Friday, 10 April 2015

IS CALVIN CORRECT?

John Calvin, the great reformer, believed that Christians can never lose their salvation. That is, Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS). Is he correct?

A central doctrine of the great reformer, John Calvin, is this: “That God, by His sovereign grace, predestines people into salvation and that Jesus died only for those predestined and that God regenerates the individual to where he is then able to and wants to choose God and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.”  https://carm.org/calvinism

One of the key doctrines in Calvinism is Perseverance of the Saints: “You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said that His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Cor. 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus' return.” https://carm.org/calvinism

Great as he was in his timeand great as he is to adherents of his doctrine todayis Calvin correct? 

Is his claim that Christians cannot possibly lose their salvation valid? Is his claim that believers who are Once Saved will Always be Saved (OSAS) correct?

In other words, is there such a thing as eternal security? Does it mean that once you have made Jesus your Lord and Saviour, you are definitely on your way to heaven, no matter what happens?

How about when we continue to live in sin or deny Christ after conversion?

                                                                         
It is the contention of this blog that John Calvin is in gross error with regards to eternal security and that OSAS is a lie. The following outlines five reasons why I take this stance.
                                                                         
Five ways believers could possibly jeopardise their eternal destiny

It seems that believers in Christ have nothing to fear regarding their eternal destiny as nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

Furthermore, believers have been chosen and destined to be God’s people and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 13-14).

It seems they have already bought their ticket to heaven. And, one day when their sojourn on earth is completed, they will get to enjoy eternal bliss.

True, in most cases, believers have this assurance that their eternal destiny is safe and secure. Even when they sin, provided they confess their sins, repent and start over a new leaf, their eternal destiny remains secure.

God often disciplines His children who have gone astray. But He also draws them back to Him with the cords of love and gives them multiple chances to repent. Hosea was told by God to woo back his unfaithful wife, mirroring God’s attitude towards wayward Israel.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son and the account where Jesus forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery speak volumes about a God who is slow to anger and willing to forgive. Indeed, where will we be if not for the grace and mercy of God?

However, under special circumstances, believers may risk losing their salvation:

  • CONTINUAL LIVING IN SIN


  • WILLFUL DENIAL


  • FAILURE TO OVERCOME DECEPTION


  • PRESUMPTUOUS FAITH


  • FAILURE TO PERSEVERE

Let’s consider each in turn.

CONTINUAL LIVING IN SIN

If believers continue to sin with impunity—their consciences progressively hardened despite the prompting and conviction of Holy Spirit—they might reach a point of ‘no return’ when their chances of getting to heaven may be seriously jeopardised.

“I wish to remind you, as you all know, that God, when once he had brought the people out from Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5). For an amplification of this reference in Jude, go to 1 Corinthians 10:1-11.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-27).

And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud” (2 Peter 2:20-22).

More on what happens when believers sin repetitively: http://bit.ly/1hhs75c

WILLFUL DENIAL

If believers willfully deny God—whether it out of rebellion or in the face of persecution—their eternal destiny may also be at stake.

If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
(2 Timothy 2:12).

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.
(Hebrews 6: 4-8)

FAILURE TO OVERCOME DECEPTION

When believers are not discerning and vigilant and fall prey to deception, then their place in heaven may no longer be assured.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13  * ).

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1 * ).

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16 * ). This implies that if we embrace false doctrine, we will not be saved.

Notice from these preceding three references * on deception, we can infer that both deceivers and deceived—perpetrators and victims—bring destruction upon themselves.

Believers have to preserve themselves unscathed from deception in order that they might be saved: Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:10b-13). 

PRESUMPTUOUS FAITH

Some might pat themselves on the back and say, “Well, we have been serving God for many years, and have been mightily used by God to minister in signs and wonders. Since God has been using us as channels to bless others, He definitely must be pleased with us, right?” This may be true. But it may not necessarily be so.

To assume that performance can replace a personal relationship with God is being presumptuous. Here’s why:

Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7: 20-23).

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’(Luke 18: 11-12).

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17).

Like the Pharisee and the church at Laodicea in Revelation, we might think we are spiritually rich. But, in fact, we are just the opposite—spiritually poor.

We are most blessed, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, when we recognise we are spiritually poor (Matthew 5: 3) and hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).

Here is an example of a dangerous presumption: To think that our future sins have been automatically forgiven at conversion (FSAF). http://bit.ly/1dXOjBB

FAILURE TO PERSEVERE

Hebrews chapter 10 reinforces the fact that persevering faith is needed to remain saved:
But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
(Hebrews 10:38-39).

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:9-13). 


                                                                           

Self-discipline to finish the race

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12).

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7).

But how many have the faith to persevere?  Jesus laments in Luke 18:8b: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

GOD WANTS US BUT WHAT IF WE DON’T WANT HIM?

                                                                             
If someone tells you it is written in scriptures that nothing can separate us from the love of God, you ought to point out that it is also written in the Word that we, on our part, can choose to deny God or continue living in sin, thereby nullifying God’s love for us.

While it is true we cannot be separated from God’s love because of His great mercy, we can choose to shoot ourselves in the foot by denying God or continually living in sin. Through these senseless volitional acts, we are nullifying God’s love towards us and jeopardising our eternal security.

Similarly, when we are presumptuous in our walk with God, fall prey to deception or fail to persevere, we cannot be fully assured that our eternal destiny will be secure.

If everything is on “autopilot mode” for Christians from the time of our conversion till we arrive in heaventhat is, we can just sit back and relax as we await the advent of heavenly blisswhy does the Bible warn us on many occasions that it is difficult for us to get to heaven? 


                                                                       

Just because a big name like John Calvin tells us that believers cannot possibly lose their salvation, it does not necessarily mean that we have to accept it without reservation. When we faithfully scrutinise his teaching against the Word a la the Bereans, we find many discrepancies.   

                                                                             
Finally, truth be told, we have to conclude that Calvin is mistaken and OSAS is a lie.

Are we a pawn of predestination? 

If God’s election and sovereignty are all that matters in deciding a person’s fate in eternitywithout taking into consideration factors such as free will, accountability and personal responsibilitythen it would seem that God is unfair and partial.  

Throughout the Bible, the notion is clear that God’s people could either choose life or death, choose to repent or continue to sin. To turn man into a “pawn of predestination” and remove this freedom of choice runs counter to the whole Word.

Even apostle Paul had to decide whether he would obey God and live up to the heavenly vision he received. Or merely rest on his laurels and still make it to heaven? (if what Calvin asserts is true). God forbid.

Calvinism illustrates the danger of overemphasising one aspect of truth (predestination) to the exclusion of other equally significant truths (free will and accountability).

Among the shocking results of Calvin’s erroneous thinking are the way he lived his life and his severity towards sinners. http://bit.ly/1Ebjwij

Of course, the more devastating result of his doctrinal error is to give believers a false sense of security that there is such a thing as Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS)

Sadly, Calvin’s life also illustrates the fact that great understanding of theology does not necessarily lead to enlightenment or exemplary, righteous living.  

RELATED POSTS

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO
Though believers in Christ are heaven-bound, there are conditions to be fulfilled before we arrive at our final destination and claim our eternal reward.

ONCE SAVED, FOREVER SECURE?
Some Christians believe, once they are saved, absolutely nothing can happen to them to alter their destiny. Even though they might live in sin or deny God, they believe that one day they will surely reach their final destination in heaven. Is this true?


EXTERNAL LINKS

SHOCKING BELIEFS OF JOHN CALVIN
 “It’s to show that even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good—Calvin being one of them—believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous.
-                     --   Frank Viola



ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED TIMEBOMB
A must-watch video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZBuVERFT9c



ETERNAL OR CONDITIONAL SECURITY? 
One of the best links to the perplexing issue of once saved, always saved (OSAS)

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