Election is a dangerougs & demoralizing doctrine?

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:1-2

“In this, Peter refutes the greatest objection Arminians have about the doctrine of election. “If election is true, men can live as they please,” Arminians say. “Therefore election is a dangerous and demoralizing doctrine. If people glean their assurance in anyway from election, their holy walk with God will be compromised.”  Peter replies that the very purpose of election it to make men holy. God’s election does not destroy moral effort; rather, as Spurgeon notes: “God’s choice makes chosen men choice men.” And Thomas Watson says, “Sanctification is the earmark of Christ’s sheep.”

God wants to make His elect holy, for He has predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Sin. No one can then say, “I am elect therefore, I not need to be Christlike.” Rather, as Peter implies, a believer should say, “Because I am elect, I cannot avoid being Christlike.” God’s elect cannot be at peace living in sin; they cannot live under sin’s domination (Romans 6:11-14) or live counter to Christ and His will. If we are elect, God has committed all the fullness and glory of His resources to make us like His son. As surely as God has determined to save the elect from eternity past and provided the cross of Calvary as the means of that salvation, so He has determined that the effects of that salvation will be holiness, even into eternity.”

– Joel Beeke, Living For God’s Glory:An Introduction to Calvinism pg 65

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TULIP: L is for Limited Atonement

Limited atonement is the doctrine that teaches Jesus did not die for all. Instead, with his perfectly obedient life and sacrifice, He completely satisfied the justice of the Father and therefore purchased salvation (ever lasting life & reconciliation) for those the Father gave Him. These people are known in the Bible as the elect.


I believe that Christ came to complete Redemption. He did not come to open the door, or make salvation possible. Jesus did his job and he did all the way. He came to buy with his blood the souls of the elect. And that’s what his life, death and Resurrection accomplished. Anything less than this belief is unBiblical (in my opinion). How can a just, righteous God punish men twice for their sins? If Christ did in fact atone for the sins of all how could a just God then send one person to Hell? We go to Hell because of sin. Believers are going to heaven because Christ atoned for their sins. If Christ atoned for the sins of all, then Hell would not exist. Yet, the Bible is clear it does. So, if you reject limited atonement you are left with universal salvation or works based salvation, both of which are not Biblical in the least.

But what does Scripture say?

21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” -Mat. 1:21 (emphasis mine)

12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.-Heb. 9:12 (emphasis mine)

37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. -John 6:37,38

24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. -John 10:24-19 (emphasis mine)

It seems, to me, the Bible is clear about the atonement being limited. For me it comes to a simple question. Did Christ complete what He came to do? If we believe he did, then we cannot  believe unlimited atonement. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would see His soul satisfied. If Christ went to the Cross intending to bring salvation to every man, how could He ever be satisfied? How could his work be complete? It could not and would not be. But, praise be to God it is! Christ had good reason to say “It is finished!” It was! Just as a favorite quote of mine says, “The Gospel is good news, not good advice!”

 

For further reading I suggest:
The book of Romans (this book so clearly laid out all the doctrines of grace/TULIP for me)
Limited Atonement
The Atonement: Limited Or Unlimited? (Note: This is a 31 pg pdf file)
Tom Ascol: On Why Every Christian Must Believe Limited Atonement

Daisypath Wedding tickers

In my introduction post for limited atonement, I asked for disputes and got none. I did have about four people click the “disagree” button but no questions/comments refuting or even questioning this doctrine. So, as such, I did not touch on disagreements in this post. If some come up in the comments I may do a follow up entry for them.

TULIP: L is for Limited Atonement? Part 1

I’m doing the post(s) on limited atonement slightly different. I’m going to give a brief explanation of limited atonement in this post and ask for any objections (from Scripture).

So, what is limited atonement? Just what it sounds like – the idea that Jesus did not atone for everyone. Basically, Jesus did not die for everyone. And, if you believe in Hell then you believe in some idea of limited atonement. If you deny this then you are okay with people in hell saying, “Hey! But Jesus died for me too!” So, who did Jesus die for? The elect, i.e. the people that will be in heaven at the end of the age.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Let’s hear your disputes with Scripture references. If you cannot back your dispute with Scripture I won’t be responding to it. I plan to work any disputes into my longer explanation – which I hope to have posted by the end of next week.

Be Blessed,

PS. If you happened to see this post with tons of typos and misspelled words I apologize. I published it before proof reading on accident!

Calvin, Servetus, and The Synod of Dort

Before I continue on with my explanation of TULIP (started here and here) I wanted to talk a little about where TULIP came from and the story of John Calvin and Michael Servetus.

A common misconception is that John Calvin actually penned the five points of Calvinism/TULIP. In actuality, they were penned as a response to Five articles of Remonstrance by Jacob Arminius. These articles were reviewed at the Synod of Dort (which gave us the five points of Calvinism) and this was fifty-five years after the death of Mr. Calvin.

On to Calvin. John Calvin seems to have a very bad reputation among his modern day opponents. I have had people that really know virtually nothing about Calvin come out and yell, “Servetus!” while discussing anything to do with the Reformation, Calvinism, etc. For whatever reason, Calvin has been accused of burning Michael Servetus at the stake. This is not true. Servetus was wanted dead by nearly every religion in Europe for blasphemy. At his (Michael Servetus) trial in Geneva Calvin was called in to decide what was and was not blasphemy. Calvin urged the council to act with mercy towards Servetus. Calvin also witnessed to Servetus while he was in prison and all the way to the stake.

If you actually study the life John Calvin you almost have to conclude that he was a humble, man of the Lord. His life is certainly a testimony to that. Was he perfect? Of course not! None, of us are. If you hear the name John Calvin and automatically think “jerk” I encourage you to read about him. Don’t pronounce judgment on someone based on his “followers” or half-truths you may have heard.

I’m hoping to get the “L” of TULIP published soon (please bear with me as I’m trying to pack up my entire house too!)

Be Blessed,

TULIP: U is for Unconditional Election

I want to start explaining unconditional election by explaining election. The reason I want to start at election/predestination is because that alone is a big hang up for some people. I know people that have axed the word election from their Biblical vocabulary entirely. I’m always astonished at people that hate on Calvinists because they use the word election. Election is a Biblical concept, taught from it’s pages which means God is its author. Therefore, since it is a Biblically based concept, everyone should have knowledge of it.

There’s two basic ideas when it comes to predestination/election. The most popular and widely accepted idea (based on my interaction with other humans )is this:

  • Because God is all-knowing He simply looked down the corridors of time and choose the people that He saw would choose Him.

Well, obviously that cannot be reconciled that with the total depravity of man. I discussed here that man is not capable of choosing God while in his natural state. So, that throws idea number one out the window. So what is idea number two? Well it is a highly unpopular one that causes many people to break the second commandment. Here’s idea number two:

  • God choose, for all eternity, who would and would not be saved. He chose who to save and who not to save.

I know, I know … I can hear it now (because I’ve heard lots), “Not my god, oh no my god would never do that.” That is creating an idol. We cannot define God outside of scripture and we certainly should not be in the business of telling God what He can and cannot do.

I understand that this concept can be a hard one to grasp, stomach, accept, etc. Even Christians struggle with it. This is a concept that our flesh rails against massively. As humans we love the idea of saving ourselves and taking the glory away from God. Sometimes it takes just that little bit to quiet our flesh — for example, claiming we chose God.

But, let’s just see what the Bible says about predestination/election (because, again, it is a Biblical concept and everyone ought to have some sort of belief on it).

I think we can see election/predestination being played out in this passage as we hear God say He is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart.

1 And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:1-5

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, [1] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

It’s interesting to note here that in the last verse it says “those whom he called he also justified.” I’ve read a lot on this and tend to agree with Dr. John Piper when he talks about this verse. He basically says that all who are called are justified so not everyone can be called since, obviously, all people are not justified. Source.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us [1] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known [2] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee [3] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, [4] to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:3-14

I think those verses are pretty straight forward.

Other verses in this topic include Acts 13:48 and Romans 9:6-25.

The unconditional part of “unconditional election” is pretty straight forward. It means that man does not have to meet any certain criteria for God to choose to save him. The “unconditional” part really ties in to the “total depravity” part. As we work our way through T.U.L.I.P you will see that each piece works with the other pieces.
 
It’s important to note that unconditional election is not the same as unconditional salvation. Salvation may only be granted by a saving faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross. However, faith is not a prerequisite for election instead it’s the other way around, election is a prerequisite for faith.

I think that about sums it up for the “U” of T.U.L.I.P. Next will be the “L” for limited atonement.

There are many, many theologians who have said this much better than I. Here are some links to additional reading on the doctrine of unconditional election:

Be Blessed,

TULIP: T is for Total Depravity

A while ago, I told a friend I’d write a paper up explaining the Biblical premise for predestination/election. Instead of doing that, I’ve decided to make it into a series of blog posts. These will serve the purpose of explaining the cores of my belief and, of course, bringing glory to God for His word and His amazing plan (if you are already familiar with my beliefs feel free to skip these. Like I said, I did have a person specifically ask me about this).

Most of my close friends know I consider myself a Calvinist. I guess I’ve never really verbalized it like this, but here it is in writing … I am a Calvinist. I’d also like to point out that I professed a belief in the five basic points of Calvinism before I even knew who John Calvin was, what Calvinism is or any of that (I didn’t even know about the protestant reformation at all. I was basically a poster kid for ignorance). It wasn’t until someone called me a Calvinist that I looked into it and realized it was an accurate term for me.

God brought me to a saving faith in January 2009. I was the queen of blasphemy for years before that claiming to be saved and a Christian when I truly was not. I mention this to point out that I’m still an infant in Christ and have much growing to do.

I am open to civilized discussion about what I believe, but I do ask that you do not viciously attack or mock my beliefs. I would treat any beliefs different from mine with respect and that’s all I ask in return.

The Doctrines of Grace include five points. These five points are commonly referred to as, “The five points of Calvinism,” or “T.U.L.I.P.”. The five points are as follows:

1. (Or T) Total Depravity of Man
2. (Or U) Unconditional Election
3. (Or L) Limited Atonement
4. (Or I) Irresistible Grace
5. (Or P) Perseverance of the Saints

Now I will further explain each point, starting with Total Depravity for today’s post.

Total depravity of man is the concept that because of the Fall the nature of man has been so affected that we cannot believe the Gospel on our own. This suggests that in our natural state we are blind/deaf to the things of the Lord. I know this flies in the face of the commonly accepted “free-will” mindset, but this truly is Biblical. The Bible tells us that while we are in bondage to our sin we will never (and are in fact incapable of) choose God over the sinfulness of our flesh. Therefore, we know our conversion to Christianity is never in any part something we can take even the smallest amount of credit for. It is only by God changing our hearts that we are moved to repent and accept Grace. We have no part in our salvation. God gets all the glory anytime a wretch, such as us, is ever saved. Here is a wonderful quote from J.I. Packer that really drives this concept home:

“Why do you “thank” God for your conversion? It is because you know in your heart that God was entirely responsible for it. You thank God because you do not attribute your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, or prudence, or sound judgment, or good sense. You have never for one moment supposed that the decisive contribution to your salvation was yours and not God’s. You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize that you have to thank, not Him, but yourself for the fact that you responded to His call. Your heart revolts at the very thought of talking to God in such terms. In fact, you thank Him no less sincerely for the gift of faith and repentance than for the gift of a Christ to trust and turn to.” -J.I. Packer

The amount of scripture references to the evilness and wickedness of man in his natural state is endless. A great one:

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18

Here are a few more:

Ps. 51:5, Ps 58:3 and Rom 5:18-19 all touch on how we are sinners from our conception and how because of Adam being the head of the human race we have inherited his sinful nature. It’s interesting to note, I have yet to find verses that suggest we are innocent or any bit righteous at any point before God chooses to save us from our wicked ways. Scripture makes it painstakingly clear that we will only become righteous if it is God’s will.

Gen 6:5, Job 15:14-16, Ps 130:3, Ps 143:2, Pro 20:9, Ecc. 7:20, Isa 64:6, Jer 13:23, John 3:19, Rom 3:9-12, Jam 3:8, 1 John 1:8 – Because of our sinful, wicked ways we are literally incapable of doing good. (Good by God’s standard not the world’s.)

John 6:44, John 6:65, John 8:43-45, John 10:26, John 12:37-41, Rom. 3:10 -11 – Again, because of our sinful nature Scripture is clear that we are unable to come to God (or believe in him) by our own free will. Jesus was very clear on this in his teachings.

And lastly, we are unable to understand the Truth. John 14:17, 1 Cor. 2:14

Be Blessed,

*This is a post from the archives*