The Fruits of Calvinism
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
The problem in Colossae was different than the problem in Galatia. In Galatia, there was a group of Judeaizers coming in and trying to get the Christians to go back under the law. Paul said in Galatians 3:3, “…Having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect through the works of the flesh?” Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” In Colossae, it evidently was a man, not a group. According to Colossians 2:8, the word “man” is singular, so it was somebody who was creeping in and trying to sow a perverted gospel known as Gnosticism. In the Greek, you will find that the word “Gnostic” means knowing.
This was a warning about somebody coming in and teaching something new and superior in the tradition of men. It set up opposition between the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God. Here is what the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says about Gnosticism: “Gnosticism is Christianity perverted by a learning and speculation. The intellectual pride of the Gnostics refined away the gospel into a philosophy making salvation exclusive and not universal. They lived under the conviction that they possessed a mysterious knowledge that could only be understood by them.” Now I wonder, does that sound like something that is prevalent in our land today? I am preaching this morning on the Fruits of Calvinism.
When I was a college student, I was naïve enough to think that everybody was either an Arminian or a Calvinist, and the determining factor was whether or not they accepted the security of the believer. When somebody would come to you and say, “Are you a Calvinist?,” if you believed in the security of the believer, you would say, “Yes, I'm a Calvinist.” Later on as I got to study more about Calvinism, I realized that there was more involved in Calvinism than the security of the believer. Really, security of the believer was not even involved in Calvinism. Then I was told about the five tenants of Calvinism, the TULIP. I was still naïve enough to think that you could be a “one-pointer,” or a “two-pointer.” However, if you study the tenants of Calvinism, I do not believe that there are very many of us who would subscribe to any particular one of these five. Last Christmas, when one of our students was home in his local church, he asked a young lady who goes to another Christian college what she had learned her first semester. She said, “I learned T-U-L-I-P,” and gave him the meaning of those five tenants.
The Five Tenants of Calvinism
I want to summarize TULIP for you. First of all there is T, which is Total Depravity. Most of us would say we believe in total depravity, Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Romans 3:10-12: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” When the Calvinist says he believes in total depravity, he believes in far more than what I have just stated. He means he believes in Total Inability. That necessitates that regeneration must precede faith. That is an astounding thing! Englesma acknowledges, “Deny this doctrine, and the whole of Calvinism is demolished.”1 David J. Englesma, “The Death of Confessional Calvinism in Scottish Presbyterianism” (Standard Bearer, December 1, 1992), cited in David Hunt, What Love Is This, (Loyal Publishing, 2002), 95.He is saying that if you do not believe what the Calvinist believes about total depravity, then you do not believe any of the tenants of Calvinism. That is true; I don't.
C.H. Spurgeon, the hero of Calvinism, said this: “If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then…it is unnecessary and ridiculous for me to preach Christ to him…”2 C.H. Spurgeon, “The Warrant of Faith” (Pilgrim Publications, 1978), 3, cited in Hunt, 102. They make the analogy, Ephesians 2:1 “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins;” and they say that “dead” means “total inability.” In other words, if a man is spiritually dead, he is unable to accept Christ. However, if you follow that analogy to its logical conclusion, then you would have to say that a dead man cannot receive nor can he reject. He cannot sin. Their analogy falls apart if you follow it to its logical conclusion.
Then you have the U, which is Unconditional Election. That simply is that some people are elected to go to heaven, and some people are elected to go to hell. Loraine Boettner said that the early Christian leaders would have rejected Calvin's view of predestination, and that this cardinal truth of Christianity was first clearly seen by Augustine,3 Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1932), cited in Hunt, 222. who by the way was the founder of the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin quotes Augustine four hundred times in his Institutes. If I were to ask you how old John Calvin was when he wrote his institutes, most of you would think he was in his 50s or 60s. Ironically, he was 26 years of age.4 David Hunt, What Love is This? (Loyal Publishing, 2002), 37-38. They said of Calvin that he never had an original thought and everything he put in his Institutes he derived from Augustine and carried with him much of the baggage of the Roman Catholic Church -- baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, etc. Calvin held infant baptism, to be of such value that it transformed an infant into one of God's elect.5 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998 ed.), IV:xxv, 22, cited in Hunt, 305. So there you have U, Unconditional Election.
Then you have L, which is Limited Atonement. That simply means that Jesus died only for the elect.
Then you have I, which is Irresistible Grace. How can “grace” be irresistible? Anything imposed upon someone by a grace that is “irresistible” is not a gift received.6 Hunt, 366. If something is imposed upon you, without your desire to have it, I ask you, is that grace? That is a fallacious definition of grace to me: irresistibly imposed. You have the U, L, I. All three of those tenants would say that God is partial. James 3:17: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Acts 10:34, Peter said, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” Peter said in 1 Peter 1:17: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work…” So there you have I.
Number five is P, which is Perseverance of the Saints. John Piper, who, by the way, claims to be a seven-point Calvinist said, “No Christian can be sure that he is a true believer. Hence, there is an ongoing need to be dedicated to the Lord and to deny ourselves so that we might make it.”7 John Piper and Pastoral Staff, TULIP: What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism: Position Paper of the Pastoral Staff (Desiring God Ministries, 1997), 25, cited in Hunt, 379. Is that grace? The Calvinist says that he talks about the doctrines of grace. However, as we get into the message, we are going to see that it is grace plus works.
The Four Fruits of Calvinism
First Fruit: Calvinism Incriminates the Nature of God
I want to call to your attention four truths [that] I believe are Fruits of Calvinism. Calvinism incriminates the nature of God. Calvinists talk about the Sovereignty of God. When they talk about the Sovereignty of God, they do not mean by that what we mean. They mean that God is the author of sin. I believe that incriminates His holiness. R.C. Sproul said, “God desired for man to fall into sin. I am not accusing God of sinning. I'm suggesting that God created sin.”8 R.C. Sproul, Almighty Over All (Baker Book House, 1999), 54, cited in Hunt, 221. I say that's blasphemy. Palmer believes that God has ordained everything, even sin.9 Edwin H. Palmer, foreword to The Five Points of Calvinism (Baker Books, enlarged ed.,20th prtg., 1980), cited in Hunt, 221
Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Job 34:10: “Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.” Habakkuk 1:13 “…thou canst not look on iniquity.” 1 John 1:5: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” James 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”
I am so glad my life is in the hands of a God who cannot sin. When God Almighty make His first mistake, He will cease to be God. Not only does Calvinism incriminate His holiness, but number two, it incriminates His love. Interestingly, in the almost 1,300 pages of Calvin's Institutes, not one time does he expound on the love of God.
While I was preaching in Wisconsin, a young man came to me and said, “ Brother Comfort, do you preach that God hates sin and loves the sinner?” I said, “I certainly do.” He said, “Oh no, no, let me show you in the book of Psalms that God hates the sinner.”
Can you imagine even saying that? I said, “Do you know what you have done? You have violated a principle of Bible interpretation. In the Bible, terms of emotion are terms of comparison. 'Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated'” He said, “ Well, every time you find the love of God in the Bible; it's always in the past tense. It's never in the present tense saying, 'God presently loves man.'” I said, “You know what? For forty-two years I've been preaching in evangelism that God loves the sinner, and I've seen thousands of them converted, so, I think I'll just keep preaching that God loves the sinner and hates the sin.”
Luke 19:10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” John 3:16-17: “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 sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Romans 5:6-8: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one died: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
II Cor. 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” II Cor. 5:21: “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I Tim. 1:15: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” I Tim. 2:4-6: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Heb. 2:9: “Jesus tasted death for every man.” II Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.10 F.M. Lehman, The Love of God (Singspiration Music/ ASCAP, 1946).
Hallelujah for His love! It not only incriminates His holiness, His love, but it incriminates His grace. Calvin held that infant baptism transformed an infant into one of God's elect.11 Hunt, 380. R.C. Sproul says, “Infants can be born again. Although the faith they exercise can not be as visible as that of adults.”12 New Geneva Study Bible, "Regeneration: The New Birth" (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 1664, cited in Hunt, 380. Everyone in Geneva had to be baptized and partake of the Lord's Supper. I ask you, is that grace? Not on your life! Fifteen women were burned at the stake in Geneva. In Geneva, coercion even by force was an integral part of the system. In 1558-59, there were 414 prosecutions for moral offences. Between 1542 and 1564, there were seventy-six banishments and fifty-eight executions while the population of Geneva was less than 20,000.13 Will Durant, "Caesar and Christ" Pt. III of The Story of Civilization (Simon and Schuster, 1950), 656,cited in Hunt, 63. Jerome Bolsec disagreed with Calvin on predestination. He was arrested, banished from Geneva, and warned that if he ever returned, he would be flogged.14 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Charles Scribner's Sons, 191O; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprint 1959), II: 72-73,cited in Hunt, 65. Is that grace?
Here's what Armstrong says: “Perseverance is a necessary attribute of justification.”15 John Armstrong, "Reflections from Jonathan Edwards on the Current Debate over Justification by Faith Alone" (quoted in speech given at Annapol is 2000: A Passion for Truth Conference, sponsored by Jonathan Edwards Institute, PO Box 2410, Princteon, NJ 08543), cited in Hunt, 404. God justifies, but man must have faith and obey.” Piper says, “We must also own up to the fact that our salvation is made contingent upon subsequent obedience which comes by faith.”16 John Piper and Pastoral Staff, "TULIP:What We Believer about the Five Points of Calvinism: Position Paper of the Pastoral Staff' (Desiring God Ministries, 1997), 25, cited in Hunt, 378. And I say what they are doing is mingling grace and works. Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no more works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is not more work.” So here's what you've got to conclude: it's either all of grace, or all of works. You cannot mingle the two. “Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
Now the Calvinist's archenemy, Jacob Arminius, said this when he was dying: “A believer can depart out of this life to appear before the throne of grace without any anxious fear.”17 Jacobus Arminius, The Works of James Armi nius, trans. James and William Nichols (Baker Book House, 1986), 1:667; cited in Laurence M. Vance, The Other Side of Calvini sm (Vance Publications, Pensacola, FL, rev. ed. 1999), 591, cited in Hunt, 378. Ladies and gentlemen, he knew a little bit about the grace of God. I think I'm just going to keep preaching that God is grace. Psalm 116:5, “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” Psalms 145:8, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” John 1:16-17, “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:24, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 5:20, “Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”
I can preach the gospel downtown today and hunt up a drug addict, a prostitute, or a homosexual, and say, “Jesus had you in mind when He died on Calvary's Cross.” Thank God for His grace!
Second Fruit: Calvinism Instigates Bitterness and Division - Continued