ELECT

eternallysecure

Election is a wonderful Biblical doctrine. It is sad that many professing Christians despise and oppose the truth of Scripture.  Many opponents of election, as well as the doctrines of grace, often dance around and twist clear passages of Scripture to support their viewpoint. If we are honest with ourselves and with the text, then the doctrines of grace cannot be opposed Biblically, but they are opposed out of sheer, willful ignorance.

I just want to clarify that this blog post is a look at the term “elect” as found in Scripture and not a complete exposition of the doctrine of election.

The Scripture’s use the word “elect” 17 times in 17 verses.  The Greek root eklektos (Strong’s G1588) is used 13x as “elect” and used 7x as “chosen” in the NT.   The Hebrew root  bachiyr (Strong’s H972) is used 4 times in the OT as “elect” and is also…

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A Brief Response to the Self-Proclaimed “Destroyer of Calvinism”

After discovering yet another “refutation of Calvinism” on Twitter yesterday, I felt compelled to respond, and thus I shall. I am hoping to make this “short and sweet”. The video, in which the “refutation” is presented, is very brief, and only amounts to one paragraph of text. I will type up a full transcript of the video, thus making it much easier to critique and respond to. Click here to watch the video. Below is a transcript of the video.

“Destroying Calvinism in less than one minute. If Calvinism is true and people are predestined by God to believe what they believe, then no can prove anything and anyone who changes their mind about something is predestined by God to change. And this would apply to everyone including Calvinists themselves. Therefore if Calvinism were true, we would never be able to verify that it is true. As a result, Calvinists are like naturalists and evolutionists. They both argue from a self-undermining worldview that can never be rationally justified.”

If you are like me, you are probably scratching your head right now. This 40 second clip of incoherent rambling amounts to, supposedly, the “destruction” of Calvinism? Throw away all of your books, burn the creeds and confessions, dismiss the history of Christianity, we have just witnessed the downfall of Calvinism (*sarcasm*). I will break this down, thought for thought, as best as I can. It is quite difficult to follow the argument due to its lack of cogency, but we will try.

“Destroying Calvinism in less than one minute. If Calvinism is true and people are predestined by God to believe what they believe, then no can prove anything and anyone who changes their mind about something is predestined by God to change.

This first portion, perhaps, is the most incoherent of all. To illustrate this, we need to break this down even further. First, “…if Calvinism is true…” (Premise A) is least significant, as it is not pertinent to the drawn conclusion. The main premise (Premise B), “…[if] people are predestined by God to believe what they believe…”, is the key component in this somewhat unusual attempt at deductive reasoning (perhaps, hypothetical syllogism ???) . The conclusion (C) is, “…then no can prove anything…”. Somehow, the author concludes that, if [hypothetically] A + B is true, then C is necessarily true, or, [hypothetical] (if) + [hypothetical] (if) =  [by necessity] (then). The question is, how in the world does the author draw such a conclusion from the stated premises? There is no elaboration on the implied argument of, “If our beliefs are predestined, then we cannot prove anything.” The author makes no attempt, at all, to demonstrate the supposed veracity of these mere assertions (which is truly all they amount to). Furthermore, the author adds, “…and anyone who changes their mind about something is predestined by God to change…”, but this is truly irrelevant to the main point of this argument. A change in one’s belief system has nothing to do with the ability (or inability) to prove the beliefs’ validity through one source or another. In reality, this portion of the argument amounts to nothing more than baseless assertions, lacking even the slightest attempt at substantiation. This is a classic example of a non sequitur fallacy. The conclusion is not, by any means, corroborated by the premises, and there is no elaboration on the alleged necessity of the stated conclusion.

“And this would apply to everyone including Calvinists themselves.”

Yes, this would apply to everyone, including Calvinists, if the stated conclusion is true (we will examine this closer in the next section).

“Therefore if Calvinism were true, we would never be able to verify that it is true.”

Viewing this as a separate conclusion to the first illustration, we must dismiss this as a begging the question fallacy. The author presupposes the validity of his first conclusion (“If Calvinism is true and people are predestined by God to believe what they believe, then no can prove anything…”), and then erroneously applies this presupposed validity to a newly introduced conclusion. This is faulty logic, to say the least. The author must first demonstrate the validity of the first conclusion before citing it as the means by which his second conclusion is validated. Ironically, the author claimed it would be impossible for me to respond to this article without “begging the question”*** (see below), yet this is precisely what we find when we examine this argument.

***The author claimed “genuine free will” is required for “free thinking”, and thus argues that, in order for me to respond, I must presuppose “genuine free will” and “free thinking” (as defined by the author, of course). This is fallacious on many accounts, namely it suggests that one is (in the author’s view) inherently aware of the ability to exercise “genuine free will”. I do not wish to get too detailed with this. However, if I have the desire to respond, and if I will to respond, then I can respond in accordance with my will. This is the exercising of my will, and is not, by any means, in opposition to Calvinism, or more specifically, compatibilism. The author’s assertions do not amount to forceful argumentation.***

“As a result, Calvinists are like naturalists and evolutionists. They both argue from a self-undermining worldview that can never be rationally justified.”This, again, assumes the stated conclusions are valid, which would not be an issue (per se) if the author had taken the time to illustrate the alleged connection between the premises and the conclusions. The irony of this statement is the author’s endorsement of street apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate, who is a Calvinist. Furthermore, the author seemingly adheres to presuppositional apologetics, which is dominated, both historically and currently, by Calvinistic apologists. It is the presuppositional methodology that (in my opinion) most adequately exposes the “self-undermining worldview” of naturalists and evolutionists by proving the inability of the naturalistic worldview to account for absolute, immaterial, universal laws, such as the laws of logic. Dr. Greg Bahnsen (also a Calvinist), brilliantly illustrated the naturalist’s dilemma when he applied the transcendental argument in a debate with (atheist) Dr. Gordon Stein. Click here to watch this debate. Thus, these unfounded conclusions are even more confusing in light of the author’s implied usage of presuppositional apologetics, given its rich Calvinistic history.


After watching this video, I sought to engage the author in hopes of obtaining a clearer view of his/her position. Though I gained some clarity, it was quite difficult to get a “straight answer” from the author. At one point, the author tweeted, “Isn’t it a fact that if our beliefs are predestined/predetermined, nobody can prove anything? LOL”. This is the precise assumption the author insists on making throughout the video. The supposed factual basis of this notion is never illustrated, nor is it even argued for; rather, it is merely assumed. This, my friends, is not an example of sound, logical argumentation. Nonetheless, the author is brazenly arrogant in declaring this so-called “destruction” of Calvinism, as illustrated by the “LOL” following the previous statement. This is quite difficult to understand given the argument presented in this video. Essentially, it is equivalent to me saying, “This video is wrong”, and declaring victory. If anyone were to question me, I would boastfully pose the question, “Isn’t it a fact that this video is wrong? LOL”.

I do not intend on venturing into the realm of defining and defending compatibilism at this present time. It would be fruitless to do so. Brilliant minds of the past (and present) have already settled the logical consistency found in the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the free agency of man. Click here if you would like to read a wonderful article on the subject. The bottom line is that the Bible is the unchanging source of truth, and it is the highest standard by which we measure truth. Calvinists appeal to the Bible for the declaration and defense of Calvinism. Click here for a detailed list of Biblical support for T.U.L.I.P. Calvinism does not need liberation from secularist claims of alleged philosophical inconsistency. Reformed Theology rests on the foundation of “What saith the Scriptures?”.

“What God reveals in His Book we accept. We bow to the authority of Holy Scripture. We come to the Word of God, to be taught. However unpleasing to the natural mind the revealed truth of God may be, we acknowledge its supreme rulership. Our task is not to question, our duty is rather to accept and obey.” ~Ian Paisley~

In conclusion, the author’s attempt to “disprove” Calvinism (namely on philosophical grounds) is proven to fail to stand against scrutiny. The ridiculous claim of, “Destroying Calvinism”, is unfounded, unsupported, and unworthy of acceptance. This video has done nothing to advance the ranks of the non-Calvinist attacks against the grand truths of Holy Writ. This is yet another example of how the articles/videos that obnoxiously claim to “destroy Calvinism” or “totally refute Calvinism”, are typically the worst attempts at doing so.

“In all this opposition to the absolute will of God, we see the self-will of the last days manifesting itself. Man wanted to be a god at the first, and he continues the struggle to the last. He is resolved that his will shall take the precedence of God’s. In the last Antichrist, this self-will shall be summed up and manifested. He is the king, that is, to do “according to his will.” And in the free-will controversy of the day, we see the same spirit displayed. It is Antichrist that is speaking to us, and exhorting us to proud independence. Self-will is the essence of anti-christianism. Self-will is the root of bitterness, that is springing up in the churches in these days. And it is not from above, it is from beneath. It is earthly, sensual, devilish” ~Horatius Bonar~

***Interestingly, the author admits to favoring open theism, which (if understood correctly) explains a whole lot concerning the argument found in this video. The theological and philosophical implications of open theism are horrendously dangerous to Christianity, as demonstrated by theological stalwarts such as Dr. John Frame, John Piper, and Bruce Ware, as well as many others. It is my prayer that the author will forsake open theism.***

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope it has been helpful to you.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Does Romans 5:18 Debunk Calvinism?

“The sense in which a word is used is determined, first of all, by the immediate context.” -John Murray

Several hours ago, a video posted on Twitter was brought to my attention. I will not reveal who posted the video, for it is quite irrelevant. I will, however, say that I fear this person is falling prey to the deceptive tactics of a woman who is notorious for causing division among believers. The video is only about 120 seconds long, but it makes the egregiously bold claim of “debunking Calvinism” by merely sharing Romans 5:18 and briefly commenting on the verse. I do not intend on this blog being very long; I do not think the “refutation” requires a lengthy rebuttal. Nonetheless, I would like to respond to this video, and to provide a Reformed perspective on the verse. You can click here to watch the video. Also, please click here to read a blog I wrote that covers the Biblical usage of “all” and “world” extensively.

So, let us begin by examining Romans 5:18.

KJV“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

NASB95“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”

ESV“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

NKJV“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”

HCSB“So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone.”

If you watched the video, you observed the argument is that “all men” (KJV) cannot possibly change its meaning in the same sentence (not “sentance”, as spelled in the video). This is a common argument from critics of Calvinism, though it is not often cited by the more “advanced” critics. I think we will see why in just a moment.

To test the logic of the video, I will apply the exact same definition/range of “all men” (KJV) to both of its occurrences:

1.) “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation…” – We know that every human being is under the judgment of God due to the universal range of sin’s effects. The sum of Scripture makes this very clear (Genesis 8:21; 1 Kings 8:46; Romans 3:23; etc…). Thus, the first occurrence of “all men” refers to literally every person that will ever live.

2.) “…even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” – If we follow the argument set forth in the video, we must conclude that all men are justified, which obviously is not true. Some emotionally-driven anti-Calvinists on Twitter have committed rank eisegesis by attempting to interject various conditions into this verse. However, theologians throughout the ages have recognized that the latter segment of this verse either teaches universalism, or, the “all men” is restricted to the a mere portion of humanity (though there is variance on who the portion is). Some theologians (even some notable one) have attempted to skirt around the issue, but the consensus, as far as I can tell, recognized the dilemma presented above. It is only recently (2oth century) that revisionist scholars have begun to cite this verse in favor of universalism. In this era of “tolerance”, we ought to expect such devilish arguments from unregenerate liberal scholars (I ask that you pay special attention to Moo’s commentary below; he will address this issue in greater detail). We know that Paul is not teaching universalism, as it would contradict his epistle to the Romans, as well as the sum of Scripture. We know that “all men” will not be justified. Thus, we ought to know that this cannot possibly be referring to every member of humanity, past, present, and future, being justified and/or made righteous.

Though I have only presented a brief, basic refutation of this non-issue that supposedly “debunks” Calvinism, I am confident in the reader’s ability to have already discerned the silliness of the argument set forth in the video (many of you did so without reading a single word of mine). Nonetheless, I will still post several excerpts from some of the most respected commentators of the past and present, and thus “seal the deal” on this so-called “refutation” of Calvinism. Many of these commentators are Calvinists, and thus will provide the framework for the Reformed position on this verse, which is my intention.

Douglas Moo

“In the last paragraph we have spoken of “justification leading to life” as applicable to believers. But does not Paul’s explicit statement that this justification leading to life is “for all people” call into question the propriety of so confining justification only to some people? Indeed, this verse simply makes explicit what seems to be the logic of the paragraph as a whole, as Paul has repeatedly used the same terminology of those who are affected by Christ’s act as he has of those who are affected by Adam’s. And if, as is clear, Adam’s act has brought condemnation to all, without exception, must we not conclude that Christ’s act has brought justification and life for all? A growing number of scholars argue that this is exactly what Paul intends to say here. Recently, for instance, A. Hultgren has urged that the universal statements in this passage must be taken seriously, as descriptive of a “justification of humanity” that will be revealed at the judgment. Some people are justified by faith in this life, but those who do not accept the offer of God in this life are nevertheless assured of being justified at the judgment.

Such universalistic thinking is, naturally, very appealing—who likes the idea that many people will be consigned to the eternal punishment of hell? But if, as seems clear, many texts plainly teach the reality of such punishment for those who do not embrace Christ by faith in this life (cf., e.g., 2 Thess. 1:8–9; Rom. 2:12; and the argument of 1:18–3:20), those who advocate such a viewpoint are guilty of picking and choosing their evidence. But can we reconcile the plain universalistic statements of this verse with these other texts that speak of the reality of hell? Some deny that we can, suggesting that we face a paradox on this point that God will resolve someday. Others argue that what is universal in v. 18b is not the actual justification accomplished in the lives of individuals, but the basis for this justification in the work of Christ. Christ has won for all “the sentence of justification” and this is now offered freely to all who will “receive the gift.” Nevertheless, whatever one’s view on “limited atonement” might be (and the view just outlined is obviously incompatible with this doctrine), it is questionable whether Paul’s language can be taken in this way. For one thing, Paul always uses “justification” language of the status actually conferred on the individual, never of the atonement won on the cross itself (cf. particularly the careful distinctions in Rom. 3:21–26). Second, it is doubtful whether Paul is describing simply an “offer” made to people through the work of Christ; certainly in the parallel in the first part of the verse, the condemnation actually embraces all people. But perhaps the biggest objection to this view is that it misses the point for which Paul is arguing in this passage. This point is that there can be an assurance of justification and life, on one side, that is just as strong and certain as the assurance of condemnation on the other. Paul wants to show, not how Christ has made available righteousness and life for all, but how Christ has secured the benefits of that righteousness for all who belong to him.

In this last phrase, we touch on what is the most likely explanation of Paul’s language in this verse. Throughout the passage, Paul’s concern to maintain parallelism between Adam and Christ has led him to choose terms that will clearly express this. In vv. 15 and 19, he uses “the many”; here he uses “all people.” But in each case, Paul’s point is not so much that the groups affected by Christ and Adam, respectively, are coextensive, but that Christ affects those who are his just as certainly as Adam does those who are his. When we ask who belongs to, or is “in,” Adam and Christ, respectively, Paul makes his answer clear: every person, without exception, is “in Adam” (cf. vv. 12d–14); but only those who “receive the gift” (v. 17; “those who believe,” according to Rom. 1:16–5:11) are “in Christ.” That “all” does not always mean “every single human being” is clear from many passages, it often being clearly limited in context (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:32; 12:17, 18; 14:2; 16:19), so this suggestion has no linguistic barrier. In the present verse, the scope of “all people” in the two parts of the verse is distinguished in the context, Paul making it clear, both by his silence and by the logic of vv. 12–14, that there is no limitation whatsoever on the number of those who are involved in Adam’s sin, while the deliberately worded v. 17, along with the persistent stress on faith as the means of achieving righteousness in 1:16–4:25, makes it equally clear that only certain people derive the benefits from Christ’s act of righteousness.” (1)

John Murray

“Perhaps the most crucial question that arises in connection with this verse is the extent of the apodosis—“through one righteous act judgment came upon all men unto justification of life”. Is this to be interpreted as embracively as the terms appear to imply? In the protasis we must conclude that the extent is universal. For the judgment of condemnation did pass upon all without exception (cf. vss. 12, 14, 15, 17). Must we assume that the same applies to the apodosis? There is no possibility of escaping the conclusion that, if the apostle meant the apodosis to be as embracive in its scope as the protasis, then the whole human race must eventually attain to eternal life. There is no escape from this conclusion by distinguishing between the objective provision and subjective appropriation. Nor is it possible to evade this inference by placing upon the justification of life an attenuated interpretation such as would be compatible with everlasting perdition. The justification with which the apostle deals in this verse is that with which he is dealing in this particular passage and in the epistle as a whole. It is the justification that takes account of the multitudinous trespasses of those who are its recipients (vs. 16); it is the justification in which grace abounds (vs. 15), in which the recipients reign in life through Jesus Christ (vs. 17); it is the justification by which the justified are constituted righteous (vs. 19); it is the justification that issues in the permanent standing of peace with God (vss. 1, 2). To put the issue of this justification beyond all dispute it is sufficient to appeal to verse 21. This is surely the apostle’s summation of the entire argument—“as sin hath reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. The righteousness and the justification with which verse 18 deals can be nothing less than those which issue in everlasting life, and the expression “justification of life” is itself capable of no other interpretation.

When we ask the question: Is it Pauline to posit universal salvation? the answer must be decisively negative (cf. 2 Thess. 1:8, 9). Hence we cannot interpret the apodosis in verse 18 in the sense of inclusive universalism, and it is consistent with sound canons of interpretation to assume a restrictive implication. In 1 Cor. 15:22 Paul says, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”. As the context will demonstrate the apostle is here dealing with the resurrection to life, with those who are Christ’s and will be raised at his coming. The “all” of the second clause is therefore restrictive in a way that the “all” in the first clause is not. In like manner in Rom. 5:18 we may and must recognize a restriction in the “all men” of the apodosis that is not present in the “all men” of the protasis. What the apostle is interested in showing is not the numerical extent of those who are justified as identical with the numerical extent of those condemned but the parallel that obtains between the way of condemnation and the way of justification. It is the modus operandi that is in view. All who are condemned, and this includes the whole human race, are condemned because of the one trespass of Adam; all who are justified are justified because of the righteousness of Christ. But we are not to give to justification the denotative extent of condemnation, and the parallel does not demand this.” (2)

Thomas Schreiner

“Adam as the head of the human race sinned as our representative, and we are sinners by virtue of being in corporate solidarity with Adam. Many theologians have explained the connection in terms of the imputation of Adam’s sin to his descendants. This explanation accounts for the wording of the text, which repeatedly attributes death and condemnation to Adam’s one sin. It accounts for the analogy between Adam and Christ, for just as Adam functioned as the head of the human race, so too did Christ. Finally, it also explains why only Adam’s first sin was imputed and not the rest. It seems that the corporate solidarity of the human race is undeniable. We are all affected by the sins and actions of our ancestors, and human beings entered the world in a state of spiritual death as descendants of Adam. Thus all people inevitably sin because they enter the world alienated from God. Paul is not interested in sorting out whether people are condemned only because of Adam’s sin, for he never conceived of separating individual sin from Adam’s. To those in Christ, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness. At precisely this point the contrast between Adam and Christ emerges, and the wonder of grace shines brightly. As sons and daughters of Adam we enter the world spiritually dead and sinners. But God, in his grace, has reversed the baleful results of Adam’s sin by imputing the righteousness of Christ to us. Such an imputation is an act of grace; it is totally undeserved.

This solution does not answer all the questions. Someone might object that each human being should enter the world as Adam did instead of entering the world alienated from God. But it is difficult even to conceive of a world in which we are so isolated as to be completely unaffected by our parents and ancestors. All people enter the world separated from God, and only the doctrine of original sin satisfactorily explains why sin is a universal experience among all human beings. Empirically, the doctrine has been confirmed throughout human history, from generation to generation, from one end of the world to another. Even the most superficial knowledge of human history, contemporary society, and ourselves confirms the truth of the pervasiveness of human sin.

Another theological issue raised by these verses is universalism. If all become sinners through the headship of Adam, then does it not follow that all shall be counted righteous through the headship of Christ? Paul seems to draw this very conclusion, for he specifically says that just as “many” (πολλοί, polloi) died (v. 15) and were counted sinners (v. 19) through the transgression of Adam, so too “many” (πολλοί) have received an abundance of grace and shall be counted righteous through the work of Christ (Hultgren 1985: 86–93). The universal character of Christ’s work is strengthened by the thesis that πολλοί is equivalent to πάντες (pantes, all; cf. Jeremias, TDNT 6:536–45; Hultgren 1985: 90). The “many” that fell through Adam must refer to “all,” and for the comparison to stand, the same must apply to the “many” who have received the grace of Christ. The equivalence between πολλοί and πάντες is substantiated by verse 18. There the condemnation brought by Adam falls on “all people” (πάντας ἀνθρώπους, pantas anthrōpous), while the justification obtained by Christ also obtains for “all people” (πάντας ἀνθρώπους). One can understand, therefore, why K. Barth (1956a: 20, 41–43) appears to embrace universalism in his study on this text (cf. Hultgren 1985: 82–124). Boring (1986; cf. de Boer 1988: 173–75) says that this section clearly teaches universal salvation, but admits that this contradicts the Pauline claim elsewhere that those who reject Christ will perish. He suggests that we should not examine this issue on the propositional level—where the two propositions contradict—but we should retain both sets of statements as pictures or images. As pictures or images of God’s intentions, both statements have a message for human beings, but if we try to make both cohere propositionally we must admit that Paul contradicts himself.

Boring’s solution is unpersuasive, for the Pauline threats of punishment do not even work as pictures or images if ultimately no threat exists. Images that have no reality lying behind them (especially threats of eternal punishment) are hollow and lacking in integrity if the author does not believe that such punishments will in fact occur. If a contradiction is truly present, then we must dismiss Paul’s teaching and form our own theology on the issue, for Paul would then not be a sure guide as to the actual fate of human beings. But is a contradiction actually present? Verse 17 provides a clue that the grace of Christ is not dispensed universally to all people without exception. Reigning in life is a reality for “those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness.” Bultmann (1962: 158) contends that the substantival participle οἱ λαμβάνοντες (hoi lambanontes, those who receive) indicates that not all are in Christ but only those who have chosen to belong to him (cf. Bornkamm 1952: 87; Morris 1988: 240; Ridderbos 1975: 340–41; Stott 1994: 159). This fits with Paul’s insistence that faith is necessary for a person to be in Christ. Boring (1986: 286–87) counters that οἱ λαμβάνοντες should not be construed actively in terms of human choice. Instead, he prefers a passive meaning, so that the participle denotes the gift all human beings receive from God. Murray (1959: 198) also argues that οἱ λαμβάνοντες signifies that those who have received the gift of righteousness are recipients of God’s grace. The accent then falls on God’s effective grace, not on human response. The use of λαμβάνειν (lambanein, to receive) in Paul confirms that the reception of what God has given is prominent (cf. Rom. 1:5; 4:11; 5:11; 8:15; 1 Cor. 2:12; 3:8, 14; 4:7; 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 3:2, 14; 1 Tim. 4:4). Nevertheless, Boring leaps beyond the evidence because he understands the reception as occurring outside human consciousness. Receiving grace may be a divine work that overcomes human resistance, but for Paul this divine work manifests itself through the human will. Thus in Galatians the reception of the Spirit does not occur apart from faith (Gal. 3:2, 14). Paul’s understanding of grace, as it is set forth in Rom. 6, makes abundantly clear that he could not conceive of a work of grace that did not transform human beings in this life. Thus God’s grace works, not around or beyond human consciousness and will, but in and through them.

The above comments on the effectiveness of God’s grace on the human will aid us in understanding the universal language of verses 15–19.The πολλοί and πάντες who have been affected by Christ are not coterminous with the πολλοί and πάντες affected by Adam’s sin. The latter group is universal, but the former group is restricted to all those who belong to Christ. This is suggested, as I have already argued, by the context of Romans as a whole. Chapters 1–4 stress that human beings must exercise faith to be justified, while chapters 5–8 insist that those who receive God’s grace live a transformed life. Paul did not conceive of grace that left human beings unaffected in their consciousness and behavior. Universal language is used of Christ’s work to signify that all people without distinction (both Jews and Gentiles) are the recipients of God’s work, which is quite different from saying that all people without exception receive his grace. By referring to the universal ramifications of Christ’s work, Paul trumpets the inclusion of the Gentiles into God’s people (1:16; 2:9, 10; 3:9, 23; cf. Dunn 1988a: 285; Stuhlmacher 1994: 88). In addition, Moo (1991: 357) observes rightly that the word “all” does not always mean every human being (8:32; 11:32; 16:19). Here it designates all those who belong to Christ.” (3)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

“Does the sweeping language used (“the many” being all men) suggest that all mankind will be brought within the circle of justification, so that none whatever will be lost? Some have thought so. But if the doctrine of universalism were being taught here, Paul would be contradicting himself, for he has already pictured men as perishing because of sin (2:12; cf. 1 Cor 1:18). Furthermore, his entire presentation of salvation has emphasized the fact that justification is granted only on the basis of faith. We must conclude, therefore, that only as “the many” are found in Christ can they qualify as belonging to the righteous.” (4)

The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Kruse)

“Paul statement that ‘just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people’ would appear on first reading to imply that just as Adam’s trespass affected all people without exception, so also Christ’s righteous act likewise affects all people without exception, and in fact there are those who argue that this is what Paul intends. But this would be a misreading of the apostle, for already he has said that it is ‘those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness’ who will ‘reign in life’ (5:17, italics added). The ‘all people’ of the latter part of the phrase is best understood to mean all who receive the gift of grace, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.” (5)

John Gill

“Therefore as by the offence of one, &c.] Or by one offence, as before, the guilt of which is imputed to, and judgment came upon all men to condemnation; which word is used in a law-sense, and intends condemnation to eternal death, as appears from the antithesis in the text; for if justification of life, means an adjudging to eternal life, as it certainly does, the judgment or guilt, which is unto condemnation, must design a condemnation to eternal death, the just wages of sin: and this sentence of condemnation comes upon all men, all the sons of Adam without exception, even upon the elect of God themselves; though it is not executed upon them, but on their surety, whereby they are delivered from it: even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life; the righteousness of Christ being freely imputed without works, as it is to all the men that belong to the second Adam, to all his seed and offspring, is their justification of life, or what adjudges and entitles them to eternal life. The sentence of justification was conceived in the mind of God from eternity, when his elect were ordained unto eternal life, on the foot of his son’s righteousness; this passed on Christ at his resurrection from the dead, and on all his people as considered in him, when they, in consequence of it, were quickened together with him; and this passes upon the conscience of a sinner at believing, when he may, as he should, reckon himself alive unto God, and is what gives him a right and title to everlasting life and glory.” (6)

Matthew Poole

“Here, after a long parenthesis, the apostle returns to what he had begun to say in ver. 12; and now he makes the comparison full in both members, which there, by reason of intervening matter, was left imperfect, as I before hinted. Judgment; guilt, which exposeth to judgment. Came upon all men; all the posterity, or natural seed, of the first Adam. The free gift; that which all along he calls the free gift, seems to be the benefit believers have by Christ’s obedience. Came upon all men; not all universally, but all sorts of men indifferently, Gentiles as well as Jews; or all that are his spiritual seed. Or all men here is put for many men; see elsewhere, Luke 6:26; Acts 22:15. Many is sometimes put for all, as Dan. 12:2, and again all for many; and indeed these two words, all and many, seem to be used reciprocally by this context in particular, ver. 15, and 19.”

Charles Hodge

“The second question of importance respecting this verse is, whether the all men of the second clause is co-extensive with the all men of the first. Are the all who are justified for the righteousness of Christ, the all who are condemned for the sin of Adam? In regard to this point, it may be remarked, in the first place, that no inference can be fairly drawn in favour of an affirmative answer to this question, from the mere universality of the expression. Nothing is more familiar to the readers of the Scriptures than that such universal terms are to be limited by the nature of the subject or the context. Thus, John 3:24, it is said of Christ, “all men come to him;” John 12:32, Christ says, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” Thus the expressions, “all the world should be taxed,” “all Judea,” “all Jerusalem,” must, from the nature of the case, be limited. In a multitude of cases, the words all, all things, mean the all spoken of in the context, and not all, without exception; see Eph. 1:10, Col. 1:20, 1 Cor. 15:22, 51, 2 Cor. 5:14, &c. This limitation is always implied when the Scriptures elsewhere speak of a necessary condition connected with the blessing to which all are said to attain. It is everywhere taught that faith is necessary to justification; and, therefore, when it is said “all are justified,” it must mean all believers.

“By him,” says the apostle, “all that believe are justified from all things,” &c. Acts 13:39. As if to prevent the possibility of mistake, Paul, in ver. 17, says it is those who “receive the gift of righteousness” that reign in life. Even the all men, in the first clause, must be limited to those descended from Adam “by ordinary generation.” It is not absolutely all. The man Christ Jesus must be excepted. The plain meaning is, all connected with Adam, and all connected with Christ. A reference to the similar passage in 1 Cor. 15:22, confirms this interpretation, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive;” that is, shall be made partakers of a glorious resurrection and of eternal life. Thus the original word (ζωοποιηθήσονται) and the context require the latter clause of that verse to be understood. The all there intended are immediately called “they that are Christ’s,” ver. 23, i.e. all connected with him, and not numerically the all that die in Adam. This interpretation is necessary, because it is impossible, with any regard to scriptural usage or truth, to carry the opposite interpretation through. In this whole passage there are two classes of persons spoken of—those connected with Adam, and those connected with Christ. Of the former, it is said “they die,” ver. 15; “they are condemned,” vs. 16, 18; “they are made sinners,” ver. 19, by the offence of one man. Of the latter it is said, that to them “the grace of God and the gift by grace hath abounded,” ver. 15; that “they are freely justified from many offences,” vs. 16, 18; that “they shall reign in life through Christ Jesus,” ver. 17; that “they are regarded and treated as righteous,” ver. 19. If these things can be said of all men, of impenitent sinners and hardened reprobates, what remains to be said of the people of God? It is not possible so to eviscerate these declarations as to make them contain nothing more than that the chance of salvation is offered to all men. To say that a man is justified, is not to say that he has the opportunity of justifying himself; and to say that a man shall reign in life, is not to say he may possibly be saved. Who ever announces to a congregation of sinners, that they are all justified, they are all constituted righteous, they all have the justification of life? The interpretation which requires all these strong and plain declarations to be explained in a sense which they confessedly have nowhere else in the Bible, and which makes them mean hardly anything at all, is at variance with every sound principle of construction. If the all in the latter part of the verse is co-extensive with the all in the former, the passage of necessity teaches universal salvation; for it is impossible that to be justified, constituted righteous, can mean simply that justification is offered to all men. The all who are justified are saved. If therefore the all means all men, the apostle teaches that all men are saved. And this is the use to which many Universalists have put the passage. As, however, not only the Scriptures generally, but Paul himself, distinctly teach that all men are not to be saved, as in 2 Thess. 1:9, this interpretation cannot be admitted by any who acknowledge the inspiration of the Bible. It is moreover an unnatural interpretation, even if the attention be limited to this one passage; because as death on account of Adam supposes union with Adam, so life on account of Christ supposes union with Christ. It is all who are in Adam who are condemned for his offence, and the all who are in Christ who are justified by his righteousness. The modern German commentators, even those who do not hesitate to differ from the apostle, admit this to be the meaning of the passage. Thus Meyer says, Die πάντες ἄνθρωποι in the first clause, are die gesammtheit der Adams-generation, and in the second clause, die gesammtheit der Christus-generation. Philippi says, “The limitation of the πάντες ἄνθρωποι is of necessity to be assumed. It can only mean all who believe.… The apostle views, on the one hand, the generation of those lost in Adam, and on the other, the generation of those saved in Christ.”” (8)

The New Bible Commentary

“In vs 18–19 Paul finally states the full comparison between Adam and Christ. The verses are parallel, each of them comparing the way in which Adam’s trespass/disobedience has brought condemnation and sinfulness to the way in which Christ’s one act of righteousness/obedience has brought justification and righteousness. But does the parallel between them extend to the universal effects of these results? This might seem to be the case, since Paul asserts in v 18 that the effects of both Adam’s act and Christ’s extends to all men. Yet Paul elsewhere plainly repudiates the idea that all people will be saved (e.g. Rom. 2:12; 2 Thes. 1:8–9), and v 17 also makes clear that it is only those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness who will reign in life. Therefore, we must understand the universalism of v 18 in terms of the representative significance of each individual: the effects of Christ’s action extend to all who belong to him, just as the effects of Adam’s action extend to all who belong to him. All people, without exception, belong to Adam (v 12); but only those who come to faith, who ‘receive the gift’, belong to Christ (see also 1 Cor. 15:22–23).” (9)

Albert Barnes

“With reference to that justification which is connected with eternal life. That is, his work is adapted to produce acceptance with God, to the same extent as the crime of Adam has affected the race by involving them in sin and misery. The apostle does not affirm that in fact as many will be affected by the one as by the other; but that it is fitted to meet all the consequences of the fall; to be as wide-spread in its effects; and to be as salutary as that had been ruinous. This is all that the argument requires. Perhaps there could not be found a more striking declaration any where, that the work of Christ had an original applicability to all men; or that it is in its own nature fitted to save all. The course of argument here leads inevitably to this; nor is it possible to avoid it without doing violence to the obvious and fair course of the discussion. It does not prove that all will in fact be saved, but that the plan is fitted to meet all the evils of the fall. A certain kind of medicine may have an original applicability to heal all persons under the same disease; and may be abundant and certain, and yet in fact be applied to few. The sun is fitted to give light to all, yet many may be blind, or may voluntarily close their eyes. Water is adapted to the wants of all men, and the supply may be ample for the human family, yet in fact, from various causes, many may be deprived of it. So of the provisions of the plan of redemption. They are adapted to all; they are ample, and yet in fact, from causes which this is not the place to explain, the benefits, like those of medicine, water, science, &c. may never be enjoyed by all the race. Calvin concurs in this interpretation, and thus shows that it is one which commends itself even to the most strenuous advocates of the system which is called by his name. He says, “He [the apostle] makes the grace common to all, because it is offered to all, not because it is in fact applied to all. For although Christ suffered for the sins OF THE WHOLE WORLD (nam etsi passus est Christus pro peccatis totius mundi), and it is offered to all without distinction (indifferenter), yet all do not embrace it.”” (10)

William Hendriksen

“We can understand that one trespass resulted for all men in condemnation, but what does the apostle mean when he states that also for all men one act of righteousness resulted in life-imparting justification? If in the first case “all men” means absolutely everybody, does not logic demand that in the second instance of its use it has the same meaning? The answer is:

a. The apostle has made very clear in previous passages that salvation is for believers, for them alone (1:16, 17; 3:21–25, etc.).
b. He has emphasized this also in this very context: those alone who “receive the overflowing fulness of grace and of the gift of righteousness” will reign in life (verse 17).
c. In a passage which is similar to 5:18, and to which reference has been made earlier, the apostle himself explains what he means by “all” or “all men” who are going to be saved and participate in a glorious resurrection. That passage is:
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward those who are Christ’s, at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:22, 23). Here it is clearly stated that the “all” who will be made alive are “those who are Christ’s,” that is, those who belong to him.

But though this answer proves that when Paul here uses the expression “all” or “all men” in connection with those who are or will be saved, this “all” or “all men” must not be interpreted in the absolute or unlimited sense, this still leaves another question unanswered, namely, “Why does Paul use this strong expresssion?” To answer this question one should carefully read the entire epistle. It will then become clear that, among other things, Paul is combating the ever-present tendency of Jews to regard themselves as being better than Gentiles. Over against that erroneous and sinful attitude he emphasizes that, as far as salvation is concerned, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. The reader should carefully study the following passages in order to see this for himself: 1:16, 17; 2:7–11; 3:21–24, 28–30; 4:3–16; 9:8, 22–33; 10:11–13; 11:32; 15:7–12; 16:25–27. As concerns salvation, says Paul, “There is no distinction. God shows no partiality.” All men are sinners before God. All are in need of salvation. For all the way to be saved is the same.
In a day and age in which, even in certain evangelical circles, the unbiblical distinction between Jew and Gentile is still being maintained and even emphasized, it is necessary that what God’s Word says about this, particularly also in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, be pointed out.

Note that in verse 18 we are told that the one trespass resulted in condemnation for all, but that the one act of righteousness resulted in justification issuing in life. This shows that justification not merely overturns the verdict of “guilty,” setting aside the sentence of doom, but also opens the gate to life.” (11)

END OF COMMENTATORS

As you can see, there is slight variance, even among Reformed scholars. Some commentators vary more severely than others. For instance, Albert Barnes sways from typical Reformed viewpoints with his thoughts (so does Calvin, shockingly to some), but nonetheless both were rooted in firm Reformed convictions. If you did not notice, none of the commentators even hinted at the idea of this verse “debunking” Calvinism. This verse is not a problem for Calvinists. The only “problem” for Calvinists related to this verse is the presupposed, erroneous interpretation presented by the “less advanced” critics of Calvinism. Regardless of this, there is unquestionably unity in rejecting the argument set forth by the video. None of the commentators had their Calvinistic leanings “totally refuted” by the verse, as the video claims. Calvinists declare Sola Scriptura and Tota Scriptura; we fully embrace every verse. I want to close by repeating a portion of the excerpt found in “The New Bible Commentary”:

“Therefore, we must understand the universalism of v 18 in terms of the representative significance of each individual: the effects of Christ’s action extend to all who belong to him, just as the effects of Adam’s action extend to all who belong to him. All people, without exception, belong to Adam (v 12); but only those who come to faith, who ‘receive the gift’, belong to Christ (see also 1 Cor. 15:22–23).”

Thank you for taking the time to read this! Please check out my other blogs on Calvinism, and on the “brilliant” attempts at “debunking” it. It is my prayer that God will be glorified through the declaration and defense of His eternal truth as found in the Holy Scriptures, and that you, the reader, might be edified, and built up in the truth of His Word.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

REFERENCES

(1) – Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 342–344). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

(2) – Murray, J. (1968). The Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 202–203). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

(3) – Schreiner, T. R. (1998). Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 289-292). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

(4) – Harrison, E. F. (1976). Romans. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans through Galatians (Vol. 10, p. 65). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

(5) – Kruse, C. G. (2012). Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (D. A. Carson, Ed.) (p. 251). Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos.

(6) – Gill, J. (1809). An Exposition of the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 456). London: Mathews and Leigh.

(7) – Poole, M. (1853). Annotations upon the Holy Bible (Vol. 3, p. 495). New York: Robert Carter and Brothers.

(8) – Hodge, C. (1882). A commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (New Edition, pp. 268–270). Grand Rapids, MI: Louis Kregel.

(9) – Carson, D. A., France, R. T., Motyer, J. A., & Wenham, G. J. (Eds.). (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1134). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

(10) – Barnes, A. (1884–1885). Notes on the New Testament: Romans. (R. Frew, Ed.) (p. 134). London: Blackie & Son.

(11) – Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 182–183). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Another Response to “Confront Calvin”

2016 is barely underway, and we already have a front-runner for “The Worst Blog of the Year” award. The author, Darrell Brantingham (aka “Confront Calvin”) has made a name for himself when it comes to blatant inaccuracies, gross misrepresentations, and unapologetic slander of what he thinks is Calvinism. I have addressed one of Darrell’s blogs in the past. Upon doing so, Darrell accused me of “viciously attacking” him. Apparently, criticism is not welcomed by Mr. “Confront Calvin”. This is quite ironic considering Darrell has devoted his social media life to… criticism. What I aim to show here is that the criticism Darrell produces is horrendously misguided and, regardless of his motives, is fully deserving of open rebuke. I hope to make this short and sweet. In order to do so, I will not copy/paste/address every sentence in Darrell’s blog, but rather will address a portion of it, and the main arguments set forth by him. Please click here to read Darrell’s blog.

As you can see, the topic Darrell addresses is [what he thinks to be] the Calvinistic application of Acts 13:48. According to him, this verse “seems to be Calvinism’s best passage as it pertains to proving their position“. He concludes his introductory paragraph by saying, “Romans 9 is not a good argument given the true context of the chapter is about Israel. John 17 is clearly about Jesus and his preparation of those who would carry the gospel to the nations. Verses in John 6 are refuted by the context that surrounds them. Then we have Acts 13:48 and one’s first impressions is that this one verse seems to state that some people were saved because they had been appointed to life which for Calvinists would be a proof of unconditional election.” This type of argumentation would be categorically rejected by anyone in a scholarly setting. Darrell attempts to define the entire theological system of Calvinism with a few passages, and then asserts that no support for it is found in any of the passages. Case closed. “Another one bites the dust”, right? That is not cogent argumentation; rather, it is baseless assertion after baseless assertion. I am very confident that anyone with even a slight amount of honesty can see that this is true. Before addressing Darrell’s attempt at commentary on Acts 13:48, I think it is necessary to address various assertions he makes in his blog.

Immediately after this “brilliant” intro, Darrell says, “However Acts 13:48 deserves a much deeper analysis since it is just one verse and it appears to be the only passage in all of scripture that proves Calvinism.” Is any comment necessary? I think the erroneous and inconsistent logic, followed by a reiteration of the same flawed attempt at framing Calvinism in his own terms, is plain for all to see. Darrell persists with this same “assert and hide” / “jab and run” methodology for much of this blog, and truly it is the same with all of the blogs of his that I have read. This next paragraph is, perhaps, the worst of all.

Unfortunately context is not valued by most Calvinists. Context is often ignored by Calvinists who seem to be very good at simply lifting a verse here and a verse there these verses pulled willy-nilly out of the Bible are knit together for some doctrinal proof that is not simply not there when read in context.”

Again I say… is any comment necessary? I mean, obviously, Darrell has proven that Calvinists do not value context in the preceding paragraphs, right? He has surely laid the foundation of evidence for such weighty accusations, right?

Anyways… Did you catch his typo? He states, “doctrinal proof that is not simply not there when read in context.” The “doctrinal proof” produced by Calvinists is “not simply not there when read in context”. I agree, Darrell. It is not simply not there.

Further on in the blog, Darrell states, “What we see here is Paul clearly crushing Calvinism before Acts 13:48. Paul preaches a gospel “of everyone who believes” which proves that believing is the key to salvation.” Notice, Darrell attempts to downplay the importance of faith in Calvinistic soteriology. He places Calvinism at enmity with a Gospel that saves “everyone who believes”. He has grown so calloused toward Calvinism that he is wholly incapable of fair criticism. I addressed much of this in my previous blog (click here), but for now, let us quickly refute this false distinction by examining some thoughts of actual Calvinists on faith. John Calvin writes, “The principal hinge on which faith turns is this, that we must not consider the promises of mercy, which the Lord offers, as true only to others and not to ourselves; but rather make them our own, by embracing them in our hearts.” (1) Calvin again states, “Faith brings nothing of our own to God, but receives what God spontaneously offers us. Hence it is that faith, however imperfect, nevertheless possesses a perfect righteousness, because it has respect to nothing but the gratuitous goodness of God.” (2) Calvin, in alignment with the Reformed doctrine of Sola Fide (by faith alone), states, “With respect to justification, faith is a merely passive thing, bringing nothing of our own to win the favor of God, but receiving what we need from Christ.” (3) Augustine of Hippo (a “Calvinist”who preceded Calvin) declares, “There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith.” (4) Lastly, A.W. Pink highlights the necessity of faith in salvation by saying, “Repentance is the hand releasing those filthy objects it had previously clung to so tenaciously; faith is extending an empty hand to God to receive His gift of grace.” (5) I have already spent too much time on this. If anyone actually believes that Calvinists do not believe and declare Sola Fide, then such an error is truly not worthy of the time it takes to address it.

Now that we have had a few chuckles, let us move on and address Darrell’s primary argument. (Once we find it, that is…) If you read his blog, you will notice that he shares Acts 13:48 alongside the surrounding verses, and then gives his commentary on the passage. I will now attempt to accurately and honestly present Darrell’s argument in a concise manner, in his own words, and then respond.

Verse 46 is the key verse for understanding Acts 13:48 because it is direct context.  Paul and Barnabas announce to the Jews who are rejecting the gospel that they will now preach that gospel to the Gentiles.

Therefore it is very clear that God has chosen to now offer salvation to the Gentiles so that they might believe and that is what Acts 13:48 is really about.

The context here is ALL about the GENTILES believing after the Jews rejected the gospel.

Pause… So, for now, Darrell is saying that verse 46 is the key to understanding verse 48; that verse 48 is really about God choosing to now offer salvation to the Gentiles (I suppose Cornelius does not count); and that special emphasis should be placed on the fact that the believing Gentiles of verse 48 only believed after the Jews rejected the Gospel. Let us now continue…

The word that Calvinists seize for this verse is the word “ordained” which some versions translate as “appointed.  If you remove this word, the Calvinist notion that God has chosen predestined these people in verse 48 goes away completely making it worthless to Calvinism. But since the word does occur Calvinism attempts to make the verse work to support the doctrine of unconditional election.

I contend to you that no verse in the Bible is “worthless to Calvinism”, as Darrell says. Accuracy and honesty have once again evaded his critique. This next excerpt flows directly from the one above. I will post the remaining portion of his argument concerning the term “ordained” (in Greek: τάσσω), and will then respond to it in its entirety.

The problem for Calvinism is that the word “ordained” is specifically pointing back to verses 46 and 47 and is referring to the Gentiles. “Ordained” then makes the associative point that God has now ordained the Gentiles to receive salvation and eternal life.  The word “ordained” therefore is speaking not of predetermination that some specific Gentiles were being saved but that the Gentiles were now ordained or approved or set in place to receive salvation through Jesus. Therefore the “ordained” is not a reference to these specific individuals but is referring to Gentiles in the greater sense.

The Greek word for “ordained” means to be set in place. That is the way this Greek word is always used in scripture. It is never used to mean “chosen” but simply means to “set in place”, It is a word commonly used in a military sense.  Therefore Acts 13:48 is only saying that Gentiles were now ordained or set in place to receive salvation. For thousands of years the Gentiles had not been allowed to participate in the salvation that had been offered only to the Jews and now there time has come.”

From what I can gather, it seems that Darrell is arguing that verse 48 is merely teaching that Gentiles, in general, have been ordained to receive salvation. This argument seeks to turn what is clearly specific into something general. In theological terms, it seeks to turn what is clearly individual into something that is corporate. I do not think any Calvinist would disagree with the notion of verse 48 referring back to the Gentiles of verses 46 and 47. Take a look at verse 48. For this illustration, I have divided the verse into Part A and Part B.

“(A) When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; (B) and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

First, we need not even look back to verse 46-47 to conclude that verse 48 is referring to the Gentiles. It clearly states, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord…” The Gentiles are clearly the focus of the first portion (Part A) of verse 48. Now take a closer look at the rest of the verse (Part B): “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” As you can see, the second clause clearly identifies a subgroup consisting of Gentiles identified in Part A. The “as many” are a group of Gentiles who were “appointed to eternal life” and thus “believed”. That is what the text says. Part B of this verse does not make a general statement about salvation now being available to Gentiles. It unquestionably identifies a group (“as many”) of Gentiles who believed “this” (from Part A), which was the message preached by Paul.

Furthermore, Darrell makes much of his definition of “ordained” (or, τάσσω). He claims that the only possible meaning of this word is “to set in place”. I am certainly not an expert when it comes to Greek, and I know Darrell is not either. Therefore, I will now do what Darrell failed to do, and that is to share some thoughts of Greek scholars. The resource I will now cite actually argues against this verse being predestinarian in nature, but nonetheless it refutes Darrell’s parameters placed around the meaning of this word.

In the NT as in non-biblical Greek τάσσω means “to determine,” Ac. 15:2, “to appoint,” Ac. 28:23; 12:21; → line 9 f., “to order,” Mt. 28:16 mid.; on 1 C. 16:15 → 27, 11 ff.; lines 3 ff. The officer who commands others is himself under orders (Lk. 7:8) and thus knows from two-sided experience what it means concretely to be subject to authority with no possibility of resistance, → 41, 9 ff.

Elsewhere God is the One who orders or appoints, though only in the passive in the NT and with no mention of God in Ac. God has arranged the commission which results for Paul from his experience on the Damascus Road → VI, 863, 5 ff. (Ac. 22:10, cf. 14f.). According to Ac. 13:48 the man who is a Christian is ordained to eternal life.8 The idea that God’s will to save is accomplished in Christians with their conversion is obviously not connected with the thought of predestination (→ IV, 192, 1 ff.) but rather with that of conferring status (→ 31, 20 ff.); cf. οὐκ ἀξίους, Ac. 13:46.” (6)

There is obviously many, many Greek scholars who dispute the theological conclusions made in the previous excerpt. However, my only intention here is to show that the term is not bound to the limitations set by Darrell. This next resource I will cite likewise shows the same. (please note the bold/underlining emphasis is my own; it highlights the rendering of the term in this exact verse)

τάσσω (tassō): vb.; ≡ DBLHebr 8492; Str 5021; TDNT 8.27—1. LN 37.96 assign one to a particular task (Ac 13:48; 15:2; 22:10+; Ac 15:7 v.r.); 2. LN 13.13 cause to be, to be under an authority (Lk 7:8; Ro 13:1+; Mt 8:9 v.r. NA26; Ac 18:2 v.r. NA26); 3. LN 33.325 command, order, instruct (Mt 28:16+); 4. LN 33.346 suggest, propose to someone (Ac 28:23+); 5. LN 68.69 give oneself to, do with devotion (1Co 16:15+).” (7)

As you can see, this term clearly has other meanings, and is used with various meanings throughout the Bible. Darrell is flat out wrong on this point. He insists that this term can only mean “to set in place”, and even suggests that “Therefore Acts 13:48 is only saying that Gentiles were now ordained or set in place to receive salvation.” (emphasis is his own). Even if we apply Darrell’s definition, we get: “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been set in place to receive eternal life believed.” This would still leave us with the blatant identification of a subgroup (“as many”). The “as many” are clearly separated from the larger group of Gentiles in Part A of verse 48. Darrell never addresses this point. The verse does not say, “…and the Gentiles were now, in general, set in place to possibly receive salvation if they end up believing”. If his argument for this verse speaking only of Gentiles in general is true, we must inevitably conclude that all Gentiles are “appointed to eternal life”. And we must conclude that all Gentiles “believed”, as Part B of the verse states. Following through with the “logic” of Darrell’s assertions makes it quite clear to me that he has committed severe eisegesis. His conclusion(s) are forced into the text, and are certainly not exegeted (drawn from) the text.

Before moving forward, I would like to point out another glaring contradiction in Darrell’s theology (and in the theology of many like him). Notice where he states, “For thousands of years the Gentiles had not been allowed to participate in the salvation that had been offered only to the Jews and now there [sic] time has come.” Now this would make me assume that Darrell is acknowledging the fact that for thousands of years God refused to allow the Gentiles to partake in salvation, and thus He justly left them to perish eternally in their own sin. Right? If he honestly applies his own argument, Darrell must concede that God, who is omniscient, created these Gentiles knowing that He would never even offer salvation to them, correct? Drawing from his own words, I think it’d be fair to say that Darrell is suggesting that God chose to save some of Israel, while choosing not to save the Gentiles “for thousands of years”. This choice would inevitably come from “before the foundation of the world”, considering God is omniscient, right? Then why did Darrell tweet the following on January 21st at 6:43 PM: “When one teaches that God chose some while damning others B4 the creation of the world you preach a gospel foreign to the Bible #Calvinism” Is this not precisely what Darrell is teaching with the quote cited above? I find this obvious inconsistency to be present in the views of many critics of Reformed theology, due to having a high-view of man, and a low-view of God. With this in mind, Darrell has labeled himself (by implication) as being anathema, or, accursed. He fits the very criteria that he defines as being “another gospel”, and thus implicitly condemns himself.

Before I share some commentary by… actual Calvinists… I would like to share the commentary on this verse by Darrell Bock, a Wesleyan-Arminian. In the “Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament” set, he states:

Those who have been ordained to eternal life believe. The word τάσσω (tassō, ordain) appears four times in Acts (13:48; 15:2; 22:10; 28:23; in the rest of the NT: Matt. 28:16–17; Luke 7:8; Rom. 13:1; 1 Cor. 16:15–16). In the other contexts of Acts, it means “appoint” or “assign” to something. Here it refers to God’s sovereign work over salvation, where God has assigned those who come to eternal life (BAGD 806 §1b; BDAG 991 §1b). The passive voice indicates that God does the assigning. It is as strong a passage on God’s sovereignty as anywhere in Luke-Acts and has OT and Jewish roots (Witherington 1998: 416n242; on the “book of life,” see Exod. 32:32–33; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 12:1; 1 En. 47.3; 104.1; 108.3; Jub. 30.20, 22; b. Ber. 61b; CD 3.20; 1QS 3.18–4.1; Str-B 2:726–27). Just as God was the major active agent in the events of Israel’s history earlier in the speech, so he is the active agent in bringing Gentiles to himself. Repentance leads to eternal life not only because sins are forgiven but also because the Spirit is given (Acts 11:15–18). Barrett (1994: 658) argues that the Spirit is not present in a text such as Acts 10:35, but 11:15–18 shows the connection between life and the Spirit.” (8)

One thing that I always find to be “interesting” about Darrell’s blogs is the fact that he rarely, if ever, cites ANY Calvinist while critiquing Calvinism. He basically defines Calvinism as he wishes, and then attacks his own portrayal of it. This is not uncommon among the outspoken critics of Calvinism on social media. They often say, “When I was a 5-point Calvinist….”, as if it automatically validates anything they might say regarding Calvinism. This might work in convincing people on social media, but in the realm of honest, scholastic debate, not so much. I will now post commentary on this verse from some of the most widely respected commentaries available today, along with some classical/historical commentary from Calvinists of the past. Please note that I am not advocating for the views of each individual. There are several of whom I wholly disagree with on many points (see, Barrett). My aim here is to share a broad range of views from some of the most highly acclaimed theologians/scholars of the present and the past.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

verses 48-49 – “Many of the Gentiles responded with thanks for the apostles’ ministry and with openness to their message (ton logon tou kyriou, “the word of the Lord”). “All who were appointed for eternal life believed” suggests that belief in Christ is not just a matter of one’s faith but primarily involves divine appointment (cf. SBK, 2:726, on Jewish concepts of predestination). And through the conversion of many of the Gentiles, who brought the message of salvation to others, “the word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” This spreading of the word, along with the apostles’ own outreach to the cities named in chapters 13 and 14, probably led to the agitation of the so-called Judaizers that resulted in the problem Paul dealt with in Galatians.” (9)

The New International Commentary on the New Testament

verses 48–49 – “Distasteful as this announcement was to the synagogue leaders, it was joyful news to the Gentiles who heard it, and many of them believed the gospel—all, in fact, who had been enrolled for eternal life in the records of heaven (for this appears to be the sense of the words here used). And not only in the city itself, but throughout the surrounding countryside as well, those who believed the good news carried it to others.” (10)

The Pillar New Testament Commentary

We might expect Luke to write that they praised God for the gospel, but he makes it quite clear that they were actually praising or honouring the message (cf. 2 Thes. 3:1). A way of salvation had been opened to them though the gospel, and, as a consequence, all who were appointed for (tetagmenoi eis) eternal life believed. ‘The Jews “rejected the word of God” and judged themselves “unfit for eternal life”; in contrast, the Gentiles show that they are destined for eternal life by “glorifying” this same “word of the Lord” ’. Luke draws attention to the way in which God uses the gospel to call out his elect and to save them. ‘The present verse is as unqualified a statement of absolute pre-destination—“the eternal purpose of God” (Calvin)—as is found anywhere in the NT.’104 Not everyone is affected in the same way by the preaching of the gospel. God must open hearts, to enable people to listen and respond with faith (cf. 16:14; 18:10). Those who seek the Lord from among the nations are those whom he has already claimed as his own (15:17 note). Yet this happens as God enables some to believe through the proclamation of the gospel.” (11)

UBS Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles

“Only here in the New Testament does the verb praised (literally “glorified”) have as its object the Lord’s message; the usual object is God. It is relatively easy to speak of “praising a person,” but in many languages one does not “praise a message.” On the other hand, one may always translate the Greek term “glorified” by direct discourse, for example, “they said, The Lord’s message is wonderful.”

Those who had been chosen for eternal life is a phrase which occurs frequently in rabbinic literature. The meaning is clearly that those whom God had chosen became believers, and the translator must not attempt to weaken this meaning.

Chosen for eternal life may thus be rendered as “whom God had selected in order that they would have eternal life.”

In certain languages the phrase became believers is difficult to render succinctly. The same concept, however, may be expressed by phrases such as “arrived at being believers” or “came to believing.”” (12)

The Wewlyn Bible Commentary

People respond as they will, but the sovereign will of God is served none the less. Here is a key to the boldness of Christ’s servants. Whatever the decisions of men, however uncertain our prospects of success, God is sovereign. He does his will among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. And it is the privilege of the Christian church to minister that gospel by which the elect (‘all who were appointed for eternal life’) are found and come to believe in Jesus Christ.” (13)

The New American Commentary: Acts

The Gentiles of Pisidian Antioch were those who accepted Paul’s message, honoring (glorifying) the word of the Lord (v. 48). Perhaps it was the specific “word” of Isa 49:6 they praised, with its good news that the light of Christ and his salvation extended to Gentiles such as they. Many of them believed, accepting Christ as Savior. They were those who were “appointed for eternal life.” In this phrase we encounter the same balance between human volition and divine providence that is found throughout Acts. On their part these Gentiles took an active role in believing, in committing themselves to Christ; but it was in response to God’s Spirit moving in them, convicting them, appointing them for life. All salvation is ultimately only by the grace of God.” (14)

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

Behind the concept of being appointed for eternal life may lie the OT idea of being recorded in a book of God’s people (Exod. 32:32–33; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 12:1), an idea developed later in Judaism (Jub. 30:18–23; 1 En. 47:3; 104:1; 108:3). Cf. Rev. 13:8; 17:8.” (15)

International Critical Commentary

Some had been appointed (periphrastic pluperfect) thus to believe and thereby to receive eternal life. τάσσειν is a fairly common word in Acts (five) four times; five (four) times in the rest of the NT), but only at 22:10 does it have, as here, theological significance. The present verse is as unqualified a statement of absolute predestination—‘the eternal purpose of God’ (Calvin 393)—as is found anywhere in the NT. Those believed who were appointed (the passive implies, by God) to do so. The rest, one infers, did not believe, did not receive eternal life, and were thus appointed to death. The positive statement implies the negative. This can hardly be avoided by saying, with Schmithals (127), that what we have here is not Prädestinationslehre but Erbauungssprache; for Schmiths goes on to say that faith is not human but divine work, which leads to the question whether, when faith is absent, God has omitted to work. Pesch 2:48f. argues that v. 46 shows that only positive predestination, not negative, is in mind; if men are not saved it is because they thrust aside the word of God. Earlier Bengel had made the same point: ‘sic enim solet a Scriptura homini adscribi pernicies ipsius; sed salus ejus, DEO’. We may compare 10:35 where the matter of salvation is looked at from another angle but is expressed in equally unqualified terms: Anyone who fears God and practises righteousness is acceptable to him. In neither place does Luke say anything about the work of the Holy Spirit. It must be recognized that Luke, who was a narrator rather than a theologian, was apt to put down on its own the aspect of any question that concerned him at the time of writing, and did not, as Paul did, insist upon a rounded view obtained by viewing theological issues from all sides. Luke’s language is Jewish. For the notion of enrolment in God’s book of the saved cf. Exod. 33:32f.; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 12:1; 1 Enoch 47:3; 104:1; 108:3; Jubilees 30:20, 22; Rosh ha-Shanah 57a. For appointment to life cf. Berakoth 6lb, Blessed art thou, Akiba, for thou hast been appointed to the life of the age to come (לחיי העולם הבא שאתה מזמן); similarly Moed Qatan 9a, and other passages.” (16)

Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Acts

And when the Gentiles heard this, they received the Gospel with still greater joy and reverence; as many of them became believers, as were appointed by God unto the possession of salvation (τεταγμένοι; Chrysostom: ἀφωρισμένοι τῷ θεῷ). Luke does not here mean to say that the entire mass of the pagan inhabitants who presented themselves, (ver. 44 ff.), had now been converted, but only a part of them, and, indeed, that part which had been chosen and ordered by God for that purpose; —The brief remark in ver. 49, shows that this Pisidian Antioch became the central point of a system of evangelization, the influence of which was widely extended in the surrounding region.” (17)

Reformed Expository Commentary: Acts

The response of the Gentiles was both immediate and wholehearted: “They began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). They came to faith through the witness of Paul and Barnabas to the gospel. They exercised faith and repented of their sins. The ultimate reason why they came to believe was that God had planned it from all eternity. “This verse teaches that faith depends on God’s choice,” John Calvin comments. He continues, “Since the whole human race is blind and stubborn, those faults remain fixed in our nature until they are corrected by the grace of the Spirit, and that comes only from election.”

The need for God to change our hearts does not mean that we must remain passive, waiting for God to do his work. Recognizing that this is a work of God, sinners must call upon him, with urgency and sincere conviction, knowing, as Peter declared at Pentecost, that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).” (18)

St. Andrews Expositional Commentary – Acts – (R.C. Sproul)

People have told me, “When I first became a Christian, I believed it was my choice; it was my decision that led to my conversion. I was grateful to God, who had made it possible, but I really believed that the reason why I became a Christian while my neighbor didn’t is that I exercised free will. But I’ve been listening to you, R.C., and I have finally come to the conclusion that it was, in fact, God who chose me. It was God, the Hound of Heaven, who renewed me by the Holy Spirit and created faith in my heart, and then I responded. Now I see that the Bible is very clear about that.” They are right about that. It is so plainly there that there is no excuse for ever missing it. Verse 48 is one of those places: “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” All who came to faith that day did so by divine appointment. God had decreed from all eternity that they would come and hear the Apostle Paul and be quickened to faith by the Holy Spirit, and everyone that had been so appointed from eternity believed.

Many come to this text and try to skip over it or try to change it to read, “As many as believed, God appointed to eternal life,” but the appointment here is the appointment to believe. A classic work on the book of Acts was written in the nineteenth century by H. B. Hackett, a classmate of Oliver Wendell Holmes. About this verse Hackett said that there is just no other way to read it. Yet commentators create a variety of slants on this text and do funny things with the context and syntax of the Greek to change the clear meaning. You cannot get away from it. That is what Luke wrote, and that is what Luke meant. The only reason anybody was saved out of that ungodly mass of people who were blaspheming and criticizing the preaching of the Word of God was that God intervened in the hearts of His elect and translated them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.” (19)

The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Lenski)

The two imperfects reach a climax in the aorist “they believed.” What angered the Jews delighted the Gentiles, namely to hear that the gospel was intended also for them, for them directly without the necessity of first becoming Jews and submitting to all the Jewish regulations. Happy to hear it, they glorified “the Word of God,” meaning the Word in the sense in which Luke has continually been using it, the gospel of Jesus, the Savior. It is always so: whereas some spurn that Word, others receive it joyfully. So these Gentiles “believed,” the aorist stating the fact.

Yet not all of those who had come to the synagogue on that Sabbath but only those “who were such as had been ranged in order for life eternal” believed. Τάσσω is a military term that means to draw up in rank and file and is then used generally for placing in an orderly arrangement and then to appoint and even to agree. The English “ordain” (our versions), verordnen (Luther) serve well enough, even better than “appoint” (R., W. P.) as long as the sense of the original is not rejected. For in τάσσω there lies a τάξις, a certain order, here the ordo salutis. Verb and noun go together. The periphrastic past perfect may be either passive or middle: “had been ranged in this ordo” by God; or “had ranged themselves in this ordo.” Since no man is able to put himself into the ordo salutis by his own powers, it makes little difference which we choose. It is like bekehrt iverden and sich bekehren. The point is to exclude all synergism. The context helps us. Here we have a contrast: the Jews thrust away the Word; these Gentiles glorify the Word. By their own fault the Jews are out of the τάξις; by God’s grace these Gentiles are in it. Again the contrast: the Jews regard themselves unworthy of eternal life; these Gentiles are in line for eternal life. Who put them in line? God did so by sending Paul and Barnabas and his Word and his grace and by making both come in contact with their hearts. He did the same for the Jews and would have preferred to have them in the same blessed ordo but for the criminal wickedness with which they removed themselves from this ordo by blaspheming instead of glorifying the Word.

Although this passage deals with the doctrine of conversion, it has often been regarded as a pronouncement regarding predestination. This view began with Jerome who revised the old Latin rendering destinati or ordinati to praeordinati in order to make the coming to faith and salvation the product of a predestinatory eternal decree. Calvin is the great exponent of the decretum absolutum; those included in this decree are irresistibly brought to faith and held in it, and all others, even if they do believe for a time, are doomed by this same decree. Others conceive the decree as merely including the former and omitting the latter. Calov pointed out that Luke did not write προτεταγμένοι, and that neither τάσσειν nor τάσσεσθαι nor the context refer to eternity.

“Life eternal,” so often found in the discourses of Jesus in John’s Gospel (see John 3:15, 16), is the spiritual ζωή implanted in regeneration, fed by the Word and the Sacrament, passing unharmed through temporal death, then entering the heavenly state of glory. It dwells in the soul by faith but extends also to the body. Jesus will raise up those who have this life at the last day, John 6:54. “Life eternal” does not refer only to the heavenly life to come.” (20)

Baker New Testament Commentary (Hendriksen)

And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Luke adds a sentence in which he uses the passive voice were ordained. The implication is that God is the agent, for only he grants eternal life (Matt. 25:46; John 10:28; 17:2). In the Greek, the form were ordained is a passive participle in the perfect tense. The perfect denotes action that took place in the past but is relevant for the present. In the past, God predestined the salvation of the Gentiles. In many places in the Old Testament Scriptures God reveals that the blessing of salvation is for the Gentiles also (e.g., Gen. 12:1–3; Isa. 42:6; 49:6). When they in faith accept Christ, he grants them the gift of eternal life.

When the Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch put their faith in Jesus Christ, they appropriate eternal life for themselves. The text reveals the proverbial two sides of the same coin: God’s electing love and man’s believing response (compare Phil. 2:12–13). Even though this text features the main verb to believe, it also teaches the doctrine of divine election (refer to Rom. 8:29–30). Note that Luke says “[The Gentiles] were ordained to eternal life.” He does not say that they were ordained to believe. “What concerns him is that eternal life is not only received by faith, but is essentially the plan of God.” (21)

John Calvin

The matter of the Gentiles’ joy was this, [viz.] when they heard that they were not called to salvation at a sudden, as if this had not been decreed before by God, but that that is now at length fulfilled which was foretold many years before. For doubtless it was no small confirmation of their faith, because salvation was promised to them by the coming of Christ, whereby it did also come to pass that they did with more earnest desire and reverence embrace the gospel. To glorify the word of God may be expounded two manner of ways, either that they did confess that it was true which was prophesied by Isaiah, or that they embraced the doctrine which was set before them with faith. Assuredly there is a full subscription noted out, because they dispute or doubt no longer, so soon as they saw that Paul had gotten the victory. And surely we do then honour the word of God as we ought, when we submit ourselves obediently to it by faith; as it cannot be more grievously blasphemed than when men refuse to believe it. And here we see how the Gentiles were not hindered, by that stubbornness which they saw in the Jews, from giving their name to Christ. With like courage1 must we despise and tread under foot the pride of the wicked, when, by their obstinacy, they study to stop the way before us.

And they believed. This is an exposition of the member next going before, at least in my judgment. For Luke showeth what manner [of] glory they gave to the word of God. And here we must note the restraint, [reservation,] when he saith that they believed, (but) not all in general, but those who were ordained unto life. And we need not doubt but that Luke calleth those τεταγμενους, who were chosen by the free adoption of God. For it is a ridiculous cavil to refer this unto the affection of those which believed, as if those received the gospel whose minds were well-disposed. For this ordaining must be understood of the eternal counsel of God alone. Neither doth Luke say that they were ordained unto faith, but unto life; because the Lord doth predestinate his unto the inheritance of eternal life. And this place teacheth that faith dependeth upon God’s election. And assuredly, seeing that the whole race of mankind is blind and stubborn, those diseases stick fast in our nature until they be redressed by the grace of the Spirit, and that redressing floweth from the fountain of election alone. For in that of two which hear the same doctrine together,1 the one showeth himself apt to be taught, the other continueth in his obstinacy. It is not, therefore, because they differ by nature, but because God doth lighten [illumine] the former, and doth not vouchsafe the other the like grace. We are, indeed, made the children of God by faith; as faith, as touching us, is the gate and the first beginning of salvation; but there is a higher respect of God. For he doth not begin to choose us after that we believe; but he sealeth his adoption, which was hidden in our hearts, by the gift of faith, that it may be manifest and sure. For if this be proper to the children of God alone to be his disciples, it followeth that it doth not appertain unto all the children of Adam in general. No marvel, therefore, if all do not receive the gospel;2 because, though our heavenly Father inviteth all men unto the faith by the external voice of man, yet doth he not call effectually by his Spirit any save those whom he hath determined to save. Now, if God’s election, whereby he ordaineth us unto life, be the cause of faith and salvation, there remaineth nothing for worthiness or merits.

Therefore, let us hold and mark that which Luke saith, that those were ordained before unto life, who, being ingrafted into the body of Christ by faith, do receive the earnest and pledge of their adoption in Christ. Whence we do also gather what force the preaching of the gospel hath of itself. For it doth not find faith in men, save only because God doth call those inwardly whom he hath chosen, and because he draweth those who were his own before unto Christ, (John 6:37.) Also Luke teacheth in the same words, that it cannot be that any of the elect should perish. For he saith not that one or a few of the elect did believe, but so many as were elect. For though God’s election3 be unknown to us until we perceive it by faith, yet is it not doubtful or in suspense in his secret counsel; because he commendeth all those whom he counteth his to the safeguard and tuition of his Son, who will continue a faithful keeper even unto the end. Both members are necessary to be known. When election is placed above faith, there is no cause why men should challenge to themselves any thing in any part of their salvation. For if faith, wherein consisteth salvation, which is unto us a witness of the free adoption of God, which coupleth us to Christ, and maketh his life ours, whereby we possess God with his righteousness, and, finally, whereby we receive the grace of sanctification, be grounded without us in the eternal counsel of God; what good things so ever we have, we must needs acknowledge that we have received it of the grace of God, which doth prevent us of its own accord. Again, because many entangle themselves in doubtful and thorny imaginations, whilst that they seek for their salvation in the hidden counsel of God, let us learn that the election of God is therefore approved by faith, that our minds may be turned unto Christ, as unto the pledge of election, and that they may seek no other certainty save that which is revealed to us in the gospel; I say, let this seal suffice us, that “whosoever believeth in the only-begotten Son of God hath eternal life,” (John 3:36.)” (22)

John Gill

That it was the will of God, and the command of Christ, that the Gospel should be preached to them; by whom are to be understood the Pisidians, the inhabitants of Antioch, who had never been proselytes to the Jewish religion: they were glad; not that the Jews were likely to have the Gospel taken away from them, and be utterly deprived of it, but that it was to be preached to them: and glorified the word of the Lord; not the Lord Jesus Christ, the essential word of the Lord, whom they might not as yet have such a distinct knowledge of; but rather God himself, for his word, particularly his word of command, ver. 47 as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions read; or the sense is, they spake well of the Gospel, and gave glory to God, or the Lord, who had sent it among them: Beza’s most ancient copy reads, they received the word of the Lord, which seems to be a more agreeable reading; to glorify the word of the Lord, is an unusual phrase: and as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed; faith is not the cause, or condition of the decree of eternal life, but a means fixed in it, and is a fruit and effect of it, and what certainly follows upon it, as in these persons: some would have the words rendered, as many as were disposed unto eternal life believed; which is not countenanced by the ancient versions. The Arabic renders it as we do, and the Syriac thus, as many as were put, or appointed unto eternal life; and the Vulgate Latin version, as many as were pre-ordained. Moreover, the phrase of being disposed unto, or for eternal life, is a very unusual, if not a very improper, and an inaccurate one; men are said to be disposed to an habit, or to an act, as to vice or virtue, but not to reward or punishment, as to heaven or hell; nor does it appear that these Gentiles had any good dispositions to eternal life, antecedent to their believing; for though they are said, ver. 42 to entreat the apostles to preach the same things to them the next sabbath, yet the words as there observed, according to their natural order, may be rendered they, i. e. the apostles, besought the Gentiles; and in some copies and versions, the Gentiles are not mentioned at all: and as for their being glad, and glorifying the word of the Lord, it is not evident that this was before their believing; and if it was, such things have been found in persons, who have had no true, real, and inward dispositions to spiritual things, as in many of our Lord’s hearers; besides, admitting that there are, in some, good dispositions to eternal life, previous to faith, and that desiring eternal life, and seeking after it, be accounted such, yet these may be where faith does not follow; as in the young rich ruler, that came to Christ with such an inquiry, and went away sorrowful: as many therefore as are so disposed, do not always believe, faith does not always follow such dispositions; and after all, one would have thought that the Jews themselves, who were externally religious, and were looking for the Messiah, and especially the devout and honourable women, were more disposed unto eternal life, than the ignorant and idolatrous Gentiles; and yet the latter believed, and the former did not: it follows then, that their faith did not arise from previous dispositions to eternal life, but was the fruit and effect of divine ordination unto it; and the word here used, in various places in this book, signifies determination and appointment, and not disposition of mind; see ch. 15:2 and 22:10 and 28:23. The phrase is the same with that used by the Jews, דאתקנו לחיי עולﬦ, who are ordained to eternal life; and כל דכתיב לחיי עלמא, every one that is written to eternal life; i. e. in the book of life; and designs no other than predestination or election, which is God’s act, and is an eternal one; is sovereign, irrespective, and unconditional; relates to particular persons, and is sure and certain in its effect: it is an ordination, not to an office, nor to the means of grace, but to grace and glory itself; to a life of grace which is eternal, and to a life of glory which is for ever; and which is a pure gift of God, is in the hands of Christ, and to which his righteousness gives a title: and ordination to it shews it to be a blessing of an early date; and the great love of God to the persons ordained to it; and the certainty of enjoying it.” (23)

Matthew Henry

Many of them became, not only professors of the Christian faith, but sincerely obedient to the faith: As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. God by his Spirit wrought true faith in those for whom he had in his councils from everlasting designed a happiness to everlasting. (1.) Those believed to whom God gave grace to believe, whom by a secret and mighty operation he brought into subjection to the gospel of Christ, and made willing in the day of his power. Those came to Christ whom the Father drew, and to whom the Spirit made the gospel call effectual. It is called the faith of the operation of God (Col. 2:12), and is said to be wrought by the same power that raised up Christ, Eph. 1:19, 20. (2.) God gave this grace to believe to all those among them who were ordained to eternal life (for whom he had predestinated, them he also called, Rom. 8:30); or, as many as were disposed to eternal life, as many as had a concern about their eternal state, and aimed to make sure of eternal life, believed in Christ, in whom God hath treasured up that life (1 Jn. 5:11), and who is the only way to it; and it was the grace of God that wrought it in them. Thus all those captives, and those only, took the benefit of Cyrus’s proclamation, whose spirit God had raised up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, Ezra 1:5. Those will be brought to believe in Christ that by his grace are well disposed to eternal life, and make this their aim.” (24)

This ought to suffice in providing a foundation of scholars/theologians with diverse theological leanings. As you can see, the opinions vary slightly, but despite the variances, none of these scholars affirm what Darrell has spouted off as being common knowledge. I could not add anything of significance to what has been shared in the resources above. The text itself is very clear. Its harmony with other verses/passages that teach the sovereignty of God, and the origin of salvation, is very clear. Honest exegesis only allows for a degree of variance. However, the eisegesis of a hateful critic of Calvinism, with an obvious agenda, knows no boundaries.

Darrell’s conclusion to his blog is perhaps the most irritating part of the whole thing. I will not address each part at this time (though I would like to), but will only address the most bizarre aspects. For instance, Darrell claims: “Interestingly this interpretation doesn’t even meet the true Calvinist standard for unconditional election because if God chose just Gentiles to be saved here he is actually using conditional election with the condition being that these men were Gentiles. Acts 13:48 then is a violation of their own doctrine if understood the way Calvinists want it to be.” This illustrates Darrell’s gross misunderstanding of unconditional election. Calvinists teach that election is unconditional in the sense that there is absolutely nothing within man that somehow draws/compels God to election. There is no foreseen faith, no foreseen merit, nothing at all that man does (nor can do) to compel God to choose to elect. Election actually is conditional upon the good pleasure of God. If it did not please God to elect, then He didn’t. Despite this, the passage in question is not teaching that these Gentiles were appointed to eternal life because they were Gentiles. I think I speak for every orthodox Calvinist when I say that God appointed these Gentiles to eternal life because it pleased Him to do so. It seems Darrell is presupposing his own erroneous view of this passage, and then applying it to his own distorted understanding of unconditional election. Perhaps if he actually cited Calvinists when attempting to make points about Calvinism, issues like this could be avoided.

Darrell goes on to make several more errors in describing Calvinistic thought before closing with, “Another one bites the dust…”. It is precisely this ostentatious, misguided confidence that compelled me to respond (again) to Darrell. Sadly, the encouragement and praise Darrell receives from blatant apostates on Twitter has apparently puffed him up. The errors he consistently spews while “critiquing” Calvinism deserve nothing but rebuke, from Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike. In the past I have been encouraged by the many non-Calvinists who have taken issue with the misrepresentations produced by Darrell. When a professing believer makes it his mission in life to “Confront Calvinism” (and yet block every Calvinist who seeks dialogue), then he should at least strive to critique honestly, fairly, and accurately. I see none of this from Darrell.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is my prayer that God might be glorified by the proclamation of truth concerning His eternal attributes and character, and that if it pleases Him to do so, He might pull His own from error, and reveal the glorious truth to them, that they might worship Him in spirit and in truth.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

WORKS CITED

(1) – Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(2) – Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(3) – Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(4) – Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (p. 330). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

(5) – Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Modern church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(6) – Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 8, pp. 28–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

(7) – Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

(8) – Bock, D. L. (2007). Acts (pp. 464–465). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

(9) – Longenecker, R. N. (1981). The Acts of the Apostles. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, p. 430). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

(10) – Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (pp. 267–268). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

(11) – Peterson, D. G. (2009). The Acts of the Apostles (pp. 399–400). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

(12) – Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1972). A handbook on the Acts of the Apostles (pp. 269–270). New York: United Bible Societies.

(13) – Keddie, G. J. (2000). You Are My Witnesses: The Message of the Acts of the Apostles (pp. 159–160). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.

(14) – Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 308). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

(15) – Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 588). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos.

(16) – Barrett, C. K. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the acts of the Apostles (pp. 658–659). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

(17) – Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Gotthard, V. L., Gerok, C., & Schaeffer, C. F. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Acts (p. 257). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(18) – Thomas, D. W. H. (2011). Acts. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (p. 375). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

(19) – Sproul, R. C. (2010). Acts (pp. 246–247). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

(20) – Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (pp. 552–553). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

(21) – Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, p. 496). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

(22) – Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 1, pp. 554–557). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(23) – Gill, J. (1809). An Exposition of the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 273). London: Mathews and Leigh.

(24) – Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2124). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Biblical Assurance: A Response to Leighton Flowers (@Soteriology101)

***DISCLAIMERI will be responding to Soteriology101’s (Leighton) blog post. I have not listened to his podcast that is included in the blog post on this topic. Thus, my words will be entirely based on what Leighton has said in his blog. Click here to see Leighton’s blog, “Why Calvinists Cannot have Assurance”. All Bible verses posted by myself will be from the NASB95 and will be posted in italics. Any emphasis added by underlining/bold font will be my own. Thank you for reading!***

INTRODUCTION

I was first introduced to Soteriology101 (Leighton) on Twitter by a friend and brother of mine who was quickly growing fond of Leighton’s blogs/podcasts. This was during the “pre-White” era, meaning before the debate with Dr. White. It was before Leighton had 3,000+ followers, and before this particular blog post was written. My friend kept asking me to listen to Leighton’s podcasts, I kept forgetting to do so, but finally, one day, I did. I obviously disagreed with Leighton’s conclusions, but it did seem like he was sincere in objecting to Calvinism, and it seemed like he was sincere about wanting to represent Calvinists accurately. (Sincerity, or apparent sincerity, will be discussed at length in this blog.) Despite this, as of late, I have seen Leighton misrepresent Reformed theology several times. However, the blog of his in question is by far the worst I have seen. I do not think he is malicious in misrepresenting it, but regardless, it is happening. Critics of Reformed theology love to use the talking point of: “You Calvinists always say that everyone misrepresents {or does not understand] your position!”. Well, unfortunately it seems that way at times. Let us not forget that one of Leighton’s main objections in the aftermath of his debate with Dr. White was that Dr. White did not understand/fully grasp his position. Perhaps Leighton was correct in saying this? I do not know. My point is that dismissing one’s charge of misrepresentation on the basis of it being a common accusation is not logical. It is not uncommon for “theological opponents” to misrepresent each other, and at times it may be done unintentionally, and with sincerity. I think the most common form of misrepresentation of Calvinism is oversimplifying what Calvinists believe/teach. Here is a hypothetical example:

Calvinist: “Late last year a rare form of bacteria was found growing in Lake Knox. Our crew discovered that this bacteria grows rapidly in water, and we have no way of stopping its spread. If the contaminated water is consumed, it leads to an extremely fatal disease known as semipelagianism. Due to such concerns, we advise the entire population of Beza Valley, especially in the little town of Zwingli, to no longer drink tap water. We advise all residents to stock up on bottled water, and to refrain from drinking the water, or even brushing your teeth with the water, until further notice.”

NonCalvinist: “Did you hear what those silly Calvinists said? They said we can’t brush our teeth anymore!”

I am not applying this level of oversimplification to Leighton’s blog, nor to any of Leighton’s writings. And, admittedly, my example was rather extreme. However, if I were to change around a few words, add a sentence or two, I could make it look very close to some examples I have seen on Twitter. Anyways… I will review Leighton’s blog, from top to bottom, and will comment below each excerpt of his blog that I copy/paste. I will paste his words in bold font and will comment in normal font below. I will not be copy/pasting his entire blog, but will do my best to not harm the context of his argument while selecting excerpts to respond to. If you have not read his blog yet, you can click here.

LEIGHTON’S ARGUMENT

“I thought I knew until I compared my little ol’ boring testimony to his and he added that extra “you know that you know” in there. I simply was not sure “I knew that I knew”…whatever that means.”

Leighton, after reminiscing on his childhood, makes this statement, contrasting his testimony with the testimony of others that he had heard. I must say, this is a very dangerous thing to do, and often will lead to doubts, as it did in the case of Leighton. Subjective experiences are not an accurate measure of orthodoxy, nor do they necessarily reflect genuine sincerity, despite how sincere the person might seem. I understand how/why Leighton would have doubts after comparing his testimony with one that seems so spectacular. There is no standard, universal conversion “experience” that believers go through. For the sake of clarity, I do not think Leighton is arguing that there is one. I am merely posting my thoughts on the matter.

“We must understand that our assurance ultimately rests on three main factors:

The Sincerity of your Commitment
The Genuineness of your Experiences
The Trustworthiness of God

If anyone of these factors is missing then assurance is not possible, not really.”

This forces us to dive right in to a major disagreement I have with Leighton’s blog. Notice, where does Leghton’s formula for assurance begin? It starts at: your commitment”. First of all, I am not denying that this is an important aspect of a believer’s assurance; because it most certainly is. I object to it on the grounds of God being the chief, and most important “player” in our salvation, and in the assurance of our salvation. We ought not look at ourselves first. We must begin by looking at the promises of God, the faithfulness of God, and the trustworthiness of God. Leighton’s third point should have been his first point, in my opinion.

“You must believe that your commitment to the Lord was sincere. Sure, you may have been relatively ignorant of doctrine, or confused about all the nuances of what it means to be a disciple, but you must know that you meant it when you committed your life to following Jesus. If deep down you know you said a prayer, walked an aisle or got baptized for some reason other than a sincere commitment to Christ, then you will never find the assurance you long for. Your faith must rest on Christ and his righteousness alone for your salvation.”

I have no disagreement with this, other than its placement as being the first step of Leighton’s formula. He does, however, fail to show that Calvinists cannot apply this same “test” of sincerity, and thus gain assurance, according to his formula. (His argument for Calvinists not possibly obtaining assurance comes at the end, in point three).

“Secondly, you cannot have real assurance if all you have to base your relationship on is the first experience. Imagine the wedding ceremony being the only experience on which to base the assurance of my relationship with Laura, my wife of 18 years. I can prove I’m married not merely by pointing back to the ceremony, but more importantly to my relationship with her today and all the thousands of genuine experiences that mark our lives together. The same must be true in a relationship with your Savior. It’s not just about what happened when you made that first confession, but it is about all that God has done in your life since that time.”

I do not disagree with this either. But, again, he fails to show how/why Calvinists cannot apply this step, and, according to his formula, gain assurance from it.

“Finally, and most importantly, you must believe the One in whom you have put your faith is trustworthy. Will He keep His promises? If the last of these factors is undermined then the other two crumble apart as well. After all, what good is a commitment to someone you cannot trust? And how can you believe the experiences are genuine if the person with whom you are sharing those experiences proves to be disingenuous?”

Though I would have worded it differently, his concept of “looking to God” is, in my opinion, the first step to having Biblical assurance. Other than that, I have no major disagreements with this. The next excerpt is where things “heat up”.

“This final point is why I believe Calvinism cannot logically bring assurance to those who are consistent within it’s systematic. I do not mean to offend anyone in bringing this charge, because it is not meant to be personal. It is a purely logical argument based upon the reality inherent within the deterministic framework.”

I will reserve my comment for the next excerpt, which includes his reasoning for this conclusion.

“Please allow me to explain:

Even Calvinists affirm that there are people who sincerely believe they will be saved, but in reality are self-deceived. For instance, John Piper, speaking of the Calvinistic systematic, writes:

“You can embrace a system of theology and not even be born again.”

In a worldview where God determines whatsoever comes to pass, as the Calvinistic scholars affirm, it must be said that those who are self-deceived are such ultimately because God has so determined it.

If you happen to be one of the individuals who God has destined to remain in self-deception, falsely believing that you are saved when in actuality you are not, then you could not know this fact until after you were condemned.”

This is not the whole of Leighton’s argument, but we will examine it piece by piece. First of all, of course Calvinists affirm that people can “sincerely believe they will be saved” but are actually self-deceived. I hope Leighton does not disagree with this statement. Is there anyone that is actually aware of insincerely believing they will be saved? Perhaps, but I have yet to meet one myself. Muslims might sincerely believe that they will be saved. Roman Catholics might sincerely believe that they will be saved. Sincerity is not the measure of orthodoxy in one’s profession of faith. I contend to you that a Roman Catholic could proceed point by point through Leighton’s formula for assurance, and could conclude with sincerity that he/she is saved, according to Leighton’s formula. A Roman Catholic could be sincere in his/her confession of faith, he/she could have “experiences” that lead to false assurance, and lastly, he/she could trust God to deliver on His promises. This is not an attempt to poke holes in Leighton’s formula, but rather is an illustration of the power of self-deception. I, however, believe a person that prayerfully and diligently “examines” his/her own standing with God in the light of Scripture, as Paul commands, will come to either 1.) A stronger assurance, or 2.) A realization of his/her self-deception, by the power of God speaking through His Word. This is reflected in countless testimonies of ex-Roman Catholics, ex-Muslims, ex-Mormons, etc.. who, after doing a Biblical self-examination, are convicted by the Word of God, and led to a true saving faith in Jesus Christ. (We will discuss this at length in a moment). Furthermore, I truly hope that Leighton would not dispute Piper’s quote. Again, Muslims “embrace a system of theology” and are not born again. Roman Catholics “embrace a system of theology” and are not born again. There are Calvinists and non-Calvinists who “embrace a system of theology” and are not born again. This is a fact of life.

I will not venture into great detail on the differences between God determining an event, allowing an event, and/or decreeing an event. It is not a vital aspect of this argument, as I will soon show. I will, however, comment on Leighton’s point of “you could not know this fact until after you were condemned”. False converts are a reality of life, and the Bible testifies to this fact. For example:

Matthew 7:21–23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Notice the “Lord, Lord”? This indicates that these people believed that Jesus was Lord. In addition, the fact that they then proceed to name off various works they have done is an indication of them believing that they were serving God. Consequently, the spouting off of works illustrates, as most commentators agree, a self-righteous faith in works, rather than a saving faith in Christ. I am sure Leighton will agree that these people believed that they were saved, and yet they were not. Here is the question: Does Leighton’s theological system have some magic formula that keeps all false converts from being shocked when they wind up in Hell? Is it not true that Leighton’s statement of, “you could not know this fact until after you were condemned”, applies to false converts in his own theological worldview as well? Of course it does! The false converts in Matthew 7:21-23 seem to be pretty surprised when they learn of their fate! The bottom line is that regardless of theological views, there will be false converts that do not know they are false converts until they stand before the throne of judgment. The Calvinist view of election is entirely irrelevant to Leighton’s point of, “you could not know this fact until after you were condemned”, because the Word of God teaches that this is true. Some false converts will not learn of being falsely converted until the day of judgment. However, some might learn of their false conversion prior to death, and be converted to the true faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for either theological view. Thus, Leighton’s emphasis on this point does not make much sense, at all, in my opinion.

“Because the Calvinistic system affirms that God is willing to unchangeably decree and use self-deceived individuals to be objects of divine wrath in order to bring Himself more glory, it is impossible for any consistent Calvinist to be certain that he or she is not one chosen for this ignoble purpose.

Believing that you have committed yourself to Christ and have had experiences with him in relationship means nothing if He is not trustworthy toward humanity in general. And because He is proven to be able and willing to decree for others to sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not, there can be no assurance He is not doing the same with you. There is no way for a consistent Calvinist to know if he has been chosen for self-deception or true salvation.”

Leighton is guilty of undermining Biblical self-examination. As I noted above, it would not be a stretch, in my opinion, for many false converts to apply Leighton’s formula for assurance, and ultimately conclude that they are saved. I do not wish to venture into the realm of debating the decrees of God, and truly do not need to in order to highlight the errors of Leighon’s logic. In the comments section of Leighton’s blog titled “Is Sovereignty an Eternal Attribute of God that Non-Calvinists Deny”, he states: “Nothing can thwart a decree of God, whether permissive or decretive, because both are based in the certainty of God’s omniscience.” (Click here to see the comment. Scroll down to the comments section, and look in the 7th paragraph of the 2nd comment). Thus, in Leighton’s theological system, God permits (I believe most Reformed folks would use the term “permits” in this situation as well) false converts to “sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not”. Furthermore, in Leighton’s theological view, God permits false converts to “sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not”, until the day they die. Lastly, in Leighton’s theological view, God permits false converts to “sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not”, and yet die and go to Hell for all eternity. Thus, according to the very same standard of reasoning applied to Calvinists by Leighton, “there can be no assurance He is not doing the same with you”. If God permits one to live life with a false assurance of salvation, what makes you so sure that He is not permitting you to do the very same thing? Now, do not misunderstand me, there is a way for believers to have assurance, and to not wonder if God is permitting them to be self-deceived unto damnation, as I will show later on in this blog. My point here is to show that Leighton’s same standard, applied to his own theology, produces the same exact questions that he poses. He does not merely pose these questions, he cites them as evidence for his argument. Thus it follows, if Leighton believes he has proven that Calvinists cannot have assurance, then he must admit that neither can he, nor anyone who subscribes to his theology. I know he will dispute this by attempting to draw a distinction, but I believe it has already been proven that his argument is self-defeating. The existence of false converts does not equate to the possibility of every believer potentially being a false convert. This is flawed logic, my friends, and it simply is not true. Calvinists can and do have assurance of salvation. In fact, I will soon argue that Calvinists, typically, have a stronger assurance of salvation than many non-Calvinists. Thus, I am finished copying/pasting Leighton’s blog, and will now move on to presenting a counter-argument. Please bear with me, I will try being concise…  😉

A REFORMED VIEW OF ASSURANCE

First, I would like to suggest a formula for seeking assurance. I agree with Leighton when he states: “you must believe the One in whom you have put your faith is trustworthy”. As Leighton notes, assurance is impossible if one does not view God as being faithful to fulfill His promises. Thus, first and foremost, to have any real assurance, one must have faith in God. One must believe that God is trustworthy to fulfill His promises. This is a prerequisite to even beginning a search for assurance.

Again, if one desires stronger assurance, he/she must cling ever so tightly to the promises of God in the Holy Bible, and to the Word of God in entirety. Rather than begin this process by looking at ourselves, we ought to always begin by looking up to God and resting in His Word. The stronger one holds to the Word of God, the stronger assurance one will have. I think John Calvin explains this perfectly when he says:

“We make the freely given promise of God the foundation of faith because upon it faith properly rests. Faith is certain that God is true in all things whether he command or forbid, whether he promise or threaten; and it also obediently receives his commandments, observes his prohibitions, heeds his threats. Nevertheless, faith properly begins with the promise, rests in it, and ends in it. For in God faith seeks life: a life that is not found in commandments or declarations of penalties, but in the promise of mercy, and only in a freely given promise.” (1)

I would add to this that our faith and our assurance “begins with the promise, rests in it, and ends in it.” Thus, we must go to the Word of God for our assurance. We must begin and finish our quest at the foot of the Cross. My mother has, for years, struggled with assurance. We often remind each other of the promises of God, and the simplicity of the Gospel. Just a little side-note, the past year or so has to consisted of my mother transitioning to Reformed theology, and as a result, she now has more assurance than she ever has before. This is all due solely to the grace of God, however. Anyways, I think we ought to examine some of these promises God has made. After all, there is no such thing as reading them too many times!

Mark 16:16

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Acts 16:31

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Romans 10:9–10

…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Ephesians 2:8–9

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

John 3:14–18

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 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. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Though there are many, many, many more verses I could post, this ought to suffice. Verses like these are excellent sources of assurance. The faithfulness, goodness, and love of God is reason for us to rejoice in hope, and to praise Him with assurance of His promises being ones that He will fulfill. With that being said, I am sure Leighton will agree that these verses are excellent sources of assurance. The question then becomes, are Calvinists excluded from clinging to these verses (and others) for assurance? From the viewpoint of a Calvinist (or, a Reformed Baptist, as I prefer) I find exceedingly wonderful assurance from such verses as:

1 Peter 1:5

…who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Ephesians 1:3–14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

John 6:37, 44

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out…. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Romans 8:28–30

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

2 Thessalonians 2:13–14

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The list goes on and on… But, that ought to do for now. These verses are an excellent source of assurance for believers, especially Calvinists (my emphasis on Calvinists is, obviously, due to Leighton’s assertion of assurance being impossible for them/us). These verses lead me to believe that my faith was not conjured up by my own natural, human ability, but rather that it is a supernatural gift from God Himself, and that it rests not upon my own faithfulness to Christ, but solely upon His faithfulness to me! This has given me blessed assurance. I must note that we ought not confuse a search for stronger assurance with a Biblical self-examination.

SELF-EXAMINATION

Now I would like to respond to Leighton’s assertion of Calvinists having no way of knowing whether or not he/she is saved or “chosen for self-deception”, I pose the question of, in his own theological system, how is it possible for one to know whether God has permitted them to be self-deceived? Leighton leaves these questions unanswered, as if the Bible does not address them specifically. If he addresses them in his podcast, then so be it. I am only responding to his bog, and, regardless, his point is moot, as I will soon show. Self-examination is a crucial aspect of the Christian life. We do not ever stop examining ourselves! Well, at least we should never stop examining ourselves. Why is it so important? Because false conversion is real! I can testify to the fact that, before God truly saved me, I thought I was saved. Self-examination against the Word of God proved otherwise. Thank the Lord for His grace! Leighton fails to make a distinction between the beliefs/actions of the false convert and the belief/actions of the regenerate child of God. By doing so, he leaves out this crucial component of assurance. As I noted above, I believe that false converts would become aware of their self-deception if they did a Biblical, prayerful self-examination on themselves. This has proven to be true for many false converts.

Before we can proceed in discussing self-examination, we need to examine what the Word of God says on this issue:

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is more deceitful than all else

And is desperately sick;

Who can understand it?

2 Corinthians 13:5

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Lamentations 3:40

Let us examine and probe our ways,

And let us return to the Lord.

Psalm 119:59

I considered my ways

And turned my feet to Your testimonies.

1 Corinthians 11:31

But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.

In addition to examining ourselves, we ought to frequently pray for God to examine us, and to reveal to us our faults, that we might repent (easier said than done, trust me, I know). Our own abilities in self-examination fall exceedingly short to the abilities of God. Thus, we must apply such verses as:

Psalm 26:2

Examine me, O Lord, and try me;

Test my mind and my heart.

Psalm 139:23–24

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

This type of self-examination, and the longing for God to reveal what the self-examination fails to make known, combine to form the Biblical formula for one knowing whether or not he/she is a false convert. I do not believe it is possible for a false convert to apply these Biblical principles and remain in ignorance of his/her false conversion. Thus, there is a way for Calvinists to know whether or not they are self-deceived, and this, my friends, is it. But there is one last verse that must be mentioned. It is:

Romans 8:16

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…

Pretty straightforward, ehh? The Spirit of God Himself “testifies with our spirit”. This, my friends, is the greatest assurance we could ever desire! I must note, however, that because the heart is deceptively wicked, and because our flesh wages war against the spirit, I believe it is possible for a false convert to read this verse and tell themselves that they have this testimony from the Spirit. Neither Leighton’s theology, nor my own, can deny this fact. False converts are a Biblical reality, as I have already proven in Matthew 7:21-23 (also see Acts 8:20-21).

CONCLUSION

Regardless of what Leighton says/thinks/feels, Calvinists can and do enjoy the blessings of assurance of salvation, and we do so not because of our Calvinism, but rather because of what the Word of God itself says. I do, however, stand by my earlier statement of Calvinistic interpretations of Scripture do allow for even greater assurance. BUT… this is only because the Word of God allows for it. Reformed theology does not contain some secret assurance potion. On the contrary, the Word of God itself provides this greater assurance when it is interpreted correctly, as I contend is done within Reformed theology. Lastly, this assurance is not the result of inconsistency on the part of Calvinists, as I believe I have indisputably shown. Assurance can be found in the Word of God alone.

I would go as far to say that non-Reformed theology (***this does not necessarily include Leighton’s theology; I do not know his exact views on certain topics***) does not allow for steady assurance. How so? If the guarantee of salvation rests, at least in part, upon man exercising his “libertarian free will” to choose to place faith in Christ, then it must follow that man must continue steadfast in this faith by exercising his “libertarian free will”. If man ever exercises his “libertarian free will” and chooses to forsake and withraw his faith in Christ, then we must conclude that God must honor the man’s free will, correct? After all, as many non-Calvinists say, it would be “egregrious” for God to override the will of man. Consequently, those who subscribe to such a belief must agree with either #1) – God honors the man’s choice to forsake Him, and thus allows him to lose his salvation, or #2) – One must say that God overrides the “libertarian free will” of man, and does not allow him to exercise his free will to forsake Him. This, my friends, is precisely why the traditional Arminians denied the eternal salvation of believers. Traditional Arminianism sides with option #1. If one sides with option #2, then he/she has no grounds for arguing against the notion of God overpowering the sinful will of man. I must reiterate, I am not saying this scenario necessarily applies to Leighton’s views, and I am 1,000% sure that he will dispute it even if it does not apply to his views. But, I digress…

I want to reinforce the fact that if God predetermining to permit false converts to persist in self-deception unto damnation, as Reformed theology teaches, destroys any possibility of assurance for Reformed folks, as Leighton claims, then it must follow that, if God permits a false convert to persist in self-deception unto damnation, as Leighton’s theology teaches, then, if Leighton’s own argument is applied, it destroys any possibility of assurance. Again, the reality of false converts existing does not amount to the possibility of every/any believer potentially being a false convert. Believers can and must make a habit of affirming their standing with God by applying the Biblical methods discussed previously. There is a distinction, both doctrinally and practically, between the damning faith of a false convert and the saving faith of a child of God. To even suggest that the two are potentially interchangeable is a grand assault upon the truths of the Word of God.

I want to point out that, despite vehemently disagreeing with Leighton on his various attempts to attack Reformed theology, I do have much respect and love for him. I have always found him to be sincere and respectful in disagreeing, and I have never had received any hateful condemnation from him (unlike others critics on Twitter). I hope Leighton can discern my sincerity and the love I have for him despite me writing this against him. It is not my intention to cause some dramatic back and forth between him and I. As of now, I do not intend on addressing this issue again, even if Leighton responds. I was hesitant to even write this blog due to the time it takes. Anyways, I hope this does not lead to such an event.

Before I say goodbye, I want to post some quotes from Reformed theologians that address the issues at hand. I first want to take notice of the fact that none of these men wrote treatises on an impossibility of having assurance. Thus, either 1.) Every Calvinist is/was inconsistent in their theology, 2.) Every Calvinist was wrong about Calvinism, and Leighton is right about Calvinism, or, 3.) Leighton is wrong about Calvinism. I have to side with option 3… 😉 Though they are not in any type of order, and are essentially random, though all relevant to what has already been said, here are some quotes for us to examine:

John Calvin

“We seek a faith that distinguishes the children of God from the wicked, and believers from unbelievers. If someone believes that God both justly commands all that he commands and truly threatens, shall he therefore be called a believer? By no means! Therefore, there can be no firm condition of faith unless it rests upon God’s mercy.” (2)

“Again, it is not without cause that we include all the promises in Christ, since the apostle includes the whole gospel under the knowledge of him [cf. Rom. 1:17], and elsewhere teaches that “however many are the promises of God, in him they find their yea and amen” [2 Cor. 1:20].” (3)

“And I have not forgotten what I have previously said, the memory of which is repeatedly renewed by experience: faith is tossed about by various doubts, so that the minds of the godly are rarely at peace—at least they do not always enjoy a peaceful state. But whatever siege engines may shake them, they either rise up out of the very gulf of temptations, or stand fast upon their watch. Indeed, this assurance alone nourishes and protects faith—when we hold fast to what is said in the psalm: “The Lord is our protection, our help in tribulation. Therefore we will not fear while the earth shakes, and the mountains leap into the heart of the sea” [Ps. 46:2–3, cf. Comm.]. Another psalm, also, extols this very sweet repose: “I lay down and slept; I awoke again, for the Lord sustained me” [Ps. 3:5]. Not that David always dwelt in a tranquil and happy state! But to the extent that he tasted God’s grace, according to the measure of faith, he boasts that he fearlessly despises everything that could trouble his peace of mind. For this reason, Scripture, meaning to urge us to faith, bids us be quiet. In Isaiah: “In hope and in silence shall your strength be” [ch. 30:15, Vg.]. In the psalm: “Be still before Jehovah and wait … for him” [Ps. 37:7, Comm.]. To these verses corresponds the apostle’s statement in The Letter to the Hebrews: “For you have need of patience,” etc. [ch. 10:36].” (4)

CHARLES SPURGEON

“The promises of God are to the believer an inexhaustible mine of wealth. Happy is it for him if he knows how to search out their secret veins, and enrich himself with their hid treasures. They are an armory, containing all manner of offensive and defensive weapons.” (5)

“Behold the unpillared arch of heaven; see how it stretches its gigantic span; and yet it falleth not, though it is unpropped and unbuttressed. “He hangeth the world upon nothing.” What chain is it that bindeth up the stars, and keepeth them from falling? A Christian should be a second exhibition of God’s universe; his faith should be an unpillared confidence, resting on the past, and on the eternity to come, as the sure groundwork of its arch. His faith should be like the world, it should hang on nothing but the promise of God, needing nothing to uphold him but the right hand of his Father.” (6)

“Do not rise upon feelings, and you will not sink under them. Keep to believing: rest all your weight on the promises of God, and when heart and flesh fail, God will be the strength of your life, and your portion for ever.” (7)

JOHN NEWTON

“Unbelief is continually starting objections, magnifying and multiplying difficulties. But faith in the power and promises of God inspires a noble simplicity, and casts every care upon him, who is able and has engaged to support and provide.” (8)

“For, a man who possesses a scriptural and well-grounded assurance in himself, will evidence it to others by suitable fruits. He will be meek, unassuming, and gentle in his conduct before men, because he is humbled and abased before God.—Because he lives upon much forgiveness, he will be ready to forgive. The prospect of that blessed hope assuredly laid up for him in heaven, will make him patient under all his appointed trials in the present life, wean him from an attachment to the world, and preserve him from being much affected either by the smiles or the frowns of mortals. To hear persons talk much of their assurance, and that they are freed from all doubts and fears, while they habitually indulge proud, angry, resentful, discontented tempers, or while they are eagerly grasping after the world, like those who seek their whole portion in it, is painful and disgusting to a serious mind. Let us pity them, and pray for them; for we have great reason to fear that they do not understand what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” (9)

STEPHEN CHARNOCK

“We can never lay claim to that promise of God, none shall ‘seek my face in vain.’ We affect a vain seeking of him, when we want a due temper of spirit for him; and vain spirits shall have vain returns. It is more contrary to the nature of God’s holiness to have communion with such, than it is contrary to the nature of light to have communion with darkness.” (10)

“The memory is a repository for the precepts and promises of God as the choicest treasure. It is a likeness to Christ; the whole human nature of Christ was holy, every faculty of his soul, every member of his body, his nature holy, his heart holy. If we are not formed, Christ is not formed in us; look therefore whether your reformation you rest in be in the whole, and in every part of the soul.” (11)

***END OF QUOTES***

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I pray it has been helpful and edifying to all that read it, and most importantly, my chief aim is to have, in some way, brought glory to the Father, Son, and to the Holy Spirit. For the LORD alone is worthy of glory.

My sources are listed in numerical order at the bottom of the page.If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please feel free to comment below, or you can find me on Twitter at @ColbyBonham, or on Facebook (Colby Bonham). I would love to hear from you. I will leave you with one final verse from the Word of God. A personal favorite of mine, one that grants a great measure of assurance in times when I need it most:

SOLI DEO GLORIA!!!!

Philippians 1:6

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

SOURCES

1.) – Calvin, J. (2011). Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. (F. L. Battles, Trans., J. T. McNeill, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 575). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

2.) – Calvin, J. (2011). Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. (F. L. Battles, Trans., J. T. McNeill, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 576). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

3.) – Calvin, J. (2011). Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. (F. L. Battles, Trans., J. T. McNeill, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 580). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

4.) – Calvin, J. (2011). Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. (F. L. Battles, Trans., J. T. McNeill, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 584). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

5.) – Spurgeon, C. H. (1869). Gleanings Among the Sheaves (p. 5). New York: Sheldon and Company.

6.) – Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 68). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

7.) – Spurgeon, C. H. (1883). The Sword and Trowel: 1883 (p. 79). London: Passmore & Alabaster.

8.) – Newton, J., Richard Cecil. (1824). The works of the John Newton (Vol. 1, p. 301). London: Hamilton, Adams & Co.

9.) – Newton, J., & Cecil, R. (1824). The Works of John Newton (Vol. 6, p. 472). London: Hamilton, Adams & Co.

10.) – Charnock, S. (1864–1866). The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Vol. 1, p. 321). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson; G. Herbert.

11.) – Charnock, S. (1864–1866). The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Vol. 3, p. 97). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson; G. Herbert.

Biblical Repentance: A Refutation of Jim Ward’s Teaching on Repentance

Twitter can be an extremely dangerous source of information, especially when it comes to doctrine. This morning I ran across a tweet that proves this beyond all doubt. The tweet was produced by a man, Jim Ward, who has a colorful past when it comes to Twitter. I once blogged out a list of extremely hateful tweets of his, but have since deleted it. To put it bluntly, this man is not known for being very cordial, loving, nor kind. However, Twitter, of course, is not a perfectly accurate gauge of one’s attitude in its entirety. The point of me saying all of this is to explain why I am blogging a response rather than going to Jim privately about this issue (well, also, he has me blocked on Twitter, so I can’t go to him privately regardless). Anyways, here is the tweet:

As you can see (hopefully), it states: “To say one must turn from sin to be saved ADDS WORKS to The Gospel and makes it a false message that cannot save.”
This is not simply an argument against the Biblical, historical doctrine of repentance, it is a full blown condemnation of it! Jim is not simply arguing for what he believes to be true, he is condemning everyone that believes repentance of sin is a prerequisite to salvation. Perhaps Jim just does not understand what people mean when they teach repentance? Perhaps he does not realize that repentance is inseparable from faith? Or, as some say, “Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.” In a sense, I can appreciate Jim’s desire to eliminate works from salvation; however, zeal without knowledge is not to be commended. Jim has stated in the past that repentance is merely “changing your mind from unbelief to belief”. That is not a direct quote, but it is close to it. If Jim wants to dispute my paraphrase, I will gladly correct it. I will, however, proceed to show that this is simply false. Repentance does include turning from unbelief to belief, but it is not restricted to just that, as I will prove. But, before getting into the details of repentance, we need to examine some Bible verses that clearly and explicitly teach the exact opposite of what Jim claims in his tweet.
*All verses will be from the NASB95 unless noted otherwise*
*Any emphasis added by underlining/bold font is my own*

Ezekiel 18:21

But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

Ezekiel 18:27–28

Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

Ezekiel 33:11

Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’

2 Chronicles 7:14

…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Ezekiel 33:14

But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness…

Ezekiel 33:19

But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them.

Daniel 9:13

As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.

Jonah 3:8

But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.

Jonah 3:10

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Acts 14:15

…and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Acts 26:18

‘…to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

These verses suffice in laying the foundation for “repentance” from the Old Testament (as well as showing two from the New Testament). I compiled this list of verses by a simple search for the phrase “turn from” in the entire Bible. Now I will only cite verses from the New Testament, using a simple search for the term “repent”, and will thereby prove that repentance involves more than merely turning from unbelief to belief, as Jim teaches. I will be commenting below on certain verses. My comments will be in plain font, whereas the Bible verses are italicized. Also, any emphasis by underlining/bold font is my own.

Matthew 3:8

Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance

“Keeping with repentance”.. This makes no sense if repentance is restricted to only turning from unbelief to belief. I understand the argument that after one is converted, then repentance widens to include repentance from sin, and I am sure that is how Jim would argue. However, this too will be shown to be false.

Mark 1:15

…and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Believing the Gospel clearly contains a turning from unbelief to belief. Thus, the distinction this verse makes between the two is clearly in opposition to Jim’s teaching.

Luke 17:3

Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Acts 8:22

Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.

Acts 17:30

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent…

Acts 20:21

…solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, according to Jim, “repentance toward God” is “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ”. This verse draws a distinction, thus proving they are separate actions.

Acts 26:20

…but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

2 Corinthians 12:21

I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

Revelation 2:5

“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”

Revelation 2:21

‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.’

***END OF VERSES***

I think these ought to suffice in proving that Jim is mistaken on this point. Yes, repentance includes turning from unbelief to belief, but it includes much more than that. My own words are not adequate enough to argue more strongly against Jim’s teaching than the Word of God has. Thus, I will not even try to do so. I believe the verses I have cited are proof of Jim’s error. I will conclude with definitions of repentance from various sources, just for the sake of clarity.

Baker Dictionary of the Bible

“Repentance is literally a change of mind, not about individual plans, intentions, or beliefs, but rather a change in the whole personality from a sinful course of action to God. Such a change is sometimes referred to as “evangelical repentance,” since it arises out of the proclamation of God’s grace to the sinner and the correlative work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth (Jn 3:5–8). Such a change is the fruit of Christ’s victory over death—a gift bestowed as a result of his exaltation to his Father’s right hand as Prince and Savior (Acts 5:31). Such repentance accompanies saving faith in Christ (Acts 20:21). It is inconsistent and unintelligible to suppose that anyone might exercise faith in Christ as the divine Savior from sin who is not aware and repentant of his own sin.” (1)

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

“Repentance: Change of mind; also can refer to regret or remorse accompanying a realization that wrong has been done or to any shift or reversal of thought. In its biblical sense repentance refers to a deeply seated and thorough turning from self to God. It occurs when a radical turning to God takes place, an experience in which God is recognized as the most important fact of one’s existence.

Repentance was the keynote of the preaching of John the Baptist, referring to a complete turn from self to God. A note of urgency is attached to the message, “The kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matt. 3:2 HCSB). Those who were prepared to make such a radical reorientation of their lives demonstrated that by being baptized (Mark 1:4). This complete redirection of their lives was to be demonstrated by profound changes in lifestyle and relationships (Luke 3:8–14).
The emphasis upon a total life change continues in the ministry of Jesus. The message of repentance was at the heart of His preaching (Mark 1:15). When describing the focus of His mission, Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32 HCSB).

The call to repentance is a call to absolute surrender to the purposes of God and to live in this awareness. This radical turning to God is required of all people: “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Luke 13:3). Those who had witnessed the ministry of Jesus, the reality of God, and His claims on their lives faced serious jeopardy if they failed to repent. Jesus warned of serious consequences for those where His ministry had been rejected: “He proceeded to denounce the towns where most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent” (Matt. 11:20 HCSB). On the other hand, for the one sinner who repents, there is great “joy in heaven” (Luke 15:7). In His final words to the disciples, Jesus demanded that the same message of repentance He had preached would be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47).
The term remained in use as the early church began to take shape. The preaching in the book of Acts contains the call to repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22). On the one hand, Paul’s discourse at Athens reveals God as the one who “commands all people everywhere to repent” (17:30 HCSB). On the other hand, repentance is shown to be the result of the initiative of God: “God has granted repentance resulting in life to even the Gentiles” (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:24–26). The abundance of NT references makes clear that repentance is an essential element in the salvation experience. In response to the call of God in one’s life, there must be repentance, that is, the willful determination to turn from a life of sin and self-rule to a life ruled by God and lived in His righteousness. Repentance can be said to have occurred when someone has been convicted of the reality of their personal sinfulness, rejects and renounces that life of sin, and turns to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Repentance is so central that when Paul summarized his ministry he could say, “I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21 HCSB). The experience of repentance precedes salvation (2 Pet. 3:9).

While the majority of calls to repentance are directed to unbelievers, repentance sometimes refers to believers. Paul wrote of a letter sent to the Corinthians which caused them grief but which ultimately led them to repentance (2 Cor. 7:8–13). Several times in the letters to the churches in Revelation, repentance is called for (Rev. 2:5, 16, 21–22; 3:3, 19), in order that these believers and churches might bring their lives into greater conformity to the will of God. Individual believers, as well as churches, must constantly engage in self-examination, allowing the Spirit of God to point out areas where change is needed. Repentance is more than just remorse.” (2)

The Westminster Bible Dictionary

“Re-pentʹance. The general sense of the English word thus rendered is “change of mind.” Thus Esau found no place of repentance or change of mind in his father Isaac (Heb. 12:17), for Isaac would not change what he had done—that is, would not revoke the blessing given to Jacob (Gen. 27:34–40). Thus, too, the expression “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29) denotes the stability and unchangeableness of God’s purpose of grace in the covenant of redemption. But in connection with sin the word “repentance” has a specific sense. It designates sorrow for sin, grief for having committed it, and a turning away from it, accompanied with sincere endeavors, in reliance on the grace and aid of God’s Holy Spirit, to live in humble and holy obedience to the divine commands and will (Matt. 3:2, 8; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Cor. 7:8–10; 2 Tim. 2:25). Tropically, repentance is ascribed to God (Gen. 6:6) when, because of change in men, he changes toward them his conduct or bearing.” (3)

***And lastly, a quote from Charles Spurgeon***

“If you would have peace with God, you must repent of sin. If you love evil, you cannot love God. There must be a divorce between you and sin, or there can be no marriage between you and Christ. When Jesus comes to a soul, He comes as King of righteousness first, and after that as King of peace. We must have a positive righteousness of life, a cleanness of heart and hand, or we shall not be found at the right hand of the Judge. Let no man deceive himself. “Whatever a person sows, this he will also reap” (Gal 6:7). He that comes to Christ, and takes Christ to be his Savior, must take Christ also to be his Ruler. And, Christ ruling him, there must be in that man’s heart an active, energetic pursuit of everything that is good and holy, for without holiness “no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). He that lives in sin is dead while he lives, and knows nothing of the life of God in his soul. Righteousness must hold the scepter, or peace will not attend the court.

Will you give up your sin? For Christ has come to save His people from their sins. If you do not wish to be saved from sinning, you will never be saved from damning. Christ cannot save you while sin is loved and followed after, and has a reigning power in you; for it is an essential of His salvation that He should deliver you from the mastery of evil. But if you say, “I will live in sin, and yet go to heaven,” you will never do so. There shall by no means enter into the celestial city anything that defiles. He that takes men to heaven is first King of righteousness, and after that He is King of peace.” ~Charles Spurgeon(4)

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I pray it has been helpful and edifying to all that have read. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please feel free to comment below. You can also find me on Twitter at @ColbyBonham and/or on Facebook (Colby Bonham). God bless!!!

~SOLI DEO GLORIA~

SOURCES

(1) – Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 1836–1837). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

(2) – Palmer, C. (2003). Repentance. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 1375–1376). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

(3) – Shepherd, T. J. (1880). In The Westminster Bible Dictionary (p. 435). Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication.

(4) – Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews. (E. Ritzema & J. Strong, Eds.). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

“Confront Calvin” is All Confused: A Critical Analysis & Refutation

This has been a long time coming. I have purposed to write this blog many times in the past, but always decided against it, as I do not think “Confront Calvin” (CC) has much influence with his (weak) weekly blog posts. Ironically, this man uses the title “Confront Calvin”, yet, when confronted himself by actual Calvinists, rather than defending his arguments, he remains silent (or blocks them on Twitter, as he did me). I will be frank: this man is tremendously ignorant when it comes to Calvinism. He simply does not understand it, at all. His so-called ‘refutations’ of Calvinism are the worst misrepresentations I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty of terrible ones. With that being said, I must note, I do believe CC is sincere… deceived, but sincere. However, his apparent sincerity does not grant him a “free pass” to slander the Biblical doctrines of grace without being confronted. Thus, I will be responding to one of his more recent posts that (sadly) has been making its way around Twitter. Unfortunately, Twitter provides a platform for people that hate what they think to be Calvinism, which allows them to spread bogus critiques like the one CC recently published. Click here to see it. You can also click here to see my recent post titled “The Undeniable, Biblical Case for T.U.L.I.P.”, which is actually an excerpt from the book, “The Five Points of Calvinism”.  So, let’s begin…

If you read CC’s blog, you can see that his argument is essentially centered around the notion of Calvinism (allegedly) claiming that “all” always means the elect. I challenge CC, or anyone, to find just one Calvinist that has truly said “all” always means the elect. Notice how CC fails to cite a single Calvinist in his blog? He does not illustrate his argument from the words of actual Calvinists. Instead, he produces his own version of supposed Calvinistic thought, and then proceeds to attack it, as if it were a true representation of Calvinism. CC’s assertion is bogus, point blank. At times, “all” does refer to “all people”, and sometimes it refers to “all of the elect”.  I believe “all” means all. However, I do not believe that “all” always means “every person to ever come into existence”, which is precisely what CC implies in his blog. I will now copy/paste excerpts from CC’s blog and comment underneath each part. I will post CC’s words in bold italics and will comment in normal font. All Scripture references will be from the NASB95, unless noted otherwise (except for the verses included in segments of CC’s blog). Lastly, all sources cited will be listed in numerical order at the very bottom of the page. Thank you for taking the time to read this! 🙂

“However, Calvinism vehemently opposes the idea that God offers salvation to all men.”

I understand how someone that is unlearned, at least when it comes to Calvinism, could end up believing this to be true. It is not true, however. Let us examine a few quotes of John Calvin himself:

“…God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few.” (1)

“There is the general call, by which God invites all equally to himself through the outward preaching of the word…”  (2)

“For since by his word he calls all men indiscriminately to salvation, and since the end of preaching is, that all should betake themselves to his guardianship and protection, it may justly be said that he wills to gather all to himself.” (3)

“Therefore, forasmuch as no man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men; neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.” (4)

CC fails to distinguish between the “general call” (or, “external/outward call”) and the “effectual call” (or, “internal/inward call”) , as taught by Calvinists. In doing so, he greatly misrepresents Calvinism. I honestly do not believe CC has ever actually studied the works of John Calvin, or other influential Calvinists. Instead, I suspect his ‘understanding’ of Calvinism stems from reading secondhand sources, critics of Calvinism, men like Dave Hunt (who failed to grasp it as well). If I have a Muslim from Iraq explain Christianity to me, I will never grasp the true meaning of it. Seeking to learn a subject solely from sources that are biased and opposed to it is a vain endeavor. Regardless of where CC learned this, he is flat out wrong. Calvin went to great lengths to distinguish between the general call to all men and the effectual call to the elect, as taught in the Scriptures. Let’s examine some of his thoughts on this issue:

“…though it [the Gospel] is offered to all for salvation, it does not yield this fruit in any but the elect.” (5)

“It [John 3:16] is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favour of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life. Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.” (6)

“We further know, that the Prophets preached in order to invite some to God, and to render others inexcusable. With regard to the end and design of public teaching, it is, that all should in common be called: but God’s purpose is different; for he intends, according to his own secret counsel, to draw to himself the elect, and he designs to take away all excuse from the reprobate, that their obstinacy may be more and more apparent.” (7)

“At the same time, as he works not effectually in all, but only where the Spirit, the inward Teacher, illuminates the heart, he subjoins, To every one who believeth. The gospel is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but the power of it appears not everywhere: and that it is the savour of death to the ungodly, does not proceed from what it is, but from their own wickedness. By setting forth but one salvation he cuts off every other trust. When men withdraw themselves from this one salvation, they find in the gospel a sure proof of their own ruin. Since then the gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is rightly called the doctrine of salvation: for Christ is there offered, whose peculiar office is to save that which was lost; and those who refuse to be saved by him, shall find him a Judge.” (8)

“…the message of the gospel, by which God reconciles the world to himself, is common to all men. Yet we see how God stirs up godly teachers in one place rather than in another. Still the external call alone would be insufficient, did not God effectually draw to himself those whom he has called.” (9)

“…Christ, indeed, kindles for all indiscriminately the torch of his gospel; but all have not the eyes of their minds opened to see it, but on the contrary Satan spreads the veil of blindness over many. Then the Apostle means the light which Christ kindles within in the hearts of his people…” (10)

“He adds that this righteousness is through God’s bountiful goodness offered indiscriminately to all nations, but that it is only apprehended by those, whom the Lord through special favour illuminates.” (11)

This ought to suffice in proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that CC is mistaken on this point. In the next segment, CC posts several Bible verses in an attempt to illustrate his thesis of “all” always meaning every person to ever live (at least in the few verses he cites). I will be responding to each verse posted and to CC’s commentary on each verse.

“There are dozens of scriptures that convey the message that God offers salvation to all and the scriptures uses words like “all”, “whoever” and “everyone” to convey the message. Here are but a few:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

This famous passage mentions “the world” meaning all people and then uses the word “whoever” to convey the idea that anyone can believe in Christ.”

First, there is nothing in the context of this verse that indicates “the world” means “all people”, as CC suggests. In fact, there are many occasions in which “the world” clearly does not mean “all people”. The “world”, as used in the Bible, can have several different meanings, including the physical earth/order of creation, or humanity, either in part or in whole. I will focus on proving that “the world”, when referring to mankind/humanity does not always refer to every single person individually. For example:

Isaiah 13:11

Thus I will punish the world for its evil
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud
And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.

***This verse is clearly not referring to every individual of the world. It is actually, as most commentators agree, referring to the kingdom of Babylon due to its vastness. Likewise, in Luke 2:1 the same term is used in referring to the Roman Empire for the same reasons. This alone proves that the term “world” can and does refer, at times, to a portion of humanity.

John 7:4

For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.

***This quite clearly is not referring to every single human being either. This is referring to the “general public”, as some would say. It is referring once again to a portion of humanity.

John 7:7

The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.

***Again, this is referring to a portion of humanity; namely, the unregenerate sinners of the world. This is a recurring theme in the New Testament, as we will soon see.

John 12:19

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.

***This too is only referring to a portion of humanity. It is not referring to every individual ever born, obviously.

John 14:17

..that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

***We ought to thank God that this too only refers to a portion of humanity. If we apply CC’s definition of “all people” to this verse, we would be in big trouble.

John 14:19

After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.

John 14:22

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

John 14:30

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me…

***Is Satan the “ruler” of every individual human being that has ever existed, or ever will exist? Thank God he is no longer the ruler of the children of the Most High! This is referring to unregenerate sinners, a portion of humanity.

John 15:18

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

***This is becoming redundant, so I may skip over a few.

John 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

***Once again, this clearly is not referring to “all people”. It is referring to a portion of humanity (unregenerate sinners).

John 17:9

“I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours…”

***This passage has major theological implications. I suspect CC does not read the Gospel of John too often (except for John 3:16).

John 18:20

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.

Acts 17:6

When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also…

***This too is quite clearly referring to a mere portion of humanity.

Acts 19:27

Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.

***Praise God, this too does not mean “all people”.

Romans 11:15

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

***In Romans 11:12 the same phrase “the world” is used, and, as the context shows, it is referring to the Gentiles, a portion of humanity.

1 Corinthians 4:9

For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.

1 Corinthians 6:2

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?

1 Corinthians 11:32

But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

***This surely will suffice in proving my point: “the world” does not always refer to “all people” (as all Christians should know). I skipped over many references, and probably shouldn’t have even posted all of the ones I did, but, I want to be thorough.  Let’s move on…

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:3-4

Could this passage be any clearer? The terms “all people”, “mankind” and “all people” a second time make it clear that our Savior came to die for all.”

This verse is commonly used by Arminians to argue against the sovereign election of God. Theologians throughout the centuries have rightly noted that the Bible often uses terminology such as, and similar to, “all people”, to illustrate that Christ came and died for Jews and for Gentiles. The first century Jews, by and large, believed that they alone had access to salvation, and that salvation was inherent due to their genetic lineage. They sought to shut out the rest of the world from the promises of God. The Lord Jesus Christ destroyed this false notion many, many times in His earthly ministry, and the Holy Spirit continued to do so while inspiring the writers of the New Testament as they penned the written revelation of God. CC does not provide nor even address Calvinistic arguments against the conclusions he has drawn. I will post some commentary on this verse from actual Calvinists, and thus illustrate the agreement of this verse with the doctrines of grace (i.e. – Calvinism).

***I will try to make sure that all excerpts from Scripture included throughput these quotes will be in italics.***

Dr. John Gill

“THESE words are often used to oppose God’s decree of reprobation, and in favour of universal redemption; but with what success will be seen when it is observed,

1. – That the salvation which God here wills that all men should enjoy, is not a mere possibility of salvation for all, nor putting all men into a salvable state, nor an offer of salvation to all, nor a proposal of sufficient means of it to all in his word; but a real, certain, and actual salvation, which he has determined they shall have, has provided and secured in the covenant of his grace, sent his Son into this world to effect, which is fully effected by him.

2. –That the will of God, that all men should be saved, is not a conditional will, or will that depends upon the will of man, or anything to be performed by him; for if this was the case, none might be saved; and if any should, salvation would be of him that willeth, and of him that runneth, and not of God that showeth mercy, contrary to the express words of Scripture; but this will of God, respecting the salvation of men, is absolute and unconditional, and what infallibly secures and produces it: nor is it such a will as is distinguishable into antecedent and consequent: with the former of which it is said, God wills the salvation of all men, as they are his creatures, and the work of his hands; with the latter he wills or not wills it, according to their future conduct and behaviour: but the will of God, concerning man’s salvation, is one entire, invariable, unalterable, and unchangeable will; He is in one mind; and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth even that he doth. Nor is it merely his will of approbation or complacency, being only expressive of what is grateful and well-pleasing to him; but it is his ordaining, purposing, and determining will, which is never frustrated, but is always fulfilled. I know it is observed by some, that it is not said that God will σῶσαι, salvos facere, save all men, as implying what he would do; but that he would have all men σωθῆναι, salvos fieri, to be saved, as signifying their duty to seek after salvation, and use all means for the obtaining of it, which, when effected, is well-pleasing to him. But the other sense is to be abundantly preferred.

3. – That the all men, whom God would have to be saved, are such whom he would also have to come to the knowledge of the truth; that is, not a mere nominal, but experimental knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as the way, the truth, and the life, or of the true way of life and salvation by him; and all those whom God saves, they are brought by his Spirit and grace to an acquaintance with these things, which is an act of his sovereign will, and an instance of his distinguishing favour; for whilst he hides these things from the wise and prudent, he reveals them to babes: even so, Father, says Christ, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Hence,

4. – By all men whom God would have to be saved, we are not to understand every individual of mankind, since it is not the will of God that all men, in this large sense, should be saved; for it is his will that some men should be damned, and that very justly, for their sins and transgressions; ungodly men, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; and to whom it will be said, go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. Moreover, if it was the will of God that every individual of mankind should be saved, then every one would be saved; for who hath resisted his will? or can do it? Does he not do according to his will in the armies of the heavens, and among the inhabitants of the earth? Nay, does he not work all things after the counsel of his own will? and it is certain that all men, in this large sense, are not saved, for some will go away into everlasting punishment, when the righteous shall go into eternal life. Besides, the same persons God would have saved he would have come to the knowledge of the truth; but this is not his will with respect to every individual of mankind; were it his will, he would, no doubt, give to every man the means of it, which he has not done, nor does he; for many hundred years he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, and overlooked the times of their ignorance. He showed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; he hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. From many to whom the gospel does come, it is hid; some are given up to strong delusions to believe a lie, and few are savingly and experimentally acquainted with the truth as it is in Jesus.

5. – There are indeed many things urged in favour of this large sense of the phrase all men. As,

a) The exhortation of the apostle, in ver. 1, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. But surely by all men, is not meant every individual man, that has been, is, or shall be, in the world; millions of men are dead and gone, for whom prayer is not to be made; many in hell, to whom it would be of no service; and many in heaven, who stand in no need of it; nor should we pray for such who have sinned the sin unto death. Besides, giving of thanks, as well as prayers, were to be made for all men; but certainly the apostle’s meaning is not that the saints should give thanks for wicked men, and persecutors, and particularly for a persecuting Nero; nor for heretics or false teachers, such as Hymeneus and Alexander, whom he had delivered to Satan; the phrase is therefore to be taken in a limited and restrained sense, for some only, as appears from ver. 2, for kings, and for all in authority; that is, for men of the highest, as well as of the lowest rank and quality.

b) This sense is contended for, from the reason given in ver. 5, for there is one God, “who is the God of all, the common Father and Creator of all men.” Now, “it is said, thus he is the God of all men in particular; and so this argument must show, he would have all men in particular to be saved. To which may be replied, that God is the God of all men, as the God of nature and providence, but not as the God of grace, or in a covenant way, for then it would be no distinguishing favour or happiness to any people, that the Lord is their God; he is indeed the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all, meaning believers, to whom the apostle writes; the same Lord is rich unto all, but then it is to them that call upon him.

c) This is argued for from the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; but it should be observed, that he is not said to be the mediator between God and all men, and much less every individual man; and since he is expressly called, the mediator of the new covenant, he only can be a mediator for those who are in that covenant; and it is plain, that he has not performed the several branches of his mediatorial office, the oblation of himself on the cross, and his intercession in heaven, for every man; and though the nature he assumed is common to all men, was endued with the best of human affections, and subject to the common law of humanity; yet, since it was assumed with a peculiar view to the elect of God, the seed of Abraham, they share all the peculiar blessings and favours arising from the assumption of such a nature.

d) It is observed that Christ is said, in ver. 6, to give himself a ransom for all, which is understood of all men in particular; but it should be observed also, that this ransom is ἀντίλυτρον ὑπερ πάντων, a vicarious ransom, substituted in the room and stead of all, whereby a full price was paid for all, and a plenary satisfaction made for the sins of all, which cannot be true of every individual man, for then no man could be justly condemned and punished. The sense of these words is best understood by what Christ himself has said, The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many. So the Hebrew word כל, all, to which this answers, signifies sometimes many, a multitude; and sometimes only a part of a multitude, as Kimchi has observed. Wherefore,

e) It is better by all men to understand some of all sorts, as Austin did long ago, and is the sense in which the word all is to be taken in many places; as in Gen. 7:14; Matt. 4:23, 24; Joel 2:28; and is the meaning of it in ver. 1, and well agrees with the matter of fact; since Christ has redeemed some of all nations, some out of every kindred, tongue, and people; and God saves and calls some of every rank and quality, as kings and peasants: of every state and condition, as rich and poor, bond and free; of every sex, male and female; of every age, young and old; and all sorts of sinners, greater and less. It is indeed said, that, according to this limitation and sense of the words, God is willing some of all kindred and people should be saved; it may more truly and properly be said, that God would have all men to be damned, and that Christ died for none; since they for whom he died are none, according to this doctrine, comparatively to the greater number for whom he died not. To which I answer, it does not become us to say what might be more truly and properly said by God, or an inspired writer. However, this is certain, that as there is a whole world that lies in wickedness, so there is a world that shall be damned; which agrees with what the apostle Paul says in so many words, that the world shall be condemned, We are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned or damned with the world. Moreover, though they for whom Christ died are but few comparatively, yet they cannot be said, in a comparative sense, or in any sense at all, to be none; and indeed, when considered by themselves, are a number which no man can number. But,

f) I rather think that by all men are meant the Gentiles, who are sometimes called the world, the whole world, and every creature, Rom. 11:12, 15; 1 John 2:2; Mark 16:15; which is the sense, I apprehend, in which it is used in ver. 1, where the apostle exhorts, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all in authority; which was contrary to a notion that obtained among the Jews, of whom there were many in the primitive churches, that they should not pray for heathens and heathen magistrates. The apostle enforces this exhortation from the advantage which would accrue to themselves; that we may lead a peaceable and quiet life, in all godliness and honesty; besides, says he, This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men, Gentiles as well as Jews, to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth, and therefore has sent his ministers to preach the gospel among them; and the doctrine of the grace of God has appeared to these, all men, in order to bring them to it; for there is one God of Jews and Gentiles, who, by his gospel, has taken out of the latter a people for his name and glory; and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who, not like Moses, who was the mediator for the Jews only, but is for the Gentiles also; and is become our peace, that hath made both one, reconciled both in one body on the cross; preached peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh; through whom, as the mediator, both have an access by one Spirit to the Father; who also gave himself a ransom for all, to redeem the Gentiles as well as Jews; which was to be testified in due time to them, as it was by the apostle, who adds, Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity; and then concludes, I will therefore that men pray everywhere, and not be confined to the temple for public prayer, another Jewish notion and practice, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. Seeing then there are some Jewish notions pointed at in the context, and the whole is adapted to the state and case of the Gentiles, under the gospel dispensation, there is a good deal of reason to conclude that they are designed here; whereby another principle of the Jews is confuted, which is, that the Gentiles should receive no benefit by the Messiah when he came; and is the true reason of most, if not of all, those universal expressions, relating to the death of Christ, we meet with in Scripture.

From the whole, since these words cannot be understood of every individual man, they cannot be thought to militate against God’s righteous decree of reprobation, nor to maintain and support universal redemption.” (12)

Dr. John MacArthur

The Greek word for “desires” is not that which normally expresses God’s will of decree (His eternal purpose), but God’s will of desire. There is a distinction between God’s desire and His eternal saving purpose, which must transcend His desires. God does not want men to sin. He hates sin with all His being (Pss 5:4; 45:7); thus, He hates its consequences—eternal wickedness in hell. God does not want people to remain wicked forever in eternal remorse and hatred of Himself. Yet, God, for His own glory, and to manifest that glory in wrath, chose to endure “vessels … prepared for destruction” for the supreme fulfillment of His will (Ro 9:22). In His eternal purpose, He chose only the elect out of the world (Jn 17:6) and passed over the rest, leaving them to the consequences of their sin, unbelief, and rejection of Christ (cf. Ro 1:18–32). Ultimately, God’s choices are determined by His sovereign, eternal purpose, not His desires.” (13)

John Calvin

Who wishes that all men may be saved. – Here follows a confirmation of the second argument; and what is more reasonable than that all our prayers should be in conformity with this decree of God?

And may come to the acknowledgment of the truth. Lastly, he demonstrates that God has at heart the salvation of all, because he invites all to the acknowledgment of his truth. This belongs to that kind of argument in which the cause is proved from the effect; for, if “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one that believeth,” (Rom. 1:16,) it is certain that all those to whom the gospel is addressed are invited to the hope of eternal life. In short, as the calling is a proof of the secret election, so they whom God makes partakers of his gospel are admitted by him to possess salvation; because the gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God, which is a sure entrance into life.

Hence we see the childish folly of those who represent this passage to be opposed to predestination. “If God,” say they, “wishes all men indiscriminately to be saved, it is false that some are predestinated by his eternal purpose to salvation, and others to perdition.” They might have had some ground for saying this, if Paul were speaking here about individual men; although even then we should not have wanted the means of replying to their argument; for, although the will of God ought not to be judged from his secret decrees, when he reveals them to us by outward signs, yet it does not therefore follow that he has not determined with himself what he intends to do as to every individual man.

But I say nothing on that subject, because it has nothing to do with this passage; for the Apostle simply means, that there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation; because God wishes that the gospel should be proclaimed to all without exception. Now the preaching of the gospel gives life; and hence he justly concludes that God invites all equally to partake salvation. But the present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons; for his sole object is, to include in this number princes and foreign nations. That God wishes the doctrine of salvation to be enjoyed by them as well as others, is evident from the passages already quoted, and from other passages of a similar nature. Not without good reason was it said, “Now, kings, understand,” and again, in the same Psalm, “I will give thee the Gentiles for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth for a possession.” (Ps. 2:8, 10.)

In a word, Paul intended to shew that it is our duty to consider, not what kind of persons the princes at that time were, but what God wished them to be. Now the duty arising out of that love which we owe to our neighbour is, to be solicitous and to do our endeavour for the salvation of all whom God includes in his calling, and to testify this by godly prayers.

With the same view does he call God our Saviour; for whence do we obtain salvation but from the undeserved kindness of God? Now the same God who has already made us partakers of salvation may sometime extend his grace to them also. He who hath already drawn us to him may draw them along with us. The Apostle takes for granted that God will do so, because it had been thus foretold by the predictions of the prophets, concerning all ranks and all nations.” (14)

The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Pastoral Epistles

“πάντες ἄνθρωποι is picked up from v. 1 to correlate God’s attitude toward “all people” with the request that we pray for all. As in v. 1 Paul means by the phrase all kinds of people, all sorts of people, including civil authorities (cf. for a similar thought Tit. 3:1–7; note also Rom. 11:32, where the second “all” embraces Jew and Gentile, but not every person, cf. 9:6ff.; cf. again Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11; 1 Cor. 12:12; Acts 22:15). “[God] wishes all people to be saved” expresses the truth for which Paul continually contended, especially against Jews and Judaizers, and that he and the other apostles were agreed on (see Galatians, especially chapter 2; Acts 10:34–36; 11:17, 18, where Peter expresses this same truth against the background of his vision of 10:9–23; 1 Tim. 2:7: “teacher of the Gentiles”; cf. for OT background Ezk. 18:23; 33:11; and especially the Abrahamic covenant, Gen. 12:3, reflected throughout Isaiah; G. Schrenk, TDNT III, 47f.).

σωθῆναι (see data at 1:15), as aorist passive, “to be saved,” communicates, with the verb θέλει, that God wishes people to experience that which he would do for them, i.e., save them. The two focuses of this statement come to expression in two other uses of σῴζω in the PE: First, “And come to the knowledge of the truth” is reflected in 4:10, where from the human side those from “all kinds of people” who are saved are described simply as “believers” (cf. Romans 9–11; Gal. 3:28; Col. 2:11; 1 Cor. 12:13). Second, those who are saved are, from the Godward side, those “called” “according to [God’s] purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9; cf. Romans 9–11; Ephesians 1–2). These two focuses coalesce in the perspective of 2 Tim. 1:8–10, especially v. 10, where this eternal purpose is said to be brought about “through the gospel” (cf. Eph. 1:8–10).

καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν stresses the necessary noetic aspect of salvation, most simply put, knowledge of the person and work of Christ (cf. Rom. 10:12–14). Although ἐπίγνωσις ἀληθείας is found in Paul only in the PE (here, Tit. 1:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7 [all the occurrences of ἐπίγνωσις in the PE]; the phrase elsewhere in the NT only in Heb. 10:26), its component parts are found in Paul’s earlier letters in the same sense. The phrase as used here indicates the process of coming to know and acknowledge the truth of the gospel (ἐπίγνωσις with genitive of the thing known). “ ‘Recognition’ (ἐπίγνωσις) designates not only rational comprehension but also acknowledgment, just as ‘truth’ (ἀλήθεια) is not merely a fact to be grasped theoretically, but also a state of affairs to be actualized. The phrase as a whole is a technical term for conversion” (Dibelius-Conzelmann; cf. Heb. 10:26; cf. further Dibelius, “Ἐπίγνωσις ἀλήθειας”).

This meaning for the phrase is borne out in the usage of the two words separately elsewhere in Paul. Bultmann asserts that “ἐπίγνωσις has become almost a technical term for the decisive knowledge of God which is implied in conversion to the Christian faith” (TDNT I, 707). Col. 2:2 (εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ θεοῦ) is the most nearly parallel to our passage, although the experiential aspect is also evident in most of the other Pauline references, e.g., Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9, 10; 3:10. ἀλήθεια means “true teaching or faith” and is used of the gospel in the earlier Pauline letters and probably here as well (cf. 2 Cor. 4:2; Gal. 5:7; 2 Cor. 6:7; Col. 1:5; Eph. 1:13; 2 Thes. 2:10–12; 2 Cor. 13:8; cf. 2 Jn. 1; 1 Pet. 1:22; Bultmann, TDNT I, 244; cf. also BAGD s.v. 2b, which gives the nuance here and elsewhere in the NT as “the content of Christianity as the absolute truth”). ἐλθεῖν, “to come,” speaks of the personal and experiential response (see also 2 Tim. 3:7, the only other NT occurrence of εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἔρχεσθαι).” (15)

***This should suffice for now. Though theologians of the past have varied in interpretation, it is easily shown that this verse in no way contradicts Calvinistic thought. Many verses like this are difficult, somewhat, to rectify in light of the verses that teach election/predestination. However, this difficulty does not warrant CC’s claims. Let’s move on…***

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

“All people” is used again. He succeeded in drawing all to him when he was lifted up at the cross.”

I will do the same for this verse as I did on the previous one, since CC again failed to cite any Calvinist.

Dr. John Gill

“THOUGH this text is not produced by the principal writers in the Arminian controversy, nor by the Remonstrants formerly, nor by Curcellæus, nor by Limborch, nor by Whitby of late; yet inasmuch as it is urged by others, in favour of universal redemption, that he who draws all men to him by his death, must needs die for all men; it will be proper to consider the import of it, and the argument upon it. And,

1.- It is certain, that the death of Christ, and the very kind of death he should die, is intimated by his being lifted up from the earth; since the evangelist observes in the next verse, that this he said signifying what death he should die; and it must be owned, that the drawing of all men to Christ, is here represented as a fruit of his death, or as what should attend it, or would follow upon it; and I, εἂν ὑψωθῶ, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me. And therefore,

2.- The sense of these words pretty much depends on the meaning of the word draw: which either designs a collection of a large number of people to him, and about him, when he should be lifted on the cross, some against, and others for him; some to reproach, and others to bewail him; or rather of the gathering of the people to him, through the ministry of the apostles; and so of their being enabled, through the power of divine grace, to come unto him, and believe on him for eternal life and salvation; for all those whom God has loved with an everlasting love, and Christ has died for, are, sooner or later, with loving kindness drawn unto him; in this sense Christ uses the word in this gospel; no man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. Now,

3.- It is most evident, that all men, that is, every individual of human nature, every son and daughter of Adam, have not faith, are not drawn, or enabled to come to Christ, and believe in him. There were many of the Jews who would not, and did not come to Christ, that they might have life; who, instead of being drawn to him in this sense, when lifted up on the cross, vilified and reproached him; nay, at this time, here was a world spoken of in the preceding verse, whose judgment, or condemnation, was now come; and besides, there was then a multitude of souls in hell, who could not nor never will be drawn to Christ; and a greater number still there will be at the last day, to whom, instead of drawing to him in this gracious way and manner, he will say, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. Christ died, indeed, for all men, who are drawn unto him; but this is not true of all men that are, were, or shall be in the world. Add to this that the word men is not in the Greek text; it is only πάντας, all; and some copies read πάντα, all things; so Austin read it formerly, and so it was read in an ancient copy of Beza’s. But not to insist on this;

4.- By all men, is meant some of all sorts, all the elect of God, the children of God, that were scattered abroad; and particularly the Gentiles as well as the Jews, as Chrysostom and Theophylact interpret the words; which interpretation is perfectly agreeable with ancient prophecy; that when Shiloh was come‖, to him should the gathering of the people, or Gentiles, be; and with the context, and occasion of these words, which was this; certain Greeks that were come up to worship at the feast, desired to see Jesus: of which when he was apprised by his disciples, he answered, that the hour was come in which he should be glorified, and that as a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, so should he: and though he tacitly intimates, that it was not proper to admit these Greeks into his presence now, yet when he was lifted up from the earth, or after his death, his gospel should be preached to them as well as to the Jews; and that large numbers of them should be drawn unto him, and brought to believe in him; agreeable to which sense of the words is Dr. Hammond’s paraphrase of them: “And I being crucified, will, by that means, bring a great part of the whole world to believe on me, Gentiles as well as Jews.” And to the same purpose is the note of Dr. Whitby on the text.” (16)

John Calvin

“If I be lifted up. Next follows the method by which the judgment shall be conducted; namely, Christ, being lifted up on the cross, shall gather all men to himself, in order that he may raise them from earth to heaven. The Evangelist says, that Christ pointed out the manner of his death; and, therefore, the meaning undoubtedly is, that the cross will be, as it were, a chariot, by which he shall raise all men, along with himself, to his Father. It might have been thought, that at that time he was carried away from the earth, so as no longer to have any interests in common with men; but he declares, that he will go in a very different manner, so as to draw upwards to himself those who were fixed on the earth. Now, though he alludes to the form of his death, yet he means generally, that his death will not be a division to separate him from men, but that it will be an additional means of drawing earth upwards towards heaven.

I will draw all men to myself. The word all, which he employs, must be understood to refer to the children of God, who belong to his flock. Yet I agree with Chrysostom, who says that Christ used the universal term, all, because the Church was to be gathered equally from among Gentiles and Jews, according to that saying, There shall be one shepherd, and one sheepfold, (John 10:16.) The old Latin translation has, I will draw ALL THINGS to me; and Augustine maintains that we ought to read it in that manner; but the agreement of all the Greek manuscripts ought to have greater weight with us.” (17)

***Moving on to the next excerpt of CC’s blog.***

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  -Hebrews 2:9

Jesus tasted death for “everyone”. This is not ambiguous in any way.”

Same format as before.

Dr. John Gill

“THE doctrine of universal redemption is said to be contained in express terms in these words, and it is observed upon them, that “here is no restraint at all, nor any seeming limitation of the comprehensive phrase, he tasted death for every man, distributively taken;” and that there is something “which doth seem to strengthen the general intendment of the phrase, for this is said to magnify the grace of God, in sending his Son to die for men; now sure the grace of God will be more magnified by this general extent of our Saviour’s death, than by contracting the intendment of it to a few; for, if the grace of God be great in sending his Son to die for a few chosen persons, it must be greater in sending him to die for many, and greater still in giving him up to die for us all.” To which I reply;

1.- That the word man is not in the original text; which says not that Christ should taste death, ὑπερ παντὸς ἀνθρώπου, for every man, but ὑπερ παντὸς, which may be taken either collectively, and be rendered for the whole, that is, for the whole body, the church, Eph. 4:16, for which Christ died, and of which he is the Saviour; or distributively, and be translated for every one, that is, for every one of the sons, Christ, the Captain of salvation, brings to glory, ver. 10; for every one of the brethren, whom he sanctifies, is not ashamed to own, and to whom he declares the name of God, ver. 11, 12; for every one of the members of the church, even the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, in the midst of which he sang praise, ver. 12; for every one of the children God has given to him, and for whose sake he took part of flesh and blood, ver. 13, 14; and for every one of the seed of Abraham, taken in a spiritual sense, which are Christ’s, whose nature he assumed, ver. 16. Moreover, supposing there is a change of number, and that ὑπερ παντὸς is instead of ὑπερ παντῶν, for all, that is, for all men, there is, in the context, a plain restraint and limitation of the phrase, to all the sons, the brethren, the members of the church, the children, the seed of Abraham, for all whom Christ tasted death, that is, he really died, and became the author of eternal salvation to them, which does not in the least help the cause of general redemption.

2.- It deserves consideration, whether the words ὑπερ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου, may not be rightly rendered, that he should taste of every death, or of the whole of death. This hint I have received from an author referred to in the margin. If this reading of the words can be established, as I think it may, agreeable to their grammatical construction, the context, and the analogy of faith, the argument, and any colour of or pretence for one from hence, in favour of the universal scheme, are entirely removed: should it be objected, that if this were the sense of the words, they would have been placed thus, γεύσηται ὑπερ παντὸς θανάτου, and not the verb between the adjective and substantive; it may be observed, that there is in the very text itself a like position of words, as ἠλαττωμένον βλέπομεν Ἰησοῦν; therefore, such an objection would have no weight in it: ὑπερ is sometimes put for περὶ, and signifies de, of, instances of which the lexicons themselves will furnish us with; and, though the verb γεύομαι governs a genitive case without a preposition, yet it is well known that the Greek language abounds in pleonasms of this kind. The context also favours this sense of the words; for if they be considered in connexion with the phrase, made a little lower than the angels, or that other, crowned with glory and honour, they contain a reason for either; for if it should be asked, Why was Christ so greatly depressed and humbled in the human nature? the answer is ready, that he might be capable of tasting of every death, or of the whole of death; and should it be inquired, wherefore he is exalted in such a glorious manner, it may be replied, Because he has tasted it; for, as m ver. 10, the Captain of salvation is made perfect through sufferings. And it is certain, that Christ has tasted of every death, or of the whole of death, the law required he should, in the room and stead of his people: hence we read of his deaths in the plural number, Isa. 53:9, He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich, במתיו, in his deaths; he tasted of the death of afflictions, being all his days a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs; of a corporal death, being put to death in the flesh, in the body or human nature; and of eternal death, or what was equivalent to it, when his Father hid his face from him, poured out his wrath upon him, as the surety of his people, whereby his soul became exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; he tasted of the whole of death, of the agonies, miseries, bitterness, and curse of it, and so has delivered his people from the sting of it, and from all the wrath which follows upon it.

3.- Whereas it is observed, that the scheme of general redemption more magnifies the grace of God than that of particular redemption does; the contrary is most true; for surely that scheme of redemption which provides for the certain salvation of some, which some are a number that no man can number, more magnifies the grace of God, than that scheme which provides a precarious, uncertain salvation for all, giving only a mere possibility of it, with a probability that all of them may perish; leaving multitudes of them without so much as the means of salvation, and entirely without the Spirit of God to apply it to them; putting them only in a salvable state, so that they may be saved if they will; which, if it is effected, must depreciate the grace of God and sufferings of Christ, and exalt the power and free will of man. The instance of a prince affording an act of grace and indemnity to some rebels, leaving others under condemnation, who would assuredly conceive his grace and favour would be greater were it extended to them also, and not think it the more magnified for being so discriminating, is not to the purpose; for the prince’s grace is not to be judged of by the conceptions of such rebels, who are justly left under condemnation; and whatever they think of it, it is certain, that those who are comprehended in the act of grace, look upon their prince’s favour to be the greater for being so discriminating, seeing they were equally guilty with such who are left out. The grace of God is magnified, not so much by the number of persons on whom it is conferred, as by the sovereignty of it, the circumstances of the persons interested in it, and the manner in which it is bestowed.” (18)

Dr. John Owen

“In the manner of his death: Ὅπως γεύσηται θανάτου, “that he should taste of death,”—so die as to experience the sorrows, bitterness, and penalties of death. To “taste of death” is, first, really to die; not in appearance or pretence, in opinion or show, as some foolishly of old blasphemed about the death of Christ, which could have had no other fruit but a shadow of redemption, a deliverance in opinion. See the phrase used, Mark.9:1 Οὐ μὴ γεύσωνται θανάτου,—“Shall not taste of death;” that is, not die. And that which is called, to “see death,” John 8:51, is called to “taste of death,” verse 52, where the phrase is applied to the second death, or death eternal. And it being death which was threatened unto those for whom he died, and which they should have undergone, he really tasted of that death also. So, secondly, it is intimated that there was bitterness in the death he underwent. Himself compares it unto a “cup,” whose bitterness he declares by his aversation from it, considered absolutely and without reference unto that hand of the will of God wherein it was held out unto him, Matt. 26:39; which ποτήριον, or כּוֹם, “cup,” was his lot or portion, Ps.16:5, that which was prepared for him by his Father. And by the same metaphor he calls the will of God his “meat,” which he tasted of in the doing and suffering of it. To taste of death, as is known, is an Hebraism. So the rabbins speak, Beresh. Rab. sect. 9, ראוי היה אדם הראשון שלא יטעום טעם מיתה;—“The first Adam was worthy that he should not taste of death,” or “die.” And it compriseth somewhat more than merely to die; it expresseth also to find out and experience what is in death. And טָעַם is sometimes rendered by γινώσκειν, “to know,” 2 Sam. 19:36; and sometimes the substantive by σύνεσις, “understanding,” Job 12:20. So that Christ by tasting of death had experience, knew what was in death, as threatened unto sinners. He found out and understood what bitterness was in that cup wherein it was given him. To which purpose the rabbins have a proverb in Jalkut. fol. 265, מאן דאכיל קידרא ידע מה טעמה דתבשילין;—“He that eateth of the pot knoweth the taste of the meat that is in it.” Thus when Agag thought he should escape a violent death by the sword, he expresseth his joy by סָר מַר־הַמָּוֶת, 1 Sam. 15:32, “The bitterness of death is removed,” or taken away. Though die he must, yet he thought he should not taste the bitterness of death, or die by the sword. Thirdly, His conquest over death may be also intimated in this expression: for though the phrase, to “taste of death,” be used concerning other persons also, yet as applied unto Christ, the event showeth that it was only a thorough taste of it that he had; he neither was nor could be detained under the power of it, Acts. 2:24. And so is the word “to taste” used, chap. 6:4 of this epistle. And thus by the grace of God did he taste of death.

The end of this his tasting of death,—it was for others; Ὑπὲρ παντός. Of the extent of this end of his death, expressed in that word παντός, we shall speak afterwards; for the present we consider how he died ὑπέρ, “for” them, for whom he died. Ὑπέρ, is either “pro,” or “super,” or “supra,”—“for,” or “above,” or “over.” The latter signification belongs not unto this place. As it signifies πρό, “for,” it is used sometimes as διά, “propter,” and with respect unto persons is as much as “alicujus causa,” “for his sake,” or “in alicujus gratiam,” or “bonum,” “for his good and advantage;” sometimes as ἀντί, in the stead of another. And this is the constant and inviolable sense of ὑπέρ in Greek, “pro” in Latin, where the suffering of one for another is expressed by it. And that also is the constant sense of the Hebrew תַּחַת, when used in that case. Some instances on each word will illustrate our intention. Thus David expresseth his desire to have died in the stead of Absalom, that he might have been preserved alive: 2 Sam. 19:1, מִי יִתֵּן מוּתִי אֲנִי תַחְתֶּיךָ,—“Who will grant me to die, I for thee, my son Absalom?” that is, “in thy stead,” or “so that thou mightest be alive.” So Isa. 43:4. And by that word is still expressed the succeeding of one to another in government, or reigning in the stead of him that deceased, 1 Kings 3:7, 19:16; 2 Sam. 10:1; and in general, children succeeding in the place and room of their fathers, Num 3:12. So that to die תַּחת, “for another,” is to die in his stead the death he should have died, that he might live, or in general to be substituted in the room and place of another. So when Jehu commanded his officers to slay the priests and worshippers of Baal, he tells them that if any one should let any one of them escape, נַפְשׁוֹ תַּחַת נַפְשׁוֹ, “his life should go for his life,” or he should die in his stead, 2 Kings 10:24. So is ὑπέρ used, Rom. 5:7, expressing the act of an ἀντίψυχος, one that lays down his life instead of another; as Damon for Pythias, and Nisus for Euryalus, “Me, me, adsum qui feci.” See 1 Pet. 1:20, 21. And it is explained by ἀντί, perpetually denoting a substitution, where opposition can have no place. See Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6, Ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ πάντων. “Pro,” also, as ὑπέρ in this case is to be rendered, hath no other signification.” (19)

Wewlyn Commentary Series

“Accordingly, ‘by the grace of God, [he tasted] death for everyone’ (2:9). We should notice several things here. Firstly, the whole work of salvation is driven and motivated by the grace of God. Christ’s atoning death for sinners was an act of pure grace; that is, it was unforced and utterly unmerited by man. No man deserves what God has done for us in Christ, and it follows that no human ‘work’ or activity can make us eligible for the benefits accruing from his death.
Grace and works are two opposing principles. If salvation is attributed to anything that a person does in the strength of human nature, then grace is negated. It is true that we are ‘saved by grace through faith’. But the faith in Christ that we must exercise is itself the gift of grace—for Paul continues: ‘… and that [salvation is] not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship …’ (Eph. 2:8–10).

The second thing to notice is that Christ ‘tasted’ death. That is, he genuinely experienced all the bitterness that death involves for human beings. His status as the Son of God did not spare him any of death’s terrors. He was our forerunner in every last detail, that he might be a perfect and complete substitute for God’s elect. He identified completely with our condition, that he might ‘save to the uttermost those who come to God through him’ (7:25).

Thirdly, he died ‘for everyone’. Taken out of context, this statement might seem to support a universalistic view of Christ’s atonement. If he died for everyone, then surely everyone may benefit from his saving work if they so desire? But we get a different picture if we consider the context of this statement. A few verses later we read, ‘Here am I and the children whom God has given me’ (2:13). The ‘children’ are those who are sanctified, or set apart, by his death, the ‘many sons’ whom he will bring to glory (2:10–11). Thus it is clear that ‘everyone’ in 2:9 must be understood to mean every one of these ‘children’, given to Christ by the Father before time began (John 17:2, 9; 2 Tim. 1:8–9). Christ died for the elect, to save them from their sins.” (20)

***Moving on to the next part of CC’s blog now.***

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

Again, it is clear God wants “everyone” to come to repentance. There are many more but even if there were no more, the perspicacity of the above passages are undeniable.”

I recently did a very thorough study on 1st & 2nd Peter, and was truly blessed by it. I set out to study 2 Peter 3:9, for days and days, in hopes of God showing me if I was believing a wrong interpretation. Instead, He showed me conclusively that I was not. He gave me bountiful peace and assurance of the doctrines of grace, and He did so through this very verse! The same verse that many erroneously apply as being a refutation of Calvinism brought me exceeding assurance of Calvinism! Let’s look at some commentaries…

Dr. John Gill

“THIS scripture appears among those which are said to be very many clear and express ones for the doctrine of universal redemption; and it is observed, “that τίνες, opposed to πάντες, is a distributive of all, and, therefore, signifies, God is not willing that any one of the whole rank of men should perish.” But,

1.- It is not true that God is not willing any one individual of the human race should perish, since he has made and appointed the wicked for the day of evil, even ungodly men, who are fore-ordained to this condemnation, such as are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; yea, there are some to whom God sends strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, that they all might be damned; and others whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. Nor is it his will that all men, in this large sense, should come to repentance, since he withholds from many both the means and grace of repentance; and, though it is his will of precept, that all to whom the preaching of the gospel is vouchsafed should repent, yet it is not his purposing, determining will, to bring them all to repentance; for then they would all come to repentance, for who hath resisted his will?

2.- It is very true that τίνες, any, being opposed to πάντες, all, is a distributive of it; but then both the any and the all are to be limited and restrained by the us, to whom God is long-suffering; God is not willing that any more should not perish, and is willing that no more should come to repentance than the us to whom his long-suffering is salvation. The key, therefore, to open this text lies in these words, εἰς ἡμᾶς, to us-ward, or for our sake; for these are the persons God would not have any of them perish, but would have them all come to repentance. It will be proper, therefore,

3.- To enquire who these are. It is evident that they are distinguished from the scoffers mocking at the promise of Christ’s coming, ver. 3, 4, are called beloved, ver. 1, 8, 14, 17, which is to be understood either of their being beloved by God, with an everlasting and unchangeable love, or of their being beloved as brethren by the apostle and other saints; neither of which is true of all mankind. Besides, the design of the words is to establish the saints in, and comfort them with the coming of Christ, until which, God was long-suffering towards them, and which they were to account salvation, ver. 15. Add to this, that the apostle manifestly designs a company or society to which he belonged, and of which he was a part, and so can mean no other than such who were chosen of God, redeemed from among men, and called out of darkness into marvellous light; and such were the persons the apostle writes to. Some copies read the words διʼ ὑμᾶς, for your sakes; so the Alexandrian MS. the Syriac version, מטלתכון, for you, or your sakes; the same way the Ethiopic. Now these persons were such who were elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; and such as these, or who belong to the same election of grace they did, God is unwilling that any of them should perish, but wills that all of them should have repentance unto life; and, therefore, he waits to be gracious to them, and defers the second coming of Christ. The case stands thus: there was a promise of Christ’s second coming, to judge the world, delivered out; it was expected that this would have been very quickly, whereas it has been a long time deferred. Hence scoffers shall arise in the last days, charging the Lord with slackness and dilatoriness concerning his promise, though he is not slack with respect to it, but is long-suffering towards his elect, waiting till their number is completed in effectual vocation, and for their sakes bears with all the idolatry, superstition, and profaneness that are in the world; but when the last man that belongs to that number is called, he will stay no longer, but descend in flames of fire, take his own elect to himself, and burn up the world and the wicked in it.

4.- It is indeed said, “that the apostle, by the elect, to whom he writes, does not mean men absolutely designed for eternal happiness, but only men professing Christianity, or such as were visible members of the church of Christ: since he calls upon them to make their calling and election sure, exhorts them to watchfulness, seeing their adversary the devil goes about seeking whom he may devour, and to beware lest they fall from their own steadfastness; yea, he speaks of some of them as having forsaken the right way; and also prophesies that false teachers should make merchandize of them, neither of which, it is observed, can be supposed of men absolutely elected to salvation; and, also, that the church at Babylon was elected, together with these persons, which could not be known and said of all its members.” To all which I reply, that calling upon them to make their election sure, does not suppose it to be a precarious and conditional one, as I have shown in a preceding section; that exhortations to sobriety, and vigilance against Satan, and cautions about falling, are pertinent to such who are absolutely elected to salvation; for, though Satan cannot devour them, he may greatly distress them; and, though they shall not finally and totally fall from the grace of God, yet they may fall from some degree of steadfastness, both as to the doctrine and grace of faith; which may be to their detriment as well as to the dishonour of God: that it is not true, that the apostle speaks of any of these elect he writes to, that they had forsaken the right way, but of some other persons; and, though he prophesies that false teachers should make merchandize of them, the meaning is, that, by their fine words and fair speeches, they should be able to draw money out of their pockets, not that they should destroy the grace of God wrought in their hearts. As to the church at Babylon being said to be elected with them, the apostle might say this of the church in general, as he does, in a judgment of charity, of the church at Thessalonica, and others, though every member of it in particular was not elected to salvation, without any prejudice to the doctrine of absolute election. Besides, the persons he writes to were not visible members of any one particular church or community, professing Christianity, but were strangers scattered abroad in several parts of the world, and were such who had obtained like precious faith with the apostles, and is a strong evidence of their being men absolutely designed for eternal happiness. And whereas it is suggested, that these persons were come to repentance, and therefore cannot be the same to whom God is long-suffering, that they might come to repentance; I answer, that though they are not the same individual persons, yet are such who belong to the same body and number of the elect on whom the Lord waits, and to whom he is long-suffering, until they are all brought to partake of this grace, having determined that not one of them should ever perish.

5.- Hence it follows, that these words do not furnish out any argument in favour of universal redemption, nor do they militate against absolute election and reprobation, or unfrustrable grace in conversion; but, on the contrary, maintain and establish them, since it appears to be the will of God, that not one of those he has chosen in Christ, given to him, and for whom he died, shall ever perish; and, inasmuch as evangelical repentance is necessary for them, and they cannot come at it of themselves, he freely bestows it on them, and, by his unfrustrable grace, works it in them; and, until this is done unto and upon every one of them, he keeps the world in being, which is reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.” (21)

Dr. R.C. Sproul

[commenting on 2 Peter 3:8-9]

“The fact that all these things have not yet come to pass is not because God is slack. It is not because His word has become of no effect. It is not because He is a God of false promises. Rather, God is longsuffering toward us. The kingdom had not been fully realized when these words were written because God is unwilling that any should perish.

When Peter says that God is not willing that any should perish, there are two ambiguities to consider. First is with respect to the meaning of the term “willing.” In the New Testament there are two distinct Greek words that can be translated by the English word willing. It would be helpful to be able to discern the meaning simply by looking at the Greek and seeing which word is used, but it is not that easy, because each of the words has several nuances. The Bible uses the term will with respect to God in several ways. Of the three most frequent ways, the first is what we call His “sovereign will” or “decretive will”; that is, whatever God wills must necessarily come to pass. When God willed the universe into creation, He did not wish it; He sovereignly decreed it, and it had to come into being.

The second way in which the Bible speaks of the will of God is in a perceptive sense, that is, in what God commands His followers to do. It is God’s will that you have no other gods before Him. That is His perceptive will, His law. It is not a sovereign will that must necessarily come to pass, because every human being by nature breaks that will. We can violate the perceptive word of God, and we do violate it every time we sin.

The third use of the term will in the New Testament has to do with the basic disposition of God toward fallen humanity. We can call that the “will of disposition.” The Bible tells us, for example, that God does not delight in the death of the wicked or in the punishment of evildoers. He still decrees their punishment, but His doing so is almost like a just judge sentencing his son to prison. He would not do so with glee or delight.

Of these three major usages of the term will, we have to ask which one is in view in Peter’s text. I think at face value the text is teaching something about God’s sovereign, efficacious, decretive will. We have to read this to mean that God sovereignly, efficaciously is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. The critics of election say that we cannot hold that God sovereignly wills to save some and not others since the text says that He sovereignly wills to save everybody. This does pose some ambiguity as to what the term “willing” refers to here.

The real question concerns the word “any”—“God is not willing that any should perish.” The assumption that people read into the text is that “any” refers to everyone or any person. If that is the case, then Peter would be saying that God sovereignly is not willing that anyone should perish. Sometimes when an objection is raised to a position, the argument brought forth proves more than the objectors want it to prove. The Arminian objection to the Reformed view of this text is that if God is not willing that anyone should perish, then it proves universalism. It would prove that everyone is saved and that no one perishes, but how can that be squared with everything else the Bible teaches to the contrary?

If we are going to understand this text in its context, we have to consider the antecedent of the word “any.” There is no mystery to that; it is abundantly clear in the text itself. God is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish”—the antecedent of “any” is “us.” The only question left to answer is the identity of the “us.” That, again, is not difficult. Peter is clearly distinguishing the believer from the unbeliever, the scoffer, and the false prophet. In order to correctly grasp the context of “us” in 1 and 2 Peter, we need only look to whom these epistles are addressed—Peter is writing to the elect.

Therefore, the “any” and the “us” are the elect. No passage in all Scripture more strongly defends unconditional election than this one. God sovereignly decrees that none of His elect will perish and that all whom He has chosen will come to Him. They will repent. They will come in faith to Him, because election is not in the abstract. Election is unto faith, repentance, and salvation.

If the kingdom had been finished a hundred years ago, none of us would have made it in. God is not going to consummate that kingdom unless or until every last one of His elect is brought into it. There is no problem here concerning God’s sovereignty, but there is a testimony to the grace and mercy of it.” (22)

***Moving on…***

“You would think everyone would rejoice with this amazing message of God’s love and grace because it is for all and excludes no one. It makes God loving, merciful, just and no respecter of persons. The problem however is that Calvinists are not happy about this message. In fact, they deny the clear message of dozens of scriptures in order to deny the conclusion that Jesus died for all.”

First, CC insists on claiming predestination/election makes God a “respecter of persons”. My question is: What about His dealings with Israel prior to Christ’s incarnation? Was God a “respecter of persons” for only dealing with Israel for thousands of years? This claim is flawed, and quite frankly, it is borderline blasphemy. To suggest that God does not have the sovereign right to do “as He pleases”, and to do so “according to the counsel of His own will”, is to reject the clear teachings of Scripture. God is not a respecter of persons. There is nothing you or I can do to make God favor one over the other. God is not moved to favoritism by the actions of man! If CC would read Acts 10:34 in its proper context, he would not make such a claim as this. Commenting on this verse, Dr. John Gill says: “…which is to be understood, not of the substances of men, but of the outward state and condition, circumstances and qualities of men; he respects the proper persons of men themselves, but not because of their outward appearances; he does not prefer or despise men, because of their being of this or the other nation, as Jews or Gentiles; or because they are circumcised, or not circumcised; or because they are high or low, rich or poor, free or bound, or the like: the true sense here is, that God valued no man the more, because he was a Jew and circumcised, nor any one the less, because he was a Gentile and uncircumcised; and this the apostle found to be a most certain truth, of which he was fully persuaded; partly by the vision which he himself saw, and partly by that which Cornelius had, and which the more confirmed him in this matter: these words do not at all militate against the doctrines of personal election and reprobation; and indeed, those acts in God, are not according to the outward state and condition of men, or any circumstances that attend them, or any qualities they have, internal or external; but entirely proceed from the sovereign will of God; see the note on Rom. 2:11.” (23).

CC is correct, however, in stating that Calvinists deny universal atonement. He fails, unsurprisingly, to elaborate on this issue. If you haven’t noticed, CC never cites the Bible verses that contradict his conclusions. I have thoroughly illustrated the fact that the Scriptures that seem to teach a universal atonement oftentimes actually support a particular atonement. Thus, I will now post the Bible verses that do teach a particular/definite/actual atonement.

***Any emphasis through font change is my own.***

Isaiah 53:11

As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

Matthew 20:28

…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Matthew 26:28

…for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Luke 1:77

To give to His people the knowledge of salvation

By the forgiveness of their sins…

John 10:14–15

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Isaiah 40:11

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,

In His arm He will gather the lambs

And carry them in His bosom;

He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

John 10:26

But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

John 17:2

…even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.

John 17:6

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

John 17:9

I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours…

John 6:37

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

Romans 8:28–34

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Matthew 1:21

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Titus 2:14

…who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Peter 2:24

…and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Ephesians 1:3–14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Titus 3:5

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her

Acts 20:28

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood

Hebrews 2:17

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 3:1

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession…

Hebrews 9:15

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:28

…so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Revelation 5:9

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

1 Thessalonians 1:4

…knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you…

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

***I’ve already posted way more than I intended on. I realize many of those verses deal with election, rather than just the atonement. However, the two go hand in hand. The atonement, in a sense, was the fulfillment of God’s gracious election. It was an actual atonement. When Christ gave up His holy, precious life, He actually reconciled His people to Himself. He did not merely make men savable, He actually secured His people’s salvation. When He said, “It is finished”, He actually meant it. One source commenting on the atonement states:

“Historical or main line Calvinism has consistently maintained that Christ’s redeeming work was definite in design and accomplishment—that it was intended to render complete satisfaction for certain specified sinners and that it actually secured salvation for these individuals and for no one else. The salvation which Christ earned for His people includes everything involved in bringing them into a right relationship with God, including the gifts of faith and repentance. Christ did not die simply to make it possible for God to pardon sinners. Neither does God leave it up to sinners as to whether or not Christ’s work will be effective. On the contrary, all for whom Christ sacrificed Himself will be saved infallibly. Redemption, therefore, was designed to bring to pass God’s purpose of election.” (24)

Thus, to conclude this segment, Calvinists don’t oppose universal atonement for no good reason, as CC seemingly implies. Rather, in complete devotion to Sola Scriptura, we maintain that Christ died for His people, as a ransom for many, with the many being the church, His sheep, those whom He predestined, called, and justified.

“How do they deny these clear passages? They do so by the exegetical errors I listed above so now it is time to investigate these errors in greater detail:
•Circular Reasoning
•Chosen Ignorance
•Redefinition of words
•Use of philosophy”

I find it quite atrocious how this man who has very poor exegetical ‘skills’ (you’ll agree by the end of this) accuses others of something so severe. He does a very, very poor job of even attempting to illustrate his arguments. It isn’t easy to prove something that is not true, though…

“Chosen Ignorance is what I call what some in Calvinism do.  They simply choose to ignore the passage if it does not fit their grid.  It is like they use a kind of Bible “white-out” since they act like the passage is not there or that it does not mean exactly what it says.

Most hardcore Calvinists go beyond Chosen Ignorance and use a combination of the other three methods I listed above.” 

Choose to ignore passages? That is precisely what CC (and his two fans, Fred & Molly Polly) doe in his arguments! Also, what is a “hardcore Calvinist”? LOL! CC labeled me as such, simply because I challenged his bogus assertions on Twitter. He proceeded to block me without ever even attempting to defend his assertions. He goes by the title “Confront Calvin”, yet he refuses to…. confront Calvinists…. hilarious.

“Calvinists use Circular Reasoning in spades. They use it to deny the clear meaning of the scriptural passages listed above. Their original premise is that God elected only a few people to be redeemed and saved therefore the scriptures mentioned above must only refer to the elect. In doing so they break the cardinal rule of exegesis which is to read the scripture based on what it really says in its context.

The reason Calvinists do this is because if the above scriptures are true then Calvinism is not a valid collection of doctrines. If God really wants all men to be saved then “unconditional election” is purely fiction. They don’t want to face this so they first choose to ignore what the passage clearly conveys and then they proceed to explain the passage to mean the only thing it can mean given their already arrived on premise. This is clear cut Circular Reasoning.”

Calvinists do not have an “original premise… that God only elected a few people to be redeemed…”. Calvinists, generally, take theology/exegesis/Bible study very seriously, and do not shy away from any verse of the Bible. Furthermore, CC commits an “If-Then Fallacy”  by erroneously declaring “..if the above scriptures are true then Calvinism is not a valid collection of doctrines.” No Calvinist is arguing that those verses are not true. On the contrary, we maintain that the verses are true! CC apparently confuses his own interpretations of the verses as actually being the verses. He should have said: “If my interpretations of the above [S]criptures are true then Calvinism is not a valid collection of doctrines.” As I have thoroughly illustrated, Calvinism is not at odds with the verses he posted. I hope CC will actually attempt addressing the verses I posted. Ironically, CC is accusing Calvinists of fallacies while committing fallacies himself.

“Calvinists mix another exegetical erroneous method with Circular Reasoning which helps them to convince themselves what they believe is true. They use what all the fathers of Calvinism used including Augustine and Calvin. They use philosophy to support their exegesis. Philosophy is any argument that is not in scripture. It often reads into scripture an element that is simply not there and it is simply based on opinion. Therefore Calvinists will ask questions like the following:

“If God wanted all men to be saved they would be saved since he is sovereign.”

“If Jesus died for all and some men are in hell than[sic] some of Christ’s blood would have been wasted.”

These kinds of statements do not come from scripture. These statements are strictly philosophical arguments since they have no scriptural basis. Where in scripture is there the idea that God’s sovereignty is diminished by allowing men to choose to believe? There is none. Where in scripture does it convey the idea that Christ’s blood is wasted if man can reject salvation? Nowhere. This is philosophy on steroids.”

First of all, CC’s statement, “Philosophy is any argument that is not in scripture”, is just ridiculous. Philosophy, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The Bible itself produces a Christian philosophy for believers to abide by. CC’s definition of philosophy is quite strange in my opinion. The “Lexham Bible Dictionary” defines philosophy as:“(φιλοσοφία, philosophia). Literally means “the love of wisdom.” Philosophy takes on a very broad range of meanings and connotations throughout history and in various traditions. In modern parlance, the noun may refer to one’s worldview, while verbal forms (e.g., “philosophize”) refer to discourse about life’s biggest questions. Philosophy is not a main theme of the Bible, but it is relevant as God’s people try to be faithful to Him in their particular context.” (25) The “Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology” defines philosophy of the Old Testament as: “Biblical philosophy is not an abstract monologue but a dialogue with God. The Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God, bur starts from the premise that God exists (i.e., Gen. 1:1); philosophy, in contrast, takes up questions concerning the nature of the universe and existence that do not necessarily presume the verity of God. Therefore, philosophy can be an effective tool if properly used as a means of understanding pretheological questions, but not as a method of supplanting the revelation already made available by faith through God’s Scriptures. The limitations of human reason, especially in light of the moral degeneracy in humans, requires God’s help in resolving philosophical questions.” (26) In addition, the “Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible” defines it as: “Logically disciplined, self-critical inquiry into the basic questions of life. “Philosophy” itself means “love of wisdom.” This “love” treasures pursuing, discovering, and analyzing and justifying wisdom. Although the word “philosophy” appears only once in the Bible, both Judaism and Christianity were considered philosophies in the Hellenistic world. In fact, from their very earliest encounters with Jewish scholars in Alexandria in the 3rd century B.C., Greek philosophers referred to the Jews as a “philosophical race.” Biblical religion is philosophical because, unlike Greek religion, it makes holistic claims about the nature of reality and it sets out concrete values that can guide community life and individual decisions. In the only explicit use of the word “philosophy” in the Bible (Col 2:8–10), a point of contrast is made between pagan and Christian philosophy. Paul wants the Colossians to develop philosophy according to Christ, not according to empty deceit, human tradition, or “the elemental spirits of the universe.” In contrast to empty philosophy based on pagan deceit and human tradition, Christ is himself the fullness of deity dwelling bodily—a sound foundation for wisdom and philosophy. In contrast to the mere “elemental spirits,” Christ himself is the “head of all rule and authority,” the greatest source of truth and justice. The discipline of philosophy is not condemned, for the alternative to deceit and human tradition is “philosophy … according to Christ.”” (27)

Thus, the point I am making here is that philosophy is not at enmity with Christianity. Every human being is a philosopher, of sorts. Paul’s often misunderstood/abused command in Colossians 2:8-10 was not a condemnation of all philosophy, it was a refutation of “vain philosophy”. Philosophy is good if it finds its origins in the Scriptures. I believe CC, like many others, presumptuously labels Calvinism as philosophy, tags it with Colossians 2:8-10, and then dismisses it without ever actually addressing the points being made. My opinion is that he does this because he is incapable of refuting the doctrines of grace, because he is entirely clueless as to what they actually are.

I would like to also point out that, rather than answering them, CC produces hypothetical questions, labels them as unbiblical, and then dismisses them. He consistently fails to construct a meaningful argument. Assertions combined with unfounded, self-ascribed validations is not equivalent to a logically sound argument. CC’s entire method of argumentation consists of: 1) Assert that Calvinism is purely philosophical, 2) Assert that philosophy is unibiblical, and 3) Assert that, since Calvinism is purely philosophical, and since philosophy is unbiblical, therefore Calvinism is unbiblical. This, my friends, is not how argumentation works.

“Finally, the above errors allow Calvinists to simply redefine the words used in the “all” scriptures that I mentioned above. The Calvinist redefinition is that “all” does not mean “all” men; “all” means the elect. They teach that whenever you see “all” it means the elect. They carry this over for every other term that conveys the word “all” and that includes the other terms including “whoever” and “everyone”. How they do it with the word “mankind” is beyond ridiculous!”

He insists on sticking to his own idea of Calvinism teaching that “all” always means “the elect”. As I noted earlier, at times, “all” does mean “all of the elect”. All means all, it just doesn’t always mean “every single person to ever live”. All can refer to all of a subgroup that is part of a larger group. I have already demonstrated the absurdities of CC’s argument, and do not wish to be redundant (though I fear that I have already succeeded in doing so). Thus, I will leave my previous arguments as being sufficient in refuting these claims of his.After posting a quote of the late Dave Hunt, CC states:

“Hunt makes it clear that Calvinism’s premise is simply ridiculous. Calvinism’s desperation is screaming in high decibels here.”

I found this to be quite funny (in a sad kind of way). CC has himself convinced that he is actually succeeding at refuting Calvinism, without ever even citing….. a Calvinist. Sure, he provides examples of what he thinks Calvinism teaches. This, however, is not an effective method of refutation. CC’s tone of confident mockery is not warranted by his arguments.

“However if they choose to insist that “all” always means the elect then I don’t know what they do with this passage:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. -1 Corinthians 15:22

In the above scripture, it is clear that in Adam all die. Calvinists believe this as well as those who oppose Calvinism. However the second part of the scripture is equally clear in saying that in Christ all were made alive. This creates a problem for Calvinists because they heartily agree that all died in Adam but they will deny that all in Christ will be made alive. This passage if interpreted like the other scriptures then would mean that “all” here means the elect. It would say “For as in Adam the elect die but in Christ the elect will be made alive.” This kind of reasoning then would mean that only the elect died when Adam sinned and fell in the garden. This would contradict John Calvin’s premise that all men died in the garden, both the elect and the non-elect.”

Geez, where to begin… Before I comment myself, lets consult some Calvinist commentators, and thus prove that this verse is not an issue for Calvinism.

Dr. John Gill

“The apostle here shews who he meant in the former verse, by the one man the cause of death, and by the other the author of the resurrection of the dead, and that he intended Adam and Christ; all men were in Adam seminally, as the common parent of human nature, in such sense as Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him, and in him paid tithes unto him; and they were all in him representatively, he being the federal head of all his posterity, and so a type and figure of Christ that was to come; and being in him, they all sinned in him, and so died in him, the sentence of death passed oh them in him; they became subject to a corporeal death, which has ever since reigned over mankind, even over infants, such who have not sinned after the similitude of his transgression; this was the doctrine of the Jewish church; see the note on Rom. 5:12. to which may be added one testimony more; says one of their writers, “by the means of the first Adam נקנסה מיתה לכל, death was inflicted by way of punishment on all:” even so in Christ shall all be made alive; not made spiritually alive, for Christ quickens whom he will; not all in this sense, some die in their sins; nor are all entitled to an eternal life; for though Christ has a power to give it, yet only to those whom the father has given to him; ’tis true indeed, that all that are in Christ, chosen in him and united to him, are made alive by him, and have the gift of eternal life through him; but the apostle is not speaking of such a life, but of a corporeal one: to be quickened or made alive, is with the Jews, and other eastern nations, a phrase of the same signification with being raised from the dead, and as the context here shews; and not to be understood of the resurrection of all men, for though there will be a resurrection of the just and unjust, yet the one will be the resurrection of life, and the other the resurrection of damnation; now it is of the former the apostle here speaks, and expresses by being made alive: and the sense is, that as all that were in Adam, all that belonged to him, all his natural seed and posterity, all to whom he was a federal head, died in him, became mortal, and subject to death through him; so all that are in Christ, that belong to him, who are his spiritual seed and offspring, to whom he is a covenant-head, and representative, shall be raised to an immortal life by him; or as all the elect of God died in Adam, so shall they all be quickened, or raised to life in and by Christ.” (28)

The Pillar New Testament Commentary

“As in Romans 5:12–21, Paul stresses the differences between Adam and Christ. The consequences of the resurrection of Christ (life for all) correspond antithetically to the consequences of Adam’s sin (death for all). The former has broken the power of the latter. However, Paul is not teaching universalism (see 1 Cor. 1:18); the unqualified “all” of v. 22 who will be made alive is clarified by v. 23 with the phrase “those who belong to him.”” (29)

Charles Hodge

“This is the reason why Adam was the cause of death, and why Christ is the cause of life. We die by means of Adam, because we were in Adam; and we live by means of Christ, because we are in Christ. Union with Adam is the cause of death; union with Christ is the cause of life. The nature of this union and its consequences are more fully explained in Rom. 5:12–21. In both cases it is a representative and vital union. We are in Adam because he was our head and representative, and because we partake of his nature. And we are in Christ because he is our head and representative, and because we partake of his nature through the indwelling of his Spirit. Adam, therefore, is the cause of death, because his sin is the judicial ground of our condemnation; and because we derive from him a corrupt and enfeebled nature. Christ is the cause of life, because his righteousness is the judicial ground of our justification; and because we derive from him the Holy Ghost, which is the source of life both to the soul and body. Comp. Rom. 8:9–11.

That the word all in the latter part of this verse is to be restricted to all believers (or rather, to all the people of Christ, as infants are included) is plain, 1. Because the word in both clauses is limited. It is the all who are in Adam that die; and the all who are in Christ who are made alive. As union with Christ is made the ground of the communication of life here spoken of, it can be extended only to those who are in him. But according to the constant representation of the Scriptures, none are in him but his own people. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” 2 Cor. 5:17. 2. Because the verb (ζωοποιέω) here found is never used of the wicked. Whenever employed in reference to the work of Christ it always means to communicate to them that life of which he is the source, John 5:21, 6:63; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:45; Gal. 3:21. The real meaning of the verse therefore, is, ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made partakers of a glorious and everlasting life.’ Unless, therefore, the Bible teaches that all men are in Christ, and that all through him partake of eternal life, the passage must be restricted to his own people. 3. Because, although Paul elsewhere speaks of a general resurrection both of the just and of the unjust, Acts 24:15, yet, throughout this chapter he speaks only of the resurrection of the righteous. 4. Because, in the parallel passage in Rom. 5:12–21, the same limitation must be made. In v. 18 of that chapter it is said, “As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men to justification of life.” That is, as for the offence of Adam all men were condemned, so for the righteousness of Christ all men are justified. The context and the analogy of Scripture require us to understand this to mean, as all who are in Adam are condemned, so all who are in Christ are justified. No historical Christian church has ever held that all men indiscriminately are justified. For whom God justifies them he also glorifies, Rom. 8:30.” (30)

***END OF COMMENTARIES***

Thus, we can plainly see that this verse in no way contradicts Calvinism. To the contrary, it actually supports it, as shown in the full context of the verse.

I now want to address the most disturbing aspect of CC’s entire blog. In fact, it was this one aspect that compelled me to take the time to respond to him. He states: “This creates a problem for Calvinists because they heartily agree that all died in Adam but they will deny that all in Christ will be made alive.”

Now, at first glance, this seems to be a nonissue. Calvinists do not deny that “all in Christ will be made alive”, rather, that is precisely what we argue for. However, after much thought, I suspect that CC actually means to suggest that “all without exception” will “be made alive”. This is quite obviously universalism heresy. I do not think CC would consciously advocate for actual universalism. He undoubtedly would for universal atonement, but universalism is a separate issue (well, I suppose some of my Reformed brethren would dispute that, and I understand why). Notwithstanding, if CC actually means that “all without exception will be made alive in Christ”, he is teaching the heresy of universalism. This verse does not say “all can be made alive if they believe”, no, it says they will be made alive. Thus, if CC defines the second “all” as being “all without exception”, he is teaching that “all without exception” will be “made alive in Christ“. This means all atheists, Muslims, Hindus, pagans, Satanists, and all unrepentant haters of God will be made alive in Christ. HERESY!!! I surely hope that Darrell is merely confused on this issue. (I am almost finished)

“In the same way this passage is also a big problem for Calvinists:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…-Galatians 1:15

It is a problem based on Calvinist views because if Christ died to save sinners and yet Christ died for only the elect, does this mean that only the elect are sinners? Does it mean also that the non-elect are not sinners?”

This is the capstone of proof that Darrell is wholly incompetent in exegesis, and is benighted in his ‘understanding’ of Calvinism. I truly do not need to correct this, as I am confident that *you* can easily discern the folly of CC’s fallacious conundrum. But, for the sake of thoroughness, I will briefly respond.

If I say: “I am going to the store to get food”, and then go to the store and only purchase potatoes, is my initial claim invalid? NO! I did go to the store, and I did get food. The fact that I did not get all of the food does not make this any less valid. Likewise, this verse teaches that Christ came into the world to “save sinners”, which He did by saving the elect. All of the elect are sinners, but not all sinners are elect. This is literally a nonissue. CC once again proves that he is completely clueless by even making this statement. Lastly, notice it does not say that He came into the world to make sinners savable; no, it says He came to save them. Hence, it speaks of an actual atonement. Thus, this verse is actually a problem for CC! Next up is CC’s conclusion… (Brace yourselves)

This Calvinism view causes as many problems for Calvinism as it helps them. They cannot have it both ways and these are the kind of conundrums that Calvinists have when they use faulty, even foolish exegesis to support erroneous doctrines. Calvinism has many problems and this is just one of them but it is a big one since it is clear beyond any challenge that Jesus died for everyone and the gospel message is to be preached to all. All means all and that is all!

CC actually says something (somewhat) accurate for once. He says, “This Calvinism view causes as many problems for Calvinism as it helps them.” He is correct, “This Calvinism view..”, meaning the one he totally fabricated in a bewildered state of ignorance, “..causes as many problems for Calvinists as it helps them”, yes, a bogus misrepresentation of Calvinism causes problems. It led me to spend several days studying/typing this blog. Well, partially at least. I will further address my motives in my conclusion. This statement is truly mindboggling. How can a man be so utterly ignorant of Calvinism, and yet speak of it in such harsh terms? How can a man actually believe he is “called to expose Calvinism” and yet not even understand the most basic tenets of it? How can a man conclude that his argument is “beyond any challenge” when he actually runs away and hides from all challengers? This, my friends, is truly disturbing. I just cannot wrap my mind around the train of thought that somehow leads CC to draw such conclusions as these. I must note, Calvinism does not deny the fact that the Gospel message is to be preached to all people. Moreover, John Calvin himself clearly taught this, as shown in the following statement: “And as we cannot distinguish between the elect and the reprobate, it is our duty to pray for all who trouble us; to desire the salvation of all men; and even to be careful for the welfare of every individual.” (31)

In conclusion, “Confront Calvin” (aka Darrell Brantingham) is clearly confused, ignorant, and biased when it comes to the Biblical doctrines of grace. He has consistently shown a hatred for Calvinism, which he does not deny, and this blind hatred has led him to massive doctrinal error. Disagreeing with Calvinism is one thing. Publishing misleading, slanderous, harmful misrepresentations of Calvinism on a weekly basis is totally different. As I noted, I have contemplated writing this blog for a very long time. I first attempted to talk to CC directly about his blatant slander of Calvinism, but, as I have already stated, he blocked me (on Twitter), and failed to ever respond. My main motive in writing this blog is that the God of grace might be glorified by it. He has been greatly misrepresented, and His sovereign decrees have been called into question by CC’s blogs. Thus, it is my hope that blogs/articles containing accurate, Biblical presentations of His character and His purposes, as taught in His written revelation, the Holy Scriptures, will override, overrule, and overrun the slanderous ones written by CC and others (not that He needs to be defended by a worm like myself, He most certainly does not!). In addition, I realize that much of this blog is not written by myself, but is written by other sources. That is by design. Let me make this clear, I am not some seasoned theologian. It would be extremely foolish of me to even attempt expounding on all of the issues raised, to the same extent as my sources. I am admittedly not experienced enough to do such a thing. The sources I have cited from are all master theologians of the past. Men that God used mightily, each in their own time. We all coudl benefit greatly from their insights on the great doctrines of grace. (I got off track here somewhat, but this concludes my first point in expressing my motives for writing this). Secondly, I honestly do believe that CC is sincere, once again, as I previously noted. I believe he thinks he is doing “good” by attacking what he believes to be Calvinism. It is my hope, and my prayer, that he might have his eyes opened to his errors, Lord willing. Lastly, it is my hope and my prayer that this might be edifying for the saints, the Beloved by God, the Body of Christ. I am aware of my own inability to shed the shackles of ignorance off of anyone, yet I also know the Lord can and does do mighty works of grace through His Word. It is my hope that all of you can experience the absolute joys and assurances that are accompanied by a proper understanding of the grand doctrines of grace… May the LORD bless you with just that.

(I will post some quotes on the doctrines of grace at the bottom of the page, above the “References” list)

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! This is, by far, the longest blog i have ever written, and I realize you have sacrificed your time, a portion of your life, to read this. For that, I am grateful. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please feel free to comment below. You can also find me on Twitter at @colbybonham or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/colby.bonham.1

SOLI DEO GLORIA!!!!!

“The doctrine of grace, that is, the truth of God’s free favor without us, in His own heart towards us, which is made known to us in the Gospel (Acts 20:24). Concerning this we read, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11) i.e. it has been revealed in His Gospel. The doctrine of grace is also styled, “wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3). The doctrine of grace includes all that sacred system of theology, all the fundamentals of the everlasting Gospel of the blessed God, that grand “mystery” of His mind and will which sets forth to us the complete counsel and covenant of the Eternal Three, the record of God concerning His Son, by which He declares that “he that believeth hath everlasting life.” ~ A.W. Pink ~ (32)

“The Gospel affirms that grace is the sinner’s only hope. Unless we are saved by grace we cannot be saved at all. To reject a gratuitous salvation is to spurn the only one that is available for lost sinners. Grace is God’s provision for those who are so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures; so averse to God, they cannot turn to Him; so blind they cannot see Him; so deaf they cannot hear Him; in a word, so dead in sin that He must open their graves and bring them on to resurrection-ground, if ever they are to be saved. Grace, then, implies that the sinner’s case is desperate, but that God is merciful.” ~ A.W. Pink ~ (33)

“It is no novelty for the doctrines of grace to meet with opposition; and, indeed, few doctrines have been so much opposed as they. Swarms of fanatical sectarists were almost coeval with the reformation itself. Such is the imperfect state of things below, that the most important advantages are connected with some inconveniences. The shining of truth, like the shining of the sun, wakens insects into life, which otherwise would have no sensitive existence. Yet, better for a few insects to quicken, than for the sun not to shine.” ~ Augustus Toplady ~ (34)

“God foresaw the sins of his people, and what work the devil would make with their hearts about them, and therefore to prevent their ruin by his temptation, he has thus largely, as you see, expressed his love by his word. Let us therefore, as has been bidden us, make this good use of this doctrine of grace, as to cast ourselves upon this love of God in the times of distress and temptation.” ~ John Bunyan ~ (35)

“It is Satan’s great design either to keep the sinner senseless of his sins, or if God makes him sensible of them, then to hide and keep from his thoughts the sweet doctrine of the grace of God, by which alone the conscience getteth health and cure; “for everlasting consolation, and good hope” is given “through grace” (1 Thessalonians 2:16). How then shall the conscience of the burdened sinner by rightly quieted, if he perceiveth not the grace of God? Study, therefore, this doctrine of the grace of God. Suppose thou hast a disease upon thee which is not to be cured but by such or such medicines, the first step to thy cure is to know the medicines. I am sure this is true as to the case in hand; the first step to the cure of a wounded conscience is for thee to know the grace of God, especially the grace of God as to justification from the curse in his sight.” ~ John Bunyan ~ (36)

“This is the forest, though, alas! the most common evil that was ever yet seen under the sun. An evil, that in any age, especially in these dregs of time wherein we live, cannot sufficiently be inveighed against. For as it is with the people, so it is with the priests; and it is to be feared, even in those places, where once the truth as it is in JESUS was eminently preached, many ministers are so sadly degenerated from their pious ancestors, that the doctrines of grace, especially the personal, all-sufficient righteousness of-JESUS, is but too seldom, too slightly mentioned. Hence the love of many waxeth cold; and I have often thought, was it possible, that this single consideration would be sufficient to raise our venerable forefathers again from their graves; who would thunder in their ears their fatal error.” ~ George Whitefield ~ (37)

“But nothing more effectually persuades to piety than the doctrine of grace revealed in the Gospel…” ~ Herman Witsius ~ (38)

“A clearer knowledge of the Divine scheme of grace, its eternal purposes, its application to man by Christ’s redeeming work,—a firmer grasp of the doctrine of grace, of God’s free love in Christ, of Christ’s full and complete satisfaction for sin, of justification by simple faith,—a more intimate acquaintance with Christ the Giver and Fountain of grace, His offices, His sympathy, His power,—a more thorough experience of the inward work of grace in the heart,—this, this, this is the grand secret of heart-establishment. This is the old path of peace. This is the true panacea for restless consciences. It may seem at first too simple, too easy, too cheap, too commonplace, too plain. But all the wisdom of man will never show the heavy-laden a better road to heart-rest. Secret pride and self-righteousness, I fear, are too often the reason why this good old road is not used.” ~ J.C. Ryle ~ (39)

“To begin, the doctrines of grace that have become known as Calvinism were most certainly not invented by Calvin, nor were they characteristic of his thought alone during the Reformation period. As we shall see, these are the truths taught by Jesus and confirmed for us in Scripture by the apostle Paul. Augustine argued for the same truths over against the denials of Pelagius and those who followed him. Luther was a Calvinist. So was Zwingli. That is, they believed what Calvin believed and what he later systematized in his influential Institutes of the Christian Religion. The Puritans were also Calvinists; it was through them and their teaching that both England and Scotland experienced the greatest and most pervasive national revivals the world has ever seen. In that number were the heirs of John Knox: Thomas Cartwright, Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, John Owen, and others. In America, thousands were influenced by Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Mather, and George Whitefield, all of whom were Calvinists.” ~ James Montgomery Boice ~ (40)

“He that would be a preacher of the gospel to others, ought so to study the scriptures, and learn the doctrines of grace, as to be assured of them, to be at a point, at a certainty concerning them; that he may be able to speak them boldly, as they ought to be spoken; and when he has so done, he ought to adhere to them, abide by them, and continue in them; even though a majority may be against them, for we are not to follow a multitude to do evil. Truth is not to be judged of by the number of its admirers; if this was a sure and safe rule to go by, the church of Rome would have the best pretensions to the truth of doctrine, discipline, and worship; for all the world wondered after the beast. It should be no discouragement to a gospel-minister to observe, that there are but few that receive the doctrines of grace. Yea, he should abide by them, though they are opposed by men of learning and reputation. Truth does not always lie among men of that character; God is pleased to hide the mysteries of the gospel from the wise and prudent, and reveal them unto babes; and by the foolishness of preaching confound the wise, and save them that believe. It was an objection to out Lord’s ministry, that not any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him; but this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Ministers of the gospel should abide by, and continue in the doctrines of it, though it is only received by the poor and ignorant, and opposed by the rich and wise: Nay, they ought to do so, though there are some things in them which cannot be comprehended by corrupt and carnal reason; this should be no objection to a reception of them, or continuance in them. There are some things in the gospel which eye hath not seen, nor ear beard, neither have entered into the heart of man, that is, a natural man, to conceive of; wherefore it is no wonder, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” ~ John Gill ~ (41)

“Now just to kind of help you, sometimes you hear about Reformed Theology, you hear that phrase, or the Doctrines of Grace, or Calvinism, and you wonder just exactly what that is. Okay, in a nutshell, it’s what it says here … it’s right here. This is the best summary of the Doctrines of Grace, of the essence of Reformed Soteriology, of the essentials of Calvinism, this is it. This is … this is it in the saving side of it and it’s all bound up in a sequence, in a process. It goes like this. Verse 29, “Whom He foreknew, He also predestined.” Then go to verse 30, “These whom He predestined, He also called. These whom He called, He also justified. And these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. Those are five cardinal realities that make up the great redemptive purpose of God in salvation … these five things.” ~ John MacArthur ~ (42)

“The sovereignty of God in salvation strengthens the true security of the believer. If you believe that God has chosen you from all eternity, and that he predestined you to share the glory of his Son, and that he then worked miraculously to call you out of death into life and made you to believe in Christ, then your confidence is simply tremendous that he is for you and will complete the work of your salvation which he planned ages ago.

But if you only believe that God designed a general way of salvation with no particular persons in view, and that it is finally up to you whether you are going to be a part of this salvation or not, then your security will rest on a much weaker foundation. I count it a very precious thing to have been told by God that my eternal life is rooted in his personal, eternal decision to give me a share in the glory of his Son and that my very faith is part of his omnipotent effort to accomplish that purpose for me. What greater security can there be!” ~ John Piper ~ (43)

“Salvation is by grace and by grace alone. Bless that holy God, who gives his sovereign mercy, bestowing it upon those whom he will. Those who are devoid of that mercy will perish and justly perish. They will act according to their sinful nature: they will refuse to capitulate to Christ, they will flee from the kingdom of God, they will harden their hearts until the day of wrath. Our only hope is to be found in the God who shows mercy.” ~ R.C. Sproul ~ (44)

“But the gospel, which is the promulgation of grace and mercy to penitent sinners, that confess their sins and forsake them, and come under a new government of grace, the publishing of this hath the Spirit of grace with it to work conversion. Therefore it is called the ministry of the Spirit; because the Spirit goes with the doctrine of grace, to change us and make us gracious, to persuade us that God loves us, and to stir us up to perform all duties in that sweet affection that God requires in the gospel, the affection of love. Therefore if we be or ever were converted, it is this way. Our hearts are wrought on by the consideration of the love and mercy of God in Christ; so that love begets love, and mercy begets a sweetness in us to God again. In the nature of the thing it cannot be otherwise, when the soul stands convinced of the sweet mercy of God in Christ, and of the sweet love of Christ, who being God became man, to take our nature, and suffer the punishment that was due to us, and is now in heaven appearing and making intercession for us, it cannot be but the soul will be stirred up to a desire of conformity to this blessed Saviour. Therefore let us let go all disputings of election, concerning God’s decree, and let us do our duty, and depend upon God in the use of means. Let us labour to see the love of God in Christ, and that will put all questions out of question (though in Some cases we must labour to know how to vindicate the truth, but when it comes to our own particular), lay other things aside, let us do our duty in the use of means, and think of the end of the gospel, of the end of Christ’s incarnation and death, namely, to reveal the bowels of God’s mercy to sinners; and then we shall find the intendment of all working upon us, that God had an eternal purpose to save us.” ~ Richard Sibbes ~ (45)

“They who hold what are called the doctrines of grace, though they differ in many things, and may be often sundered by sharp contentions, yet how thoroughly are they agreed in that Evangelical System which gives vitality to all Christian effort, and lies at the foundation of all human hope! To restore to their very highest activity, the simplest and deepest truths of the religion of God, is to restore in like degree the highest unity to the rent church of Christ, and to extend in like manner the triumphs of that evangelical Christianity which from the days of the reformers to our own, has stimulated the whole progress which mankind has made, and sustained whatever freedom the world possesses.” ~ Robert Breckinridge ~ (46)

“I RECOLLECT great complaint being made against a sermon of mine, “Compel them to come in,” in which I spake with much tenderness for souls. That sermon was said to be Arminian and unsound. Brethren, it is a small matter to me to be judged of men’s judgment, for my master set his seal on that message. I never preached a sermon by which so many souls were won to God, as our church meetings can testify; and all over the world, where the sermon has been scattered, sinners have been saved through its instrumentality, and, therefore, if it be vile to exhort sinners, I purpose to be viler still. I am as firm a believer in the doctrines of grace as any man living, and a true Calvinist after the order of John Calvin himself; but if it be thought an evil thing to bid the sinner lay hold on eternal life, I will be yet more evil in this respect, and herein imitate my Lord and his apostles, who, though they taught that salvation is of grace, and grace alone, feared not to speak to men as rational beings and responsible agents, and bid them “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” and “labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” Beloved friends, cling to the great truth of electing love and divine sovereignty, but let not these bind you in fetters when, in the power of the Holy Ghost, you become fishers of men.” ~ Charles Spurgeon ~ (47)

“I preach the doctrines of grace because I believe them to be true; because I see them in the Scriptures; because my experience endears them to me; and because I see the holy result of them in the lives of believers. I confess they are none the less dear to me because the advanced school despises them: their censures are to me a commendation. I confess also that I should never think the better of a doctrine because it was said to be “new.” Those truths which have enlightened so many ages appear to me to be ordained to remain throughout eternity. The doctrine which I preach to you is that of the Puritans: it is the doctrine of Calvin, the doctrine of Augustine, the doctrine of Paul, the doctrine of the Holy Ghost. The Author and Finisher of our faith himself taught most blessed truth which well agreed with our text. The doctrine of grace is the substance of the testimony of Jesus.” ~ Charles Spurgeon ~ (48)

“The Word of God”—that is to say, we are to believe in the doctrines of God’s Word, and these will make us strong. What vigour they infuse! Get the Word well into you, and you will overcome the wicked one. When the devil tempted Luther, the Reformer’s grand grip of justification by faith made him readily victorious. Keep you a fast hold of the doctrines of grace, and Satan will soon give over attacking you, for they are like plate-armour, through which no dart can ever force its way.”   ~ Charles Spurgeon ~ (49)

“The goodness of God is published, that our enmity to him may be parted with. Christ’s righteousness is not offered to us to be put on, that we may roll more warmly in our lusts. The doctrine of grace commands us to give up ourselves to Christ, to be accepted through him, and to be ruled by him. Obedience is due to God, as a sovereign Lord in his law, and it is due out of gratitude, as he is a God of grace in the gospel. The discovery of a further perfection in God weakens not the right of another, nor the obligation of the duty the former attribute claims at our hands. The gospel frees us from the curse, but not from the duty and service. We are ‘delivered from the hands of our enemies, that we might serve God in holiness and righteousness,’ Luke 1:74. ‘This is the will of God’ in the gospel, ‘even our sanctification.’ When a prince strikes off a malefactor’s chains, though he deliver him from the punishments of his crime, he frees him not from the duty of a subject. His pardon adds a greater obligation than his protection did before, while he was loyal. Christ’s righteousness gives us a title to heaven, but there must be a holiness to give us a fitness for heaven.” ~ Stephen Charnock ~ (50)

“And to our comfort we see wherein the main of reformation lies: it lies in opening the doctrine of the substantials of salvation, concerning the estate of man by nature, the work of conversion, the privileges we have in Christ; it lies in clearing the doctrine of free grace, and the way of faith which lays hold upon it. ‘By grace ye are saved, through faith,’ as it follows afterwards. We see the truth of this prophecy riseth up more and more to the view in the latter ages of the world, and we enjoy the fruit of it more clearly and fully than our forefathers did; and God will never leave till he hath brought his saints and children to that first pattern, to that doctrine of grace, in the purity and perfection of it, which was then taught.”              ~ Thomas Goodwin ~ (51)

“When such a heavenly doctrine breedeth in us a heavenly mind: 1 Cor. 2:12, ‘For we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.’ When such a spiritual doctrine bringeth in more of the Spirit: 2 Cor. 3:8, ‘How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious?’ Such a wise doctrine will fill us with wisdom; such a doctrine of grace and goodness breedeth all goodness in us, and so we have God’s attestation to his truth.” ~ Thomas Manton ~ (52)

“But now that he has learned from the Christ of the Scriptures, he has come to see man’s true inwardness, his true freedom as freedom in the Christ of the Scriptures. As a fish is free in water and a bird is free in air, so a creature is free within the plan of God. When a fish tries to be free on shore or when a bird tries to be free under water then they, as it were, do what man has done by trying to be free from the requirements of the love of God. Seeking for this false freedom the sinner cannot help himself. But God, the triune God in Christ, and by the Spirit in his sovereign grace, reaches down to man to set him free.” ~ Cornelius Van Til ~ (53)

“In merely natural men, sin dwells. Regeneration is the foundation of Christianity. He who expels the doctrine of grace from the Bible utterly expunges the Bible.” ~ William G.T. Shedd ~ (54)

“Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe; but he died for all God’s elect, that they should believe, and believing have eternal life. Faith itself is among the principal effects and fruits of the death of Christ.” ~ John Owen ~ (55

REFERENCES

(1) – Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 116). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(2) – Calvin, J. (2011). Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. (F. L. Battles, Trans., J. T. McNeill, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 974). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

(3) – Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 3, p. 109). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(4) – Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 1, p. 92). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(5) – Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, p. 257). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(6) – Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Vol. 1, pp. 124–125). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(7) – Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets (Vol. 2, p. 252). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(8) – Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 62). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(9) – Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 3, p. 322). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(10) – Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 273–274). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(11) – Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. xxxv). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(12) – Gill, J. (1838). The Cause of God and Truth (A New Edition., pp. 91–95). London; Glasgow; Dublin; Sydney; Hobart Town: Thomas Tegg and Son; R. Griffin and Co.; Tegg and Co.; J. and S. A. Tegg.

(13) – MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Ti 2:4). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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(17) – Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Vol. 2, p. 37). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(18) – Gill, J. (1838). The Cause of God and Truth (A New Edition., pp. 100–102). London; Glasgow; Dublin; Sydney; Hobart Town: Thomas Tegg and Son; R. Griffin and Co.; Tegg and Co.; J. and S. A. Tegg.

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(26) – Elwell, W. A., & Elwell, W. A. (1996). In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House

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(32) – Pink, A. W. (1954). An exposition of Hebrews (p. 1152). Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot.

(33) – Pink, A. W. (2005). The nature of God (p. 165). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(34) – Toplady, A. M. (1825). The Works of Augustus M. Toplady (Vol. 1, pp. 211–212). London; Edinburgh: William Baynes and Son; H. S. Baynes.

(35) – Bunyan, J. (2006). Prefatory. In The Saint’s Knowledge of Christ’s Love (Vol. 2, p. 37). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(36) – Bunyan, J. (2006). Saved by Grace (Vol. 1, p. 357). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(37) – Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5, pp. 216–217). London: Edward and Charles Dilly.

(38) – Witsius, H. (1837). The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man: Comprehending a Complete Body of Divinity. (W. Crookshank, Trans.) (Vol. 2, p. 50). London: T. Tegg & Son.

(39) – Ryle, J. C. (1885). Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (p. 356). London: William Hunt and Company.

(40) – Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (p. 778). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

(41) – Braithwaite, G. (1773). The Duty of a Pastor to his People. In A Collection of Sermons and Tracts (Vol. II, p. 11). London: George Keith.

(42) – MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2014). John MacArthur Sermon Archive. Panorama City, CA: Grace to You.

(43) – Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.

(44) – Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 168). Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.

(45) – Sibbes, R. (1863). The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. (A. B. Grosart, Ed.) (Vol. 4, pp. 520–521). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson.

(46) – Breckinridge, R. J. (1855). Fidelity in Our Lot (p. 277). Philadelphia: The Board of Missions.

(47) – Spurgeon, C. H. (1874). Flashes of thought (p. 182). London: Passmore & Alabaster.

(48) – Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Memories of Stambourne (p. 127). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(49) – Spurgeon, C. H., & Williams, S. G. (2009). A Good Start: A Book for Young Men and Women (p. 106). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

(50) – Charnock, S. (1864–1866). The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Vol. 2, pp. 8–9). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson; G. Herbert.

(51) – Goodwin, T. (1861). The Works of Thomas Goodwin (Vol. 2, p. 301). Edinburgh: James Nichol.

(52) – Manton, T. (1874). The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (Vol. 19, p. 266). London: James Nisbet & Co.

(53) – Van Til, C., & Sigward, E. H. (1997). Reviews by Cornelius Van Til (Electronic ed.). Labels Army Company: New York.

(54) – Shedd, W. G. T. (1879). A critical and doctrinal commentary upon the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (p. 4). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

(55) – Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.