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"Exploring the Five Points of Calvinism: Why I Don't Embrace TULIP" (Norman Geisler)

Norman Geisler - Transcript of his sermon on this topic.

The Youtube sermon is here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwNZhdPqGDE





My topic this evening is a topic that I am very much interested in and I understand that many of you are too. It is titled "Five Reasons Why I Am NOT A Five-Point Calvinist"...."Five reasons why I am Not a Five-Point Calvinist."


A man died, went to heaven, and he saw two lines. One line said, “predestined,” and the other line said, “free choice.” So being a good five-point Calvinist, he got in the predestined line and he worked his way up to the front and the angel in charge said, “Why are you in this Line?” He said, “Well, I chose to be here.” He, [The angel] said, “Well it's the wrong line. The free choice line is over there.”  So he moved over to the other line and he worked his way to the front of the line and the angel at the desk said, “What are you doing in this line?” He said, “Somebody made me come here.”


Predestination and freewill. It's probably one of the oldest problems in the history of theology. God predestined us, do we freely choose it? What's the relationship between the two? The debate broke out right after the Reformation, when Martin Luther and John Calvin and other theologians took a stand against many of the excesses they perceived in the Roman Catholic Church and stood on great fundamental principles like, the Bible alone, and grace alone, and faith alone, and Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. That word "alone" being the crucial difference between Roman Catholics and Protestants.


Inside of the Protestant faith, there were differences of opinion on this very issue and I want to say tonight that with all due respect, this is an intramural debate. People on both sides are good and godly people. People on both sides believe all of the fundamentals of the faith: the virgin birth, and the deity of Christ, and the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection , and the Second Coming. People on both sides of this issue believe all of those “Alone’s.” Salvation by grace alone, and faith alone, through Christ alone, based on the Bible alone.


But it is an important topic because it does bear on several very important doctrines that the Bible teaches. And so I would like to share with you why I don't come out on the side of what's called the five-point Calvinist. Five-point Calvinism comes from the Dutch context and in the Dutch context as you know tulip is a very important flower and so we'll use the acrostic of a tulip and the five points are:


T - Total depravity,

U - Unconditional election,

L - Limited atonement,

I -  Irresistible grace, and

P - Perseverance of the saints.


So that little acrostic tulip will be the five points of our message and I'll explain each point, and then I'll look at some scripture and try to tell you why on the basis of Scripture, that I do not accept or believe that that particular point, as understood by the extreme Calvinist, is correct.


(T - Total Depravity)


Let's begin with a scripture in Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 1. In this, we will be talking about the “T” or total depravity. What is meant by total depravity by a five-point Calvinist? In Ephesians chapter two, they appeal to this verse in support of their belief that man is so totally depraved, so totally sinful, so totally apart from God, that he cannot even understand the gospel or receive the gospel. He's dead. Ephesians 2:1 says “and you he made alive who were dead in trespasses and in sins, in which you once walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince and the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”  And then he goes on to say in verse three, “who were by nature the children of wrath; and these God made alive, verse five, he made us alive.


So there we were, dead in sin, like a dead corpse floating on the water that could not hear, could not see, could not understand, and could not believe but God in His grace, according to a five-point Calvinist, reached down and gave life to that corpse. Now that giving life is called regeneration…giving life to the soul…imparting life to a dead person. And according to five-point Calvinism, we are so dead in our sins that we can't even understand the gospel. 1st Corinthians 2:14  tells us that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto Him, neither can he understand them, because they're spiritually discerned. So Ephesians 2:1 and 1st Corinthians 2:14, become part of the basis for this belief that we're so totally depraved, that the only way we could possibly get saved is if God made us alive first. After we are made alive, we are capable of believing, and then faith follows salvation. Faith is not the condition by which we get salvation. Salvation is the means by which we get faith.


Now having thus explained what the five-point Calvinist means by the “T” in tulip, I would like to tell you why I do not believe in the “T” of tulip as defined by the extreme Calvinist. I do not believe it because if you look at the context of this verse in Ephesians 2, you will notice in verse 8 that it says that this is received through faith. For by grace you have been saved through faith. Now if you're saved through faith,  then what comes first logically, the salvation or the faith? If you're saved by faith, faith comes before the salvation, right? Whereas (in contrast), the five-point Calvinist believes that salvation and regeneration come before faith.


Romans 5:1 says we are justified by faith. So faith is the means by which we get justification. Justification is not the means by which we get faith. One of the things I teach is philosophy and one of the main modern philosophers was called Rene Descartes. He said I think therefore I am. Well, actually he got Descartes before the horse (laughter) because you have to exist before you can think. I exist therefore I can think. I don't exist because I can think, I think because I exist. So, I think the five-point Calvinist has "Descartes before the horse".  You have to believe, in order to be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. He didn't say wait to get zapped by God (because) you're just a dead corpse...wait to get zapped by God, You're just a dead corpse, and once you're saved then you'll be able to believe  I find that nowhere in the New Testament.  Everywhere, I find the opposite. We believe in order to receive salvation, we do not receive salvation in order to believe.


How do you explain the fact that they're dead.  The Bible says that we're dead in trespasses and sins. Dead can be understood in two ways, annihilation and/or separation. Now we know in the Bible, death is not understood as annihilation and that you're totally taken right out of existence, as it were. Death in the Bible means separation. The Prophet said your sins have separated you from your God.   Death brings a wall of separation.


When we die, what happens, the soul separates from the body. Absent from the body means present with the Lord. Second Corinthians five helps us understand that it is far better to depart and be with Christ, Philippians 1:23, or in the book of Genesis, it says her soul was in the process of departing before she died. So death is understood in the Bible as separation, not annihilation, but for all practical purposes the five-point Calvinist understands it as spiritual annihilation and that we're not spiritually there in any sense of the term. We can't even understand the message or receive the message, and so God has to give life where we were totally, as it were, departed from him. No, the Bible says that death is separation from God and that we are separated as being still in His image and likeness. In Genesis 9:6, It says that even unsaved people are still in the image of God.  Genesis 1:27, says God created man in his own image. Yes, man fell, yes, he sinned, yes he's separated from God, but he's separated from God and he still had God's image, because after the flood Noah was told that whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he him. In other words, don't kill an unsaved person because they're still in the image of God. James 3:9 says it's wrong to curse another human being because they're made in the image of God.


So the image of God is effaced in fallen man but it's not erased. For all practical purposes, the five-point Calvinist says the image of God is erased, it's not there. You're so dead, that there's no capacity left there to understand or receive the message of God's grace. To get the illustration even more clearly, let's look at Genesis chapter 3.  In Genesis chapter 3, in the Old Testament, Adam and Eve sinned and according to the Bible, therefore, they became dead in trespasses and sins. It seems to me that the best way to understand the Bible is by the Bible. Now if the moment Adam took the forbidden fruit, someone said, it wasn't the apple on the tree it was the pair on the ground that got us in trouble. Well, a pair on the ground (Adam and Eve), both partook of the forbidden fruit. In Chapter two, it said of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat thereof, for in the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die. Now when Adam took the forbidden fruit and Eve took it, they died. They were spiritually dead. Now, here's what a spiritual dead person can do, Genesis chapter 3 verse 9. They had already taken it, and the Lord God called Adam and said to him, "where are you?" So he said, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself."


Notice several important things about that.  Even though Adam was spiritually dead he could still hear God. Notice, he could still understand. He understood what God was saying. So, even in our fallen state, the image of God is still in us and our ability to hear God is still there. Our ability to respond to God is still there both positively and negatively.....respond in rejecting it or respond in accepting it. In fact, in Romans chapter 1 verse 19, it tells us that unsaved people can understand and perceive the truth of God. Take a look at Romans chapter 1 beginning with verse 18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth. They know it but they're holding it down.  Now notice verse 19, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them since the creation of the world and his invisible attributes are....what are the next two words....clearly seen.


Unsaved people, who are dead in trespasses and sins, can clearly see the truth of God revealed in general revelation. So clear is it that they are "without excuse" verse 20....without excuse. So whatever the Bible means by dead in sin, it does not mean that they do not perceive the truth. It does not mean that they can't understand what God is saying to them. Adam understood it even though he was dead. Death doesn't mean annihilation, it means separation. Death doesn't mean that the image of God is erased, it means the image of God is effaced. Death doesn't mean (and this is a very important distinction) that they cannot perceive the truth, it means they are unwilling to receive the truth.


1st Corinthians 2:14, the natural man does not receive, it's the Greek word δέχομαι (dechomai), which means welcome. Of course, there is no welcome in an unsaved heart for the truth of God but it doesn't mean he doesn't perceive it. He perceives it very clearly, and he's eternally condemned for rejecting it. What he needs to do is to receive it. While he understands it in his mind, he is not willing to believe it in his heart. So that's the first reason why I am NOT a five-point Calvinist; because - one, they get Descartes before the horse. You don't get saved in order to believe you believe in order to get saved, and two - we're not so dead that we can't perceive the truth, we're just so separated from God that we're unwilling to receive the truth.


(U - Unconditional Election)


Number two, I'm not a five-point Calvinist because of the U in tulip....

T -  total depravity....

U -unconditional election.

Anyone who reads the Bible seriously knows that the Bible teaches that God has elected us. Let's take a look at Ephesians chapter one, for example. In Ephesians chapter one, the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and he says to them in verse 3, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ: Just as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame; verse 5, having predestined us by the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will. Romans 8 says, whom he foreknew he predestinaed. 1st Peter 1:2, he says elect according to the foreknowledge of God. The Bible says that even Christ was set aside as the lamb before the foundation of the world. Revelation 13 and verse 8, [says] that God by his pre-determinate foreknowledge. in Acts, chapter 2 - determined that Christ would die for our sins. Of course, the Bible teaches election. Absolutely, the Bible teaches predestination, but here's the difference between an extreme Calvinist and a more moderate view. The difference between what's traditionally called a five-point Calvinist and what the Bible teaches, is that the five-point Calvinist says that election is unconditional on God's part. There is no condition for giving it and there is no condition for receiving it. The moderate view says there is no condition for God giving it. It's given by grace but there's one condition for receiving it and it's called faith.


Let me illustrate: the difference between that five-point view and what the Bible teaches. The five-point view says, God from all eternity decided who would be saved and he selected only some: even though they were unwilling, even though they were rebellious, and he regenerated them, independent of their faith. They couldn't believe, they wouldn't believe and he regenerated them and saved them, apart from and in spite of, their act of choosing or rejecting this message. That's not what the Bible says. The Bible says, and I'd like you to notice two very important verses. One is found in Romans chapter 8, where it uses the word predestined. Romans chapter 8 and verse 29, right after that famous verse, "and we know all things work together for good for those who love God, verse 29. Romans 8, for whom he foreknew, he also predestined. God foreknew the people that were predestined. Now keep that in mind and flip over to 1st Peter chapter 1 and verse 2...1st Peter chapter 1 verse 2...elect according to the foreknowledge of God. The extreme view says that God chooses some people to be saved apart from his foreknowledge of who will believe, and the moderate view says that God chooses in accordance with his foreknowledge of who would believe.



In other words, does God just pick out people, in spite of the fact that they're going to believe or disbelieve, or does he choose people knowing that they will receive the message of salvation? The reason I'm not a five-point Calvinist is I don't believe that unconditional election is unconditional from the standpoint of the receiver.  It is only unconditional from the standpoint of the giver.  Let me illustrate. If I decide to give you a million dollars out of the goodness of my heart, without any strings attached, not because you've worked for me but because I just want to, out of generosity of my heart, give you that money. That's an unconditional gift.  There's no strings attached. You don't have to work to get it, but you do have to do one thing to get it. You have to receive the gift. I mean I can offer the million dollars and you still don't have it. You've got to reach out and get it. So, the gift is unconditional from the standpoint of the giver, but it's conditioned on the reception of the receiver. You must receive it to get the gift. Irresistible or rather unconditional election from the standpoint of the extreme Calvinist says there is not even any condition for you receiving it. You don't have to believe to receive it. In fact, you can't believe, because you're so totally depraved. You can't understand it and you can't receive it. It's something that God has to impart in you, and then once he gives you salvation, then you're able to believe after that. And of course, the Bible doesn't teach that because the Bible teaches that you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be saved, Acts 16:31.


Constantly, Jesus said, he that believes on the son shall be saved. The wrath of God shall not abide on him. In Romans 6:23, the result of sin is death but salvation is a gift of God and a gift must be received and if we don't receive the gift, it doesn't matter how unconditional the giver was and It doesn't matter how gracious he was, you're not going to be saved. Turn to John chapter 1 for an illustration of this and In fact a biblical pronouncement on it. In John chapter 1 we read some really difficult verses to understand, because in verse 10 it says Jesus was in the world and the world was made through him and the world didn't know him. How incredible [to think] that he came to his own and his own did not receive him but as many as received him to them gave he the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe on his name.


How do you get salvation? You must receive it. You must accept it. You must make an act of faith to receive the gift. Now, true, verse 13 says those who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God..it points out, this didn't come out of your will. This came out of God's gracious will, but it came through your will. For by grace are you saved through faith and while salvation doesn't proceed out of the will of God, I didn't seek him first. I loved him because he loved me. I seek him because he first sought me. But it is a mistake to say, while that is true, it is a mistake to say that we didn't receive the gift that he gave. Once in a while, the extreme Calvinists will say, well then who gets credit for salvation? If it's depending on your receiving it, then you get credit for receiving it. That's kind of strange. That's like saying somebody gave you ten million dollars, and you get credit because you took the gift. Now I would think that the person who gave the gift should get credit for the gift, right? The person who received it was just impoverished. He was incapable of making that, incapable of attaining that, he was only capable of receiving it. So we bless the giver for the gift, not the receiver. The receiver is the beggar who takes the hand out from God, saying "I am poor. I am impoverished in myself and I am dependent on God's grace. Thank you for this gracious gift of salvation." So T, total depravity is misunderstood by the five-point Calvinist. "U", unconditional election is understood, because it is unconditional from the standpoint of the giver but it is not unconditional from the standpoint of the receiver. You must accept it or you will be lost.


(L - Limited Atonement)


Let's turn to one of the most important ones now in the acrostic tulip and that's "L," limited atonement. Limited atonement very simply put is this. Christ did not die for and pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind. Christ died only for some people called the elect. Those who will be saved. Those whom God chose from the foundation of the world. In fact, the doctrine of limited atonement is held by the traditional five-point Calvinist and that the reason I called him extreme is because John Calvin himself did not hold this view. Look at our book Chosen But Free. There's a whole appendix in the book of quotes from Calvin, where he said Christ died for the sins of all mankind, repeatedly over and over. So if you're more extreme than John Calvin, I would assume you should be called an extreme Calvinist, right? The moderate view is this; for God so loved the world. Jesus died for the whole world. Now just to show you how somebody's theological beliefs can act as a pair of glasses, and they look through it, and they look right at a text that's saying something else and they don't see it. When the extreme Calvinist looks at these verses, I'm gonna quote to you. He takes the word all, or the word world, always to mean some. For example, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Now on face value, you would assume that means God loves everybody, right? Not for the extreme Calvinist. That means God only loved the elect world. He only loved the saved world. Now in interpreting the Bible, that's called eisegesis, reading into the text, not reading out of the text, which is exegesis. Exegesis is what does the text means in its context. That's getting the meaning out of the Bible. Eisegesis is reading your theology into the Bible, not being able to see what it says. Take a look at these verses, and you tell me what they mean. In John 3:16, God so loved the world, in Romans chapter 5, very famous passage beginning with verse 6, for when we were still without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Now, how many people in the world are ungodly. Just the elect or the whole world? If the whole world is ungodly and Christ died for the ungodly, then does it not follow logically that Christ died for the whole world. Or turn over a couple more chapters here to Second Corinthians chapter 5. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, we are told by the Apostle Paul that Christ died for all. Take a look at second Corinthians 5:14. For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge that if one died for all, then all died, and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves.


Now, how somebody can look at this text and say that Christ died only for some, I do not understand!  I do not understand how somebody without a pair of colored glasses, called his theological system, can look at a verse that says all and say it means some, or how they can look at a verse that says the whole world and say it only means some of the world. It even gets stronger.  Let's take a look at the verse in 1st Timothy chapter 2. The five-point Calvinist says that Christ died only for some people. The Bible says he died for all. First Timothy 2:4, who desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth. Now there's one rule in interpreting the Bible. It's a very simple one. "All" means all and that's all that all means. All means all, and that's all that all means. If it says, God desires all people to be saved. If he meant that he only desired some people to be saved, guess what. He would have said, God desires some people to be saved.  I mean the word is there, in Greek and in every language. It doesn't say some, it says all, and thats all. "All" means all, and that's all that all means. Turn over to another verse in 2nd Peter chapter 3 and verse 9.  Peter is making it very clear that God wants everybody to be saved, Second Peter 3:9. He's talking in verse one to the church there and he's talking about the last days and [about] people who are saying, where is the promise of his coming and who are unbelievers, and who are perishing, and so forth. In verse 9, he says, the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Now I ask you very simply, how many people does God want to be saved, according to this verse. Does that some people mean just the elect or does God really want everybody to be saved.


Very clearly he wants everybody in the world to be saved. If they aren't saved, what is the reason, because they perceived but didn't receive. They knew it was true but they refused to accept the truth. Christ came unto his own, but they were unwilling to receive him. Turn over to 1st John, the next book, chapter 2. Nothing could be clearer. My little children, verse 1, I write these things to you that you may not sin and if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Now, get this...and he himself is the satisfaction, propitiation means satisfaction for our sins, and not for ours only, but for those of the whole world. Whose sins did Christ die? Did he die for just ours, just the elect or for those of the whole world. Now, the traditional five-point Calvinist says he means Christian world here. I don't know what "our" means in contrast to them, if that's the case, but more than that, how do you interpret what somebody means by a word. You look at the context. You look at the broader context. Look down to verse 15, in the same chapter, where John begins to define what he means by world.


He couldn't possibly mean Christian world because he says do not love the world. Does that mean that we're not supposed to love the elect? Absolutely not! Then he defines world in verse 16, all that's in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. [He] couldn't mean the elect, because he puts the world as opposed to God. The elect are not those opposed to God. From beginning to end, the New Testament teaches, indeed the whole Bible teaches, that God so loved the world. For the extreme Calvinists to say in "L" limited atonement, that Christ died only for some people, that Christ did not die for all people is: one - contrary to the Bible and: two - is contrary to the nature of God as love. One of the things the Bible teaches us about God is that he is all loving. Even the five-point Calvinist believes that God is all just. That he's so just that he can't look on sin. It's impossible for God to lie. Habakkuk 1:13 says he can't even look with approval on sin; Hebrews 6:18, says it's impossible for him to utter falsehoods; Titus 1:2, says God who cannot lie; Romans 3:4, says let God be true and every man a liar. The Bible says that there's some things that God just can't do. His nature will not allow him. His nature will not allow him to overlook sin. He is all just and he must punish, because of that. The Bible also says that God by nature is love. Now, if God by nature is all just, because he is just, then he must be all just; then God by nature must be all loving, because he is love.  First John 4:16, God is love, not he has love or he has love for some. If he is all loving, then mark this down, he must love all. You cannot be all loving and just love some.



One night a friend of mine invited an extreme Calvinist and myself to a dinner party after we had a lovely meal. The discussion for the evening was the five points of Calvinism. He represented the traditional view and I represented what is called the moderate view, that I've been describing to you. Near the end of the discussion when we were on this point, I said to him, let's call him Pastor John. I said "Pastor John, tell me this, does God love everybody or does he only love the elect;" and without batting an eyelash, he said, "God only loves some people, he just loves the elect." Now I'm trying to be kind in my reaction here, but that is an insult to the nature of God. That is an insult to the nature of God, to say that God just loves some people is to make God arbitrary; is to make God capricious; is to make God more like an Arabian sheik, than the God of Scripture; is to make God more like the god of the Quran, whom Omar Khayyam,, the famous Persian poet said, "tis all a checkerboard of night and days, were destiny with men as pieces plays, hither and thither checks and mates and slays and one by one, back in the closet lays." That is not the God of the Bible, that's the God of Islam, who is so sovereign that he can act contrary to his very nature if he wishes. If he wants he can just love some people and hate other people. The God of the Bible, by his very nature, must love all. You cannot be all loving and not love all people.


That leads us to a very important illustration, one that my traditional Calvinist friends don't like, but they don't really know what to do with, except to make it a more powerful illustration than I did to begin with. Here is what a five-point Calvinist really believes. He really believes that it's like this. A farmer had a pond and the neighborhood boys wanted to swim there and he didn't want them to drown, so he put up a fence and he put up a sign, don't swim. One day he was driving back in his field and three neighborhood boys were in the pond drowning. The farmer pulled up on his tractor. He folded his arms, he pointed up to the sign and said, "the sign says don't trespass, don't swim here. You're swimming here, you're drowning. You deserve to drown." He folded his arms and watched all three boys drown. Now, would anyone say that that was a loving person? I think not. That's precisely what the five-point Calvinist believes God can and could have done. Because God gave his law. We disobeyed his law and we all deserve to go to hell and God didn't have to try to save anyone. Now they're half right. The half they're right on is: God is just, God has a law, we disobey his law, and we justly take the consequences of our sin. {Now they're} half right, but the other half is a tragic error. While they're half right in emphasizing that God is just and those people are justly condemned, they are totally wrong in saying that God is not so loving that he doesn't want to do anything about it and try to rescue those people. Any farmer who had a fence and a sign like that, and would stand there and watch three people drown, may be all just, but he's not all loving. The God of the Bible is both, but the extreme Calvinist says, what actually happened was this: everything in the story is the same up to the point he sees the three boys and he says to them, "you saw the sign, you're justly drowning, but you in the blue suit" and he throws a rope to one of the three and pulls him in folds his arms and watches the other two drown. It's exactly what the traditional five-point Calvinist believes.



I confess to you that neither do I find this in the Bible, for all the reasons we gave. God loves all, and neither in the depth of my heart, made in His image, with a moral sensitivity, can I believe that such a God....such a God....is a God worthy of our commitment. Because a God who is not all-loving is not worthy of all our love. A God who says, love the Lord your God with all your heart...a God who says I am love, and who tells me that he loves only some people and that he wouldn't even try to rescue the other two is not an all-loving God. Here's what I think really happened. Everything in this story is the same, up to the point where the

farmer says you saw the sign, you disobeyed it, you're drowning, at which point the farmer throws a rope to all three boys and he does everything he can to rescue them. One person accepts the rope and the other two say, no thanks, I can do it myself, and drown.


The Bible says God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. God who sent Christ to die for all of mankind, that the Holy Spirit has come into the world, John 16, and convicting the world of sin, of righteousness and judgment. That God sent a rope to everybody and he tries to get everybody to be safe, but there are some people who refuse, who refuse to accept, and because God is loving, he can't force himself on people who won't accept his love.


(I - Irresistible Grace)


That leads us to "I," Irresistible grace, TULI. Irresistible grace, according to the traditional Calvinist goes like this: God can use so much power on people that he can overpower them, and he can save anybody that he wants to save, even against their will, and that he exercises his saving grace just on some people, in spite of the fact that they're dead and in rebellion against him. He uses overpowering and irresistible grace to save just some people. Now there are two things wrong with this. One, he only uses it only on some people, if he had it, and this is why I believe that the early Puritanism, which was five-point Calvinism, eventually paved the way for Unitarian and universalism in America, because if you put these two premises together, tell me what you get? God can save anyone he wants to, even against their will. That's what they believe, irresistible grace. God loves everybody and wants to save everyone. What's the conclusion of those two premises? Everybody's going to be saved, because if God can save anyone he wants, even against their will, and he is all loving and he wants to save everyone then everybody is going to get saved, so extreme Calvinism leads to universalism, and the Bible teaches that universalism is false. Everybody's not going to be saved. There's a devil and the angels are going to hell and everyone who rejects Christ is going to hell. Everybody is not going to make it. Let me give you a verse and a quote from C.S. Lewis. Turn to Matthew chapter 23. In Matthew chapter 23, Jesus is pleading with Jerusalem. He's saying to them in verse 37. Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her, how often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Now notice these next five words, but you were not willing. I wanted to save all of you. I love all of you. I sent the Holy Spirit to convict all of you, but you were not willing.


That tells me two very important things about this universe in which we live. There is a loving God, and there are free creatures, and that love can never force someone to do something against their free choice. Suppose a young man loves a young lady, and he says to her, I love you. I want to marry you. Will you marry me, and she says no, I respect you, I like you, but I'm not interested in marrying you. He says to the young lady, I love you so much, please marry me, and he begs and pleads and persuades, and he courts her, and gives her gifts and flowers, and he says, please marry me, and she said, I told you I do not want to get married, and please don't press the issue any further. And the young man gets frustrated and he says to her, I love you so much. I'm gonna force you to love me. You say oops, forced love is not love. Forced love is rape, and as I understand it, in all due respect, God, perish the thought, is not a divine rapist. He works only persuasively on people, never coercively. God will never force you to do something against your will, and yet, "I," irresistible grace by the five-point Calvinist says, God will force you to do things against your will. Not the God of the Bible. Not the God who is love, because love never forces itself on anyone else. C.S. Lewis said this in his great book called the Great Divorce, about heaven and hell. He said, in the end, there are only two kinds of people in the world. One says, thy will be done, O God. The other one, God says to them, thy will be done. Now in the end, when this service is all over, and you're given a chance to respond to this wonderful grace of God, that he loved everyone; There are only two kinds of people in this building, one says "thy will be done Oh God," and the other one, God says, "have it your way. Thy will be done." That's the way it is in a free universe with a loving God because love can't force someone against their will. Love has to respect the will of the other.



In Milton's Paradise Lost, Milton put some profound words in the mouth of Satan. Satan says,"I would rather reign in Hell than serve in heaven." You got the same choice that Satan had. You want to reign in hell. You want to have it your way. God says, I'll say you got it, or you want to serve in heaven. It's either, thy will be done or thy will be done. Irresistible grace is contrary to the nature of God as love. Irresistible grace is contrary to the nature of human beings as free. In fact, very clearly the Bible says in Acts chapter 7 that the grace of God can be resisted. You remember Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and in Acts chapter 7, we read in verse 51, that he spoke to the people who were hard-hearted against Christ and said 7:51, you stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. You always resist the Holy Spirit. God allows us to resist his love, for if he didn't he couldn't be loving, he would have to force it down our throats.


Now there's a passage that's often used by the extreme Calvinists. I want you to turn there. It's in Romans chapter 9, because this is their stronghold. This is the verse they fall back on, when they say that God's grace is irresistible. Romans chapter 9, verse 13, as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Verse 20, but indeed oh man, who are you to reply against God. Who will the thing formed say to him, who formed it? Why have you made me thus? Verse 22. What if God wanted to show his power and wrath to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of Wrath, prepared for destruction. Well, this passage is a very strong passage in the Bible, and many people have great difficulty with it. Let me try and help you through the difficulty of this passage. First of all, verse 13, Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated. Sounds like a strong Calvinistic God, doesn't it? Says, sounds like God

loves some people and hates other people. Look in the margin of your Bible if you have a cross-reference system, and see what God is talking about. The passage 9:13 in the margin of my Bible says, Malachi 1:2. He's not talking about the individual Jacob and the individual Esau before they were born, and say I hated one, I love the other. I predestined one to heaven, I predestined one to hell. He's not saying that. He's talking about the nation, Jacob, Israel, and the nation Esau which was Edom, and he's talking after they had lived, and after Edom had done all those evil things to try and kill and detour his people from their redemptive purpose, and God said I hate that. He wouldn't hate the individual Jacob. He didn't hate the person Jacob. He hated the nation Edom for their evil deeds against Israel. It's not talking about predestination of an individual.


Secondly, he's talking about predestination or choice for an earthly purpose, not for a heavenly destiny. He's talking about why did God set apart his people Israel and then is gonna regraft them as a nation back in. He's not talking about individual predestination, he's talking about corporate election of a nation for a temporal purpose of bringing in the eternal Savior.


Furthermore, if you look at this phrase Esau have I hated, you will find out that the phrase in the Bible hated really means loved less. It doesn't mean hate. Remember Jesus said, if a man loves his father and mother more than me, he's not worthy of me and then he went on to say, unless a man hates his father and mother. When I love more and love less, hate seems to us to be two different things. Not so in the Hebrew idiom. To hate means to love less. Turn back to the book of Genesis for a proof of that. In the book of Genesis, you remember the story in Genesis chapter 29. The context here is about Jacob loving Rachel and in Genesis 29 verse 30, it says Jacob also went in to Rachel and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. So get the phrase, he loved one of these sisters more than the other. Then verse 31, and the Lord saw that Leah was....now in the King James and many translations, it correctly translates it hate. In the New King James which most of us have, it says, when the Lord saw that Leah was unloved.....it's the word for hate. So, the Lord saw that Leah was hated, is used in parallel to Rachel was loved more. Hate means to love less. Why did God love Edom less, because their evil deeds. He didn't love them less because he didn't want them to be saved. He didn't want them to go to heaven. Hate in

the wrong context in Romans 9 means love less, and it means love less to this corporate group of people, a nation, not to an individual. God loves everybody in this world with regard to salvation, in the same loving way in that Christ died for all of them, and then the other thing, I want you to notice in Romans nine that is something that is missed by the extreme Calvinists. (Verse twenty-two) What if God wanting to show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of Wrath, prepared for destruction. Why is somebody a vessel of Wrath? Why is somebody a vessel of mercy? Because of their own free choice, because it says he endured with much long-suffering.


He endured why, waiting for them to repent. The Lord is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. Second Peter 3:9, God is enduring, waiting for their repentance. He is not making them a vessel of Wrath. They are choosing to be a vessel of wrath. Well, why does it say in this passage, in Romans nine, that God hardened Pharaoh's heart? (verse fifteen) I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion, and he raised up Pharaoh and he hardened Pharaoh's heart. Turn back to the book of Exodus. It is always good when the New Testament refers to the Old Testament that you look back at the passage and see what is meant in the Old Testament passage and here is what is meant.


Exodus chapter 7, when God told Moses to go and talk to Pharaoh, he predicted that Pharaoh was going to harden his heart and every passage after that for the first few, it says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart before God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Look at, for example, Exodus 7 verse 13, and Pharaoh's heart grew hard. Pharaoh hardened his own heart, verse 14. The Lord said to Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hard. He refuses to let Israel go. Who did? Pharaoh did? Turn over the page. Exodus 8:19, this is the finger of God but Pharaoh's heart grew hard. Verse 32 of Exodus 8, but Pharaoh hardened his heart. There you have four times, it says Pharaoh hardened his heart, Pharaoh hardened his heart, Pharaoh hardened his heart, against God. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then it says, God hardened Pharaoh's heart. What does that mean? If you harden your heart against God, even his loving overtures to reach you will make you more hard. Not because he's trying to make you hard. He's trying to soften you, but because your rejection of it will become even more emphatic the more he tries.


Let me illustrate it by the Sun. The same Sun that melts wax, hardens clay. What's the difference? The Sun, or the agent receiving the softening rays of the Sun. If you are receptive like wax to God's love, it will soften your heart. If you are hard and reject that, the same love will turn you the other way. Did you ever pet a kitten and it purrs and suppose you turn the other way and you're still petting it, and the kitten turns around and you're rubbing its fur the wrong way. Did you stop giving loving strokes? No, the kitten turned in the wrong direction and the love of God to somebody who wants to receive it, will make them purr, but the love of God to somebody who's turned in the wrong direction, will rub their fur the wrong way. God loves everybody.


(P - Perseverance of the Saints)


P - perseverance of the saints. I don't have long to linger on this point, but the extreme Calvinist believes that if you are elect, that you will persevere to the end, that you will ultimately be saved, because whomever God regenerates will ultimately be saved, and the way and this is the crucial thing, the way that you will know that you are elect, is if you are faithful to his law unto the end. And if you are unfaithful to his law, and you slip into sin, that's a proof that you were not one of the elect. So they believe that all of the elect are secure, but really nobody has full assurance that they're one of the elect, because the only way you can know you're one of the elect is if you endure unto the end, and are faithful to his law. I heard two great five-point Calvinists, whose names you would know if I mentioned them give almost the same message, and here's what they said. One of them believed in flying airplanes. The other one didn't but neither of them would fly on Sunday, because they believed it was a violation of the Sabbath. They believed we were still under the Sabbath law of the Old Testament. That's another story! Paul said, we're not under the law, we're under grace, that which was engraven in stones has faded away, 2nd Corinthians 3, but that's another story for another day. Here's what they said, If they took an airplane ride on Sunday, after living their entire life serving the Lord and they took an airplane ride on Sunday, which is violating the Sabbath, and the plane crashed and they died, that proves that they were not one of the elect. No assurance of salvation. The Bible says, I know whom I have believed, and I'm persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day. The Bible says, he who has begun a good work in you will perfect it, perform it, to the day of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, no one can pluck us out of his hand. John chapter 10, verses 26 and following, the Bible says that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. The Bible says that right now, you can be persuaded that you can have assurance that you're a child of God. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God, but for the extreme Calvinist there is no assurance of salvation. There's security for the elect, but there's no assurance that they're one of the elect. Many of the great Puritan Divine's as they approached death, trembled because they weren't sure that they had been faithful enough.


Second, I have good news for you. Second Timothy chapter two, if we are faithless, he is faithful, for he cannot deny himself. You can be absolutely sure right now, tonight, that you're a child of God, because as many as received him to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to those who believe on his name.


T U L I P - tulip - total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. They strike out on all five. Five reasons why I am NOT a five-point Calvinist, but let me give you a one reason why I believe what the Bible says. God is love! God loves all! God wants you to receive his love! Christ died for you. There's not a five-point Calvinist on the face of the earth, who can consistently look at any unsaved person and say Jesus loves you and died for you, why? He doesn't know whether he's one of the elect. You can't go up to an unsaved person and say Christ loved you, Christ died for you. I've got great news for you. I can look every one of you in the eye and say, Jesus loves you. Christ died for you. Christ wants you to be saved, but I can also tell you he's not going to force you. Oh Jerusalem, how often, but you were unwilling. Tonight, I hope you're willing to receive him. Let's pray.


Father, thank you for the truth of your Word. Thank you for your love, your unconditional love. Thank you, that Christ loved us and gave himself for us. My heart goes out tonight, for people who may be here standing under a Niagara Falls of God's love, with their cup upside down. Help them to join us, who have turned our cup right-side up and who are saying my cup is full and running over, and may no one go away tonight empty holding their cup upside down under the Niagara of your love but persuade them to freely turn it up and to receive you. In Jesus name. Amen.


[Applause]

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