The Gospel of Christ

Series: Calvinism

Lesson: Limited Atonement & Irresistible Grace

(a capella singing)

The Gospel of Christ: Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now, Kevin Pendergrass…

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

Welcome to The Gospel Of Christ and our study on refuting the false doctrine known as Calvinism. Remember, Calvinism and its doctrine can be seen in the acronym known as tulip, T-U-L-I-P. And thus far, we have Biblically refuted the first two tenets of Calvinism. The first one being the T: the total hereditary depravity, also known as original sin. We showed that that was false. The second doctrine or the second at the net of Calvinism being the U in the acronym TULIP stood for unconditional election, and we refuted that. And now in today's lesson we are going to continue to refute the next two tenets of Calvinism. The L standing for limited atonement and the I standing for irresistible grace. Now, the reason why we are going to be doing both of these together is because they are very similar points in their teaching. What you'll notice ant the doctrine of Calvinism is this. If you can refute one of the tenets or one of the doctrines of Calvinism, then you've refuted the whole doctrine of Calvinism because they both stand or fall together. So let's begin with the L, limited atonement.

Here is the basic idea of the false doctrine of limited atonement. Limited atonement teaches that Christ came and died only for those whom God unconditionally elected. In other words, this view teaches that Christ did not die for the whole world. Calvin took the position that Christ's atonement is sufficient for all, but only efficient for the elect. I want to say that one more time. He said that Christ's atonement is sufficient for all but only efficient for the elect. Now, that in and of itself doesn't make much sense. Because what John Calvin is saying is that Jesus came to this world only for God's elect, that the gospel is not for all, but the gospel is limited to only certain individuals and that Jesus only died for those individuals.

Well, that's not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that the gospel is unlimited in who it's to go out to. The gospel is to go to everybody. The gospel is for all. Romans 1:16, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone…” Notice that word everyone, “who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Paul said it's for everybody. Not only is it for the Jew, but it's also for the Greek or the Gentile. It's for everybody. In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus was commissioning the twelve, and this is what He told them. He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” What did Jesus say in Mark 16:15-16? Go into where? Go into some of the world? No. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to who? Every creature. The Bible doesn't say go and preach the gospel just to God's pre-chosen elect, but to preach it to every creature. In Matthew 28:19-20, which is the parallel to Mark 16:15-16, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of some of the nations?” No. But “of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus said you are to go out to all the nations; you are to preach to every creature and give them the gospel. It's unlimited in who it's for. Well, is this what happened? Absolutely. The Bible teaches in Colossians 1:23 that these apostles did exactly as the Lord commanded and commissions them to do. Paul write in Colossians 1:23 that “if you continue in the faith and if you're grounded and steadfast and if you're not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard which was preached to every creature under heaven of which I, Paul, became a minister of all.” Paul said that it was preached to every creature under heaven. Why? Because that's what Jesus told them to do in Mark 16:15-16, in Matthew 28:19-20. So the Bible teaches it's to go to every creature, not just some individuals.

In John 3:16, what some call the golden text of the Bible, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Bible teaches here that whoever believes. It's not restricted to certain nationalities, it's not restricted to certain groups, but “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. Now, this belief is not teaching faith only. James 2:24-26 teaches against that. But one must believe. And anybody can believe. Anybody can obey the Lord. Anybody who is interested in following the Lord can do that. In John 1:29 the Bible says that “the next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him.” This is what he said: “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the elect?” Is that what John 1:29 says? No. The Bible says “Behold! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Not just some. But Jesus came to die for everybody.

In 1 John 2:1-2, John is writing to Christians. And let's keep it within context. Here John is writing to Christians. He's not writing to non-Christians. And in 1 John 2:12 John says, “My little children,” talking about the Christians, “these things I write to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation,” and this is the part I want you to look at, “for our sins and not for ours only but also for the whole world's.” John says not only did Jesus die for us, not only did Jesus die for Christians, but Jesus died for everybody. Jesus died for you, Jesus died for me, Jesus died for the worst of the worst of the worst sinners John strictly and very firmly against the teaching that Jesus only died for certain individuals.

God doesn't want anybody to go to hell. In 1 Thessalonians 5:9 the Bible said, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, if it's the case that the Lord only died for certain individuals, then what would that mean? That would mean that God and the Lord did appoint some people to wrath. But 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says that God did not appoint us to wrath. Instead, He wants us to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. A verse that is very similar to this is found in 1 Timothy 2:3-4. Paul is writing to the younger evangelist Timothy, and the context of 1 Timothy chapter 2 and the first couple of verses is prayer. Paul is saying that I command you or I admonish you to pray for everybody. Not just some people, but pray for everybody. And he continues to give the reason why. In verse 3 and 4 of 1 Timothy 2 the Bible says, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men,” not just some men, not just most men, but who desires all men “to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” The Bible says that the Lord wants everybody to come to the knowledge of truth. He wants all men to be saved.

Well, if this whole doctrine is true about God only wanting some to be saved, well then, how do they deal with 1 Timothy 2:3-4? The answer is they can't because this is clear that the Lord died for everybody and the Lord wants all to come to the proper knowledge so that they can obey Him and follow Him. In Romans 10:1-3 Paul had this mentality. Paul wanted everybody to be saved, too. Paul said, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. Nor I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” Paul said that it is his prayer; it is his heart's desire that those who are lost may be saved. Particularly he was talking about Israel. Well, if it's the case that Jesus only died for some, yet Paul had the mentality that he wanted all to be saved, then that would make Paul more loving than God. Paul said he wanted all to be saved. Why? Because the Lord wants all to be saved. Paul was simply imitating Christ as we must imitate Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:1. The gospel is for all because Jesus died for all. In 1 Timothy 4:10 the Bible says, “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the loving God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” And again you have the same phrase, “of all men”. And every time I read that, I want to emphasize that because people need to understand it's not just some, “but all men”. And that's the terminology when we come to these passages. The Lord is not the Savior of some, but of all. In Hebrews 2:9 the Bible is talking about, in this context, the death of Jesus Christ. Keep in mind, in Titus 2:11 “the grace of God has appeared to all”. And one of the ways that God's grace has appeared to all mankind is through the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God-“ you have the same phrase again– “might taste death for every everyone” or everybody. Jesus died for all. Jesus did not die for the saved. But Jesus died so that we could be saved. And there's a big difference between that. Jesus died so that everyone would have an opportunity to obey Him if they chose to obey Him. The invitation is always open to everybody. Passages such as John 6:35 teach this. The Bible says that Jesus said to the disciples “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” Who? Anybody: he who believes, anybody who believes, anybody who follows Me. John 6:45, we continue, Jesus said, that they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Anybody who comes to me and everyone who's heard, it's up to them whether they want to follow or not. It's the ministry of reconciliation. God died or Jesus died for all, so that we could be reconciled back to Him. Jesus came to this earth, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life so that He could be that sacrifice and so that we could-if we were obedient and followed the Lord-could be reconciled back to Him. That's why it's called the ministry of reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 the Bible says “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word or the gospel of reconciliation.” So the gospel is for all because Jesus died for all. So that is refuting the idea of limited atonement, the false belief that Jesus only died for certain individuals.

Well, now let's move on to the next at the net of Calvinism. That is the I: The irresistible grace. Here's the basic idea of irresistible grace. It teaches that no one can contribute at all or do anything whatsoever to their own salvation. In other words, they believe that God activates, miraculously, the Holy Spirit to inwardly call a person to salvation. And if He doesn't call you, there's nothing you can do to be saved, and if He does call you, then there's nothing you can do to be lost, that you cannot resist grace. That's why they call it irresistible. Once God activates the Holy Spirit in you, then there's nothing you can do about it. The Westminster Confession of Faith says this. It says, “this effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man who is altogether passive therein until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. He is thereby enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.” They teach that of your own ability and choice, you cannot know, you cannot believe, and you cannot obey and be saved.

But did you know the Bible teaches the exact opposite of that? John 8:32, the Bible says that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” That's a sermon in and of itself. Because first of all, it establishes the fact that there is truth. What is truth? John 17:17 teaches that God's word is truth. And not only is God's word truth, but the Bible says that you shall know the truth. Truth is something that I can know. I don't need somebody to come in and interpret everything for me, but I can know the truth, and it is only by the truth and through the truth that I can be set free according to John 8:32. And so this whole belief saying that man can't do anything about his salvation and you can want know anything, that's false. Jesus taught in John 14:15 that “if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” When you continue reading in John chapter 14, you'll come to verse 21, where Jesus said this. The Bible says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to Him.” We have to first have the commandments of God. That implies knowledge. We've got to know what they are. And once we know what they are, then we must keep the commandments of God. And only then can we be right with Him.

The Bible teaches in Hebrews 11:6 that we must have faith. In fact, the text says that it is impossible to please God if we didn't have faith. Well, where does faith come from? Is faith going to just one day miraculously fall upon me as this irresistible grace doctrine teaches? No. Romans 10:17 tells us the source of faith. “So then that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We go to the standard, we go to the word of God, we go to the Bible, and that is where faith is going the come from. The book in Ephesians 3:4, Paul is writing, and Paul says, “by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” What Paul was doing was Paul was being led by the miraculous Spirit at that point in time as John chapter 14 and John chapter 16, Jesus said he would do. And Paul was divinely inspired, writing the word of God. And that's why we have God's word today. What they were writing was not just their traditions, manmade traditions, but it was God's word, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. And Paul said as I'm writing this, as you have God's word and as you're receiving God's word, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. When you have people saying that you can't understand the Bible, you need me to tell you what the Bible says because you're too ignorant or you're too dumb to understand, and so you have to have me to tell you what the Bible -- don't listen to them. They are a false teacher. 1 John 4:1 warns about them. It says we're to “test the spirits… because there are many false prophets that have gone out into the world.” And when you have anybody tell you that you've got to have some sort of secret decoder or someone to tell you what the Bible says, you need to run from them because Ephesians 3:4 says that you can understand the word of God. Do not let anybody take away the simplicity that is in the gospel, 2 Corinthians 5. In Hebrews 5:8-9 the Bible teaches that we have to be obedient, though.

It's not enough just to say that I believe in God, but we've got to be obedient. The Bible says that “though He was a Son,” talking about Jesus Christ, “yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having being perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” This idea of, quote, unquote, “grace only” is false. Titus 2:11 teaches that grace is essential to salvation. But whenever you tack on the word “only” to any doctrine pertaining to salvation, it's always going to be false. Because there's not one single item that I am saved by. I am saved by grace, but not grace only. I am saved by faith, but not faith only, James 2:24-26. The Bible teaches that I'm saved by confessing, but not confessing only, Matthew 7:21. I'm saved by the blood of Christ, I'm saved by His word, I'm saved by all these things, but not by these things only, but by all of them. In Titus 2:11, the Bible teaches us about grace. The Bible says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” Now, if it's the case that I'm saved by grace only, and if grace has appeared to all men, then by implication, what would that mean? That would mean that everybody would be saved, right? If the teaching says you're saved by grace only and Titus 2:11 says everybody has God's grace, then that means that everybody would be saved. But that's not what the Bible teaches. While God's grace has appeared to all men, only few are going to accept and obtain that grace. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus taught that only few would inherit the eternal kingdom of God. The Bible says, beginning in Matthew 7:13, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The Bible teaches that there are only going to be few who find eternal life. And those few are the ones who do the will of God, Matthew 7:21. See, that means we have personal responsibility. We can't say well, I'm just saved by grace, there's nothing I have to do. Philippians 2:12 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but how much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In 1 Corinthians 9:25 the Bible teaches that we must obtain the crown. And while grace has appeared to all men, why grace and why faith and why salvation is free, it's not cheap, because you must do the things that God has commanded you to do in order to obtain that salvation. So we are saved by God's grace, yes, but not by grace only.

Now, I want to look at this doctrine a little bit about resisting the Holy Spirit, because what they say is that the Holy Spirit miraculously comes upon you, which the Bible doesn't teach that, but this is what this view teaches, that the Holy Spirit miraculous comes upon you, and there's absolutely nothing you can do, you cannot resist the Holy Spirit. But the Bible teaches that you can indeed resist the Holy Spirit as a non-Christian and once you become a Christian you can still resist the Holy Spirit.

In Acts chapter 7, Stephen is preaching that great gospel sermon, very similar to the one that Peter taught in Acts chapter 2. And in Acts chapter 7, they did not receive the words. They did not receive the sermon well. And look at what Acts 7:51 says. The Bible says, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” Acts 7:51 says that they were doing what? They were resisting the Holy Spirit. Here they are non-Christians, and he is trying to teach them the truth, and Acts 7:51 says they are resisting the Holy Spirit. Now, how does one resist the Holy Spirit? In context, how were they resisting the Holy Spirit? Well, they were resisting the preaching of the truth. When one rejects the preaching of the gospel, then guess what? They are resisting the Holy Spirit. You see, the Holy Spirit does talk to us today, but not miraculously, through the word of God. He is the author; He is the means or the method, the way that we have the word of God. And so whenever we go to the Bible, when we go to the word of God, that is how the Holy Spirit is talking to us. John 6:63, Jesus said that “the words that I speak to you, thy are Spirit.” In 1 Timothy 4:1 the Bible says that “the Holy Spirit expressly says.” Well, how is He saying that? Through the written word. In Revelation chapter 2 and 3 when you look at the seven churches of Christ of Asia Minor being written to there, at the end of each letter, it says “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says.” Well, how were they going to hear what the Spirit said? By receiving some sort of tingly feeling inside or having a whisper in their ear? No. But they were going to listen to what the Spirit says by reading and applying the letter that was given them 6789 so the Bible clearly teaches that when you resist the word of God, you're resisting the Spirit and you can do that as a non-Christian.

But even once you become a Christian, you can resist the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 10 beginning in verse 26 the Bible says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, then there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Now look at verse 29: “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted or resisted the Spirit of grace?” So even as a Christian, we can still resist the word of God and err away. Romans 6:1-2 the Bible says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” The truth of the matter is that the Lord wants all to obey and accept His grace and be obedient to Him. But it is still up to us. 2 Peter 3:9 says that “the Lord, He's not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” As 1 Thessalonians 5:9 teaches us that “God did not appoint us to wrath, but instead to obtain salvation.”

The question I want to ask you is, have you obtained God's grace? Have you obtained salvation? Well, how do you do that? Well, the Bible tells you how you do that. First of all, you must go to the Bible. Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” You must then believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. John 8:24, Jesus said that “if you do not believe that I am He, then you will die in your sins.” We have to also confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Romans 10:10. We must change our past life. We have to repent, Luke 13:3 Jesus said repent or perish. We have to change our life to follow the Lord. And we also have to be baptized in water for the forgiveness of our sins, Mark 16:16. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” If you have yet to obey the truth, then we pray today that you will obey the gospel of Christ.

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(a capella singing)