ARMINIANISM wrests Scripture to teach that it is possible for the true believer to fall from the grace of salvation (Gal. 5:4); and that each believer is provided with sufficient ability to persevere and preserve himself, if only he will: (“And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” John 5:40). It all depends on the choice of man’s will, whether he will persevere or not. (This denies everything thus far so irrefutably declared!) The error continues: Continue reading
Let all the world know that the Lord Jesus will not cast away His believing people because of shortcomings and infirmities. The husband does not put way his wife because he finds failings in her. The mother does not forsake her infant because it is weak, feeble, and ignorant. And the Lord Christ does not cast off poor sinners who have committed their souls into His hands because He sees in them blemishes and imperfections. Oh, no! it is His glory to pass over the faults of His people, and heal their backslidings,—to make much of their weak graces, and to pardon their many faults. Verily, the 11th of Hebrews is a wonderful chapter. It is marvelous to observe how the Holy Ghost speaks of the worthies whose names are recorded in that chapter. The faith of the Lord’s people is there brought forward, and had in remembrance. But the faults of many a one, which might easily have been brought up also, are left alone, and not mentioned at all. Continue reading
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
We believe in the eternal security of the saints. First, because they are Christ’s, and He will never lose the sheep which He has bought with His blood and received of His Father.
Next, because He gives them eternal life, and if it be eternal, well then, it is eternal, and there can be no end to hell, and heaven, and God. If spiritual life can die out, it is manifestly not eternal life, and that effectually shuts out the possibility of an end.
Observe, further, that the Lord expressly says, “They shall never perish.” As long as words have a meaning, this secures believers from perishing. The most obstinate unbelief cannot force this meaning out of this sentence.
Then, to make the matter complete, He declares that His people are in His hand, and He defies all their enemies to pluck them out of it. Surely it is a thing impossible even for the fiend of hell. We must be safe in the grasp of an almighty Savior. Be it ours to dismiss carnal fear as well as carnal confidence and rest peacefully in the hollow of the Redeemer’s hand.
Why I Am a Calvinist, Part 5
. . . and why every Christian is a Calvinist of sorts.
Part V: Why this issue is really a lot simpler than most people think
At the end of the previous post, I described how even in my Arminian days, I affirmed an awful lot of truth about the sovereignty of God: I would have affirmed with no reservation whatsoever that God is God; that He does all His good pleasure; that no one can make Him do otherwise; that He is in control and in charge no matter how much noise evildoers try to make; and not only is He in charge, He is working all things out for my good and His glory. As a matter of fact, my confidence in the promise of Romans 8:28 was what motivated my prayer life.
That’s Calvinism. If you believe those things, you have affirmed the heart of Calvinism, even if you call yourself an Arminian. Those are the basic truths of Calvinism, and if you already believe those things, you are functioning with Calvinist presuppositions.
In fact, the truths of Calvinism so much permeate the heart of the gospel message, that even if you think you are a committed and consistent proponent of Arminianism, if you truly affirm the gospel you have already conceded the principle points of Calvinism anyway.
Why I Am a Calvinist, Part 1
. . and why every Christian is a Calvinist of sorts.
Part I: Is Arminianism damnable heresy?
I love the doctrines of grace and don’t shy away from the label “Calvinist.” I believe in the sovereignty of God. I’m convinced Scripture teaches that God is completely sovereign not only in salvation (effectually calling and granting faith to those whom He chooses); but also in every detail of the outworking of Providence. “Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). And He makes “all things work together for good to those who love God, [i.e.,] to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Quite simply, He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
That’s what people commonly mean when they speak of “Calvinism.” When I accept that label, I am not pledging allegiance to the man John Calvin. I am not affirming everything he taught, and I’m not condoning everything he did. I’m convinced Calvin was a godly man and one of the finest biblical expositors and theological minds ever, but he wasn’t always right. As a matter of fact, my own convictions are baptistic, so I am by no means one of Calvin’s devoted followers. In other words, when I accept the label “Calvinist,” it’s only for convenience’s sake. I’m not saying “I am of Calvin” in the Corinthian sense.
The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call
We have a wonderful subject to talk about tonight and I took up a little more time than I ought to have, in one sense, but wanted to share with you what I did, so we’re going to try to squeeze it in the time we have. I want you to open your Bible to Romans 8…Romans chapter 8 and let’s begin in Romans 8 with some very familiar revelation from God.
Verse 28 which is familiar to all of us is a good starting point. Romans 8:28, “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 whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren, and whom He predestined these He also called and whom He called these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 2
Those of you who have been with us know we are tackling some of the more challenging and profound and difficult doctrines in the Scripture. And I trust we’re having a wonderful time digging deeply into God’s precious truth.
Last Sunday night we began to look at the subject, “For whom did Christ die?” Or, “The Nature of the Atonement.” Or as I chose to call it, “The Doctrine of Actual Atonement.” And I want to go back to that. If you weren’t here last week, it really would be helpful for you to get the tape or the CD, whatever is best for you, and to listen to what I said and pair it up with what we’re going to say tonight because you’re going to get just a very abbreviated review of that important foundation.
The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 1
Well, how many of you have always wanted to go to seminary? You’re about to go tonight. I’m going to challenge your thinking a little bit as we talk about this issue of the question, “For whom did Christ die?” We have been looking over the last number of weeks at some very important doctrines, the doctrine of perseverance, or the preservation of the saints; the doctrine of sovereign election in salvation. We have looked at the doctrine of total or absolute inability, that is the depravity of the sinner which renders it impossible for him to respond to the gospel. And tonight I want to talk to you about what I’ve chosen to call, trying to give it a more accurate name, the doctrine of actual atonement…the doctrine of actual atonement.
The Doctrine of Absolute Inability
We have embarked upon a wonderful study of some very important doctrines on these Sunday nights. And from my viewpoint, it’s kind of open ended, I’m just kind of following the flow and seeing where it goes. But I’m having a wonderful time. As you well know through all these years, we predominantly, if not almost always, work through texts of Scripture and that way we are obligated to affirm what the Word of God says because it’s what it says. And there is always the, I suppose, potential accusation that when you leave the flow of expositional preaching and you embark upon a topical study or a doctrinal study, you ….you may be caught up in something philosophical, you may be caught up in something rational, something logical and you may be drawing conclusions that wouldn’t stand the test of Scripture. And so I want to affirm to you that everything I say I trust will be before your very eyes drawn out of Scripture, and I would encourage you, like the noble Bereans, to do a little work yourself and search the Scripture and see if these things are so. I certainly don’t want to bring to you a rational theology, although it’s not irrational. I don’t want to bring to you a philosophical approach to theology. I don’t want to follow the path of human reason to conclude the things we conclude. I want to bring you what the Word of God has to say and the Word of God does speak to these very, very important doctrinal issues.
The Doctrine of Election, Part 3
We have over the last couple of Sunday-evening messages been talking about the issue of divine election. Who chose whom? And I understand that this is not a small controversy when you talk about the doctrine of election. There are many people who feel, as I noted in our original message, that this is a dangerous doctrine, that this turns God into a monster, that this is an almost blasphemous, that this is a kind of heresy. And yet no matter how much human reason, human preference might rage against this doctrine, it is inescapably taught in Scripture. And we need to bow our knees to this great truth of divine election, and once we do it may become to us the most precious of all doctrines.
The Doctrine of Election, Part 2
We’re going to return now to the, I trust, refreshment of the Word of God. We’re talking about the doctrine of election, chosen by God, who chose whom? And this is not without controversy, as you well know. The doctrine of sovereign election, the truth of predestination is much discussed and most discussions can degenerate into something very heated. In fact, to say that there are people who hate the idea of predestination is not an overstatement. There are people who hate the thought of divine election, sovereign choice. In fact, there are some people who say that the doctrine is demonic, that the doctrine itself is satanic. It is such an affront to their sense of fairness and sense of what they think is right that there are people who call themselves Christians who would see this as truth that comes from the enemy of God and not God Himself.
The Doctrine of Election, Part 1
As you know, a couple of weeks ago we completed our study in the wonderful epistle written by Jude which ended with a promise that God is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before His presence with glory. And because that introduced to us the wonderful doctrine of eternal security, or better stated, the perseverance of the saints, or the preservation of the saints, we spent a few weeks talking about that doctrine. And in the discussions that I had with you regarding that, I said that the end is determined by the beginning. Our salvation is secure to the end because our salvation was predestined in the very beginning to be completed. And we remember that Romans 8 makes a monumental and very clear statement to that regard. When in Romans 8 the Apostle Paul writes, “For whom He foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” That is all whom God predestined will become conformed to the image of His Son in eternal glory. And thus whom He predestined He called, and whom He called He justified, and whom He justified these He also glorified.
The Perseverance of the Saints, Part 3
1 Peter 1:6-9
We are continuing a study for these few weeks on the subject of the perseverance of the saints. That is a, I think, a good biblical title to describe a doctrine that is often called the doctrine of eternal security, or the security of the believer. The bottom line in this doctrine is that when the Lord saves someone, that salvation is forever, never to be reversed. The Bible is clear on that basic truth and the basic truth is that salvation by its very nature is irrevocable.
In spite of the clarity of Scripture, however, on this, there are those who have fallen under the influence of teaching that denies it. There are many in the Christian church who are living in some kind of fear with the possibility that they could lose their salvation. They are warned that they can by sin or failure to believe forfeit that salvation which God has given to them. That is to say a believer can become again an unbeliever, a new creation in Christ can become again the old. Those who are now the children of God can become again the children of the devil. Those who are citizens of heaven can become occupants of hell. In fact, all that is given to us in Christ can be lost and forfeit. And inevitably those who teach that doctrine endeavor to support it in Scripture. And they bring up a list of doctrinal passages to be used as a support for the idea that you can lose your salvation. I’ve dealt with this through the years many, many times and many fronts and not the least of which is trying to help the Russians, the Russian believers understand this doctrine because for so many years they have been taught that it is possible to forfeit your salvation.
The Perseverance of the Saints, Part 2
We are in a bit of a brief study on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. And we sort of picked up on this doctrine because the study in the marvelous epistle of Jude and this little epistle, as you will remember, we’ve been studying on Sunday nights, ends with this great benediction, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.” That is a statement of the security of our salvation. Our Lord is able to keep us and to present us. This was so important for us as we were going through it that I wanted to enrich our study of just that passage and so last week, and again this week and perhaps one other session next week, we will look at this very, very important doctrine.
The Doctrines of Grace sermon series
At some time in your Christian life, you may have struggled with questions like, When a sinner is saved, who chooses whom—does God choose the sinner, or the sinner choose God? Did Christ die for the sins of everyone, or just the people He saves?
The vast majority of those kinds of thorny, persistent, mind-boggling questions are directly related to the sovereignty of God, election, predestination, perseverance, and the question of “free will.” Those, of course, are doctrines associated with Calvinism. All are vital to a sound, biblical understanding of the gospel, but they are not without difficulty.
In The Doctrines of Grace, John MacArthur takes you to God’s Word and walks you through challenging truth that’s often neglected, maligned, or mischaracterized, but critical for every Christian to understand. This series will help you come to grips with what you believe about God, the gospel, and the nature of man.