Augustinism - alias, Calvinism

an Introduction

The following introduction is taken from Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?

Written by David Bercot pp. 148, 151-152. This article gives us a very good introduction to this topic.

I don't speak lightly when I say that Augustine, fourth century bishop of Hippo [North Africa], was the most influential Christian teacher of all time... The list of Doctrines and practices that Augustine either initiated or to which he gave his authority is impressively long. The following is only a partial list of what he taught:

  • that Mary was born and lived her entire life without actual sin (Augustine's On Nature and Grace chapter 42).
  • that unbaptized infants are eternally damned (Augustine's On Forgiveness of Sins and Baptism of Infants book 1 chapter 21).
  • that sex within marriage is an inherently debased act (Augustine's Enchridion chapters 26,34).
  • that war can be holy (Augustine's The City of God book 1 chapter 21).
  • there will be no literal millennium (Augustine's The City of God book 20 chapter 7).
  • there is no forgiveness of sins outside of the Roman Catholic church (Augustine's Enchiridion chapter 65).
  • that there is a purgatory fire (Earl E. Carins' Christianity through the Centuries page 161).
  • that the dead can benefit from the sacrifice of the Eucharist (Augustine's Enchiridion chapter 110).
  • that it is proper for a Christian state to persecute heretics (Augustine's Donatists chapter 2).

Now consider:

Augustine developed the following set of doctrines to support his teachings:

  1. As a result of Adam's fall, man is totally depraved. He is absolutely unable to do anything good or to save himself. In fact, he's even unable to believe or have faith in God. (Emphasis is mine not the author's.)
  2. Therefore, humans can believe in God or have faith in Him only if by grace He first gives them this faith or belief. Man has no free will to choose either to believe or not to believe.
  3. God's decision to save one person and condemn another, to give faith to one person and withhold it from another, is totally arbitrary. There's nothing we can do to influence God's choice.
  4. Before the creation of the world, God arbitrarily predestined (not simply foreknew) who would be saved and who would be damned. There's nothing we can do either in this life or the next to change these matters.
  5. The elect, those who were predestined for salvation before the creation, cannot possibly lose their salvation. Those predestined for damnation cannot possibly be saved.
  6. No one can know whether or not he or she is of the elect. God gives many people the gift of faith so that they believe, are baptized and walk in Jesus' commandments. However, some of them haven't been predestined for salvation and ultimately won't persevere. The gift of perseverance is a separate gift from that of faith. We have no way of knowing who in the church has been given the gift of perseverance. (These points are taken from Augustine's On Predestination of the Saints).

(From this point on we are no longer quoting brother Bercot.)

Hence, we can honestly state that Augustine is the founder of modern Roman Catholicism, and the doctrine known as Calvinism. This is why John Calvin was known as a reformer. Reformers wanted to take Catholicism back to the teachings of the early Catholic Fathers of which Augustine was by far and away the most influential. Brother Calvin believed the church should go back to the Doctrine known as predestinationism, and to change the church government.

Total Depravity

The remainder of this article is written by Bill Petri

The traditional Calvinist position says "the natural man in his fallen condition is totally unable in the slightest degree to contribute to or cooperate in his own regeneration" (J. Oliver Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, pg.138). On the surface this looks and sounds like a very obvious fact. The problem with this view is it takes faith out of the equation.

Romans 3:10-11

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: [11] There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

This passage is used as a support text for the Calvinist view of total depravity. They often will ask questions such as: "how can one believe before being regenerated if no one understands and no one seeks after God?" This is a very logical and legitimate question to ask. When studying the book of Romans we will see that this question was already answered in Romans, Chapter 1. Before we go there, we need to state that Romans 3:10-11 is true. It is not in man's essential makeup to seek after God. Romans 1:18-19 will show that God has already provided a remedy to this problem.

Romans 1:18-19

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

We see from these verses that God has done something to give all men enlightenment! He has done two things to induce comprehension in man. The first is "that which may be known of God is manifest in them." Paul clearly teaches there is no good thing in man (that is in his flesh Romans 7:18). This, however, does not change the fact that God has revealed something to every man (even the unsaved): the reality that some things about God are manifested in every man.

Romans 2:15

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

God, the very moment man sinned, gave to every person a conscience. This conscience gives man a knowledge of good and evil so that he has no excuse before God. It is also the conscience that God's Word appeals to.

John 8:9

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

In fact, one has to sear their own conscience in order to not respond to God!

1 Tim. 4:2

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

Hence, God in His infinite wisdom, mercy, and grace has chosen to implant even within fallen man enough consciousness of the distinctions between good and evil, so that he/she is without excuse. God manifested it in them!

The second thing God has done is stated in the second part of Romans 1:19 "for God hath shewed it unto them." The conscience is within man, but something is shown to man which is outside, or not part of him/her. What is shown is stated very clearly in verse 20.

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Man in and of himself would never seek God, but God did something fantastic to overcome this obstacle. He revealed Himself to man through His creative work. The creation speaks to the fact that there is a Creator. That is why the Psalmist can state: "the heavens declare (speak) thy handiwork..." This is why Paul in 1 Corinthians discusses the creation in order to give understanding about resurrection. God has given to man both an inward and outward evidence of Himself. Hence, He has given to man enough information so that he can begin to respond to God in some way. This is the marvellous truth that Paul speaks of in the following verse:

Acts 17:26-27

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; [27] That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (even the unbelievers!)

It is amazing when we "rightly divide the word of truth" how quickly the Scriptures answer flawed theologies such as Calvinism.

Unconditional Election

John Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, writes, "All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of these ends, we say that we have been predestined to life or to death" (3:21:7). Calvin further writes, "We say, then, that the Scriptures clearly prove this much, that God by His eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was His good pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was His good pleasure to doom to destruction" (3:21:7).

Hence Unconditional Election is also known as "Calvinistic Predestination." The Scriptures teach predestination, but not Calvinistic Predestination. Scripture predestination is where God predetermined, not the identity of the saved, but the character that the saved will have based on their identity in Christ!

What do Calvinists Mean by Unconditional Election?

1. Out of fallen humanity God chose certain people unto salvation. God, therefore, elects people.

2. The number of God's elect is fixed.

3. God does not elect individuals based on foreseen merit of any kind, including faith. Election is an act of God's sovereign choice.

4. God's election and calling are unchangeable.

5. The purpose and motive of God's election are for His glory.

Identity or Character?

What is foreknown by God in these verses? Personal identity? or character, purpose and plan?

Romans 8:29-30

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

This passage is very clear that the idea of predestination deals with a conforming work. What the passage says is that all saved individuals are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Notice the passage does not say that God predestined some to salvation. The issue in this passage is very clearly one of character, purpose, and plan.

1 Cor. 2:7

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

This passage simply tells me that God ordained the "mystery" before the world began. It has nothing to do with salvation other than what message would be proclaimed.

Ephes. 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: [4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Remember that God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:17). Hence, the above verse tells me that God chose the Body of Christ (collectively) before the foundation of the world, and that it would be holy and without blame. This verse does not say that individuals were chosen (notice the use of the word us). In fact, the verse says nothing about how an individual becomes a member of the Body of Christ.

Some Bible Texts Calvinists Misuse

Acts 4:28

For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

What was "determined before?" The death of Jesus Christ! This death had been prophesied as a part of God's plan (Luke 22:21-22; Acts 2:22-23). The Jews did not realize that they were fulfilling God's plan and He did not force them to kill His Son; they were accountable for their own actions. This is why Peter tells them to repent for putting Him to death.

1 Corinthians 2:7

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

The context of this verse clearly shows that it is God's plan of redemption that was foreordained. In verse 5 the power of God is in the gospel (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the issue in this passage. In times past it had been a mystery, not revealed (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-9). But now this plan is revealed as the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:3,5). This was for our salvation. It was part of God's eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:8,11).

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [29] For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

We need to ask ourselves: who is under consideration here? "Them that love God," not a few whom God loves. "The called according to His purpose": we are not called by a still, mysterious voice or by a direct operation of the holy Spirit, or by God Himself, but by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Those who hear, believe and trust the gospel are referred to as "the called" (Galatians 1:6). In Romans 8:28-30 we can see the unfolding of God's plan. God determined to send mankind a Saviour to die for all mankind. His death, burial, and resurrection were all foreordained before they actually took place. In that sense God predestined our salvation. It was not that He selected us individually to be saved or lost, but that those who believe and trust the gospel would be saved (the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The individuals who believe and trust the gospel are justified and glorified.

What is predestined in Romans 8:28-30? That we should "be conformed to the image of his Son." Thus, as in the next passage we shall look at, it was God's eternal plan that we become His children through Christ.

We are God's chosen people, not individually selected, but as a whole. The Body of Christ is God's chosen vessel to glorify His Son in the heavenly places, just as the nation of Israel was (and will be) God's chosen vessel to glorify His Son on the earth.

Ephes. 1:4-5

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

God had an eternal plan in mind, a scheme of redemption for those who accept it. Hence, those who chose to accept it are those who are "in Him" (Christ). We become God's children by faith and trust according to Christ's will (verse 5). (The will of the triune Godhead is mentioned for us in 1 Timothy 2:4.) Hence, we are adopted into a position of being "in Christ" by believing and trusting the gospel (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-6). The counsel of God's will in verse 11 then refers to His decision to send Jesus to redeem those who believe and trust the gospel alone!

How does God decide who will be His children? The Scripture says, "... through Jesus Christ;" "... through His blood;" and, "... according to the riches of His grace." The focus of being predestined is based on the work of redemption performed by Jesus Christ our Lord. I believe and trust that He did the work, that He paid the penalty, that He was righteous, and I rest in His complete work of redemption.

Unconditional Election is the point on which all five points of Calvinism hinge, and it is for this reason that we are looking at it in more detail than the other points. If this point is wrong, then all other points are wrong as well. Romans 9 is the major Scripture that a Calvinist will use to try to prove this point.

The writing of the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 9 is one of the most avoided and unread passages of Scripture. Those who believe in Calvinistic Predestination say these verses prove that God elects certain individuals, because it states: before they were born God loved Jacob but hated Esau.

Most theologians will try to position themselves so as to avoid giving a straight answer. The evangelicals will not talk about it. The reformed church apologizes for it. The vast majority of Christians today have not read, nor heard, about Romans 9. This passage, at face value, does seem to speak of predestined individuals, but in truth, it is not speaking of individuals, but nations.

Romans 9:8-9

That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. [9] For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

"The word of promise" refers to the promise recorded in Genesis 18:10. "... Sarah thy wife shall have a son..." This is made clear by the fact that Romans 9:9 repeats some of the promise recorded in Genesis 18:10. Hence, it is stating that it is the will of God which singles out and constitutes the peculiar seed that was to inherit the promise made to Abraham.

Romans 9:10

And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

A Jew might object by saying, "Ishmael was rejected, not by the sovereign will of God, but because he was the son of the handmaid, or bondwoman, and therefore unworthy to be the peculiar seed." But observe, this was not the only limitation of the seed of Abraham with regard to inheriting the promise. When Rebecca was with child by that one person of Abraham's seed to whom the promise was made (Isaac), she went to inquire of the Lord:

Genesis 25:22-23

And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. [23] And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

That is, the posterity of the younger shall be a nation much more prosperous than the posterity of the elder. This is speaking about two different nations, two manner of people, and not two individuals (Jacob and Esau). Jacob and Esau represent two nations.

Romans 9:11-13

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) [12] It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. [13] As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The word "children" in the text can be understood as nations based on the context of what has preceded and what follows. Genesis 25:22-23 confirms this.

"The elder shall serve the younger." These words, with those of Malachi, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Malachi 1:2-3), are cited by Paul to show that we are to understand this passage is speaking about nations, and not individuals. Hence, these words are used in a national, not in a personal sense. This is evident from historical facts. Jacob never exercised any power over Esau, nor was Esau ever subject to him. Jacob, on the contrary, was subject to Esau, and was sorely afraid of him. First by his messengers, and afterwards personally, he acknowledged his brother to be his lord, and himself to be his servant (see Genesis 32:4; 33:8,13). However, in the national sense Esau did serve Jacob!

1 Chron. 18:13

He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went.

This passage clearly shows the nation that resulted from Esau (Edom) was under subjection to the nation that resulted from Jacob (Israel). From these verses the true sense of the words immediately following "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated" (Malachi 1:2-3, Romans 9:13) fully appears; that is, that what he had already cited from Genesis 25:22-23 concerning the two nations, styled by the names of their respective heads, Jacob and Esau, was but the same in substance with what was spoken fourteen hundred years after by the Prophet Malachi. The unthankful Jews had, in Malachi's time, either in words or in their heart, expostulated with God and demanded of Him wherein He had loved them.

Malachi 1:2-5

I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, [3] And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. [4] Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. [5] And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.

It is very clear from these verses that the Prophet Malachi does not speak at all of the person of Jacob or Esau, but of their respective descendants, for it was not Esau in person that said, "We are impoverished; neither were his mountains laid waste." If the prophet Malachi speaks only of the descendants of Jacob and Esau, then it is equally evident that the Apostle Paul speaks of them in the same way.

It is equally clear that Romans 9 does not have any scriptural or rational ground for the decree of unconditional personal election and reprobation, which, comparatively, modern times have endeavoured to build on these Scriptures, because:

1. It is here proved that Esau is not mentioned under any personal consideration, but only as the head of his posterity.

2. The testimony of Scripture amply proves that all Esau's descendants were not, even in this sense, reprobated; nor all Jacob's descendants elected.

3. Neither does that service, or subjugation to Jacob, which the divine oracle imposed on Esau, import any such reprobation as some contend for; the servant may be elected, while the master himself is in a state of reprobation.

4. Were it even granted that servitude did import such a reprobation, it is certain that Esau, in person, never did serve Jacob.

5. Nor does the hatred of God against Esau import any such reprobation of the person of Esau, because it has been demonstrated that it related not to Esau personally, but to his seed.


1. God chose the Jewish people from all others, and revealed Himself to them. Thus they were the elect (not necessarily to salvation), and all the other nations of mankind reprobate.

2. When the fullness of time came He revealed Himself also to the Gentiles, through their Apostle - Paul. They then gladly received the Gospel; the Jews rejecting it were cast off. Thus the elect became reprobate, and the reprobate elect.

3. The Jews, the descendants of Jacob who rejected the salvation of Christ, became precisely like the Edomites, the descendants of Esau: they built, but God pulled down; their mountains and heritage are now laid waste; they have rejected the Lord that bought them, and so have brought upon themselves swift destruction. This is the entire context of Romans chapters 9-11.

No personal, absolute, eternal reprobation of Esau could have been intended. We learn this from what Scripture records for us about forgiveness under the Law Dispensation. Esau was reconciled to his brother who had so deeply wronged him by depriving him of his birthright and his blessing. His having forgiven his brother his trespasses is proof that God had also forgiven him (Esau - his person):

Matthew 6:14

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Hence, there can be assigned no competent ground of his damnation, much less of his personal reprobation from all eternity. But the parents perfectly understood their God, and saw no decree of reprobation in His message: "two manner of nations are in thy womb - and the elder shall serve the younger."

The Bible does teach predestination, but not the kind that Calvinists teach. The Bible does not teach that God has decided ahead of time who will be saved and who will be lost. We are free moral agents with the capacity to accept or reject God's terms of salvation.

Predestination or fore-ordination is what God did before the world began (Titus 1:2) as He determined to save man through His own Son. Those who believe and trust the gospel alone are now in Christ Jesus our Lord. Please read and consider the following verses prayerfully:

1 Cor. 15:3-4

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Romans 4:5

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Ephes. 1:13-14

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Limited Atonement

The doctrine of a limited atonement is a false doctrine taught by many in the professing church. Misguided preachers, teachers, and writers will wrest the clear teaching of God's Word to their own destruction. This brief article will clearly refute the false doctrine that Jesus died only for the elect. It is important for us to realize that Jesus Christ died for all men!

The main reason that Calvinists, and others in the professing church, believe in a limited atonement is that they cannot comprehend the fact that Jesus Christ could pay for the sins of everyone; yet most will spend eternity in the lake of fire. Most Calvinists wrestle with this because of the mistaken views they hold about the outworking of God's will. We therefore will begin with a discussion about God's will. I would like to restate some information about how God's will works. To begin with, are God's desires always accomplished? No, they are not. God's desire is that people do what is right and to not sin:

Proverbs 21:3

To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

People still sin in spite of God's stated desire. Was it the desire of God that Adam and his wife rebel? No! Was it God's stated desire that David commit adultery? No! They did the very thing God did not want, or will. God desires that all would repent.

Acts 17:30

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

It is equally clear that not all men have had repentance towards God. Clearly, God's will is not always done. In theology, when examining the issue of God's will and His allowance of sin, we distinguish between what is God's perfect will and His permissive will. In His perfect will He desires that all men sin not. But in His permissive will He allows sin to exist. God desires that sin not exist because it is contrary to His nature, yet He permits it by making a provision for it. This does not mean that God brought sin into existence, in fact, just the opposite. His nature does not allow Him to bring sin into existence. However, it came into existence despite God's perfect will. This is because He gave His creation a mind to choose between different options. Hence, God's permissive will operates when His creation makes decisions contrary to His revealed will. Incredibly, it will still work for God's glory, without God having to force any of His creation to do something contrary to their own will.

Gen 50:20

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Amazingly, this verse teaches that God's permissive will allowed someone to do something against God's perfect will. Furthermore, it worked to God's glory! In this example we see that God does not want sin, yet He made a provision for it, so that it could still work for His glory.

Consider also how evil people conspired, and eventually put Jesus to death. Was this God's plan that people sin and reject His son who had the message of life? Did not Herod and Pontius Pilate sin when they had Christ crucified? The answer is Yes! Yet, we see that God's permissive will allowed a work contrary to His will to bring about His will. Hence, God can will that all will be saved, and still have many that are not.


What God desires:

1 Tim. 2:3-4

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

What God desires:

2 Peter 3:9

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.


What God permits and planned for:

Romans 11:8

(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

What God permits and planned for:

Mark 4:11-12

And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: [12] That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.


These verses very clearly show how God can give a stamp of approval on things that are contrary to His will. We see that God says He does not wish any to perish. But, we can also see that God has allowed Israel to not see and to not hear. Likewise, we see that Jesus spoke in parables so that Israel could not see, and could not hear, and therefore could not repent. Therefore, when it came to Israel's salvation, God desired one thing and permitted another. Hence, God desires all to be saved, and yet, He brought about the destruction and judgement of all but eight people on the planet at one time.

2 Peter 3:5-7

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: [6] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: [7] But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

We see this idea of God's will being different from what God will do. God's perfect will is that all would be saved; God's permissive will is that in this example only eight were saved. We need to note that 2 Peter 3:9 does not say anything at all about those who are the elect. Calvinists will try to read those words into the passage because they fail to understand the idea of God's perfect will and His permissive will. Unfortunately, that is what will happen when a person will exalt one of God's attributes at the expense of all of His other attributes.

Limited Atonement is the teaching that Christ died only for those who would eventually be saved, but not for the rest of mankind. Loraine Boettner writes, "In accordance with this obvious truth, the Scriptures teach that Christ died specifically for His people; and nowhere do they teach, either directly or by good and necessary inference, that He died for all men alike" (Studies in Theology page 317). Several passages are then given in support of this statement.

John 10:11

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Acts 20:28

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Do these verses really prove the point being made? We must answer this question with a resounding no! Do the verses teach that Christ died for the elect? Yes! He indeed died for the Church, and for believers. But it does not say in those verses that He did not die for everyone else. In reality, the clear teaching of Scripture is that Christ DID die for everyone else.

Consider the following verses:

Romans 5:6-8

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. [8] But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. [2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

These verses very clearly teach that the individuals they speak of are lost. The verse also states very clearly that the Lord bought them. The heresies they teach is the denial of the fact that Christ paid the atonement price for them. This is the same heresy all five point Calvinists teach. They deny the completeness of Christ's atoning work!

The only conclusion one can reach is that Christ's death was suffered for everyone, but only those who believe enjoy the benefits of His suffering and death. The Apostle Paul states this so clearly in his Timothy epistles.

1 Tim. 4:10

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Note, He is the "Saviour of all men." Hence, it is clear that Christ died for all. In what sense is Christ the Saviour of all men? Christ died for the sins of everyone. He is the Saviour whether they believe and trust His work or not. But there is a special relationship between those who believe and their God (that is why the words "specially of those that believe" are used). Those who believe by a free will decision are the ones who receive the benefits of Christ's death.

Another way for us to show the distinction which Paul draws between Christ as "Saviour for all men" "but specially of those who believe" is explained very clearly for us by Pastor Joel Finck in his book The Power of God unto Salvation - Is the Gospel Enough. I quote him from page 20:

In Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 Christ states that He would "give His life a ransom for many." The Calvinist would point out that it only says "many," not "all." Yet Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:6 that Christ "gave Himself a ransom for all." We might first point out that under the prophetic program for Israel, the chosen nation was primarily in view as recipients of Christ's sacrifice, hence, Christ's use of the word "many." But with the revelation of the Mystery to Paul, the further truth of Christ's death for Gentiles is also in view, hence, the word "all."

"When Christ spoke of being a "ransom for many," the preposition translated "for" is the Greek "anti." This word means either "against" or "instead of." It is obvious that Christ was not given as a ransom "against" anyone, therefore, He meant that He would be a ransom "instead of" many. In other words, He would take their place in bearing the penalty of sin. Paul, on the other hand, states that Christ was a ransom "for" (Gk. "huper") all. This word has a broader range of meaning than "anti." In 2 Corinthians 1:11; 5:12; 8:24 it is translated "on our behalf" or "on your behalf." This is the sense in which Paul uses it in 1 Timothy 2:6. Christ gave Himself a ransom "on behalf of" ALL. It is certainly true that Christ did not die "instead of" the lost, for they will still bear the pain of eternal suffering, known as the "second death" (Rev.20:14). But it does remain true that Christ died on their "behalf." The only thing preventing their enjoyment of the blessings of the gospel is their unbelief. The fact is, they COULD be saved by trusting Christ, for His death was suffered for them too. When the sinner trusts Christ, His death "on their behalf" becomes His death "in their place."

Irresistible Grace

"The Holy Spirit works irresistibly, regenerating him (the saved) so that he understands fully that he is a sinner and needs God, and therefore, wants to be saved and believe." (The Five Points of Calvinism, by Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., pg.48)

Hence, the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace teaches that the Spirit is given to an individual and causes that individual to believe and be saved. Therefore, the Spirit of God can never be resisted because He, in His sovereign will, decreed that particular individual to salvation, this is why He gives that person the Spirit to bring about salvation. Often times Romans 9:18-19 will be quoted to support this heretical belief.

Romans 9:18-19

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. [19] Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

The Calvinist will take the last sentence as Bible Doctrine taught by Paul. The fact is, Paul is actually quoting the imaginary antagonist which he often uses to show his point. He is asking the question before anyone can actually voice it. Pay particular attention to the first statement "thou wilt say then unto me." Paul is in fact anticipating the response he will most likely get from some people. Calvinists quote, "who hath resisted his will?" as a proof text that no one can resist his will. But in fact, Paul will correct this erroneous thought in the very next verse!

Romans 9:20

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

In other words, "Who hath resisted his will?" Those who reply against God have resisted His will. Paul is actually showing in this passage that it is very possible to resist God's will and the Spirit!

How Does Faith Come? By Irresistible Grace, or God's Word via the Gospel

Romans 10:17

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Acts 4:4

Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

1 Cor. 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:



1 Cor. 4:15

For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

Can the Spirit be Resisted?

Acts 7:51

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Neh. 9:30

Yet many years dits thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.

Isaiah 63:10

But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.

Ephes. 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Genesis 6:3

And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

A conclusion we can make about the doctrine of Irresistible Grace is found in Titus 2.

Titus 2:11

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

If God's grace is irresistible every man on planet earth would be saved. All would be saved because grace has been extended to all men. The fact that all are not saved is proof that God's grace can indeed be resisted!

Perseverance of the Saints

The fifth and last point of Calvinism's Tulip system is the Perseverance of the saints. Many Christians hear this phrase and automatically think eternal security, or once saved always saved. Unfortunately, this is not what is really meant by the Calvinist's use of the words, "Perseverance of the Saints."

If an individual reads the Westminster Confession they will read the following:

True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God and His decree and covenant to give them perseverance, cannot fall away."

Notice, this doctrine teaches the reason a person does not fall away is because God continues to give faith to the elect, and therefore they remain saved. Typically a Calvinist will frequently use phrases like "you will know who the saved are by their fruits." Hence, if a person stopped believing or performing, that person would be lost. This is not eternal security!

What is eternal security according to the Apostle Paul - the Apostle of this Dispensation of the Grace of God? Eternal security in this dispensation is not dependent on our continuing in faith. The reality is that many will have their faith shaken, and many will not live a life that has an appearance of salvation. Eternal security is not based upon my performance, nor is it based upon my continuing to have faith, but rather it is based upon the sealing ministry of the holy Spirit.

Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

This is the doctrine of eternal security. Notice you have nothing to do with it in this passage. Paul is very clear in these two verses that an individual, the moment they believe and trust the gospel, are sealed with the holy Spirit. He is in fact the seal, does it not state "ye were sealed with..." If I write a letter, I place the letter into an envelope and then I seal the letter in the envelope to ensure that the letter reaches its destination without being lost. This is the same idea the Apostle Paul is trying to express in this passage of Scripture.

Paul does not state we are sealed until we stop believing, or until we mess up our Christian walk. Our salvation is secure at the very moment we believe and trust the saving gospel of 1 Cor.15:1-4. Paul affirms this once more in his Ephesian epistle.

Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

What would happen if we are unfaithful, or continue in ungodly behavior after being saved? Paul deals with this in 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we believe not (are not faithful), yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself" (the Spirit who seals us). In laymen's terms Paul is stating the fact that God cannot deny the Spirit which has acted as our guarantee that we cannot get out of Christ. This has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the seal which keeps us until we reach the "day of redemption." God "cannot deny Himself."

Rom 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Hence, the Calvinist doctrine of perseverance of the saints is not the same as the sealing ministry of the holy Spirit. If you would like to order the book Do the Scriptures Grow a T.U.L.I.P. by Pastor Bill Petri please click here.

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