Picking a Tulip or a Lily?

Picking a Tulip or a Lily?

 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12

Many believers are unaware that some of their beliefs many be built on the thinking and theology of two men, John Calvin (1509 to 1564) and Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).  The systems of theology that these men created are logical and consistent with their suppositions. However, they are totally opposite of one another and therefore both cannot be true. Moreover, many believers have been cherry picked certain points from both systems to their liking.  Now this is not logical nor is it honest if done knowingly.  It also leads to inconsistent and muddled headed theology that creates doubts and division.

Let me begin with Calvinism.  Calvinism is a systematic theology where each point is built on a certain presupposition and the preceding point. In other words, if A is true, B must be true and if A is false, B must be false, if A and B are truth C must be true. Calvin himself admitted that if any point of his theology is wrong then the whole thing was wrong.  This alone might be a call for you sleepers to wake up and smell the flowers to see if you have a tulip in the garden of your mind.

In a nut shell Calvin taught God’s sovereignty is unconditional, unlimited, and absolute. All things are predetermined by God’s sovereign will before the creation. This includes the salvation of individuals. Calvin’s system has been abbreviated with the acrostic “Tulip” which stands for the five major points of his system – total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

What do I think of Calvinism?  Not much, it is a very flawed system.  Its presumptions about the nature of God are based as much on philosophy as the scriptures. His system seems to image a God that is so big that He smothers mans free will. For the radical Calvinist, it completely destroys free will. However, there are some cherry-picking  Calvinists who seem to believe you have free will until you become a Christian and then some how you lose it.  I think the truth is that it would be very difficult to work any free will into any of Calvin’s five points without twisting his system and the scriptures.

There is one thing in its favor. If a person could really and totally believe it, which I doubt a person could, they could live a carefree life as a happy imbecile blaming God for everything in the world and sitting back and doing nothing to correct or improving the world.  You also could believe that you are heaven bound simply by accepting Jesus as your person savior even though you live like the devil.  This seems to be the case every year with millions of Americans being preached into heaven by their friendly minister.  If God is going to predestine people to heaven He could at least pick better people.   The problem with this belief is like all abstract beliefs; people cannot carry them into the real world for very long.  They are simply over powered by reality. Thank God!

After thinking a while (overnight) I realized that there is a group of people who really-really believe in absolute individual predestination.  In fact they not only believe it, they live it out, which is a sign of a true believer.  They’re called suicide bombers and they are Muslim, which believe in fate or absolute predestination.  In fact, some believe that John Calvin was influenced in his thinking by this extreme group.

I know some of you are thinking does the Bible teach that God predestined Christians to be saved? Right, He does. God predestined a lot of things.  First, he predestined all Christians to be free from the power of sin.  How are you doing in that area of salvation?  Then he predestined us to be free from death which would include the precursors of death, sickness and aging.  How are you doing on that one?  Now here is what the Bible teaches.  God has predestined everyone who is in Christ to be saved and conform to the image of His Son. What about conforming to the image of His Son, how are you doing on that one? The good news is that salvation has started in Christ and will be finalized in the resurrection when our adoption as sons is completed (Rom 8:23). In the resurrection, faith becomes reality. So, if you are not doing 100% in the above-mentioned  areas do not despair God is not done with you. The important question is, are you in Christ?

I know by now some of you are probably confused, so let me say a few more words about predestination. There is a lot of confusion in people’s minds on this subject, mainly for a very simple reason. The reason is that they look at it individualistic instead of corporately.  Much of the confusion disappears when a person begins to see election and predestination as God electing and predestinating  groups.  One way we could explain it is that God predestinated everyone who is in His Son[1] to go to heaven and for all those outside His Son to be lost (Rom 8:29-30). The elect are those that hear the gospel of His Son and are called out of the world into His Son (Eph 1:13).  We (those in Christ) who are predestined before the foundations of earth were laid in His Son. You see it was his Son, who was predestined; the question is, are you in him?  You see Gods grace is in His Son (2 Tim 1:9), salvation is in His Son (2 Tim 2:10), forgiveness of sin is in His Son, eternal life is in His Son; fullness is in Christ (Col 2:10).  In fact, all spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph 1:3).  The question is not where you predestine, but rather are you in the Son.  If you are in the Son, you are going to heaven.  In fact, you are already there because you were raised with Christ (Eph 2:6).  That is if you believe in Christ, for everyone who trusts in Christ is put into Christ by their faith and baptism into Him (Rom 6:1-4, Gal 3:26, 27).

What does it mean to be in Christ?  It simply means everything; it means that Christ is all, and in all. Being in Christ is equivalent to being in the kingdom of Christ and being in his body, the church. It means to be in the family of God with Jesus being your big brother.  It means to be hidden in Christ from the principalities and powers.  It means to be protected by Gods divine power.  It means to be in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In Christ means; to be in the place where all of God’s spiritual blessings are found.

Sounds like a great place to be, right?  Well, it is, You could say it is the place where the action is, that is God’s action.  How do you get into Christ?  You get into Christ through faiths-baptism (Rom 6: 1-5, Gal 3:26, 27)and by trusting in the God that raised him from the dead, and you abide in Him by that same saving faith.  But doesn’t the Bible say that when we were powerless, Christ died for us?  That is right; there was nothing we could do to save ourselves, which is why we had to simply trust God to do it.  Trusting God is not trusting ourselves, even our faith.  Faith itself would be a work of righteousness if you were to trust that it was through your great faith that you were saved.  Great faith is a gift of God’s grace and is different than saving faith that simply puts its trust in God’s grace and his word. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph 2:8a).

If you abide in Christ, you will be saved and you will naturally grow and bear fruit. (John 15:1-8) How does one abide in Christ? The same way that you get in him, by grace, through faith. Grace comes to us through faith in two ways. Grace given for forgiveness and grace given as power to be set free from the dominance of sin.  In Scripture, salvation is salvation from sin and death.  No one can be saved and be a slave to sin.  How can anyone be saved from something and still have sin as their master (Rom 6:15-18)?  Paul said that we are not under the law therefore we do not sin, but he also said that we are not under sin.  I know some Christians that say they are not under the law, but they are still a slave to sin.  What is that all about?  God’s grace has freed us from both, not just one. So, if you abuse God’s grace, look out for the wrath of God that is to come upon the sons[2] of disobedience. (Eph 5:6-7).

Let me suggest that you get rid of the Tulip in your mind and replace it with the Lily of the Valley “Jesus.”  Fall in love with Jesus and you will not have to worry about growing in the Lord, losing your salvation or anything else. In fact, you will not need to believe in Tulip to know and have assurance that you are saved, (1 John 5:13)  You will know that you are saved because you are in Christ by grace, through faith, because your faith is being lived out in loving your brothers, which you were saved to do. (Read 1John)

[1] The expression “in Christ” is used in scriptures to denote his corporate body, i.e. all those who in his church by faith.

[2] Some versions read Children or on those that are disobedient, but the Greek text reads Sons. This misinterpretation shows the vast influence of Calvinistic teaching which would deny that any believer could be lost and under the wrath of God. The new international version of the Bible is very Calvinistic and distorts many passages of Scripture to make them support Calvinism.