Christian "ROSES" vs. Calvinist "TULIP" - Examining the topic of Predestination from a Biblical perspective
A woman named Carla was deeply distressed about the idea of God electing/choosing/predestinating some people to go to hell and some to go to heaven. Carla wrote:
"I struggle mightily, painfully, fearfully with the concept of God's Elect/Chosen. Does God choose some to be his own but not others? If so, how does that work with the verses that suggest man has a choice/can seek out God and expect His grace/mercy/acceptance? How terrifying to think some individuals are predestined for Hell/damnation."
It's these deep concerns like Carla has that inspired me to write the following article. However please check out the link below for a short message that answers Carla's concern from a loving, thorough,
wise, and Biblical perspective:
Christian "ROSES" vs. Calvinist "TULIP"
The teachings concerning the Calvinist "TULIP" brings confusion and distress to many people such as the woman Carla shared above, so this article looks at the Christian "ROSES" instead...
We once had a 'TULIP'
Which brought confusion day and night...
Until some refreshing Christian 'ROSES'
Helped us see God's truth and light!
"ROSES" vs. "TULIP"
R - Rebellious Sinners vs. T - Totally Depraved Sinners
O - Option based Election vs. U - Unconditional Election
S - Selective Atonement vs. L - Limited Atonement
E - Evidence of Grace vs. I - Irresistible Grace
S - Security for Steadfast Saints vs. P - Perseverance of the Saints
R - Rebellious Sinners
Many ministers and people try to convince others that men are born totally depraved sinners and are completely helpless to turn from sin. This makes people who truly hunger and thirst for God to feel hopeless and confused and like they have virtually no hope of knowing perfect peace and security with the Lord. But is this true according to God's Word? The answer is 'No!'
We can instead rest assured that the Bible teaches the way of a wonderfully blessed hope! However, we must be greatly warned that the Bible does not give hope to those men and women who persist in rebellion, but rather that these are not right with God. The Bible also teaches that those who persist in their sin and rebellion are separated from God since sin separates men from God so that God will not even hear them. (Isaiah 59:2) The Bible teaches that unless men humble themselves and turn from sin and turn to live for God they will one day face the fair and righteous Judge and be separated from God eternally. God will tell them "Depart from Me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you!" (Matt. 7:23)
But is there hope for rebellious men? Does God desire that men be separated from Him eternally? The answer is ' NO!' God LOVES this world despite its deep, and persistent wickedness. Our holy God's love, longsuffering, mercy, compassion, patience, and kindness for sinful mankind is beyond comprehension. He simply longs for people to turn from evil ways and turn to walk in truth, righteousness, and follow obediently after the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet despite this immense love that God has for us, men normally still love their sin and walking in their delusions more than God, and will persist in various forms of rebellion such as drunkenness, swindling, lying, cheating, various forms of sexual immorality, love for the occult, selfish ambitions, extortion, schemes, jealousy, idolatry, coveting, abusive behaviors, outbursts of wrath, greed, hate, pleasure in wicked pastimes such as enjoying music with evil lyrics, watching sin filled movies/tv/video games etc. The Bible teaches that as long as men persist in these wicked desires and pleasures that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Rev. 21:8, Rom. 1:24-32, Gal. 5:19-21 etc.) The Bible teaches that only the pure in heart will see God and that only those who become as little children (walking in purity and righteousness) will enter in. No amount of 'good deeds' will impress God or earn us favor with God and these deeds will only be seen by God as 'filthy rags' as long as we persist in holding onto some form of wickedness in our hearts which separates us from God. (Isaiah 64:6)
If your conscience does not feel clean, or if you feel insecure about your life after death and your approaching Judgment and you want to know how you can know complete rest, security, and peace in the Lord please read on for there is amazingly wonderful hope!
O - Option based Election:
Some people and ministers teach the message of unconditional election which tells us that men are enslaved to wickedness and that God gave men no free will to turn from wickedness and turn to live for God as one of His elect children. But is this true? Does the Bible truly teach such a hopeless message?
The answer is 'No!' The Bible does not teach such a message, but rather just the opposite! In fact, entire chapters of the Bible have been dedicated to teaching the simple message of hope for salvation for sinful men! Let us look at the simple message that God wants men to heed and obey in order that they might know true rest for their souls. Let's look at Ezekiel Chapter 18. Here we read in verses 30-32 ...
"Therefore I will judge you O house of Israel, everyone according to his ways," says the Lord God. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord God. "Therefore turn and live!"
If you read the entire chapter you'll clearly see that God gives men the free will to either persist in sin and rebellion which leads to eternal death and separation from God...OR...they can know hope and eternal rest with God if they'll simply repent, turn from sin and live to follow God! What simplicity and what Good News!
Even an entire BOOK in the Bible has been dedicated to teaching the same simple message about how God wants us to become one of His precious elect children! It is the book of Jonah, and here we read that God had great mercy on the Ninevites since they sincerely decided to turn from sin and turn toward righteousness. Yet if they would have refused to repent and continued in rebellion God would have brought disaster upon them. Jesus, John, Paul, and all the other holy prophets and apostles taught this same wonderful hopeful message!
So who exactly are the elect/chosen children of God? The Bible teaches that the elect consists of those who take the option to choose if they will follow the Lord and be His elect, instead of choosing to continue to go their own way which leads to everlasting separation from God. The Bible teaches in 2 Corinthians 7:10 that godly sorrow brings repentance which leads to salvation. True godly sorrow means that we will cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness. We will come humbly and broken before God and sincerely tell God that we want to turn from all the sins, lies, idols, and deceptions that are separating us from Him and that we only desire to live purely for Him and go His way in complete accordance with His perfect Word throughout our lives.
Now, if we've truly sincerely repented, we will evidence this repentance by the deeds/works in our life. True repentance and true saving faith are evidenced by an altogether changed life. These are some of the evidence of true sincere heartfelt repentance and true saving faith:
1. We get rid of all the sin/sinful influences in our life: This means that---
- If we're drunkards, we sincerely turn from the liquor;
- If we're thieves or if we've swindled we'll pay back what we owe those we've cheated and steal no more;
- If we're sexually immoral (involved in adultery, fornication, lust, homosexuality, viewing pornography etc) we'll sincerely turn from those ways and not go back to it;
-If we're cold-hearted or have abusive ways/behavior and language we'll feel sincere sorrow and cease from these ways;
- If we 're into the occult, we will burn the sorcery books, horoscopes etc (Acts 19:19);
- If we're liars or if we're deceivers about the truths of God's word or deceptive in other ways we will have deep regret and no longer continue in those ways etc.
- We will also rid ourselves of all books, music, magazines, movies, games, clothes etc that are sinful in nature for we know our God is a holy God.
- We will part from all our lusts and idols such as love for money, excessive love of pleasures and all things that we love more than God and instead make God our first love and passion that fills our heart and mind instead of the worthless things of this world that are passing away.
- We'll also part with any friends who basically want to influence us in the wrong ways and keep us in sin and keep our hearts from the love of God.
True repentance means we'll stop living in sin and start sincerely living to please and honor God with our lives. We will turn from all sins of the flesh for those who partake in these ways do not inherit the kingdom of God (Rev. 21:8, Romans 1:24-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5-6 etc.)
2. We will seek God's word with intense passion and with a complete desire to walk in accordance with its teachings. - We live for Him and pray that God's will be done. We seek fellow saints/truth fighters to fulfill His mission of spreading the true gospel to every creature.
3. We rid ourselves of all heresy (false doctrine and false teachers) and expose their heresies.
4. We no longer have a passion for this world and life which is passing, but our true love and passion is for God. - We seek lasting eternal riches, not the fleeting desires of this world.
5. We love our fellow man. - We will show this love by desiring for them to know the true gospel that they might be saved. We will also desire to help the less fortunate and have true compassion for others.
If you see this evidence of true repentance, true saving faith, and being born-again then you can be confident that you are one of God's elect children and will receive His grace and are destined for heaven if you abide in Him to the end in true faithfulness!
To those who sincerely repent and cleanse themselves of their wicked deeds, God will give them a new heart that only longs to live faithful and pure for God. He will also give them the gift of the Holy Spirit which will help us to walk holy, pure, and faithful for our entire lives if we continue to sow to the Spirit instead of sowing to the flesh. People who sincerely repent are also now removed from God's wrath and are now under His beautiful saving grace. As we surrender our whole lives to God, we can rest in full faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and know that Jesus' precious saving blood will pay for all our past sins. The dear Lord Jesus also promises to continue to be our propitiation if we continue to walk in the Light!
People who truly have the Holy Spirit seek God's word above all else and walk in accordance to its truths. The truly repentant become spiritually born-again/regenerated new creatures who have crucified their 'old man' that walked in the ways of self/sin/lies and now walk in the 'new man' that only desires to walk holy, pure, and obedient to God. (Gal. 5:24) These have been sanctified and justified as long as they continue in Him to the end in faithful obedience. These are God's elect children.
S - Selective Atonement
Some people teach that God has only provided limited atonement to a few people that He chose arbitrarily. Could this be true that God is a partial God? The answer is NO! Praise God that this is definitely not true!
We can never put limits on God and say that Christ has only purchased 'limited atonement.' God's power and abilities are without limit and beyond the scope of our imagination and He is no respecter of persons! Jesus' atoning blood is not limited! What Good News! The Bible teaches in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is long-suffering toward us and does not want any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. 1 John 2:2 tells us that Jesus became the propitiation for the whole world. He did not come to die for a chosen few but for the sins of the whole world! 1 Timothy 2:6 tells us that Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all. Hebrews 2:9 explains to us that God wanted everyone to be saved so He sent His Son to die for everyone! 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God desires for all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. John 12:32 tells us that Christ draws all to Himself.
Here is more clear scripture that teaches that Jesus died for ALL:
He died for ALL (1 Tim. 2:6)
He died for ALL MEN (Rom. 5:18, 1 Tim. 4:10)
He died for US ALL, for ALL OF US (Isa. 53:6)
He died for the UNGODLY (Rom. 5:6)
He died for CHRIST DENIERS (2 Pet. 2:1)
He died for SINNERS (Rom. 5:8)
He died for EVERY MAN (Heb. 2:9)
He died for MANY (Matt. 20:28)
He died for the WORLD (John 6:33, 51; John 1:29; John 3:16)
He died for the WHOLE WORLD (1 John 2:2)
He died for the WHOLE NATION of Israel (John 11:50-51)
He died for the CHURCH (Eph. 5:25)
He died for His SHEEP (John 10:11)
He died for ME (Gal. 2:20)
He died so I would die to my sins (1 Pet. 2:4)
We can never put limits on God's incredible love or on Christ's perfect sacrifice. Christ invites all who desire, to come to Him! He pleaded that the gospel would be preached to every creature and to all the world since God offers salvation to everyone - what good and glorious news! Even though most choose to reject God's message of salvation, anyone can be saved - what a loving, merciful, patient God He is!
Even though scripture clearly teaches that Christ died for all men, this does NOT mean all will be saved. In fact, the scriptures teach that only a few will be saved in Matthew 7:13-14. Few are saved not because God arbitrarily chose a few, but because only a few choose to truly come to Christ and truly obey Him.
So, we see that the atonement is not limited, but rather it is selective in the sense that we are partakers in it by our own free will choice through repentance and faith. The atonement is selective toward those who sincerely humble themselves after they hear the Word of God which convicts their hearts for as we know "faith comes by hearing the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). These are convicted by the Holy Spirit to sincerely repent by cleansing themselves of their sins and now turning to live their lives altogether for Him and live to endure to the end in following Jesus. But to those who proudly rebel and resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who will not receive the Spirit of truth, these will not receive the gifts of God's grace and atonement for their sins for as the Bible teaches - "they perish because they refuse the love of the truth that they might be saved....that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (II Thess. 2:10-12).
Only those who listen to the Spirit of God by turning to God and ceasing in their ways of sin, pride and rebellion will be washed clean of their sins through the precious atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are people who have been born again by the Spirit of God and are people who start to live wholeheartedly to the glory of God. These are the select chosen few whose sins are covered by Christ's precious cleansing redeeming blood.
E - Evidence of Grace
Some religious teachers teach that God's grace is irresistible grace, which can be a confusing teaching that does not line up clearly with the teachings of the Bible. Instead, we read in the Bible that God's grace is evidenced in a born-again person's life by various changes in a true follower of Christ. Grace is a word that has been tremendously abused and misused by the 'religious community.' People tend to think of grace as this special kindness of God whereby if a person merely confesses to God that he is a sinner and simply believes and trusts that Jesus' works on the cross paid for his sins, then in the future God won't 'see' or 'count against us' our future sins because in His 'grace' He 'paid' for all our sins. These people also tend to believe that we are helpless to sin for our entire lives since we are 'depraved sinners' who are basically prisoners to sin for the remainder of our days.
This may sound all 'holy and humble' on the surface, but it is definitely NOT the truth at all concerning what the Bible teaches about God's wonderful grace! It is no wonder that Matthew 24 warns us about all of the false Christs and prophets who will rise up so as to even deceive the elect if possible. It is no surprise to read in 2 Timothy 4:3 about where men will heap up teachers to please their 'itching ears' to say what they want to hear since men will not put up with sound doctrine. It is no surprise to read in 2 Thessalonian 2:11 of the great apostasy and strong delusion where most men will believe the lie since they would not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved but instead had pleasure in unrighteousness. Let's look at the terrible lie that men are teaching about the grace of God, and then let's look at the truth about what the Bible teaches about the grace of God.
Many people and religious leaders of our day have literally perverted God's grace to basically be some sort of 'free ticket to heaven' even if people still choose to continue on in various sins and lusts! They believe God's 'grace' still 'covers them' even if they continue to view pornography, continue in homosexuality, continue to lie, swindle and enjoy filthy TV shows, books, magazines, music etc. They believe they are covered by God's 'grace' if they continue to love this world, have abusive language and behaviors, partake in drunkenness or various forms of sexual immorality. They believe 'grace' covers all sorts of other types of dark sins and behaviors as well. These people are sadly under strong delusion and are deceived by lies. (II Thess. 2:10-12)
A great percent of the religious leaders of our day only teach this twisted perception of grace and tend to ignore countless passages that tell us about our need to fear God, abide in Him, work out our salvation, turn away from our sin and darkness, depart from the wide road of destruction to escape God's wrath and Judgment, and myriads of other warnings. These strong warnings were all shared in love by such amazing preachers of truth such as Jesus, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Jeremiah, Noah, etc. A great percent of the religious leaders of our day are just as much like the venomous viper religious leaders of Jesus' day who twist scripture, love 'traditions', and speak smooth deceptive words that lead men blindly to the pits of hell. They either put people to sleep or woo them with smooth deceptive swelling words of emptiness. These types of false teachings please men's itching ears so that people can still feel comfortable and secure despite their sins as they teach them that God has them 'covered' with His 'grace.' Jesus said that they are blind leaders who are leading the blind to destruction. (Matthew 15:14)
What a dark, deceptive day we live in, yet Jude clearly warns us about these sneaky grace changers who pervert the grace of God to mean that 'grace' allows for the opportunity to continue in sin without fear of consequences. Jude 4 tells us to watch out for such ungodly men who turn God's grace into a license to sin. We need to be exceedingly careful of all religious leaders of our day since the large majority are now teaching this watered down, deceptive version of 'grace.'
What does the Bible truly tell us about what the grace of God is like that brings salvation? We read about this in Titus 2:11-12 which tells us “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” So we can see from these verses that the true grace of God does not allow for or overlook sin, but that the true grace of God is evidenced by the following traits occurring in truly saved individuals lives:
- They will deny ungodliness
- They will deny worldly lusts
- They will live soberly
- They will live righteously
- They will live godly
If these traits are not evidenced in your life as coming from your heart, then we are not under God's grace, but under His wrath and condemnation and need to get right with God!
Remember God's grace definitely does not allow for people to continue in the practice of sin, In fact, what does the Bible teach about those who one day insult the Spirit of grace if a once born-again/regenerated believer takes their hand off the plow for the Lord and returns back to purposeful sin in their life? Hebrews 10:26-31 tells us that those who do so will no longer have a sacrifice for sin and that God will repay them with vengeance and Judgment of fiery indignation! In other words, the destination of those who stop following the Lord and start following the devil again is hell and there is no grace for these but only God's wrath!
So never forget that despite what so many deceptive ministers will try and convince you of, God's grace does not allow for practicing sin but rather, God's grace/loving favor is only lovingly bestowed upon those who truly humble themselves before Him as they sincerely repent of and turn away from sin and now truly live to walk in a way that only longs to bring honor to the Lord and continue in purity and righteousness before our holy merciful God. If we sincerely follow the Lord and continue to do so, then we can truly know that we are under God's wonderful, caring, beautiful grace and that we are His precious beloved children. But, be warned however, for if we one day get careless or deceived and wander away from God and blaspheme the Holy Spirit by walking in a way that is not godly or righteous, or according to God's perfect will, then we will no longer be under God's grace, but rather under His wrath and upcoming Judgment. So always remember to abide in Him each day and walk according to His perfect will in full obedience as a dear child loves his Father.
One final note about grace:
Many people in our day like to quote Ephesians 2:8-10 as they misinterpret the true meaning of grace. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This, of course, is true that we are saved by grace, BUT before we truly repent (as evidenced by full turning from sin to full turning to God), we are still under God's wrath -- it is only AFTER we sincerely repent that we can come under God's grace. Only then will God shower us with His wondrous gifts of grace to include that He justifies us, Jesus' precious blood sanctifies us, He gives us a new heart, He regenerates us, and He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. We could never 'earn' our way to heaven by works alone such as doing good deeds, religious obligations etc. while we are still in our sin, for then our best deeds are only seen as being 'filthy rags' by God. Yet, as we read on in Ephesians 2:11, it says: “...we are created for good works that we should walk in them. Once we are truly saved then our works give evidence of a true saving faith. (James 2:14-26)
S - Security for Steadfast Saints
Some people teach that God will somehow make every person endure to the end in their salvation which is known as the perseverance of the saints. However, this teaching is deceptive since the Bible continuously warns that true believers/brethren/regenerated saints can easily lose their right standing with God if they are not careful to continue in walking faithfully with Him and that we must strive to enter through the narrow gait for very few will enter in. (Matt. 7:13-14)
We must remember that there IS security, BUT that there is ONLY security for the STEADFAST Saints, who continue to walk faithfully with God for the rest of their lives. There may be a long period of time between when a person gets initially saved and when a person's life is over here on earth. MANY things can occur during this time to test our faith. The Bible teaches that only those who overcome and endure to the end will inherit God's paradise kingdom or else they will get blotted out of the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5). The Bible perpetually warns the elect/brethren/saved of all of the dangers that can occur to bring us right back to our spiritually dead condition. Some of the dangers include temptations, neglect, worldliness, a careless thought life, false gospels etc.
The first chapter of James is ever so clear about how sin can defile the brethren once more if they yield to temptation and cause them to die spiritually. God will never be unfaithful to us on His end of the promise (Phil 1:6), but WE are the ones who can wind up making a mockery of Him, become unfaithful, and wind up not under His grace anymore but back under His wrath. This is why the Bible is often warning us in love to make sure we are always prepared and ready in case Jesus returns or in case our life might suddenly end so that we will be prepared for the Judgment. We can rest perfectly assured that God will remain perfectly faithful to us, but the real question is...will we continue to walk faithfully with Him and follow Him to the end? Will we continue to follow Him faithfully, or will we fall away, let our faith get shipwrecked, take our hand off the plow and give up, yield to temptation etc.?
What are some of the things that the Bible lovingly tells us to do so that we can have complete assurance of our salvation and so that we can continue to know this perfect peace of mind to the end?
1. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling: This means that every day we should carefully examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith. We need to examine our thought life, and confess to God any type of unkind thought, unloving word etc. so that we can stop these dead in their tracks so that it will not lead to deeper sin. Remember how Jesus told us that even those who say to someone 'You fool!' would be in danger of hell fire, so quickly confess such things so it will not lead to deeper sin which will take us off the straight and narrow path. Remember Jesus is our propitiation for those who continue to walk in the Light, but to those who return to ways of darkness, there no longer will remain a sacrifice for their sins as told to us in Hebrews 10:26-38.
2. Keep a clean pure conscience between God and man
3. Continue to steadfastly follow Jesus and steer clear of all worldly desires, temptations, and bad company.
4. Resist/flee the devil and submit entirely to God: Flee youthful lusts, flee greed, flee sexual immorality etc.
5. Add to your faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love: (2 Peter 1:5-11) For if we do these things and abound in them, we will not be unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus and won't stumble.
6. Feed to the Holy Spirit and not to the flesh: Fight temptations that might occur as you heed the Holy Spirit. Discipline your body and your thoughts.
7. Put on the full armor of God each day (Ephesians 6:11+): This will help us fight all the deceits and lies of Satan.
8. Take up your cross each day and fight the good fight to the end.
9. Continue in fervent Bible study, unceasing prayer, and constant meditation.
10. Have childlike faith, and walk in purity and righteousness.
11. Be very wary and vigilant concerning more-less all religious leaders of our day and instead concentrate on keeping yourself 100% faithful to God's word.
12. Continue to sow to the Holy Spirit and not to the flesh for those who sow to the flesh will not inherit eternal life. (Gal. 6:7-9, Rev. 21:8)
13. Seek friends who are 'hot' for God in order to build each other up, exhort one another, and strengthen one another to stand firm!
There are other wonderful heeds, helps, warnings, and perfect guidance in the Bible as well so seek them diligently and abide in them.
Also concerning a person who does stray from the straight and narrow path and somehow falls away -- What if someone falls back into willful disobedience as described in such places as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:3-6, Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 1:29-32, Rev. 21:8 etc.? Is there still hope for someone who strayed from the straight and narrow path and fell away? Yes, there is—but only to those who sincerely repent with the complete pure commitment to not return to these sins again. Such true deep repentance was clearly evidenced by the prodigal son and David, and they walked in godly fear and righteousness ever after. Such people do not become 'born-again' again, but rather they get grafted back into their original salvation IF and only IF they truly repent. The Bible commands that true Christians must help lead others back to the truth if they fall away as clearly taught in James 5:19-20, Ezekiel 18 etc. Some will return like David did after Nathan warned David and led him back to God, but others will not like Solomon.
Take heed and remember that Jesus seriously warned that if we're not ready and prepared that He'll place us with the hypocrites and unbelievers when Judgment Day comes! (Luke 12:35-48, Matt. 24:36-51, Parable of the Virgins etc.) There is only security to steadfast saints who endure in following Christ to the end and who don't fall away! So take heed to continue in the fear of the Lord and in abiding in the Lord and His will each and every day on the straight and narrow path to victory and peace with Him forevermore! Remember that God will help and guide His faithful children every step of the way and He won't give us more to bear than we are capable of dealing with. He's a loving Father! Keep your eyes on the big picture, remain strong in faith, and commit to being God's faithful servant as a soldier in His righteous army. To God be all of the glory!
Article by F. A. Butler