” in the eyes of men. And yet John the Baptist recognized Him as the promised “Lamb of God”.

    Jesus doesn’t send people to hell for not believing in Him. As sons of Adam, the entire human race is already condemned because we are born in Adam, dead in sin, with hearts that are desperately wicked, none wanting anything from God, all of us going our own way.

    The Good News is that Jesus Christ, as the promised Redeemer in Human flesh by being born of a virgin, yet wholly God, took the sins of the whole world upon Himself by offering Himself as that innocent and spotless Lamb of God, sacrificed for us, appeasing the wrath of a Holy God Who cannot allow sin to dwell in His presence, thereby reconciling those of us who believe to God the Father by the blood of Jesus Christ, and saving us with His resurrected Life which He gives to us with all spiritual riches via the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit sealing us until the day of complete redemption where we will be like Jesus, all of us adopted sons and daughters of God, having a glorified body to dwell in the presence of God the Father, giving all thanks to Jesus Christ Who freely gave Himself for us.

    That is the gospel (good news) in its entirety. All he asks is that we reach out to receive (believe) this free gift and say “Thank You”. Those who reject Jesus, reject the Father. There is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved.

  74. Got it! Thanks John and Jan.

  75. Allow me also to clarify on the MacArthur quote. I too fully agree that the bad news of our lost condition MUST be shared. Otherwise the gospel does not make sense. The issue I wanted to bring out with the MacArthur quote is that he calls the bad news of our need the gospel. That is not the gospel, as that is not good news. The bad news of our need, though an imperative part of the evangelistic message, is not the gospel part. Christ crucified is the gospel part.

    That is all. 🙂

    JanH

  76. John Gregory

    Bruce! Thanks for the come back. I am sorry if I seemed to over react.
    God bless us all as we endevor to follow our Lord. Please forgive my
    urgency. I did not mean to sound like I was correcting you. I was not.
    I only wanted to bring out a little more of what I deemed
    important. May God richly bless You, your brother
    in Christ, John G.

  77. Hello John G:

    Wow, John, you read a lot more “into” my comments than I ever intended. I was merely commenting on the following quotation of MacArthur by Jan:

    “He says in one video:
    ‘Here’s the essence of the gospel, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or you’re going to go to hell. Repent of your sin or you’re going to perish. That’s the gospel.’
    If that’s the good news of the gospel, I’d hate to think what he sees as bad news!”

    John, of course I believe and regularly teach as part of a complete gospel message that there is indeed a hell to shun; otherwise, Christ would have died in vain! And I have spoken out often against the teachings of Joel Osteen who preaches a “feel-good make-Jesus- a-part-of-your-life” message without ever mentioning the terms “sin,” “hell,” “lost,” “damnation,” “judgment,” or “sinner.”

    One consistent criticism that I have leveled against Calvinism and lordship faith teaching is that it consistently uses manipulative guilt, fear, and condemnation as motivational wedges against Christians in an apparent attempt to stimulate more activity for God. Some LS/Calvinists may have even more nefarious goals in mind. This type of works-based salvation approach puts the focus on man and invariably clouds or leaves out the love, grace and mercy of God.

  78. Thanks Jack for the nice comment on homeschooling- that uplifted me. I felt for years I was doing a poor job, but then again the reason I was not succeeding was because I was not submitting my homeschooling to the work of the Holy Spirit- I was doing IN MY OWN EFFORTS. Now I have relinquished it and my children even see the difference- Praise the Lord! : )

    Hey, by the way, I came to Christ by an altar call at the tender age of 9.
    It was not the altar call though or the pressure of anyone to go- I just knew I was a sinner and the faith of a child who believed who Jesus was. Although, I went through tough growing pains when I got married.
    Funny though it was not until I went to a Reformed Church that I started having doubts about my salvation and many in the church thought that children did not have the reasoning of an adult to understand salvation. So while I was there I began to wonder if I was really saved or not at 9. Thankfully the Lord comforted me in that.

  79. The comments by brother califgracer tell me that we are comming from
    the same place. But I must add that the phrase “turn or burn” is one that
    should not be overlooked. One of the reasons that some persons accuse
    some evangelistic meetings of easy believeism is the failure of the preacher
    to inform the hearers of why they need to repent! A message that fails to show the reality of the person’s lost condition is not the Gospel. Jesus, Paul,
    and the others all used the Law to show everyone their NEED for God’s mercy & gracy. Too fail to inform mankind of his lost condition and the fact
    of the wrath of God that abides over him is failure to give the full Gospel
    message. I have done extensive prison ministry, & I know that the whole
    Gospel, which includes the grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, ressurection, &
    the wrath of God upon Christ rejecting sinners must be given in full.
    We dare not give a lopsided Gospel to the world of LOST SINNERS!
    The overwhelming love of God and His awe inspiring Holiness must be
    given equal weight. God’s wrath abides right now upon all of mankind!
    Too not tell the lost of their dangerous situation & the GOOD NEWS is is to give them a Gospel that will not lead to their conviction, convensing, and
    converting. Too leave out the Gospel truth of hell is to cut short the full
    Gospel message. A watered down gospel will not bring anyone to true
    conviction and conversion.
    In the 1980’s Campus Crusade For Christ came out with
    “the wonderful plan”. On his dying bed Bro. Wright admitted that he should have put more emphase on the Law & the wrath of God against
    the lost sinner. WE cannot ignore the cause of the cross! Mans SIN!
    God bless, John G.

  80. Jan, I do not know what happened regarding the altar call my friend went forward for. When I realized she was not really saved, it grieved me deeply. I lost touch with my friend for several years, then saw her profile on Facebook covered with all kinds of Satanic symbols and links to occult websites. Makes me shutter!

    Bruce, sounds like you and Jan’s churches use a good approach to sharing the gospel.

    LOL, Bruce. Use the whopper any way you like it. OK, I’m going to get sued now by Burger King for using their jingles.

  81. Hi Jan:

    Fascinating quotations from J. MacArthur and your follow-up comments were very incisive! Once I heard a Christian missionary who witnessed to Mormons say, “When you try to add ‘good’ works to the good news of the gospel you have just turned the good news into BAD NEWS!” Reading your quotations makes me think that MacArthur’s “gospel” is doubly wrong. It’s a “gospel” that wrongly adds perseverance or works to salvation and, as you cite MacArthur as teaching, it also is a negative, bombastic, turn-or-burn “gospel.” Whatever happened to the GOOD NEWS Gospel, the JOYFUL NEWS Gospel, the gospel of GRACE, the gospel that is completely a GIFT of God, NOT of works of Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-8? These verses speak of the wonderful GRACE of God, of the beautiful JOY of the Lord, of complete ASSURANCE of faith, of CONFIDENCE in Christ in HIS FINISHED WORK.

    Bruce

  82. Marcella:

    Your use of the Burger King Wopper analogy was priceless!!! I might use it some time.

  83. Jan, Marcella and Jack:

    I think that you all are on target on the problems with altar calls. My local church uses Jan’s approach. An evangelistic appeal is often given in the message and three or four pastors are always available to talk to anyone who wants to come up front after the service is dismissed. This really takes the pressure off of one coming to talk afterward because the congregation is leaving and no one is staring at them. A lot of folks just come forward to request prayer. It’s been an effective, non-threatening approach.

  84. Oh sure. I am certainly not saying no counsel should be given. I am all for post invitation counseling. I wonder if it would be less conspicuous to ask them to come up after the service, or something, while everyone is milling around anyway, so they don’t stick out like sore thumbs (or are less likely to feel like that way).

    I guess it all just depends because no matter what, you are going to rub someone the wrong way. That is almost guaranteed! I suppose that’s why there are so many different ways of doing it.

    JanH

  85. John Gregory

    These are hard questions. That is why, whenever the Gospel is proclaimed, those hearing should be counseled futher by those who are schooled in this area. If there is only one person proclaiming the Gospel message, and there is a large group of hearers, more than one person is able to cover, then there needs to be other trained personnel to take up that challenge.
    The lone evangelist needs to be thorough in his proclamation. This is the responsibility of the speaker; to make sure the way of salvation is clear and that no area is left open to question. That no one is not given an opportunity to become a child of God.

  86. Jan,

    I think the altar call is, for the most part, an ego thing for the Pastor.. However I guess that if there are some soulwinners who meet the person at “The Altar” and can kindly lead them to Christ (without coercion) — that may be OK… Naaaa I prefer.. just as you are, just where you are!!!

    I trusted Christ at a Christmas Concert.. The Gospel was explained right in the middle and an invitation given.. “right where you are..” And bowed heads and a raise of hands for prayer — and wow, did I need prayer!!! But it was plain that raising my hand did not save me because I had just trusted in Jesus as my Savior. And I walked out of that concert, un-bothered by pastors or deacons or little old ladies, simply transformed from atheist to a Child of God. Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me.

    In Jesus eternally, Jack

  87. You know, I never really thought about it before but I wonder why we do the altar call thing? I wonder if there are shy people who think they can’t get saved because they are too afraid to go up front? That can be very intimidating, I would think. Hmm. The more I think about it the less I like it. It seems to place a stumbling block in front of people. They don’t need to go up front to believe. They can do that right where they are.

    Then there are the “with heads bowed and eyes closed, is there anyone here who just prayed that prayer with me who would like to raise their hand to indicate they have trusted Jesus?” I wonder if that’s fair either. I can certainly see saying, if you prayed that prayer (or trusted Jesus, or whatever way it is phrased) then I’d like to know about it, or you should tell someone about it, or something like that. I think that would treat them more like a grown up who can take responsibility for themselves.

    JanH

  88. unless you begin propagating the tales of JMac…

    Bleh. 😛

    JanH

  89. However, I really believe my friend was approaching Satan’s throne. After she said she got saved, I tried to talk to her about God, but she didn’t respond to me. She’s a Satanist now. How’s that for an altar call gone bad?

    Wow. What happened?

    JanH

  90. Jan,

    I am just a kind of “harmless as a dove” sorta guy and thought myself quite kind and accurate with my critique of JMac. 😎
    They fool so many innocents that I have little patience with the propagators of their lie.

    No “ouch” necessary. Hmmmm — unless you begin propagating the tales of JMac… but I know you’ll never do that.
    😎 😎

    And to all, I am convinced it is imperative that, when we share Christ in person or as I did in my sermons to a group, when it seems they understand the presented Gospel, we ask the hearer(s), (right where he sits or stands) to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Example: Paul and Silas to the Philippian Jailor.. “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” Acts 16:31-32

    They asked the Jailor to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.. right where he was — kindly and gently and he did so (no barfed up lung, no altar calls, no weeping and wailing necessary…)

    Just so, we should give anyone with whom we share Christ the opportunity to make a decision to Believe or Trust in Him. But we also make sure we share with him the Gospel clearly; the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh — who died in our place, took the death penalty for our sins. Believing just by faith alone in Christ alone – nothing more and nothing less.

    I never like to take for granted a person has understood the Gospel or knows Jesus Christ as his/her Savior. If they haven’t told me, I like to ask.

    But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.”
    1 Thessalonians 2:4

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  91. John Gregory

    GRAND MIDGETS! That is a likeable phrase! I will use that one. I find the fact that some individuals are so smart & highly educated they seem to have blind spots or are not able to discern what is right in front of them.
    I am not any more intellegent than any one else. I just had the God given blessing of teachers that led me to see that the plain sense of what the Scriptures say should not be twisted into what I or anyone else want them to say. This is correct Biblical interpretation. This is the Biblicistic method of understanding the Word of God. I have read enough of Calvin to see for myself that what he taught, & what his followers taught & teach isn’t
    true with Scriptures! Never have I seen so much double talk as when a Calvinist tries to show me from God’s Word that I must be born again before I am able to believe or to choose to believe in Christ Jesus as my Lord.
    For each point of their tulip, the Calvinists have to twist Scripture in order for their ideas to be true. NO WAY! I ain’t buying it!
    What the Grand midgets or the mental giants say means little to me.
    What does the Word proclaim? How is it said, to whom is it said, & WHAT is said concerns me.
    God bless,
    John G.

  92. When I saw “JMac,” I thought of Burger King’s Big Mac, or how about “home of the whopper”? These false teachers are not only barfing up lungs, but they are also spewing out alot of whoppers! Hopefully no one is eating while reading this. Sorry! (cheesy grin)

    I am not a fan of altar calls. I’ve witnessed too much bad stuff happen as people go forward emotionally or fearfully as a result of a false gospel that had been preached. A friend of mine went to an altar call given by a well known world evangelist and said she was so embarrassed and crying. We should not be ashamed or embarrassed when it comes to approaching God’s throne of grace. However, I really believe my friend was approaching Satan’s throne. After she said she got saved, I tried to talk to her about God, but she didn’t respond to me. She’s a Satanist now. How’s that for an altar call gone bad?

    The false teachers think they have the power and authority when it comes to saving people, then give themselves credit when a certain number of people “come to Christ,” as a result of their altar call.

    Years ago, I was at a “Christian” concert. The lead singer was at a place, where we thought he was going to share the gospel, but he didn’t. The concert ended. People around me shook their head, muttered and walked away with their heads down wondering why there was no gospel.

  93. Grand Midgets such as JMac

    Ouch.

    Remind me not to get on your bad side, Jack! 🙂

    JanH

  94. A ministry leader, who promotes Lordship salvation told me, “We beg people to come to our altar calls.”

    Interestingly, this is what Rick Holland, a pastor at John MacArthur’s church did in a talk I heard him give. He earnestly entreated the people to come to Jesus. That talk is one of the ones I was thinking of in my earlier post on their barfing up a lung (though there are many other examples that are much more extreme). I could not for the life of me figure out why he felt such earnest entreaty needed to be made to those whom God was either irresistibly drawing so they were going to come anyway or else was not going to draw no matter what Holland did or said. (We need a head scratching smiley.)

    JanH

  95. John Gregory

    WE are called to speak the truth, the Holy Spirit will do the convicting, convincing, and the calling. We must know the truth & proclaim that truth. I humbly think that the only way for me is to immerse my self in God’s Word, believe God’s Word, & obey God’s Word and the promptings of The Holy Spirit. This way i will know God’s Word & i, with the Holy Spirit’s leading, will be able to know the truth. Only by knowing what is absolute are we able to discern falsehood. God’s Word in my mind & God’s Spirit in my heart give me the truth and the ability to stand & proclaim the Truth of God & not some man made idea of God. Calvinism is not Biblical. Study the Word & you will understand why.
    God bless, John Gregory

  96. I’m learning alot about Calvinism here and realize I had adhered to some of its false doctrine in the past through a cult I was in. Boy, when I see just how deceived I had been, I give God praise for opening my eyes to the truth!

    I have several co-workers, who say they are Christians, but they are in cults that promote works. I have tried to talk to one of them about the deception, but he got defensive and sharply said to me, “Be careful!” He believes that we have to become like Jesus and do the work/ministry He did during His time on earth. No one can be like Jesus, and nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to do the ministry He did. Yet, so many people are fooled by wolves, who add works to salvation.

    Thanks for your insight, Jan, about MacArthur. There are alot of preachers that promote him and use his “statement of faith.” Scaring someone in order to try to get them to become saved is wrong! A ministry leader, who promotes Lordship salvation told me, “We beg people to come to our altar calls.” Wow! That’s wrong, too! Begging people, scaring people into salvation?!

    I agree with you, Bruce. Praise God for assurance in John 10:27-30

  97. Jan,

    That is a wonderful analysis — and I agree with your ||sigh||. Too bad that Grand Midgets such as JMac (and others) see fit to frighten his “congregation” but as you say — that is a mark of Calvinists and Lordship “salvationists.”

    Sure appreciate your comments.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  98. One thing I did notice- I did not hear about the teachings of fruit of the Spirit.

    I noticed that too. They say very little, if anything, about the Holy Spirit doing any work in us at all. They seem to be very promise-averse. They are big on commands and threats, though.

    In fact, I always find it a source of amazement how adept John MacArthur is at taking a Scripture designed to comfort the believer and turning it into a threat. He does this with the gospel too. He says in one video:

    “Here’s the essence of the gospel, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or you’re going to go to hell. Repent of your sin or you’re going to perish. That’s the gospel.”

    If that’s the good news of the gospel, I’d hate to think what he sees as bad news!

    While he is not wrong about the consequences of not believing, he is incorrect to say this is the essence of the gospel. It is the essence of the bad news of our being under God’s wrath apart from His Son.

    The essence of the gospel is Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us; and God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life; and Jesus is the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that He gave is His flesh, which He gave for the life of the world.

    And in another talk MacArthur took the verse in Luke 12 where Christ is comforting His disciples telling them that the very hairs on their heads are numbered, and turned that into a threat against those who do not know Him, saying basically that God knows everything down to the last hair on our heads so we should be afraid. Never mind that the very next words out of Christ’s mouth are “Do not fear, therefore.”

    Again, he is not quite wrong in principle. But there are other passages that talk about that sort of thing. What God intended for a promise he shouldn’t turn into a threat.

    Sigh.

    JanH

  99. Faith,

    Welcome back.. your children are blessed to have you homeschooling them.

    You are right about the Fruit of the Spirit and I know too many times folks misunderstand exactly what that is (a study in itself). However, a very simple explanation.. right from the Bible:
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

    That is a benefit every believer in Christ has available and may enjoy as we are obedient to the Lord. Wonder why Calvinists in your case did not preach that?

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  100. Christ wants us to submit to His work in us so man cannot take credit or boast about what he (or she) has done. The freedom comes to us as Christians when we realize that He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He has promised to finish the work He started- the only requirement for a Christian is to have faith and trust in that promise. When one trusts in his own effort, he has veered way off course and starts to trust in works, other false doctrines, etc.

  101. Have not written in awhile- been homeschooling my kids.
    But I have been reading these posts and am sooo…
    joyful that I moved away from Calvinism. Calvinism or any other “ism” takes the place of really searching the Word of God and gleaning from the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
    One thing I did notice- I did not hear about the teachings of fruit of the Spirit. This bothered me greatly; I see though where this can be a thorn in the side of any “ism” because the only way one is able to get these fruits is from the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. So ANY works that are done can
    only be ACCEPTABLE to God IF they are accomplished through the fruits of the Spirit. One CANNOT get these fruits, unless one SUBMITS to the WORK of the Holy Spirit.

  102. Bro. David,

    Good to hear from you again..

    It is tragic enough that folks will refuse to trust Christ — but even worse when people believe a lie and think they are “saved” by trusting a cult (insert cult name here).

    I pray you and your beautiful wife are well.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  103. Thanks David for the encouraging word. I, too, have noticed the glaring similarity between Calvinism and the cults. Thank God for his loving word of assurance:

    John 10: 27-30

  104. Something has recently gripped me once again bro. Jack, & all. I recently spoke with some one coming out of a cult, & this person had no assurance of her salvation not surprisingly. But, on her own confession, while in this very popular cult, she said that she had been taught from the beginning that one could never be sure of Heaven until they had persevered to the end, & this was not a Calvinist! All false teaching centers around this: They do NOT have a Jesuss who can fully save them on His own, they must add something, their own “sticktoitiveness” or more theologically correct, perseverance until the end. Praise GOD, & I praise Him for this more & more each passing year, for the eternal security in Christ of the believer!

  105. Richard, just a note..

    You have a misconception of God and man — and (no offense) it appears you have adopted the liberal maxim, “The universal fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man.” That is the dictum typical of liberal Universalists, attempting to move mankind to the ecumenism of a One World Church and the One World Government they espouse.
    Richard, I know you don’t believe that! Such is totally false and contrary to Biblical Christianity. However, we see this false preaching happening more and more in these last days, fooling those who will swallow it.

    God is not the Father of all but the Creator of all men. He is Father only to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

    One good example (in context) is where the Apostle Paul, writing to the church he started in Galatia:
    For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26

    There is no Scripture which declares God to be the Father of all mankind. However, Liberal Bible teachers, Time magazine, Newsweek, New York Times et al love to severely twist some Scriptures to make the naive think so.

    And your description of the way you would treat your child is a great explanation of the security we have in Jesus Christ and how God treats His children with extreme affection, Love and discipline… even to the point of chastening for disobedience. (as any good father would do).

    You say, my child “would enjoy my total love and acceptance for no other reason than that it was my child. Errors from poor judgment or lack of knowledge would not be a cause for my abandonment of the child.

    Great!!! Richard you have just described God’s eternal security in Jesus Christ for all who are His children by faith!!!

    You said, “I acknowledge the world’s debt to Christ.

    Richard, the world owes no debt to Christ simply because He willingly gave Himself to die on the cross for the world, specifically all who would believe. As Paul wrote to Titus, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit and speaking of Jesus Christ:
    Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar [special] people, zealous of good works.:” Titus 2:14

    And then the verse I learned at age seven and did not understand until age 35:
    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

    Thanks Richard, you know I think your Conservative Blog is very informative and well written. You may post it here for my readers.. Also it is already posted honoring your anonymity in the right column Blogroll on this page — if you would like to point it out to my readers.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  106. John Gregory

    I do firmly believe that those who call themselves Calvinists or Moderate
    Calvinists are just as “saved” as I am. This not the question. I have worked, played, prayed, cried, & lived with & next to individuals that never claimed to
    be Calvinists, but were. Whether the individule is a Calvinist, Arminianist, or what ever does not matter. All of us know that what matters is whether the
    person has a saving knowledge of & saving relationship with JESUS
    Christ. Having said that, let me continue, Most of the Clavinists who did
    not hide the fact, came from a family of Calvinists. Their parents were, so
    they are. I have found many people who call themselves Calvinists do not
    know what a true Calvinist is. I have encountered brothers & sister in Christ right in my home Church that have owned up to the fact that they
    call themselves Calvinists, & when asked why they are of such opinion,
    they inform me because their parents were. God forbid that i should suggest their going against their parents beliefs! I love Calvinists. I love Arminians. Some of their doctrines are not Biblical true, but I consider
    them in the family of God. I try to reason with all of them, because I am,
    as we all are, called to do so!
    I have been to Calvinist’s Conventions, Don’t ask me why!
    And I did encounter a tremendous amount of arrogantcy, feelings of
    superiority ( on the part of the leaders), and intolerance, toward non
    Calvinists. This is sad.
    I do not try to evangalize Calvinists. I just try to show them
    the truth of the Word of God. I do contend for the Faith, which I humbly
    advocate as Biblicistic as opposed to Calvinism, Arminianism,and/or
    any kind of Moderate state of Calvinism/Arniniamism.
    I think the reasons for people to stay in Calvinism lies in their
    pride, the reluctance to admit they were or are incorrect, and family loyalty.
    To admit that I have been wrong, when I was younger, was something that
    I would never do. But now, I am 65 + & I realize that I have been wrong
    many times in the past. Again, but now I HAVE PROVEN to myself that
    Calvinism is incorrect, Arminianism is incorrect, & that Biblicism is correct.
    Each individual has to work out his or her own Theological
    Philosophy. This personal Christian, Theological Philosophy has to be
    what and consist of our own thinking concerning God, Jesus, ourselves,
    & eternity. Mine is neither Arminianistic nor Calviniistic but Bibliscistic.
    God bless YOU ALL john Gregory

  107. Jack, I don’t want to get into any discussion but I’ll answer your question by saying that it all makes no sense to me. If God is a loving God, I can’t understand why he would want one of his children to suffer an eternity of torment because that child doesn’t have faith in His existence.

    Had I been blessed with being a father myself, I cannot imagine doing anything but being personally present to the child and caring for and instructing that child short of the child’s choosing complete depravity. (Cue story of prodigal son.)

    There would be no issue of the child having to have faith in me as, one, I’d be present and visible to it and, two, it would enjoy my total love and acceptance for no other reason than that it was my child. Errors from poor judgment or lack of knowledge would not be a cause for my abandonment of the child.

    I have no doubt that Christ was an extraordinary man and our Western civilization is in deep trouble for our abandonment of the Christian religion. I’m not able to embrace it but I am a friend to any Christian anywhere in the world. I acknowledge the world’s debt to Christ.

    I’ll read with interest what anyone has to say but I hope he or she won’t be offended if I don’t engage in discussion. I’m interested in religion but I’m not a seeker at this point.

    All my energies go to trying to wake Westerners up to the mortal threats of Islam and statism and make them value their heritage of limited government, the rule of law, and Christian ethics. The secular world is disgraceful in many of its parts. If the Christian God and Western civilization are so awful, tell me about what led to the slaughter of over 100 million people in the last century. I’m all ears on that. Those secular gods.

  108. That’s very illuminating, JanH. I like the insight you provide from the time that Calvinism appears in history. I’m not an accomplished student of theology but I think I’ve read of the works component of Catholic theology. The Calvinist solution only partially solves the problem for the former Catholic since it relieves some of the pressure to do (or believe?) anything but really puts some in an awful place — helpless to affect their destiny by works. If the possibility of being of the Elect is attractive enough to sign up for the reason you state, that would possibly put the new Calvinist in the position of acting “just to make sure.”

    Virtuous and productive living might be something that would relieve the terror at being wrong about being chose. The idea that one could “do right” might be enough to attract people in the first place and get them past the objection that Election is only partial. If one says, “I now, I know, it’s partial” but in his heart of hearts thinks he can game the “system” and gain favor, then Calvinism doesn’t have to be a reason to despair.

    I like keeping the historical context in mind. People got burned at the stake and suffered other sever punishments at times. One has to understand the times and I’m chastened by how bewildering the theological, economic, and political crosscurrents can be. Catholic priests were executed by Elizabeth I, for example, but she had a legitimate fear that Catholic powers in Europe might combine against her and the Spanish Armada was a close thing for England at the time — and all to real.

  109. Richard,

    I appreciate your letting me pose your questions to my readers.

    Most of them are folks who have studied God’s Word thoroughly and concluded that it is true, therefore they have made that decision to trust solely and completely that Jesus Christ is indeed — not just a savior, not just the Savior but He is their Savior.

    I am still amazed that a man of your intellect and wisdom has never yet trusted Christ as YOUR Savior.

    I am sure my friends here would be interested in the “why” of your indecision about Christ (which as I said above is a decision). I know you are not quite a crotchety old man like me — but you are no spring chicken either and you really need to secure your eternity in Christ now.

    Tell us “why” and see if my friends can offer any convincing suggestions. As I have told you and you know, Shirley and I pray for you daily. You are a dear friend.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  110. Jan,

    Thanks for that vivid description of some preachers of Calvinism. (barf up a lung!!) 😎

    And everything you said is true and can be verified by some of our former-Calvinist readers. My personal and family experience says, “Yep!” Or if I wanted to wax theological, I could say, “Amen!!”

    The only answer is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  111. Hi Richard-

    The answer to why Calvinism is appealing I think depends largely on where the one who finds it appealing is coming from. If you don’t think too hard about it, it can be appealing superficially. There are those, and this was certainly true in the time of the Reformation, who come to Christ out of systems that require a great deal of effort to please/appease God all to no avail. The Catholic system of that day in particular was brutal that way. There are former Catholics who become staunch Reformed Calvinists because of the utter rejection in Calvinism of anything and everything that has even the slightest seeming similarity to Catholicism. Where in Catholicism it is largely incumbent on the man to work for salvation and there is no real way to ever know if you have worked enough, in Calvinism it is all taken care of. Even the faith necessary to believe is done by God. There is no chance of the elect ever being allowed to not be saved. If God chose you, you are going to be saved. End of discussion. So, on its surface it seems to supply the security and effectiveness that is utterly absent in other works based faith systems, like Catholicism.

    While this is all great and wonderful for those on the inside, it is utter despair for those on the outside because they have no way of ever getting on the inside. If God didn’t elect you from eternity past, you can’t get yourself elected. The Westminster Confession of Faith says the number of the elect is fixed and unalterable. Therefore, there is no hope and no salvation for those God did not elect. They have no salvation and no Savior because Jesus did not die for them. No matter what, they are doomed. There is no hope for them. End of discussion.

    Then somewhere along the line someone (I think it was Calvin) introduced the blasphemous idea of temporary faith, also given supposedly by the Holy Spirit (which is what makes it blasphemous because He is basically lying to you and lying about Christ, saying He died for you when He did not) to those for whom Christ supposedly did not really die. God will actually give these people a false faith that makes them think Christ did die for them, only to take that faith away later which is proven when they fail to persevere. Therefore, just because you think you have real faith today, you better not get too comfortable with that because just as the Lord gave, He can take away again and if you are not one of the elect, He will take it away.

    So why Calvinism is appealing is it is comforting when looked at superficially, and especially so to those who have labored to be approved and found they were not.

    What I have not been able to figure out is why the Calvinist preachers get themselves so exercised over the salvation of men, as though God were not going to do that unless they virtually barfed up a lung in their preaching. They know perfectly well the number of the elect is fixed and unalterable and that God’s grace is irresistible and the elect WILL be saved so I have no idea at all why they think He needs them to be jumping up and down, pleading and begging people to get saved. They can’t cause the non elect to come to salvation with their histrionics and the elect don’t need it because God is going to save them anyway, no matter what they do.

    I think God’s way is much better. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Never mind all the Calvinism stuff.

    JanH

  112. Btw, thanks to Mr. Gregory, Marcella, Bruce, Mr. Martuneac, and Jack for taking the time to respond.

    Marcella, your distress at not knowing whether you were saved is exactly what I would expect to happen to someone who is a Calvinist. Your “The world means all people” seems like the controlling concept to me.

    Bruce, thank you for your kind words. Your idea of guilt and fear is interesting. I don’t think either would be effective as something to attract someone but they are time-honored tools of manipulation. “Serve God faithfully or you were probably never saved to begin with” is flat out manipulation and anyone who would lay that on another person, esp. a pastor in a position of trust, is looking to control that person.

    Mr. Martuneac, thanks for the book reference. I’ll check it out on Amazon.

    Thanks to you Jack for putting my questions out there for comment. And for your long-suffering patience in trying to get your obtuse friends to see the light.

  113. I didn’t qualify my support for Puritans adequately, Jack. I wasn’t meaning to affirm their theology, which I do find puzzling from a theological as well as a recruitment/conversion standpoint.

    Rather, I understand that they were exacting in their approach to Scripture and they opposed practice and doctrine in the Anglican Church that had no scriptural basis. If I recall correctly, the issue of vestments vexed them greatly as something not required of priests by Scripture. Rather it was something that reflected customs developed in the Church of Rome over the centuries and thus were a manifestation of human will rather than Divine prescription. Sola scriptura!

    16th- and 17th-century people used the word “Puritan” in different ways, one of which was the one you mentioned, namely, someone who lives a strict moral lifestyle, which, of course, they did. Another meaning was “stickler,” that is, someone who insisted on chapter and verse in matters of theology. One of the things that was admirable about the Puritans is the effort they expended to educate their ministers. These men were very successful in their preaching because of the quality of their learning, and it contrasted at times with the poor learning of the priests of the established church.

    I can respect that and that piqued my curiosity about why, if they were so exacting, did they adopt an interpretation of scripture that seems to fly in the face of what you and others have brought out.

    By the way, when I ask about the appeal of Calvinist doctrine, I recognize that there’s a certain danger in placing too much emphasis on whether a doctrine is “attractive” to the potential adherent. Rick Warren, if I get it right, appears to be selling doctrine that seems to have been devised or blessed by a market research firm. Go too far in asking what potential church members might want leads to pure salesmanship and flaccid, accommodationist, or made up theology. On the other hand, espousing doctrine that you are saved if you sign on with a particular sect — but only after first walking through a lake of fire — seems like a formula for a small congregation. There has to be some curb appeal in there somewhere.

    Calvinism isn’t like either extreme, of course, but this idea of maybe-salvation-maybe-not hardly seems like it would have that much appeal. Yet it did and does.

  114. Marcella,

    Thanks.. you indeed have had many odd experiences in churches..

    I find it interesting that the Pastor was reluctant to mention Calvinism… because in most cases the Reformed/Calvinist teaching is more or less hidden until one “belongs.”

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  115. Richard,

    You say, “I’d have made a good Puritan. … The appeal of Puritanism is clear.”

    What is the appeal of Puritanism? Please explain your statement.

    I am not the great attorney/raconteur/historian and researcher that you are.. but from what I understand:
    1) Puritans were known as Calvinists who embraced Reformed theology and the Geneva (Calvinist) Bible over the KJV of the Church of England.
    2) Some Puritans wanted a Constitutional monarchy (or Theocracy — depending on the history you read)

    This excerpt is from an unknown researcher at Washington State University, Donna M. Campbell: “All features of [the Puritan doctrine of] salvation are determined by God’s sovereignty, including choosing those who will be saved and those who will receive God’s irresistible grace.” (My emphasis on the Calvinist catch phrase, “sovereignty and irresistible grace.”)
    http://www.public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/purdef.htm

    It is well known that most Puritans believed in and lived a strict, moral lifestyle — for which they were given their name, “Puritan.” This is commendable but in so many cases it was a by law-righteousness rather than a by Grace-righteousness.

    Richard, we who believe in Free Grace faith know that the freedom in Christ is far superior to the yoke of Reformed teaching, whatever the brand. It surprises me that you would prefer the latter to the former. Or maybe I have not sufficiently explained Free Grace.

    As an Constitutional attorney, you probably appreciate the more conservative politics of most Puritans (as do I).. but in matters of faith, we must consider God’s Word above all. We can choose a Free Grace Biblical position and be a Constitutional Conservative, as am I.

    We must also remember that studying and making a decision about our faith is not a spectator sport. We are participants; we make decisions and what we decide has eternal consequences. We either decide not to decide — or we decide to believe (trust) in the only Savior, Jesus Christ. We must investigate Biblical Truth and not “religions.”

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  116. I had mentioned on another topic that Francis Chan is a speaker at this year’s Lifelight Music Festival. I’m concerned about this because Lifelight draws thousands of people from all over the world. They are being led to a false gospel that gives false hope. I contacted Lifelight’s founder a couple of months ago, and he accused me of trying to cause dissension in the body of Christ. He said, “You call yourself ‘born again,’ yet…” Lifelight is labeled as “a movement of God.” Leaders of these movements claim that they have the power and authority to cause God to “move” on their behalf. Some say that they don’t do altar calls unless they feel God is moving. It’s like the Mormons and New Agers, who base their faith on feelings and experiences. I haven’t read Chan’s “Crazy Love,” but I have read what others said about it and the reviews on Amazon.com. People need to read their Bible rather than believe what every preacher, teacher or prophet says.

    I visited a “Christian Reformed” church once, and some people there kept staring at me. The Pastor’s sermon sounded so good and biblical until he mentioned Calvinism. He acted like he didn’t want to bring it up when he said, “I don’t know…” which gave me the impression that he wasn’t sure of Calvinism’s legitimacy. I met a retired Pastor from that church several years ago, and he asked me if I went to church. I told him where I attended church. It wasn’t a Reformed Church, and the Pastor said, “Oh, well. That’s OK. As long as you go to church somewhere.”

  117. Welcome Richard:

    Responding to:

    “My question isn’t hostile to Calvinism in any way, of course. I’m just puzzled. What would have drawn people to Calvinism when it seems to have such a limited view of who can be saved.”

    That is a great question which I, too, have pondered about. I recently attended a Grace Conference in which one of the speakers gave a pretty good answer to your question. He said that Reformed Calvinist churches are on a serious decline in numbers in recent decades. As you so aptly state, their limited exclusivist view of salvation is hardly a draw for evangelizing unbelievers. I have often pointed out in discussions that it seems illogical for them to even bother with evangelism since that say that God’s got it all slated out already as to who goes to heaven and hell. So I often ask them, “Why bother with missions?” To date, I have never received a logical sensible answer to this question.

    Back to your question, the speaker at the conference said that the Calvinist “mission field” is other existing Christian churches which have a grace message. So the Calvinist movement must largely evangelize people who are already Christians! This is probably no ethical issue for many of them since they believe that they possess the real exclusive Christian truth.

    So what would be the motivation for a Christian to “convert” to Calvinism? I think that the answer is GUILT AND FEAR. A common thread that you will find in Reformed Calvinist/lordship faith preaching and writing (MacArthur, Chan, Piper, Sproul, et al) is the utilization of guilt and fear as motivational tools or tactics. “Guilt them into serving the Lord” or “serve God faithfully or you were probably never saved to begin with” are their unspoken battle cries. Chan displays the most egregious variety of guilt/fear motivation in his book “Crazy Love.” In the book he concocts an arbitrary detailed list of what he calls “the lukewarm” (basically any churchgoer who doesn’t fall into the superchristian camp). He then proceeds to send them all to hell. Many naiive Christians buy into this guilt-based motivational approach. Sadly, some have lost assurance of salvation from reading this unbiblical book.

  118. Bruce, you asked, “Isn’t it far better to trust in the FINISHED work of Christ at Calvary, rather than trying to rely on adding my own feeble efforts to what he has already accomplished on my behalf?” My answer is “YES!” I cannot help but feel sorry for these works based folks who think they have to earn point and gain favor with God in order to be saved. I went through a period of time where I questioned whether or not I was really saved. It was torture, and I was so afraid and filled with anxiety. I thought God was angry with me, and I didn’t know how to fix that so that I got back on God’s side. I’m at peace now. Praise the LORD! I’m telling you, though, to not know whether or not you are saved or if you are doing enough good deeds for the Lord in order to gain salvation is very stressful.

    Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Do Calvinists think v. 10 means we have to do good works?

  119. Gentlemen:

    If I were to recommend one book on Calvinism it would be “The Dark Side of Calvinism.”

    Thorough, fair and one does not need formal theological training to understand it.

    Lou

  120. Jack, I thank you for that wonderful buildup. You’ve quite deceived your poor readers. 🙂

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the European and English Reformations, as well as Puritanism, and, needless to say, (1) the ways in which revolutionary ideas surged across Europe and (2) the profusion of theological speculation that resulted from greater literacy and access to the Bible in the vernacular thanks to the printing revolution make for fascinating reading. We humans do like to puzzle things out.

    My question isn’t hostile to Calvinism in any way, of course. I’m just puzzled. What would have drawn people to Calvinism when it seems to have such a limited view of who can be saved. Marcella seems to put her finger on it with the words “whosoever believes.” If you have faith, you are saved. For Calvin, you apparently have to have faith PLUS be on the list of the Elect. Very simple v. very puzzling doctrine of exclusion.

    I’m trying to understand why that would appeal to someone. The Puritans justly gained the reputation of being “sticklers” or purists about what was or was not in Scripture and I see that as healthy at a time when “popish” practices could be seen as having more to do with power and wealth than spiritual matters. As I am a constitutional conservative I relate completely. What does the Constitutional say on the issue at hand? is the right question. What did the Supreme Court (“Rome”) say? is the wrong question. We should be looking at fundamentals again after a long period of drift. See the parallels! I’d have made a good Puritan.

    But I just don’t get Calvinism. The appeal of Puritanism is clear. Of Calvinism, not so clear.

    I think my question thus has two parts. One, what is the emotional or intellectual appeal of a Biblical interpretation that flat out, right out of the chute says “You aren’t necessarily EVER going to be saved”? Two, as you make clear in your comment, Jack, what is the Scriptural basis for this “limited” salvation doctrine? Although I’m far from a Biblical scholar (giant understatement there!), Marcella seems to have her finger on the nerve of the problem with Calvinism.

  121. Jack,

    Your friend Richard has an amazingly insightful understanding of Calvinism, much more so than most Calvinists with whom I converse. I agree completely with his assessment that Calvinism has no genuine appeal to the unsaved—it promises nothing to the unbeliever but a life of uncertainty and anxiety. Calvinism, and its sad sister “lordship salvation,” which stems from the Calvinist “perseverance” (the “P” of the Calvinist TULIP), absolutely annihilate assurance of salvation for the believer in Christ. Under Calvinism and lordship salvation teaching a person might inquire, “How many years must I serve the Lord faithfully before I can KNOW beyond a shadow of doubt that I am saved eternally—five years? twenty years? forty years? Am I ever allowed any periods of backsliding? If so, for how long?” The questions are endless and the answers are few or nonexistent. Isn’t it far better to trust in the FINISHED work of Christ at Calvary, rather than trying to rely on adding my own feeble efforts to what he has already accomplished on my behalf? The gospel message is simple, uncomplicated and clear: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! (Acts 16:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16). And once you are saved, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, then, trust in HIS KEEPING POWER for this lifetime and for eternity (John 10:27-30; Romans 8:37-39). THIS kind of assurance-filled faith will lead to a life of true JOY in the Lord Jesus and a lifelong desire to serve him out of love and thankfulness.

    In total gratitude for all that Christ has done for me,

    Bruce

  122. John Gregory

    Sorry! I need to learn to express myself more exactly & precisely. I mean only that we strive, not to be saved or to keep our salvation, we strive to uphold, announce, proclaim, & incarnate the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD.
    When we have been graced by knowing HIM & HIS WORD, we know
    upon what we stand & with Whom we stand. We are free in Christ Jesus!
    We stand upon God’s truth. We do not back down, back up, back off, or grow weary proclaiming the truth. Of course we know that we have His Blessed Holy Spirit to aid, guide, and comfort us in all that we do in His Name. God bless, a fellow biblicist & brother in Christ.

  123. Marcella,

    Excellent references on God’s UNLIMITED love (omnibenevolence) and on his desire that ALL people would be saved! May I add one more reference on how the Lord longs for ALL to come to him to be saved?
    Matthew 23:37 says, “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!” The verse is a poignant picture of Christ’s love for all people and his desire that they would come unto him for salvation. Sadly, in spite of Christ’s open invitation to trust him alone for salvation, many (or most) stubbornly refuse his gracious loving offer.

  124. Marcella,

    Thanks, You are correct in your analysis. Calvinism is in conflict with much of Scripture.

    For folks who know Scripture it it is obvious that Calvinism is an uncertain and futile religion. As Richard says, “Why would anyone jump on that initially? If it’s unknowable what gets one onto God’s list, you live a life of Christian despair.

    Calvinists will deny all of this, saying we are in error but theirs is man’s logic, not Biblical. They will refer to books, tapes and articles of “famous” Calvinists — but but cannot answer Richard’s question in Scriptural context.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  125. I am not real clear on what Calvinists believe and teach, but here is what I think they believe. Let me know if this is off, and correct me please. I think they believe that God chose certain people to be saved, “the elect,” and the rest will not be saved. This would assume that Jesus’ crucifixion was only for the elect. John 3:16-17 clearly says that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The world means all people. If Jesus Christ came to earth so that only a certain elect group of people would be saved, His crucifixion would have been in vain. If you and I weren’t among the elect, would Jesus Christ have died for the forgiveness of our sins? It is God’s will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 Calvinist teaching is in conflict with these verses.

  126. John Gregory,

    Thanks for dropping in again and your kind note..
    Are you saying we strive to be or remain saved — or that we SHOULD strive because we are already ETERNALLY secure in Jesus?
    Just checking. 😎

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  127. John Gregory

    This is why we strive so hard! So that we may be used by God to stand on &
    for the truth of the Word of God as we see & understand. Never fail, never
    back down, not to grow weary! But to speak the TRUTH of Scripture to one
    and all, that is our purpose! God bless your efforts in the LORD!
    John Gregory

  128. To My Readers..
    Forgive me for posting this with the title in the main article…
    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  129. {Subscribing Richard by Admin}

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