"He who lives by the verb......"
"What must I do to be saved?" - - that's a very valid question indeed. After all, what is more valuable than man's eternal soul? (Matthew 16: 26; Psalm 49:6-8) But to ask a Calvinist is to receive a different answer than one might expect to find in the Scriptures as we know them - -which should call most, if not all of the tenets of Calvinism (as practiced by many Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other mainstream "Protestant" religious bodies) into question on the basis of what is and is not just plain common sense.
To begin with, the doctrine of total inherent depravity (that which holds that all men have inherited the "original sin" of
Adam and Eve) in effect says that man is so badly and totally tainted with sin that it is impossible for him to save himself. (I will not debate man's worthiness of salvation here - - I choose instead to stay focused on the subject matter at hand.) It follows then, from this doctrine of man's total depravity, therefore; that, if you or I are to be saved; it is all on God. If we are lost, it is because He did not save us. (If such is the case; was Peter, in
Acts 2:40, asking the
Then, we come to the doctrine of unconditional election; which could also be described as the unmerited favor of God. In this, it is held that we aren't worthy of salvation, but God, out of His gracious love for us, saves some of us anyway. (More on this concept of "some" later.) Thus, it is all on God, and man is therefore "out of the loop". (Read 2 Peter 3:9 and ask yourself: Does God therefore
thwart His own will?)
Next comes predestination, foreordination, or the notion that some have been chosen from before time by God to either go to heaven, or face an eternity in hell. This idea of a limited atonement necessarily implies that; if "you're in", you're in luck; and, conversely, if "you're out", you have no hope - - end of discussion. Once more, if you wind up in hell; it's not your fault. Blame God. (If so, then what's the real point of preaching the gospel "to every creature" (Mark 16:15)?
The next item up for consideration is the doctrine of the "irresistible grace" of God, whereby, through the "direct operation of the Holy Spirit" upon your heart; God will save you; whether you will to or want to be saved or not. You, thus; have neither part nor lot in the matter;
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and, once again; all responsibility for the eternal destiny of your soul rests squarely upon God. Thus, Saul (Paul, the apostle) could well have entered Damascus kicking and screaming blindly, as well as futilely. (Acts 9:1-19)
Which brings us to the particularly perverse concept of "perseverance of the saints"; by which, in keeping with the general Calvinistic view of "Do" as a dirty word; we are taught that, once you are saved by grace through faith alone; (by just giving the mere verbal and mental assent to your own sinfulness, and to the divinity of Christ as the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world; and the acceptance into your heart of Jesus as your "personal saviour" - - with no action or "works" required on your part whatsoever); you are saved for all eternity; and can thereafter in no way lose that salvation and be severed from your heavenly reward no matter what sins you may commit; from murmuring to murder - - from gossip to genocide - - or from shoplifting to sodomy. All this, of course, being the "free gift" of God.
(And Simon the sorcerer, in Acts 8:9-24, as well an innumerable host of other sinning saints, must then be destined for an eternity of bliss;
repentance or no.) In short, then; to hear a Calvinist tell it; you can "do" NOTHING to save your own soul - - God must do it all FOR you or you're doomed and damned for all eternity.
And yet, the would-be Calvinist convert is fervently and repeatedly urged to "get saved", "believe on the name of the Lord", "pray the sinner's prayer", pray through”, and finally to "join" the church of his choice.” Do you not detect a bit of inconsistency, here - - some hypocrisy?
I make no claim to be an expert on English grammar and vocabulary, but, if I‘m not mistaken; we're dealing with several verbs here. And, if memory serves, verbs are used to denote action - - the "doing" of something - a veritable anathema to a Calvinist when it comes to how His soul is saved -- IF indeed it is.
And, not to be tedious, but when was the last time you heard of someone "doing" their own baptism - - i.e., baptize themselves? Similarly, what about adding oneself to the Lord's church (Acts 2:47) - - or ANY church for that matter?
The sad, sorry truth of this whole hypocritical matter is that the entire basis, or underpinning, of Calvinist, and other so-called Protestant thought on salvation is a thoroughly unsuccessful attempt
to shift all responsibility for a man’s salvation away from man and place it squarely upon God.
These doctrines are what I call "Calvin's crutches" (though other denominational "doctors" prescribe their use, too). And, unfortunately, the ugly truth is that millions of people have fallen for the easy, "cheap grace" which they've been led to believe comes from using them.
God's grace is free, but it is far from cheap. It took the blood of Christ, shed at the hand of sinful man to make salvation possible; and the mere belief in or acceptance of John 3:16 and other such passages in the Bible will not access a single drop of it.
< K.L.G. >