FIVE MAIN POINTS OF CALVINISM
Perhaps no man has had a greater impact upon the religious world than John Calvin. His works are many, well known, and influential. Most churches espouse one or more of his doctrines. Calvin taught many things, some of which were printed. Some of his teachings were according to truth, while others were erroneous. Calvin’s best known teachings are classified under five headings. The word TULIP is used to help the reader remember them.
TOTAL HEREDITARY DEPRAVITY
The letter “T” stands for Total Hereditary Depravity. Calvin believed that all are born in sin, born sinners, inheriting the sins of the parents. The word of God does not teach this. Rather, Ezekiel said, “The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying…the soul that sinneth, it shall die…he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him…he shall die in his iniquity…” (Ezekiel 18:1, 4, 13, 18). Please read carefully the entire chapter, and especially how God shows that neither the father nor the son will be blessed or punished for what the other one does. Note especially verse 20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), not the inheritance of sin from parent or anyone else. Babies are not born unprofitable, but “are together become unprofitable.” (Romans 3:12). Sinners are not born out of the way, but “are all gone out of the way.” (Verse 23). No one is born short of the glory of God, but “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
Jesus certainly did not speak of little children as sinners, but humble people worthy of imitation. (Matthew 18:1-6). Further, God did not place babies in jeopardy of being lost in hell by attributing sin to them because of their sinful parents. Imagine God placing a baby in this world with sin it had not committed, and the possibility that its parents would never teach it to obey the saving gospel (Romans 1:16), and that baby dying without having the opportunity to do anything about it. This baby would be lost eternally in hell without any opportunity of changing its outcome. That is not the God of love revealed in the Bible. Again, Jesus was born of Mary, a human. (Luke 2:8-20). Did Jesus inherit her sin? Remember, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), including Mary. If so, Jesus was born a sinner! BUT, Jesus “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22; Cf. 1:19). He was not born a sinner, and He did no sin.
UNCONDITIONAL, UNCHANGEABLE PREDESTINATION
The letter “U” stands for Unchangeable, Unconditional Predestination. John Calvin taught that God, prior to the creation of the world, decided whom He would allow to obey Him and go to heaven, and whom He would not allow to obey Him and be lost in hell. He also said that the number could not be changed by even one. The scholar also said that salvation was unconditional. What saith the scriptures? Has God predestinated, elected, chosen and foreordained some to enter heaven, while others will be lost in hell? YES! (Romans 8:28, 29; Ephesians 1:4ff). Has God determined whom He will save or condemn? YES! (Hebrews 5:8, 9; Revelation 22:14). Has God chosen whom He will ALLOW to obey Him and whom He will NOT allow to obey Him? NO! Jesus calls “all”, “any”, “whosoever”, “every creature”, in “all nations” to Him. (Matthew 11:28-30; 28:18-20; Revelation 3:20; 22:17; Mark 16:15, 16). Beloved, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8). “The Lord is… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). God chose the PLAN but not the MAN. It will not be God’s fault if you find yourself in an eternal hell. It will be your failure to obey the gospel (Romans 1:16; 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) that sent you there.
You have sinned, and if you have not obeyed the gospel, you are on the broad road leading to eternal destruction. (Matthew 7: 13, 14). However, you can change directions. You can be like the boy who first refused to do his father’s will, then repented, and did it. (Matthew 21:28-32). Study the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) to develop faith (Romans 10:17), which will lead you to repent (change your mind and go in the right directions) of sins (Acts 17:30, 31), confess your faith in Christ (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9, 10), and be buried in water baptism to be saved and enter the church. (Romans 6:1-5; 1 Peter 3:20, 21; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 1:18). Salvation is conditional. (Matthew 7:21-23). It is by GRACE thru FAITH when one does the WORKS God has ordained. (Ephesians 2:8-10). Be careful not “to come short of it.” (Hebrews 4:1; Romans 3:23).
The letter “L” stands for Limited Atonement. Mr. Calvin erroneously said that Jesus died only for the sins of the saved. Paul, inspired of God (1 Corinthians 2; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17), does not teach this. Rather, the apostle, speaking of Jesus, said, “one died for all.” (2 Corinthians 5:14). He told the “saints” at Rome (Romans 1:1-7), “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), that “Christ died for the ungodly…sinners…enemies.” (Romans 5:6-10). 1 John 2:1, 2 says Jesus died for the sins of “the whole world” as well as for the saved. The Lord’s prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) was for all those responsible for His death, not only those who would later obey him. The Hebrew writer said, “Jesus…by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9).
The letter “I” stands for Irresistible Grace. Calvin told people to wait for a special working of grace, a direct and irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts to be saved. He believed that people could not refuse to be saved when the Spirit called them. However, of all those present on Pentecost, an estimated one and one half million souls, only about three thousand were saved and added to the church. (Acts 2:41, 47). Were these the only ones God would allow to come? Were there others who would have come, but were forbidden by the Lord? Romans 1:16 says, “The gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation”, and that is what the “beloved” at Rome had done to become the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:17, 18). Those on Pentecost were cut to the heart by the message of the Spirit through the apostles and led to be saved. (Acts 2). John said, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” (John 17:17). Consider this! If one must wait on God for a special calling by the illumination of the Spirit, and that never happens, who is responsible for that one going to hell? You have “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21). Use it!
PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
The letter “P” stands for Perseverance Of The Saints. John Calvin believed that one truly saved could sin, but that he/she would repent and be saved eternally. He thought anyone who failed to repent was never saved in the first place. My friend and diligent student, could those of Ezekiel 18, true Israelites, sin and be lost? YES! Acts 1:25 says, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own reward.” If he were never a part of the apostleship how did he fall from it? Were the branches which were cut off the vine and burned never a part of the vine? (John 15:1-6). Jesus used a vine to speak of people. (Verses 6, 7). Again, were the 23,000 Israelites who fell in one day never Israelites? (1 Corinthians 10:1-10). If one cannot depart from the Lord and be lost, why warn against such? (1 Corinthians 10:11-13; Hebrews 12:15). All who have become Christians must remain faithful or be lost. (Revelation 2:10; Mark 13:13).
Matthew 15:9 teaches all to reject the doctrines and commandments of men lest one’s worship be in vain. All should turn to the doctrine of Christ. (2 John 9-11). Do you need to get rid of some books so the word of God can grow within you? Cf. Acts 19:19, 20. Call the one who gave you this tract, and visit the church of Christ with them. Cf. Isaiah 1:18.
NOTICE!!! If you would like a more detailed study of each of these points, write to the address on the tract, or call the one who gave you this brief study.