In reply to a comment:
Oh, good post. Very thought-provoking! Hmmm, it is hard making “good people” think of themselves as wicked, but what you wrote is so true. A lot of our “conversions” are mere hellfire-escape plans instead of identifying what is sin and turning from it.
I really struggle with this Calvinism stuff. Much of it makes sense such as this writing, but there are other things from the Scriptures that seem to teach differently. *sigh* Maybe I’ve just not been given God’s grace to become a Calvinist so I should stop trying to figure things out and wait for it to happen if it’s supposed to happen. 😉 Or is this grace something that comes from searching the Scripture and from our minds? What did you do? How did God reveal it to you and how did He explain those verses about loving “the world” and “whosoever” and not being “willing that any should perish”? Are those KJV mistranslations?
I’m not arguing. I’m asking sincerely. Thank you. 🙂
I will not say “Calvinism” is easily comprehended, but I will contend for its being taught all through Scripture. I will also tell you that there is a grace God gives to accept these truths. As for making sense, our minds can’t really comprehend every fact about The LORD; but we are to labor in The Word of God and rightly divide the Word of Truth. As R.C. Sproul spoke of “Calvinism” (I’m dropping the quotes from here on, as I think I have made it clear that Calvinism is just a nick-name for the doctrines of grace which are the orthodox views of the Christian church… we will speak of this later.)… anyway, Sproul said, we don’t take our system to The Bible, but we derive it out of Scripture.
As for the verses you posed to me – I will attempt to answer your questions, if I leave something out, or am not clear enough, please feel free to re-state them.
I would also encourage you to read about those men who translated the KJV. You will be surprised to find that many/most of the men you hail as men who walked with God were Calvinists.
I will attempt to speak on the Scriptures you posed as opposition to Calvinism first as this is apparently what is causing you to “sigh” with frustration.
“how did He explain those verses about loving “the world” and “whosoever” and not being “willing that any should perish”? Are those KJV mistranslations?”
They are not KJV mistranslations. As stated earlier, those on the panel of translators for the KJV were themselves Calvinists. Dave Hunt, in his book “What love is this?” even went so far as to discredit the KJV saying it lends itself to Calvinism due to the bias of the translators, and some verses are poorly. So how can one look at the KJV and say no way Calvinism is biblical, and another say the KJV does support it, but only because it’s translators allowed their bias in? It is either there or it isn’t.
You asked how God showed me these things? Through His Word. Which is where I would take you.
Let’s start with everybody’s favorite.
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.”
“For God so loved the world…”
1. People like to misconstrue what Calvinists believe and say that we change the word “world” for elect. This is not so. God loves the world. This is evidenced by how he cares for the human race. He gives us air, food, sun, children, even the most wicked man you can imagine receives pleasures from The LORD that he doesn’t deserve. There is one thing this phrase says – God loves the world, He loves the human race.
2. “For God so loved the world…” This phrase also says something else – something preparatory. It says God loved the world, but that God loved the world in a certain manner. “For God so loved the world” is to say “For God loved the world in such a way that…” So what follows tells us that God loved the world to the degree that He did something. Let’s look at that next.
“…That He gave His only begotten Son…”
God loved the world in such a way that He performed a certain action, that is, He gave His only begotten Son. This giving Him was not a giving Him to people; but a giving Him FOR people. Scripture tells us that He who knew no sin was made sin for us. Next follows what God has as the ends of giving His Son? What is the purpose God is accomplishing?
“…that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Here is where people jump to conclusions. They see world at the beginning of the verse, gave His Son in the middle and whosoever at the end and think Jesus died to save ever single man to ever walk planet earth. But that is not what this verse says. What it does say is that God loved the world in such a way that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will be saved. It is not that he tries to save every one, but fails.
They also assume that when they see the phrase “loved the world” that God loves every single man the same, but this is not taught in Scripture. We see God picking to favor men above other simply because He wants to. (Romans 9 is a prime example).
So what is so wonderful about John 3:16? It tell us that God loved the human race so much that He sent Jesus Christ to be the sin bearer for all those who would believe on Him. God had a purpose in mind behind Christ’s slaughter. The real question is concerning the atonement. If you say Jesus paid for the sins of everybody in the world, then you say God punishes men in hell for sin that Christ has already paid for. If you say they have to believe to have Christ pay for their sins, then Christ really didn’t pay for anybody’s sins on the cross. If He died for Judas just like He did Peter, then the difference between the two is not the blood of Christ, but their own decision to believe.
Now let’s deal with the next word you brought out. “Whosoever”
We must always keep the text in it’s context. Christ, a Jew, is speaking to Nicodemus (a Jew). The Jews thought they had exclusive rights to The Messiah. They thought they alone were privy to salvation. In saying “the world” and “whosoever” Christ was making it plain that salvation is not just for one people group, but for any Jew or Gentile who would beliieve.
The other thing that one must also remember is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. This is a fundamental of biblical interpretation, as you may already know. (i’m just stating it for clarity, not any sort of patronization.) Scripture tells us in the Old and New Testaments that our hearts are so wicked that we cannot know them (Jer. 7:19) In the same book we are told that a leopard can’t change his spots, nor can we, who are accustomed to doing evil do good (Jer. 13:23). We are told there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10), Christ Himself said that man will not come to Him (Jn 5:40) even that we cannot come to Him apart from His bringing us to Himself (Jn 6:44, 65). there are more, but the point is Scripture teaches that we will not come to Christ for Salvation. This is vital, and one of the foundational things God burned in my heart. He showed me that I was so wicked that without the quickening work of His Holy Spirit, I would never believe; in fact could not believe as I was born God-hating. I was born bound in sin and at enmity with God. There is no way I could make a decision to change masters. Sin was my master and only God could set me free. This is why Christ told Nicodemus that unless he was born again he could not even see the Kingdom of heaven. Then Christ went on to say the Spirit giving birth to men is like the wind. You can’t control it. There is nothing you can do to cause God to regenerate you. We preach, and He quickens men.
I will stop here for now. May The LORD be please to open our understanding.