Etikettarkiv | sinners

Does God predestine people to be non-elect, or do people corrupt themselves?

calvinism 19Is God making people wicked, or are they wicked against his will?

This is a hard question to answer for someone who believes that God forces no one to sin while at the same nothing comes to pass against his will.

Calvinists often speak from the both side of the mouth when they on the one hand claim that God predestines people to become elect or non-elect from the foundation of the world, and on the other hand claim that God forces no one to be wicked. Sometimes they try to blame Adam for people’s ”sinful nature”, but this does not solve the problem since he arrived on the scene after the ”foundation of the world” (and the Bible does not claim we have inherited his sin anyway).

So which one is it? Are people wicked against his will or according to his will? (Any of his wills …) Does God force people to be sinners or not?

Calvinists might suggest that God merely ”passes over” people and leaves them to their own devices, which means that such people will do what their nature urges them to do – which is performing all sorts of evil (like being wicked by default). Although, what choice do they really have? If only one single choice is available to them, and if God determines  to turn them into non-elect (for no apparent reason), must they therefore not become exactly as God has determined? Surely they could not have become elect if God wanted them to be non-elect? Would it not be surprising if someone who God did NOT want to become elect – but rather non-elect – still ended up as elect? That could not possibly happen, right? Again, I can see no other option but one (1) for the victims that were forced to become non-elect. Is not ”forcing” the proper word here?

The Bible tells us that people are separated from him due to their transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). This means that it is when people choose to SIN as they are  spiritually ”dead” and therefore also lost (until they repent, if they ever do). Calvinists often make a similar claim, but do they really mean it?

The whole Calvinistic process:

  1. People go to hell due to their sin. (So long it is fine, but it gets worse …)
  2. Why do they sin? Because they are bound by a sinful nature.
  3. Why are they bound by a sinful nature? Because they are wicked non-elect sinners.
  4. Why are they wicked non-elect? Because God created them as such from the foundation of the world – before they even existed, before they were born and long  before they could sin.
  5. This means that people are not dead due to their sins after all, but due to their bad luck of having been chosen by God to be wicked – with no way to escape from this misfortune.

Again, this Calvinistic process means that sin is NOT the reason for their damnation, but GOD’S CHOICE is. So why do Calvinists so often say that people are lost due to their sin if they do not really mean it? (Sinning would just be a consequence of God’s refusal to let people seek him and do good – from the foundation of the world.) Add to this the Calvinistic idea that 1) God is sovereign in such a way that he micro-manages everything, and 2) nothing comes to pass against his will. This means that if we criticize anything or anyone, we are criticizing God himself who caused it all to happen.

Not all Calvinists would agree that this is a proper understanding of their belief system (but many do agree). Still, they cannot escape from the many contradictions resulting from trying to save Calvinism.

Sinners commit sin against their nature

The Bible teaches that sinners do wicked acts against their nature, and not according to their nature:

Rom. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is AGAINST NATURE

Once I heard in a podcast where a Calvinist asserted that a person bound by his wicked nature would not choose the right thing (like seeking God). He was then asked by the host ”Could he?”. The Calvinist replied ”He wouldn’t!”. He was asked ”Could he?”. The Calvinist replied ”He wouldn’t!” He was again asked: ”Could he, though?”, and the Calvinist continued to say ”He wouldn’t!”. It is easy to understand why the Calvinist was reluctant to answer the question (which was ”could he?” and not ”would he?”). If a non-elect person not only would not choose the right thing but neither is capable of it (by no fault of his own), the guilt must be placed on someone else but him. Namely on the one who caused this awful dilemma – namely God.

Fortunately this is not the God of the Bible. If people are wicked, it is their own blame and not God’s. God pleaded with his people Israel to do right, just like he pleads with all of us.

Ex. 18:30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

People corrupt themselves

God is not the one corrupting people by determining/orchestrating/choosing/forcing/ordaining/predestining people to become wicked sinners before they are even born. The Bible says that man himself is to be blamed for being corrupt and not God. In order for someone to corrupt himself, he must first exist (and have a heart and a brain) in order to make choices. Man does not corrupt himself until he chooses to make sinful actions. Not a single day before.

Gen. 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Deut. 9:12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.

Deut. 32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.

Judge 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

Hosea 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.

2 Pet. 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

2 Pet. 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

God does not only hate the SIN but also the sinner who refuses to repent

love3It is not the SIN that will be thrown into the lake of fire but the SINNER

God indeed loves the world – so much that he let his only son die for us even though we haven’t deserved it. It was not only dirt, trees, lakes and flowers that he loved (no need to die for them) but the people living on earth. God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and the Bible says that he does not have any pleasure in the death of the wicked. God wants us to repent from our wicked ways so that we can live, and there is joy in heaven for each person who decides to repent. Looking at it this way, we can’t get rid of God’s love for us. His desire is always that each one of us will repent and be saved, because it’s naturally better to end up in heaven than in hell.

However, even if God loves us it doesn’t mean that he will accept us and welcome us into his kingdom no matter what we do. God’s love is in a way conditional, even if we don’t deserve his love and our salvation by anything we do or believe. It is when we confess our sins and repent as our previous sins are being removed, and when we have moved from spiritual death to spiritual life.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Rom. 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ezek. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?—32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

God does not only hate sin, but the Bible sometimes describes God as hating the sinner who refuses to repent from his evil ways

Psalms 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man

Psalms 11:5 The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

 

Lev. 20:23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

Titus 1:116 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Can you detect the conditions listed in these verses?

Proverbs 8:17 I LOVE THEM THAT LOVE ME; and those that seek me early shall find me.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

1 Cor. 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Cor. 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Ja. 2: 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.—21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

John 16:27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.—11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.—18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.19 We love him, because he first loved us.20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Jude 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Deut. 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Daniel 9:4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

Do we sin because we are sinners, and are we righteous because Jesus is righteous for us?

Here is what someone wrote (not sure if he got this from someone else or if he made it up himself):

”Did you know even if you had never sinned you would still be a sinner? The act of sin is only a result of what we are. Did you know that if you never did anything right you are righteous in Christ. In Christ righteousness is not a result of what you have done it is who you have become”

I can’t think of a more dangerous teaching than this, but I can very well imagine that this message is incredibly POPULAR in our churches today. I’m sure this IS what people would like to HEAR, so the chances are high that they would also choose a church with this type of convenient teaching.

2 Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.

It might be soothing for your conscience to be told that you can have your sins and your salvation too, and this is what the statement above (not the verse) is actually teaching us – even if the person who wrote this might not be aware of it. This type of message in the wrong ears could absolutely be soul-damaging and that’s why we must react. When we DO react, it’s a risk we will be charged for ”causing a division” but it’s the one with unbiblical doctrines who is the one causing a division even if he has lots of fans who praise him. What if someone who battles sin starts to take this message at face value and take it to heart? There is a HUGE risk he will feel comforted in his sins and become less motivated to let go of certain sins he has often battled with. Moreover, during various tempting situations in his life he might be more prone to give in for the temptations due to this type of message ringing in his ears. Do we really help a person who lives in sin, by patting him on his back while assuring him that he is still righteous because Jesus has been righteous for him, and that ”we are all sinners anyway and no one can be perfect”? He might subconsciously start to be convinced of this:

  • We are apparently always sinners no matter what we do, so what would it matter if I told a little white lie once in a while, or stole a few minor items from work that no one would be missing anyway, or slandered someone who really deserves it? I mean, when the temptations are too hard to overcome? I’m not more than human, and we are all sinners…
  • It’s a good thing to know that no matter how much sin I do, I’m always righteous in Christ! Of course I don’t seek to sin but it’s good to know that my soul is always secure even if I would give in for temptations once in a while and sometimes the temptations are indeed very tempting… I’m really glad that my pastor tells us (albeit in between the lines) that we can serve two masters and still be saved. Not that I seek to sin (of course not) but I can still afford to if the going gets tough, and sometimes I feel it gets very tough….I’m not more than human, and humans sin! My pastor tells me so.
  • I’m glad I can also afford to refuse to forgive a mean and nasty brother, deny Jesus if I would end up in tribulation and even take the mark of the beast without risking my soul (or perhaps not that last thing because my pastor tells me I will already be raptured away before I have to deal with the mark of the beast). Of course I will strive to NOT sin in such a way (I’m a christian!) but it’s good to know that Christ will still accept me the way I am despite my disobedience and I will not lose my salvation in any way. My aim is of course to never sin, but at the same time my pastor repeats that we are ALWAYS sinners no matter what we do, so a few extra sins could not possibly change this status. I can’t be more than a sinner and I already am! Whether I do good or whether I do bad, I’m always a sinner. So doing good works is only connected with the upcoming rewards in heaven and has nothing to do with my salvation – if I only believe in Christ.

And don’t say that ”A true Christian would never reason in such a way! True christians don’t seek for loop holes or excuses for sins”. Even King David (a man of God’s own heart) sinned severely for about a year, so true believers DO risk to fall for temptations and sin – for weeks, months or years. Some might repent sooner or later, but some won’t.

Even if you are a person who side with the statement in question and still succeed to live righteously and show lots of good fruit, what about OTHER Christians who are weaker than you? Do you think that perhaps a weak christian might be more prone to give in for temptations if he knows he is always eternally secure no matter what he does? I truly believe that is the case. If a weak christian understands that sinning is actually not a big deal (because we are always sinners no matter what we do, and we are always righteous in Christ no matter what we do) then OF COURSE it’s even more tempting to stick with his sweet sins, and of course it could be a slippery slope into sinning even more! He trusts in his fire insurance and that he can live in his flesh once in a while on earth, and still make it to heaven. But what if this is nothing but a big DELUSION? As christians, we wouldn’t want to  be part of equipping others with a false sense of security, but we would want to guide people away from sin so they can save their SOULS. Not leading them TO sin by sugar-coating the gospel! Temptations are hard enough as they are, and sinners don’t need our help whispering in their already very itching ears that ”Jesus is righteous for you so you don’t have to be”. It’s the devil who tries to convince us that sinning will not make us die, but the truth is that sinning does lead to death, even for christians.

I pray that we will be stay alert and encourage each other to be obedient to Christ and to expose teachings that suggest that we cannot live holy but must continue as sinners until we die when DEATH finally comes and saves us from our sin. It’s true that some people with this type of dangerous teaching are simply deceived themselves, but the problem is that they will still deceive others (who in turn will deceive others) so we must help them out to see how and where they have misunderstood the scriptures. We all need to be encouraged because this world can be very tempting and we need to stick close to God in order to get the strength needed. I’m confident of that we would see more victory when it comes to preaching and evangelizing if we spoke more about the need for true repentance and that sins separate us from God. Most of us long to see huge revivals but what if sins are in the way?

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Jesus started out his ministry by speaking about repentance, and so did John the Baptist before him. Here is also what Jesus said while giving us the commandment that we must go out in all the world and make disciples:

Matt. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and TEACH all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

And what is it that Jesus has commanded us to do – which he here asks us to teach others? For instance this:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.21 He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, is he that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.—23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son WILL NOT SEE LIFE, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Matt. 7:21 21 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.

John 5: 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth;they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation

Jhn 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and DOETH HIS WILL, him He heareth.

Matt. 16: 24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

So we are told to go out and preach the gospel and to TEACH people to obey the word of God, and they are all included in the ten commandments. Jesus also tells us who the greatest in heaven will be, and they are the ones who obey the commandments and teach others to do the same:

Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

To get back to the statement in question. We are not born sinners (that is originally a gnostic teaching popularized by Augustine) and Jesus righteousness is not imputed into us (that is a teaching from Martin Luther). We are sinners IF we sin, and we are righteous if we live righteously. First we must of course be cleansed from our sins in the blood of Jesus and that happens when we repent for our sins. But it doesn’t say ”once righteous always righteous”. There will be a falling away, and immorality is getting worse.

1 Tim. 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron

Finally, it’s also true that some christians might sit at home, reading lots of theology books, getting increasingly wiser and possessing all the right doctrines but STILL decline to be a fisher of men, whereas other christians might believe in all kinds of incorrect doctrines but THEY GO OUT AND MAKE DISCIPLES. The best combination is of course to go out and make disciples AND having the right doctrines 🙂 That’s the winning concept!