|Back 828 Ministries|
Original Content at
April 17, 2016
The Staggering Arrogance of Preaching Calvin
By Anthony Wade
A look biblical look at the arrogance of election and predestination...
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. -- 2Peter 3: 8-10 (ESV)
I understand that many well intended Christians will bristle at this devotional. They follow many of the more respected preachers of our time. John MacArthur, John Piper; for example. They adhere to the teachings of John Calvin. A man who lived over 500 years before them. People then ask me what I believe. My answer has always been that John Calvin contributed many great teachings to modern day orthodoxy but he is not God. I do not follow the words of John Calvin. I follow the words of God. In the Book of Acts, the Bereans were not considered nobler because they consulted their best theologian of the age but rather that they picked up the Scriptures for themselves and tested what Paul was preaching. So we must do today when we hear adherents of Calvin feel compelled to shove down our throats how they are special and you are not.
Make no mistake about it beloved. That is the arrogance of Calvinistic teachings. Predestination and election are at the heart of their theology and they are rarely shy about preaching it. Why one must ask? Why would you feel so compelled to preach to people that they have been called by God for heaven when the default for the listeners is that they must be hell bound and there is nothing they can do about it? Oh, and that God is somehow a God of love in this process. What Calvinists do is they latch onto select Scriptures, which they often misunderstand, and ignore the entire remaining canon to pretend that God has a secret list that they have been deemed so special enough to be on. You? Ehh, not so much.
Here is the question they cannot answer though. Why preach it at all then if this is what you believe? If you believe that God decided at the foundations of the world that Betty is going to heaven and Suzy is going to hell; why bother preaching to either of them? The staunch Calvinist will admit that there is nothing you can do with Suzy. God decided in His sovereignty, another word they do not understand, and that's that. Suzy can live the life of Mother Teresa, give all her wealth to the poor, and believe/profess she loves God with all of her heart and it will not matter. God still points her to the down escalator at the end. So there is absolutely no reason to preach to her the Gospel at all because God has already decided her fate before she was even formed in her mother's womb. Likewise, preaching to Betty makes just as little sense. God has already decided that Betty is in! She is on the list. Betty can go and murder a family of seven, prostitute herself and have a personal struggle with kicking kittens her whole life and it does not matter because God has already decided she goes to heaven. So why does God need your help to preach election to Betty? He is the one who calls, no? He is the one who is sovereign, no? Unless you mean God is sovereign but somehow needs your help to preach about the effectual call in order for Betty to hear the call. That doesn't make God sound very sovereign at all and in fact makes it sound like God relies upon you. Even more staggering arrogance. Once you realize you do not need to preach to Betty or Suzy you must conclude that under this theology, you do not need to preach to anyone. God has already decided and He certainly does not need our help for anything. So what was the point of the Great Commission? What was the point of the Gospel at all? What was the point of the cross? Under this belief system, there is no need for a savior.
I think it is only the arrogance of man to think any one person has completely figured out an infinite God. The Bible teaches us that Jesus died for our sins but not according to the Calvinist. Anyone who truly believes this false teaching will admit that they believe Jesus only died for the elect. That's right. Jesus died for Betty but Suzy, to hell with her. Literally and figuratively. John 3:16? It doesn't mean the world where it says God so loved the world. Seriously. That is what a Calvinist will tell you. Think about the absolutely stunning nature of the arrogance one must have to consider themselves "elected." That God is playing some kind of cosmic chess game but has already rigged the outcome. That everyone on earth are essentially robots, pre-programmed for exactly the outcome God has already decided. Some will burn in eternal fire and some will enjoy the luxuries of heaven and look! I am on the "Yes" list! Oh how special I am! Of course they will feign humility. They will add all the necessary piety and Christianese. Why not? When the opening position of your theology is that you hit the lotto and everyone else can go to hell, why not by a little humble? You can afford it.
Until you actually preach it. Then you are exposed. The great thing is that I do not have to debunk Calvinism because the Bible already does that for me. Are there a smattering of verses that prove difficult in the light of Calvinism? Absolutely but they are completely refuted by the entire canon of Scripture. How in the world can a Calvinist say with a straight face that God is a God of justice if He pre-decided Betty and Suzy? How can they say with a straight face that this is somehow merciful when we know God is a God of mercy? They can't so they reflexively respond that anyone who challenges their nonsense doesn't believe in the sovereignty of God. Let me set the record straight. I believe in the sovereignty of God. I just refuse to believe that His sovereignty contradicts His Word. I refuse to cheapen His death on the cross by pretending it was of no consequence. The work of salvation is entirely God. He decided already though that His desire is for everyone to be saved. Not just the elect. Everyone. Don't believe me, just read the key verses which absolutely eviscerate Calvinistic predestination arguments.
The context here is Peter teaching about the day of the Lord. That one day Jesus will return. He is trying to explain here why it may seem as if the Lord is tarrying. First of all, we do not understand nor experience time as God does. Our thousand years is but a blink to God. So He is not slow as we understand slowness in our mortal comprehension. But He is patient. Wait a minute. According to Calvinism, everything is already decided. Why does He need to wait at all? Why does He need to be patient with Betty if He already decided she is in? The more you examine election in the light of Scripture the less it makes any rational or biblical sense. But why is the Lord exercising patience according to the text? Because He does not wish that any would perish but that all would reach repentance. Say it with me again beloved. God does not want any to perish but all to come to repentance. Thus dies the Calvinistic argument of predestination and election. Not at my hand but the hand of Almighty God. How dare we in our arrogance preach to people that otherwise might come to repentance that they do not have to bother because there is a password to get into eternal life and God has not shared it with them. How dare we.
Finishing with the key verses we see that when the Day of the Lord does come that the works we have done will be exposed. Wait a minute. I thought Betty was in already? Why do we need to review her works? One might argue level of rewards in heaven and I am OK with that but what about Suzy? If she has already a space reserved for her in eternal damnation, why does God need to review her works? Is there a hell number two if she was really bad? It just does not make any sense. While we are at it, what do you do with this verse:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. -- John 3: 36 (ESV)
I believe that God in His sovereignty decided to save humanity while we were yet still sinners. The thought was His. The work was His. The sacrifice was His. In His sovereignty He could decide for no particular reason that Suzy is going to hell. He is God so of course He could do that but I am assured in His Word that He will not. At least not without cause. The work of salvation is entirely the Lords but the belief must be ours. Whoever believes has eternal life. Whoever does not obey? The wrath of God remains on them. So if Suzy hears the Gospel and chooses to not obey and believe in Christ then the wrath of God remains on her.
I understand why so many run to Calvinistic teachings besides the obvious perk of starting your theology with hitting Powerball. The modern day heresies in the church created by the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex have bastardized salvation to the point of silliness. Rick Warren actually wrote in the Purpose Driven Life a salvation prayer of less than ten words. In most churches, salvation has now become a work of the flesh instead of a work of God. We teach wildly unbiblical concepts such as "inviting Jesus into our hearts." Like Jesus is some wallflower at the prom just hoping you will ask Him to dance. He does not need our invite. He already provided the invite. This theology that we can somehow make Jesus our Lord and Savior is just as flawed as Calvinistic election.
But if Calvinists were honest they would see the same abuses exist because of their teachings. In order to believe in election, you must conclude in the perseverance of the saints. This means once saved, always saved. This is another teaching that the modern day heresies have abused and put on steroids. Almost every major heresy today believes in once saved always saved and they use it as a license to teach sin or at least diminish the importance of being aware of our sin. I am not siding one way or the other with that debate but merely pointing out that heretics have grown out from both sides of the Calvinism debate.
Beloved, I have long enjoyed many sermons by the likes of MacArthur and Piper. But I do not deify them. They are not perfect by any means. They are both cessationists besides the overwhelming Scriptural proof that they are sorely wrong. I often post or tweet quotes from preachers of yesteryear such as Spurgeon, knowing full well that he believed in Calvinism. I think that is because while these men may hold to election they do not go out of their way to preach it. If it is in the text they are working from, they will address it. So while they are wrong about these portions of their theology, they are not arrogantly wrong. Others however who do not know better live to preach election as Joseph Prince lives to only preach hyper-grace. Nearly every word, post and tweet is related to election and predestination. If not quoting the few verses that they can leverage then constantly posting Calvinists from days long past whom also believed as they now do. It is just staggering in its arrogance. So if your Gospel message is that you are so special as to be pre-selected by God, keep it to yourself. You're not that special. According to what you believe it won't make a difference anyway. Leave the real Gospel message to those who understand the sovereignty of God does not invalidate His attributes, characteristics, or His Word.