Friday, August 12, 2011

Irresistible God? A Considerate Search into Calvinism, Part 6 of 7

When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, take note that Pharaoh also hardened his own heart first, Exodus 3:19; 4:21. This is in accord with 2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12, which tells us that God sends strong delusion to those who resist His message, so He might destroy those who received not the truth. God hardened Pharaoh in his obstinacy so that He might demonstrate His power in him, but this was not something that Pharaoh, by his volition, hadn’t already chosen for himself.

It might well have been that God hardened Pharaoh for the simple fact that He wished to fully demonstrate His authority and majesty to wayward Egypt; and even stubborn Pharaoh would need help in standing fast in his proud defiance. The Hebrew confirms this, since the word oft-used for “hardened” regarding Pharaoh basically means to “strengthen.” Pharaoh chose; and God used that for His glory, knowing the outcome. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You,” Psalm 76:10. And part of the intended outcome? A mixed multitude (that is Egyptians and other peoples) went up with Israel out of bondage, Exodus 12:38. God won glory by saving people. The Egyptians saw the impotence of their own gods (what the judgments were designed to reveal) and determined that Israel’s God was the true God. All the while man’s free will was unhindered. This was why God raised Pharaoh up at that point: He knew that Pharaoh would be a hard and unbelieving man so God placed him in a position at that point in history to demonstrate His own sovereignty.

I have heard it said by Calvinists that God does not love all men; He only loves His elect. This doctrine is supposedly proven by the verse, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated,” Romans 9:13. Now for a Biblical exegete the likes of John Calvin and his followers, one must wonder what they think of such verses as, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” Matthew 5:44. The teaching of this passage (Matthew 5:43-48) expresses unconditional love toward even our enemies, as God is perfect, and loves those who hate Him, setting the standard.

Or, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father, and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple,” Luke 14:26. This passage (Luke 14:26-33) is teaching that following Christ is costly in this world; we should consider whether or not we wish to partake in His sufferings; note that Jesus implies we have volition to choose. Did Jesus mean that we must hate our family? The same God who commanded children to honor their parents would now command us to hate them? No, Jesus means by comparison of our love for Him, our love for others should appear as hatred. Surely then, this is the proper understanding of Romans 9:13. God loves all without exception, but He loves His saints differently; He loves His saints as He loves His Son. When Jesus was speaking with the unsaved young ruler it is written that He loved him, Mark 10:21.

Note that in Malachi 1:2-5, where Paul quotes from, Esau and Jacob were not even in view, but the two nations that sprang from them. In fact Romans 9-11 deal extensively with national Israel’s place in God’s plan, not personal predestination. But Calvin, rejecting Israel’s importance any longer, would never have expounded those chapters as such. The Reformers, including Martin Luther, believed Israel’s time was done and the church had replaced them. The Roman Catholic Church teaches the same.

Fellow believers: Calvinism as taught by John Calvin is not Scriptural. There is a massive misrepresentation of God’s foreknowledge, predestination, love, mercy, grace, and justice at work in its systematic theology. It is a smoothly running engine, but it is merciless and cold to the touch; the living God did not inspire such wisdom: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy,” James 3:17. Is God exempt from His own dictates? If so, He is playing the hypocrite by telling us one thing and (Himself) practicing another!

The ultimate fruit of Calvinism (properly practiced) is legalism; the elect must have perseverance because perseverance demonstrates salvation. Yet faith is grounded in Christ and not the works we do in His name. There will be many who did great works in His name who will not enter Heaven, Matthew 7:22-23. Faith in Christ is what saves; not our works. Constantly self-inspecting or inspecting others for fruit bearing can derail the focus of one’s faith. Besides that, said works would be unnecessary if Unconditional Election were true. All the pious efforts in the world to ensure you are one of the predestined elect avail nothing if God has given you over to reprobation. The gospel is also a moot point since hearing it isn’t essential for salvation; surely this would make many lethargic in their zeal to preach the gospel of salvation!

The genuine gospel is open to all who believe. God has many mansions, and anyone whose faith is placed in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ will enter Heaven. He died for our sins and suffered the penalty of divine justice; His sacrifice is sufficient for all, but only efficient for those who avail themselves of it. Can you believe a doctrine where God saves you before you believe; or have the choice to believe? Where the gospel is not needed because you are already predestined or condemned? Where billions will perish due to the mysterious sovereign pleasure of God? Where God vicariously plays both criminal (through those He determines to damn) and judge? Finally, where mankind is reduced to nothing more than an automaton, incapable of responding to the message God says inspires faith and will give us salvation? What a travesty that John Calvin would assemble such a doctrine, declare it Biblically cohesive, and thrust it onto the unsuspecting church.

1 comment:

  1. As you stressed, Calvinism results in Legalism. One of the big errors of our day is the failure to distinguish between fruit and works. Fruit is what is produced as a result genetic nature, while works are the actions related to life. Those in Matthew 7 have a lot of works, but no fruit. It is the fruit that distinguishes the believer from the unsaved. just as it is the fruit that distinguishes between Granny Smith and a delicious apple.

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