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Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1995 -- Volume 8:15


SOTERIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS
OF FIVE-POINT CALVINISM

PHILIP F. CONGDON
Adelaide College of Ministries, Inc.
South Australia

 

I. Introduction

The theological issues relating to the doctrines of election and salvation have been covered extensively in recent years. Basically, there are four views on election:

1) God elected those individuals who would be saved based on His foreknowledge that they would believe;

2) God unconditionally elected individuals He would save based on His sovereign choice alone;

3) God elected those individuals who would be saved, yet also gave them the free will to choose whether or not to believe (a seeming paradox);

4) God elected those who would be saved through the "Elect One," Jesus Christ; all who by faith are "in Christ" are elect in that corporate Body.

None of these views is without some difficult exegetical problems in Scripture. However, I find the theology of five-point Calvinism (view #2 above) to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.

It is not the purpose of this essay to respond to specific issues in the doctrine of election and salvation. Exponents of free grace salvation have discussed biblical and exegetical problems with the doctrines of five-point Calvinism. Rather, the purpose of this essay is to discuss the implications of this doctrine.

 

II. Five-Point Calvinism and the Attributes of God

Classical Calvinists sometimes state that the individual unconditional election view is necessary to account for God’s attributes. They emphasize God’s sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and immutability. But do corporate election and free will disregard God’s attributes? Let me offer a few thoughts.

1) What takes the greater power (omnipotence): to create beings who have no ability to choose—who are mere pawns on God’s cosmic chessboard—or to create beings who have the freedom to accept or reject God’s salvation? I submit, the latter. How powerful is God? Powerful enough to save sinners? Yes. Powerful enough to change sinners into obedient saints? Yes. Powerful enough to keep saved sinners saved, even if they fail to always live faithful, obedient lives? Yes. This, I submit, is the real demonstration of the power of God’s salvation in Christ. When we stand in glory, we will see many who apparently by human standards did not measure up. Their Christian growth was stunted, their witness non-existent, and their obedience inconsistent. And then we will truly grasp the power of God’s saving grace—a grace that is greater than all our sin.

2) What about the divine attribute of love, which so essentially reflects the nature of God (1 John 4:8)? Would a God who ordained the existence of immortal beings without making any provision for them to escape eternal torment be a cruel being? What kind of God would call on mankind to "believe and be saved" when He knows they cannot? Suppose you are out on a cruise in your luxurious yacht. You receive a distress signal, and come upon the site of a shipwreck with 30 or 40 people still thrashing about in the water. It turns out they are thugs—pirates out to loot vessels just like yours—whose ship went down. These people have no merit which would motivate you to save them, but you are moved with love for them nevertheless—you can’t bear to watch them drown. So you instruct one of your servants to get a lifesaver ready, and—at random—pick out three or four, and haul them aboard. Then, disregarding the rest, you head for shore. Is this mercy and love? Admittedly, the parallel is not perfect, but it illustrates a truth: If God elects individuals to salvation, and could have elected as many as He wanted (none of whom was deserving) why would He only elect some?

3) Concerning the nature of love, what kind of relationship is there between God and people who could never choose Him—but are "irresistibly" called? A seminary professor of mine used to say that forced love is not love. God does not force His love on people.

For these and other reasons, I question the idea that individual unconditional election and five-point Calvinism best reflects the attributes of God. A God who sovereignly offers salvation to all through His elect Savior reflects both power and love. In addition to the question of divine attributes, however, there are ramifications of this doctrinal decision for each person’s life and ministry. On this point both sides agree. It is to these implications that we now turn.

 

III. Getting Our Theological Bearings

Some time ago I received a letter from Insight for Living ministry. In the letter, Chuck Swindoll looked back over his years in pastoral ministry and listed some of the lessons he had learned. One of those he mentioned was this: I have learned that thinking theologically pays off, big time! Thinking theologically means that you look at a system of doctrine not in isolation, but in conjunction with other biblical truth. How does it fit? What does it mean? We all need to begin thinking theologically.

It is like having a long line of dominoes. You knock over the first one, and all the others eventually fall. Thinking theologically is like looking ahead—seeing what dominoes will fall if you knock over the first one. It means asking the question, "What are the ramifications of this doctrine? Where does it lead?"

This means, of course, that you must understand the meaning of the five points of "Classical" Calvinism. Let me take a run at it. The five points are:

Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

According to the Classical Calvinists’ system, man is totally depraved—by which they mean he cannot even respond to the Gospel message. These individuals are "dead" and must be regenerated before they can even have faith! This leads to unconditional election, meaning that God sovereignly (arbitrarily) chose those who would be saved, and thus, there is a limited atonement (atonement is "limited" to those He chooses). This in turn implies irresistible grace, since no one whom God elects will be lost (no one who is elected can reject Christ, just as no one who is not elected can receive Him). Finally, this leads to perseverance of the saints, meaning, to Classical Calvinists, not simply that the believer is eternally secure, but that the true believer will never fall away. A life of faithful obedience, therefore, is an inevitable result of salvation.

Most Christians have heard of T-U-L-I-P. I submit that a tulip is a beautiful flower, but it is bad theology. The fruit of the flower is appealing; the fruit of the theology is appalling.

 

IV. What "T.U.L.I.P." Does to the Gospel Message

The first area in which this issue makes a difference is in the Gospel message. What is it that we are to tell a person when we witness? What is the good news?

The gospel message of Classical Five-Point Calvinism is often expressed in a way which makes faith and works necessary for salvation.

Understand why: It is because man is spiritually dead, and is regenerated by God apart from any response on the part of man, and because God’s purpose cannot be thwarted ("true" faith cannot fail to issue in works), that a saved person will inevitably and absolutely "persevere" in the faith. Thus, works, as an inevitable result, are necessary for salvation.

To be fair, Classical Calvinists usually object to this by describing the gospel message as not "faith + works = justification," but "faith = justification + works." I submit that anyone with a basic knowledge of logic can easily demonstrate that these two end up in the same place.

In the first equation, faith alone does not lead to justification; works must be added. But in the second, once again faith alone does not lead to justification; if works do not follow, then there was no faith. This is no more than a word game. It is best seen in the old Calvinist saying: "You are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves you is never alone." Let me complete it: "You are saved by faith alone (apart from works), but the faith that saves you is never alone (apart from works)." This is internally inconsistent.

Suppose you go to a car lot to buy a used car, and purchase a car for $5,000. If you have the $5,000, you may pay it right then. If you don’t, the salesman may arrange a loan for you to pay it back over a period of years. But does the fact that you don’t pay anything up front mean that you got the car free? Absolutely not. You are paying for it—the payment is just an inevitable result of your buying the car. To paraphrase the Classical Calvinist saying: "You are a car-owner by signing a sales agreement alone (apart from any money changing hands), but the signing of a sales agreement by which you are a car-owner is never alone (apart from money changing hands)." If the money doesn’t change hands, you lose the car (this wording reflects Arminian theology; in Calvinist theology, you never had the car in the first place!).

So too it is foolishness to say that salvation is by faith alone, but that faith is not true faith unless it comes with works. Let’s be honest: this is salvation by works. And in unguarded moments—and increasingly boldly in our day—Classical Calvinists often say exactly this.

John Gerstner is one such theologian. He writes:

From the essential truth that no sinner in himself can merit salvation, the antinomian draws the erroneous conclusion that good works need not accompany faith in the saint. The question is not whether good works are necessary to salvation, but in what way they are necessary. As the inevitable outworking of saving faith, they are necessary for salvation.

And again:

Thus, good works may be said to be a condition for obtaining salvation in that they inevitably accompany genuine faith.

The apostle Paul would never agree with this! In fact, he is precise on the distinction between faith and works. For example:

Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Rom 4:4-5).

In Galatians 2:16, with an eye toward the legalistic theology of the Judaizers, he writes:

…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified.

And again,

…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6).

Of course, Lordship Salvation theologians know these Scriptures too. So how can they support works as necessary for salvation? They do it by creating two categories, non-meritorious works (works which inevitably result from salvation), and meritorious works (works which result in salvation). The former verify or validate one’s salvation; the latter, of course, are impossible. These two categories of works result in comments like these from MacArthur:

Meritorious works have nothing to do with faith. But faith works have everything to do with it…faith that does not produce works is dead faith, inefficacious faith. Faith that remains idle is no better than the faith the demons display.

Again on the same page:

The believer himself contributes nothing meritorious [italics mine] to the saving process.

Later in the same book, he again writes:

As we have seen time and time again in our study, meritorious works [italics mine] have no place in salvation.

Likewise Gerstner, in his book attacking dispensationalists, writes that

virtually all dispensationalists, do not see the elementary difference between non-meritorious "requirements," "conditions," "necessary obligations," "indispensable duties," and "musts," as the natural outworking of true faith, in distinction from faith in the Savior plus meritorious works as the very basis of salvation.

Guilty as charged! I confess, I do not see this distinction in Scripture. In fact it isn’t there. It exists in Classical Calvinist/Lordship Salvation theology, but not in the Bible. Works are works; they either are or are not necessary for salvation. With the apostle Paul, I say they are not; we are saved "by grace…through faith…not of works" (Eph 2:8-9).

While more could be said here, we now move on to one other area in which the T.U.L.I.P. doctrines of Lordship Salvation affect Christian life and ministry.

 

V. What "T.U.L.I.P." Does to Assurance of Salvation

Few long-cherished doctrines of believers are more under attack today than the belief in the possibility of assurance of salvation. Can you know that you are saved? Most believers would probably answer that question in the affirmative—even if their lives might not be shining examples of Christian growth. But the teaching of T.U.L.I.P. would allow them no such assurance.

Absolute assurance of salvation is impossible in Classical Five-Point Calvinism and Lordship Theology.

Hard to believe…but demonstrably true.

Understand why: Since works are an inevitable outcome of "true" salvation, one can only know he or she is saved by the presence of good works. But since no one is perfect (although some consistent five-point Calvinists believe in "sinless perfection"), any assurance is at best imperfect as well. Therefore, you may think you believed in Jesus Christ, may think you had saving faith, but be sadly mistaken. To explain this, Calvinist theologians must create two kinds of faith, "spurious" faith (faith that does not save) and "genuine" faith (faith that results in works, and thus saves). This distinction is common in classical Calvinist writings. For example:

There is a spurious as well as a genuine faith. Every man, when he thinks he believes, is conscious of exercising what he thinks is faith. Such is the correct statement of these facts of consciousness. Now suppose the faith, of which the man is conscious, turns out a spurious faith, must not his be a spurious consciousness? And he, being without the illumination of the Spirit, will be in the dark as to its hollowness.

In other words, you may think you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, yet be unsaved, and because unsaved, be totally blind to the fact you are unsaved! This reminds me of something I heard John MacArthur say on my car radio one day while driving in Kansas. It so startled me at the time that I stopped the car and wrote it down. He was calling on listeners to examine themselves to see if they were really saved. He said:

"You may be a spiritual defector who hasn’t defected yet."

Just think! You may have trusted Christ, been baptized, and be preparing for full-time vocational Christian service, but you can’t know whether you’re saved; you may just be fooled.

R. C. Sproul, a well-known Calvinist, in an article entitled "Assurance of Salvation," writes:

There are people in this world who are not saved, but who are convinced that they are. The presence of such people causes genuine Christians to doubt their salvation. After all, we wonder, suppose I am in this category? Suppose I am mistaken about my salvation and am really going to hell? How can I know that I am a real Christian?

A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness that we have from time to time, and suddenly the question hit me: ‘R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?’ Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.

I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, ‘Well, it’s a good sign that I’m worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation.’ But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s really true. Maybe I’m not saved after all.’

I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, ‘Well, here I am. I can’t point to my obedience. There’s nothing I can offer. I can rely only on Your atonement for my sins. I can only throw myself on your mercy.’ Even then I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell, not out of a real turning to God. I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation. Then I remembered John 6:68. Jesus had been giving out hard teaching, and many of His former followers had left Him. When He asked Peter if he was also going to leave, Peter said, ‘Where else can we go? Only You have words of eternal life.’ In other words, Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option.

What a ghastly view! We are left in this lifetime in an uncomfortable quandary—unable to know whether we are saved or not! This view was expressed a few years ago by a former seminary professor. In a debate at seminary he said that no one could be 100% sure he was saved. He pegged 99.9% as the maximum amount of certainty (is that "certainty"?) one could have. On the basis of his life and works, he claimed to be 99% sure he was saved, but admitted he might be far less "certain." You could have cut the air with a knife when a student stood during the question and answer time and asked with incredulity if she could ever know she was saved.

When our assurance of salvation is based at all on our works, we can never have absolute assurance! This is reflected in a reluctance among Lordship theologians to talk about assurance of salvation, particularly with new believers, and especially with children. After all, until they had lived out their lives, they can’t know whether they might fall away from the faith, and thus prove that they were never really saved in the first place. Once again, in their system, practical assurance of salvation is dependent on our works, not on the finished work of Christ.

But does Scripture discourage giving objective assurance of salvation? Hardly! On the contrary, the Lord Jesus (John 5:24), Paul (Rom 8:38-39), and John (1 John 5:11-13) have no qualms about offering absolute, objective assurance of salvation. Furthermore, works are never included as a requirement for assurance.

Does the Bible teach that sinning "Christians" are really unsaved? Not at all! The Corinthians were far from spiritually mature, yet Paul calls them "babes in Christ" (1 Cor 3:1-4). God wants us to know that we are His children, not to doubt it. He does not make sonship contingent on obedience. But does He want us to change? Does He chasten us like a loving father? Does the Holy spirit grieve when we stray from Him? Does God remain faithful to us even when we are unfaithful toward Him? Yes, yes, and again yes!

The best evidence that a life of good works is not an inevitable outcome of salvation is the NT itself. Why do the writers of the epistles constantly concern themselves with exhorting believers to good works if such works are inevitable? After all, God’s purpose, if it cannot be thwarted, would mean that those believers would never stray from the truth, would never fall into sin, and in fact—if we are honest with Scripture—would never sin, period (1 John 3:9). But over and over again we find appeals for Christians to live lives consistent with their faith. Why? One Lordship Salvation teacher told me he thought it was because Paul and other NT authors knew that in the churches to which they were writing there was a mixture of believers and unbelievers, and they were just covering all the bases. Historically, this is doubtful, but even if it were true, it doesn’t explain the passages, because the writers base their appeals to live godly lives on the faith which exists in their readers (see Rom 12:1f; Eph 4:1f; Col 2:6f; etc.) Did Paul doubt Timothy’s salvation? (See 1 Tim 6:11-14, 20-21; 2 Tim 1:8f, 13; 2:1, 3ff, 15, 21; 3:14f!) What about Philemon (8-10)? Obviously, these calls to holiness are made because the NT writers knew that believers are not infallible, that they are still tempted to sin, tempted to relax, prone to evil. All fallen creation is bound in this sinful sphere; that’s why Paul writes in Rom 8:22-25 that all creation, including believers, longingly await Christ’s return when we will finally be freed from the presence of sin and become what we should be.

 

VI. Conclusion

In conclusion, let us make some observations.

1) The astute listener—and theological thinker—will realize that the classical Calvinist doctrine of salvation is functionally the same as the Arminian doctrine. Arminian theology teaches that you are saved by faith, but that you stay saved by works. Classical Calvinist theology teaches that you are saved by faith, but if you don’t have works, you were never saved in the first place. Both systems of theology make works necessary for salvation. This shared doctrine was noted by a recognized authority on Calvinism, R. T. Kendall, in his Oxford University Doctor of Philosophy thesis entitled Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. In the introduction he notes that his study shows "the surprising degree of reciprocity that exists between Westminster theology and the doctrine of faith in Jacobus Arminius." Today, many have come to see this.

2) Another curious parallel is evident between Classical Calvinist theology and Roman Catholic theology. The two share an inclusion of works in the gospel message, and an impossibility of assurance of salvation. Although MacArthur would loathe the association, I do not see the practical difference between his statement on salvation and that of Roman Catholicism. Both hold to the primacy of God’s grace; both include the necessity of our works. Apart from theological name-calling and the ex nihilo creation of sub-categories of faith (spurious and genuine) and works (meritorious and non-meritorious), there is no functional disagreement.

This fact is especially important to understand in light of recent attempts by Protestant and Roman Catholic church leaders to begin to re-unite the two groups. Many were shocked to see the names of some prominent Classical Calvinist theologians among the signers of the peace document. I was not. Why not? Because Lordship Salvation teaching has long been recognized as leading to Catholic soteriology. For example, Dr. Earl Radmacher, President Emeritus of Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, wrote in 1990:

Finally, as Paul felt the strong need to warn the elders of Ephesus concerning distorted teachings from among the brethren, we have as great a need today. I fear that some current definitions of faith and repentance are not paving the road back to Wittenberg but, rather, paving the road back to Rome. Justification is becoming "to make righteous" rather than "to declare righteous." Repentance is becoming "penitence" (if not "penance") rather than "changing the mind." And "faith" is receiving more analysis and scrutinizing rather than the "object of faith."

3) Concerning the meaning of justification, we rightly part company with those who suggest that the atonement extends to physical and financial healing (the so-called "health and wealth gospel"). The atonement deals with our position before God and the healing of our sin-sickness, not our physical well-being. But equally erroneous is the idea that atonement extends to our actions, guaranteeing progressive sanctification. The three aspects of the believer’s salvation must be preserved: Justification (positional holiness) refers to (past) salvation from the penalty of sin. Sanctification (progressive holiness) refers to (present) salvation from the power of sin. Glorification (potential or perfect holiness) refers to (future) salvation from the presence of sin.

4) Classical Calvinists may talk about man having a "free will," but it is a very limited freedom! That is, a person may choose to reject Christ—all people do—but only those who have been elected may choose to accept Him. This is no "free will"! Are the open invitations to trust Christ in the Bible actually a cruel hoax? I don’t think so. Are all people free to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior for their sin? Yes. That is why the call to missions is so urgent.

Some years ago I spent a summer selling books in Ohio. One day I passed a little church—it was called a Missionary Church. I was interested in missions, and was a member of a church in the same denominational family, so this sounded great. Then I went to the house of someone who attended the church. I asked about missionaries. It seems they didn’t support any—nor did they send any out. Why? They were staunch Classical Calvinists. I would call them consistent; they believed that since God elected and predestined any and all who would be saved in eternity past, the best thing they could do was to pray for all these to be saved. They spent their time not witnessing, but praying for God to bring in all those who He had chosen for salvation. They were consistent Classical Calvinists, but not consistent with Scripture! Matthew 18:19-20 tells us to "Go…make disciples…baptizing…and teaching"—not just go to prayer meetings. We are exhorted by mission leaders and evangelists to consider giving our lives in missionary service. Why? Because if people do not hear and believe in the only Name under heaven by which they can be saved (Acts 4:12; Rom 10:14), then they will be forever separated from God.

 

Epilogue

Much more could be said, but the purity of the Gospel and assurance of salvation are the most important issues at stake here. The need to protect these doctrines has never been greater. Consider the results of a recent survey by the Barna Research Group. They found that among churchgoers who share their faith with others, almost half (48%) believed that "if people are generally good, or do enough good things for others…they will earn places in heaven." George Barna concluded: "There is plenty of reason for churches to worry if nearly one-half of their people who believe in evangelism also believe in salvation by works…The central message of Protestantism is in salvation by faith alone in Christ, yet [many] Protestant evangelizers seem to be preaching a different message."

My prayer today is that all of us, to borrow the titles from two books which deal very well with this issue, will dedicate ourselves to always proclaim our So Great Salvation wherever we go, and to offer it to all Absolutely Free.

ENDNOTES

1Of these views, I can accept the tension of the third, but lean toward the "corporate election" position.

2Five-point Calvinism is also known variously as Classical Calvinism, Neo-Puritanism, or experimental Predestinarianism. Its implications are exhibited in the teachings of Lordship Salvation.

3For a catalogue of passages affecting this question, and extensive exegetical discussion of the issues, I highly recommend Joseph Dillow’s book The Reign of the Servant Kings (Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle Publishing Company, 1992).

4These were created at the Synod of Dort in 1619, and affirmed by the Westminster Assembly in 1648. They stand or fall as a unit. For example, a theologian might well reject "U" (unconditional election) because he is convinced that "L" is unbiblical.

5There are various views on the precise meaning of "falling away," but in general it means that the "true" Christian will continue in good works, and not lapse permanently into sinfulness.

6As previously noted, Classical Calvinist teaching is popularly seen in Lordship Salvation theology, which is an application of "P" (Perseverance of the Saints) to the message of the Gospel. It is defended by men like Walter Chantry, Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1970), James M. Boice, Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), John F. MacArthur, Jr. The Gospel According to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), Faith Works (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993), John H. Gerstner Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), R. C. Sproul, and J. I. Packer (various writings), and numerous other Reformed theologians. Because of his adherence to pre-millennial dispensationalism (a position traditionally rejected by Classical Calvinists), Mac Arthur has become to many the most visible defender of this theology. However, he is only expressing doctrine which was developed in the writings of theologians since the days of the Puritans, and was codified in the Westminster Confession. For an example of his allegiance to Westminster teaching, see Faith Works, 180-81. For the purposes of contemporary understanding, the student should consider, therefore, this response to be a criticism of Lordship Salvation doctrine.

7See, for example, MacArthur, Jr., Faith Works, 87f.

8Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, 210. This is not a new view. Arthur Pink, a well-known five-point Calvinist is called by some "a Puritan born out of time." In An Exposition of Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968), 600, cited in Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings, 11f., he quotes John Owens—the prince of Puritan expositors—with approval: "but yet our own diligent endeavor is such an indispensable means for that end, as that without it, it will not be brought about…If we are in Christ, God hath given us the lives of our souls, and hath taken upon Himself, in His covenant, the preservation of them. But yet we may say, with reference unto the means that He hath appointed, when storms and trials arise, unless we use our diligent endeavors, we cannot be saved."

9MacArthur, Faith Works, 53, italics his.

10Ibid.

11Ibid., 207. He goes on to state that while works do not contribute to our salvation, failure to do those works we know we should do means we are not saved.

12Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, 226.

13Classical Calvinists actually base assurance on three foundations: 1) God’s promises of saving and keeping, 2) the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, and 3) the saints’ perseverance. However, only the third of these is observable on a personal level; thus it is the only real basis of assurance. See MacArthur, Faith Works, 184-92, and James M. Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 431-40.

14Robert L. Dabney, Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, n.d., 180-81.

15This article is found in TableTalk. a publication of Sproul’s own Ligonier Ministries, November, 1989, 20.

16For other examples in writing, see Boice, Christ’s Call to Discipleship, 166f; Chantry, Today’s Gospel, 73-77; MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, 23, 178, 189-94.

17John MacArthur, in discussing how we should witness to children, writes: "It is the Holy Spirit’s task, not ours, to offer assurance…so don’t overemphasize objective assurance with children" (Faith Works, 209). And why not? Because some "who profess Christ in childhood turn away" (210).

18Second Corinthians 13:5 and 2 Pet 1:10, two passages commonly cited as proof that works are necessary for assurance of salvation, are actually both addressing the issue of faithfulness in the Christian life and the consequent reception of rewards. See Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings, 295-300.

19R. T. Kendall, Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 3-4.

20"It is free but it costs everything." The Gospel According to Jesus, 220.

21"Eternal life is at once the free gift of God and something which we must earn for ourselves." Fr. R. Creighton-Jobe, "Laying Up Our Treasure in Heaven," in AD2000 (Nov, 1993), 20.

22Earl D. Radmacher, "First Response to ‘Faith According to the Apostle James’ by John F. MacArthur, Jr.," JETS 33:1 (March, 1990), 40-41 (italics mine).

23As reported in Moody 94:2 (October 1993), 67.

24Charles C. Ryrie (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1990).

25Zane C. Hodges (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989, and Dallas, TX: Redención Viva, 1989).

 

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