Holly and I put together an article based on her response(s) to a commenter on her “Redeeming Moments” website.
Please find the link to the article, as well as the full text, below:
By Holly Garcia and johninnc
Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
One of the more common attacks on the gospel is that God chooses who will believe in Jesus as Savior by giving them the faith to believe, while depriving everyone else of this “gift of faith.”
The teaching that faith is the gift of God, or even part of the gift of God, is the cornerstone error of reformed theology, or Calvinism. This error has been one of Satan’s primary tools in perpetuating the lie that we can earn eternal life by our works.
From Clear Gospel:
We observe from church history that the corruption of “grace” into an ethereal vitalizing substance, though often starting with the seemingly “innocuous” view that “grace” vitalizes the lost sinner to belief in Christ, deteriorates, almost inevitably, to the belief that the effects of grace, being sovereign or irresistible, will ultimately empower man to “repent of his sins,” to perform certain acts of righteousness, and/or to “persevere to the end” in faith and good works. Finally, we observe that the frequent conclusion of this heresy is that, if permanent and significant lifestyle changes are not manifest in the life of a sinner, God’s “grace” was never received.
As a consequence, we believe that such a corruption of the meaning of the word “grace” historically portends a grave likelihood, if not a virtual certainty, of a theological system deteriorating into a system of salvation by “Christ plus works,” (Romans 11:6-7, Ephesians 2:8-9), the very opposite meaning of the word “Grace.”
Contrary to the heretical teaching that faith is the gift of God, the Bible teaches that eternal life is the gift of God.
Faith is not the gift of God.
“Faith” does not = salvation.
One can have faith and not be saved. Having faith in the right object (believing upon Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done-1 Corinthians 15:3-4) is how we receive the free gift of salvation.
Romans 5 lists the gift of God seven times, and not once is it suggested the gift is making someone believe. But it is clearly identified as salvation – justification unto life (eternal), the gift of righteousness (His righteousness imputed to us), eternal life. Again not once is “faith” named as being the gift.
It is concluded in Romans 6:23, that the gift of God, the free gift, is eternal life (which comes by belief).
We know that some people in the Bible are commended for their great faith, others challenged to have greater faith, and still other criticized for having little faith.
Luke 7:9: When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Mark 11:22: And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Luke 12:28: If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Jesus could not commend someone for great faith, if such faith were a gift from God. To do so would be attributing God’s glory to man. It is simply inconceivable that God would allow His glory to be given to any man.
Similarly, Jesus could not challenge someone to greater faith if such faith were to come from God. In so doing, Jesus would be challenging the Triune God (which includes Himself) to provide someone with greater faith.
Finally, Jesus could not chastise a believer for having little faith, if such faith had been provided as the gift of God.
So, it is clearly evident from scripture that faith itself is not the gift of God.
ETERNAL LIFE IS THE GIFT OF GOD.
The Bible clearly shows that eternal life (by grace you are saved) is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9:  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.
John 4:10: Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Acts 2:38: 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 Gift of God is identified throughout scripture as eternal life itself or as the Holy Spirit who regenerates us (imparts eternal life to us) and indwells us, once we believe.
Scripture is clear. Eternal life, not faith, is the gift of God. One receives the free gift of eternal life the moment he believes in Jesus as his Savior. Once received by faith, eternal life can never be lost or forfeited.
For more information on how to have eternal life, click here: The Gospel
Thank you for that Johninnc.
Lots of wisdom there. It was confirmation too that I let the first one go too long in trying to entreat an older woman. But she wasn’t older in wisdom or in humility. Another one came today, but I had been reminded about taking it too long when it quickly escalated. They accuse, call names, and don’t use Scripture. This last one today refused to read the gospel when I shared with her, wow… sad.
Anyways, thank you, I am going to share that on the post.
Holly, I thought about how to interact with varying types of engagement in the article linked below. Number 4 deals with interacting with a detractor.
I completely agree John. It’s hard for me now only in that I want to be as wise as possible with my behavior, they may be without, they may be bewitched, they may be a wolf. And God’s Word is not mine to compromise, it’s His truth and we don’t have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Too many think it’s o.k. to compromise, but should we? And where does it end?
Holly, it can be especially difficult when it is someone who we really like.
It’is critical that we make the differences between subtle false doctrine as stark as possible, so there is no way that they think we’re saying the same thing.
Johninnc, you know in the past I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I am shy (believe it or not) and very sensitive, and cannot stand to hurt someone or anger someone, or offend someone. But I’ve learned over the years how true it is that we are not to bear with them (2 Cor 11:3-4), nor are we to give them place/subjection for even an hour (Gal 2:4-5) and there is a reason. It’s so the truth of the gospel can remain. So that other young ones aren’t made to stumble. I’ve seen people that I put up with too long end up making someone stumble or keeping a lost person lost by their ‘gospel’ which is another. So I can live with that now because I realize the eternal consequences are far greater.
Jason, false gospels are often fabricated by changing the definitions of words like “faith,” “grace,” and “gift.”
If the world will adopt/promote the false definitions, it aids and abets corruption of the gospel.
Like earning a free pizza by patronizing a store. I guess we earn heaven by being God’s loyal customer. How patronizing. No wonder they will be told, “I never knew you”.
Funny how we see that kind of terminology in the world also (earn and free) together, yet we don’t seem to see the irony in it.
Holly, people have tried to redefine “free” to mean “not free.” Our local YMCA has a poster that advertises how one can “earn a free membership.”
“Earn” and “free” don’t really go together.
It’s funny how people don’t seem to understand the implication of faith being the gift vs. eternal life. Just had a discussion about this a couple of days ago.
Hobbs, the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential in bringing people to Christ. Yet, so many resist.
I’ve often seen it that the Holy Spirit is constantly kind of ‘hovering’ across the earth seeking people to convict about their need, perhaps nudging them in some way, to connect the dots in what they’ve heard about Christ. And then they suddenly ‘get it’. God knows just the right moment, in His Grace.
Phil R’s previous comment:
‘I agree, saving grace is the gift of God. But when I believed the gospel of my salvation it was so wonderful how could I possibly say no. It was like an offer I could not refuse. I don’t want to sound like a Calvinist, but it was irresistible to me, Yet I know there are lots of people who do resist believing His gift of grace.’
– that exactly describes how I felt when I believed as a 7 or 8 year old kid. It was seemingly random, walking down the street, my Mum walking about ten feet behind me, lol. I suddenly felt God/the Holy Spirit saying “Do you want this for yourself, ‘Hobbs'”, and I thought, wow, yeah, no contest, yes I do! I turned to my Mum saying ‘Mum I’ve just become a Christian’. I knew there was a difference between being brought up in the church and having this moment of belief that made me a Christian. Ever after, my Mum described it as my ‘Saul on the road to Damascus’ experience, lol.
I just added a picture to this old article. It is a picture of a Christmas tree at the local YMCA, which has a large ornament that says “Wishing You the Gift of Believing.”
The YMCA was partially funded by a local church called Forest Hill Church. We have featured false Calvinist doctrine from the pastor of Forest Hill from time-to-time.
It is patently absurd to call believing a gift in the context of receiving eternal life.
Nice proof by contradiction. If Calvinism is true, then this site must be the strong delusion that God is sending us so that we would believe a grace lie, because we don’t love the Calvinist truth.
I was just discussing Calvinism with some friends tonight.
If Calvinism were true, and I say that it is false, God would have ordained that I teach falsehood regarding the gospel. That would make God responsible for me teaching a false gospel.
I noticed the grammar, too. Reminds me of how “quod” in Latin can refer to a fact. The fact that we are saved by grace is a gift of God, not faith. It makes a lot of sense that way. So many centuries of tradition have corrupted from the simplicity.
Holly makes a great point on this subject – Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. See link below:
Great thread! Thank God that Jack began this blog and thank you John for your continued dedication to offering this “oasis”. Thanks to all who participate and make so many great comments. I tell ya, many times I browse through old articles and find so many great helpful comments and discussions. This one is particularly relevant to a conversation I have been having.
William said “Calvinists just love to eisegete Ephesians 2:8-9 falsely claiming that faith is the ‘gift of God’”. So true: I was just directed to a video (menyouscript as John would say) doing just that. The circle of logic goes— “grace is of God, salvation is of God, therefore even though the grammar says otherwise, faith is a gift of God”. Never mind grammar, never mind context, never mind that Eph 2:5 tells us what “that” (by grace you have been saved) is. TULIP will be defended at all cost.
The fellow I am talking with is also leaning heavily on 1Cor 2:14 to claim that some faith, if it is not gifted by God is “false” faith. I asked how he knew his faith was not “false” and he said because the things of the Spirit (he means TULIP) are not foolish to him. TULIP is foolishness to me so maybe my faith is “false”; that’s the implication. I asked if he was comfortable accepting teaching from a “teacher” who refuses to affirm that he has assurance that he is of the “elect”. I asked how doubt like that could possibly be faith gifted by God. “Perseverance will tell”.
Phil, I think when one understands the gospel, he is inclined to believe it.
In the parable of the sower, soil one doesn’t understand, and remains unsaved.
Matthew 13:19: When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Soils 2-4 must understand in order to believe.
We are justified by the faith of Christ.
One of my favorite passages is Romans 4:24-25:
 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
The Bible says He is the justifier of them that believe in Jesus.
 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
It was Christ’s faithfulness to the plan of salvation by which we are saved. This allows us to be justified.
I think about it like this: if any part of the gospel was not true, our belief would be in vain. We must believe in Jesus in order to have eternal life. But, it is who He is, and what He has done, that saves us.
As to “faith of Christ” and “faith in Christ,” I try not to be too finicky with the language, because the Bible sometimes seems to use belief and faith interchangeably.
Romans 4:5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Luke 7:50: And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
I agree, saving grace is the gift of God. But when I believed the gospel of my salvation it was so wonderful how could I possibly say no. It was like an offer I could not refuse. I don’t want to sound like a Calvinist, but it was irresistible to me, Yet I know there are lots of people who do resist believing His gift of grace.
The KJV uses “the faith OF Christ”. I have never been sure how to clearly understand ‘faith of Christ’. Does it mean the faithfulness of Christ to complete his saving work, or does it mean our faith in his saving work, or is there more to this? Does “faith of Christ” mean the same thing as “faith in Christ.”?
I agree with you both. As I answered yesterday, I sometimes have the habit of answering one post without reading all the others first. I saw my comment was basically unnecessary once I continued to read.
John, I tend to answer in a similar way, making companion points is a good way to phrase it when someone is misunderstanding me as not agreeing, I like that verbiage.
Holly, I was trying to make two companion points, upon which I think we all agree.
1. You cannot tell whether or not someone is saved based on his behavior.
This applies to both people who “act like Christians” and people who don’t “act like Christians.”
This was point number 3 in the article “You Might Be A Lordship Salvationist If…,” linked below:
2. Agree that there are biblical standards for teachers.
Hi Holly yes, you’ve said more clearly what I was trying to get across:
Let’s say one who is a railer, (for example a James White or a Jacob Prasch). If their doctrine weren’t false, they should be disqualified as a teacher or someone to listen to by their behavior.
And Johninnc and I were speaking past each other. We both agree:
But as far as Christian behavior, as Johninnc aptly pointed out, outwardly they have all these wonderful works, but inwardly they are wolves…
Alice, exactly. Although those who state faith is the gift believe a certain pre-chosen people are ‘gifted’ with this correct faith. They claim (like A.W. Pink) that ones understanding must be ‘supernaturally enlightened’ and THEN the heart must be ‘supernaturally changed’ (regeneration BEFORE believing) and THEN the will needs broken (pretty funny considering they don’t believe in free will). He also states that the supernatural destiny of everyone is chosen by the ‘will of God’. They always seem able to explain away 2 Pet 3:9 .
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
and 1 Tim 2:1-6
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Alec, I don’t think kind Christian seeming people are the biblical marks of a Christian, I ‘think’ you are addressing the way one who is mature, and walking worthily. I do understand what you are getting at regarding their manner immediately disqualifying them.
Let’s say one who is a railer, (for example a James White or a Jacob Prasch). If their doctrine weren’t false, they should be disqualified as a teacher or someone to listen to by their behavior.
But as far as Christian behavior, as Johninnc aptly pointed out, outwardly they have all these wonderful works, but inwardly they are wolves…
Amen! That’s what I was just saying to my wife this weekend. Everybody has Faith, it’s the object of our Faith that matters and who we are trusting as our Saviour!
But, there is a big difference in saying that a person’s behavior is appropriate for a pastor and saying there are marks of a Christian.
The latter would make assurance of eternal life impossible.
Thank you. I will search for these.
What do you think about I Tim 3 and Titus 1.7? Those characteristics are intended for pastors. And also 1 Thes 5.22. We may not be able to tell what’s in a person’s heart, but we can tell if they are acting in a way which brings shame to Christ and the body of believers, right?
Alec, I don’t think there are biblical marks of a Christian.
However, I agree that biblical teachers who do not behave in a manner comsistent with biblical principles for teachers should be viewed with suspicion.
I agree wholeheartedly. Some of the kindest, most “Christian-seeming” people are wolves just as you say.
My point was just the opposite – teachers who behave contrary to the biblical marks of a Christian should be looked at with suspicion. James White in my opinion is one of these, as evidenced by his youtube interview with Chris Pinto in regard to Codex Sinaiticus.
Just search “John MacArthur Calvary Chapel” on YouTube. Two videos have the comments of MacArthur in the 90’s and the ones at the Strange Fire conference. One features Brian Brodersen who took CC Costa Mesa after Smith died. He contradicts JMac’s comments about Smith’s lack of education in regards to famous commentaries in favor of the Holy Spirit (the horror!). The other is a defense by Jacob Prasch. None of them I would recommend or follow, but they do bring up the hypocrisy and falsehoods that Jmac was putting out at Strange Fire.
romans 1 is the why and were the Faith of faith comes from
faith of all the ists isms and ites
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Alec, both John MacArthur and James White are false teachers. I cannot know whether either is a Christian.
Regarding someone acting like a Christian – I wanted to remind our readers that outward appearances can be deceiving.
Matthew 7:15: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
2 Corinthians 11:14: And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
If ‘faith’ is a ‘gift’ from God given only to the ‘elect’ but declined to the rest of humanity (non-elect),
where do the Muslims get their ‘faith’ in Allah/Muhammad?
or the Buddhists get their ‘faith’ in Buddha?
or the Hindus get their ‘faith’ in Krishna?
or the evolutionists get their faith in Charles Darwin?
‘Faith’ is simply an inner conviction that something is true or real.
In our case, we are convinced that Jesus Christ, the Son of God died for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification.
This comment thread is pure gold.
The observations regarding Macarthur and the LDS church are particularly interesting to me. I find Macarthur worrisome because of the “evangelical leader celebrity worship” which builds up these guys as pillars of the faith. In many circles he’s is revered as a pope speaking ex-cathedra. And then when they stumble or worse, people lose their faith.
Macarthur does behave like a Christian though. Cannot say the same thing about James White.
socalexile, would love to see the link to the youtube you mentioned at your comment on April 11, 2016 at 9:03 am.
Daniel, I am grateful for you and everyone at ExPreacherman.
I feel privileged to know you guys as well.
Russell, who knows – we may meet in the here and now. And, we will meet in heaven!
I feel very privileged to know you through ExPreacherMan.
I sure wish we could too Russell, but what a blessing to be able to meet here. I think it would be so great to have a fellowship gathering/retreat.
Holly and Johninnc, It finally clicked in my brain last night that it is referring to the new creation doing what is righteous. That only those who are born again can actually do what is righteous because they have been declared to be righteous. That is why the new man does not sin. Thanks for the help and again thanks for all the prayers.
I sure wish we could all meet in the here and now but I look forward to meeting each of you in heaven.
Russell, here are some of my thoughts, see if they make sense Biblically. The word used there in 1 John 2:29 for ‘practice’ is poieo which is a one time committing of sin, just like it is also used in 1 John 3:9 as John mentioned.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Wait a minute. We do commit sin, so how does that also compute? We are born again of the incorruptible seed (1 Pet 1:23), and that makes us righteous, perfected forever (Heb 10:10,14) by that one sacrifice.
Many versions translate it ‘practice’. Here it is in KJV.
If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
If we flip over to Rom 7:15-19, this time we see a couple curious things (it too is rendered ‘practice’ in NKJV or NASB, but KJV renders it ‘do’. It would have been better rendered practice in the places where it is prasso in this passage interestingly, Paul practices what he does not want to do. But either way, whether ‘do’ or ‘practice’ look at these verses.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
So he does righteousness in the new man, but in his flesh evil.
Russell, I am very thankful to hear that your final test came back cancer free.
I still see practicing righteousness referring to being in Christ (see 1 John 3:9).
First of all my final test came back cancer free. Praise God and thank you for the prayers.
Secondly regarding my question, what is confusing me is the phrase that we know that a person who practices righteousness is born of Him. That seems to be implying that outward obedience can be or maybe is an indicator of salvation. I know that this is NOT the case. Our salvation rests on the Word of God and I also know that unbelievers can also demonstrate very moral lives. This verse is not shaking my belief in any way of the free gift of salvation it just seems to be contradicting is all. Any more thoughts would be appreciated.
If I may post link to mesaage preached 1977 Im driving truck and up to message 18 so far in this study series. . In all my church going and radio listening i have not heard the bible taught like this.
This sermon series is filling in a lot of gaps in my thinking from my indoctrination
Pastor Leonard Radtke
Description: #3 – 1 John 2
Russell, I’m still praying for you.
I interpret 1 John 2:29 to refer to believers – those who have believed in Christ – His righteousness – for eternal life
Romans 3:25: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
This is as oppposed to those who are trusting in their own righteousness, and therefore work iniquity.
Matthew 7:21: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Can someone explain 1st John 2:29.
It states “If you know that He is righteous you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
You guys know where I stand on all this but I need a little help on this verse. Thanks.
PS Still waiting on the test results.
So true John, many are unaware he was a Calvinist and loadship teacher also.
He wrote the book, “A defense of Calvinism” as you are aware.
He says in it there are some whose minds “incline towards the doctrine of free-will” while his “as naturally inclines towards the doctrines of sovereign grace (Calvinism)”. (Not verbatim but close – Ecc 10:2 came to mind).
He says ‘he cannot understand why he is saved’…. and I find that amazing when if you do not understand why, then how do you preach to others what they must do to be saved?
He cannot understand how he can be a partaker of the divine nature when 2 Peter 1 tells us clearly it is because of His exceeding great promises (which are to all people).
Spurgeon says we are born by nature as Arminians…
If one will spend the time to prove all things with Spurgeon, if they will try the spirits, if they will search the Scriptures to see if what Spurgeon says is so, I believe they will discover the Emperor (or Prince of Preachers) does not have on clothes.
Holly, thanks for making sure to include Spurgeon on the list – so many people give him a pass. He was as bad as MacArthur, and yet he is revered as “the Prince of preachers,” in much the same way that the false teacher Billy Graham is lovingly referred to as “the Protestent Pope.”
Augustine does not use Eph 2:8-9 to prove his claim that faith is the gift of God, but he uses Phil 1:29:
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.
He uses that to prove that both faith and works is the gift of God, clearly showing where Calvinism, Catholicism and Loadship heresies have gotten a lot of their doctrine, not from clear exposition of His Word.
Source: On Christian Doctrine,” III.33
Faith is the gift proponents.
Of course – Augustine & John Calvin
R. C. Sproul
Matt Slick – CARM
Shane, I am thankful you are on solid ground and are building your walls with good things. Truth is so freeing isn’t it? (Jn 8:31)
Certain people I never did like, they didn’t sit right with me. But the question was, “who am I”? Knowing that I was not walking worthy, I assumed my ‘checks’ were my own issue with sinning. I could not stand Paul Washer, Ray Comfort, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, etc. I tried so hard to listen but I couldn’t, they just fog the mind. I wonder if that is why so many pastors put people to sleep?
I love, love good Bible teaching. One who uses the Word and trusts the power of the Word to do it’s work and accomplish what God pleases it to (Heb 4:12, Is 55:10-11). One who respects His Word (Is 66:2) and rightly divides the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15) and considers it good enough to use for all things (2 Tim 3:14-17).
I did not like ‘Papa’ Chuck and I so wanted to and tried, and yet I wasn’t in strong meat, and would have been unable to discern between good and evil. Thankful for the Lord and His Word and others who contend earnestly for the faith once delivered.
Shane, I am sorry that you went through that, but joyful that you have come out of it.
It’s funny that Chuck Smith is being discussed right now, as someone just directed me to his study in Ezekiel chapters 1 through 5. And in the middle of that study, he taught an extreme hardcore lordship salvation message. I was in CCCM for years, and I have to say, Chuck Smith undermined my faith and damaged it many, many times. I know he did that to many others, as well. So while the emphasis upon the Bible was a good influence that he had in general, yet that good influence was terribly overridden by the false gospel of works that he taught for really all of his life. Chuck Smith taught a false gospel of works, that, you must turn from sins and live clean enough to be saved, and commit your life to Jesus to be saved, and you still could lose your salvation at any point, so you need to keep analyzing your life. Chuck Smith was just as bad as MacArthur, Platt, Chan, and all the other lordship salvationists in that regard.
Yeah I’m not defending the man doctrinally, and I’m not saying he was faultless.
SoCal, “just abide in Christ and you’ll be eternally secure” is not what the Bible teaches.
Eternal security (as opposed to the absence of eternal security) is the only position that is consistent with grace.
BTW he’s defended rather over-zealously because he made quite an impact on a lot of people that feel they, in a sense, owe their salvation to him for telling them the gospel when no one else would, and to some, they feel he saved their lives.
And while I wasn’t saved in a CC, I spent my first couple years in one. They did a lot of ministry to youth by supporting the SoCal “rock revival” of the early 90’s. And their missionaries are on the front lines today (13 were martyred last year in Sudan).
Now if they only could get a handle on the churches in the US, and re-examine some of their views….
I appreciate what the man did. I don’t agree with him anymore on some doctrines, but what he did and how he did it is a good thing to tale a look at for someone looking to be a church leader.
Now the “Moses Model” was just a way to streamline church bureaucracy and avoid the internal strife that tore-up a lot of churches (and denominations). The primary issue with CC today is that there is very little oversight or accountability within the brand (and it is a brand, not a chain or denomination), and that level of oversight wanes the farther you get from Southern California and the core of the movement. There’s also a generational shift, as the core group that was directly mentored by Smith retires and dies off. Smith’s main mistake in regards to church administration was that he didn’t really leave anything in place to keep things in-line after he died. What was left was a free-for-all, loosely guided by the remaining elder pastors. IMO, that has led to the doctrinal errors of many CC pastors recently.
Doctrinally, Smith wasn’t a theologian by any means. He hated arguments and debates. There’s a story where he and another CC pastor were ambushed during a radio station interview where a atheist was brought on to “discuss” Christianity. Well, his answer to the first question was, “well that’s just stupid” and hung-up! The other pastor he was with finished the interview. He has remarked that he even switched his arguments depending on who he’s talking to. If it’s an Arminian, he’ll take a more “eternal security” stance; with a Calvinist, a more Arminian stance. Ultimately he mostly just told people “just abide in Christ and you’ll be eternally secure!” as a pragmatic stance rather than hard-core doctrine. He didn’t like the modern Calvinists like James White however, which rustled White’s jimmies. That may have led to MacArthur trying to win points in the Reformed circle by slandering him when it was popular to do so.
Smith did a lot of good for a lot of people and he did save a lot of people that other churches at the time rejected simply due to outward appearance, and the fact that they were in sin (gasp!). He’s a good study on how to love people, and he did take a stand against the legalism in his own church. When the hippies started showing up to CC Costa Mesa, some of his elders put up a sign that told the hippies (most of whom were living on the street) that no one was allowed to come in with bare-feet or dirty clothes (they had just put in new carpet and reupholstered the pews). When Chuck found out, he tore down the sign and told the elders that they should tear up the new carpet and get steel chairs if it was a problem, because no one was going to be turned away from the gospel. That’s an example of very good leadership that cares for the lost.
While the man has been lifted up on a high dias, he wasn’t free from fault, doctrinally, administratively, or personally. He was a simple preacher who opened to doors to a lot of lost people, and in that sense we should take notes.
Socal – An awful lot of people get very upset when you touch Chuck Smith who used the term “Moses model” when speaking of himself. All these people used each other to gain the name, fame, and power. Then (as wolves do) they began to turn on each other if it is going to make money and bring them more notoriety.
William, i am aware of the exchange and I keep the link to MacArthur’s site where he admits this in my “toolbox”.
What’s interesting is that after he says, “It’s hard to win that argument” he has to change the subject to their view of who Christ is. Why can’t he win that argument? Their doctrine of salvation is arguably as important as their doctrine of Christ. Because you can believe in the Biblical Jesus, but if you try to be saved on the basis of your own work it doesn’t do you any good.
The fact is that he couldn’t argue because he agreed with it. Now you have to take MacArthur’s account of things in his memory with a huge grain of salt because he’s been called into question on matters of integrity; namely the spat with Calvary Chapel over his misrepresentation of their history and of Chuck Smith at the Strange Fire Conference he hosted. Now I know some here don’t agree with Chuck Smith or Calvary Chapel, and I’ve changed my mind (repented!) of their teachings, but the fact remains that it was shown with video evidence how in the 1990s, MacArthur praised CC and Smith, when it was popular to do so; after Smith died, he not only switched position, he rewrote the historical account in regards to their origins in the Jesus Movement and subsequent growth. He also gave an account of personal interaction of Smith, that by the accounts of those who worked with Smith, is highly questionable. It’s all up on YouTube.
Bruce – thanks, so good to see you. I did a longer article a couple years ago on this subject and I included an excerpt from Charlie in that.
William, you may recall an article we did back in 2013 about the LS community in dialog with the mormons. See link below:
Socalexile, Did you know that the faculty of Brigham Young University was using John MacArthur’s book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” as a textbook to motivate their Mormon students as they said personally to MacArthur, “We’re very, very, concerned because there isn’t a love for Christ and there isn’t a submission to His lordship among our students. And so we found that book helpful”. MacArthur said he was “stunned”, and then thought to himself, “What did I leave out? I’ve got to go back and edit that book.”
Then the BYU faculty said to MacArthur, “We just came down to talk to you and ask if you would come to BYU and speak to our students and our faculty because we feel like, you know, we have so much in common.”
MacArthur continues, “And so I wanted to further the discussion to point out that we actually didn’t have anything in common and by the time the discussion was over at the end of the day, I said to them, “I think we understand each other better now. You do not believe God is a Trinity, therefore you have another God. You do not believe Jesus is God, therefore you have another Christ. And you do not believe salvation is by
grace alone, therefore you have another gospel. We have nothing in common. We have nothing in common.” Another God, another Christ, another gospel. Well, they said, “Can we continue to dialogue?” And I said of course. “But my purpose is evangelistic. I want to convert you to the truth and if you want to submit to that, have at it. I’ll keep it coming as long as you’re interested,” and I have. I don’t know what to do other than to pray that the scales will come off their eyes and they will see the deception. But one thing I wanted to be certain of when they left is their Christ was not the Christ of Scripture. Their God was not the God of Scripture.”
“And their gospel was not the gospel of Scripture. They actually said to me, “We believe in salvation by grace…by grace.”And I said, “Well you need to kind of describe that for me because I know enough about Mormon
theology to know that you’ve got to work.” I said, “If I want to get to heaven what do I need to do? What would I need to do?” They said, “You have to be baptized with some baptism, some special sort of secretive baptism. Join the Mormon church and you have to have a pattern of righteous conduct in your life and then you can be saved.”
“And I said, “That sounds an awful lot like salvation by works, not by grace.”
To which they responded, “No, God is gracious enough to let you work your way to heaven. It’s hard to win that argument. But if you have a wrong view of God and a wrong view of Christ, if your Christology or your theology or your gospel is distorted, you don’t have the truth. And here in this particular case there was a heresy confronting these people, John references it also in 1 John, in which there were some denying Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. And so in 1 John, John is very concerned about Christology, about the doctrine of Christ. In chapter 1 verse 3 he identifies Jesus Christ as the Son of God. In chapter 2 he identifies Jesus Christ as an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
My comment – Well, there you have it. MacArthur’s ” theology” of Loadship Damnation is basically the same as Mormon theology, but packaged a little differently. That explains why the BYU faculty was so attracted to MacArthur’s “textbook” like a magnet. Notice how MacArthur contradicts himself and his “doctrine” when he said regarding Mormon doctrine, “That sounds an awful lot like salvation by works, not by grace.” LOL!!!
that is one of many probing question’s i like to use with the saved confused pastors and lay leaders
“are my sins paid for ?”
if i sense any hesitation to a resounding YES to me it is a tell they maybe under the influence of another gospel or simply startled that someone would ask such a question
Jmac and other works for salvation would probably go into a 5 minute dissertation over something so simple
Nice observation socal , the redefining of a word , then those who do not seek out truth are caught and blinded by religion it keeps the lost lost
the saved confused .
The enemy of our souls can not take away from the ” the simplicity that is in Christ. so the enemy adds to the Gospel by works
Webster 1828 SLEIGHT, noun slite.
1. An artful trick; sly artifice; a trick or feat so dexterously performed that the manner of performance escapes observation; as sleight of hand.
2. Dexterous practice; dexterity.
google – sleight :
the use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive.
“except by sleight of logic, the two positions cannot be harmonized”
Strongs : SLEIGHT
From κύβος kubos (a cube, that is, die for playing); gambling, that is, (figuratively) artifice or fraud: – sleight.
Total KJV occurrences: 1
by the sleight of men
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
the simplicity that is in Christ.
2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
It’s great to hear from you.
The article that you linked is a good one.
Hi Holly and John!
Charlie Bing has a similar article which points out the theological and exegetical flaws of the “faith as a gift” position:
I wonder what JMac and the Mormon’s response would be that Christ simply paid the price for their freedom from bondage; that He paid the ransom price to rescue them from eternal doom and offered them an eternal home with His Father? Would they say, “Wonderful, but first I must also prove my faithfulness and worthiness to you Lord.”
To JMac, Mormons,,,You must accept Christ’s redemption on the terms of Christ’s finished work ONLY: there is nothing you can add to it. It is ALL the work of Christ. Our faith is simply our consenting to the redemption Christ offers: our faith links us to our salvation in Christ alone.
Excellent SoCalExile (I too left S.California if that’s what your name means).
Catholics also do the same.
Correct me if I’m wrong but LS and the Mormons have the same definition of what faith is:
“Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it’s the fruit of actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile…The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny”
– John MacArthur (Hard to Believe, p. 93)
“Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we exercise faith. We show our hope for something that we cannot yet see. ..You can exercise faith in Christ when we have an assurance that He exists, a correct idea of His character, and a knowledge that we are striving to live according to His will.”
-Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (True to the Faith, p. 54)
The Mormons will also tell you to your face that they believe in Ephesians 2:8-9. That we are saved by grace through faith, but they’ve redefined what “faith” in the same way MacArthur does (they also redefine grace and salvation).
It makes no sense to judge the salvation of a man on standards he doesn’t have to meet in order to be saved in the first place.
It is Jesus Christ who is the incorruptible seed we were born again by (1 Pet 1:23). They confuse being born again with faith being somehow a work. They make it part of the actually act of salvation, or being translated into eternal life.
It is not our faith that is the gift, for that gift would be perfect if so (James 1:17). IF faith was the gift but it is eternal life the gift. For as already noted in the article and also by comments of course, that would make this supposed gift of faith (were it true); imperfect.
I was really just thinking on this awhile ago, and posted a FB conversation in our FB group. The man had post after post after post proving ‘lack of choice’. Calvinists don’t preach Christ and Him crucified, they continue to preach the following over and over, starting with this telling quote by Calvinist B.B. Warfield.
The world should realize with increased clearness that evangelicalism stands or falls with CALVINISM (what? it falls only because of it).
Coming to Christ is not so easy or simple as men imagine it (Pink).
(This one is ironically sad and funny) – Keep calm and believe the Doctrines of Grace. (Again, what??? hypocrites, direct that to your god).
You cannot choose (typically citing Jn 15:16 spoken to his disciples).
God hates sinners (Evidently they do not believe God so loved the world or that they were sinners. How did God hate the elect if they were chosen before the foundation of the world? According to them.)
You merely adopted Calvinism, I was born into it (Yes, a Calvinist meme).
The ultimate destiny of all men is the will of God (Pink) – didn’t believe 2 Pet 3:9 regarding God is not willing ANY should perish
The ‘truth’ of election must be received with simple, unquestioning faith (Pink), Huh? Makes no sense if you don’t have it, why preach it?
You do not have free will.
Faith is not the cause of the new birth but the consequence of it (Pink).
A corpse cannot respond to truth. (The Bible says they suppress the truth in unrighteousness)
You all I am sure have far more, I just did an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ Calvinist 🙂
Faith is a human exercise, not a gift from God. It is generated from within a person’s heart because the person is convinced that the gospel is true. If faith came from God, then that will nullify man’s free will.
If God gave people the faith to believe, then why would Jesus rebuke His disciples for their “little faith” and “no faith”? Many Calvinists will no doubt argue that Jesus 11 disciples were saved because God had “infused” them with the “gift of faith” enabling them to believe. The “gift of faith” heresy is based upon an eisegesis of Ephesians 2:8-9 where the Calvinist takes this passage out of context and reads the “Calvinist theology” into the text. Calvinists just love to eisegete Ephesians 2:8-9 falsely claiming that faith is the “gift of God” infused on the “chosen elect few”. In their twisted eisegesis of that passage, they do not see faith as a human exercise where a person is convinced that the gospel is true. They perceive faith as a “work” on the part of man and according to their logic, that would give man reason to boast of his salvation. It is clear that the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8-9 is the free gift of eternal life.
In the New Testament we see instance after instance of Jesus disciple’s faith FAILING:
1) Matthew 6:30 – Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of LITTLE FAITH?
2) Matthew 8:26 – And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of LITTLE FAITH? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
3) Matthew 14:31- And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of LITTLE FAITH, wherefore didst thou doubt?
4) Matthew 16:8 – Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of LITTLE FAITH, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
5) Matthew 17:20 – And Jesus said unto them, Because of your UNBELIEF: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
6) Mark 4:40 – And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye HAVE NO FAITH?
7) Luke 8:25 – And he said unto them, WHERE IS YOUR FAITH? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
8) Jesus disciple’s faith failed in Matthew 8:14-21 when they discussed among themselves that they had no bread despite the fact that Jesus had just performed a great miracle by feeding 4000 people with bread and fish.
9) Jesus disciple’s faith failed in Matthew 16:7-12 when they said they had no bread despite the fact that Jesus performed the great miracles of feeding the 4000 and the 5000.
10) Jesus disciple’s faith failed in Matthew 15:16 when Jesus asked why they were without understanding.
11) In Mark 8:32, Simon Peter’s faith failed when he took Jesus aside and rebuked Him.
12) Even after Jesus resurrection, we see doubting Thomas’s faith failing – John 20:27. Then 11 of His disciple’s faith failed even after hearing of Jesus resurrection from Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:11 and Mark 16:14 where Jesus rebukes ALL 11 of His disciples for their lack of faith and failing to believe.
If faith was a “gift of God”, shouldn’t Jesus be rebuking the Father for giving a faith that is defective? I mean after all, if the “gift of faith” is from God according to Calvinism, it won’t fail. But with Jesus disciples we see instance after instance of FAILURE. Jesus rebukes His disciples for their weak faith because it was generated from within their own hearts. This also includes the Israelites, God’s chosen people in the OT, whose faith failed time and again in their worship of demon gods instead of God Himself.
In the New Testament we even see John the Baptist’s faith FAILING in regards to who Jesus was in Matthew 11:3, and Luke 7:19-20 with his question, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”
One should bear in mind that this John the Baptist is the same man who said in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”, but then later expresses doubt and uncertainty regarding the identity of Jesus.
Simon Peter’s faith failed when he denied Jesus 3 times, and then in Galatians 2:11-14 Paul rebuked Peter because he isolated himself from the Gentiles and by doing so the Jews joined in with his hypocrisy and also led Barnabas astray. Simon Peter’s faith failed and so did Barnabas’s in that they did not act in line with the truth of the gospel.
In Matthew 8:10, and Luke 7:9, Jesus commends the centurion’s great faith. Jesus commendation of the centurion’s great faith only makes sense if the centurion’s great faith was generated from within the centurion’s own heart. Hence, Calvinism’s “gift of faith” is debunked.
here is an example of faith of faith that takes a soul to lake of fire They had faith in their faith of searching the scriptures and missed the free gift of eternal life . Jesus offering it to them in person . the religious work their way into Hell . A soul does nothing to go to heaven but believe
And ye will not come to me
Joh 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Joh 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
I completely agree John. I didn’t realize at first when she started to sound cloudy and was unable to explain her position with Scripture (at least in my humble estimation). In the beginning, I thought the problem was mine, that I wasn’t as learned at she was. When I first started her class, her answer to a question would be something like this, “Please turn to this chapter and we’ll see what the Word says.” Somewhere after a few years she began to say, “This man says this” or “That man says that”, and finally I began to hear more and more quotes of men, or answers with commentary, THEN came the MacArthur Study Bible. This was before I knew too much about him, but I knew something was wrong so I bought a cheap hardcover one so I could do my proving. I didn’t need to, as her teaching began to deteriorate rapidly it seemed as she began to quote this pastor who seemed to be so well esteemed (and he is, but as I know now, that commends no one).
Anyways, she didn’t used to agree with Calvinism and even then before I understood much of all the points, (and probably preferred to be middle of the road), she used to speak against the points. When I began to understand more (departing from my previous lukewarm position), she began to become wishy washy and as time went on, she started identifying as being so many ‘points’ of the TULIP petals.
This is where compromise by people begins to distort the truth. I may not have explained it well, but I see so many that have either been made to stumble, or worse, they don’t and never have understood the gospel and are lost.
Holly, I think it is dangerous to have fellowship with people espousing any of the tenets of Calvinism.
All of the tenets are an attack on the gospel.
John, a few years back, a Bible study teacher who had been given a MacArthur study Bible, shared that she felt that faith was the gift of God. Two other older women chimed in and insisted this was true. They were new to the class and I believe attended her class with a John Politan here in town. He is preaching TULIP and it the power of god unto salvation (although I am sure he would not word it that way). In another Bible study a friend asked me what TULIP was. She had been encouraged to go to this same class, and the teacher (Politan from Scottsdale Bible Church) and his wife kept her after to tell her she needed to now move onto maturity and understand the higher things (TULIP).
People somehow think it is not dangerous to fellowship with such as these. But I do not believe this is somehow a slight theological difference, but a corruption of the truth of the gospel, and a distortion of God’s character likening it to the character of Satan, the god of this age who blinds people from believing the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.