"The Way of the LORD is not Right"|
One of the core beliefs of Calvinism is “once saved always saved.” This belief is also known as the “perseverance of the saints” and the “security of the believer.” This doctrine teaches that once a person is saved through faith in Christ, he can never lose his salvation. This teaching is necessary to Calvinism because Calvinists also teach that God preselects each individual for salvation (“unconditional election”) and calls the individual by a direct act of His Holy Spirit (“irresistible grace”). Therefore, if one is predestined and called by God for salvation, he surely cannot do anything to lose that salvation.
However, the Scripture plainly teaches that one may be separated from God and lost again after receiving salvation through faith in Christ. For example, Paul told the Galatian Christians that they had fallen from grace by turning from the gospel of Christ and pursuing salvation through the Law of Moses (Gal. 5:4). Similarly, the Hebrew Christians were warned that a person could fall away even after being “enlightened,” tasting “of the heavenly gift,” partaking of the Holy Spirit, and tasting “of the good word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:4-6). They were admonished not to be “of those who shrink back to destruction” (Heb. 10:39). In 2Peter 2:20-22, Peter wrote of those who had “escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” only to return to those defilements again. He said that “the last state has become worse for them than the first.” In Acts 8:9-24, we read of Simon the sorcerer, who believed in Christ and was baptized, but sinned against God. He was told to repent and pray for forgiveness because he was guilty of sinning after he received salvation, and we know that sin creates separation between man and God (Isa. 59:2). There are many other passages that prove the point, but these are sufficient to demonstrate this undeniable truth.
Therefore, the Calvinistic position of “once saved always saved” is contrary to God’s word and is reminiscent of the Jews of Ezekiel’s time who said, “The way of the Lord is not right.” In Ezekiel 33:11-20, Ezekiel was told by God to tell the Jews in Babylon that He took no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but His desire was for the wicked to turn from their evil ways. God said that the wicked that repented and practiced righteousness would live, but He also said that the righteous who committed iniquity would die. Righteous persons were not to trust in their own righteousness to the extent that they believed they could sin with impunity. In response, the Jews said, “The way of the Lord is not right,” but in fact it was their ways that were not right (vv. 17, 20). In this same way, the Calvinists today have said that God’s way of condemning a sinning Christian is not right, when it is they who are wrong. Their teaching is equivalent to the Jews’ belief that a righteous man could not die in his iniquity, and it is an outright denial of the truth of God.
The word of God through Ezekiel still holds lessons for us today, for it expresses the truth that a person’s fate is not sealed until his life on earth has ended. God still takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and He desires for all to come to repentance (2Pet. 3:9). To satisfy this desire, God has offered salvation to all men (not only a select few – 1John 2:2) through the gospel of Christ. Those who believe and obey the gospel are secure in their salvation as long as they continue to believe and obey Christ (see Colossians 1:21-23). Those who believe and obey for a time but then turn away from God divest themselves of the salvation they once had (see above). Nevertheless, all people, whether sinners who have never known God or erring Christians who have fallen away, have the opportunity to be reconciled to God as long as they live (1John 1:9). In His patience, God extends that opportunity by delaying Christ’s coming and giving all people the chance to repent (2Pet. 3:14-15).
We should be grateful for way of the Lord, for His way has provided all people the opportunity to be saved. In contrast, if Calvinism was true, then only certain men could be saved, and the rest would be lost without hope. As it is, by God’s way, all of us may hear the gospel, believe it, and live by it from now until our time on earth is over. Then at last, we may stand before the judgment seat of Christ, justified by our faith and His blood, and be always saved indeed. This is the way of the Lord, and it is right.
Stacey E. Durham
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