In the interest of providing a Biblical counterpoint to SPM 1’s ongoing series on Reformed/Calvinist thought I’d like to offer the following point by point analysis and refutation of SPM contributor Andrew Clarkson’s latest article entitled Unconditional Eternal Security as it Relates to Calvinism.
“IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN”- MATTHEW 15:9.
This verse is particularly true of those who would undermine the truth of scripture and substitute it with a ”vain traditions of men” religion, making a shipwreck of the faith. Christ directed this condemnation to those who go about building up idols by adding to or taking away from the Word of God and elevating their own perverse man-centered doctrines to equality with scripture. This is precisely the error of those who hold to the wholly unbiblical belief that men save themselves by “making a decision” for God and relegating the King Himself to a position inferior to sinful man’s own “choice”. This false belief turns the Scripture on its head and makes man the agent of his own salvation! Man saves man!
This false belief is especially insidious and attractive to the natural man because deep within their desperately wicked and sinful hearts men desire to be a god, and therefore the idea that they can somehow “decide” for themselves and “choose to accept” Christ’s invitation by their own power is very, very appealing. Instead of simply taking God at His Word and believing the truth that it is God alone Who is the singular agent of salvation, drawing those whom He will and choosing those whom He will out of His boundless ocean of mercy, pity and love as it is written in the Holy Bible, these ungodly deceivers seek to ensnare men in their cunningly devised fables that “God has done all He can and now the rest is up to you” which is a damnable lie from the pit of hell.
Think about this question for a moment; Are you a Christian? If you answered in the affirmative are you a Christian because of God’s will, or are you a Christian because you chose to be (i.e. because of your will)? Did God choose you, or did you choose God? Did God accept you, or did you accept God? Why are you a Christian while many of your friends, family members and neighbors are not? Did you choose better than they? Why? Is it because you’re smarter, better, or more righteous than they are, or is it because God Almighty for His own glory, and by His own good pleasure sought you out and saved you by His Son Jesus Christ? Is salvation of you or is it of Christ? Is salvation wrought of God or is it wrought of men? Did Christ die for those He was unable to save? Is He the sovereign and personal God of all creation Who is able to fully save those who His Father gives unto Him, or is He an impotent beggar wringing His hands in heaven, helplessly pleading for men to accept Him and His ineffable gift of eternal life, powerless to save anyone?
The Bible’s concept of God is that HE IS GOD! He is fully in control of all things and all things transpire according to His perfect plan and will. Nothing that happens in the universe happens apart from it being ordained by God Himself, for His own purposes, for His own glory, and according to His own holy counsel, wisdom and knowledge. Those who teach that the God of the Holy Bible is simply “rolling the dice” and allowing things to fall where they may clearly have the wrong conception of the Almighty.
God is GRACIOUS in that He mercifully grants some men salvation, but it is not unfair that He does not grant ALL men salvation. All men are deserving of JUSTICE which is eternal damnation in hell, but miraculously God will save some, granting them pardon in His Son’s substitutionary death on the cross for all those who believe on Him by grace through faith alone. One cannot demand mercy, because it is up to the Judge to grant mercy. Some will receive mercy, and some receive justice, but all men are equally guilty covenant breakers until Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin becomes a propitiation for the sins of those who believe in Him by grace through faith alone, and are therefore miraculously “born-again”, justified and forgiven being once and for all and reconciled unto God.
Sadly there are many who teach that man can demand mercy and that God must grant that mercy based on repeating the so-called “sinner’s prayer”, being dunked beneath some tepid tap water, and possibly by eating a cracker and drinking some grape juice from time to time. These poor, misguided souls do greatly err because they don’t understand the scriptures, having their understanding darkened by their own worthless works which are as filthy rags before the Lord. They trust in themselves that they are righteous because they believe in their hearts they have done the “right” religious things based on their ”vain traditions of men” doctrines. These blind guides of the blind don’t realize that the professing church and the professing Christian aren’t synonymous with the TRUE Bride of Christ, the church invisible which is comprised of all true regenerate, born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are hidden within the broader false professing church. These “Churches of the Tares” lack the Holy Spirit and therefore lack discernment – thinking themselves wise when they are fools who are without God and without hope. These self-righteous man-centered works-based idolaters are those who will one day stand before the Infinite Creator and Judge of the Universe and hear the awful words ”Depart from me”. Smiling like crocodiles and with a glimmer in their eyes they send their deceived congregants home week after week singing of a heaven they’ll never see and praising a Jesus Who will rebuke and condemn them on judgment day. But don’t worry about that right? After all, you said “the sinner’s prayer”, right? Sure…right…
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)
What does the Lord mean here when he rejects the workers of iniquity and who are they?
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Few there be that find it.
We can see that the Lord is rebuking a group of lawbreakers, a group who is guilty of committing lewdness, crookedness, and perverseness in contradistinction to being straight, upright, and moral according to God’s Holy commandments. I should point out here that I’m not advancing a works based salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith and is a miraculous and sovereign work of God alone. Yet God’s holy demands are irrevocable and it is His Spirit that empowers and enables the regenerate to holy and righteous living before His face.
It’s interesting to note in the verses leading up to verse 23 a group is described who will call Jesus “Lord” and who will recite a litany of good works they’ve performed in His name. Still more interesting in this discourse we see that the Lord does not deny or make any effort to refute the works claimed, nor does he dispute that the lawbreakers did the works in His name, rather He simply commands them to depart from Him and summarily states that He never knew them! Clearly Jesus is the omniscient God Almighty so He mustn’t mean that He has no idea who they are, rather He is unequivocally stating that He was never in a relationship with them. They are strangers to His covenant of grace, and hence are guilty and condemned covenant breakers.
I have little doubt that this stinging rebuke and rejection of the King of Glory strikes the unregenerate false believers as a complete and utter surprise.
lieved they knew Him! ”But, we recited the sinner’s prayer, Lord, we chose You and accepted You! We went to church every time the door was open and volunteered!”
They claimed their good works were performed in His name! ”But we got baptized right there in church and even got dunked a few extra times when we thought we might need to rededicate, plus we ate the crackers and drank the grape juice every week, and lots of people shouted a lot and prayed for us to be saved too! There must be a mistake here, check the book again, Jesus!”
And the Lord doesn’t even deny their claims! Is there some mistake here? Is the Lord guilty of unreasonably and arbitrarily rejecting true, regenerate born-again Christian men and women? God forbid!
The truth of the matter is that the false believers pictured in this terrible and frightful verse in Matthew are typical of the sort of lukewarm works-righteousness Christian who is so prevalent in the modern professing church. Today’s church is a hothouse within which “shallow root”, “weedy” false Christians thrive. These are the tares sown by the enemy which spring up alongside the true wheat of the Lord. This is the false church which exists side by side with the true invisible church. These are the stooges and pawns of the enemy who trust in themselves that they are righteous. They are self righteousness exemplified, an object lesson in damnation. These ignore the Whole Counsel of God in favor of their own denominational sewage and heap hot coals upon their heads in the process.
I personally believe the Lord doesn’t bother attempting to refute their works claims because their claims are truthful and accurate as far as they go. By the measure of man they probably did many admirable and noble works in the Lord’s name during their time on the earth. They were probably model citizens, faithful church attendees, good parents, community volunteers, and cheerful givers. No doubt within their ranks were pastors, deacons, elders and church leaders and congregants of all stripes. I would imagine they were a congenial and generally wonderful group of people while on this side of glory. They likely quoted lots of scripture and thought themselves to be model Christians among Christians.
But they had a spiritual problem. They didn’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
What does this verse mean? We can clearly see here that Jesus is addressing the very type of person who verbally and/or intellectually assents to Christ’s truth claims, and has a form of godliness but who fails to submit to Him as Lord and Savior in spirit and in truth. This describes the exact types of false believers – the very same individuals – that are rejected by the Lord in Matthew 7:23!
Trusting in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior isn’t simply repeating a “sinner’s prayer” or “believing in God”. Trusting in Christ is believing God and acting on that belief through repentance and humble submission to His Word, the Whole Counsel of God, including His hard commands. It’s the total abandonment of self to apprehend Christ and the rejection of the ”vain traditions of men” false religion which so easily ensnares the self-righteous idolaters.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Jesus was serious about people surrendering their all in order to follow Him. He didn’t preach a gospel that allows men to keep one foot in heaven and the other foot in the world, quite the opposite in fact. Jesus challenged men to be willing, able, and even eager to give up all their worldly comforts, their families, wives, children, reputations, inheritances, even their very lives if called upon by Him to do so. His message was so important, and His demands were so strident that scripture records how time and again He turned away the half-hearted adherents, the curious hangers-on, and “seekers” by the thousands. It’s HIS way and HIS Word that counts, not man’s corrupted, perverted, idolatrous, vain religiosity that says “I can save myself by making a decision for Jesus!”.
Clarkson says: One of the commandments of men is the doctrine of eternal security or the once saved/always saved teaching. Too many commandment of men followers do not stay in His word which marks true believers from the false one’s. “IF you abide in My words, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free”- John 8:31-32. “Sanctify (set them apart) by Your truth. Your word is truth”- John 17:17. Baptists, like the other cults, wrest Scripture to their own destruction. One such pastor once told this evangelist that if he joined his church he would have to disband his home church fellowship. I was also told that I could not celebrate communion weekly as has been my practice but instead I would have to fall under their umbrella of teachings. Needless to say I are not at that Baptist church. Now, why would I, as a former Nazarene pastor, desire to join a Baptist church in the first place?
John 8:31-32 is deeply misunderstood by those who would deny the plain teaching of Scripture in order that they might hold onto their ”vain traditions of men” idolatry that says: Man saves man!” By ripping the scriptures out of context and twisting them like a wax nose so that they fit within their false religion of works-righteousness framework these would teach that salvation itself is conditional upon the actions of sinful men! This lie is the very height of satanic hubris and wickedness! It literally drips with self righteousness and the idolatry of the heart! In fact the Lord is delineating that His true disciples WILL abide in His words from which we can infer that those who DO NOT abide in His words are not His disciples! There’s nothing confusing or mysterious about this fact. Christ Himself has said that no one can pluck His own from His Father’s hands. This is because the true believer is eternally secure and hidden in Christ Who Himself will see that His true disciples are saved to the uttermost and that they will in no wise be lost. With respect to John 17:17 the Son’s prayers are always answered by the Father and we can rest assured that His true sheep will absolutely be sanctified (set apart) by His truth and they will not heed the voice of another. This is yet another beautiful verse confirming the eternal security of the true believer in Christ.
Clarkson says: Denominations, by and large, practice the doctrines of whatever founder they might have and not necessarily the doctrines of the Bible. I don’t see eternal security taught in the Bible. One of the catch Bible verses Baptists use in that regard is Romans 8:35- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He always loves us but mankind makes conscious choices as to whether or not they will follow Him. It is not enough to walk with Jesus or to come to Him with no intention of obeying Him. “Whoever does not bear his cross and come AFTER ME cannot be My disciple”- Luke 14:27.
Clearly this is true of the Nazarene church that was founded a little over 100 years ago. Lots of folks can’t see the truth of scripture as it’s taught in scripture, but that doesn’t make it any less true or any less there, instead it usually just points to the spiritual blindness of the reader. It’s interesting that one can’t see the Risen Christ as being able to keep those whom He saves secure in His care, but that same one can see men being able to “decide” to keep the faith based on their own “free will” apart from Christ’s power alone…interesting indeed, and wholly unbiblical I might add. This is a classic demonstration of gross self-righte
ousness and wicked sinful pride.
Clarkson says: Many walked with Jesus when they saw the signs which He did but Jesus did not commit Himself to them (John 2:23-24). How many “IF’S” did Jesus utilize in His teachings? What of the Holy Spirit? “The Spirit expressly (clearly) says that in latter times SOME WILL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils”- 1 Timothy 4:1. The Holy Spirit’s teachings in that regard are crystal clear so why aren’t more of the church following that lead? What seducing spirits and doctrines of devils do you crave? Could one be that of John Calvin?
These seducing spirits lead many professing Christians into grave error, especially inside the professing church! Men crave to be gods, therefore they heap to themselves false teachers who will tickle their ears with what they want to hear: “Anybody can be saved!” “Just say the sinner’s prayer!” “Come down front right now and we’ll pray with you so that you can be born again!” “Just repeat this prayer after me…” Liars! Thieves! Deceivers! Anathema! The day a sinful man thinks he can become his own savior by repeating a false prayer to a false god in his own wicked heart is the day wherein Satan greatly rejoices! Apart from being drawn of the Holy Spirit by the Father and being given to Son as the Triune God covenanted to do before time there is no salvation. Jesus Christ’s blood was shed as a 100% effective propitiation for the sins of those for whom He died, and those for whom He died are those whom were predestined by God to be partakers in His eternal kingdom whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundations of the world. This book isn’t being written, is has been written and the number who will be saved is being fulfilled according to God’s own holy, divine, perfect and unchanging will.
Clarkson says: I have some people that have written in to this ministry that believes the 10 Commandments is still in force today. “You who attempt to be justied by law, you have fallen from grace” Galatians 5:4 plus Romans 10:3-4, Galatians 2:21. That is crystal clear to me but what about you? There can be no doubt that the Holy Spirit was the speaker in question in that verse. Our ministry is not one that cares about pleasing men as we have been entrusted with the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:4-5) with no hidden agenda. Are you standing fast in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:8)?
Praise Jesus that He lived a perfectly sinless, righteous life that fulfilled God’s immutable, unchanging and unchangeable law which fully pleased His Father and Who willingly laid down his life so that His righteousness might be justly imputed to those who believe on Him by grace through faith alone fully justifying them before a Holy God, satisfying His holy wrath and justice which sin demands, and thereby perfectly and completely reconciling them unto Him forever and evermore!
Clarkson says: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us WHO ARE BEING SAVED, it is the power of God”- 1 Corinthians 1:18. Believers are in the process of being saved. No one has arrived yet as we are still in our flesh.
The Roman Catholic Church would happily agree that salvation is a process during which men cooperate with God to attain unto a right standing before Him, yet as we just saw above when touching on the atonement the Holy Bible clearly teaches that salvation is an instantaneous, specific event that occurs at a moment in time. One is not justified before God over time, it is an absolute announcement, a proclamation of ”NOT GUILTY!” for all those whose sins are covered by the perfect, sinless, atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the spotless, priceless Lamb of God when they are miraculously translated from spiritual death unto spiritual life and born-again of the Spirit. Certainly individual men are continually BEING SAVED at specific moments in time throughout the world as the glorious Gospel is proclaimed and God brings His formerly lost sheep into His fold, but salvation isn’t a process. You seem to have conflated salvation with sanctification which is the same gross error as is committed the RCC. I pray that you’ll quickly repent of this heresy.
Clarkson says: Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, AND WHEN HE IS WON, you make him twice the son of hell as yourselves”- Matthew 23:15. What happens when a Jehovah’s Witness brings a believer into their cult? Or a Christian Science person does the same thing? Does that believer stay a believer in the true Jesus Christ? Jesus says that a person can be won over to a cult which makes him twice the son of hell as themselves. That doesn’t sound much like eternal security to me! Of course, the Calvinist objection is, “Well, they were never really saved to begin with?” To those cultists out there I would sound this verse and I again repeat it for emphasis. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us WHO ARE BEING SAVED, it is the power of God”- 1 Corinthians 1:18. Not to those of us who “ARE” saved but to those of us who are “BEING” saved, which is a continual process. “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race the is set before us” Hebrews 12:1.
Again a sad failure to properly exegete scripture leads you into gross error. This is always the case with the unregenerate mind when it is confronted with the glorious truth of the Holy Writ. The scribes and Pharisees – and yes the cultists – do in fact “win” converts to their false systems of belief. Evidently even the Nazarenes can perform this feat. And the truth is that by their very actions these converts give evidence to the fact that, if they ever professed to be Christians, their professions of faith were utterly false as demonstrated by their unfaithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. We as runners in a race aren’t in competetion with other runners, we’re not even to look for how we may “measure up” to the other runners. Why is this? Because the mark, the measure, the comparison against which we are held is Jesus Christ Himself – in other words absolute perfection. We won’t achieve any such measure on this side of glory by our own powers or merit, but we who are true believers who have been purchased by His precious blood will run the race, faithfully, by His power alone until the very end which brings much glory to God.
Clarkson says: If eternal security exists for the believer why is there the need to run this race with endurance? “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2. “He that endures to the end will be saved”, but what happens if you “DON’T” endure to the end?
Then the fact that you were never truly His is evidenced for all to see. The fact that one was a tare sown by the enemy, a false convert, a shallow weedy unbeliever is made manifest by those who don’t endure to the end because those who do endure to the end are those who were empowered by the God alone to do so. All others who try by their own merits and through their own power to endure to the end will fail miserably in their self-righteous ”vain traditions of men” schemes heaping shame and condemnation upon their own heads. The true believer WILL endure to the end and run their race well because according to the scriptures God Himself will ensure it.
Clarkson says: “It is IMPOSSIBLE (Sorry, Dr. Schuller, but that word DOES exist in the Bible) for those who were ONCE enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, AND HAVE BECOME PARTAKERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, and have tasted the good word of God and of the powers of the age to come, IF THEY FALL AWAY, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify AGAIN for them
selves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” Hebrews 6:4-6. I know there are many that explain away those verses as saying they applied specifically to Jewish Christians but the verse that says, “And have become partakers of the Holy Spirit” annuls that thinking. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, would come upon someone and then leave, but what about in the New Testament? “Of how much worse punishment do you suppose will be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”- Hebrews 10:29.
Sadly many read Hebrews 6:4-6 from their rebellious self-centered sin nature and exclaim, ”Aha! See, true believers can fall away, the Bible says so right there! Gotcha!” But this isn’t what the passage says at all, it’s only what the ”vain traditions of men” religionists will ALWAYS read into the passage from their own wicked, desperately sinful hearts because of their sin encrusted man-centered beliefs. What does Hebrews 6:4-6 really say? It only says that whoever satisfies the conditions listed and then withdraws from the faith cannot repent again. That’s what it says and that’s what it means. Does a true believer ever withdraw? It doesn’t say. Can a true believer ever withdraw from the faith? It doesn’t say. Has it ever happened? It doesn’t say. All we know for sure is that IF it were to happen (which this verse doesn’t say can or does happen) that person could not repent again. It’s only when men try to force their own views in between the lines of scripture and walk away with a message not in the scripture that anyone could twist Hebrews 6:4-6 into a proof text that true believers can indeed “fall away”. One has to approach this passage with an a priori motive which fully intends to come away with an unsupported “Aha!” interpretation in order to arrive at the unsupported conclusion that these verses disprove eternal security – when they manifestly don’t. For a deeper study on this subject I highly recommend reading Biblical Reflections on Hebrews 6 since those who point to this passage crying “you can fall away” are guilty of demanding that Christians must “hold onto” their salvation by their own power! These would say “The Risen Christ isn’t able to keep you secure, so you better take things into your own hands, brother!” The arrogance and self-righteousness of this type of perverse thinking is simply breathtaking!
Clarkson says: As for unconditional eternal security, there are a great many “IF’S” in the Bible that are tied to obedience. “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. But IF anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him. We are not those who draw back to perdition but of those who believe in the saving of the soul” Hebrews 10:36-39. IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM BECAUSE THEY DRAW BACK TO PERDITION. Judas was one who drew back to perdition and was he a saved individual?
According to the Holy Bible Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas was “a devil” and that he was the “son of perdition” who was omnisciently chosen by Christ so that the scriptures might be fulfilled. If you’re actually uncertain about whether or not Judas Iscariot was a truly saved believer then you need to immediately stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and fall on your face before the Lord Jesus Christ and beg Him to save you, now! I’m not kidding, I’m pleading with you to please, please ask the Lord to have mercy on your soul and save you from your sins and trespasses. I’m fervently praying for you right now as I type these words because I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness and have no part in the kingdom of heaven.
Now back to the topic at hand, just as with Hebrews 6:4-6, what does Hebrews 10:36-39 say? It says IF anyone draws back. Do true believers draw back? It doesn’t say. Can false converts draw back? Surely they can because they were never true believers in the first place, and Judas Isacariot is a shameful example of exactly this type of professing believer who was never a true born-again believer.
Clarkson says: “If (that operative word again), after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (obedience and belief), they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them”- 2 Peter 2:20-21. That is why the Holy Spirit clearly warns the church about apostasy in the latter days for they have fallen away over seducing spirits which produce doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1). In effect, they have been taken captive by the devil to do his will all the while believing that they are saved individuals (2 Timothy 2:26).
There isn’t a even a hint of saving knowledge in this verse and I find it appalling that you would insert the words “obedience and belief” into the text when THEY DON’T APPEAR THERE! This is a shameful and deceitful tactic that’s most frequently employed by the arch-deceiver Satan himself. Lots of people come into the possession of a “head knowledge” of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Lots of people profess to be Christians and may even live out their lives as though they are His followers. And lots of those same people will be rejected and condemned by Him in judgment because all their knowledge stopped in their heads and never took root in their hearts. The devils believe in God and tremble – Satan’s theology is quite orthodox – and like the devil and his angels those who have head knowledge of God but are without the new heart that comes only from true spiritual rebirth by the unmerited gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone will find themselves cast into hell fire forever.
Clarkson says: In a few more days I shall post again on more specific material related to Calvinism.
I must say that I’m very excited about your forthcoming “specific material” because I’m truly enjoying these wonderful opportunities to shine the bright light of the Holy Writ upon the myriad errors, fabrications, and outright falsehoods that are being exposed by the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ in these ongoing posts. Please keep them coming!