In part-two of this series, Once Saved Always Saved, I will attempt to present a different and probable interpretation challenging RC Sproul’s, or the Calvinist position on Unconditional Election. Namely, that a more reasonable position should be considered, such as Conditional Election promoted by the students of Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). Jacob Arminius has stated that “the grace sufficient for salvation is conferred on the Elect, and on the Non-elect; that, if they will, they may believe or not believe, may be saved or not be saved.” Of course, I strongly agree with this statement.
The “Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine or also known as “unconditional election” was not a teaching held by any of the early church fathers. For almost 400 years of Church history, neither Jesus Christ, His apostles, nor the early Church Fathers taught anything resembling “unconditional election” until it was introduced by the prominent Church Father Augustine, in about 400 A.D. Centuries later the Swedish theologian John Calvin also began promoting the “unconditional election” doctrine. It appears that John Calvin came to defend and support this teaching based on his reading of Saint Augustine’s Treatise on the Gift of Perseverance, written around A.D. 429 that appears to promote the “Once saved always Saved” teaching.
In each of the passages I have listed below, if the acronym T.U.L.I.P were true, according to Calvinism not only does God give commandments for His people to obey [Exodus 20:1-17], but He is also the antagonist that causes His people to disobey them [Exodus 32:1-10]. If taken to its logical conclusion, it produces some very serious contradictions in the Word of God about God. I will quote for you only a few biblical passages below (12) and allow you to determine for yourself whether or not God is sovereign, and because of His sovereignty He denies mankind the privileges of freewill. Review the following scriptural verses (see Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 4:6-6-8; Exodus 20:4-5; Exodus 32:21, 23-24; Leviticus 10:1-2; Ezekiel 18:24; Matthew 7:24, 26; John 3:16, 19; John 8:31-32; Acts 22:4-5; Revelation 3:15, 20; Matthew 23:37-38). I think you will recognize that each verse, and there are dozens of passages like these, that God personally created man in order to form a relationship that encourages love, trust and obedience.
I will begin with a very familiar passage, using a necessary Calvinist approach. If Calvinism is true, this would be the appropriate Calvinist Rendition of John 3:16, 19, (of course, they would be highly offended by my statement). Afterwards, I will quote what the Bible actually teaches: Calvinism
“For God so loved only the Elect, that He gave His only begotten Son just for them, so that only the Elect could believe in Him so that they would not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent His Son into the world predetermined to reject the Non-Elect, that only the Elect could be saved through Him. The Elect who are predetermined to believe in Him will not be judged; but the Non-Elect who cannot believe is judged already, because God has predetermined that He would not allow them to believe in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and the Non-Elect (who were predetermined) by God, the were created/made to love the darkness rather than the Light, for the Non-Elect whose deeds are evil (predetermined by God), because they had no choice but to practice evil.” John 3:16-19.
But the Bible actually says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life…This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” John 3:16, 19 NASB
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 NASB
“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Genesis 4:6-8 NASB
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,…but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6 NASB
“Then Moses said to Aaron, What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?…For they said to me, Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. I said to the, Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off. So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” Exodus 32:21, 23-24 NASB
“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. and fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1-2 NASB
“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die.” Ezekiel 18:24 NASB
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock…Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” Matthew 7:24,26 NASB
“So, Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 NASB
“I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.” Acts 22:4-5 NASB
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot…Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:15, 20 NASB
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:37-38 NASB
If one compares the above scriptures with the passages listed in part-one of this series, it seems hard to believe that Calvinism presses so hard to promote the exclusive sovereignty of God, while denying the free-will of man, ignoring the copious scriptures that demonstrate otherwise. I am not aware of any true Christian that would deny the sovereignty of God. Apparently, scripture is filled with passages that indicate His sovereignty. However, to suggest that God’s sovereignty described in the Bible denies the participation or relationship He has with each individual based on election, and denies the general teaching taught throughout the Bible (where we frequently find man disobeying God). And to claim that God sovereignly forced people to disobey Him is ridiculous. Such position necessitates, which Calvinism believes, is that God causes or preordains people to disobey Him, and still holds them accountable for their actions – SIN – that He caused them to commit.
Of course, this is nonsense! This would necessarily place God into the category of a psychotic and/or schizophrenic sovereign ruler. God is definitely sovereign, no one would doubt that. Yes, although our God is Holy, Gracious and Merciful, He also passes Judgment upon the wicked, the children of disobedience. He has also, however, created and encouraged a genuine reciprocal relationship with His human creation. God has provided mankind with moral guidelines and allows each individual to decide whether or not they will accept or reject His mandate. Based on their individual decision and actions, they will likewise receive the just rewards or consequences. That’s what JUSTICE means. How dare we blame the sovereignty of God, claiming He imposes His will upon mankind making them practice evil, when humans are called to be responsible for their own actions [see Isaiah 1:18-20; Ezekiel 18; Revelation 3:14-22]. Therefore, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the passages noted above before we begin impugning the sovereignty of God, and denying the free-will of man – because the Scripture does not afford us that luxury.
Next month, in part-three of Once Saved Always Saved, the finally study of the series, I will provide a short conclusion and a brief outline of the five-points of Calvinism, T.U.L.I.P