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A Biblical Critique of Chuck Smith’s Calvinism Study

A Biblical Critique of Chuck Smith’s Study:

“Calvinism, Arminianism & The Word Of God”

 

In this article we will look at the unbiblical and incorrect statements of Mr. Chuck Smith of “Calvary Chapel” fame, with respect to his study on election and predestination. His study reflects not only his own personal views but that of the leadership of most, if not all Calvary Chapel churches. The “Calvary Chapel” collection of churches represent a sort of pseudo denomination that branched out from Mr. Smith’s original mega church out in Costa Mesa California. These folks are correct about many spiritual issues but they are dead wrong about their views on Calvinism as I will point out in this study.

 

My comments are in bold print and the text of Mr. Smith’s study is in unbolded print.
 
Please read this study carefully and completely. It is not meant as an exercise in speed reading. You are bound to miss some important points if you do not spend QUALITY TIME digesting this material.

 

Here is the original article on Calvinism from chuck Smith.

 


CALVINISM, ARMINIANISM & THE WORD OF GOD

 

A CALVARY CHAPEL PERSPECTIVE

 

Table of Contents

 
Introduction
 
1. The “Five Points of Arminianism”
 
2. The “Five Points of Calvinism”
 
3. Calvary Chapel’s Perspective
 


Introduction

 

What does it mean to be a part of the growing number of Calvary Chapel Fellowships? There are certain distinctions that cause us to stand out among other evangelical churches. We could point to our shared commitment to systematic Bible teaching or the emphasis upon love that transcends all cultural and ethnic barriers. Calvary Chapels have also been known for focus on worship, featuring contemporary music loyal to the Word of God and the desire of His people to praise their Lord. Without exception, Calvary Chapels have taken a strong stand for a pre-tribulational and pre-millennial view of the second coming of Jesus Christ. We have also expressed a steadfast love and support for the nation of Israel, its right to a historic homeland and its need for the Messiah. But most importantly, Calvary Chapel has been known for striking a balance between extremes on controversial theological issues that have often caused division rather than unity in the body of Christ.

 

Calvary Chapels have no desire to be divisive nor dogmatic in areas where Bible believers and teachers have disagreed.

 

Believers and teachers may disagree on what the Gospel is but church leaders still need to be dogmatic about what that Gospel is, as dogmatic as the apostle Paul and as dogmatic as the Psalmist:

 

Galatians 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

 

Psalm 119:104 “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.”

 

After all, there is only ONE true gospel, one narrow road:

 

Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”

 

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

 

However, it is important to state as clearly as possible the doctrinal basis of our fellowship and unity with one another, especially in the area of pastoral leadership and teaching. While we welcome believers who disagree with us to our fellowship, we do encourage a measure of doctrinal understanding and unity among our pastors who teach us the truths of God’s Word.

 

Calvary Chapels try to avoid conclusions, terminology, and arguments which are not clearly presented in the Bible. In no area of controversy is this approach more essential than in the long simmering debate between Calvinists and Arminians.

 

It is quite true that there is a great deal of controversy in this area, but that does not give a Christian the option of not proving all things, testing the spirits and studying to show oneself approved, especially in such a crucial area of doctrine…

 

Jude 1:3 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

 

1Thes 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

 

1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

 

2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

 

In the midst of this heated argument it is easy to ignore or neglect the plain statements of the Bible, or to believe that we have the ability to fully understand the ways of God (Romans 11:33-36). But how tragic it is when we become more concerned with being “right” than being loving. When we discuss the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is easy to disagree over terms such as “baptism” and “filling” and to miss the blessing and power of God’s Spirit in our lives. The way we conduct our debates and express our opinions will sometimes “quench” as well as “grieve” the blessed Spirit who dwells within the believer. In the midst of our arguments over spiritual gifts, we can miss the Biblical admonition to love, which clearly is greater than all the gifts (I Corinthians 12:31 – 14:1) Our desire is to bring believers together in the love and unity of the Holy Spirit. Our focus is on our awesome God, not on ourselves. We are committed to glorifying our Lord in all we say and do.

 

Perhaps no issue is as important or as potentially divisive as the doctrine of salvation, reflected in the debate between followers of John Calvin (1509-1564) and those of Jacob Hermann (1560-1609), best known by the Latin form of his last name, Arminius. Since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, Christian churches and leaders have disagreed over such issues as depravity, God’s sovereignty, human responsibility, election, predestination, eternal security and the nature and extent of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

 

Disagreement on doctrine does not mean that both sides are wrong or that no one can know for sure about certain doctrines.

 

Although trained in the reformed tradition, Arminius had serious doubts about the doctrine of “sovereign grace” as taught by the followers of John Calvin. He was a pastor of the Reformed congregation in Amsterdam (1588), but during his fifteen years of ministry there, he began to question any of the conclusions of Calvinism.

 

Lots of people question Calvinism, including believers who are under the hearing and teaching of Arminian pastors. Also, lots of people are not saved and so they view many spiritual truths as absurd…

 

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

 

To deny the BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES that Calvin systematized is to deny the Word of God.
 
Most people who take the side of Arminianism, do so because they do not understand the sovereignty of God and they do not understand all the Bible has to say about man’s total depravity and God’s elective plan of salvation.

 

He left the pastorate and became professor of theology at the University of Leyden. It was his series of lectures on election and predestination that led to a violent and tragic controversy. After his death in 1609, his followers developed the Remonstrance of 1610 which outlined the “Five Points of Arminianism.” This document was a protest against the doctrines of the Calvinists, and was submitted to the State of Holland. In 1618, a National Synod of the Church was convened in Dort to examine the teachings or Arminius in the light of Scripture. After 154 sessions, lasting seven months, the Five Points of Arminianism were declared to be heretical. After the synod, many of the disciples of Arminius, such as Hugo Grotius, were imprisoned or banished. When John Wesley took up some of the teachings of Arminianism, the movement began to grow, and it affected the Methodist tradition as well as the beliefs of most Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.

 

This growth in the teachings of Arminianism is not a sign of discovered truth, but rather a sign of its popularity among men, men who want a salvation plan that gives them some element of control over their eternal destiny, control that God has not granted them. The control that Arminianism grants a subscriber to that doctrine, is that you can get saved any time you want merely by accepting Christ or saying a sinner’s prayer of some sort. Such a gospel is a man-made gospel, no matter how many so-called Christian churches are preaching it.

 

1. Arminianism

 

The “Five Points of Arminianism” included the following:

 


1. FREE WILL

 
Arminius believed that the fall of man was not total, maintaining that there was enough good left in man for him to will to accept Jesus Christ unto salvation.

 

This free-will belief promoted by Jacobus Arminius is in conflict with scripture’s description of man’s TOTAL depravity, total inability to turn to God, the real God, on His terms:

 

Romans 3:11 “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”

 

Romans 5:6 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

 

Romans 10:20 “But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I WAS FOUND OF THEM THAT SOUGHT ME NOT; I WAS MADE MANIFEST UNTO THEM THAT ASKED NOT AFTER ME.”

 


2. CONDITIONAL ELECTION

 
Arminius believed that election was based on the foreknowledge of God as to who would believe. Man’s “act of faith” was seen as the “condition” or his being elected to eternal life, since God foresaw him exercising his “free will” in response to Jesus Christ.

 

The problem with this idea is that God FOREKNEW WHOM HE HAD ELECTED TO SAVE – HENCE THOSE WHOM CHRIST CAME TO DIE FOR, not those whom God foreknew would choose Christ. AS YOU CAN SEE, IF WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THE SCOPE OF CHRIST’S ATONEMENT THEN WE WON’T SEE PROBLEMS WITH THE FREE-WILL VIEW REGARDING GOD’S FOREKNOWLEDGE. Christ could not have possibly have died for EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING who ever lived or will live, because judicially, God cannot be a JUST God and punish the guilty in Hell if He has already punished His Son at Calvary for those same sinners and their sins!

 

Many Christians are told that God has looked into the future to see who would accept Christ and therefore those people are the ones whom God has predestined to be saved. Where is this idea stated in the Bible? This idea is a false doctrine, perhaps based on a misunderstanding of scriptures like Romans 8:29 and Romans 11:2. After the fall of Adam, if God ever looked forward in time, the only thing He saw was this:

 
Genesis 6:5 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

 

If we look at Romans 8:29 and Romans 11:2 in context, we will see PLENTY of evidence for election by God’s sovereign grace and ZERO evidence for that election being based on God looking into the future and seeing people accepting Christ:

 

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are . 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s ? It is God that justifieth.”

 

God FOREKNEW that there were NONE that seeketh after God (Romans 3:11) and knowing that, He had no choice but to call people out of the world if He was going to have a people for Himself. God does the electing. Sinners do no elect themselves to be saved. God has the right, and HIM ALONE, to choose the BRIDE for HIS SON whom He will be presenting to the Lord Jesus Christ at the wedding in heaven!

 

Romans 11:2 “God hath not cast away his which he foreknew. Wot [know] ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.”

 

Note in verse 5 above, that election is according to grace, NOT according to foreknowledge. If it was according to God’s foreknowledge of our acceptance of Christ, it would be according to works and not according to grace. Note also in verse 7 that God blinded the rest. He did not intend for the rest to be saved, only His elect. Does that sound unfair? Remember, “who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?” (1 Cor. 2:16) and also “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Prov. 16:4). Also, if God were to be fair, everyone would end up in hell.

 


3. UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT

 
Arminius held that redemption was based on the fact that God loves everybody,

 

This idea is very popular today and I was taught it and once believed it but it happens to be unbiblical. God loves His people but hates the workers of iniquity:

 

Psalm 5:5 “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
 
6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.”

 

that Christ died for everyone,

 

If God is just (and He surely is) and if Christ died for everyone, then no one would go to hell. Yet scripture is full of warnings about hell, including warnings directly from Christ when He walked the earth two thousand years ago…

 

Matthew 5:29 “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

 

Matthew 5:30 “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

 

Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

and that the Father is not willing that any should perish.

 

This scripture verse cannot have the “obvious” meaning since God is capable of saving whomever He wishes. So if He truly desired that not one solitary soul would perish, then no one would have to be concerned about hell. Yet we know from scripture that hell is very real and it will be quite full of sinners, not because God failed to save people but because those people were not among God’s elect.

 

 The death of Christ provided the grounds for God to save all men,

 

Christ paid a specific ransom for specific sins of specific sinners. His suffering and death was not ambiguous. It was as specific as the various animal sacrifices outlined in the Old Testament.

 

but each must exercise his own “free will” in order to be saved.

 

This idea makes man his own saviour (at least in part) and it attributes abilities to man that man does not possess… the capability and the desire to come to Christ while he is still an ungodly, unregenerated, spiritually dead sinner.

 


4. OBSTRUCTABLE GRACE

 
Arminius believed that since God wanted all men to be saved, He sent the Holy Spirit to “woo” all men to Christ, but since man has absolute “free will,” he is able to resist God’s will for his life.

 

This idea that man can resist God’s will is in violation of scripture…

 

Romans 9:19 “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? FOR WHO HATH RESISTED HIS WILL?”

 

John 1:13 “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

 

He believed that God’s will to save all men can be frustrated by the finite will of man.

 

Apparently the god of Arminius was not the God of Daniel:

 

Daniel 4:35 “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

 

He also taught that man exercises his own will first, and then is born again.

 

Arminius taught contrary to scripture, which says God gives the sinner the new heart first, and then the sinner is born again (able and willing to walk in God’s statutes)…

 

Ezekiel 36:25 “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
 
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
 
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

 


5. FALLING FROM GRACE

 
If man cannot be saved by God unless it is man’s will to be saved, then man cannot continue in salvation unless he continues to will to be saved.

 

Again, we make man his own saviour with this idea of “salvation on the maintenance plan” and we deny scripture. The salvation of a true believer is the work of God through and through. God does the saving and God ensures that none of His sheep perish… they can’t possibly perish since their sins have already been completely paid for by Christ at Calvary. Christ cannot UNSUFFER what He already suffered for His elect!!! To think so is preposterous!!! LUDICROUS!!!! Yet that is what would have to happen in order for Arminius (or anyone) to be right about a saved person losing their salvation.

 

Jude 1:24 “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy”

 
 


2. Calvinism

 

Interestingly, John Calvin, the French reformer, did not formulate what today we know as the Five Points of Calvinism. This came out of the Canons of the Council of Dort (1618), and subsequent statements among the many Reformed Confessions have expanded upon these matters. Calvinism has been known for outstanding scholars, theologians, preachers, and reformers, men such as John Owen, George Whitefield, William Wilberforce, Abraham Kuyper, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

 
Those in the reformed tradition who answered the teachings of Arminius chose the word “TULIP” as an acrostic to summarize their answer to the Five Points of Arminianism”:
 
Chuck Smith is correct in saying that Calvin did not formulate the five points of Calvinism. What Smith failed to mention is that the Council of Dort was convened TO ADDRESS THE HERESIES OF JACOBUS ARMINIUS, the very doctrines that Smith is defending in this article of his on Calvinism!

 

1. “T” = TOTAL DEPRAVITY – The Calvinists believed that man is in absolute bondage to sin and Satan, unable to exercise his own will to trust in Jesus Christ without the help of God.

 

The Bible teaches this (total depravity)…

 

Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

 

Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
 
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

 

This is why man needs a saviour, one who does it all.

 

2. “U” = UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION – The Calvinists believed that foreknowledge is based upon the plan and purpose of God, and that election is not based upon the decision of man, but the “free will” of the Creator alone.

 

The Bible teaches this (unconditional election)…

 

Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
 
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
 
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
 
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
 
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
 
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
 
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
 
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:



 

3. “L” = LIMITED ATONEMENT – The Calvinists believed that Jesus Christ died to save those who were given to Him by the Father in eternity past. In their view, all for whom Jesus died (the elect) will be saved, and all for whom He did not die (the non elect) will be lost.

 

The Bible teaches this (limited atonement)…

 

Limited atonement (also known as Particular Redemption) refers to the fact that Christ’s death was not literally for every person ever born or conceived. It was a transaction whereby God paid for the sins of those He came to save and those alone:

 

Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were believed.”

 

“As many as were ordained” is a clear reference to limited atonement, is it not? John 17, verses 2 and 9 indicate the same thing:

 

John 17:2 “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.”

 

John 17:9 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”

 

Christ was a ransom for many, but not for all:

 

Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 

No one would end up in hell if the ransom for their soul was paid. To do such a thing would violate God’s justice. He would not punish both His son and the sinner for the same crimes.

 

1Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

 

Are those who were “not ordained” bought with a price? Was the ransom payment on their behalf? No. The ransom was only for “as many as were ordained” and not one more.

 

Christ’s atonement is limited to God’s people – that group of people whom God ordained to be saved are referred to as HIS people:

 

Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

 

Psalm 85:2 “Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.”

 

God’s people are limited to those whom God the Father gives to Christ:

 

John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

 

Christ’s atonement is limited to God’s sheep:

 

The sacrifice of Christ does not apply to the goats (the non-elect). Christ only laid down his life for the sheep:

 

John 10:15 “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep..”

 

Christ’s atonement was limited to the Church:

 

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”

 

Christ’s atonement is also limited to those whom He predestinated, whom He called and whom He justified and to no one else:

 

Romans 8:30 “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

 

So we see above that Christ did not die for everyone. His death, His atonement, was limited to the elect. They are the only ones who are justified – declared just and righteous – on account of Christ’s full payment of their sin debt. Everyone else will have to spend eternity in hell paying for their sins themselves. And no one will be in hell for whom Christ died. His blood was not shed in vain for any man.


 

4. “I” = IRRESISTIBLE GRACE – The Calvinists believed that the Lord possesses irresistible grace that cannot be obstructed. They taught that the free will of man is so far removed from salvation, that the elect are regenerated (made spiritually alive) by God even before expressing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. If a totally depraved person wasn’t made alive by the Holy Spirit, such a calling on God would be impossible.

 

The Bible teaches this (irresistible grace)…

 

Nothing is too difficult for God. He is capable of saving people in spite of their own will, as it was with the apostle Paul who was quite busy about his work of persecuting Christians when God decided it was time to convert Saul to Paul on the Road to Damascus. Luke describes what happened to Paul in Acts chapter 22:

 

Acts 22:4 “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. 6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. 12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. 14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.”

 

Do you think in a test of wills, that man can overpower the Almighty? I think not!

 

Acts 6:10 “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

 

Romans 9:19 “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?”

 

1Corinthians 3:6 “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

 

Galatians 1:15 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood”

 

But, you may ask, what about verses like these:

 

Acts 7:51 “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist <496> (5719) the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”

 

496 antipipto {an-tee-pip’-to} from 473 and 4098 (including its alternate);; v
AV – resist 1; 1
1) to fall upon, run against
2) to be adverse, oppose, strive against

 

2Timothy 3:8 “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist <436> (5731) the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”

 

436 anthistemi {anth-is’-tay-mee} from 473 and 2476;; v
AV – resist 9, withstand 5; 14
1) to set one’s self against, to withstand, resist, oppose
2) to set against

 

We must remember that it is the nature of unsaved man to resist God, to fight against Him, to rebel. That is why we need God to transform us into new creatures who do not continually resist God just as God transformed Saul the rebel, who was actively resisting God, into Paul the Apostle:

 

Acts 9:5 “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

 

When we examine this conversion experience in Paul’s life we see him at one moment “kicking against the pricks” and then at the next moment he is asking Jesus “what wilt thou have me to do?”. God was not at Paul’s mercy hoping that Paul would stop persecuting the Church and hoping that Paul would stop resisting the Holy Spirit. It was clearly Paul who was at God’s mercy and who was subject to God’s will and God’s instructions, not the other way around, as we see in Acts 9:6:

 

Acts 9:6 “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”

 

Paul was trembling – he had a fear of the Lord. God had converted him at this point. He was aware of who Christ was and who he had been persecuting and he was now willing and able to do the Lord’s bidding and forsake his own previous self-righteous agenda.


 

5. “P” = PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS – The Calvinists believed that salvation is entirely the work of the Lord, and that man has absolutely nothing to do with the process. The saints will persevere because God will see to it that He will finish the work He has begun.

 

The Bible teaches this (perseverance of the saints, also known as preservation of the saints)…

 

We might get the impression that we can lose our salvation (fall from grace) when looking at the following isolated verse:

 

Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

 

But then when we look at the verse that immediately follows, we get additional information regarding what Paul was talking about:

 

Galatians 5:5 “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith

 

Paul is saying here in Galatians that salvation (i.e. Christ’s righteousness) is received by faith, not by the works of the law. His point is not that we can fall from grace. He is telling the Galatians that they are missing the whole meaning of grace if they think they are justified by the law. In fact, this point is the main reason for him writing the epistle to the Galatians. The Greek word for ‘fallen’ is ‘ekpipto’ which means “to be driven out of one’s course”. So the Galatians were falling off course with respect to their understanding of the Gospel of grace. So was Paul telling the Galatians they were in danger of losing their salvation? Not in view of 2 Timothy 1:9, Jude 1:24, and other verses mentioned above, and we are not at liberty to ignore these other verses. More information on this subject can be found in my study titled: Eternal Security & Backsliding

 

3. Calvary Chapel’s Perspective

 

It is not our purpose to take sides on these issues or to divide the body of Jesus Christ over human interpretations of these Biblical truths concerning our salvation. We simply desire to state how we in the Calvary Chapel fellowships understand the Bible’s teaching regarding these matters.

 

You had better take sides Mr. Smith. Truth matters to God and He expects it to matter to His children…

 

Psalms 119:127 “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.  128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”

 

And in fact you have taken sides – against the biblical doctrines of Grace (a.k.a. Calvinism).  I have visited Calvary Chapel churches where tables of books were made available to visitors and those tables contained books attacking Calvinism.
 


1. DEPRAVITY

 
We believe that all are sinners (Romans 3:23) and unable by human performance to earn, deserve, or merit salvation (Titus 3:5). We believe that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and that apart from God’s grace, no one can be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). We believe that none are righteous, or capable of doing good (Romans 3:10-12), and that apart from the conviction and regeneration of the Holy Spirit, none can be saved (John 1:12-13; 16:8-11; I Peter 1:23-25). Mankind is clearly fallen and lost in sin.
 
Well you got that right Mr. Smith. However, you neglected to mention that sinners in an unregenerate state are enemies of God (Romans 5:10) and do NOT seek God (Romans 3:11) which makes your view of salvation very problematic – getting God hater’s to seek God of their “own free will”.
 


2. ELECTION

 
We believe that God chose the believer before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6), and based on His foreknowledge,

 

Salvation is based on God’s grace, not on foreknowledge of which spiritually dead sinner would choose Christ.

 

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
 
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

If man can get himself saved, then he could boast that he was better than those who did not choose Christ. However, there is no boasting with God’s salvation program where God turns rebels into new creatures in Christ.

 

Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”

 

has predestined the believer to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29-30). We believe that God offers salvation to all who will call on His name. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We also believe that God calls to Himself those who will believe in His Son, Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 1:9). However, the Bible also teaches that an invitation (or call) is given to all, but that only a few will accept it. We see this balance throughout scripture. Revelation 22:17 states, “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” I Peter 1:2 tells us we are, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen (elected).” God clearly does choose, but man must also accept God’s invitation to salvation.

 

Man WILL accept when and only when God gives him a new heart and a new spirit. See who does the choosing:

 

John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

 

John 15:19 “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

 

2 Thes 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”

 

Psalm 65:4 “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”

 

Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

 


3. ATONEMENT

 
We believe that Jesus Christ died as a propitiation (a satisfaction of the righteous wrath of God against sin) “for the whole world” (I John 2:2; 4:9-10), and that He redeems and forgives all who will believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation from sin, death, and hell (Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:18-19). We believe that eternal life is a gift of God (Romans 6:23), and that “whosoever believeth” in Jesus Christ will not perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16-18). I Timothy 4:10 says “we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” Hebrews 2:9 states that Jesus, “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was clearly sufficient to save the entire human race.

 

Did Christ pay for the sins of people who end up in hell? Were their sins atoned for? Would a just God punish BOTH HIS SON AND THE SINNER for the same sins? NEVER! Hence, we can only honestly say that Jesus died for the ELECT, PERIOD! However, when we evangelize, we don’t need to know who is elect or not. That is God’s concern and His concern only.

 


4. GRACE

 
We believe that God’s grace is not the result of human effort or worthiness (Romans 3:24-28; 11:6), but is the response of God’s mercy and love to those who will believe in His Son (Ephesians 2:4-10).

 
The problem with that idea is that no one believes in Christ (they way they are supposed to) until God saves them. Catholics believe in Christ, but their Christ is a multitude of idols – false christs.
 
It appears that the Christ of Calvary Chapel is a false Christ also… one who needs sinners to like Him before he saves them.
 
The Gospel is not a matter of convincing God haters to love God. It is a matter of preaching the Gospel, preaching the Bible, about sin, judgment, and righteousness and letting God use that preaching to convict and convert those for whom Christ died…
 
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

 
Grace gives to us what we do not deserve nor can earn by our performance (Romans 11:6).
 

This statement above contradicts the previous sentence where Mr. Smith says man is required to “believe” in order to get God’s grace (grace being – as SMITH says – the response from God for a sinner “believing” in Christ). It sounds like Smith is saying in this above sentence that we are earning grace by our performance, that is, by our believing in Christ. This ignores the reality that spiritually dead sinners cannot believe in something or someone whom they cannot see:
 
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

We believe that God’s grace and mercy can be resisted by us.
 

Then is God a liar Mr. Smith?…

 

Romans 9:19 “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
 
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

 

Jesus said in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” We are not condemned because we have no opportunity to be saved, but a person is condemned because he makes a choice not to believe (John 3:18).

 

WRONG, WRONG!
 
A person is condemned because he is a sinner, period! Disbelief is just one of many sins that separates a sinner from a thrice holy God…

 

Isaiah 59:1 “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
 
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

 

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

 

In John 5:40 we read “And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” Jesus also said in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:40 states, “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone who seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life.” In John 7:37 Jesus said “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” In John 11:26 He adds “whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”

Jesus clearly acknowledges the fact of human resistance and rejection. In John 12:46-48 He said, “I am come as a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came, not to judge the world but to save the world. He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath One that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

 

In Stephen’s message in Acts 7:51, he concluded by saying, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” In Romans 10:21, the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 65:2 when he speaks of God’s words to Israel, “All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” In one of the five warning passages of the book of Hebrews, we read in Hebrews 10:26, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Verse 29 adds, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Clearly, God’s grace can either be resisted or received by the exercise of human free will.

 

The WILL of an unsaved man is in bondage to sin.  It is NOT free.

 

Proverbs 13:19 “The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.”

 

God’s grace can only be received by the “new heart”. The old heart wants no part of God, God’s commandments, God’s holiness, or God’s salvation plan.

 

Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

 


5. PERSEVERANCE

 

We believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38-39), and that there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1). We believe that the promise of Jesus in John 10:27-28 is clear: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” Jesus said in John 6:37, “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” We have this assurance in Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We believe that the Holy Spirit has sealed us unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).

 

But we also are deeply concerned over the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Apparently there are many who claim to be believers that in fact are not.

 

Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” I Corinthians 6:9-10 insists that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” and warns us not to be deceived. A list is then given of various kinds of sinful lifestyles with an ending remark that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Similar statements and conclusions are given in Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3-5.

 

Galatians 5:4 says “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Colossians 1:22-23 says about Jesus Christ “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight, if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature that is under heaven, of which I, Paul, am made a minister.” II Timothy 2:12 says “if we deny Him, He also will deny us.” Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Can true believers (“brethren”) depart from the living God? I Timothy 4:1 says that “in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith.” II Thessalonians 2:3 speaks of “a falling away” or an apostasy. II Peter 2:20-21 makes these remarkable statements: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”

 

It is no wonder that Peter says in I Peter 1:10, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” We thank God for the encouragement of Jude 24 – “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

 
OK Chuck, you just quoted Jude 24. Now if Jude 24 is true, then we can know for sure that our salvation is secure in the atonement of Christ and in His ability to keep us from falling. However, if we think salvation depends on US in any way, for example – to avoid losing it by maintaining some level of performance in the Christian life, then we have a works gospel that is no gospel. Either salvation is of us or it is of the Lord. It is never the Lord plus us. 1 John 5:13 says:
 
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life”
 
If salvation can be lost, then the apostle John would not have said “ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life”.

 

Maintaining a Bible centered balance in these difficult issues is of great importance. We do believe in the perseverance of the saints (true believers), but are deeply concerned about sinful lifestyles and rebellious hearts among those who call themselves “Christians.” We don’t have all the answers to these matters, but we desire to be faithful to the Lord and His word. If we find ourselves basing our view of salvation on the performance and attitudes of people we become discouraged and concerned. But when we keep our eyes on the Lord, and trust in Him alone and in His power, we say with Peter in I Peter 1:3-9:

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

 

It is not easy to maintain the unity of the Spirit among us on these matters. It seems that the sovereignty of God and human responsibility are like two parallel lines that do not seem to intersect within our finite minds. God’s ways are “past finding out” (Romans 11:33), and the Bible warns us to “lean not unto thy own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). To say what God says in the Bible – no more and no less – is not always easy, comfortable, or completely understandable. But Scripture tells us that the wisdom from above will be loving and kind toward all, seeking the unity of the believers, not trying to find ways to divide and separate from one another. May God help us all to love each other, to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Jesus Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32)! In difficult doctrinal matters, may we have gracious attitudes and humble hearts, desiring most of all to please Him who has called us to serve Him in the body of Christ. Discussion – YES! Disagreements – YES! Division – NO!

 

Jesus said, “By their fruit ye shall know them.” When a particular position on the Scriptures causes one to become argumentative, legalistic, and divisive, I question the validity of that position. I seek to embrace those things that tend to make me more loving and kind, more forgiving and merciful. I know then that I am becoming more like my Lord. If you have come to a strong personal conviction on one side of a doctrinal issue, please grant us the privilege of first seeing how it has helped you to become more Christ-like in your nature, and then we will judge whether we need to come to that same persuasion.

 

Mr. Smith, what could be more Christ-like than to give God His due: to acknowledge His power, His authority, His sovereign right to save whom He wills? What could be more Christ-like than to give Christ all the credit for saving souls, rather than insinuate that He cannot save those who don’t first accept Him? Is it not more glorious to acknowledge that Christ saves those whose hearts are in rebellion against Him? He saves in spite of rebellion. After all, Christ died for the ungodly. Those who turn TO Him, have already received a new heart FROM Him…

 

1 John 4:19 “We love him, because he first loved us.”

 

Let us always be certain to look at the fruit of the teaching.

 

The Arminian position (the free-will position), is a position of sinful human pride, where man thinks he is better than God declares him to be, where man thinks he is capable of coming to Christ of his own “free will” and capable of accepting the lordship of Christ – before God gives him a new spirit and a new heart. This theology is perhaps the greatest deception of the Church age, the greatest deception of these last days. Don’t fall for it if you are truly a blood bought child of God. Let us give God all the credit and all the glory for our salvation…

 

2 Corinthians 10:17 “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

Jonah 2:9 “Salvation is of the Lord”
 

Seek those things that produce the loving nature of Jesus in our lives. I would rather have the wrong facts and a right attitude, than right facts and a wrong attitude. God can change my understanding of the facts in a moment, but it often takes a lifetime to effect changes of attitude.

 

Yours in love,
 
Chuck Smith

 

Mr. Smith, the right attitude about biblical truth is this:

 

1. COMPROMISING BIBLICAL TRUTH WHILE HAVING WHAT YOU THINK IS THE “RIGHT ATTITUDE” IS NOTHING TO BOAST ABOUT.
 
THE “RIGHT ATTITUDE” IS TO VIEW TRUTH AS CHRIST VIEWED IT IN JOHN 18:37 WHERE HE TOLD PILATE THAT HE CAME TO TESTIFY TO THE TRUTH.

 

2. WE MUST EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH. IT REALLY MATTERS IF WE ARE RIGHT OR WRONG ABOUT ELECTION, PREDESTINATION, LOSING ONE’S SALVATION, IF CHRIST DIED FOR EVERYONE, AND IF MAN HAS A FREE-WILL TO ACCEPT CHRIST.

 

3. IF WE ARE WRONG ABOUT THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES WE MAY BE UNSAVED AND WE SURELY HAVE A WRONG UNDERSTANDING OF GOD AND HIS SALVATION PLAN. ALSO, WE MAY BE TEACHING SERIOUS ERROR TO OTHERS.

 

4. BEWARE OF BIBLE TEACHERS WHO START TALKING ABOUT LOVE WHEN YOU DARE TO DISAGREE WITH THEM ON IMPORTANT BIBLICAL DOCTRINES.

 

5. ASSUME YOUR BIBLE TEACHERS CAN BE WRONG ABOUT ANYTHING, EVEN FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES LIKE ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION.

 

6. YOU CAN KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THESE DOCTRINES AND OTHER BIBLE DOCTRINES. THESE THINGS ARE NOT ALL THAT MYSTERIOUS OR UNKNOWABLE IF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS IN YOU AND IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.

 

7. THE PROLIFERATION OF BAD DOCTRINE AND ERRONEOUS TEACHING IN CHRISTIAN CHURCHES TODAY MAKES IT DIFFICULT BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE AVERAGE BELIEVER TO SORT OUT BIBLICAL TRUTHS.

 

In conclusion, I wish to note that no malice is intended towards Chuck Smith, his church leaders or members. My desire is to fulfill the spirit of James 5:19-20:

 

“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

 

— RM Kane – ComingInTheClouds.org

 


 

Why Chuck Smith And Calvary Chapel Produce So Many Calvinists

by James White


 
SEE ALSO:

 


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Featured Gospel Message

Christ Died For The Ungodly

by Horatius Bonar

The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that "there is none righteous, no, not one"; that there is "none that doeth good"; none "that understandeth"; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will "by no means clear the guilty." <continued>