DOES GOD PRE-DESTINE SOME PEOPLE FOR HELL?

 

 

(Note:  “The Last Hour” Website has recently received many challenges from visitors vehemently expounding a Calvinist and Replacement Theology perspective.  So we were led to write the article below to answer them with classical Biblical definitions in our desire to lovingly correct what we see as a dangerous and heretical trend--DC)

 

 

THERE IS A TEACHING PREVALENT IN CHRISTIAN CIRCLES TODAY THAT CLAIMS A SOVEREIGN GOD CHOOSES (“ELECTS”) SOME PEOPLE FOR HEAVEN, AND CONSIGNS ALL THE REST FOR HELL.  THIS DOCTRINE PARADES UNDER THE BANNER OF “FIVE POINT CALVINISM,” AND IS A LINCHPIN OF ALL REFORM AND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHES, AND MANY MAINLINE CHURCHES. 

 

SADLY, IT IS INCREASINGLY BEING ADOPTED BY A NUMBER OF SO-CALLED “EVANGELISTIC” CHURCHES, AND IS TODAY BEING TAUGHT BY SUCH WELL-KNOWN TEACHERS AND AUTHORS AS J.I. PACKER, JAMES KENNEDY, AND R.C. SPROUL. 

 

THEY BELIEVE THAT GOD—FOR NO SEEMING REASON—“ELECTS” OR CHOOSES SOME OF HIS HUMAN CREATURES TO DWELL ETERNALLY WITH HIM IN HEAVEN, AND LIKEWISE CHOOSES ALL THE OTHERS TO BE BANISHED TO AN ETERNAL KINGDOM OF ANGUISH, PAIN AND SUFFERING DEVOID OF ANY GODLY COMFORT.  THEY ARGUE FOR THIS DOCTRINE RELYING UPON A FEW VERSES IN THE GREEK SCRIPTURES THAT SEEMS TO SUPPORT THEIR VIEW.  AMONG THESE “PROOF TEXTS,” THEY CITE JOHN 6:44, 6:65, AND PART B OF THE POPULAR EVANGELICAL BATTLE-CRY, JOHN 3:16.  

 

                  TIP-TOEING THROUGH THE “TULIP”

 

THEIR ANALYSIS SLAVISHLY FOLLOWS THE FRENCH REFORMER JEAN CHAUVIN (JOHN CALVIN) WHO PRESENTED A PROGRESSIVE ARGUMENT FOR SELECTIVE SALVATION BASED ON FIVE ESSENTIAL POINTS (KNOWN AS “FIVE-POINT” CALVINISM) .  THIS HAS BEEN SUMMARIZED UNDER AN ACROSTIC, THE TULIP FORMULA.  

 

1.     T—TOTAL DEPRAVITY.

     EVERY PERSON IS BORN A SLAVE TO SIN.

2.     UUNCONDITIONAL ELECTION.

GOD CHOOSES SOME PEOPLE TO BE BORN AGAIN, BASED ON NO MERIT OR QUALITY THEY DO OR DO NOT POSSESS.

3.     L—LIMITED ATONEMENT.

JESUS BLED AND DIED, NOT FOR EVERYONE BUT JUST FOR THE PRECIOUS FEW GOD HAD PRE-SELECTED.

4.     I---IRRESISTIBLE GRACE.

ALL THOSE GOD “ELECTED” WILL BE BORN-AGAIN, NOT BY WHAT THEY DO BUT BY THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOD.

5.     P—PERSERVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.

ALL THE “ELECT” SAINTS WILL, BY GOD’S POWER, MAINTAIN THEIR FAITH WHATEVER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

 

                  THE CHIEF PROBLEMS WITH THIS TEACHING ARISE FROM ITS RELIANCE ON CALVIN’S FIRST THREE POINTS.  THE FIRST POINT, TOTAL DEPRAVITY, IS USUALLY MISINTERPRETED TO MEAN EVERY HUMAN BEING IS TOTALLY DEPRAVED.  SINCE SIMPLE OBSERVATION TELLS US THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE LESS WICKED THAN OTHERS (I.E. LESS DEPRAVED), WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND CALVIN’S USE OF TOTAL TO SIMPLY MEAN THAT EVERY PERSON BORN SINCE ADAM AND EVE FALL SHORT OF PERFECTION TO ONE DEGREE OR ANOTHER, BUT NOT NECESSARILY TO THE SAME DEGREE OF SINFULNESS.  IT IS PATENTLY OBVIOUS THAT MY MOTHER, WHO DIED WITHOUT TRUSTING IN CHRIST, WILL NOT RECEIVE THE SAME GODLY JUDGMENT AS ADOLF HITLER OR JOSEPH STALIN, BOTH OF WHOM ALSO DIED WITHOUT TRUSTING IN CHRIST BUT DURING THEIR LIFETIMES CAUSED SO MUCH MORE EVIL TO OTHERS THAN DID MY MOTHER.

 

            BUT AS FIVE-POINTERS FURTHER DEFINE TOTAL DEPRAVITY, HUMAN BEINGS ON THEIR OWN DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO ACCEPT CHRIST.  GOD MUST STEP IN AND CAUSE THEM BY DIVINE EMPOWERMENT TO ENABLE THEM, REGENERATE THEM, BEFORE THEY ARE ACTUALLY ABLE TO BE SAVED.  WITHOUT DIVINE INTERVENTION, WITHOUT GOD ACTUALLY REACHING DOWN AND SNATCHING A SOUL OUT OF THE ROAD TO HELL, EVERYONE IS DOOMED TO THAT FATE.  ANATHEMA TO THEIR ARGUMENT, THERE ARE NO SCRIPTURES THAT ACTUALLY TEACH THIS DOCTRINE.   THEY POINT TO VERSES THAT SAY “THE THOUGHTS OF MAN’S HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY” (GEN.6:5), OR “THERE IS NONE THAT DOES GOOD, NO NOT ONE” (PSALM 14:1)—BUT THESE IS NO WAY SPEAK TO THE QUESTION OF MAN’S BEING ABLE TO SEEK FOR GOD.  INDEED, GOD IN MANY PLACE IMPLORES HIS CREATURES TO “SEEK ME AND LIVE” (AMOS 5:4) AND JESUS EXHORTS THE ISRAELITES TO “SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND.” 

 

                  POINTS TWO AND THREE EQUALLY DO NOT STAND THE SCRUTINY OF TRUE BIBLICAL TEACHING.   POINT TWO, DEFINED AS “UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION,” ON ITS FACE CLAIMS THAT GOD HAS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR CHOOSING ONE PERSON FOR ETERNAL LIFE AND FOR REFUSING TO CHOOSE ANY ANOTHER.  BUT FOR ALL THOSE READERS WHO HONOR THE SCRIPTURES AND INTERPRET THEM AS THEY ARE LITERALLY WRITTEN CAN EASILY PROVE OTHERWISE.  ALL YOU NEED DO IS REVIEW THE SCRIPTURES STARTING WITH GENESIS TO SEE THAT, INDEED, GOD DOES HAVE STANDARDS HE APPLIES TO HIS CREATURES THAT HE ACTUALLY USES TO DETERMINE THEIR WORTHINESS.

 

            FOR EXAMPLE, JUST BEFORE GOD WAS ABOUT TO DESTROY SODOM AND GOMORRAH, HE DECIDED TO LET ABRAHAM KNOW WHAT HE WAS ABOUT TO DO IN GENESIS 18: 18-19.  GOD SAID TO HIMSELF, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”  NOTICE THAT IN VERSE 19, GOD GIVES THE REASON FOR HIS TRUST IN ABRAHAM.. “fOR i HAVE KNOWN HIM..”  THAT IS WHAT THE BIBLE CALLS GOD’S FOREKNOWLEDGE, WHICH GOES BEFORE HIS “PREDESTINING” HIS CREATURES. 

      

NOW WE CAN READ THE FAMOUS PREDESTINATION VERSES IN ROMANS 8: 29-30 WITH ITS CLEAR MEANING BEFRE US--29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

 

THE KEY IN ALL OF THIS IS GOD’S FOREKNOWLEDGE.  AS CREATED BEINGS OF FLESH INDWELT BY SPIRIT, WE ALL INHABIT A TIME-SPACE UNIVERSE WHERE WE EXPERIENCE THINGS IN THE EVER-PRESENT “NOW.”  THOUGH WE CAN LOOK BACKWARDS THROUGH TIME USING OUR POWERS OF MEMORY, EVEN HERE OUR MINDS TEND TO DO TRICKS WITH PAST EVENTS ACCORDING TO OUR OWN EGO NEEDS AND OUR INDIVIDUAL IDIOSYNCRASIES. 

 

BUT GOD HAS NO SUCH LIMITATIONS.  GOD LIVES IN ETERNITY WHERE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE ARE ALL LAID OUT BEFORE HIM IN AN ETERNAL TIME-LINE THROUGH HIS OMNISCIENT, ALL-KNOWING ATTRIBUTES.  GOD SEES EVERY ONE OF HIS CREATURES THROUGH THIS TIMELESS OVERVIEW AND SO HE “FOREKNOWS” HOW EACH ONE OF US WILL USE OUR SACRED POWER OF FREE WILL TO CHOOSE EITHER HIS RIGHT WAY OR OUR OWN WRONG WAY.  APPLIED TO PRE-DESTINATION, GOD FOREKNOWS HOW EACH OF US WILL ULTIMATELY DEAL WITH HIS SON’S SACRIFICE AT CALVARY, AND SO HE PRE-KNOWS WHETHER OR NOT WE WILL AGREE TO ACCEPT HIS FREE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS OF SIN THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, AND BY THAT ACCEPTANCE AND TRUST BE ASSURED OF ETERNAL LIFE WITH HIM.

 

DOES THIS GIVE THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED GOD’S GRACIOUS GIFT THE RIGHT TO BOAST?  NOT IF WE KEEP IN MIND WHO WE WERE BEFORE WE WERE BORN FROM ABOVE—EPHESIANS 2: 1-8 SPEAKS TO THIS: 1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 

 

“4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.”    

           

THE ONUS OF DOUBLE-PREDESTINATION

 

      ONE OBVIOUS IMPLICATION OF THE “UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION” DOCTRINE IS ITS TWIN BROTHER, “UNCONDITIONAL CONDEMNATION.”  IF WE ACCEPT CALVIN’S PREMISE THAT GOD CHOOSES WHOM HE SHALL REDEEM ON NO OTHER BASIS THAN HIS SOVEREIGN RIGHT TO GRANT MERCY TO WHOM HE WILL GRANT MERCY AND NOT TO GRANT MERCY TO ANYONE ELSE, WE MUST DEFEND THAT TEACHING NOT ONLY THROUGH SOME RANDOM VERSES BUT THROUGH THE TOTALITY OF ALL THE SCRIPTURES THAT REVEAL THE CHARACTER OF THE CREATOR GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB AND JESUS. 

 

CALVINISTS ARGUE THAT SINCE GOD IS BY DEFINITION ALL-POWERFUL, THEN “EL SHADDAI” CAN DO WHATEVER HE PLEASES TO DO.  IN THIS CASE, HE CHOOSES SOME TO BE SAVED AND OTHERS TO BURN IN ETERNAL HELL FIRE, SIMPLY BECAUSE HE HAS THE POWER AND THEREFORE THE RIGHT TO DO SO.   THEY EMPLOY ROMANS 9: 22-24 AS THEIR PROOF TEXT, WHERE PAUL POINTS OUT 22What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” 

 

SUCH TEACHING SLANDERS THE CHARACTER OF THE LIVING GOD, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB, JEHOVAH OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES, AND THE WORD OF GOD IN FLESH, THE LOGOS JESUS CHRIST IN THE GREEK WRITINGS.  LATER IN THIS ARTICLE WE WILL CITE THE BIBLICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BIBLICAL GOD AND SHOW HOW CALVIN’S TEACHINGS DO NOT ONLY PAINT A FALSE PICTURE OF THE BIBLICAL GOD, BUT EVEN WORSE PRESENT A DIFFERENT GOSPEL THAN THE “GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY WHICH WILL BE TO ALL PEOPLE,” ANNOUNCED BY ANGELS TO BETHLEHEM SHEPHERDS IN LUKE 2:10, AND THE “GOOD NEWS” THAT JESUS HIMSELF PROCLAIMED TO THE WHOLE WORLD IN JOHN 3:16.  PAUL WARNS US ABOUT ELITIST GNOSTIC BELIEFS IN GALATIANS 1:8 (“BUT EVEN IF WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL TO YOU THAN WHAT WE HAVE PREACHED TO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED.”  WHAT WAS THAT GOSPEL?  PAUL CLEARLY STATED IT IN ROMANS 1:16—“FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES…”  HE DIDN’T WRITE “FOR THE ELECT WHO BELIEVE,” WHICH HE COULD HAVE DONE, BUT HE WROTE THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT “TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES.”

 

                        REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

 

FOR NINETEEN CENTURIES THE CHURCHES HAVE TAUGHT “REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY,” USING THESE VERSES IN ROMANS TO SUPPORT THE BELIEF THAT GOD’S WRATH FELL UPON THE JEWISH NATION IN 70 ad, WHEN HE CAUSED THE ROMAN ARMIES UNDER GENERAL TITUS TO DESTROY THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE.  THEREAFTER HE SCATTERED THE JEWS ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND FROM THAT TIME ON, ONLY THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH REIGNED AS GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE—MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH THROUGH WHOM—ACCORDING TO CONSTANTINE, AUGUSTINE, AND OTHERS--GOD HAD NOW CHOSEN TO MANIFEST HIS WILL ON PLANET EARTH.  tHAT’S WHY TO THIS DAY ROME CALLS ITSELF “THE ETERNAL CITY” AND REFERS TO THE JEWS AS “THOSE FORMERLY CHOSEN BY GOD.” 

 

THE LATER MIDDLE-AGE “REFORMATION” OF LUTHER AND CALVIN MAY HAVE PURGED THE POPE AND SOME OF THE RITUALS OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM.  BUT NEVER DID REFORM CHRISTIANS REPUDIATE THE BRAZEN SUBSTITUTION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH FOR NATIONAL ISRAEL.  EVEN AS THEY WERE DELIGHTED TO SEIZE AND CLAIM FOR THE CHURCH ALL THE BLESSINGS GOD HAD ORIGINALLY PROMISED TO ISRAEL, THEY WERE EQUALLY ADAMANT TO LEAVE ALL OF GOD’S CURSES AS AN ETERNAL LEGACY FOR THE JEWS.   THIS IS THEOLOGICAL JEW-HATRED OF THE MOST COWARDLY SORT, USING TORTURED SCRIPTURAL JUSTIFICATION FOR CONSTANTINE’S EDICT BACK IN 325 AD, WHEN HE EX-COMMUNICATED THE BISHOPS OF JERUSALEM AND WROTE, “LET US HAVE NOTHING MORE TO DO WITH THOSE ACCURSED JEWS!”

 

                        ELECTING HUMAN BEINGS FOR HELL

 

      BUT THE MORE SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH DOUBLE-PREDESTINATION IS NOT ITS REPLACEMENT OVERTONES, BUT MUCH MORE DANGEROUSLY THE DEMEANING OF GOD’S CHARACTER.  TEACHING THAT GOD CHOOSES SOME OF HIS HUMAN CREATURES FOR BLESSING AND OTHERS FOR ETERNAL TORTURE SEEMS MORE DESCRIPTIVE OF THE WW2 NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS AND THEIR NOTORIOUS “SELECTIONS,” WHERE MOST JEWS WERE CHOSEN TO BURN IN THEIR CREMATORIES WHILE A FORTUNATE MINORITY STAYED ALIVE TO SLAVE IN “WORK CAMPS.”

 

FOR CALVINISTS TO UTTERLY DISMISS THE ELEMENT OF MAN’S GOD-GIVEN FREE-WILL AND THE CHOICES ALL HUMAN BEINGS MUST MAKE, IS TO VIEW THE LIVING GOD AS A GOD WHO CREATES HELPLESS ROBOTS OF FLESH, DECIDES ON NO PARTICULAR BASIS TO SINGLE OUT A RELATIVELY SMALL GROUP TO INHERIT THE BLESSINGS OF HEAVEN, AND DOOM A MUCH LARGER NUMBER OF SOULS TO INHERIT THE HORRIFIC TORMENTS OF HELL.  THAT VIEW SEES GOD AS A FIRST PRINCIPAL WITHOUT THE NORMAL HUMAN TRAITS OF COMPASSION AND JUSTICE.  INSTEAD HE “ELECTS” BOTH THOSE BLESSED AND THOSE CURSED ACCORDING TO A MYSTERIOUS, INCOMPREHENSIBLE “MAGESTERIUM” (THE KING’S RIGHT TO DO AS HE PLEASES).  IN SHORT, CALVIN WORSHIPS A GOD WHO IS WHIMSICAL, UNJUST AND CRUEL, DOING HIS WILL AND GOOD PLEASURE SIMPLY BECAUSE HE IS THE ALL-POWERFUL GOD—EVEN AS THE MUSLIMS VIEW THEIR OWN CAPRICIOUS GOD ALLAH.  

     

                              WHO IS THE GOD OF THE BIBLE?

 

HAPPILY FOR ALL OF US, THE BIBLE GIVES US A MUCH DIFFERENT PICTURE OF THE ETERNAL I AM, THE GREAT YAHWEH, JEHOVAH AND YESHUA JESUS, THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN GOD. 

 

1.                       GOD IS ALL-KNOWING, WHICH MEANS HE KNOWS NOT ONLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST BUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE.  JESUS CLAIMED OMNISCIENCE WHEN HE TOLD THE ISRAELITES OF HIS DAY, “IF THE MIGHTY WORKS, WHICH WERE DONE IN YOU, HAD BEEN DONE IN TYRE AND SIDON, THEY WOULD HAVE REPENTED LONG AGO IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES.”  (MATT.11:21)

 

2.                       GOD IS HOLY.  “HOLY” MEANS “SET APART,” “DIFFERENT IN KIND” FROM HIS CREATION.  HOLY IS NOT JUST THE ABSENCE OF EVIL BUT ALSO INCLUDES HIS PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS, MEASURED AGAINST HIMSELF AS THE ABSOLUTE STANDARD.  PETER WRITES THAT “HE WHICH HATH CALLED YOU IS HOLY” (1 PET. 1:15) AND SO CONCLUDES “SO BE YE HOLY IN ALL MANNER OF CONVERSATION.” 

 

3.                       GOD IS JUST (RIGHTEOUS).  WHILE HOLINESS DEFINES THE CHARACTER OF GOD, JUSTICE OR RIGHTEOUSNESS INVOLVES HIS PERFECT DEALINGS WITH HIS CREATED BEINGS.  IT MEANS THAT GOD IS TOTALLY FAIR AND EVENHANDED.  THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT “GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS” (ACTS 10:34, DEUT.10:17) AND THAT “THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER” (PSALM 19:9, JER.12:1).  WHEN PEOPLE STAND IN FRONT OF GOD TO BE JUDGED, EACH ONE WILL RECEIVE FULL JUSTICE.  THIS COMFORTS THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN WRONGED IN THEIR LIFETIME AND IS A GRAVE WARNING TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE THEY HAVE BEEN GETTING AWAY WITH EVIL.  PAUL STRONGLY WARNS THE WORLD IN ACTS 17:31, “HE HATH APPOINTED A DAY, IN WHICH HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS BY THAT MAN (JESUS) WHOM HE HATH ORDAINED..”  CALVINISTS STATE THAT A JUST GOD CANNOT JUST FORGIVE SINNERS AND STILL BE JUST—AND IN THAT, THEY ARE CORRECT.  THAT IS WHY JESUS WENT TO THE CROSS, TO PAY A DEBT OF SIN HE DID NOT OWE FOR US WHO OWED A DEBT WE COULD NOT PAY.  ALL WE ARE ASKED TO DO IS ACCEPT HIS BLOOD AND LIFE WHICH ALLOWS A PERFECTLY JUST GOD TO SEE US AS HAVING BEEN REDEEMED BY THE LAMB OF GOD, HIS SON.  IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, OUR PARENTS ADAM AND EVE SINNED BY REBELLING AND EATING THE ONLY FRUIT GOD COMMANDED THEM NOT TO EAT.  AND IN THE LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS HE PROVIDED THE ONLY CURE FOR OUR INHERITED SIN OF REBELLION--BUT ONLY IF WE ACCEPT THAT REMEDY BY TRUSTING IN JESUS AS OUR REDEEMER, THE ONE WHO PAID THE PRICE TO BUY US OUT OF SLAVERY TO THE DEVIL AND SO “REDEEMED” US. 

 

4.                       GOD IS LOVE.  BECAUSE HE IS ALL-KNOWING, THAT MEANS HE DESIRES TO HAVE HIS CREATURES FOLLOW HIS WILL, BECAUSE HE TRULY KNOWS BETTER THAN WE DO WHAT IS BEST FOR US.  GOD’S WILL IS THE ONLY REAL GOOD, BASED ON HIS ETERNAL ALL-SEEING PERSPECTIVE.  WHEN WE READ IN JOHN 3:16 THAT “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD..” WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT HE WILLS GOOD FOR EVERYBODY.  AND WHEN WE COMPLETE THAT VERSE “..THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE,”  WE LEARN THAT HIS PERFECT DESIRE IS THAT EVERYONE WOULD ACCEPT HIS JUST SOLUTION FOR THE PROBLEM OF SIN, BUT HE KNOWS WITH PERFECT FORESIGHT THAT MANY WILL CHOOSE TO REJECT IT, AND THUS BE RIGHTEOUSLY JUDGED FOR THAT REJECTION.

 

5.                       GOD IS TRUE (TRUTH).  THE OXFORD DICTIONARY DEFINES “TRUE” AS THAT WHICH IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH FACT AND REALITY.  AS APPLIED TO GOD, THE CREATOR OF ALL THE EXISTS, IT MEANS THAT HE, AS THE AUTHOR OF ALL EXISTENTIAL LAWS AND PRINCIPLES, CANNOT ACT OR SPEAK CONTRARY TO THESE REALITIES.  BIBLICALLY THIS APPLIES TO HIS STATEMENTS AND HIS PROMISES, INSOFAR AS HE CANNOT BE FALSE TO ANY ONE OF THEM.  THIS INCLUDES THE PROMISES HE MADE TO THE NATION ISRAEL AS WELL AS THE PROMISES HE MADE TO CHRISTIANS REGARDING OUR PRESENT AND FUTURE LIVES.

 

6.                       GOD IS ALL-POWERFUL.  THE BIBLE STATES 56 TIMES THAT GOD IS THE “ALMIGHTY ONE” (IN HEBREW, “EL SHADDAI,” IN GREEK “DEOS PANTKRATOR”), AND THIS WORD IS USED IN THE SCRIPTURES OF NO OTHER PERSON EXCEPT GOD.  THAT’S WHY BELIEVERS CAN REST SECURE IN HIS ABILITY TO DO WHAT HE HAS PROMISED US (ETERNAL LIFE) CITED IN 1 PET.1:5, IN HIS POWER TO CREATE AND PERFORM MIRACLES (GEN.1:1) AND IN HIS PRESERVATION OF ALL THINGS (HEB.1:3). 

 

7.                       GOD IS INFINITE AND ETERNAL.  INFINITE MEANS “BOUNDLESS” OR “ENDLESS,” WHICH MEANS HE CANNOT BE LIMITED BY ANY CONCEPTS OF SPACE, AND “ETERNITY” IS DEFINED AS “INFINITY AS RELATED TO TIME.”  SO GOD HAS ALWAYS EXISTED AND ALWAYS WILL EXIST, THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, THE BEGINNING AND THE END (REV.1:8).  THOUGH GOD EXISTS AS A TIMELESS BEING IN ETERNITY, HIS ALL-KNOWING NATURE SEES OUR WORLD OF TIME AND SPACE AND THE EVENTS OF HISTORY AS A TIME-LINE STRETCHING FROM THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE CLEAR THROUGHOUT ALL HUMAN HISTORY, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.  AND THAT IS HOW HE CAN “FOREKNOW” OUR CHOICES AND THE EFFECTS OF THOSE CHOICES, AND CAN WORK “ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSES.”  (ROM.8:28)

 

8.                       GOD IS IMMUTABLE.  “IMMUTABLE” MEANS THAT GOD IS UNCHANGING AND IN FACT IS UNCHANGEABLE.  SO HE IS “THE SAME, YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER” (HEB.13:8).  IN HIM, THERE IS NO “VARIATION” (JAMES 1:17), AND HE “NEVER CHANGES” (MALACHI 3:6).  A FEW VERSES THAT SAY “GOD REPENTED” (GEN.6:6, JONAH 3:10) APPEAR TO SUGGEST THAT GOD CHANGED HIS MIND, WHICH WOULD CONTRADICT HIS QUALITY OF BEING IMMUTABLE.  BUT THESE VERSES DO NOT ACTUALLY APPLY TO GOD HIMSELF, BUT ONLY TO HOW HUMAN BEINGS INTERPRET EVENTS, WHICH ONLY SEEMS TO INVOLVE GOD’S CHANGE OF HEART.  GOD’S “REPENTENCE” IS JUST AN APPARENT REPENTENCE AS HIS UNCHANGING PLAN WORKS ITSELF OUT IN HISTORY. 

 

9.      GOD IS OMNIPRESENT.  THAT MEANS THAT GOD IS PRESENT EVERYWHERE AND AT ALL TIMES.  SOME PEOPLE TRY TO USE THE CONCEPT OF OMNIPRESENCE TO SUPPORT THE HERESY OF PANTHEISM, ARGUING THAT IF GOD IS EVERYWHERE, HE ALSO MUST BE IN EVERYTHING—IN TREES, PLANTS AND ROCKS AS WELL AS IN PEOPLE.  GOD’S TRUE OMNIPRESENCE MEANS THAT WHILE GOD IS EVERYWHERE PRESENT, HE IS SEPARATE FROM THE CREATED WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT.  ANOTHER ASPECT TO HIS OMNIPRESENCE IS THAT HE IS PRESENT IN DIFFERING DEGREES OF MANIFESTATION.  WHEN THE SHEKINAH GLORY FILLED THE TEMPLE, GOD WAS VISIBLE IN THAT FORM; HE HAS OCCASIONALLY APPEARED IN HUMAN FORM IN THE BIBLE, MANIFESTATIONS WHICH WE CALL “THEOPHANIES;” MOST OFTEN WE ARE ONLY AWARE OF HIS PRESENCE IN THE WAY HE INFLUENCES EVENTS, WHLE UNBELIEVERS MAY HAVE NO SENSE OF HIS PRESENCE AT ALL. 

 

10.     FINALLY, GOD IS SOVEREIGN.  THAT WORD MEANS  “SUPREME” IN POWER, GLORY AND WORTH.  IN BRIEF, HE IS THE UNCHALLENGED RULER OF THE UNIVERSE HE CREATED.  THIS WORD DOES NOT SPEAK OF HOW HE RULES, WHICH IS DESCRIBED THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE IN HIS DEALINGS WITH HIS CREATURES.  WHILE GOD’S AUTHORITY IS TOTAL AND ABSOLUTE, HE DOES NOT RULE AS A DICTATOR, FOR BESIDES BEING SOVEREIGN, HE IS HOLY, JUST, GOOD, MERCIFUL, AND LOVING.  GOD CAN DO NOTHING APART FROM THE HARMONIOUS WORKING TOGETHER OF ALL HIS ATTRIBUTES.  SO NOTHING IS BEYOND GOD’S CONTROL, AND HE USES AND SHAPES THE EVENTS OF HISTORY AND PERSONAL BEHAVIOR TO BRING ABOUT HIS OWN PURPOSES.

 

                              CALVINISTIC “PRETERISM”

 

ONE IMPORTANT ASPECT OF CALVIN’S THEOLOGY IS HIS DOCTRINAL BELIEFS ABOUT ESCHATOLOGY  (STUDY OF THE END-TIMES OR “FINAL THINGS”).  FOR THE FIRST TWO CENTURIES, THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH BELIEVED THAT JESUS WOULD COME IN THE CLOUDS FOR THE “RAPTURE” (HARPAZO OR SNATCHING AWAY) OF ALL TRUE BELIEVERS, FOLLOWED BY A GREAT TIME OF PLANETARY DESTRUCTION (THE GREAT TRIBULATION), AND CONCLUDING WITH HIS VISIBLE RETURN TO DESTROY THE ARMIES THAT SURROUND JERUSALEM (ARMAGEDDON), AND THEREAFTER TO SET UP HIS 1,000 YEAR REIGN OF PEACE ON EARTH.

 

(FOR BIBLICAL SUPPORT OF THIS VIEW SEE ACCOMPANYING ARTICLES

“The End of The Age,” “Get Ready Jesus is Coming!”, “What and When Is The Rapture?”, and “Jerusalem, Cup of Trembling.”)

                       

       BEGINNING IN THE THIRD CENTURY, A COUNTER DOCTRINE BEGAN TO DEVELOP IN ROME.  THIS TAUGHT THAT WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF THE JEWISH TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM, GOD REVOKED THE CHOSENNESS OF ISRAEL AND GAVE THE ORIGINAL COVENANTAL BLESSINGS TO THE CHURCH.  FURTHER, THESE USURPERS CLAIMED THAT AT THAT TIME (70 AD), CHRIST DID RETURN IN SPIRIT TO RULE AND REIGN ON PLANET EARTH FROM THE HEAVENLY THRONE ROOM. 

 

    THIS DOCTRINE WAS CERTIFIED BY THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE IN 325 AD, WHO SAW CHRIST REIGNING THROUGH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND EMPIRE ROME HAD ESTABLISHED, AND IT WAS GIVEN ITS INTELLECTUAL JUSTIFICATION BY THE ROMAN LAWYER AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO.  ACCORDING TO THIS NEW DOCTRINE OF FINAL THINGS, ALL BIBLICAL PROPHECIES IN MATTHEW 24 AND 25, MARK 13, LUKE 21 AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION WERE TOTALLY FULFILLED IN THE FIRST CENTURY WITH THE SOLE EXCEPTION OF THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH TO DESCEND FROM HEAVEN FOR CREATION’S ETERNAL STATE (REVELATION 21 AND 22).

 

    THAT TEACHING--THAT ALL THE PLAGUES, SLAUGHTERS, BOWLS OF GOD’S WRATH AND SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS DETAILED IN THE GOSPELS AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION--IS JUST A LONG-PAST FACT OF ANCIENT HISTORY IS CALLED “PRETERISM”  (IN THE PAST).  

 

GOD’S TERRIBLE WARNINGS AGAINST PRETERISM

 

IN ORDER TO JUSTIFY THE PRETERIST VIEW, APOLOGISTS EITHER COMPLETELY IGNORE OR TORTURE THE RELEVANT END-TIMES PROPHECIES, ALONG WITH THE KNOWN FACTS OF HISTORY.  FOR A START, PRFETERISTS CLAIM THAT THE BOOK OF REVELATION WAS WRITTEN BY THE APOSTLE JOHN BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE IN 70 AD DURING THE REIGN OF ROMAN EMPEROR NERO.  THEY NEED TO CLAIM THIS BECAUSE THAT LAST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, WHOSE DATE EARLY CHURCH WRITERS AND THE SCRIBES OF HISTORY PLACE AT 95-96 AD, CLEARLY STATES THAT JESUS CHRIST HAS YET TO RETURN AND WARNS THE CHURCHES TO SHAPE UP BEFORE HE COMES BACK IN JUDGMENT.

 

PRETERISTS CAN CITE NO CREDIBLE EARLY CHURCH OR HISTORICAL SUPPORT FOR A PRE-70 AD DATING FOR REVELATION.  FURTHER DESTROYING THEIR CLAIM, AN IMPORTANT CHURCH FATHER NAMED POLYCARP, A DISCIPLE OF JOHN, WROTE THAT REVELATION WAS WRITTEN TOWARD THE CLOSE OF ROMAN EMPEROR DOMITIAN’S REIGN (81 – 96 AD).  POLYCARP’S DISCIPLE IRENAEUS LATER CONFIRMED THAT SAME DATE IN WRITING, AS DID LATER CHURCH FATHERS SUCH AS CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, ORIGEN, VICTORINUS, EUSEBIUS AND JEROME, ALL OF THEM CONFIRMING THE DOMITIAN DATING. 

 

     THAT BEING ESTABLISHED, IT CLEARLY FOLLOWS THAT ALL OF THE EVENTS OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION AS DESCRIBED IN CHAPTERS 4 THROUGH 20 OF REVELATION, HAVE YET TO TAKE PLACE IN RECORDED HISTORY.  THESE SPECTACULARLY CHILLING EVENTS WOULD SURELY HAVE DEMANDED THE NOTICE OF CONTEMPORARY OBSERVERS AND HISTORIANS, DISASTERS THAT INCLUDE THE SENDING OUT OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPE, ISRAEL’S BEING PROTECTED BY GOD FOR 3 ½ YEARS AS SATAN TRIES VAINLY TO DESTROY HER, THE SEALING OF 144,000 JEWISH EVANGELISTS FROM EACH OF THE 12 TRIBES, THE MINISTRY OF THE TWO WITNESSES (MOSES AND ELIJAH?) WHO ARE MURDERED IN JERUSALEM, RESURRECTED AND TAKEN UP TO HEAVEN, THE BOWLS AND VIALS OF GOD’S FURY AND WRATH BEING POURED OUT, THE DRYING UP OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER TO ENABLE A 200-MILLION MAN ARMY TO MARCH INTO ISRAEL FROM THE FAR EAST, THE DEATH OF TWO-THIRDS OF HUMANKIND BY WARFARE AND PLAGUES, THE PLANET SCORCHED BY GREAT HEAT, BODIES OF WATER TURNING TO BLOOD, HUGE LOCUSTS RISING FROM THE PIT WHO TORMENT THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD, THE WAR CALLED  ARMAGEDDON, CENTERED IN JERUSALEM, CULMINATING WITH JESUS AND HIS HEAVENLY ARMIES COMING DOWN TO RESCUE ISRAEL FROM HER FINAL DESTRUCTION—ALL THESE EVENTS HAVE YET TO HAPPEN.

 

     AND HERE LIES THE GREAT THEOLOGICAL PROBLEM AND DIVINE WARNING FOR THE PRETERISTS.  EITHER JESUS LIED WHEN HE TOLD THE DISCIPLES IN MATTHEW 24, MARK 13, AND LUKE 21, AND WHAT HE DICTATED TO JOHN IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION, CHAPTERS 4 THROUGH 21, ABOUT THE SIGNS THAT WOULD PRECEDE HIS RETURN (AND GOD PERISH THAT THOUGHT).  OR HE MEANT EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID, AND EXPECTS US, HIS TRUE CHURCH, TO BELIEVE HIM AND LOOK FOR THESE SIGNS, NOW, AT THE TIME OF THE END.

 

      HE HIMSELF GAVE THIS GRAVE WARNING TO PRETERISTS AND ANYONE ELSE WHO CHOOSES TO PLAY MIND GAMES AND SOPHISTRIES WITH HIS SCRIPTURES, TO THOSE WHO PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT THEY WILL ACCEPT IN THE BIBLE AND WHAT THEY DECIDE TO CONSIGN TO THE TRASHBIN OF DISCARDED VERSES.  MY FRIENDS, GOD IS NOT MOCKED.  GOD IS NOT FRIVOLOUS.  GOD DOES NOT MISLEAD HIS CREATURES.  WHAT HE HAS WRITTEN HE HAS AND WILL PERFECTLY FULFILL.  CONCERNING HIS PROPHECIES FOR THE TIME OF THE END, HERE IS WHAT HE TOLD JOHN TO WRITE DOWN IN REV. 22: 16, 18-19--

 

“I, JESUS, HAVE SENT MY ANGEL TO TESTIFY TO YOU THESE THINGS IN THE CHURCHES.  I AM THE ROOT AND THE OFFSPRING OF DAVID, THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR.

 

      “FOR I TESTIFY TO EVERYONE WHO HEARS THE WORDS OF THE PROPHECY OF THIS BOOK: IF ANYONE ADDS TO THESE THINGS, GOD WILL ADD TO HIM THE PLAGUES THAT ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK; AND IF ANYONE TAKES AWAY FROM THE WORDS OF THE BOOK OF THIS PROPHECY, GOD SHALL TAKE AWAY HIS PART FROM THE BOOK OF LIFE, FROM THE HOLY CITY, AND FROM THE THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK.”

 

      THAT WARNING SHOULD MAKE ANYONE TREMBLE WHO HAS DEALT LIGHTLY WITH THE WORDS OF THE BOOK OF THIS PROPHECY.  THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM (PSALM 111:10), AND I IMPLORE CALVINISTS, PRETERISTS, AND ANY OTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN BEGUILED BY A DIFFERENT GOSPEL, A NON-BIBLICAL PORTRAIT OF GOD AND ISRAEL-HATING HERESIES, TO RE-THINK THEIR BELIEFS.  “TO REPENT” (REPENSER IN FRENCH) MEANS TO HAVE A SECOND LOOK AT WHAT YOU BELIEVE AND STAND FOR,

 

FOR THE LORD IS RETURNING SOON, SOONER THAN WE THINK, RETURNING WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT HIM, TO CALL ALL TRUE BELIEVERS TO HIMSELF.  MAY WE BE FOUND AMONG THAT NUMBER WHEN HE SHOUTS FROM THE CLOUDS!  EVEN SO, MARANATHA—COME SOON, LORD JESUS!