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Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Comments (41)

Does the Bible itself identify specific doctrines as fundamental? Absolutely. Last time we looked at two guidelines: (1) Fundamental Doctrines Come from the Scriptures, and (2) Fundamental Doctrines Are Clear in Scripture. Here are three more . . .

Fundamental Doctrines Include Everything Essential to Saving Faith

Third, we should consider a doctrine as fundamental if eternal life depends on it. Scripture is full of statements that identify the terms of salvation and the marks of genuine faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). That verse makes faith itself essential to a right relationship with God. It also expressly identifies both the existence and the veracity of God as fundamental articles of the Christian faith.

Elsewhere we are told that eternal life is obtained through the knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ (John 17:3; 14:6; Acts 4:12). Since Jesus Himself is the true God incarnate (John 8:58; 10:30; 1 John 5:20), the fact of His deity (and by implication, the whole doctrine of the Trinity) is a fundamental article of faith (see 1 John 2:23). Our Lord Himself confirmed this when He said all must honor Him as they honor the Father (John 5:23).

The truths of Jesus’ divine sonship and messiahship are also fundamental articles of faith (John 20:31).

Of course, the bodily resurrection of Christ is a fundamental doctrine, because 1 Corinthians 15:14 tells us, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”

Romans 10:9 confirms that the resurrection is a fundamental doctrine, and adds another: the lordship of Christ. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

And according to Romans 4:4–5, justification by faith is a fundamental doctrine as well: “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (emphasis added). In other words, those who seek acceptance before God on the ground of their own righteousness will find they fall short (Romans 3:27–28; Galatians 2:16–3:29). Only those who trust God to impute Christ’s perfect righteousness are counted as truly righteous. This is precisely the difference between Roman Catholic doctrine and the gospel set forth in Scripture. It is at the heart of all doctrine that is truly fundamental.

In fact, an error in understanding justification is the very thing that was responsible for the apostasy of the Jewish nation: “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). That’s precisely the failure of every system of works salvation, canonized in the Roman Catholic system. But “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

Fundamental Doctrines Include Every Doctrine We Are Forbidden to Deny

Certain teachings of Scripture carry threats of damnation to those who deny them. Other ideas are expressly stated to be affirmed only by unbelievers. Such doctrines, obviously, involve fundamental articles of genuine Christianity.

The apostle John began his first epistle with a series of statements that establish key points of the doctrine of sin (hamartiology) as fundamental articles of faith. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). That condemns wanton antinomianism (the idea that Christians are under no law whatsoever) and makes some degree of doctrinal and moral enlightenment essential to true Christianity. A second statement rules out the humanistic notion that people are basically good: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). And a third suggests that no true Christian would deny his or her own sinfulness: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).

First Corinthians 16:22 makes love for Christ a fundamental issue: “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.” And a similar verse, 1 Corinthians 12:3, says that no one speaking by the Spirit of God can call Jesus accursed.

The truth of Jesus’ incarnation is also clearly designated a fundamental doctrine: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist” (1 John 4:2–3). “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7). Those verses by implication also condemn those who deny the virgin birth of our Lord, for if He was not virgin-born, He would be merely human, not eternal God come in the flesh.

And since those who twist and distort the Word of God are threatened with destruction (2 Peter 3:16), it is evident that both a lofty view of Scripture and a sound method of Bible interpretation (hermeneutics) are fundamental tenets of true Christianity.

Fundamental Doctrines Are All Summed Up in the Person and Work of Christ

Paul wrote, “No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Christ Himself embodied or established every doctrine that is essential to genuine Christianity. Those who reject any of the cardinal doctrines of the faith worship a christ who is not the Christ of Scripture.

How are the fundamentals of the faith personified in Christ?

With regard to the inspiration and authority of Scripture, He is the incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14). He upheld the written Word’s absolute authority (Matthew 5:18). Christ Himself established sola Scriptura as a fundamental doctrine when He upbraided the Pharisees for nullifying Scripture with their own traditions: “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. . . . You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mark 7:6–9). Our Lord had much to say about the authority and infallibility of the Word of God.

In the doctrine of justification by faith, it is Christ’s own perfect righteousness, imputed to the believer, that makes the pivotal difference between true biblical justification and the corrupted doctrine of Roman Catholicism and the cults. That is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). It is also why Paul wrote that Christ is become to us righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), and it is why Jeremiah called Him “The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). The Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, is our righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16). That is the very essence of justification by faith alone, sola fide.

Of course, all the fundamental doctrines related to the incarnation—the virgin birth of Christ, His deity, His humanity, and His sinlessness—are part and parcel of who He is. To deny any of those doctrines is to attack Christ Himself.

The essential doctrines related to His work—His atoning death, His resurrection, and the reality of His miracles—are the very basis of the gospel (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Hebrews 2:3–4). Reject them and you nullify the heart of the Christian message.

The fundamentals of the faith are so closely identified with Christ that the apostle John used the expression “the teaching of Christ” as a kind of shorthand for the set of doctrines he regarded as fundamental. To him, these doctrines represented the difference between true Christianity and false religion.

That is why he wrote, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Far from encouraging union with those who denied the fundamental truths of the faith, John forbade any form of spiritual fellowship with or encouragement of such false religion (2 John 10–11).

Here are a few thoughts for the comment thread. Fundamental doctrines include everything essential to saving faith, every doctrine we’re forbidden to deny, and everything that’s summed up in the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s a lot to know!

How does that contrast with those who want to whittle the fundamental doctrines of Christianity down to Trinitarianism, or to the Apostles’ Creed? What’s at the root of such a minimalistic approach to the question of Christian fundamentals?


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#1  Posted by Josué Morissette  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 7:58 AM

What concerns me these days is people who deny doctrines such as election, perseverance and effectual call. In themselves they might not be as fundamental, but the implications of denying such doctrines are far more serious than people would be lead to think. Denying election (or professing arminianism) takes away from the glory of God and it amounts to saying that salvation is a human work or works salvation. And denying perseverance or "once saved always saved" if you will, denies the absolute power of God. They might not say so, but people who advocate such a denial do so without knowing, even if Jude 24 is clear that "He will keep us from stumbling and present us without blemish." And some people after professing to be Christians for over 30 years have never heard of the Westminster Confession, that concerns me greatly. After being made aware of such doctrines can denying them a fruit of salvation? The doctrines themselves may not be fundamental, but what they implicate is, and there's my dilemma concerning these poeple. I fear that the maturing process is simply not there for a lot Christians.

#2  Posted by Rick White  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 8:10 AM

I think those that have such a minimalistic approach to Christian fundamentals are caught up in the easy believeism that is so prevalent in our culture today. According to their reasoning all you have to do is believe a few simple things about God and presto,you're saved. It is also the root of the ecumenical movement so popular among many evangelicals. By their reasoning,now we can include Roman Catholics and anyone else that is willing to acknowledge a few things about God. And we can even accept whatever false teaching they want to attach to the gospel as long as they accept those few minimum requirements. And what is the contrast between this kind of reasoning and the true gospel? It doesn't save. It produces a "dead faith" James 2:14-26. It doesn't produce a changed life in Jesus Christ.

#3  Posted by Jason Jacobs  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 8:29 AM

"How does that contrast with those who want to whittle the fundamental doctrines of Christianity down to Trinitarianism, or to the Apostles’ Creed? What’s at the root of such a minimalistic approach to the question of Christian fundamentals?"

It seems as though those who are preoccupied with ecumenism are those most aware of unbelievers' criticism concerning the lack of unity in Christendom, often blamed on denominationalism and the cultic offshoots. These people may simply see the political power that could be gained by greater unity at the expense of truth, or, like I believe is the case with Chuck Colson, desire greater Christian unity (again at the expense of truth) for the advance of God's Kingdom. It is tempting for me to do the same because I work with some Catholic people and live near some also. I would like to believe that some of them are saved, because I see the fruit of the Spirit in their lives and they seem to be genuinely born again. However, I believe that these people may truly be regenerate in spite of Roman Catholic doctrine, not because of it. In a conversation with one lady in particular, I gathered that she trusted in Christ's atoning death as payment for her sin, but also indicated that we must obey God's commands in order to be saved. Of course, I can articulate that obedience and good works are evidence or fruit of regeneration (having already been saved), but she could not. Does that mean she isn't saved? I don't know, but I hope I have the chance to discuss the issue of works resulting from salvation - though not contributing to it.

#4  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:01 AM

*Shauna Bryant*

There are so many things that contribute to this, but I believe a main one is Satan. He certaily doesn't want everyone to know the fundamental doctrines of the faith because he desires much company (and we see he will have it!). Many tactics are employed to 'chip away' at the truth. If you can whittle almost everything that we can know in Gods Word down to just Trinitarianism or The Apostle's Creed, then you can work at the rest of it since so much has already been sacrificed. Easy believism is employed to 'bring more' to Christ, which is false because they will not have an understanding of what it really means to be one of His, and without that understanding, how could they be? The desire - to see more saved - is good, but you cannot sacrifice the complete truth to do that. For instance, there are some who believe that Mary's eggs were used to make Jesus. Mary, blessed amongst women, was a chosen vessel. Not a DNA contributor. This belief obviously begins a whole new stream of heresy that we see manifested today and it also denies the full diety of Jesus Christ (unless they believe Mary to be divinity....I could barely even type that). There are also those who claim to believe in the trinity but they also claim Jesus is the 'man-ifestation' in human flesh of the Archangel Michael. These groups would all affirm the Trinity and the Apostle's Creed. Neither the Apostle's Creed or the Trinity gets to the full gospel, which includes Justification by faith ALONE. We've even heard people say (or write) "What's the minimum we have to know to be saved". Hence, some will just use John 3:16, but as has been noted before, by many, knowing that one verse by itself is not enough. You need to also know all the information behind that verse and that will require much prayer and serious study. Almost all (if not all) of the various world religions are a works based system. Christianity stands alone in that we are saved by Gods Grace through faith alone. Romans 3:26-28 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

And Pslams tells us in Chapter 94:4 How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? That's what works based religions do - they boast in their own ability to do that which they are not even able to do.

I am sincerely thankful that JMacArthur is a faithful man of God who teaches us the whole Counsel of God so that we may know the complete truth of Gods Word. Those who teach otherwise cannot even compare to ones like him, who are clearly led by God.

#5  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 12:20 PM

"Fundamental doctrines include everything essential to saving faith, every doctrine we’re forbidden to deny, and everything that’s summed up in the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s a lot to know!

How does that contrast with those who want to whittle the fundamental doctrines of Christianity down to Trinitarianism, or to the Apostles’ Creed? What’s at the root of such a minimalistic approach to the question of Christian fundamentals?"

I think we should be very careful here. We should feel the urgency of preaching the gospel and of the teaching of pure, fundamental truth as it is given in scripture. Of this there is no doubt or question, but we must temper our teaching and presentation of that truth with love and with wisdom. I'm not saying that we shouldn't call a heretic exactly what he is...Shepherds shoot wolves. If they don't, they aren't worthy of the calling, but shepherds must also be tender with sheep, both young and old. I think that when we are discussing the dissemination of fundamental truth and the disappointing response of those on the "opposing" side, be it a watering down of truth or an outright denial, we must pay special attention to the last question posed in the blog; What’s at the root...?

When I first repented, I became a member of an Assembly of God church...charismatic as it could be. I was an infant...even after more than 4 years there, my theology had grown very little. It was like a swimming pool a mile wide, but only an inch deep. Room for everybody, but nothing really nourishing or fulfilling. I would have literally shrank back in horror at the idea that God chose salvation for some and allowed the rest to fall into their own matter how much they had earned it. I had a very low view of Scripture as the only authority for what we were to believe and I had a very low view of sovereignty.

Had you labeled me a hell-bound heretic with all of the vehemence that normally comes from your average modern Calvanist (I use italics because I just call it Christian personally), I would have severely been wounded by someone who had the knowledge to help me grow instead. Why? Because I was a lamb. The root of my denial was simply not knowing the truth because of the failure of those in spiritual authority over me. If we wound a lamb so callously, are we any better than those "leaders" who leave them blind? Check out Romans 14. Notice that Paul doesn't say that we should compromise the truth. He never says that we can't tell the weaker brother the truth or compel them to draw closer to Christ, seeking maturity...because that's exactly what we're called to do. What he does say is that we shouldn't put peace and mutual upbuilding in danger by throwing around the weight of our liberty in practice or in the maturity of understanding we have.

Had that happened, I don't believe you would have "caused me to backslide" or "turn away from the faith". I am held securely in Christ, as are all who are truly of the faith. But you would have seriously wounded me and it would have torn down more than it would have guilt up. Fortunately, I (after a journey down some VERY strangled religious paths) was brought to my current pastor and the youth pastor of the church, who became one of my best friends. They showed an amazing patience with my protest of what I now hold to be basic truth. No matter what case I tried to build up against the truth, they never said anything like, "Well you're deceived and on your way to Hell." They just smiled, pointed to what was clearly in the word and no matter how I responded they showed me what the Bible clearly said in every case. I could argue with them, but not with the Bible. They lovingly, patiently guided me with the word, reminding me that God was perfectly willingly to struggle with me. They believed as I did, that I was whole heartedly a believer, I was just grossly immature. They knew God would wrestle me to the truth if I was truly called. God and the word wounded me, but never once did they, with their words or deeds.

Please understand: I am only saying that we should be like that when dealing with a sheep. If we find someone who claims to walk in maturity and who should be walking in maturity, who is refusing to see what is clearly taught in the word, and if they are teaching others their folly...we should bring down the thunder. If they are in a pastorate and doing this they are wolves. Love sheep, rebuke goats, shoot wolves.

I don't think it is a mistake that Psalm 27:6 is buried in a passage that warns against boasting, anger and wrath. The reason a friends wounds are faithful I believe is because they aren't given in malice, bitterness or anger. Let us be careful to examine the root of the minimalist approach, or the denial, and then we can respond accordingly, as men and women of God should.

(Sorry for the extremely long post...I understand if it doesn't get approved)

Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria, sola scriptura!

#6  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 1:00 PM

The Apostles Creed is very problematic. It gives us a minimal, bare bones approach to the essentials, and leaves us starving literally to death.

Its privation lies twofold: The fact that it is not a complete rendering of systematic essential truths from Scripture, and it is also subject to additions, such as are added to by the RCC to their own destruction.

Case in point, almost every Catholic you talk to will say, "See, we believe in the Apostles Creed just like you Protestants do." And for the most part, uninformed, liberal Protestants, who are not very exacting in their theology, will give a nod and a wink and look the other way. Little do they realize that this Creed is used as a window dressing by Catholics to legitimize their beliefs to a very biblically illiterate public, it goes undisputed mainly because of the lack of knowing Scripture savingly. I say window dressing because it is used to lure in the unsuspecting victims and boasts of truth, when it is in fact fundamentally deprived of the whole of essential truths. It is better to have no creed at all than to have one that can be added to and subtracted from on a whim. And need anyone here explain what the RCC adds? I know everyone here understands that explicitly.

The Creed, though having many important truths, is actually more of a detriment and is the breeding ground for ecumenism. The list that Dr. John MacArthur gave is more to the fine point of true essentials. Praise the Lord for his ministry.

I would add practicing righteousness if that was not mentioned, I would have to go back and reread.

#7  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 1:29 PM

The problem with creeds is that while many (including the Apostle's Creed) say very little that is wrong, none of them say everything that is right. I would say that they are as valuable as any individual or group of believer's summation of his or her beliefs. Short of throwing out a Bible whenever somebody asks "What do you believe?" I don't think it's possible to offer a summation that covers every fundamental truth of scripture. Creeds and confessions have value, but they shouldn't be regarded as the whole of scripture or on par as an authority. A catholic may say "We believe the Apostle's Creed too!" but what separates us isn't found's what is found in the rest of the scripture. I can agree with an enemy on many things, but that doesn't make him my friend.

Minimalism isn't necessarily wrong as long as the minimal statement is reconciled with the larger context. For instance, go to Desiring God and check out John Piper's response to a question of disagreement between the synoptic gospels. Specifically, Jesus' statements of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in Matthew 5, and in Luke 6 "Blessed are the poor." One is minimal. It is different in that a phrase is left out of Luke's statement, but it's not a disagreement or a contradiction because you have two men with two perspectives writing to two groups of people. Both are true, and both agree with much of what is stated in the rest of scripture. Understanding the context is the key to reconciling a "smaller" statement that can be twisted to mean something different from a more developed statement. We must be careful to cast our lot in with those with whom we agree about a few things. That is a misuse of past creeds and confessions on the part of modern ecumenism.

#8  Posted by randell danner  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Mike S., Long on words (just kidding) but a good point. I am having problems with a right now and is a very difficult situation at work. But i to have trekked the "charsmatic globe" and feel like i have wasted many years of my life except for the fact that i have studied God Word and know Him personally myself. it is very frustrating and yes i personally believe the charismatic movement is a cult. These are my words alone and not that of GTY or John MacArthur. Charismatic/Pentecostal people, i have learned, are the most unteachable, least pliable people because they are so hung up on the miraculous and ecstacy and the "power" of God. They have thrown sound doctrine out the window for a morsel of "power." But what about the power of God to keep us and live Holy lives and to be a witness and light in the earth? The only witness i here most of them talk of, at least from the person at work, is about their works and "lifting up" their denomination more than Jesus and faith in Him.

Mike, i had a very vivd dream when i was around 5, 6, or 7 years old but did not know what it was or meant for most of my life until i figured out and got fed up with charismania a few years ago. In this dream i found myself on a ship (mayflower or pirate type) and was being chased by the devil (as a child, my picture of the devil was the red suit with the pointed tail; my dad always ate deviled ham-the kind with the red devil on the label. lol) Once he caught me he would douse me with ketchup and throw me overboard. I would climb back on the ship and it would happen again. This happened about three or four times. I remember that i did not wake up scared for some reason. For me as a person afraid of scary movies growing up baffled me. But this descibes my adventures in the Charismatic church. They seemed to douse me with fake doctrine and fake blood of a fake Jesus and then throw me overboard when i resisted. And all i have ever tried to do was enter into His presence like everyone else. But remember, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for keeping people out of God's presence because they really didn't enter in themselves! As i said they rely so much on the "power of God" and the miraculous they have forgotten how to grow up and grow in grace and truly walk in love. Somehow they believe that the so-called "second baptisem" automatically matures us in Christ but yet quite the opposite is happening. It's funny how much of the church has changed some meanings of words. The word charismatic or charisma has nothing to do with how we preach, sing or how loud we bang the drum. The true meaning simply means "manifestation of grace" from the greek word charsmata. Kind of like how we've watered down words like "affair" for adultery or "alcoholic" for drunkard. Welcome to "gospel USA!" People, i guess in "southern gospelmania, sing "give me that old time religion" but do they really know what they are asking for. Do they want old time traditions of past relatives or the "religion" from which we heard from the beginning?? And why do we never hear of a "northern gospel???" And what are it's doctrines??? could it be Catholicism??

Now, i have to apologize for being long winded and getting on my soap box here.

#10  Posted by Randy Johnson  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 7:56 PM

What’s at the root of such a minimalistic approach to the question of Christian fundamentals?

The "globalist view" emphasizes that all religions are equal and there should be no attempts to convert people from one religion to another. Tactically, the push is for unity among religions. Therefore, similarities, not differences, must be found. Strategically, the idea is to form a united religious front which has global influence. This is the only kind of structure that will be effective as a stabilizing social force in the world. A one-world religion would have the effect of unifying mankind so that peace and harmony can be attained. Of course, the Catholic church, among others, is maneuvering to become that one "instrument of salvation for all humanity".

This religious system will become a reality during the Tribulation period (Rev 17-18). But, once the Antichrist achieves global domination, he will turn against this religious system, destroy it, and set himself up to be worshipped.

We are being conditioned to accept this view through alliances with academia, religious organizations, government organizations, etc. Thus, there is no better reason to ground ourselves in the truth through systematic Bible teaching.

#11  Posted by Stacey Weneck  |  Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:30 PM

I also believe that it is dangerous to assume that just because someone has not come to full understanding of Scripture in its entirety, they are not genuine believers. You have see their reasoning. I have several friends who believe it is possible to lose your salvation, but I am fully convinced that all of these, based on their spiritual gifts, love for Christ, and the rest of their beliefs and the fruit evidenced in their walk, are believers.

If you ask most of these people, they do not believe you can lose your salvation because you "sin too much" usually it's because of turning away from Christ, denial of Christ. And sinning "too much" can lead you toward the path of denial, the hardening of your heart. Now if you asked them, "why are you saved?" most (at least in my experience ) would say, " I was a horrible sinner, I recognized this before God and rely on His mercy to justify me" or something like that. Never in my experience have any of them denied their inherent sinfulness, or lack any sort of repentance. They believe that it is not their works that save them, but their faith. What they are unsure of is whether or not that FAITH can be lost.

To expect any human to fully understand the revelation of God in its entirety I believe is dangerous because no one is perfect, not physically, spiritually, or mentally. The problem here is that they do not understand based on Scripture the fullness of the doctrine of election. It's merely a reasoning in maturity issue. But they do believe that they must be justified by faith...they just haven't learned enough yet (and some may not move on to maturity in that aspect) to understand the implications of their own beliefs! How can we expect any sort of perfection from anybody? I think most of these people are doing their best with the knowledge they have. Scripture can be very hard to understand sometimes, even for the takes TIME to understand some of it. If not, then at the point of salvation every believer would have a perfect knowledge of the Word.

#12  Posted by Rick White  |  Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 8:02 AM

Mike Sexton and Stacey Weneck,

You both make an important point. Yes,we must present all of the saving knowledge of the Bible,but we must do it with gentleness and reverence 1 Peter 3:15. We can't expect babes in Christ to understand even the necessary things completely. It all takes time and proper instruction. And,there is so much compromise and false teaching to sort through. It's almost like we need a new Reformation to clean it all up.

#13  Posted by Kurt Hutchison  |  Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 8:04 AM

Hey Randall,

If you think Charismaticism is a cult (as an ex-charismatic I agree that parts of it are, but disagree that so broad a brush stroke is appropriate) you might want to check out this:

Order the call for discernment DVD set, it is the single best doctrinal analysis and expose of the word of faith movement I know of. The WoF movement is in my opinion some of the worst that Charismaticism has to offer. He goes through the essential doctrines one at a time, provides quotes and sound bites of what the WoF teachers teach, compares them to what the Bible teaches, and clearly shows exactly why they are heretical. He clearly distinguishes the wolves from the sheep.

Such doctrinal training as Peters provides, and exposure to such clear thinking and accurate teaching can hone your own skills at determining exactly what is apostate and what isn't. Peters spends a lot of time on that subject too, which is partly why that set is so valuable.

#14  Posted by randell danner  |  Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Kurt, thanks for your comment.. I guess i'm an extremist in my own right when it comes to countering Charsimatics. I can say that there are things we can glean from some of the teachng but we have to take it in perspective of what the Bible actually says. I did not mean to come across that the whole "goup" is a cult. I think the thing that keeps it alive today and still thriving is "christian television." Anyone got a sling shot that will reach beyond our atmosphere and knock down some "Goliath satelites???" Just kidding, i think. Thanks for the website info, i'll check it out.

#15  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Hi Stacey:

You said: I also believe that it is dangerous to assume that just because someone has not come to full understanding of Scripture in its entirety, they are not genuine believers.

This is so true, Stacey. I attended a reformed church for years with as elderly woman whose daughter was a Downs Syndrome child. She was actually so blessed despite her disability. She brought a smile to everyone’s face, always said hello, called you by your name and seemed very interested in other people. I asked her mother, who is now probably 99 years old, and a very energetic, godly, loving women, if her daughter knew who Jesus was. Without hesitation she said, “Absolutely.” She knew her daughter was saved. So if it takes a child-like faith then certainly by having someone read to you the simple gospel message, and by believing and repenting, we know for sure Christ will save people who have less than gigantic intellects.

We have the true testimony of Scripture to back this up, as well.

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence 1 Cr 1:26).”

It is not our intellects God is concerned with, but our souls, all though He does not by-pass our minds and expects us to use them wisely, He even tells to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).”

I would also like to use this opportunity to pass along a very inspiring video concerning the people of Haiti. I am so blessed by these people’s remarkable resilience in the face of such devastation, and so excited and thrilled to see the work the Lord is doing in their hearts. Keep them in prayer.

Go to You Tube and pull up: Haiti-“A Call to Fasting and Prayer.” I have not seen any of this on the news. How sad!

God bless you,


#16  Posted by randell danner  |  Friday, March 19, 2010 at 8:41 PM

The following is part of a letter i wrote to a friend and co-worker who i have been having problems with. In light of our discussion about "charismatics" i felt this was a good message for her and the church not to constantly rely on God's "power" and "gifts" and everything we see going on in the "movement." In one post someone said that we need a reformation. I agree and have been saying that for years. a reformation and a revolution of truth throughout all Evangelicism and not so much a "revival." Revivals, to me, seem forced and conjured by man's hand desiring to fill the church regordless of the best of intentions.

As far as book recommendations, i read this years ago and helped change my views on the way the church has been doing things, but "Revolution: a Call to War" by Michael L. Brown is very insightful. I have reordered it off Amazon and will read it again, along with some other books he has written.

"You need to go through “the process” (healing) as well. It is not an easy one but it is necessary if we are going to be all that God wants us to be. We cannot serve God in our own strength and we cannot always rely on the “power of the Spirit” and “moves of God” to get us through to the next level. We can get “zapped in the Holy Ghost” week in and week out but at the end of the day we still have to deal with the issues of the heart. God is not going to just zap us and everything is going to be all right. Just like saying, “God’s got it” and never doing anything on our end. Problems just don’t go away on their own. Both ideologies are wrong. Sure, He fixes some things but leaves some things for us to discover as well. How boring our walk would be if He did everything for us. How dishonoring would it be if we did nothing."

#17  Posted by David Emme  |  Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 4:22 AM

Part of me some what recoils at this as parts of the secret decrees of God in election. I n a different context I agree whole heartedly. In fact those doctrines are causing me to leave my faith movement. About 20 yrs ago when I first joined the Marines, I was coming from a pentacostal background. Did not know every reason why spiritual gifts were wrong for today but saw enoughto cause me to think and act-if I have to fake speak in tongues and this is what everyone does-I vowed to never do anything like that as God will have to do it. As on my own and did not have to accept whatever my parents expected I ended up in all places-an Independant Fundamental Baptist-this about 20 yrs ago. The tow who influanced me the most were the two who discipled me in the faith were big Macarthur fans. So about the time everyone was trying to figure out Lordship Salvation-before anyone teaching me to hate Bro. Macarthur-a bit to late for that.

When I got out and went to a Baptist College in California(Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College) I ended up being challanged by a Calvinist as I always saw Calvinists as brothers and Sisters in Christ and a different perspective. Once challanged, a friend at work told me do not read books for or against-the only books as bible study tools as back then not much in the market for software except the online bible, Strong's, Englishman's and Vines is what I basically had-oh yes-The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Yes I know bro.Macarthur speaks as his most valuable resource outside the bible as this whole time that is what I used the most and can definetly say in Logos-I still use that more then anything else. These besides the online bible-do not let me forget -he told me whatever belief I had come to he would believe the same as me with a understanding of not slanting one way or the other and must pray for God to teach me the truth-all this at a very Armenian school. So when I got done, I shared he would have to stop believing in Limited Atonement but will not hold hiom to that since he not only trusted me to do the right thing and be the right way but also trusted the Spirit of God to teach me. For years I did not put one with the other about spirituality but definetley can now.

As I am a bit of a KJV only type-2 things. 1. I like the ESV and almost anytime someone would slander that version, I would go and do a quick study on the passages and words as I saw it-9 times out of 10 Whatever the ESV translators used was no different from the KJV as the KJV translators basicly used word variation so it does not come so stilted like Youngs. What I began seeing was that whatever the ESV used, so did the KJV but not in the same passages which to me has nothing to do with inspiration or preserving the bible. 2. I am a bit more studied compared to most KJV folks as I think on both accounts of the debate-just seemed like taking candy from a baby when trying to correct misapplication of knpwledge and assumptionsfrom the KJV side. Had a reformed professor friend of mine and saw some use some of my own points I was hoping to impart to have a better understanding to slander my friend a brother in Christ

What does this have to do with anything? I am still a bit of a KJV only guy but when seeing that it ws almost like the Spirit of God slapping me around when seeing this happen and this thought came into my mind-if these are how people are acting not about the bible but as a result of Armenianism as every one was one in that community as I see it-Armenians will devour each other and really Calvinism is what will be left.

Talking about this in the context as I had been studying emerging and emergent church movement philosophy and for whatever reason, it is not hard for me to pick up really fast, the errors, contradictions, and philosophies used(Hegelianism for instance as Immanence vs. Transcendance) as basically what they want to do is reintroduce moderniosm and gtet rid of fundamentalism-it just is not that hard for me to see incarnational is the spark of divinity in the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God. I hope to write and maybe get published on this which I do not hold my breath for figuring self publishing and giving it away might be the route to take as am more concerned of people being decieved or unable to discern the truth as opposed to any kind aof possabilities of coinage(money) as am ot sure I can say it was Bro. MacArthur influanced me in this as he has given a lot away to minister to others. Me, I just think if it is free and on a website-will be able to reach more and all they need to do is download it.

Wrapping this all up, I really began to see in this KJV community it is more about opposing as compared to building and just have this impression not just on them but any non Calvinistts basically are going to devour each other over stuff in the long run does not matter and as I see it-Calvinists will have to lead against liberalism error of the emerging church movement-online, I have never seen Calvinists disputing each other. maybe there are who do. I bought a book on worship and CCM and probably would have to say that is the most I have seen from Calvi nists in division and again-I have my views and I disagreed as I am more traditional in my musical tastes-but if that is the only division and never see any other ripples.

For this reason and others such as I cannot stay quite when someone speaks we only follow a God that wants to make puppets or robots of us all-I just tell them amen brother! When I hear someone preach how bad it is for God to have to force people to faith in Calvinism, I tell em prach it brlother and hope God sees fit to frorce a few hundred million even billions to be saved.

For quite a few of these reasons I decided to leave the IFB ranks and probably will end up a Reformed Baptist as I can stop biting my bloody tongue. In writing all of this-the big thing OI saw and hope to bring out is really learning and seeing how important ones view of election vesus Armenianism as quite a bit more important then checking and seeing what bible you use as I see this any more as a sin in the flesh. When I see free grace disputing some other group and baptists basically unable to think for themselves and then adopt the views of Ryrie and for the ;ast 100 yrs always preached repentance and because Dr. John preaches this-we have to stop and recalibrate our understanding? For a group tat speaks of no one influancing them, there has been quite a bit that has changed in the 20 yrs I started into this faith movement almost would not look the same-and yes that is where I see the wisdom in bringing a bit of Calvinism into fundamentalism. The one thing I wpould like to see in the fundamentals of the faith is faith. Mainly because all the emergents say we are modernists for being certain about truth when -yes-w e are certain but that is when you place faith, you really do believe-certainty in that has nothing to with Desecartes. Certainty in faith means-we really believe without wavering.

God bless

Dave Emme

#18  Posted by David Emme  |  Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 4:27 AM

With not trying to get crossed up on anything, I remember all my Independent Fundamentalist bretheren proud of not having a creed or creedalism. Then I ask-does your church have a doctrinal statement of what they believe? Tha answer alawys yes and to me, what is really the differance? Not talking of the bear bones creeds

#19  Posted by Terry Stroot  |  Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 5:38 PM

To Jason Jacobs

I Would say from your last question "Of course, I can articulate that obedience and good works are evidence or fruit of regeneration (having already been saved), but she could not. Does that mean she isn't saved? I don't know, but I hope I have the chance to discuss the issue of works resulting from salvation - though not contributing to it."

If one counts all the good works they have done and feel they deserve to be allowed in the Kingdom I would say they are not saved but if even though they do all these good works but they still know even though they did hundreds of good works they know counting them is useless if they don't see Jesus Christ as the Savior and we trust only in His good work. Onced saved our character becomes like His by His power not ours. By this they are saved though Christ. Of coarse you might already know this.

#20  Posted by Janet Young  |  Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 6:52 PM

the other day i had a rather long conversation with my Greek professor at my undergraduate "christian" college. it was about fundamental doctrines and the line that defines the major ones from ones that you can compromise of and still be a christian. i must say, it was rather frustrating, because he refused to accept that one can know with certainty the truth about fundamental doctrines beyond Jesus being the Christ, basically. i was arguing (or at least trying to) that one can know with certainty, because God wrote the Bible to be understandable. so our main issue of conflict was calvinism vs. arminianism. i believe calvinism to be essential to the Christian faith, and he didn't think the issue was that important, and so believers should accept the arminian point of view so as not to offend other believers. i totally disagreed, but i am writing this to ask for help...why is the predestination issue so important? i know that if you believe that you can choose God on your own strength, that is pretty much a works-based salvation right there, but my professor didn't seem to follow me, and looked rather stunned that i had mentioned such a thing. anyways, help!

#21  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Hi Janet,

I can understand your frustration, however I must agree with your professor. Before I go further, let me say I kind of despise the term "Calvinism" because it is so misunderstood by people on both sides of the issue and there is much that Calvin believed that would prevent him from being a member in most of our churches. However, for the sake of discussion I will use the term.

First and foremost, Calvinism is not the gospel. A person does not have to believe it to get saved. For one thing Calvinism is a system which summarizes a number of teachings in Scripture (none of which include the basic facts of the gospel), typically organized into five main points. But among self-proclaimed Calvinists you have people who don't adhere to every point (most often limited atonement). So you'd have to clarify which kind of Calvinist you have to be to be saved, and make your case as to how Scripture requires adherence to whichever points as a necessary belief for salvation.

Secondly, in my experience most Arminians are not true Arminians. That is, they do believe in God's sovereignty in their salvation, but because they misunderstand how sovereignty and human responsibility interplay, they feel they need to hold on to "free will". (This is not to say that Calvinists understand that same interplay either). So most Arminians are inconsistent in that they act, pray, and sing just like Calvinists.

Third, there is a tension in thinking about fundamental doctrines because we have to distinguish between (1) what you must believe to be saved, and (2) what you cannot deny to be saved. We would all agree, I think, that 1 Cor. 15:1-4 includes some of the basis things you must believe to be saved. However must you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, completely innerrant and infallible in order to get saved? I don't think so. I would put that in the second category, meaning that you can't deny that, but you can still be saved even if you don't understand it (the thief on the cross didn't believe that). Calvinism is definitely not in the first category, and I wouldn't even put the system in the second category. Just like I wouldn't put the mode of baptism in either category. It's not that I don't think either are important, I just don't see them as salvation--or damnation--issues in Scripture.

After all that, it would be good to hear your thoughts as to why Calvinism must be believed in order to be saved.

#22  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 12:18 AM


I can also sympathize with your frustration. In fact, inasmuch as your professor has denied the perspicuity of Scripture, I stand with you in resisting, opposing, and exposing that fundamental expression of postmodern rebellion.

With regard to your comment and Gabriel's reply, I'd like to offer my own two bits of clarification. Calvinism--a broad label applied as shorthand for the Doctrines of Grace, which were developed in and after the Protestant Reformation, which came to full bloom in England and Scotland in the 17th century--is a very mature way of articulating the Christian gospel.

Rightly understood and carefully explained, Calvinism is the gospel. Spurgeon said it best (he often did) in "A Defense of Calvinism":

"I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."

That said, not every Christian understands or articulates the Christian gospel that way. Spurgeon described the experience many of us had in our early years as fledgling Christians:

"Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this."

Immaturity, faulty thinking, and sympathy for tradition cause many Christians to reject Calvinism blindly or ignorantly. Sadly, they never grow away from their inherited Arminianism; rather, they continue to articulate and defend a rudimentary expression of the Christian faith, twisted into inconsistency by their doctrinal error.

All that to say, you shouldn't consider a carefully articulated Calvinism to be the litmus test dividing Christian from non-Christian. I'd look for the dividing line in more rudimentary biblical professions (e.g., Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Eph. 2:8-9); but I'd encourage and watch for growth that comes forth in more mature expressions of faith, like those found in the Doctrines of Grace (e.g., embracing divine election, sovereignty of God in salvation, particular redemption).

The greater the maturity, the more accurate the expression of the gospel, the greater our capacity to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I hope that helps!

#23  Posted by David Emme  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 2:33 AM

Wanting to hit on a couple points I agree with. First, when ever someone ever accuses me of preachhing a false gospel for believing Calvinism(not writtebn by Calvin since he had been dead about 64 yrs). also iin debate am told I cannot deny one and redefine other points for they must all stand or fall together as this is the gospel until I kindly point out it was never intendede to be a gospel but a apologetic to defend and subjugate error as was written against five points of Armenianism-so I share if they never put Universal salvation-I kind of think we would not see Limited Atonement(which I do not agree with and love getting accusd of not wanting to evangelize when most often fielding that accusation I actually preached more gospel sermons, knocked onmore doors, handed out more tracks, in more evangelistic ministries i.e. bus ministry then the person accusing-not trying to build myself up for I am most miserable a siner-but when accused kind of wander how I do more evangelizing compared to the person accusing of this)

As coming out of the IFB movement-they tend toget shocked when I challang to be consistant-they told me I cannot use Spiurgeon as the one example when I tell them fine-did not intend to use him anywas. I speak of consistancy and should get rid of every single book by a Calvinist-when they agree this is about the time I tell them to start ripping the pages out of the KJV for it was King James who called for the Synod of Dort. I really try not to be mean as before I became a Calvinist-I always viewed them as a diofferance in pespective but still my brothers and sisters in Christ and once I became a Calvinist-I treated those not Calvinist the same way-my brothers and sisters in Christ with a different viewpoint.

On a totally diferent note-but still related-I am very big on eternal securityof the believer-even when my parents took us to a Salvation losing church among pentecostals. Eventually when on my own, I have met and discussed with quite a few who did not believe in eternal security. Most times, it came down to this-whatever caused them to think that-I saw nothing but a heart that wants to please the Lord. Does not mean we should allow someone like that come and preach at our church but also stop judging as lost or adding works for salvation. Yes, we see it that way and might be a hint of truth in that but as I said-most times it is a heart that loves God and I suspect-they see alicense to sin so they go to the other direction.

In several online communities I can very passionaltely defend my own positon and attack the opposiote position. No matter what-when one or the othermakes an accusation of being lost because of their belief-especially coming from my own positin I agree with-I will put a stop to that as inthe 50 or so I ever met in real life or hundreds online-I only ever met one I did not believe his testimony of salvation as I also tend to bring up-only met one person who beliebved eternal security repudiate his faith and quit church. I call that an equal batting average until I get all these what if questins which I take in stride as what if I never found a friend who departed from the faith. One couple(this at an overseas military church) we had a pastor leave and after gone revealed in very deep fornication type sins-we had one couple I was coincerned aboout as i saw him trying to rationalize how could one who discipled and met so much to him be that way-I got statoned elsewhere and for years lost track of him. The church had a website nbow with sermons on video and went and looked at a missions conferance and lo and behold-there is that brother-a missionary in Japan preaching at the missions conferance.

On a different experiance-from that pentacostal church-was ebale to reconnect with a friend as he was trying to find wisdom in moving to Vegas(from the salvation losing side) and asked what was the problem and really just finance. Saw he worked in a ministry and this was a plunge full time ministry and found they had a ministry just for pastors and other full time Christian employees for counseling about internet porn and as he told me-if I had a problem like that and wanted to overcome-do I go to the ma who hired me-the head pastor? How long before I am looking for another job? In Vegas, they wanted to start this ministry where it would try to help Christians and when there was some sort of meetings and stuff-sorry cannot tink of the name but basically would by a space -conventions-that is it- where some will be tempted by the city of sinto do things they would not otherwise do if everyone knew about it. So it was basically a ministryto allow Christians tohelp through that time and help them to be accountable. As one in the service for 10 yrs-yep when away from home it is very easy to act differently-sow your wild oats even if you are a 50 yr old man.

Now, when I see these two differing men with diferent ministries-one believes you can lose salvation so what does he do-counsel pastors about internet porn and being available if it happens to help Christians who could fall into some deep sin away from church and family in a city designed to entice the flesh and the other a missionary in japan.

Npw, here is the thing-sometimes we judge to quickly about someone we disagree with and cannot see their heart in a ministry and especially on line-not saying I doid not disagree but met wonderful people online and some rotten ones as well as I heve been taught by people who think they can lose salvation and just the sweetest spirit from them.

This does not excuse false doctrine, but in what you are saying in the differances between Calvinists and non calvinists-this is really where i see our error of being judgemental. We can always oppose bad teaching, but a good chance they are your brothers and sisters in Christ as we take the place of God to judge them.

When writing this-yes I do spend a lot of time online as about 4 yrs ago as a soldier in Iraq, I was wounded by an IED with a penetrating head wound-obviously Traumatic Brain injury when you find they removed a piece of your skull to save your life but left the shrapnel in my Brain intact. When I talk about tis, I praise the Lord for what he brought me through and bringing me many years of fustration as I could not understand when I did become a Calvinist-this changed perception I was not aware of until after tis happened to me and see it as praying to God-I understand this Lord and understand that-for swome reason there is this fog around me and I could not understand-this mainly understanding there is not much we can do to overcome sin and my mind was still going on-I habve to do something, right?

Once wounded-seeing ow fragile the body and mind was at my time at Waler Reed, this is about the time I discover Matt 16 that all my Baptist brothers told me had nothing to do with salvation. It was like for me-I finally got it-what can I do to overcome sin-absolutely nothing. Yhis is where the whole thing of dey your self, pick up your cross(what was used to kill rebels with -what does Christ really think of tis) and follow Christ DAILY-to fiinallyundestand what it means to lose my life so Christ can save it as mainly-get out of the Lords way David-he won the battle already and when you get in the way-that is when you start failing as I really stared getting it as Salvation is no one and done but Christ sanctifies those he saves and that is matching our living with our justification as I began to undestand-I did not do anything before salvation to overcome sin-what really can you do after you are saved. So much more but must be going-I am just happy, love God, look for a way every day to express my joy as in the past we wander why and how but now understand what it means the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I say all this-yep I live a somewhat hermetic life as quite a bit with my sleep schedule is eternally ruptured as right now cannot work and sometimes goes to school but have not really been active in church and so places like these-this is sometimes where I do find fellowship and stay faithful in my boible education as well as daily reading/studying and listening to good brothers like Dr. John, Paul Washer, and a few iFB's I do enjoy. For some reason, I get this feeling someone might look and say-man this guy is a loser and do not have a life-well that is technically correct about what I had been learning-but this is also why I write so much and so often as i did not even know til today about the blogs and comments-thanks for putting up with me and God bless-David Emme

#24  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 6:08 AM

Gabriel, I wouldn't say that I hate the term Calvanist, but I kind of agree. For me, my "calvinism" is just the label with which I sum up what I believe. It's annoying when people misjudge me as a hyper automatically, but it annoyed me when when I was living in Poland and people would misjudge me just because I'm American. I wouldn't say I hate the label American. With regards to flavor however, I am a five-pointer. I see too much evidence, after spending a lot of time trying to disprove it, in favor of all 5. But that's me.

Travis, As much as I love Spurgeon, I would say that I might have to respectfully disagree with Him. Throughout the gospels, both John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching either "Repent for the kingdom is at hand" or "Repent and be baptized, for the kingdom is at hand." While we don't have everything else they said, I'm pretty sure they certainly didn't articulate the finer points of the Tulip with regards to specifically salvation. That said...

Janet, how is it important in what sense? As for a believer's life, I do believe it is important to grow and mature in our understanding. I don't personally believe (and this is where I agree with Spurgeon) that a person can't properly mature without coming to a Calvanist interpretation of scripture. But I certainly wouldn't say that it's important for salvation, or even that it's particularly necessary for a believer's life as long as they are truly dedicated to serving God with their whole hearts, and insofar as they are able to understand Him, with their natural mind. Otherwise what do we say with believers (like me) who were saved in Arminian bodies and then came to the Calvanist perspective? Was I not truly saved until I grasped the meaning of the word "predestination"? Or was it when I understood the TULIP as a whole? (Which is what I think Gabriel was saying when talking about the kinds of Calvanist.) Some people just aren't (or don't seem to be) mentally predisposed to understanding the complexity of reasoning that brings a person to understanding how predestination works. I don't mean that to sound prideful and I'm not disparaging the intelligence of any Armenian. A lot of people consider me pretty well educated, but I can't begin to fathom something as "simple" as basic algebra or any math beyond long division. My 12 year old niece on the other hand is a math wiz. If supremely educated theologians can't agree on the specifics of much theology, including Calvinism, the it makes sense that the rest of us may stumble over it as well.

I would say that we can discuss this all day, but we would have a hard time coming to an exact agreement on the degree to which Calvinist doctrine is necessary for a believer's development. As far as salvation is concerned, I would think that all that is necessary (besides the predetermined election of God hehe) is repentance, faith in Christ, and the acknowledgment of our insufficiency to save ourselves and then following Christ in word and deed as the effectual evidence of all that. (As I reconcile the dispute between James and Paul over works and faith anyway.) Just because I might think I chose Christ, it doesn't mean He didn't chose me first. His choice being the primary necessity, my understanding of it secondary.

#25  Posted by Janet Young  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 10:21 AM

first of all, i want to thank everyone who responded to my question, your comments have indeed helped. although i am still very much pondering this over in my head.

mike, to clarify what i mean by the doctrine of election being important, i definitely do not believe that you have to come to understand or believe it in order to be saved. i certainly didn't understand it and wasn't giving it much thought when i repented. what i am concerned with, however, is when a christian is presented with the doctrine, and then rejects is whether because they understand it and don't like it, or because they don't understand it. shouldn't a true christian accept it even if they don't fully understand it, because they can recognize that Scripture dictates belief in the election of God? this is not to say that we don't have free will, but that Scripture presents both, so we should believe both? so if we start with an Arminian bent (i don't mean the word "bent" in a negative sense), and encounter God's sovereignty in election, we should believe it too. in this way, i see the issue of predestination as essential to the christian faith, BUT not as essential to getting saved. i hope i have made more sense.

#26  Posted by David Emme  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 1:04 PM

No problem-I have a much longer post-if i could boil it all down as it has been very formative for me so alot narrative and some doctrinal. As an IFB who became a Calvinist while in an IFB Armenian school of all places-miracles do happen.

As I see it if I boiled it doown to this one point hopefully-Calvinists sees salvation as a work of God. I believe because of this-most Calvinists are a bit quicker on the up take that God did it all in salvation which I see as also sanctification and maybe to steal a line or 2-whatsaves us, sanctifies so seeing salvation all of God-so is sanctification as non calvinists see it as if they were involved in being saved-we have to sanctify ourselves. To me besides undersatanding what sin is(knowledge of good and evil) as basically just like Adam judged his nakedness as sin when God did not and overcame that sin in self righteousness-I see it this way-all our righteousness are as filthy rags-and when we get redeemed-nothing chaged there-our righteousness are still as filthy rags. That is I think a bit of a reason somewhat easier for me to see Lordship salvation when it came out and that ruined my spiritual life-because I was like the-lets just say if you believe in Lordship Salvation and like Dr. John and are an independent Fundamental Baptist-you are either the Beast or the false Prophet-but i am like one of those guys that you better know what ur taling about in those accusations and when i had a VP and a couple profesors try to take me to task on the blood of Christ-I basically went to Hebrews 2 and basically told them if by breakfast tommorow you can explain the super deified blod of Christ according to Hebrews 2 which said he was a partaker of flesh and blood as we-I would pack my stuff and be off campus by lunch which never happened. I do disagree with Dr John on the blood of Christ-ut see it more about Hermeneutics as opposed to seeing heresy where as I do agree it was the blood of Christ-just never saw it as something he would carry up to heaven-very Roman Catholic like-and we are Baptists?

I have left them now and basically looking for a reformed Baptist or a church similar to Grace out here in the Lehigh Valley in East PA Allentown/Bethelehem area-yes we do have Egypt out here to andf the jordan river believe it or not.

I see it more about sanctification as opposed to salvation asi see it-cleanse your self with the flesh and one of my statements in the longer post-a house divided against it self will not stand and thus why i can see a pastor fall so deep into sin and everyone wandering was he saved-well idunno-but i know this-if your whole life you become sanctified by your sin nature-it ois no suprise when that happens.

That is why i see it more about sanctification as opposed to initial faith for salvation.

Folow this one blog and see extreme grace or free grace teaching once saved-faith is done. So when I ask what did Paul like said i am not ashamed of the gospel and revealed from faith to faith for the just will live by faith. That was about a month or half ago and still kind of waiting for an answer on that, on how faith ends at salvation and works in there in Romans 1

#27  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Janet, I understand what you're talking about. i think that situation is what Gabriel was referring to (and I could be misunderstanding, but I don't think so) when he said, "But among self-proclaimed Calvinists you have people who don't adhere to every point (most often limited atonement)." and "in my experience most Arminians are not true Arminians. That is, they do believe in God's sovereignty in their salvation, but because they misunderstand how sovereignty and human responsibility interplay."

When someone rejects something like Limited Atonement, typically, it's not the doctrine they're rejecting it is usually either their misunderstood interpretation that they are rejecting, or it's the way it is presented by another person that they are rejecting. It's pretty clear that not everyone is going to heaven, so most believers (true ones anyway) will accept the idea that while Jesus' blood bore the power to atone for the sins of the world, it doesn't, otherwise everyone would go to heaven. What they most often reject is that God predetermined those who would be saved, and because of that, Christ's death only counts for the elect. Hence the limitation of atonement. This is a MUCH more full presentation of Limited Atonement than I was given at took some digging, praying and wrestling with God before I got there. Part of the reason why I hold to all 5 points of Calvinist theology is that from everything I've found in scripture, if one falls, they all fall. So predestination and limited atonement are linked with all the rest, I think.

i think that if we made our case for predestination and election from the standpoint of presenting the passages of Scripture that use the actual words so that people see this is not some abstract concept that some dusty theologian dug out of a hidden text...this is something directly talked about in scripture, then most believers, if they are true, would admit that the concept exists. How can they not if it's black ink on white paper? It's the definitions that they struggle with. That being the case, i do believe that we should hold to things clearly given in scripture even if we don't understand (see previous comments about the Trinity), but we should both seek to understand these things, and we should also give other people the freedom and the time to seek to understand these as they can.

I think what I'm trying to say essentially is that most true Christians DO accept what is presented in scripture...eventually. The degree to which it is clearly made manifest to each believer depends on the Holy Spirit. This is why I think we should be careful when debating the finer points of Calvinism/Arminianism with or in the presence of young believers. They may not yet see it so clearly...even if the words are there, they may not know them well enough to understand it, and if we make a mess of defining or presenting them, then we are in danger of putting a stumbling block in their path that they may struggle much of their lives to get over. It's a mistake I've made before...God forgive me.

Of all the blogs posted, this one is my favorite...good conversations!

Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria, so scriptura!

#28  Posted by Regis Cordeiro  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 2:11 PM

God saved me in a Pentecostal church that wouldn’t believe in all points that Calvin made. When my faith started to move from a fluid form to a more solid one - becoming more mature - it became clear to me that I agreed with the five points Calvin made.

Before, it bothered me to label myself as a “Calvinist”, since this often was confused with Hyper-Calvinist, and was not understood, but this is another topic. So when people asked me if I was a Calvinist, I used to say, “I am a Christian, but I believe in the same points that Calvin explained". Today, I think it is an easier way to identify other brothers who think alike.

Do I believe that if you don’t agree with Calvin’s points you are not saved? No, I was saved several years before understanding, but getting deeper in the faith these doctrines became clear to me. So, I agree with Travis’ points (#22).

The main problem I see today is that people think that they have a part in salvation, and that is not possible. Why do I say it is not possible? Because in Genesis 2:17, God instructed Adam to not eat of the fruit, or he would surely die. After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they walked out of the garden, so was God wrong? No, they died spiritually.

There are other places in the Bible that confirm that the unsaved are spiritually dead. So the possibility of a person participating in their own salvation is the same as that of a dead man doing something in his coffin.

So the questions are: Does God do 99% and I do 1%? Does God do 99.999% and I do .001%? or does God do 100%?

I believe that there are really only two options: one can either believe that we participate in our salvation with God, or believe that it is just God. To believe that I have participation, I have to change a lot of passages to fit this belief. However, the option where God does everything is seen throughout the whole Bible.

The reason I am pointing out this specific issue is that the result of our faith is completely different depending on how we answer that question. One is God-centric, the other is man-centric, with God becoming one more of the “tools” to give us what we want.

If you have a man-centric Christianity, it is very likely that you don’t know God. God doesn’t share His glory. God does not need us, or our approval. He is God. We need Him and His mercy.

If you believe that you had some participation in your salvation-even if it is just to think that you “chose” God, I would lovingly ask you the same question I asked my wife: “Are you really saved?”

God tells about people that will come into His presence saying, “Lord, Lord” but He will say He doesn’t know them. So, if God is always right, and He says there will be those kinds of people, it is a fair to ask ourselves this question, and for us to take it seriously, as a matter of eternal judgment.

God bless,


#30  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 5:24 PM

My head hurts. Not because of what you all wrote, but because I want to say something that's clear in my head but the words are just not coming out in logical sentences. I will try to explain it and hopefully it will make sense.

I was also "saved" in an Arminian church. But (and I have said this before on other topics on this blog), I don't believe I was "really" saved until I understood one thing: repentance. Yes I believed in Jesus, I believed He was The Son of God, I believe He was Lord (although in an Arminian way of seeing Him as Lord, which in my humble opinion is a very limited understanding of His Lordship). I was aware of my sins - you know, "wrong" things that I've done in my life, but only "moral" side of those wrong things. I had no idea, absolutely no idea whatsoever, of my sin against God, against His holiness, against the God creator and sovereign. No idea. For whatever reason I came to this understanding last year. I find myself thinking about Isaiah whenever I think of this, when he found himself before God he "knew" who he was because being in the presence of a Holy God will reveal our total depravity. So I repented not of the "wrong" things that I had done, but of all the sin that I had commited against my God! Which cannot be the same thing if we don't understand that, most important of all, we are sinning against Him!

It was then that I started "wanting" to read the bible (again, I knew that it wasn't "me" who wanted to learn, but God through His Holy Spirit in me). Some other changes came (and fast): I wanted to fellowship with other believers, I wanted to pray, I felt this almost phyisical pain for the lost (especially for those inside churches, strangely enough), I started understanding the bible!

Some will argue that I was just maturing in the faith. I will have to disagree. Arminianism is about pride, IMHO. And as long as we are not taught about the glory of our God and our own depravity, we cannot really repent.

I could say a lot more - but I won't. Just this: Calvinism is not a word that I like very much as well (for the same reasons as other people mentioned - people tend to confuse it with hyper-calvinism, I know it, I used to do that too when I "was" arminian). But the most beautiful thing about Calvinism is the understanding of sovereign election - what else could humble us so much and bring us to a more full understanding of The wonderful, gracious, loving and righteous God?

In Christ,


#31  Posted by randell danner  |  Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 9:17 PM

Years ago i had two roommates who one day got into what ended up being a heated discussion. One argued for "grace alone" and the other argued for the "works" side of salvation. He was not saying we are saved by our works but the other friend could not see that so they went at it for about 20 minutes or so. I sat and listened the whole time kind of laughing on the inside but trying to learn from what they were saying. Finally i had to step in and say, "GUYS! Your both right!" They stopped, looked at me in a few seconds of silence and then at each other and said, "he's right."

The problem we have with the Bible (notice i didn't say, 'the problem with the Bible' since it has no problems) is that i think there are two sides to many doctrines. For instance, i believe salvation is a free gift of God and yet it will cost us everything; or should anyways, in the long run.

Once we are saved we are free from the law and yet we are required to keep God's commandments. Jesus said so if we indeed love Him. There are many paradoxes (what is plural for paradox??? i probably spelled it wrong, sorry) throughout scripture and teaching that makes it somewhat mysterious. I think God designed it that way to confound the unregenerated mind of man that he cannot understand the mysteries of God without being born of the Spirit. That is why you always here the lost say that the bible is full of contridictions. It is not, but that our natural lives and thinking are contridictory to Him and His word. Le 26:21 'Then, if you walk CONTRARY to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. Le 26:23 'And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk CONTRARY to Me, Le 26:24 then I also will walk CONTRARY to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. Le 26:27 'And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk CONTRARY to Me, Le 26:28 then I also will walk CONTRARY to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

I personally try not to get bogged down with the doctrine of election and God's Sovereignty; i understand it all in all but it hurts my brain and disrupts my faith if i think about it too long. The only real problem i have with the "once saved always saved" view is that people use it to excuse not obeying God and living, some, worse than heathens because in the back of their mind and deep down they know the truth but ignore it. Like those who say they were saved at a very young age (6 or 7) and grew up in church but as adults they show no evidence of salvation and the Holy Spirit working in their life and are caught up in the cares of this world (i.e. career, sports, etc.) Yet they say because they said they "prayed a prayer" that they are saved based merely on their confession. For people like this, then yes, you can say they were never saved in the first place and they were not of us

But once again let me ask, if we cannot lose our salvation why then is their warnings throughout scripture of "falling away?" I brought up arguements in one of the other posts,as well as Cathy the RCC did, for facts that you can, not so much lose it, but that you can surrender your salvation. Once again, if a person is saved but later begins to fall away and goes so far that he becomes reprobate and his conscience becomes so seared that he can no longer find repentence than yes, he has lost or forfeited is Birth Right. Only God knows at what point this has taken place. I do not think we can say that such a person was "never saved" or "never of us."

I think this is one of those doctrines that has two sides and are both correct depending on where each and any individual stands with God. As i say these things please do not lump me in with the Charismatic/pentecostal bunch. I have stated well on these blogs where i stand on those issues. But if anyone cannot refrain from doing so go ahead, i can take it. Just kidding, sort of.

#32  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8:15 AM

# 31 - Randell,

you said: "I personally try not to get bogged down with the doctrine of election and God's Sovereignty; i understand it all in all but it hurts my brain... if i think about it too long."

This is how I feel about it too. And the same goes for eternal salvation and the perseverance of the saints, there is a point when my mind just can't wrap around these concepts after thinking about them for a while. However, I do believe that the ones who "fall away" were never saved to begin with. How can a person profess the Lord Jesus Christ (and all that His name means), and after a while (being that while a short or a long time) simply deny Him? (good example that I was reading this past week is Bart Ehrman, a bible scholar who now even denies the ressurection - never heard about him before, it was a post on a certain blog that caught my attention.)

In Christ,


#33  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8:25 AM

Randell and Elaine,

Has anyone suggested John's sermon series on the subject of the Doctrines of Grace?

I personally encourage you two to listen through the messages if you haven't already.  My understanding of God is that He does not want us ignorant of His doctrine.  He certainly doesn't want us to be afraid to study something because it may be hard.  Being "hard" can be a good thing because it challenges us to think through scripture and in many times it seems "hard" because the theology is challenging our traditions.


#35  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 11:08 AM

*Shauna Bryant*


You wrote: "If you have a man-centric Christianity, it is very likely that you don’t know God. God doesn’t share His glory. God does not need us, or our approval. He is God. We need Him and His mercy."

I agree completely. It is awfully significant that man didn't utter the word "I" until after the fall. If we are born again, aren't we supposed to understand "not our will, but His will be done"? It isn't about us ......God didn't save us because we are so awesome & spectacular.....but for His Glory.


If scripture is carefully studied, we see that those who fall away weren't saved. Look at the parables in the New Testament - those that had no root/bore no good fruit - yet sprung up, either withered or were hewn down. Those that hear, understand and do are the ones that abide in the root and are truly saved. Those are the ones described as abiding inthe vine and having root enough to stand. The others aren't losing salvation......they clearly never had it. I recommend you also listen to JM's sermon on eternal security. God Bless, Shauna

#36  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 12:53 PM

There have been some great comments on this post! Please allow me to offer some clarifications on my previous comments in response to Janet.

First, and perhaps most important, I do not agree with the level of uncertainty her professor expressed. When I said "I must agree with your professor" I was referring to whether Calvinism was a test for salvation. I do believe we can know much about the fundamental doctrines.

Also, let me qualify what I meant by "I despise the term Calvinism". Despise is too strong a word. Let me restate by saying that I cringe when I see Arminianism and Calvinism used on Internet blog comments. The reason is because people from inside and outside the camps have different understandings of what they mean. In other words, they are fuzzy terms that often come with strong emotional attachments. So you have to be very careful when using the term that the audience understands what is being meant by the terms. I much prefer using a designation like "doctrines of grace". John MacArthur, though he uses the term in certain venues, has also said that he tries not to use the term when he travels to places where he isn't familiar with the people. He has clearly said he wants to be known as a proponent of Scripture, not any one theological system that could close people's ears from hearing Scripture.

I stand by my statement that "Calvinism is not the gospel" meaning that what most people understand as the five point are not what you put in a gospel tract or share with an unbeliever, or what must be clearly and fully understood in order to get saved. However, we can say that Calvinism is the gospel if by that we mean that the doctrines of grace are the foundation of and fuller expression of the gospel which a believer should understand more and more as they grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

Also, it would help this discussion to repeat in a different way what I and other have said. When we discuss theological systems like Calvinism and Arminianism, we need to distinguish between the system itself and the people who associate themselves with the system.

It is very common for the average Christian Joe to associate themselves with a system that they don't fully understand--the same is true even of denominations. If you are familiar with Open Theism (essentially the teaching that God doesn't know the future), it is a branch off Arminianism. But really, Open Theism is the consistent application of Arminian theology. But most Arminians know that Open Theism is a heresy, even while not realizing that it is the natural expression of Arminianism. Therefore, the people who associate themselves with a theological system, do not always adhere consistently to the system.

This is critical for us to understand practically because we can fall into the danger of assigning a designation to a group of people when that designation belongs to the system itself. For example, the self-contained system of Arminianism is heresy, but most people who associate themselves with Arminianism are not heretics because they don't understand the system, and if they did they wouldn't agree with it.

When we get into discussion fundamental doctrines a person must believe, we must be careful that we don't think thoughts like, "If Arminianism is wrong, then all Arminians need to be evangelized with Calvinism." What we should do, is ask Arminians things like, "Do you believe that you contributed to your salvation? Do you believe that Christ's death, burial, and resurrection are insufficient? Do you believe that everyone goes to heaven? Do you believe that you are a Christian because of your intellect and abilities? Do you believe that man is more powerful than God?" If they say "no" to all those questions, then they have essentially agreed in seed form to Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, Perseverence of the Saints, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Now if you ask them whether they are a Calvinist they might get mad, but that's just because they don't understand Arminianism or Calvinism. And to be quite honest, if they didn't know either term, I'd leave it that way for now and just explain what the Bible says about who God is, who man is, what Christ did, and what we must do.

Remember, Paul didn't say, "I preach Calvin, and all his five points..." he said, "I preach Christ, and Him crucified." Our responsibilty is to be more biblical than any system, and give others the benefit of the doubt that they actually are more biblical than their system. Until we ask questions to know what people really believe, we shouldn't write them off because they don't claim a particular system.

#37  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Gabriel, thank you for your clarification. I completely agree with you on "we can fall into the danger of assigning a designation to a group of people when that designation belongs to the system itself." When we ask questions to people it's very interesting to know what they believe. I see that in the church I attend, I ask people a LOT of questions all the time, I am very interested to know what they believe (beginning from the leadership). When I first started visiting this church, I knew they weren't charismatic/pentecostals, so I, in all my ignorance, labeled them Calvinists and I was happy. Well, I was wrong. They are not charismatic/pentecostals alright, but I am not sure what they are! I'd say they are more Calvinists than anything else (the system of this particular denomination), but on the other hand, people who attend this church are a "colourful bunch". Yes, I took for granted that they (the people) believed the same as I did, and the more I talk to them the more surprised I get. Some of them believe a bunch of nonsense, some of them believe in their own image of God, some are charismatics and some believe (and follow) prosperity/healing doctrines, some will believe in anything preached (meaning they don't really filter anything that they hear with the Word), some are liberals... and the list can go on and on... it's really frustrating. What is even more frustrating is the few women that I met there who believe the closest to what I believe (and I can call it Calvinism here) are the ones who don't share the same view about women position in the church and in the home. I often wonder what really binds us together.

Anyway... thanks again. I am really enjoying this topic and discussion.


#38  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 3:23 PM

I found this while searching for something else:

thought it would add to our discussion.


#39  Posted by Rick White  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM


In response to your questions about being "once saved always saved". As Elaine pointed out those who "fall away" were never saved to begin with 1 John 2:19. Also one of the best scriptures that supports "once saved always saved" or the "perseverence of the saints" is Romans 8:30-39. Notice in verse 30 Paul makes the statement that whoever is predestined is also called,justified,and then glorified. He then goes through a whole list of things asking if they can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. He answers that none of these things can. v 38. Also,as I have heard John MacArthur ask before,if we are not saved by our works or our own efforts what makes us think that we can keep our salvation by our works or our own efforts? So,since it is God that saves us to begin with it is also God that keeps us "in Christ" John 10:27-29.

#40  Posted by Scott Thompson  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 5:39 PM

thank you for this blog i needed a place to vent a member of my family just left to go to the gates of glory church in dallas tx. an extremly charismatic church with the same ol retoric healing the sick raising the dead prosperity demonic theology so after they left to go to this church i went over to look at there web site i wanted to through up!! go to the web site and see for yourself young people old people deceived by this so-called stuff no repentance no exsposition of the bible i feel alone sometimes in my family with the doctrines i love reformed theology the dotrines of grace and election my family wont even hear what i have to say about it seems there drunk with this movement they wont listen to john macathur or john piper or even charles spurgen but check this out any website you go to that doesnt give there doctrinal statement beware of it and beware of the gates of glory church with howard richardson in dallas tx and all such so-called churches througout this nation and there are a bunch I LOVE THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE KEEP PREACHING THE TRUTH JOHN MACATHUR!!!! PS GO TO RESENT MESSAGES AND LISTEN TO JOHN MESSAGE ON THE ATONEMENT WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

#41  Posted by randell danner  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 7:36 PM

I agree with you Rick and everyone else, but what about all the warnings of falling away or being cut off from the vine? If we cannot not fall why and who are these warning for? Surely not the lost since they have nothing to fall away from if they never had it. What did Jesus say would happen to a "tree" that no longer bore fruit? Please explain what it means in R

omans 11, particularly in verses 20-22:

20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

I realise this is a message to gentiles as a whole group but can be applied to each individual as well.

What about warnings to the churches in Revelation? One example is Rev. 2:3-5:

4 "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place-unless you repent.

Again, this is for the church as a whole but is good for us to judge ourselves and where we stand with God as an individual as we will stand alone before Him and give an account.

I am not saying "election" and eternal security is wrong or false doctrine. i do understand what it is saying, Fred. I just want to argue the other side more so because of those that think they are eternally secure but never had what they think they do and justify their sinfulness with grace. How they think they can do this is beyond my comprehension! Paul clearly says,

20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

what does it tell us when people justify themselves the way they do? It tells us that people do not read the Bible! Period!

One thing i can say is that those who come on this blog do study and do care and love the Lord even though we do not always agree completely. I do appreciate everyone's comments and effort to "get it right." I think the worst kind of people are those who do not take a stand on any side (or try to have one foot on each side) and not form an opinion or observation of their own. At least even athiests use the mind that God gave them to think. I'm pausing here for a minute to let that one sink in. Good, i see everyone got it.

This discussion has been great and can't wait to see what the next blog will be about.

#42  Posted by randell danner  |  Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8:29 PM

Hey Scott, i checked out that website of ggogc in Dallas, and man, we all need to pray for your family. That is the scariest thing i have yet to see in all my days. The pictures that role on there website are horrendous! I see nothing but demonic oppression in that place and on those people and that is one scary dude. That is not God at all. It is sad because you can see some well meaning wonderful people needing God's touch and not getting it. I pray for your family to receive some seriously quick discernment and leave there.

I guess we've seen something this bad coming but not so soon. Maybe after the aftemath of this people will come to their spiritual senses and WAKE UP!

#43  Posted by Rick White  |  Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:59 AM


You seem to already understand that all of these scriptures are directed to churches and are warnings against becoming apostate. So,we cant' apply them to the individual believer. For example the reference you give in Romans 11 is directed towards a group of gentiles and is speaking about them becoming like the unbelieving Jews that rejected their Messiah on a corporate level. After all there were still many individual Jews that did believe. The reference in Revelation 2 is the same thing. It is a warning against the church becoming apostate and therefore having it's lampstand removed. This should stand as a warning to us now because just look what happened to the Roman Catholic Church. So, what these verses are telling us is not that the individual believer can fall away from the faith,but that a church can become apostate in it's beliefs. Having said that your point is well taken that too many use the doctrine of "the perseverance of the saints" as an excuse to sin. That is why Paul instructs us to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith 2 Corinthians 13:5. But,what this verse is telling us is to check to see if we were ever in the faith,not that we somehow need to come back to it. This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:22,23. These people thought they were saved yet Jesus tells them He NEVER knew them.

#44  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 10:13 AM


In response to your post #32. You can read a very good book on the sovereignty of God in its fullest sense. Type into your browser "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, by Lorraine Boettner. It has encyclopedic value on this subject. I have read and re-read this book a thousand times, so much so that the binding is falling apart. But the nice thing is, you can read it free on-line, and also quote liberally from it as there are no copyright restrictions.

I think, and I may have to double check, Boettner may have a hyper-view such as double predestination. But over-all the book is worth its weight in gold. Also, A.W. Pink's book, "The Sovereignty of God" I cannot recommend enough. I think he may have a hyper-view also, I think, not sure though, he believes that God only has love for the elect and not all of humanity, but don't let that deter you, this is also a book worth reading. No one person I know ever agrees on everything.

My three favorite doctrines are the Sovereignty of God, God's holiness, and the Deity of Christ, AND everything in between. When we understand how God works in providence we have such a deeper and richer understanding of His greatness. The deeper we go the wider our love and appreciation for Him becomes.

God bless,