The TULIP’s Petals and Sepals, part 5

May 10, 2013

by Ronnie Rogers

Perseverance of the Saints: This includes both preservation by God and perseverance by the saints. The Westminster Confession says, with regard to the truly elect, they “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of Grace.”[i] J.P. Boyce notes in his Abstract of Systematic Theology, “It is not merely preservation by God, but also perseverance of the believer, in faith and holiness, unto the end.”[ii] Within Calvinism, God’s preservation of the truly elect is standard, while there is variation in understanding of how eternal security, internal and external assurances, and warning passages of the Scripture relate to knowing one is elect in this life.

This petal is not a simple affirmation of the eternal security of the believer. Since there does seem to be such acceptable variance in defining perseverance of the saints as long as one does not question the security of the truly elect, this point does not seem to be as biblically problematic as the other four petals—a point with which some disagree.

Therefore, if a person believes the Scripture teaches the following, he cannot be a Calvinist: anyone who hears the gospel can accept the gospel by faith and thereby become eternally secure in the safe-keeping of God; those so saved do demonstrate evidence of such. As well as believing the Scripture does not teach the other calvinistically defined petals of the tulip. These truths are embraced in other biblical approaches but not in Calvinism.

Ronnie is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., and is the author of  “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.”


[i] Westminster Confession 17. 1.

[ii] James Petigru Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, (reprinted by the den Dulk Christian Foundation, Escondido, CA, 1887), 431-432.

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rhutchin

Pastor Rogers writes, “…a person…cannot be a Calvinist:”…[who believes] anyone who hears the gospel can accept the gospel by faith…”

The issue here is the source of faith. Calvinists say that faith is a gift of God. Do non-Calvinists say otherwise? …

All to whom God gives faith will believe unless, of course, God discriminates among people and gives faith to believe only to the elect. If God gives the same faith to all people then all people must believe. If a person were not to believe, then the common sense conclusion is that God never gave him faith.

    JIm P

    ruh…

    They may have said that but that does ‘t make it true. All thru scripture men are held to account whether they believe.

    John 3:18 ¶ “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    How could God be just if God determines if men believe then condemns them for not? It goes contrary to justice and simple logic.

    Jim P

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I’m neither Pelagian nor Calvinist. I do believe that faith is a gift.

    That is not the issue (and I know Arminians, who are NOT Pelagians, sometimes haggle over Ephesians 2:8 unnecessarily), Rather, the issue is in what sense is it a gift.

    How do you think faith is a gift? Do you believe God gives people a thing, called faith, and implants it in their brains or something? Explain the mechanics here for me in how you think faith is a gift, and how it is given, and how it is received.

    Remember, faith is something people have and do..

    So, don’t respond saying God gifts people with the capacity for faith. The capacity for faith isn’t the same thing as faith itself being the gift, which is what you assert.

    So, in what sense do you think faith is a gift?

    sbcissues

    rhutchin,

    All men exercise faith in SOMETHING. So, it is NOT the source of faith that is the the issue as you state; it is the OBJECT of our faith that is the issue!

    As Johnathan says, faith is something people have and do; the question is does that faith rest? I believe the BEST definition of faith in the Bible is the second part of Hebrews 11:6… where Paul writes, Without faith it is impossible to please God. That is a pretty strong statement right? That is where most people stop when quoting that verse.

    Paul continues: for he who comes to God must believe must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    Interesting statement he who COMES to GOD… does not sound like effectual calling to me but that is just me… notice how I believe Paul defines what faith is…

    he who comes to God must believe that He is… that HE is what? Everything that HE says He is and that is why the Word and the Gospel are so vitally important…

    and that HE is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him… which I say is He will do everything that He says He will do…

    Here is why this is so vitally important TO ME…

    If I believe that God is everything that HE says He is and that HE will do everything that He says He will do (or promoses He will do) then WHY would I not trust Him eveyr minute of every day?

    So… it is NOT that God gives a select few faith TO BELIEVE; that really makes no sense… that God requires faith to be saved and then He is the only one who can give it to those He wants to be saved.

      rhutchin

      The position you seem to take is that all people are born with faith sufficient to salvation and this faith is dormant until excited on hearing the gospel preached. The question then is whether this inherent faith is equally excited in all who hear the gospel (suggesting that all should respond positively to the gospel) or this faith is different from one person to another resulting in some people responding positively to the gospel and some not.

      If the inherent faith is different, then that faith can be traced back to God who forms the person in the womb. It would be here that God discriminates between the elect and the non-elect.

      I think you have a problem in getting some people to accept the gospel and some to reject the gospel without ultimately having to trace the different decisions back to God.

      “Interesting statement he who COMES to GOD… does not sound like effectual calling to me but that is just me…”

      I think the language is neutral and does not imply how a person comes to God. Total Depravity would seem to be a crucial factor here.

      sbcissues

      rhutchin,

      You wrote… The question then is whether this inherent faith is equally excited in all who hear the gospel (suggesting that all should respond positively to the gospel) or this faith is different from one person to another resulting in some people responding positively to the gospel and some not.

      There is no statement in the Scriptures dealing with being “equally excited” where faith is concerned. That is a philosophical position that many take to justify the irresistible faith position. There are other options.

      The gospel is the good news to those who believe; nowhere is the ability to believe specifically addressed. Nowhere does the Bible speak to the issue of why some believe and others do not. Perhaps one could build a case of a steady testimony of witnesses or a lack thereof… the depths of sin that a person experiences and his consequential response to the gospel… and here is a BIG one… the lack of workers in the harvest that is white unto harvest… people not willing to live daily for Jesus and not willing to take the time to share the gospel with those that need to hear it. There are all kinds of factors that can come into play with this question you ask.

      I do not think that their faith is necessarily different; it is that it is placed in a variety of places… and to varying degrees for that matter. The real issue is whether or not God and God alone decides who does and does not make it to heaven. That is the problem I have.

        Randall Cofield

        Just….wow.

        The real issue is whether or not God and God alone decides who does and does not make it to heaven. That is the problem I have.

        Yeah…that would be devastating, wouldn’t it?……

        Who does He think He is?

        Wanna rethink that one a little?

        Grace to you, brother

        sbcissues

        I am confident that you are more competent than this empty comment reveals.

          Randall Cofield

          Bob,

          So…exactly what did you mean?

          I found that statement utterly astonishing, even in the context of what you were saying.

          Grace to you, brother.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Nah, Come on Randall. I am surprised by your responses.

            That just sounds like a game of pseudo-pious theological “gotcha” because he didn’t word it a certain “pious” way.

            We all know what he meant and what he objects to, and the reason he objects is because SINCE he believes God determined it to work a certain way and not another way, he has a problem with the view that insists God did things the other way since he does not believe God has revealed that the other way is God’s way and he wants to uphold what he thinks is how God set things up in this regard. .

            We all know what he meant. If anyone here who isn’t a Calvinist became convinced Calvinism was true, they would become a Calvinist and would not reject Christianity.

            So, there is no need for theological gotcha here. Calvinists need to get past this, “it doesn’t sound pious enough” notion of argumentation.

            I find it mindnumbing and annoying, and I’ll give you an illustration why. You sound to us like the hyper-Calvinist sounds to you who accuses you of wimpy Calvinism for not thinking God is “Sovereign enough” to not only actively predestine sinners to hell rather than just pass them over, but also for rejecting that God is the author of all sin and evil, while not being morally corrupt for it (a greatest maximal being variant argumentation) which causes you to believe something like evil exists wholly independent of God and therefore must be equal to God.

            In trying to sound pious and smarmy, its just annoying and trivial.

            That’s how we see your overly pedantic and pseudo-pious response to Bob.

          Bob Hadley

          I guess I was wrong.

            Randall Cofield

            Bob & Jonathan,

            I’m on far too short a leash here to respond as thoroughly as I would like.

            Bob: Suffice it to say, when our reaction to a theological position compels us to make patently unbiblical statements…well, you get the picture.

            Jonathan: Your pejorative-laden response notwithstanding, you know full well that was a terribly misguided statement.

            Grace to you, brothers.

rhutchin

“All thru scripture men are held to account whether they believe.”

People are accountable for their sin and by their sin, people are condemned. Belief is the escape route from that concemnation. Non-belief keeps people in their sin.

    JIm P

    Rom. 14:23 …for whatever is not from faith is sin.

    So God is responsible for sin since He can end the problem by supplying faith.

      rhutchin

      That seems a reasonable conclusion. God would be the ultimate cause since God created people and people then sin through some deficiency not supplied by God in creating the people. Nonetheless, God does not have to be the direct cause of sin. People can decide to sin of their own volition, without any direct influence by God – other than that God does not intervene to prevent the person sinning.

JB

Jim,

Paul anticipated your argument and he settled it here;

Romans 9:19-21

“19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?”

God does what He pleases and is not accountable to your standard of fairness.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    That is not a response to Jim’s argument. What eisegetical proof-texting pish-posh…

    Do you really believe that Paul’s Jewish interlocutor is protesting “why does he make us not believe…we really, really want to and this isn’t fair!”

    Seriously man…come on.

JB

Johnathan,

This was Jim’s statement;

“How could God be just if God determines if men believe then condemns them for not? It goes contrary to justice and simple logic.”

Or perhaps a better way to say that would be…Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?

The protest is this; how can God still condemn men, when He is the one who decides who will be saved? The answer? God is God and He has the right to do what He pleases. My response directly addressed Jim’s statement.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Who will be saved and who will believe is not the same thing. Jim’s statement had to do with who believes. That is not the issue Paul is addressing. The Jewish interlocutor is not complaining that he can’t believe because God determined he couldn’t.

    So, I lack the charity Bob gave you, and say you aren’t even partially correct since you simply conflated two different issues in attempt to stretch your misuse of Scripture as applicable when it clearly wasn’t. You dialed back from belief to saved to do this. we’re too clever for that brother.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      To put it another way, as Bob is saying. God determined that the “believes in Jesus” people will be the people who are saved. It doesn’t follow from this, nor mean, that God determined certain people to be the “believes in Jesus” people and determined other people would not.

      sbcissues

      Weill put my brother.

sbcissues

JB

Your statement is PARTIALLY correct… The protest is this; how can God still condemn men, when He is the one who decides who will be saved? The answer? God is God and He has the right to do what He pleases. My response directly addressed Jim’s statement.

God is the One who decides who will be saved. The problem is the calvinist position that He determines who those individuals are. That is NOT what Paul is addressing. God’s decision on who is saved is based on man’s decision with respect to Jesus’ death on the cross and with where he places his faith.

Your application of this Scripture passage is where the rub is; not the passage itself.

JB

SBCIssues,

You wrote;

“God is the One who decides who will be saved. The problem is the calvinist position that He determines who those individuals are.”

What? God decides who will be saved, but he doesn’t decide who will be saved? That doesn’t make any sense.

sbcissues

JB…

You did NOT read the statement in its context. I said God decides… I am good with that… but where we differ is in HOW He decides… there is a difference in the two positions. I said God does not determine who those individuals are… His decision in based on my decision.

There is a real difference and it DOES make sense.

Kevin

sbcissues,

Just so I will know your position and not misunderstand. Is your view of election that God chooses you after you choose Him?

    sbcissues

    Kevin,

    Not necessarily. God KNOWS what my choice is going to be. His choice on my eternity is based on my choice concerning Jesus. The fact that HE knows WHAT I will do has nothing to do with His causing me to choose the way I choose.

      Randall Cofield

      So…God had nothing to do with your choice concerning Jesus?…..

      :-)

      sbcissues

      He did not make the choice FOR me.

        Randall Cofield

        Did He have anything to do with your choice?

        Bob Hadley

        There is a MAJOR difference in saying God did NOT make my choice in conversion FOR ME and saying He had NOTHING to do with it.

        Did God choose to reveal Himself to man through His Word? If He did then I maintain there is a choice associated with that revelation… namely faith to believe that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do.

        Did God say that His intention is to reconcile a lost world unto Himself and has sought to do that through the drawing work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts? Well, I believe reconciliation demands a response. It is God’s initiative and our response.

        So, I would say that God had a LOT TO DO WITH MY CHOICE to choose Him. Perhaps He had EVERYTHING to do with my choosing Him right up to Him making that choice FOR ME…. which I do not believe the Bible even remotely hints that He does as calvinism posits.

          Randall Cofield

          Bob,

          Perhaps He had EVERYTHING to do with my choosing Him right up to Him making that choice FOR ME…. which I do not believe the Bible even remotely hints that He does as calvinism posits.

          Biblical Calvinism does not posit that God makes this so-called “choice” for us.

          When you state “Perhaps He had EVERYTHING to do with my choosing Him right up to Him making that choice FOR ME”….you are very near the Calvinist position.

          Grace to you, brother.

Christian

If I have understood John McAuther’s view on the P in tulip, he thinks it is the same as Lordship salvation. Do most neo Calvinist feel this way? If so it is not just once saved, always saved. It is a different gospel.

    volfan007

    Christian, the way to salvation is by repentance and faith…Acts 20:20-21. True faith is a surrendering faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Bible tells on us to believe on Jesus as Lord. it also tells us to call on the name of the LORD Jesus. So, a real faith is a faith that surrenders to Jesus as Lord. Anything less is “Easy Believism.”

    David

Don Johnson

Kevin,

Yes, it seems to appear God chooses us after we choose Him.

volfan007

I wouldn’t put it that way…..that God chooses us after we choose Him…respectfully .that’s not good theology. The doctrine of Election is simply that God chose us. He chose to save us. He chose to save all of those people, who would respond to His call to salvation. Now, we dont have to add all the Calvinism into it….because, they’re just adding their philosophy into it, in their attempt to make it fit into Calvinism. But, election just simply means that God chose to save us….He didnt choose to just end the world after Adam fell….He didnt choose to not save people…..but instead, God chose to save people…

I think we try to make things a whole lot more complicated than they really are. It’s like with predestination….God planned to carry forth His purposes before the world began….God planned out how He was gonna carry out His eternal purposes….and, we can either get in on what God is doing, or else we can be run over….but, God is coming out of eternity past like a steamroller….He will accomplish His will on this Earth and in Heaven….and, we can either get on the steamroller and ride with God, or else we can stand in front of it, with our puny, little fists sticking out, and be run over and squashed…..the CHOICE is ours….

David

    sbcissues

    David… I agree.

      volfan007

      Bob, amen, Bro.

      BTW, I still want a suit like you’ve got…orange tie, white coat, and orange shoes….yea folks, I’m not kidding …Bob has this suit, and he wears it proudly….lol….and, if I can find one in my size, I’m gonna get one, too.

      David

JIm P

A point:

It is becoming slowly being recognized that election, Biblically, has more to due with God’s redemptive plan for the world than salvation of individuals.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Indeed. Not just ‘election”, the Bible contains “elections”.

    Election, generally speaking, has to do with God’s purposes with peoples. Too often, election is simply conflated with soteriology. This isn’t theologically sophisticated enough though to deal with the entirety of Scripture on the matter.

      Jim P

      That’s correct. Someone once said, “Keep things as simple as possible but no simpler.”

      Calvinism oversimplifies and becomes too convenient. That convenience is summed up in this verse:

      “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.” Mk 7:13

      Baptists, in general and traditionally, are not chained to traditions handed down.

mike davis

Are the planets alighed??? lol….Alan and Randall just agreed with me and amened me!

I agree with you too about lordship salvation. So does the BFM2K.

P.S. Glad you’re reading MacArthur. Keep it up :^)

Christian

I believe in Lordship saintification not Lordship salvation. And as for MacArthur he is reformed. Neo-Calvinism has left such a bad testimony in my life, I have no desire to follow any of them.

volfan007

Christian,

Jesus told Peter, Andrew, James, and John to FOLLOW Him…He didnt tell them to just intellectually believe that He existed, or was gonna die on a cross for people’s sins. He told them to FOLLOW Him. So, this is not a Calvinist and Non Calvinist thing…it’s just what the Bible teaches.

Christian, I would agree with you that Aggressive, Militant, New Calvinism has caused many people a lot of pain. I would agree with you that it’s not a good thing. But, please don’t confuse EVERY Calvinist with the James White, Founders Types. Not every Calvinist is radically Reformed. Some Calvinists are just Christians, who love the Lord, and who believe the Book….even though they disagree with you and me about some of the finer points of theology.

God bless you, Christian.

David

Wayne

I can’t seem to figure out how to start my own topic and this comment might be a little off topic but it is related,. Maybe someone can answer a question: In the late 14th century excerpt below, who “ordained” concupiscence in this man? Here’s the quote:

” From Adam we took original sin;
“from him fleshly descended be we all, and engendered of vile
and corrupt matter;” and the penalty of Adam’s transgression
dwelleth with us as to temptation, which penalty is called
concupiscence. “This concupiscence, when it is wrongfully
disposed or ordained in a man, it maketh him covet, by covetise
of flesh, fleshly sin by sight of his eyes, as to earthly things, and
also covetise of highness by pride of heart.”

Excerpt from “The Canterbury Tales” – Geoffrey Chaucer

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