Does the Bible speak to the issue of ‘racism’?

Recently the topic of ‘social justice’ seems to be a priority among evangelical Christians, some of whom are very prominent in the evangelical community. In fact, at a recent conference one such prominent leader, with tears in his eyes, confessed to not seeing ‘race’.

Being ‘colorblind’ used to be an admirable trait, but these days it’s just the opposite in some circles. One publication said “When you say you ‘don’t see race’, you’re ignoring racism, not helping to solve it.” Another published an article titled “7 Reasons Why ‘Colorblindness’ Contributes to Racism . . .”. Those are just two of many examples.

Now we are told that if we are true Christians we will ‘see’ race, acknowledge our guilt (if we are a majority ‘color’) and even owe ‘reparations’ to oppressed groups, who are incapable of being ‘racist’ due to their minority status.

So what does the Bible say about all this? Well, for starters, Paul, in speaking to two different groups of believers, told them:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Col 3:11

The Apostle much of being “in Christ” and makes it crystal clear that everyone, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, or social status that ALL believers are united “in Christ”. At the same time, while Scripture declares believers “one” in Christ and doesn’t describe in terms of ‘race,, it also recognizes that there are differences between people groups. Scripture uses the term ‘ethnos’, from which we get ‘ethnicity’.

“But who can deny that racism exists?”, you might ask. “No one in their right mind.” Would be my answer. Racism exists in one form or another all over the planet. It is NOT restricted to any certain people group, as some would have us believe. ‘Racism’ (focus on ‘ism’) is a sinful attitude of the heart and I don’t care if you are white, black, brown, yellow, blue, green, or purple. Furthermore, the capacity to be ‘racist’ exists in all of us, whether we remain lost in our sin or can be truly found ‘in Christ’. So what’s the Biblical answer to the problem of racism?

The answer is simple. It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was resurrected, and now lives in us through the Holy Spirit. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer that can convict us of our ‘racism’, cause us to repent, and which brings lasting change from the ‘inside out’, rather than the ‘outside in’.

The Bible does speak to racism! It’s a sin, and Christ is the answer!

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2 by John MacArthur

Here is the third in a series of blog posts by Dr. John MacArthur concerning the social justice movement and its relationship to the the Gospel, posted at GTY. Here are the links to the first two posts.

Social Injustice and the Gospel by John MacArthur

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1

On to Part 2:

 

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Monday’s blog post focused on some of the past few decades of conflicts within the evangelical movement that have provoked me to preach and write in defense of the gospel. It wasn’t an exhaustive list—that would be tedious, I suspect. Evangelicals as a group have shown an unsettling willingness to compromise or unnecessarily obfuscate all kinds of issues where Scripture has spoken plainly and without ambiguity.

For example, despite the clarity of 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man”), leading evangelicals have been debating for several years whether women qualify to be elders or pastors in the church. Many capitulate to cultural preference rather than submitting to biblical authority on this and other similar issues. Some have tried to redefine the role and proper functioning of the family. Others seem to want to deconstruct—or simply ignore—what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage.

More disturbing yet, over the past few years some evangelicals have begun to borrow moral rationalizations from secular culture in the wake of America’s sexual revolution. For years there has been a slow but steady softening of evangelicals’ stance against sex outside of marriage. More recently, and more ominously, several vocal evangelicals (including some in positions of leadership or influence) have been tinkering with novel ideas regarding gender fluidity, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and homosexual marriage. Those are issues that generations of believers would never have dreamed of putting on the table for debate or redefinition in the church. But at this very moment there is a burgeoning campaign to reconsider and abandon the church’s historic stance on LGBT issues under the banner of “social justice.”

Why have so many evangelicals openly embraced such compromises? The answer is very simple. It’s the next logical step for a church that is completely ensnared in efforts to please the culture. For decades the popular notion has been that if the church was going to reach the culture it first needed to connect with the style and methods of secular pop culture or academic fads. To that end, the church surrendered its historic forms of worship. In many cases, everything that once constituted a traditional worship service disappeared altogether, giving way to rock-concert formats and everything else the church could borrow from the entertainment industry. Craving acceptance in the broader culture, the church carelessly copied the world’s style preferences and fleeting fads.

In my book Ashamed of the Gospel, I warned that this was a slippery slope, because the world would not be content for the church merely to reflect its style—it would demand to dictate the substance as well. And the seemingly endless parade of evangelical compromises bears that out. Many believers have long been convinced that they first have to give the world what it wants in order to have any opening for the gospel. Evangelical style coaches have heedlessly followed wherever the world leads them. Having thoroughly absorbed the world’s methods, the church is now being forced to adopt the world’s message.

The common link in those continual compromises is pragmatism*, driven by a desire to reach the world and win its support and admiration by utilitarian means. Evangelicals of our generation seem pathologically addicted to the sin of desiring the praise of men. Indeed, that is precisely the brand of pragmatism that I fear points people down nearly all the paths of departure from the gospel mentioned in Monday’s post. Today it has penetrated deep into the culture of the church, and the end effect is disaster.

Every one of those deviations from sound gospel doctrine has been driven and advanced by evangelicals seeking acceptance in the broader culture. Some of the errors I have singled out (seeker sensitivity and the explosive growth of the charismatic movement) have been promoted by evangelicals who think that whatever attracts the world must be the right doctrine or strategy. Other errors (the embrace of psychotherapy, the ecumenical drift away from Protestant principles, and—yes—the recent rhetoric about “social justice” reflect a fear of being thought unsophisticated or out of step with contemporary “wisdom.”

“Social justice” (in the world’s usage of that term) entails political ideas that are deemed sophisticated—namely, identity politics, critical race theory, the redistribution of wealth, and other radical or socialist policies. Those ideas were first popularized and propagated in the secular academy, where they are now regarded as received wisdom and have become a dominating part of popular culture. Evangelicals who are chasing the culture are latecomers to the party of those who advocate “social justice.”

And I’m convinced the dominant motives are pragmatic.

In ministry, success cannot be measured numerically or by popular opinion. “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2, ESV)—not “famous,” “fashionable,” “filthy rich,” or whatever. If attendance figures are someone’s gauge of effectiveness, there’s literally no end to the crazy schemes that person will try to legitimize—as long as the schemes are successful in drawing appreciative crowds. That idea has been injecting poison directly into the evangelical mainstream for decades. 

Consider this: The maestros of missionary and church growth have been telling church leaders that they need to survey the unchurched people in their communities, find out what it would take to get them interested in their churches, and then give that to them. Let opinion polls tell the church how to preach, what to teach, and what not to say or do.

Is it any wonder that the unchurched world now expects to be able to tell the church precisely what she should believe and how she should function and teach?

And is it any wonder that people who grew up through several decades of evangelical pragmatism and have now come into leadership positions in the church are absolutely convinced that it is essential for Christians to both heed and parrot the world’s wishes?

clip_image001


*Pragmatism, quite simply, is the notion that the truthfulness or value of any strategy, idea, or truth claim is determined by its practical results. If a tactic produces the desired effect, it is deemed good. In the realm of church growth and gospel ministry, pragmatism as a guiding philosophy is severely flawed—even dangerously detrimental—for a couple of reasons that should be fairly obvious.

Number one, pragmatism alone cannot define what “the desired result” ought to be. If the goal is bad and the strategy works, it’s a bad strategy. In fact, if the desired end is evil, the strategy used to achieve it is by definition evil.

Second, and more to the point, raw pragmatism is unbiblical. God’s Word itself is the only reliable test of how good or bad anything is.

Name This Heresy

Here’s the screen capture of real tweet  from  a student at Wake Forest Divinity School:

clip_image002

There seems to be an interesting syllogism here that goes something like this:

Major premise: Reparations is an expression of repentance.

Minor premise: Repentance is part of salvation.

Conclusion: Where there is no reparations, there is no salvation.

Then we are told that this the “Bottom line.” If reparations are not made to those who have been oppressed, there is NO  salvation.

I remember John 3:16 telling us that all those who believe in God’s Son will have eternal life (salvation). II t doesn’t say that those who believe in Christ ‘and pay reparations’ will have eternal life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that  making reparations for wrongs done is never warranted. The Old Testament has at least 6 references to making reparation (See Numbers  5:7-8; Numbers 6:12; Numbers18:9; 2 Kings 12:16; and Proverbs 14:9).

In the New Testament, a tax collector named Zacchaeus, upon meeting Jesus, vowed to pay back what he had  wrongly taken from taxpayers, with interest. That’s making reparation.

So clearly, making reparation can be a very good thing to do. Note the DO part. The tweet from Me. Hughes just as clearly tells us that the ‘bottom line’ to obtain salvation is something that we MUST DO.

Can you name the heresy yet? Here’s a hint:

”O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?   Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?   Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?   Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—  just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? “ (Gal 3:1-6) (ESV)

OK. . . . .that was a bit more than a hint. Mr. Hughes is guilty of what has been called ‘The Galatian Heresy”. He has added works to faith for salvation.

Sadly, making reparations is being called a ‘gospel’ issue by many evangelicals today. But is it? that’s the question. Did Christ die for our sins, or did he die for wrongs done to some members of  our society by other members of our society?

Is social  ‘justice’ a gospel issue, or is the gospel the answer to all forms of social ‘injustice’?

Thoughts? Comments?

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1 by John Mac Arthur

Almost two weeks ago, on Monday, 13 August, Dr. MacArthur began what will be s series  of blog posts at Grace to You with  a post titled “Social Injustice and the Gospel”. You can read it at GTY by clicking the previous link, or you can read it here at The Battle Cry. Please read it before reading this post, the 2nd of the series. Dr. MacArthur has taken a lot of flack concerning his views concerning the relationship between the social justice movement  and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I, for one, agree with him. Again. please read the first article in the series at either of the links provided and without any more prattling on my part, here is the second of Dr. MacArthur’s  posts.

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1

by John MacArthur

Monday 20 August, 2018

From the earliest days of the apostolic era, faithful Christians have been called upon to contend earnestly for the truth of the gospel. The hardest battles have taken place within the visible church, among those who claim fidelity to Christ. That’s because the greatest threats to gospel truth have not come from atheists and other overt adversaries, but always from influential voices that arise within the church who speak twisted things (Acts 20:30). The evidence that this was happening in the very earliest era of the New Testament church is seen not only in Paul’s parting words to the Ephesian elders, but also in his admonitions to Timothy and Titus, and in Christ’s letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3.

When I was studying doctrine and apologetics in seminary, I thought I was equipping myself to defend biblical truth against an onslaught of attacks from the world. I envisioned answering atheism and confronting threats to the gospel that would arise out of secular culture, the entertainment industry, the academic world, and other places outside the church.

Sometime after I entered full-time ministry, it dawned on me (to my profound shock) that the greatest threats to biblical truth typically arise from within the fellowship of professing believers—and it is a relentless parade of attacks. Looking back through church history, I realized that’s how it has always been. There has never been a time when false doctrines, harmful methodologies, unwholesome practices, bizarre beliefs, poisonous ideologies, and false teachers weren’t troubling the church of God—often with seriously divisive and otherwise spiritually destructive results.

In retrospect, it should not have been a surprise to me that the worst troubles come from within. I was born into a pastor’s home. My father was the son of a pastor. Both were part of the historic denominational landscape of planet church. They were in the American Baptist Church (ABC) denomination.

By the time I was a teenager, my grandfather was in heaven, having served as a pastor until the day he saw the face of Christ. My dad left the faltering, compromising ABC to plant an independent church in a building sold by a failing Lutheran congregation.

My father took his stand in the liberal-fundamentalist conflict. The issue then was the inspiration and authority of Scripture. My dad was bold and relentless, always with grace, to defend the Bible as inspired by God in total. He was cut off from lifelong friends who stayed in the ABC, but he was never divided in his loyalty to the true doctrine of Scripture. He encouraged me as a teenager, as a college student, and as a seminary student to learn and acquire all the doctrinal and evidentiary proofs necessary to defend the Word of God against the modernist and liberal attacks.

Although he was a loving pastor, my dad was also an earnest, relentless, skilled, and thoughtful defender of the Bible.

By the time I finished seminary I had my own settled convictions about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. My beliefs were shaped by and solidly anchored in the testimony of Scripture itself—affirmed by the evidence of the Bible’s life-changing power, its accuracy in all details that are subject to examination, the precise fulfillment of so many of its prophesies, and the sheer glory of God’s self-revelation. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1.X), what I hear when I read my Bible is “the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

While in seminary I wrote papers defending the Bible’s authority, and I even debated at Fuller Seminary against the corrupted view of inerrancy put forth by two of its faculty members, Jack Rogers and Donald McKim. Theirs was a defective view of the Bible’s truthfulness, claiming the general thrust of Scripture is inspired but not the very words (ipsissima verba). They argued that there may be “technical errors” in the Bible, but it nevertheless is a “living witness” to what God has revealed. Together with some other evangelical leaders, I was invited (when Donald Hubbard was president) to speak to Fuller’s administration, faculty, and board on the issues of biblical inspiration and inerrancy. This was requested by concerned board members who had been told by faculty leaders that the views being taught at Fuller were perfectly orthodox—but when they spoke to students and other members of the faculty, those board members were hearing that unorthodox ideas were indeed being aggressively promoted in classrooms at Fuller.

I had always assumed that the defense of Scripture would be a lifelong battle (and it has been). What I did not anticipate, or even notice at first, was that the most damaging attacks on gospel principles tend to come in relentless waves and not mainly from secular skeptics and contentious unbelievers, but almost routinely from within the church—and from all sides.

I hadn’t been serving as a pastor very long when I was attacked by legalistic fundamentalists, and therefore was thrust into a conflict between works-based self-righteous religion and liberty in Christ. After that, an attack came from the opposite direction, claiming that gospel preaching that calls unbelievers to repentance and submission to Christ’s lordship is itself a form of legalism. I wrote The Gospel According to Jesus in response, and when the controversy intensified, I wrote a second reply, The Gospel According to the Apostles.

There was also the campaign to gain conservative evangelicals’ acceptance for Pentecostal views on the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and continuing revelation. The church I pastor is a short distance from the Episcopalian church in Van Nuys, California, where the charismatic movement had its inception. I wrote Charismatic Chaos in part to chronicle how that movement resulted in an influx of unorthodox ideas and false teachers in the evangelical mainstream.

We fought for the sufficiency of Scripture against the intrusion of psychotherapy into the church (attempting to integrate Christian doctrine with a horde of ideas based on godless presuppositions about the reasons for the human struggle). For a time, the evangelical movement was beset with, and almost overrun by, self-styled experts who belittled biblical truth as unsophisticated and inadequate for helping people with their “deep” psychological problems. They were convinced that sanctification couldn’t even start until a person went through the foyer of psychology. Our Sufficiency in Christ was my written response to that trend.

Throughout all those years, another somewhat subtle but very appealing—and very dangerous—trend was steadily gaining influence among evangelicals. It was the rank pragmatism of the so-called “seeker-sensitive” philosophy of church growth. Churches that followed this pattern moved away from biblical preaching and doctrinal instruction and generally used entertainment laced with spiritual-sounding themes as a means of drawing crowds. The stress was on reaching the “unchurched” rather than training believers for ministry. The result was that people remained untaught and did not grow spiritually. A handful of megachurches stood out as models that smaller churches everywhere attempted to imitate. Although countless small churches failed and even died when they adopted the model, a few glib, young leaders became very skilled at the pragmatic approach and saw their congregations grow to unprecedented sizes. Some of them numbered literally in the tens of thousands, giving observers the impression that this novel approach to ministry was reaching people on a huge scale. My book Ashamed of the Gospel analyzed and confronted that issue.

I have referred to those books not for the sake of self-promotion but to show that my best-known polemical works all have one basic aim: they were written to respond to subtle, in-house attacks on core gospel convictions. The fact that they span my whole ministry illustrates what I mean when I say, the battle for biblical authority rages constantly and on many fronts. I’ve never sought to be a controversialist, but my conscience and my commitment to Scripture compel me to contend earnestly for the bedrock principles of the gospel delivered once for all to the saints.

On Wednesday I’ll continue and conclude this retrospective with an explanation of what the current evangelical obsession with “social justice” has in common with all of those other issues. And I’ll begin to explain why it’s my conviction that much of the rhetoric about this latest issue poses a more imminent and dangerous threat to the clarity and centrality of the gospel than any other recent controversy evangelicals have engaged in.

clip_image001

“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 7

Perseverance of the Saints

God has sworn two blessings of salvation for the elect. First He promised to keep them forever and never forsake them. Second, He promised to work within them so that they will not fall away from Him. Both blessings are expressly promised in Jer. 32:40.

The Fifth Point of Calvinism take it title from Rev. 13:10 and 14:12, the Perseverance of the Saints. God promised to preserve the elect, and once they are saved they most certainly are preserved, kept and guarded by God Himself (Psa. 37:28, 66:9, 97:10, 145:14,20; 1 Tim. 1:12). God swore never to leave or forsake the elect (Psa. 94:14; Heb. 13:5). Jesus promised that He would never cast out any who came to Him (John 6:37). The elect are kept in the same way in which they were saved in the first place, namely, by the invincible power of God (1 Pet. 1:5).

This is especially explicit in John 10:28, where Jesus says “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My Hand.” The elect are eternally secure in the hands of Christ and the Father. God keeps them safe from Satan (1 John 5:18; John 17:11, 12, 15; 2 Thess. 3:3;Luke 22: 31-32). It is true that the elect slip and fall into sin. But when they do, God catches them (Deut. 33:27) and makes them stand again (Rom. 14:4). Even when the elect let go of God’s hand, God’s hand does not let go of them (Psa. 37:24).

So, the elect will always be saved. Why? Because they were eternally elected by grace (Rom. 8:29-30). Christ loves His bride too much to let her go. He will not lose even a single one of those who were chosen (John 6:39). Rom. 5:9-10 reasons that if Christ loved us enough to die for us, then surely He will do as much to keep us saved (cf. 8:32). Scripture most clearly teaches “once saved, always saved.” Salvation has a ratchet effect; it is irrevocable (Rom. 8:1, 11:29; Eccl. 3:14). Furthermore, when the elect are irresistibly drawn to Christ and regenerated by free grace, they are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that they will always be God’s property (Eph. 1:13, 4:30).

Now Scripture also says that one must persevere in faith and obedience to make it to Heaven (Heb. 12:14). Those whose lives are not characterized by this are not saved persons, and they will not make it to Heaven (1 Cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:5). Only those who persevere to the end will be saved (Matt. 10:22, 24:13). But the glory of it all is that the elect most certainly shall persevere to the end (Job 17:9). They will continue in saving faith, for faith is a gift and Christ is the“Author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). So, in reality, it is the Perseverance of the Savior.

The true believer has received a new nature in regeneration, and so is not completely bound by the total depravity in which he was first born. This new nature guarantees that he will not (indeed, cannot) live in permanent, perpetual unbelief and disobedience (1 John 3:4-12). Thus, the elect shall bear fruit (Matt. 7:17-18) and shall continue in good works (James 2:14-26). God guarantees that the elect will always eventually repent when they sin (Prov. 24:17). All this is essential to the Fifth Point of Calvinism. The doctrine of eternal security totally excludes the possibility of a regular life of sin for true believers. But the final question is, “How?” The Calvinist answers, “The elect persevere because God perseveres in them.” God promised to finish what He began in the elect (Phil. 1:6; Psa. 138:8; 1 Cor. 1:8-9). He will preserve the elect and glorify them in the end (Rom.. 8:30).

Those who “fall away” by apostasy were never saved to begin with. Had they been true Christians, they would have persevered and been preserved (1 John 2:19). This Fifth Point of Calvinism, then, teaches both the preservation and perseverance of the saints by the sovereign grace and power of God.

Conclusion 

There have been, of course, many objections against the doctrines of Calvinism. Most of them boil down to two. The first contends that these doctrines are not true, for the reason that God is not totally sovereign. This objection is without foundation, for Scripture repeatedly states that God is sovereign. The second objection is founded on the mistaken notion of Man’s “free will”. As we have shown, Man is responsible but not free. He is a slave to sin until freed by Christ. Scripture teaches free grace, not free will. Underlying these objections is the secret (and sometimes open) objection, “That’s not fair!” This is worst of all, for it is a direct accusation against God. It mistakenly presupposes that Man has rights, when he has none. Man is a guilty, totally depraved enemy of God Almighty. Those who offer these objections would do well to read Rom. 9:20 and Ezek. 18:25.

The Doctrines of Grace have a twofold effect.  First, they humble the sinner and encourage the saint.  They give Man his due place.  Calvinism also invigorates the believer, who knows that if a sovereign God is for him, who can be against him? (Rom. 8:31).  The second effect is that they give great glory to God.  God is God, and He will not give His glory to another (Isa. 42:8, 48:11).  Calvinism recognizes that Man is Man and God is God.  We exist for God’s glory.  And so our song shall ever be…

“To God alone be the glory!”

_______________________________________

Dr.Curt Daniel is a knowledgeable student and teacher of Reformed theology and history. His approach is to “leave no stone unturned” in pursuing the truth of Scripture. His breadth of knowledge enables him to easily glean from the theological giants that have gone before.

Dr. Daniel attended Central Bible College (B.A.), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Edinburgh (Ph.D.). Dr. Daniel teaches, preaches and publishes theological works consistent with Scripture and Reformed Theology.

________________________________________

The entire teaching series “The History and Theology of Calvinism” by Dr. Daniel can be found at Monergism.com. You can listen online and/or download any of the available lessons. I have long since downloaded the entire series and listened to all of the lessons.

Final Note: Please know that I’m not trying to ‘convince’ anyone of ‘Calvinism’. Rather, I invite those with inquisitive minds to investigate.  I’ll entertain questions and I welcome intelligent and reasonable discussion.

________________________________________

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

________________________________________

“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 6

Irresistible Grace

God chose the elect and Christ died for them in a special way, but this redemption must be applied to them in order for them to be saved. This leads us to the Fourth Point of Calvinism. First, let us get the general picture and then the precise focus. As we have shown, there is a general sense in which God loves all men as His creatures (Matt. 5:44-45; Luke 6:35-36; Psa. 33:5,145:9, 14-16). We call this Common Grace. God gives them the bounties of life on this planet. Moreover, there is a sense in which God wills all men everywhere to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), and so He offers them salvation indiscriminately.

We call this the Free Offer of the Gospel, and it is seen in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). God issues a general “call” to all who hear the Gospel (Matt. 22:14). All who hear are invited. But because all men are totally depraved and hate God, they resist this call and the work of the Spirit (Acts 7:51).

Evangelicals agree so far, but again Calvinists go a step further. God has a special love for the elect and will do more than simply give an external invitation. He does something that guarantees that they will accept this invitation. He overwhelms them with what we call Irresistible Grace. In addition to the general call to all men, God gives them a special call (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Pet. 1:10), or what Paul describes as a “holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9). It is a calling by special grace (Gal. 1:15). God thereby draws the elect irresistibly to Himself with special loving-kindness (Jer. 31:3; Hos. 11:4; Song 1:4). He causes the elect to come to Him (Psa. 65:4) by turning our wills around (Prov. 21:1). This is irresistible, for God “drags” us to Christ (John 6:44) and “compels” us by divine omnipotence to come (Luke 14:23). He actually changes our wills so that we come willingly (Phil. 2:13; Psa. 110:3).

Now, exactly how does God do this? There is much mystery in how God works grace in the hearts of the elect, but the Bible tells us some definite things about the process. God sovereignly opens the dead hearts of the elect (Acts 16:14). It is not that they opened their hearts to receive Christ; Christ opened their hearts that He might enter. Only as a result can it be said that they opened the door. So, He opens our hearts, and with the doors of our hearts being opened we can hear His voice (John 10:16,27). This is not, of course, a literal voice but rather the special call of Christ in Scripture. In the process, God sovereignly gives the elect the new birth (John 3:1-8; 5:21; James 1:18). They did not regenerate themselves; they were regenerated sovereignly by God’s free grace (John 1:13). No spiritually dead man can make himself alive any more than a corpse can. Matter cannot create itself, and the new birth is a new creation that is sovereignly given by God’s grace (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal 6:15). It is a spiritual resurrection (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13).

The elect are not born again because they believe; rather, they believe because they have been born again (1 John 5:1). The new birth is a sovereign gift, and so is faith (2 Pet. 1:1; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29; John 3:27, 6:65; 1 Cor. 3:6; 4:7; Rom. 12:3). Repentance is also a free gift that is sovereignly bestowed (2 Tim. 2:25; Acts 5:31; 11:18). Because the elect now have faith, God justifies them and they are saved.

The distinctive of Calvinism on this point is that “Salvation is of the Lord”(Jonah 2:9). If any man is ever to be saved, it is only by God’s free grace from first to last. Evangelicals in general will agree that salvation is by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9), but Calvinist go a step further and state that this saving grace is sovereignly given to the elect. It is not merely offered, for it is offered to all. It is sovereignly and irresistibly given to the elect and to them alone. It is not given to the non-elect.

________________________________________

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 5

Limited Atonement 

God, then, chose some sinners to save. This did not make them saved at that time. It only guaranteed that they certainly would be saved in the end. Two more things needed to be done: prepare the means for their salvation and apply it to them. First, we read in Scripture that God foreordained that Jesus Christ would become a man and would die on the Cross as the means of salvation (Acts 2:23; 4:28). Christ died as a substitute for others (1 Cor. 15:3; Rom.5:8). He suffered the infinite wrath of God for sin, and satisfied that wrath. This is called propitiation (1 John 2:2, 4:10). Because Jesus was a perfect man and God in the flesh, His sacrifice had infinite value. He did not pay an exact equivalent for our sins; He paid a super-abundant payment infinitely above what we owed. All that He did would have been necessary had only one sinner been chosen, but He would not have had to do any more had all sinners been chosen.

Historic Calvinists teach that there are two aspects of this one atonement. The first is that there is a sense in which Christ died for all men everywhere (John 1:29, 3:16, 4:42, 6:33, 51; 2 Cor. 5:14, 19; I Tim. 2:4-6; John 2:2; 2 Pet 2:1). By His death on the Cross, He removed all legal barriers in case any man believes. His death for all men also purchased the common bounties of life for all men. It also secured a delay of judgment for them, as it were, though not a permanent one. All will one day be judged, but the fact that all men are not already in Hell is due to the atonement of Christ. Moreover, on the basis of this universal aspect of the atonement, salvation is offered freely to all men: “Come and dine, for all is ready!” (cf. Matt. 22:2-14; Luke 14:16-24). Also, Christ died for all men in this sense in order to be Lord of all men, whether alive or dead, elect or non-elect (Rom. 14:9; Phil. 2:10-11).

Most Evangelicals will agree with this analysis so far, but Calvinist go yet further. We teach that the death of Christ is sufficient for all men, but is efficient only for the elect. There is a sense in which Christ died for all, but there is a sense in which He died only for the elect. He died for all, but especially for the elect (1 Tim. 4:10). He purchased some blessings for all men, but all blessings for some men. Since the elect are scattered throughout the world and mingled together with the non-elect, Christ purchased the whole world with the special intent of owning the elect (cf. Matt. 13:44). This special aspect of the atonement is what is called Limited Atonement. Some call it Particular Redemption.

Eph. 5:25 says, “Christ also loved the Church [the elect] and gave Himself up for her.” A man loves all other persons, but has a special love for his wife and will do some things for her that he will not do for all other persons. The same is true with Christ. He has a general love for all men and did something for all men at the Cross because they were His creatures. But He has a special love for His bride and did something special for her at the Cross. He died for her in such a way as to guarantee that she would be saved, made perfectly holy and ready for Heaven (vs.26).

There are other verses that indicates this special intent of the atonement. John 10:15, 17 and 18 say that Christ the Good Shepherd died for “the sheep”. Lest somebody think that this could include all men everywhere, Christ goes on to say that some people are not His sheep (vs. 26) Hence there is a sense in which He died for the sheep (the elect) and not for the goats and wolves (the non-elect). Later in John 15:13-14, Christ said that He would lay down His life for His “friends.” But not all men are His friends. Isaiah 53:8 prophesied that Christ would die for God’s “people”, but not all men are God’s people-only the elect. Acts 20:28 says that Christ purchased “the Church” with His blood, but not all men are the Church. Further, Rom. 8:32 says that if God gave Christ to die for us, then He will surely give us all other things. Since He does not give all these things of salvation to all men, then it follows that Christ was not given for them at the Cross in this special way. Christ died so as to make possible the salvation of all men, but He died to make definite the salvation of the elect alone. It was designed for the elect.

Again, there are many objections to this truth, but they can all be answered by pointing out that no man deserved for Christ to die for him. Actually, there is no dispute that Christ did not die for Satan or the demons; the atonement is clearly limited there. But the non-elect are in the same situation as Satan-none will be saved because none were elected. The thing to keep in mind is that the atonement was designed for the elect.

___________________________________

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4