[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Friday, August 03, 2007

One of the Benefits of Non-Calvinism

by Rose

I was driving in the car with a friend the other day and we were discussing a certain teacher in Christendom today. We were commiserating over the wideness of this teacher’s influence because, in our understanding of things, he is really ‘off the mark’ with his teaching! We believe he binds heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lays them on men’s shoulders. We observe that he muddies the gospel and Christian living by teaching works of righteousness out of context. We feel that he sells guilt to the church at a high premium. His pockets are full with the wages of others' shame. We are really afraid that he shuts up the kingdom of heaven against men. It is almost like he won’t enter the rest of the LORD ... and he doesn’t want to allow those who are entering to go in.

Don’t try to guess who I am talking about. You won’t be able to … and it doesn’t matter who it is anyway.

Perhaps you can think of a teacher in Christendom that irritates you in the way that this one does us. Our frustration is large … because we have close friends, right here, who are influenced by his teaching. We stand and watch in near horror as his view of salvation (which we feel is a misstatement of the true gospel of grace) is repeated to unsaved members of our family. This is right where we live! This is not “over there” – it is right here. This is a man - who we have never met - teaching things to our family members which could undermine the wonderful good news of Jesus Christ and possibly turn some away from receiving Him. It is really awful to us!

Now you may be reading this and come up with your own fury over teaching or teachers of a different stripe than what I am thinking of. That is your business, but it puts us both in the same boat. We are upset about a spiritual teacher.

For my friend and I, we get really worked up and grieved over it. It galls us to think of all the Christians who are buying this … hook, line and yes, sinker. Then they turn around and propagate the error! We feel we have righteous indignation over this teacher and his ivory tower theology as we, who are down in the foot army, have to deal with all the land mines that he has planted.

We are irritated with him.

However, (and here is where the benefit if non-Calvinism comes in), we know that this is one for whom Christ died. He may not know if he is one of the elect or not, but to us, this does not matter. Paul, who wrote to the Romans and the Corinthians about people in the church who had wrong ideas about their true freedom in Christ, said these are brethren for “whom Christ died.” Did they have a stripe down their back that indicated to Paul that they were elect? NO. Did they have their doctrine right? NO. They were thinking that Christians had to keep dietary laws. Their consciences were weak; they were a bit legalistic, I think it is safe to say. Could Paul be sure that they were ‘truly regenerate’? NO. (I think he took them at their word that because they were with the church, although weak in conscience, they were ‘brethren.’) Either way, it doesn’t matter, because as a Non-Calvinist, we can think of anyone – ANYONE – as ‘one for whom Christ died.’ (2 Corinthians 5:19) This is truly beneficial in our perspective as we grapple with frustration and anger over these people. If Christ loved them and gave Himself for them, we should have mercy in our hearts toward them. Yes, we grieve over false teaching, but we should not hate those for whom Christ died, and we don’t have to wonder who they are for whom Christ died.

33 Comments:

  • I can only hope that commenters will not start naming their favorite irritants.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, August 03, 2007 5:22:00 AM  

  • Rose, this is a great post.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, August 03, 2007 6:35:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    You said: "However, (and here is where the benefit if non-Calvinism comes in), we know that this is one for whom Christ died."

    and

    "If Christ loved them and gave Himself for them, we should have mercy in our hearts toward them. Yes, we grieve over false teaching, but we should not hate those for whom Christ died, and we don’t have to wonder who they are for whom Christ died."

    Now, I don't want to "strain at a nat", but you're making it sound like Calvinists can't have mercy in their hearts toward people with whom they disagree. As if believing that Christ's death was only effective for those who believe in Him, somehow negates any love that a Calvinist can show towards others. Maybe that's not what you're trying to say, but that's the way it's coming across.

    And then, here's the passage that contains the verse that you use to prove your point about Christ having died for everyone.

    2 Cor. 5:18-21

    Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


    So are you saying that God has reconciled everyone to Himself through Christ? Or are you saying that God doesn't count anyone's trespasses against them because everyone is reconciled? And if everyone is reconciled, why does Paul plead for them to be reconciled to God?

    And regardless, I'm not sure how being able to think of anyone as "one for whom Christ died" as making it easier for you to grapple with frustration and anger. What makes it easier for me to grapple with those feelings or any difficulty is knowing that Christ has died for me and has reconciled me to God. So that when those feelings come and I'm worried about what a "false teacher" might be propagating, I can lay those cares down at His feet.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Friday, August 03, 2007 11:00:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Nice piece, thanks for once again clearly stating your position. You do know I understand it, too. Right?

    Hi TC,
    You have said, "And regardless, I'm not sure how being able to think of anyone as "one for whom Christ died" as making it easier for you to grapple with frustration and anger.[?]"

    This is how, brother. If we were to see someone any other way, we might be justified in our own minds to scorn the individual instead of the false doctrine they propagate.

    Further you state, "What makes it easier for me to grapple with those feelings or any difficulty is knowing that Christ has died for me and has reconciled me to God. So that when those feelings come and I'm worried about what a 'false teacher' might be propagating, I can lay those cares down at His feet." (boldface mine for emphasis)

    It is a great truth to know that our Lord Jesus Christ died for me and for you. I don't think you meant that in an anthropocentric sense.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Friday, August 03, 2007 4:09:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    I want to name my favorite irritants. But I shall abstain because of my host's wishes.

    I like the way you look at things, sister. Whenever someone in my family makes a crack about somoeone else concerning some moral-less circumstance or any other circumstance whereby they look down at another, I say, "That person needs Jesus." Whoah to me if Christ wouldn't have interected my life. I need Jesus!

    But I'll tell you this. Hearing the false teachings that pass as evangelical gets my ire as well. We must stand for truth and combat the works-salvation and legalism of the false prophets of LS.

    John,

    the funny thing is that Calvinists cannot know objectively if Christ died for them. They are the inheritors of Puritanism's introspective and subjective doctrines of assurance.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, August 03, 2007 4:22:00 PM  

  • Hi Brotha Antoio,

    This Calvinist knows for sure that our Lord Jesus Christ died for him, because this Calvinist also insists that he may (and does) say to any man, woman, and yes, child, "Jesus died for you!"

    I know some say this disqualifies me as a 5 point Calvinist, but I am. I just don't read particular redemption into the Bible to satisfy my view of unconditional election or limited atonement. ;-)

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Friday, August 03, 2007 4:42:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Matthew. I am glad you liked it.

    Hello Ten cent! Welcome back!
    Romans 14:15 and 1 Cor. 8:11 are the verses where Paul uses that phrase. He is tellimg the brothers to have a right attitude toward "those for whom Christ died". I think my application of that principle is just as Paul would hope, you don't think so? I appreciate what you said about Christ dying for you, but I think in those passages, the point is to consider othres as those for whom Christ died and your attitude and actions will change towards them. I do find that helpful.
    Does that make better sense now?

    Here, let me show you the passages:

    Romans 14:14-16
    14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;

    1 Corinthians 8:10-12
    10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, August 03, 2007 4:50:00 PM  

  • Antonio,
    Thanks for the input. I agree totally about standing for the truth. It is nice to see your humble side shine, brother. :~)

    John is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, shrouded in a riddle. LOL!

    Thanks, John.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, August 03, 2007 4:52:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    Great post..

    Likewise I am tempted to make a list from h'yar to thar.. but I will abide by your wishes.

    How do Calvinists Biblically answer 1 John 2:2
    "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

    I love my Calvinist relatives but I see them as unsure and possibly lost. They cannot answer I John 2:2 honestly.

    In Christ eternally by God's Grace and my choice,

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Friday, August 03, 2007 6:17:00 PM  

  • ExP(Jack),
    In Christ eternally by God's Grace and my choice

    Since it is by your choice, do you have something to boast about? If not why was it even necessary to add your perceived part in salvation to God's grace?

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, August 04, 2007 8:55:00 PM  

  • Brother Wendall,

    Wherein, in your view, is the atonement "limited"

    Just interested.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, August 05, 2007 4:48:00 AM  

  • Hey Jazzy,

    Jack holds to the active view of faith. As you know, I hold to the passive view of faith, so I would never say that my faith was a choice. I don't see faith as a choice, but neither do I see it as a gift from God. A person under the Spirit's drawing can decide to search the Scriptures or listen to an accurate Gospel presentation, but once he's heard it, he will either passively believe or not believe. The hearing and searching are choices (prompted by the Spirit's drawing of course), but once they've heard, they don't choose to believe. They either passively believe or they don't.

    But even if someone sees faith as active, as long as it is in Jesus for eternal life, and not in their own works, then they don't have legitimate ground for boasting. Paul made it clear that if it were by works, people could boast, but because it is by faith, they can't boast, regardless of whether seen as a choice, a passive act, or a passive gift from God. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "it's my faith in Jesus that saved me" because as we see in Mark 5:34, 10:52, and Luke 17:19, Jesus had no trouble telling people that it was their faith that made them well. Of course, Jesus made them well, but it because they had faith in Him for healing, so Jesus told them it was their faith that made them well.

    By Anonymous danny, at Sunday, August 05, 2007 1:34:00 PM  

  • Jazzy, I didn't finish my thought. When a person says, "it's my faith in Jesus that saved me" in a humble fashion or conversation uplifting Jesus, they're not boasting. Again, Jesus told people that their faith had made them well. However, when a person starts badgering others or lifting themselves up for having believed in Jesus, then they are indeed illegitimately boasting and need to be stopped. I would take such a person to Romans 4:1-5 and show them that they have no ground for boasting. I would say to them, "Yes, it's your faith in Jesus that saved you, and that's the thing, Jesus is the one who saves, so therefore you have no ground for boasting. If it wasn't for Jesus dying for you and rising from the dead, you would still be lost. So stop boasting."

    By Anonymous danny, at Sunday, August 05, 2007 2:07:00 PM  

  • Hey goodnight,

    it is limited in intent

    Here is an article which you may find very interesting:

    Free Grace Theology Blog: The Death Christ Died and its Purpose

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, August 05, 2007 4:35:00 PM  

  • Hi GNSH,

    This could get way off topic, but may I say to you brother, the word atonement is not a very good term for what has happened to the NT saint in the first place. We are seated in the heavenlies, not just having our sins “covered”.

    But more to the point, it does no good for me or you to force my view into the Scriptures, so I need to avoid this. I think we both can see that only those sinners who trust in the finished work of Christ are atoned for. This provision is limited to only to those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. That is the limit. May anyone presently trust Him? I say, "YES!"

    That is my finite understanding. I cannot reconcile this. I have tried to, but I fail.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Monday, August 06, 2007 4:42:00 AM  

  • Hi JW

    You said: This is how, brother. If we were to see someone any other way, we might be justified in our own minds to scorn the individual instead of the false doctrine they propagate.

    I don't think my point was lost on you, but in case it was, maybe I can restate in a clearer way.

    Rose said, "Either way, it doesn’t matter, because as a Non-Calvinist, we can think of anyone – ANYONE – as ‘one for whom Christ died.’ (2 Corinthians 5:19) This is truly beneficial in our perspective as we grapple with frustration and anger over these people. If Christ loved them and gave Himself for them, we should have mercy in our hearts toward them."

    Which implies that anyone - ANYONE - which might where the badge of "Calvinist" does not have mercy in their hearts toward people who claim the name of Christ, yet propagate false teaching. Which is untrue. And you should know that, being a Calvinist yourself. I know many Calvinists. And there's not one who I would call out as not having mercy towards people with whom they disagree. At most, they might question whether or not some are believers (not unlike several non-Calvinists here, ie Antonio or Expreacherman), but they don't condemn others to prop themselves up.

    Anyway, I think we're pretty close in our thinking after reading some of your comments to others. "this Calvinist also insists that he may (and does) say to any man, woman, and yes, child, "Jesus died for you!"

    I agree with that quote, if you would add to the end, "if you believe in Him." I don't believe the call is limited, but I do believe the atonement is.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Monday, August 06, 2007 6:18:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Just so you know, I have been reading from time to time, just haven't had a chance to comment until now.

    And thanks for clarifying your view. My confusion (for lack of a better term) comes in when you start mixing your points. I see one of your points being that a non-Calvinist can have mercy towards people with whom he or she disagrees, where as a Calvinist cannot because of his view of limited atonement.

    I see a second point that even though we may disagree with them, that doesn't mean that they are unbelievers. We should treat them as one for whom Christ died. And in both passages that you have given (Romans and 1 Cor.), Paul is addressing believers and how they are relating to other believers. He is not including with in that framework unbelievers when he talks about treating them as one for whom Christ died.

    I find very interesting that Paul even goes so far in 1 Cor. 8 as to say that if I'm not treating my brother in Christ in this way, then it's sin and not only against the brethren but against Christ.

    So if you're trying to make a statement about how believers should treat other believers, than I'm 100% behind you. But if you're trying to use this thought coupled with these texts to prove your view of unlimited atonement, then I'm not tracking with you. I'm not saying your view is wrong, just saying that your argument in this post doesn't hold together for me.

    I should say, even apart from disagreeing with that line of thought, I do appreciate you bringing up these passages. Good things to think about no matter which side of the isle one may be on.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Monday, August 06, 2007 12:54:00 PM  

  • Danny,
    Thanks. I guess xpreacherman hasn't checked back yet.....

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Tuesday, August 07, 2007 5:32:00 AM  

  • Antonio: I looked at the link you gave me. I am horrified at the thought which you propagate that no man goes to hell because of sin. Do any other of the FGers and soft Fgers run with this?

    At the risk of being branded a chronoligical snob, is there anyone from church history who taught this?

    JW:- Thanks for your comments

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, August 07, 2007 11:52:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I hope this thead is not dead.

    Hi $0.10,

    Which implies that anyone - ANYONE - which might where the badge of "Calvinist" does not have mercy in their hearts toward people who claim the name of Christ, yet propagate false teaching.

    I do not believe Rose would imply that, she is surounded by too many truly compassionate Calvinists. She is also very articulate, she almost always says what she means and means what she says, no more no less.
    ________________

    Hi GNSH,

    You are very gracious ;-) Thanks.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:42:00 AM  

  • HI JW,

    I do not believe Rose would imply that, she is surounded by too many truly compassionate Calvinists.

    I don't believe Rose would intentionaly imply it either. And yes, she is articulate. And when I read the post and understood the implications, I commented. Because it would be unusual for her to imply such things and she may not have understood what could be read into the post. Things that could further polarize two groups with different ways of looking at things.

    Thanks for your response.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 5:26:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Danny and jazzycat,

    Faith is a decision, a decision is a choice provided by God's Grace.

    I heard the Gospel explained, the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ -- specifically accomplished for me (and the world). I responded with a choice, a decision to believe in Jesus Christ.. By Grace am I saved...

    And now I am Heaven bound -- by God's Grace and my choice, decision, faith, belief, etc.

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 1:53:00 PM  

  • Hey Jack,

    Before I comment, please know that I'm a Free Gracer like yourself. I'm thankful that you've been preaching the Gospel of Grace for decades now. I just thought I'd let you know that not all Free Gracers see faith as a decision. I see faith as a passive conviction that a person has irrevocable eternal life through Christ alone. Of course, as a Free Gracer, I agree that faith is NOT a gift from God. Faith comes from the person who positively responds to the Spirit's drawing and hears the Gospel. Once a person makes the decision to hear the Gospel, they will either passively believe or not believe that they have irrevocable eternal life through Christ. I decided in the past to search the Scriptures, but once I was met with the Gospel, I passively believed I had irrevocable eternal life through Christ. I didn't have to make a "decision".

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:34:00 PM  

  • Jack, a decision is involved in searching the Scriptures. A person makes the decision to hear the Gospel. But once presented with the Gospel of Grace, a person will either passively believe or not believe that they are eternally secure through Christ alone.

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:41:00 PM  

  • Danny,

    When you share Christ with a person, exactly how do you ask him to "passively" make a decision to believe in Christ. He either decides to believe or not, right?

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:00:00 PM  

  • Hey Jack,

    I simply preach eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone, making it clear that works don't save, and thus can never be used to prove salvation. I make it clear that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins and rose from the dead, which gives him the authority to freely give the person eternal security now. If the person passively believes this, they will know they have eternal life through Christ.

    Many people who see faith as a decision tell people to trust Christ by praying a prayer, which is unbiblical. Praying doesn't save. I know you don't do this, but many "decision" people do. We're called to make it clear that through His Death and Resurrection, Jesus freely gives eternal security apart from works.

    Of course, at the end, I may say something like this to the person, "A person is not saved until they believe that they have irrevocable eternal life through Christ." Or I may say, "You're not saved by Christ until you're convinced that you're permanently saved by Christ."

    The bottom line, I want to get the person to see that Jesus guarantees them irrevocable eternal life. I've found that clarifying the passive nature of faith gives people solid assurance in Christ. People who think faith is a decision often wonder if they "trusted" Christ correctly and many end up doubting their salvation. Knowing that faith is passive is helpful. A person can easily know that they personally have eternal security through Christ alone, apart from any work, once they realize faith is passive. The same way they're passively convinced that they're human, they can passively know whether or not they believe Jesus' promise of irrevocable eternal life to them.

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 4:20:00 PM  

  • Danny,

    Not to be accusatory, but it sounds like you are straddling the fence between Calvinism and Biblical Grace salvation. Are you sure you aren't a "closet" Calvinist? ;-)

    I have heard many Calvinist preachers preach the Gospel (almost) clearly.. and leave everyone hanging. They seem to agree with your "passive" belief system. Because:

    They never follow with a plea that those understanding the Gospel for the first time make a decision to trust Jesus as Savior. Nothing wrong with a question such as, "Does that make sense to you? If yes, will you believe in, (trust, place your faith in} Jesus Christ right now?"

    Trust is not a bad word.. Matthew 12:21 "And in His name shall the Gentiles trust." And many more.

    To ask someone to believe or trust in Christ does not mean praying a prayer -- I agree with you it is unscriptural. However, I do think we are remiss if we do not ask them to believe in Christ for eternal life.

    BTW, Eternal life is by definition, eternal, everlasting, without end... no need for the phrase "irrevocable eternal life."

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 6:03:00 PM  

  • Mr. expreacherman,
    you said....And now I am Heaven bound -- by God's Grace and my choice, decision, faith, belief, etc.

    I certainly agree that faith is something we must willingly express to be justified.

    However, "my choice" implies that you had no help from the Holy Spirit. Do you feel like you made the decision totally on your own without any enabling by the Holy Spirit?

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 6:16:00 PM  

  • Jazzycat,

    I believe I was drawn by the Holy Spirit, (as is everyone) heard the Gospel and I made the choice to believe.

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 6:29:00 PM  

  • Mr. expreacherman,
    Would you say you couldn't have believed without the drawing of the Holy Spirit? In short do you credit the Holy Spirit or yourself for your choice?

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 7:36:00 PM  

  • Hey Jack,

    Believe me, I'm not straddling the line between Biblical Grace salvation and Calvinism. The Calvinists all know how much I can't stand Calvinism. If you read more of Antonio's posts as well as articles at GES, you will find that many Free Gracers take a passive view of faith. Antonio takes the same approach that I do. A person does make the decision to search the Scriptures, listen to a Gospel presentation, or whatever, but once they've heard, they will either believe they are a recipient of eternal life through Christ alone or they won't. The decision stops at the hearing, after hearing, a person will either believe or not believe.

    You can't ask a person if they would like to put their faith in Christ. You're only putting them on the spot. What you do is tell them the message of faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life. After you're done, you can definitely ask them if they believe that they are eternally secure through Christ. Your job is to preach the Gospel and salvation by faith alone in Christ alone clearly. Faith comes by hearing. If you give a person a clear Gospel presentation, you allow the Holy Spirit to work. After you're done, you can ask the person if they believe what you said is true. You should ask them if they have believed. But you can't ask someone to put their faith in Christ. People believe in Christ at the end of a clear presentation, not when you ask them to.

    Of course eternal life is eternal. But the problem is that Catholics and Arminians don't seem to understand that, so adding the word "irrevocable" is good for emphasis. It's the same as describing salvation as a free gift. Of course a gift is free to the recipient by definition, but we all add the word "free" to emphasize the point.

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 8:03:00 PM  

  • Danny wrote: I agree that faith is NOT a gift from God

    I disagree. It is given unto us not only to believe, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29) and again: We "believe through grace" (Acts 18:24)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, August 10, 2007 12:59:00 AM  

  • Sorry guys,

    As so often happens, this discussion has devolved into an exercise in semantic double-talk and is a complete waste of time.

    Thanks for the give-and-take.. I'll just keep on leading folks to salvation in Christ alone by sharing His death, burial and resurrection and then asking them to believe in Jesus as their Savior.. without works. Their choice.

    In Christ eternally by God's Grace and my choice.

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Friday, August 10, 2007 5:26:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home