Sovereignty: Calvinist and Lordship “Salvation” Catchword or Crutch?

By Jack Weaver

First let me note that neither of the words “sovereignty” nor  “sovereign” appear in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.  The words are simply inventions-with-a-purpose created by the Calvinist/Reformed movement and adopted by Lordship Salvationists (LS) through time. Unfortunately some supposedly clear “evangelical” teachers have likewise adopted “sovereign” and the Reformed meaning of the word into their own vernacular.

The definition for “sovereign” is “a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler.”
This is a quote from, an extreme Calvinist web site wherein they examine the origin of the word in their own ecclesiastical context from Calvin’s Institutes:

“This idea of the sovereignty of God was Calvin’s most central doctrine. It means that nothing is left to chance or human free will. This is what led him to put such emphasis on the doctrine of predestination – the idea that God, not we, decides whether we will be saved.” [Emphasis mine]

The erroneous concept that the “sovereignty” of God supersedes any idea or decision of man undergirds not only Calvinism and Reformed teaching but also Lordship “salvation” teaching as well. Lest you think LSers avoid the sovereignty issue, John MacArthur, the Calvinist king of Lordship teaching says, No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything.[My emphasis]  From John MacArthur’s article, “God’s Absolute Authority,” Grace to You web site.

It is but a small step from proclaiming the sovereignty (as absolute rulership) of God to the false teaching that man is unable or incapable of making a personal decision to believe in or trust Jesus Christ as his Savior.

God is certainly the Creator and Ruler of the universe — but we as humans have always had the will, the ability if not the innate desire to disobey and dispute His Authority by our own free will (which fact Reformed teachers deny). The Bible chronicles countless examples of God’s people being disobedient and deciding to go “their own way” despite the desires, warnings and chastisements of God. Adam and Eve were the first. Another obvious example is represented by the Children of Israel in the desert after they fled Egypt. The Israelites were rebellious, disobedient and railed against God. They purposely did not obey God’s will for them:

They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:  But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. Psalm 106:13-15

Question: Why, in the far reaches of anyone’s mind, would the Reformed, Calvinist and LS proponents need such a doctrine of “sovereignty” to support their teaching?

Answer: Primarily as justification for their out-of-context and unBiblical use of the words “chosen, elect and predestined,” etc. These concepts are, in their eyes, all wrapped up in (1) their false definition of the words “sovereignty of God” and (2) their false presumption of the inability of man to believe in Christ without such “faith” being caused, planted and finished by God in the individual “chosen by God” from eternity past.

Think seriously about this: Without their devised, invented and concocted understanding of the word “sovereignty,” the whole Calvinist/Reformed/LS theology has no core and falls apart.

Then imagine the conundrum that Calvinist LS folks have when their “believers” do not follow their dictates of behavior. Then, rather than the rule of Grace — it becomes the Rule of Rules such as that of John MacArthur, Francis Chan and John Piper, et al.

God’s Gift of salvation is absolutely FREE for the taking, not just for a “chosen” few but for every individual in the whole world. (1 Timothy 2:4, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15, 3-4). The just death penalty for our sin debt was made and completed by Christ Himself on the cross, He was buried, arose from the grave and is alive today. To appropriate that Gift is to trust in Jesus Christ alone as Savior and is a decision every individual must make IF he or she ever expects or desires to live eternally with the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven. We are not talking about a church to join, it is not a matter of being “chosen or elected to be saved,” it is not being obedient to some religious guru’s set of rules to be saved.. Salvation is only by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone. Period. No good works required!

Yep, Salvation is Really FREE!! << Click

75 responses to “Sovereignty: Calvinist and Lordship “Salvation” Catchword or Crutch?

  1. Wow! I wish I had been able to clearly see all this back in the ’90s when I was with a LS sovereignty IFCA Bible church.
    I stood my ground back then for pure grace alone, but I lacked the truth ammunition and clarity I am getting from this site. I do not regret standing up to the LS faith/works people back then who praised JM’s books to people in that church. I must have hit a nerve back them when i said the believer receives the imputed righteousness of Christ. I was sort of scoffed at apparently by this one LS member who apparently believed into this “infused” righteousness thing.

    John, your “Sovereign Grace for Dummies” and “Other manifestations” you wrote about above tells it all and clarifies it all. This should be required reading for all grace believers who are burdened by and are threatened by the works enslavement of the false gospel of Lordship Salvation and Calvinism.

    And if you are in a church and bombarded with these LS lies, stand your ground with the shield of grace alone and the sword of the true gospel. And if that doesn’t work, shod your feet with the shoes of grace and leave and seek the fellowship of true grace believers.

  2. MANY Calvinists do not want people to know the truth about Augustine whose heretical teachings heavily influenced Calvin.

    Augustine was engaged in a debate with Pelagius who taught works salvation. Augustine initially believed that man is saved by grace alone apart from works, BUT later Augustine wrote a book entitled, “City of God” which formed the philosophy that the Catholic church embraced for 1000 years to kill 66 million Bible believing Christians.

    Augustine’s knowledge of the Bible was insufficient and in his failings to understand the Bible he spent 9 years in a Christianized pagan cult called MANICHAEISM. It was in Manichaeism that Augustine got the idea of the “elect” and he used this idea to overcome Pelagius’s philosophical arguments about works.

    It appears that his idea of the “elect” does not come from the Bible, but from Manichaeism.

  3. Calvinism has hijacked the words, “chose”, “chosen”, “elect”, “election” and “predestinate” and perverted the true definition. The true definition
    is NOT “chose”, “chosen”, “elect”, “election” and “predestinate” for salvation. When the Bible talks about being “chosen” or “elect” or “election”,
    it is referring to individuals that are saved that are “chosen”/”elected” for MINISTRY and service to God:

    1) God CHOSE the Israelites, the Jewish nation to be His chosen people. The Jews are God’s ELECT – Deut 7:6, 14:2, 1 Kings 3:8, Psalms 33:12, 106:5, Isaiah 43:10, 45:4, 65:9, 22 Matthew 24:22, 31 Mark 13:20, Luke 18:7, Romans 9:11, 11:28, 2 Tim 2:10, 1 Peter 2:4.

    2) God CHOSE Jesus to be the chief cornerstone – 1 Peter 2:4, 6. God chose Jesus to be the Messiah – Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:7, Matt 12:18, Luke 9:35, 23:35, John 1:34, and was chosen to die on the cross for ALL mankind – Matt 12:18, 1 Peter 2:4.

    3) Jesus CHOSE 12 men to be His disciples – Luke 6:13, John 6:70, John 13:18, John 15:16, 19, Acts 1:2. God CHOSE Matthias to replace
    Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:24-26.

    4) Saul of Tarsus who became Paul was CHOSEN by Jesus to be the apostle to the Gentiles – Acts 9:15, 13:2, 22:14-15.

    5) Simon Peter was CHOSEN by God to bring the gospel message to Cornelius and his family – Acts 10:1-48, Acts 15:7.

    6) God CHOSE Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land – Numbers 16:5-6.

    7) God CHOSE Aaron and the tribe of Levi to be the priestly line – Numbers 17:5, 1 Sam 2:28, 2 Chronicles 29:1. God chose priests from
    the tribe of Levi to minister before Him in the temple and would be paid by the tithes of the people – Deut 18:5-8, 21:5, 1 Chronicles 15:2

    8) God CHOSE Abraham – Nehemiah 9:7, God CHOSE Isaac and Jacob – Psalms 135:4, Isaiah 41:8, Ezekiel 20:5, and CHOSE Judah –
    1 Chronicles 28:4, Psalms 78:67, to be in the line of Messiah.

    9) God CHOSE David to replace King Saul and to be in the line of Messiah – 2 Samuel 6:21, 1 Kings 8:16, 1 Chronicles 28:4, 2 Chron 6:6, Psalms 89:3.

    10) God CHOSE Solomon to be king after his father David – 1 Chronicles 29:1.

    11) God CHOSE Mary and Joseph. Mary, the mother of Jesus – Luke 1:30, 42-45, 48. Joseph, the husband of Mary – Matthew 1:20.

    12) God CHOSE Jerusalem to be His forever chosen city – Deut 15:20, Deut 16:2, 15, 1 Kings 8:44, 11:13, 14:21, 2 Kings 21:7, 23:27,
    2 Chron 6:6, 34, 12:13, 33:7, Nehemiah 1:9, Psalms 132:13, Zechariah 3:2.

    13) The Jewish Christians scattered in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were the CHOSEN sojourners whom Peter wrote to
    and addressed them as the “ELECT” – 1 Peter 1:2.

    EPHESIANS 1:5 -The true Biblical definition of “PREDESTINATION” is that saved Christians are “predestinated” for the REDEMPTION of their physical bodies at a future time – 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 John 3:2, Romans 8:11. All saved Christians will be predestinated to have an imperishable body of flesh and bone just like Jesus body – Luke 24:39, Romans 8:23.

    EPHESIANS 1:11 – Christians are predestinated for an inheritance. A future event to have an inheritance in heaven – 1 Peter 1:3-5, John 14:1-3, Romans 8:17.

    ROMANS 8:29 -30 – Christians will be predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ which is a future event on the day of redemption – the Rapture, where Christian’s will be transformed into an immortal body like Jesus body in Luke 24:39, Romans 8:23.

  4. Nathan, you have made some very good points, but I would challenge you to think through one a little bit further.

    You said: When you look at the big picture it appears that LS/Calvinism is setting a person up for a fall right from the beginning and occupying their mind on the flesh and not on the Spirit for most of their Christian walk.

    My comment: Your comment would be true of someone who had believed in Christ alone as Savior and subsequently became confused by false LS/Calvinist teachers. That is one possibility, as we see in Galatians.

    However, many non-Christians hear the false gospels of the Calvinists/LSers and naturally believe that their works are part of the basis for their salvation. These people often become false professors of Christ, because they have tried to be saved by a false gospel. In that case, they have no Christian walk.

  5. When you look at the big picture it appears that LS/Calvinism is setting a person up for a fall right from the beginning and occupying their mind on the flesh and not on the Spirit for most of their Christian walk.

    First, a person is dumb down into thinking that no matter what happens, it was already planned to happen that way somehow. It makes a person lazy to the truth found only in scripture. Then they begin with itching ears to find some sort of truth to walk in and heap to themselves teachers and rely solely on them alone for understanding and not allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth.

    Second, the focus is then shifted to the performance or zeal for service, a person exhibits, as a way of gauging and proving whether or not you are part of the plan. This can be subtly emphasized by the very teachers they have heaped up for themselves. The person is then left confused because they really have a desire to be part of the plan but have difficulties at times carrying out the performance and zeal correctly for some reason. It’s becomes a performance trap. They question whether they really believe or not based on what they are “doing” instead of believing.

    Third, if you get burned out in the whole process then this confirms you were only living on wishful thinking all along and maybe you are not part of the plan to begin with.

    Fourth, it has the dangerous potential of driving a person away from the faith altogether, giving up because they think they will never “achieve” a life with God.

    All the while in this process the focus is on the individual and not on Jesus Christ as Savior. A person views Jesus as only a sort of gateway into this faith called Christianity. Then it is their duty to maintain their Christian walk, which looks no different than any other way of religion, leaving the whole rest of their Christian walk as a work of the flesh.

    The person loses sight of building their life completely and dependently based on the Foundation and Chief Cornerstone. Which is salvation only found in the finished work, the death burial and resurrection, of Jesus Christ alone.

    If I have stated anything wrong please correct me as I am seeking the truth that is found only in Jesus Christ alone.

    1 Corinthians 15:57
    But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Forever in Christ,

  6. Yes they are. I understand they make Bonhoeffer a hero who saved 17 Jews via his brother’s high position in the government. But if you want to admire his actions, certainly. But they always seem drawn and boast on the man’s flesh, his intellect. C.S. Lewis is kind of a different story, I would think reformed wouldn’t think a man who went back to the Catholic church in end of life rites even would have persevered, so you would think they would have pronounced him unsaved.

  7. Holly, thanks for the info. on Bonhoeffer. Both Bonhoeffer and C.S. Lewis seem to be favorites among the contemporary Calvinist/LS community.

  8. BTW – I did quite a bit of reading on Bonhoeffer, and searched for quite some time for specific books by specific publishers in which he was cited regarding in denial of a literal resurrection, and for not believing in the deity of Christ. For calling a lot of the Bible myth. Long story, I started buying used books as I could find him, and still intend to do something one day.

    Surely would be nice to know that in the end he refuted these things, but Letters from Prison was one of the books that had the resurrection denial.

  9. I used one of your posts here for my blog Jack on Paul Washer regarding reformed teaching.

    You are cited, thank you.

  10. Thanks Lindar and welcome to the site.

    As many of us here have outside jobs and other ministries, it often takes a day or so for questions to be answered. Thanks again for your comments.

  11. I have yet to figure out what “sovereign” grace is!

  12. Excellent article!

  13. Thanks John and blessings on you.

  14. Jim F and Bruce, God has put you in these peoples’ lives for a purpose. I will continue to pray for your witnesses to be fruitful!

  15. Thanks Bruce, it is always good to hear of examples where people take a step in the right direction. I think all I can really do is ask questions that convict or put the focus back on scripture. That way the Word and the Spirit can do the true work of conviction/illumination. It’s almost like a counseling situation. People have to realize their need before they’ll seek help.

  16. Bruce, good story on the young preacher – but, the desire to serve Jesus is still not a requirement for salvation and is a discipleship issue.

    Regarding hardline LS and Bonhoeffer – I hope he repudiated hardline LS, even though there is no difference between degrees of LS.

  17. Jim F,

    Yep, you are right –..“It would be a long uphill battle.” First, for them to see the Truth — and then to proclaim it.. So many have formed friendships and bonds of alliance with other LSers that it would seem to be a difficult break for them. Terribly sad.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  18. Jack, I asked him for some verses or passages that actually supported that but he has yet to offer any. Most people in a ministry somewhere don’t like to be too public about these kind of issues. They love to post things from guys like Bohoeffer, Spurgeon, Piper, etc but don’t always want to discuss a different point of view. Some of the guys I knew in college have since gone on for more schooling at places like Masters Seminary or Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and are now out and out Lordship teachers. It is sad to me, but I feel it would not be impossible for them to see the truth. It would be a long uphill battle.

  19. Hi Jim,

    Good comments and questions.

    Regarding the Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotation, it came from his 1937 book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” John Piper’s website proudly displays this quotation in a brief article. Perhaps that is the source of the quotation for your friend. Just to give a bit of encouragement about Bonhoeffer’s theology, I have heard that he repudiated his hardline LS stance at the end of his life in his “Letters & Papers From Prison.” Although I purchased a copy of the book, I haven’t yet had a chance to read and confirm this alleged change of heart.

    Regarding your question, “Has anyone had success with engaging types like this on these issues?”, I have a positive report to share with you: A couple of months ago I described on this site about an assistant pastor at my church (a graduate of MacArthur’s Master’s College) who utilized, what I considered to be, inappropriate questioning at the baptismal services. As you may recall, the pastor would first inquire appropriately whether the person believed that Jesus was the Christ, the only begotten Son of the Living God, who died for her sins on the cross, and who rose from the grave on the third day; this followed by, “And have you placed your faith in Christ Jesus alone for your salvation?” So far so good. Then, after hearing affirmative responses to the first two questions, the third question would inevitably follow, “If Christ asked you to do anything, ANYTHING AT ALL, would you be willing to do it? I believe that the Expreacherman responders were unanimous in saying that the third question went beyond the bounds of propriety, into the area of “commitment salvation,” which is one of the characteristic teachings of Lordship Salvation theology.

    Now for the good news! After posting this story on ExP, I wrote to the young pastor and explained (not harshly) that the type of questioning that he used was inappropriate because he was adding to the biblical plan of salvation by faith in Christ alone and (I said) that he was basically asking newly-born-again baby Christians to make a bold declaration of lifetime commitment that, frankly, might be difficult for even a mature Christian to agree to make honestly. Well, I must report, joyfully, that since that time the young pastor has changed the wording of his third question to, “And is it your desire to serve Him?” Now, the third question probably doesn’t even need to be asked, after the first two questions have been answered affirmatively, but at least it is a question which is much easier to answer!

  20. Eddy, I think I agree with you. Before the rapture there may be mini-revivals of a sort. Either way the gospel has power and there is the great potential for many to be saved despite whatever happens with the continuing apostasy. I think the great revival is supposed to take place during the tribulation and we won’t be around for that.

  21. Jim F,

    Good question.. I’m not a student of Bonhoeffer — but I do know he was a Lutheran Pastor and activist against Hitler and his National Socialism in the 1930s. His politics may have been right but his theology is all mixed up.

    The statements by Bonhoeffer and your friend fly in the face of God’s Grace, seeming to sow doubt in a person and require a proof to other men of one’s salvation. It illustrates that Lordship “salvation” teaching has been around for years, is everywhere and these days is spreading like wildfire.

    I would ask your friend to prove his statement by scripture in context. They very craftily misuse lots of discipleship scripture outside of any dispensational frame of reference — so be prepared for that. I pray he will pay attention because he is preaching a false message.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  22. Dear Jim F,
    You said: “Has anyone had success with engaging types like this on these issues?”

    No, not me. Every time I were in such situation, I failed to convince the other side. However, trying to convince a foolish Galatian is much much easier. My mother, myself, and others here are good examples.

  23. Dear John and Jack and Jim F,
    I agree with all of you that we should never give up preaching the Gospel. We should occupy till He comes. Jim, I hope you are right and I am wrong. However, when I read the scripture and watch this worldwide apostasy that is happening, it is difficult for me to still hold the hope of a large scale worldwide revival. I do think a false revival is about to come. Many of those false prophets are eagerly anticipating for such false revival. Latter rain, kingdom now, spiritual outpouring, Joe’s army, third wave, great spiritual awakening, and ecumenical movement all pointing to the soon to come false revival. If we are really living in the days just before Christ’s return, we should not expect any large scale revival. I do agree with you that there are always mini revivals and revivals on the personal level. I also sense that more and more true believers may be waking up to realize we are indeed in the last days and starting to gather together to anticipate Christ’s return. I and others gathering here is a very good example. In terms of genuine revival, even mini-revivals are difficult to find nowadays. It seems to me that the last major revival happened during the second half of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, and then just went down hill from there spiritually. There were already many false revivals in the 19th and the 20th century. As the apostasy waxes worse and worse, we should be even more vigilant in defending the Gospel.

  24. Jack, you said “Salvation is only by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone. Period. No good works required!” and I agree. A person on my facebook friends list just posted this: ” “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
    ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer – convicting quote”

    That is the kind of stuff that makes me nauseous. He clarified my follow-up question with: “Christianity without acknowledging the Lordship of Christ is not Christianity as all. Another way to say it:)” This is a prime example of the eventual error of a faulty understanding of God’s sovereignty amongst other things.

    Just curious, how would you suggest I approach this individual about this?
    Has anyone had success with engaging types like this on these issues?

  25. Eddy, there is still hope to see a great revival in our day. The true gospel has the power to deliver even the most blinded people. The advantage is always in our favor if we hold to God’s Word. I’ve seen a lot of good come from sites like this one.

    I have a feeling that there will always be some type of apostasy no matter the form that it takes. What I don’t like is how Lordship salvation is able to infiltrate the church as a whole to the point of deceiving well meaning believers. It just put the impetus on us to fight back with the truth.

  26. Eddy, your comments have been very encouraging to me.

    Most of the poor souls being used as pawns to promote false gospels are not even aware that they are being deceived. Let’s pray for their deliverance and proclaim the Gospel to anyone who will listen.

  27. Eddy,

    Thanks — Good analysis of the facts — I agree, we are in the last days apostasy.. — but please don’t give up. There are many who have been blessed by your comments in this ministry. The Gospel is STILL the Power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16)

    We should continue with the Lord’s Grace Gospel message until the Rapture or until we are taken Home otherwise to be with our Savior..

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  28. Dear John, Pearl and Jack,
    This is how the Lordship Salvation proponents trying to use the so called small group leaders to introduce another Gospel. They first brain wash the leaders through those so called leadership conferences such as the Lausanne Conference, the Catalyst Conference, the Alpha National Conference, and numerous other conferences and training courses. After the brain washing, these leaders are well equipped to preach the Lordship Salvation Gospel to their small groups. Their corresponding local churches are using them to lead small group Bible studies, discipleship and evangelistic trainings. In many cases, depending on how successful they are, they will be promoted to higher positions. This model is very successful and that is why Lordship Salvation is being promoted everywhere and growing like weeds. I honestly don’t think that there is a way to turn this around, or even to slow down their progress as a whole. In my own opinion, this is the last day apostasy mentioned in the Bible and there will be no genuine revival till after the Rapture. The help of the Internet, social media and wireless technologies will only speed up their progress by leaps and bounds.

    “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].” Ephesians 5:11

  29. Welcome back SueLiz, Good to see you.

    Right — we are not robots but we all have a free will to believe in Christ for eternal life or reject Him and have our rightful eternal condemnation. (John 3:18)
    Eddy, Pearl and John.

    Comfirmed: Alcorn is a self- professing 4 point Calvinist — who, at this point, does not agree with Calvinism’s #3, limited atonement.. but he might be convinced of that because he has some friends who believe it and he may be convinced with more study. (from his web site Eternal Perspective Ministries).

    His doctrine is completely confused and Biblically illogical, wanting to be all things to all men.. He is a man to AVOID.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  30. Sueliz1, welcome! Interesting comment regarding the rich young ruler. He, of course, was not lost because he “chose money” instead of “choosing to follow Christ” (both of these constitute works). He was lost because he:

    1. Did not recognize Christ’s divinity
    2. Thought he could work his way into heaven by his good deeds

  31. Our limited minds know nothing.Our human minds can only invent predestination because the notion of time is so narrow in our thinking. The Lord gives us free will. He doesn’t want robot followers programed to love Him. I’m sure it grieves Him the many bad choices we make.
    Remember the man in scripture who decided not to follow him because he was rich? Jesus drew him to Himself and the man decided he would choose money instead.

  32. Pearl, me too! I declined.

  33. “I was in a Bible study last year in which the leader wanted to study a book by Alcorn.”

    You just hit upon one of my pet peeves: “Bible study” groups studying anything but! Gets my goat every time.

  34. Jack, I don’t know whether or not Alcorn is a Calvinist. It sure sounds that way. I was in a Bible study last year in which the leader wanted to study a book by Alcorn. I looked into Alcorn and found him to be teaching non-Biblical perseverance-style salvation by works (i.e., Calvinism).

  35. Eddy and John,

    Just wondering — sounds like Alcorn is a Calvinist — he quotes from the ESV Bible which is beloved and used by Calvinists. Just asking.

    In Christ eternally, Jack

  36. Eddy, I think Alcorn’s message is the typical “yes, but” message of Lordship probation. That is, salvation by Grace, through faith in Christ alone – but…

    Here is what the Bible really says about assurance (straight from the Lord Jesus Christ):

    “Most assuredly I say unto you: He that hears My Word and believes on Him that sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life. ” John 5:24

    There are absolutely no caveats, or conditions, put on this statement. If Alcorn believes that it is incompatible to profess faith, but live in sin, then he is basing his assurance of salvation on his ability to keep from living in sin. That is, he must be confident that he is not living in sin now and that he will not ever live in sin going forward. This is not the Gospel. This is a false gospel of works. It is not only confusing. It is not true.

  37. Dear John,
    Thanks for your comment. I found the latter part of the following excerpt from the Our Beliefs web page of Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries confusing:

    “SALVATION – We believe salvation is the gift of God, given to man by grace (not earned by man’s efforts) and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)); John 1:12 (ESV); Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)). Believers can know they are saved and kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ (John 10:28-29 (ESV); Roman 8:31-39 (ESV); 1 John 5:13 (ESV)), It is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation, but the Word clearly teaches the incompatibility of professing faith while living in sin (1 John 3:9 (ESV)), and forbids any spiritual presumption that minimizes the importance of the holy works God has called us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)).”

  38. Eddy,

    the statement of faith from the Church of the Nazarene looks a lot like what Randy Alcorn states in his book “Heaven”. Both Alcorn and the Church of the Nazarene use Proverbs 28:13 as part of a confusing, non-Biblical, explanation of the Gospel.

    I lifted the following excerpt from a review of the book, written by L.E. Brown:

    “A major flaw with this book is its bewildering presentation of the gospel. Free Grace adherents will be troubled by Alcorn’s explanation of what is required for eschatological salvation. Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy,” is cited as proof that “if we want to be forgiven, we must recognize and repent of our sins” (p. 34). Later he writes, “Do not merely assume that you are a Christian and are going to Heaven. Make the conscious decision to accept Christ’s sacrificial death on your behalf. When you choose to accept Christ and surrender control of your life to him, you can be certain that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (p. 36).

    He is right to admonish the readers that they not simply assume their eternal destiny, but he confuses them by indicating that only those who “surrender control of [their lives]” can be sure that their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    He finishes his presentation of the gospel with a question to the reader: “Have you confessed your sins? asked Christ to forgive you? placed your faith in Christ’s death and resurrection on your behalf? asked Jesus to be your Lord and empower you to follow him?” (p. 36). It is an inescapable conclusion that Alcorn has conflated discipleship with eschatological salvation and has obscured the Gospel in the process.”

  39. Dear Andrea,
    Here is the excerpt from the How to Know Jesus page on the Church of the Nazarene site:

    “4. You must repent and ask God for forgiveness.
    Admit and confess your sins to God.
    “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
    Repentance means:
    • To acknowledge your sins.
    • To be sorry for your sins.
    • To confess your sins.
    • To be willing to forsake your sins.
    • To have your life changed by Christ.
    Forgiveness is promised.
    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).”

    Besides, the following is what they claimed on their theology:

    “The Church of the Nazarene is the largest denomination in the classical Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. The doctrine that distinguishes the Church of the Nazarene and other Wesleyan denominations from most other Christian denominations is that of entire sanctification. ”

    If the pastor and elders of your church find no issue of the above quotes, I doubt they will find any issue with Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love.

  40. Thank you all for the warm welcome!

    I have read your article. It was one of the first things I found that gave me hope, so thank you!

    Thanks for the additional website recommendations. And you bring up a good point about using the opportunity to grow in the knowledge of grace…that is definitely a good thing that has come of this.

    Thank you. God’s Grace is wonderful! I appreciate the prayers.

    Yes I have been looking at the statement of faith and found some iffy things. It is a Nazarene church. My husband has gone there since he was born. We have gone there on and off since we were married (we went to other Nazarene churches when we lived in other states for a couple years and we tried some other churches around here, but ended up back at this church). I have never become a member of this church because I did know they believed you could lose your salvation and I knew that wasn’t correct. I will try to type more tomorrow if I can get some free time.

  41. Dear Andrea,
    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I hope you will have the opportunity to preach the free grace Gospel within your church. Since there are too many pastors willing to compromise the free grace Gospel, many people are being deceived into believing another Gospel. Have you examined the statement of faith of your church? Please feel free to express your feelings with us; we are trying to support each other in this forum under the watchful eye of our Lord.

    “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9

  42. Andrea,

    Welcome — we appreciate your story of discovering the tragic nature of Chan’s book, Crazy Love. We are likewise happy you can now see the Truth clearly. As Scripture says:
    And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

    Isn’t it wonderful to know you have been set free by the Grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ… not bound and shackled by the laws of man (or Chan)?

    We will pray for you and especially your study group and Pastor. We also welcome you to subscribe to our new articles and then return any time to participate in our fellowship of believers in God’s Salvation by His FREE Grace!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  43. To clarify my comment: GraceLife is Charlie Bing’s site and GraceLine is Fred Chay’s site.

  44. Andrea, welcome! I am grateful that you were able to see through the error in Chan’s book and use it as an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of Grace!

    In addition to this site, you might also be interested in some of the links that Jack has provided to:

    I would also highly recommend:

  45. Welcome Andrea!

    Thanks for joining us today and thank you for sharing your experience of dealing with the false teaching of lordship salvation.

    You are correct in your assessment of the book “Crazy Love.” It teaches a false gospel through which only the superchristians, whatever that means, get to go to heaven. I doubt that even the Apostle Paul himself could have passed the Chan lukewarm test. We have several articles on this site about that unbiblical book. It has brought much harm to the body of Christ in shaking Christians’ assurance of salvation. I have also written a full-length review of the book “Crazy Love;” It is published at the Free Grace Alliance web site:

    Click to access BookReview%20ofCrazyLove.pdf

    Blessings on you and may God flood you with his GRACE!

  46. Dear Jimmy,
    You might also be interested in the book titled The Baptismal Regeneration / Believer’s Baptism Debate by Dr. J.O. Hosler. The book is available online.

    Since I have not read the book, I would not be able to give you my opinion.

  47. Thanks for this blog. I found it after reading through chapter 5 of Crazy Love for the women’s bible study at my church. Thankfully, my discernment kicked in big time as Francis Chan sentenced all “lukewarm” Christians to hell because they are not really Christians at all. I was appalled and knew it was wrong, but I still got fearful because “what if I was wrong about God’s Grace really being a FREE gift?” I also got fearful for my dad who died in May of last year. I know my dad trusted Christ as his Savior, but he wasn’t really living a typical Christian lifestyle, much less a “sold-out” for Jesus one. When I looked at myself, I could not honestly say I was living a sold-out life for Jesus or was willing to give up everything for him, so by Chan’s definition, I wasn’t truly a believer. And as I thought through all this, I thought, but if I live a sold-out, willing to give up everything for him lifestyle now, I would just be doing it to try to prove I was saved. It was a no-win situation in my eyes. The sad thing is I was reading this book because I do love Christ and want to become a better Christian and all it did was cause me to doubt my salvation (for the first time in 22 years), turn my eyes from Jesus to myself and feel it was impossible to ever become saved. I never totally bought into Chan being right, but I feared the possibility.

    Another disheartening thing is that I seemed to be the only one in my small group that had a problem with what Chan was saying. Now, only 2 of the 7-8 women were reading the book along with viewing the videos (in which he doesn’t state his views as strongly or bluntly), but I read some of the quotes to them and they were not nearly as bothered as me. And the other woman that read the book said she had to look at herself and determined she was really a Christian but she needs to step it up more and be more devoted. I was thinking, “if you believe what Chan is saying, how could you ever really be confident that you are saved?” I was very discouraged by the time I got home that night. And to make it even worse, I’m pretty sure our pastor recommended this book and video series.

    I started looking up some of the Bible verses Chan quoted to read them in context. I felt he used some of them out of context, but many of the verses still left me confused (now I understand why…salvation vs. dicipleship). I also started looking at the reviews on Amazon and most people loved the book. There were some that agreed with me though about Chan promoting a works-based salvation. I finally found this website and the In Defense of the Gospel website and they have been a great blessing to me. I have read many of the posts on both of these sites including the comments. The ones that had comments with conversations between Lordship Salvation and Free Grace people were very helpful because I would look up the Bible verses they were discussing and I found that the Free Grace interpretations made much more sense.

    I just wanted to share my story with people who would understand my frustration at the Crazy Love book in particular and at all of the Lordship Salvation doctrine. I also wanted you to know that I truly appreciate this site for the proclaiming the truth.

  48. Hi Jimmy!

    Always good to hear from you.

    Regarding the term “baptize,” I’ll give you a few things that I’ve gleaned over the years. John has a publication for you to check out as well.

    First, regarding the term from the Greek. “Baptize” comes from the Greek “baptizo” (pronounced bap-tid-zo). It’s root is the term “bapto.” The early use of the word had to do with the dyeing of various materials. Later, the terms were also used in regard to the dipping of vegetables for cleansing and preservation. Both terms clearly speak of a dipping (not a dripping) process. So the idea of baptism by immersion is much more fitting and consistent with the original intent of the Greek than that of sprinkling. Besides, since baptismal immersion symbolizes a burial of the old life of sin as the coming up out of the water symbolizes the receiving of a new life through faith in Christ alone, immersion is definitely the biblical and logical way to go. Think, for a moment, that you were at a funeral and a coffin was put down into the ground. Then after the service the cemetery caretakers simply threw a few sprinkles of dirt into the grave and then left. Is that what they would do? No, they would bury the coffin!

    Regarding the issue of the proper mode of baptism, think for a moment about how John the Baptist and later some of Jesus’ disciples would have baptized people in the Jordan River. Years ago, there was a made-for-TV movie about Jesus of Nazareth. When the movie came to the part in which Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the two stood on the shoreline; John reached down, cupped his hand, and then sprinkled a bit of water on top of Jesus’ head. I thought at the time, how foolish is that! They’re in a RIVER!; the only logical thing that could have been done is that John immersed Jesus completely under the waters of the Jordan River.

    As you may see from my comments above, I believe that baptism is merely a symbolic act with NO salvific properties whatsoever. In addition to its representation of the burial of the old life of sin, as mentioned above, water baptism demonstrates a identification with Christ Jesus as one’s Savior, and it makes that declaration in a public setting. Can I demonstrate from the Bible that a person can be saved apart from water baptism? Certainly! First, one can read numerous salvation texts that make no mention of water baptism whatsoever (some examples): John 3:16; Acts 16:30-31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Romans 4:5. How about an example from the Bible of someone who was clearly saved before being water baptized? Sure, look at Acts 10:30-48. The text details how Cornelius and his family became the first or very early Gentile converts. Clearly they were saved, demonstrated by the pouring out of the gift of the Holy Spirit upon them, and then Peter offered to baptize them since they had already received the Holy Spirit.

    What about Acts 2:38? It reads, “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.” The key term here is “for,” “eis” in Greek which can be translated, “on the basis of,” “with a view to,” or “as a result of.” Think of a modern example: When you take an aspirin “for” a headache is it because you desire to GET a headache? Obviously not! You take an aspirin “for” a headache because you already have a headache, or in other words, you take it as a RESULT of already having a headache. Similarly, when one is baptized “for the remission of sins,” it is a demonstration that the remission of sins (salvation through faith in Christ alone) has already occurred!

    I hope that I didn’t ramble on too much.

  49. Jimmy, you might be interested in a publication by Dr. J.O. Hosler entitled “The Baptismal Regeneration/Believer’s Baptism Debate” (I couldn’t find an online version).

    You might also be interested in the excerpts on baptismal regeneration from J.Hampton Keathley. See link below:

  50. Oops, I thought this was Bruce’s post. Still interested in your thoughts Bruce.

  51. Hello Bruce,

    This is a bit off topic, but I’d like your opinion/thoughts on something. A German Baptist patient and friend of mine was recently sharing with me his concerns about the works-based plan of salvation adopted by a local gathering of professing believers. Knowing he considers water baptism essential to salvation I asked him how his plan of salvation differed from theirs. Sounding just like Luther, he informed me water baptism is a “work of God, not a work of man”. Clever way of attempting to avoid the works-based tag.

    Showing this man from Scripture that water baptism is not a condition for receiving eternal life has not been successful. Do you know if the Greek provides some insight towards proving that water baptism is indeed a WORK of man?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

  52. John,

    Great testimony… Thanks.

    It is a shame we must relentlessly explain and define the word “repent” — but we must. .That simple word is the core of so much institutionalized error. We must continue because the “works-salvation-folks” never give up insisting on making repentance a work or works necessary for salvation rather than a simple mind change about the Object of our salvation, Jesus Christ.

    So press on with The Truth!!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  53. The LS folks also don’t understand what saving repentance means.

    Religion attacks either the object or some facet of the content of saving fatih.

    The object of saving faith – Jesus Christ

    The content of saving faith:
    1. Jesus is the eternal creator God
    2. Jesus paid the full price for our sins through His death on the cross
    3. Jesus rose from the dead
    4. His offer of salvation is a gift (Grace) apart from any work of man

    Saving repentance is changing one’s mind regarding previous rejection of any, or all, of the above.

    For me, saving repentance meant that I had to change my mind regarding the doctrine of Grace (number 4, above). I had been taught and believed a false gospel (by a Southern Baptist LS pastor) that I had to turn from my sins and commit my life to Christ as part of becoming saved. Both components of this false teaching are essentially salvation assisted by works 0r the promise of future works. This also led me to be unclear on eternal security and assurance, as I could never be sure I had been sincere enough in my resolve to turn from my sins and serve Christ.

    Both turning from sins for salvation and committing one’s life to Christ for salvation individually, and even moreso collectively, constitute a denial of the doctrine of Grace and therefore a rejection of God’s offer of eternal life.

    So, for me, saving repentance meant changing my mind regarding this false LS teaching and accepting God’s Grace as a free gift, through faith in Christ alone.

  54. Nathaniel, excellent summary. There is an old adage that brevity is the soul of wit. You hit it with 13 words!

  55. If I were to summarize the lordship camp by anything, it would be “the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who PERSEVERES.”

  56. John, you said, “A Christian should seek to live under His controlling presence daily, but many Christians do not.”

    This is true and I agree that we should not presume that a believer automatically seeks to be Spirit controlled.

    I think some of the perseverance of the saints error comes from the error of one-naturism. Therefore a person continually examines his behavior to see if it is that which should come from the new nature. I know though that not all who hold to perseverance hold to one naturism. I also totally agree that we should not be trying to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith based on our works. It is also not like I could be a believer one day trusting fully in Christ for salvation and then one day have it removed, only to find out that fact by finding that I all of a sudden have fallen into certain sins. That whole idea is absurd. There is also no such thing as a sin that takes away my salvation. This idea has roots in the Catholic error of mortal sin.

    The “marks of a true believer” idea can be problematic as it can reduce the Christian life to a checklist. To me, I feel it is enough to let God judge what type of works I have done. I have confidence that things done in the Spirit are considered good in God’s sight. There really is no way to quantify if one has done enough because one can never truly do enough – before or after salvation. Christians have many wonderful opportunities for good works that they pass up all the time. No one will ever be perfect in that regard.

    “If one concludes, from his behavior, that he does not show enough evidence of belief, what is he to do? Work on his behavior until he feels more assured?

    You are correct to say that it is absurd to think that way. The only thing I’ll say there is that feelings can fluctuate but the person’s salvation does not.

    That last quote is just plain ridiculous really. Works righteousness is really the problem. It is just amazing to me that someone can take something such as God’s authority etc, twist it into a doctrine of God’s sovereignty, and then use it as a way to advocate works righteousness. I am thankful that you and others that visit this blog have an eye out for even the most subtle error. Keep up the good work.

  57. Jim, here is another – author unknown – from another thread on this site. It is more than perseverance of the saints, it is LS through and through:

    “If one were to suggest that the time would come when a group of evangelical Christians would be arguing for a salvation without repentance, without a change of behavior or lifestyle, without a real avowal of the lordship and authority of Christ, without discipleship, and a salvation that does not necessarily result in obedience and works, and with a regeneration that does not necessarily change one’s life, most believer’s of several decades ago would have felt such would be an absolute impossibility. But believe it or not the hour has come”

  58. Jim, I will start by referring you to the thread “The Truth LIES Somewhere in Between”. I will sum it up with this unfortunate quote:

    “Does every true believer surrender to Christ’s Lordship?

    This question needs to be answered very carefully in light of the Scriptures. The answer to the question is both YES and NO.

    1) YES, every true believer surrenders to Christ’s Lordship.

    The person who surrenders to Christ’s Lordship is the person who bows before His authority and obeys His Word. The New Testament indicates that one of the characteristics of a true believer is that he obeys God’s Word and keeps God’s commands..,

    2) NO, every true believer does not surrender to Christ’s Lordship.

    We desire and want to please our Lord, but there are times when we fail to surrender as we should. If we are honest we would have to admit the following: All believers have sinned and come short of perfect submission to Christ. Every believer falls short of perfect surrender, perfect obedience, perfect submission, perfect compliance with all the demands of discipleship. Thank God we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the Righteous One”

    Other language, from other sources, that is similarly problematic:

    1. Dublin Bible Church:

    “The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son as God. He is present in the world to make people aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He, as the “Spirit” of God also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. The Christian seeks to live under His controlling presence daily. ”

    Problem:The last sentence is presumptuous. A Christian should seek to live under His controlling presence daily, but many Christians do not. I think that this kind of statement could lead one to base his assurance on whether or not he is seeking to live under the controlling presence of the Holy Spirit (commitment, submission, surrender – all works) daily versus having believed in Christ unto salvation.

    2. Congdon Ministries International:

    “Further, we believe the Scriptures teach that regeneration, or the new birth, is that change wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit by which a new nature and a new spiritual life, not before possessed, are imparted, and the person becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17,18). The mind is given a holy disposition, the will subdued, the dominion of sin broken, and the affections changed from a love of sin and self to a love of holiness and God. The change is instantaneous at salvation, effected solely by the power of God in a manner incomprehensible to human reason. The evidence of it is found in a changed disposition of mind, the fruits of righteousness, and a newness of life. (John 3:1-18, 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 9:22; 1 Peter1:18,19).

    The gift of eternal life is received by recognizing that the Lord Jesus Christ became our substitute (1 Peter 2:24,25) upon the Tree in order to shed His blood for the punishment of our sins. Recognition comes by calling upon the name of the Lord for salvation (Romans 10:13) and confession will naturally flow out of belief – belief that Jesus Christ has died, shed His blood for us, has been buried, and has been resurrected from the dead and is alive today (Romans 10:9-10). ”

    Problems: The first paragraph tends toward one-naturism. It also looks for evidence of salvation/regeneration/new birth in ” a changed disposition of mind, the fruits of righteousness, and a newness of life.”

    The second paragraph makes it sound like one must ask for salvation in addition to believing (not a perseverance of the saints error, but an error nonetheless.

    3. Independent Fundamental Churches of America (this was excerpted from Middletown Bible Church in support of their similar non-Biblical positions):

    “The Marks of a True Believer.”

    ” Not everyone who professes Christ actually possesses Christ. Some people profess Christ but by their works they deny Him (Titus 1:16). Some name the name of Christ but they do not depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19). With their lips they say that they know Christ, but they are found to be liars (1 John 2:4).

    It is therefore needful for each professing believer to examine himself to see whether or not he has truly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly reveals certain marks which should characterize every child of God. Some of these are as follows:

    The true believer (1) believes the Word of God (1 John 5:9-12); (2) hungers for the Word of God (1 Pet. 2:2); (3) loves the brethren (1 John 3:14); (4) obeys God’s commands (1 John 2:3-5); (5) performs good works (2 John 11; James 2:17-26); (6) does not continue in sin but lives a righteous life (1 John 2:29; 3:6-10; 5:18; 2 Tim. 2:19); etc.

    Obviously believers often fail to fully exhibit the above characteristics, and yet if a person truly has life, that life will be manifested (1 John 5:12). Those who consistently live in sin have no right to claim assurance of salvation.”

    Problems: Self-examination of behavior to determine if one is a believer is completely inappropriate. If one concludes, from his behavior, that he does not show enough evidence of belief, what is he to do? Work on his behavior until he feels more assured?

    Jim, these are only a few from groups that speak out of both sides of their mouths. If you follow them to their logical conclusions, they bring you back to salvation by works.

  59. John, what is some of the perseverance language that you have seen? Are they adding in works to prove or maintain their salvation?

  60. Jack, of all of the petals of the TULIP, perseverance of the saints is the most subtle and insidious.

    Someone can claim to advocate salvation by Grace through faith in Christ alone, but hang onto the false perseverance teaching. There are articles all over Grace websites by people who valiantly attack LS at the front door, but leave the back door wide open.

    These guys are the worst kinds of fence-riders. They lure you into their writings with talk of Grace and then begin to weave in the errant perseverance language. I don’t know what motivates them. I think some of them want to build broad coalitions, so they compromise the Gospel in the least conspicuous manner they can. Others are either incapable of logic or are simply not comfortable leaving works out of the salvation equation.

  61. Pearl,

    Right — Prevenient grace (to come before) is still a non-Biblical word made up by “scholars” and “theologians” to obfuscate the Truth of Salvation by Grace through Faith alone in Christ alone.

    They choke on Titus 2:11, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,”

    I was just reading some online quotes from Calvinist RC Sproul’s book, “Chosen By God.” He questions and ridicules prevenient Grace — yet at times he seems to defend the concept. Total confusion — which is what one gets with Reformed theology — as well as Arminian/Wesleyan teaching.

    I really have little patience for their gurus..

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  62. Oops, typo above. It should read “…except that they say it [prevenient grace] is resistible.”

    Jack, going by Jim’s suggestion to google the phrase “prevenient grace”, I learned that it’s the Arminian/Wesleyan answer to “irresistable grace” (been around a very long time)! Fraternal twins really.

  63. Hi Pearl,

    Not only is Reformed theory puzzling, as you say, but totally illogical..

    “Prevenient grace” is just one more made-up phrase for the Calvinist/LSers. Just wait around and one of their gurus will worshipfully write another book with newer definitions of old words or create new words which add unknowable mysteries to their already bizarre teachings.

    Reformed teaching? What kind of god would plead throughout the Bible for mankind to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior and then withold the ability to believe to a huge segment of the population who then — because of unbelief is pre-sentenced to hell?

    Not my God!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  64. Very interesting, Jim. I wasn’t at all familiar with the term “prevenient grace”. Looking it up, I really don’t see a difference between it and “irresistible grace”, except that they say it is irresistible. Either way, if my understanding is correct, both claim that man is basically incapable of believing on his own that Jesus died for one’s sins and rose from the dead, according to the scriptures. How odd! And yet, this same man can worship gods of his own making, compose the most stirring pieces of music, write wonderful stories, poetry, and other musings, build breathtaking structures, as well as take us to the moon and “beyond”. Most puzzling to me.

  65. Pearl, I’ve come across some who claim to be as you mention to be partial Calvinists of some sort. Most four pointers that I have seen dismiss limited atonement. Arminians add in things like prevenient grace and that salvation can be lost if you don’t persevere. Prevenient grace is still an error and is part of Catholic, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Methodist, and Nazarene doctrine to name a few. The definition can vary slightly depending on the group. Some Baptists share into some of these views. Just do a search on prevenient grace.

    It is also an error that has come out of wrong teaching about God’s sovereignty and man’s supposed inability. Those who hold to this (prevenient grace) still maintain ideas like turning from sins for salvation and Lordship salvation. It is just a slightly different way of getting there.

    Many who hold to free grace views are labeled with the charge of being an Arminian but don’t be fooled by that tactic. Some can’t easily see beyond the world of Calvinism/Arminianism. If you truly believe in Biblical free grace then I don’t see how “sovereign grace” or “prevenient grace ” are acceptable.

    1. Andy thanks, you’re right on there. I have tried to tell that to some of my Calvinist friends but they don’t listen. They also misunderstand man’s depravity to mean total inability which means to them that, just as Lazarus was made to come forth so must we be made to come forth and be alive spiritually. This however only produces more bad theology. They twist this idea out of Eph 2:1 and a couple other verses. I always like to remind them that being dead spiritually is not the same as being physically dead.

      Thanks John for the info from the Clear Gospel site. It is so true that some Calvinists almost make grace out to be some type of tangible force that is given to man in order to produce a desired outcome. Talk about a distortion of the Biblical meaning!

      The other thing I’ll say that it is hard to nail a Calvinist down on exactly what he means. I’ve had some that claim to believe that repentance is before faith change directions in conversation and say that it basically all happens at the same time. I’ve had some who believe in unconditional election and forced graced sovereignty also argue that God is not then ultra deterministic. There are also my favorites of: well you don’t understand calvinism, that’s not my calvinism, that’s not true calvinism, or yes that is calvinism (when it clearly isn’t).

  66. Just like “repentance”, it’s a word attached to a very heavy chain.

    I have never run into a Calvinist/LSer who would admit that he, personally, had to make the decision to believe in or trust Christ as his Savior. They say it was all of God, given by “God and His Grace.” For them to admit otherwise would violate the “absolute sovereignty of God.”

    My first (and last) encounter of this kind was with a friendly acquaintance just last summer on the heels of a Lordship discussion at my blog. She said she had always looked down on Christianity, and Jesus. Her husband was a believer, though. Then, one glorious morning (I kid you not) she said she woke up believing! She was a Christian just like that! I think that’s when my eyes were first opened to the reality (and absurdity) of Calvinism.

    It’s also been a surprising and disturbing revelation to me how a few eloquent teachers I have read, whose writings flowed with the beautiful speech of free grace, were actually “mild” calvinists (four pointers?). And then there are others who claim to be half Calvinist, half Arminian (I don’t get what they mean by that). Granted, some verses are hard to understand, but one thing I do recognize is how much religion depends on each extreme.

  67. Jack, not only do none of the petals of the poison flower survive without the twisted concept of “sovereignty”, but each of the petals individually constitutes a full frontal assault on the Gospel:

    1. Total Depravity – I offer the following quote from “Attaching Personal Righteousness to the Back-side of the Gospel’s Requirements”
    By Pastor J. O. Hosler, Th.D

    “Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes He will convict the world of unbelievers of sin, righteousness and of judgment (Jn.16:8-11). In order to do this, God created unbelievers with a capacity for experiencing conviction of sin, understanding the righteousness of God and understanding the
    judgment of God. To attribute to unregenerate man a sovereignly God-given capacity to believe is not attributing a saving virtue to the sinner. Receiving deliverance from condemnation is a self-serving act and is not a saving virtue (Rom. 4:5; II Pet. 1:5).”

    2. Unconditional election – Luke 8:11-12 (NKJV) “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”

    Why would the devil take the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved, if election were unconditional?

    3. Limited atonement – John 1:29 (NKJV) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

    4. Irresistable Grace – I offer this quote from Clear Gospel Campaign:

    “When Ephesians 2:2-9 is tortured to reduce the gift of God to “faith,” and therefore, reduces the concept of “grace” to the Aristotelian substance which, when infused in a man, invokes faith. (See the subsequent chapter on “Sovereign Grace”.) This, however, has two derivative errors which are far more serious than a friendly controversy over predestination and free-will. Firstly, it creates “another gospel.” The Gospel is no longer “Christ Died for your Sins.” The requirement of God in the salvation of man is no longer “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The cross fades into the background. Man’s saving response to the gospel message is not to believe that Jesus died for His sins, and to accept His offer of eternal life as a gift, believing it is Christ alone, apart from the works of the law. NO, the fundamental meaning of belief ceases to be reliance on Christ alone, apart from man’s works. Rather, the gospel of such ilk becomes “Believe that faith comes from God. And unless you believe that you can’t believe, you cannot be saved.” The object of man’s faith is no longer Jesus Christ, but man’s faith (or lack of faith.). To be saved, man must sit in the lotus position examining the lint in his naval until he reaches the belief that he cannot believe. Even if this were a true teaching of the Bible (and I personally believe it is one of the most illogical utterances in the history of theology), it would not be the gospel. And so, it becomes another gospel. Secondly, by making the operation of “grace” a “faith giving empowerment,” grace ceases to retain its essential meaning . . . a gift which is offered freely, and whcih therefore must be received freely. ”

    5. Perseverance of the Saints – fundamentally opposed to the doctrine of assurance.

    John 5:24 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

  68. Andy, I think you make a good point. This particular error is harmful to believers as well as Calvinists/LSers. I know a believer, for example, who has told me more than once that he doesn’t see any point in witnessing, because “it’s all in God’s hands and God already knows who is going to believe.”

    Other manifestations:

    1. Belief that faith, rather than eternal life, is the Gift of God
    2. Belief that faith itself is a work
    3. Redefines Grace into a force that causes the lost sinner to believe in Christ, repent of his sins, modify his behavior, and persevere in each of these
    4. Leads to the belief that unless these things happen, Grace never happened
    5. Results in circular logic that salvation is by works

  69. Excellent point, Andy!

    Thanks for joining us today.

  70. I reiterate a statement I made in the article about the sham of “sovereignty” perpetrated by Reformed teaching:
    Without their devised, invented and concocted understanding of the word “sovereignty,” the whole Calvinist/Reformed/LS theology has no core and falls apart.

    Their twisted concept of “sovereignty” taints EVERY doctrine they have invented. Without it they have nothing and their TULIP is simply a shriveled, amorphous illusion.

    Sometime when you have nothing better to do, take the five invalid TULIP points and analyze them without the crutch of “sovereignty.” None will stand.

    Jim F, Bruce, John and Andy, good points. LSers and Calvinists go to great and ridiculous lengths to justify their false doctrines.

    I have never run into a Calvinist/LSer who would admit that he, personally, had to make the decision to believe in or trust Christ as his Savior. They say it was all of God, given by “God and His Grace.” For them to admit otherwise would violate the “absolute sovereignty of God.” What a terrible web of deceit they weave!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  71. Perhaps this stems from a misunderstanding of God’s foreknowledge. God, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, knows all of the decisions and choices man will make. He knows how man will respond in all situations on the basis of man’s free will. Yet they take this teaching and twist it to mean that the reason God knows what man will decide is because He is actively involved in causing the outcomes, thus this idea of “sovereignty”.

  72. Jim and John, good succinct comments.

    Jack, excellent article, as always!

    I am amazed that LS/Calvinists are so quick and proud to boast that they are the ones who hold tenaciously and vociferously to the sovereignty of God, YET, their concept of a sovereign God does not allow for free will in man. So their God must NOT be all powerful. Think about the irony and hypocrisy in that position. If God is sovereign, and I agree in the sense that he is certainly all powerful (omnipotent) and all knowing (omniscient), then why couldn’t an all powerful God design and allow men to have free will? An all powerful God could certainly do that if he so chose (and he did!). “Irresistible grace” of Calvinism leads to robotic forced love, which is really not love at all; it brings no glory to God. God’s grace, given freely (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accepted freely (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:16), with NO coercion, gives ALL of the glory to God!

  73. Jack, here is “Sovereign Grace for Dummies”

    1. The “elect” person is irresistibly drawn to Christ
    2. He is infused with some vitalizing agent – kind of like getting a shot
    3. The shot begins to work and transform his life
    4. If transformation does not occur, the shot was never received (the person was never saved).

  74. So when someone says, “I’m big on the sovereignty of God” what does it most likely say about that person’s beliefs?