(Refutation of Five Point Calvinism)
From the Book, Subjects of Sovereignty by Andrew Telford
Pastor, Berachah Church, 1608 W. Allegheny Ave., Philadelphia, PA.
(posted with permission)
It is dangerous for God to give high truth to highly educated people. There is a danger that in the furtherance of that truth it becomes mixed with an alloy of human wisdom. It pleased God on that first Christmas morning to give high truth to humble men, even shepherds in the fields.
These truths of Sovereignty are usually dealt with in the classroom of colleges and seminaries only. In these places they are subjects of theology. They are not dealt with in such a way that the average man or woman in the “work-a-day world” can understand them with any measure of intelligence, or even personal blessing for their own soul.
I am not presenting these subjects for students in the theological workshop, but for the average Christian who sits in the church pew to hear the word of God presented with a spiritual application for the heart and soul. I trust that the reading and the study of these subjects as set forth in this volume will somehow help the person who has an open mind to understand more clearly the Bible. I have endeavored to present in the most simple way these blessed truths, so that the common people will hear and understand.
The average Christian has been led to believe that these subjects are beyond his mental comprehension and spiritual understanding. Surely, if they are Bible subjects, the Spirit of God will help the humblest believer to understand something of their spiritual meaning and also to derive something of practical help for daily living from them.
After having spoken on these subjects to my own congregation in Berachah Church, Philadelphia, Penna., and having referred to them at different times in Bible Conference addresses, I have been asked by a number of Christians to present these four subjects in book form for the benefit of the Christian public.
In the presentation of them, I make no attempt to pose as either a scholar or an author, but am trying as a servant of Christ to present some subjects that have been much misunderstood by so many. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Clifton L. Fowler, who was the founder of the Denver Bible Institute, Denver, Colorado, for help in these studies. I trust as this book goes forward it will bring joy and peace to the hearts of God’s people, and the renewed assurance that “He doeth ALL things well.”
LET us begin the study of this subject by turning to Romans 8, and we will read three verses:
28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
29. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
30. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
As we study together, let us pray that God will give us light on these matters of sovereignty. Yea, let us ask God to give us more light than we have ever had before. Let us remember we are dealing with subjects that have to do with Divine Sovereignty. These subjects have nothing to do with the deliberate planning of man. These matters can only be known to mankind as God by His Spirit has set them forth in His Word. As we look at the subject of Predestination, we are certain that it is a much discussed subject, and perhaps as much misunderstood. Let me mention again the meaning of Adoption as set forth in the Bible. “Adoption is a divine act of God, whereby God sets a goal for the believer.” Man had nothing to do with setting that goal. It was solely the work of the Sovereign God. We see that Adoption is future. Paul with the believers in Rome was waiting for the Adoption to take place.
We now look at the subject of Predestination. Perhaps this subject is misunderstood because it has been dealt with in class rooms in a cold theological way, separated from the Word of God. Keep ever in mind that the Word of God gives clearness, and brilliancy to all doctrinal truths. Any doctrine, it does not matter what it is, when separated from the Word in discussion or presentation, becomes cold; and people do not understand it. The doctrine of Predestination is not only set forth in the Word of God, but it is so set forth that our hearts can be warmed, our minds filled, and our souls blessed as we study it.
I have a friend who is a preacher. He was a very earnest young Christian with a great desire to see souls won to Christ. He spent himself in every way to lead people to the Saviour. This same man was invited to preach in a country church in the Western states. He went for a week of meetings and on the closing evening, when he had just started preaching his sermon, he noticed a tall, young man come into his service. He wore a large cowboy hat, and had a red handkerchief fastened about his neck. This man took a back seat. While my friend was preaching the Gospel, this young man was in his mind, and upon his heart. He kept thinking about him and saw him sitting there silently. He continued preaching but felt that God was speaking to that man, and that evening would be the night when he would receive the Saviour. At the close of his sermon he gave a few words of invitation for people to accept Christ, and to signify their desire by coming forward. The man in the back seat who came in late did not respond. While the song leader led the congregation in the invitation song, the young preacher went down to the back seat, laid his hand upon the shoulder of the cowboy and said, “I suppose you are a Christian.” The young man answered by saying, “That is just where you are mistaken. I am not.” The preacher began to impress upon him God’s desire to save him. The cowboy turned to the preacher and said, “There is no use of speaking to me, for God has predestinated me to Hell. He has not predestinated me to go to Heaven.” The young preacher could not answer him so returned to the platform and closed the meeting.
Two years later, the same church had built a new building. They asked the same preacher to return and hold another week of Gospel meetings. At the first meeting, while the preacher was preaching his sermon, who should come walking in and take his seat at the rear of the church but the same young man, who had been there two years previous. When the preacher finished his sermon, he went down and to the young man as he had done previously. He asked the young man to accept Christ as his Saviour.- The young man said that God had predestinated him to go to Hell. There was no use in him trying to believe the Gospel. The preacher said, “Two years ago you told me the same thing. You had me in a corner. I could not answer you. I thought at that time that perhaps God had predestinated you to Hell, and I left you. Since then I have been reading my Bible. I just want to tell you now that God never predestinated a man to Hell and desires and wants to save you now.”
In the writing of this article I want to prove to you that the young preacher told the truth. Moreover we want to know how to deal with those who make such statements as this cowboy made to the preacher.
Many things have been said about Predestination in books. Some of these statements have been made by good men. Yes, some Godly men have made statements saying that God has predestinated some people to Heaven and some people to Hell. While such men have been right on other truths, of the Word of God, they have most surely been wrong in this. First, they have been ignorant of the teaching of the Word of God on the subject. Second, they have been in error concerning the truth of Adoption, Election, and Foreknowledge. This is a terrible statement for any man to make or dare to make, “that God predestinates some people to Hell.” It is not true. It is not according to the clear teaching of the Bible, and is diabolical. Listen to what the Apostle Peter says in II Peter 3: 9
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Hear what Paul says in 1Timothy 2:
3. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;”
4. “Who will have all men to be saved, and – to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Now, in the light of these verses, how can one say that God has predestinated some people to Hell, and some people to Heaven?
In dealing with these four subjects of sovereignty: Adoption, Predestination, Election, Foreknowledge, it is well to remember a certain phrase used in the wedding ceremony. We are all familiar with the phrase. “What God, therefore, has joined together, let no man put asunder.” I would like to reverse that, “What God has put asunder, let no man join together.” These four truths or subjects of sovereignty are truths that differ. They are not jumbled together in the Word of God so that man cannot understand them. God has set them in their position and in proper relationship in the Word of God. The Spirit of God is always trying to bring to our hearts and minds the simplicity, and beauty of these truths as they are clearly set forth in His Word. The Spirit of God is not bothered with the doctrines of man, and is not bothered with man’s interpretation of the doctrines of the Word. The Spirit never gives a Methodist interpretation of Predestination. Neither is He bothered about the Presbyterian way of handling the subject. He does not ask anyone to accept the Baptist view of this doctrine. The Spirit of God does not have any denominational ax to grind. Neither does He seek, present or promote denominational interpretations of certain doctrines. When writing on these subjects, I remove myself from all denominational platforms to present the truth. I take the Bible to mean what it says and to say what it means. In our hearts inquire after the clear, satisfying understanding of the doctrine of Predestination, we will turn to the Bible and will find what the loving Father has to teach His children in this matter, and our hearts will be satisfied.
A class of young men in a Bible School wanted to get a teacher. They asked a certain doctor if he would teach their class. So he began. The class had several who had recently been born into the family of God. Their hearts were hungry. They were college students. In the course of study, one of them asked their teacher about the subject of Predestination. The teacher being an honest Christian said that he could not explain the subject himself, but would bring them a book on the subject, written by his denomination.
One of these young men called to see me concerning the teaching of this book. The young man said that they had been asking their teacher some questions. One of the questions was on the subject of Predestination. The teacher had been honest, and said that he could not explain it, but he had a book which could, and assured him that he would find great help from it.
The book which he handed me was on the subject of Election. I said to the young man, “I notice the book is on the subject of Election, and not Predestination. However, we will read a few paragraphs together.” The writer of that book had not gone far on the first page, when he used the words Predestination and Election interchangeably. This is why the young man said to me, “The more I read this book the less I know and understand about the subject of Predestination.” The writer tried to join together what God had made clear in His Word should never be joined together. These subjects of sovereignty that we are dealing with in this book are separate subjects, and they do differ.
Now, is the subject of Predestination a Bible subject, or is it not? Can a humble believer know anything about this great truth? If it is a Bible truth, and most certainly it is, then the Bible is the best book to turn to for help and blessing. As we enter upon the subject of Predestination, let me give you a definition. May I remind you again of the definition of Adoption. Adoption is a divine act of God whereby, God sets a goal (Son placed) for the believer.
Definition of Predestination
Predestination is a divine act of God whereby God makes that goal-(Adoption, or Son-placing) certain for the believer.
In Ephesians 1:5 we read:
5. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”
Notice the first sentence in this verse. It says that God has predestinated us unto the Adoption of children. I trust this simple definition is a clear one. We will now go through the Scriptures following a certain outline to see how the Spirit of God sets forth in beautiful simplicity this gracious truth for the hearts of all of God’s people.
I. The Precise Meaning of the Word
What does the word “Predestination” mean when you look at the etymology of the word itself ? Predestination is made up of two words. The first part is “pre”, which means before, or beforehand. The last part of the word is “destination” which means the climax, end or farthest extent. The little word pre has to do with something beforehand. The word “destination” has to do with the farthest extent. We understand by this then, what Predestination, according to the precise meaning of the word has to do with: something beforehand and something at the farthest end or termination. Predestination has nothing to do with anything in between. The time is designated by the word “pre” and the farthest extent is designated by the word “destination.”
It was not predestinated that I write this book. It was not predestinated by God that I should be the pastor of this church. It was not predestinated that this lady should play the piano in this church. These things have nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of Predestination.
Predestination is God doing something beforehand, and doing something about or concerning, or relative to the farthest extent. Predestination does not deal with anything in between these two points.
Last night I was in Washington. Yesterday afternoon I went down to the ticket office in the railroad station. I put down my clergy ticket and for $5.90, the clerk handed me a strip of paper with some writing on it. Before she handed it to me, she placed a stamp on two halves of the paper divided by perforated lines, one being on each ticket. On one line of one ticket she stamped “From North Philadelphia to Washington.” On the ticket it did not say anything about conditions or happenings between North Philadelphia and Washington. It did not remark about the scenery, about the conditions of the coach, it just said “From North Philadelphia to Washington.”
Now turn to the word “Predestination” in reference to the railroad ticket. Pre, which means beforehand, and implies that the railroad corporation decided that for $5.90 they would carry a man from Philadelphia-to the destination- Washington. The railroad company, beforehand, guarantees the delivery of the man to a certain destination. A man may be cold on a train, a man may be sick physically, a man may injure his hand, the railroad company states nothing about what might happen between North Philadelphia and Washington. They have taken the responsibility of delivering the individual to the destination. This had been thought of, planned, and worked out, beforehand. That is the illustration of the meaning of the important word “Predestination.” It means precisely what the word itself declares.
II. The Purpose of Predestination
Now we turn to Romans 8:28-30.
28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”
29. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
30. “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom he called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”
We notice here in verse 29 the purpose of Predestination. It is, that we might be conformed to the image of His Son. Now when will that take place? We read in Romans 8:23 that it will take place when the body is redeemed, and that is the time of my adoption. In Ephesians 1:5 the Spirit of God spoke through the Apostle Paul:
5. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
We are dealing with the matter of the purpose of Predestination, and the purpose of Predestination is to bring us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. “To be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8 :29.
This is the definite purpose of God in Predestination. He has predestinated us unto the Adoption. Keep in mind the definition of the word. Predestination is a divine act of God, whereby, God makes that goal which is Adoption, certain for the believer. The purpose of God in Predestination then is Adoption, and when we are Adopted we shall be Son-placed. When we are Son-placed we shall be like Him, we shall then be in the image of His Son.
III. The People Who Are Predestinated
Now we will look at the portion of the subject that has to do with the people who are included in the Predestination purposes of God. I was speaking one Saturday evening at a Bible conference on the subject of Predestination. During the evenings of a week of meetings, which would close on the following day, there had been sitting near the front each evening a fine young man with his lady friend. After having spoken on the subject of Predestination, I stepped off the platform.
This young man came to me and said, “I have enjoyed your ministry this week. I am sorry that I cannot be here tomorrow which is your closing day. My seminary work begins on Monday, and I must leave early tomorrow in order to arrive there in time for school. I have enjoyed the meetings and have been blessed by hearing you week. I should like to tell you something about the meeting here tonight. I did not believe a thing you said about ‘Predestination’.”
I said to him, “Friend, what is there in particular in my message that you do not believe ?”
“Well,” he said, “I still believe that God Predestinates some folks to Heaven and Predestinates some to Hell.’!
He came to the meeting with preconceived ideas about the subject of Predestination, and would not be convinced even by the Scriptures.
Perhaps he was prejudiced against my teaching of the subject because of what his denomination believed concerning the matter of Predestination. Of course, if he wanted to remain in the denomination and be a part of it, he would have to hold to the “denominational view” of Predestination.
Let me say here and now, concerning Bible study, when studying the Word of God every person should lay to one side their denominational glasses, and turn, with the use of every faculty they have, under the control of the Spirit of God, to find the mind of the Spirit regarding the teaching of the Bible. Do not say it does not matter what I believe about this truth and that, it is nonessential and unimportant. There are no non-essential truths-neither are there unimportant truths. Every part of the truth in the Word of God is of vast and valuable importance to victorious living.
The young man previously referred to, said, “If you have a brother who is not a Christian, and you are one, if you both died tonight, one saved, and the other lost, I believe that God predestinated one for Heaven, and the one that was lost, for Hell.”
I said to him, “Now you have made a definite statement, and in your statement another issue is involved. You have laid a charge against God. You have charged God with damning a soul. Now would you open the Bible and confirm your statements with Scripture, for if God does this, you should find some support for it in the Word of God without difficulty.”
He said, “Ephesians 1:4 teaches that God predestinates the saved to Heaven, and the lost to Hell.”
Now keep in mind that we are dealing with the matter of the people who are Predestinated, and to show you the error of this young man’s statement. I want you to notice the teaching of Paul in the book of the Ephesians in general, which leads us to the clear teaching of Ephesians 1:4 in particular. To understand clearly the teaching of the book, you must understand clearly the mind and purpose of God in the book where the text is found. In the book of Ephesians, Paul is presenting to us the truth concerning the Church, which is His Body. The Church which is His Body is made-up of all believers. God only recognizes and is only identified with one Church on earth. Every person born of the Spirit of God belongs to the Church, which is His Body, spoken of in Ephesians 1: 22, 23:
22. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church,”
23. “Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
So many people know about the Church, but do not understand what the Church really means. In Ephesians we have the divine blue print of the Church. The word church is found in Ephesians nine times, and the word body is also found nine times. If a man is not saved or born of the Spirit, he does not belong to the Church which is His Body. Those who are in the Church, the Body of Christ, are sinners who have been saved by the grace of God. If you are saved you are in the Body of Christ, which had its beginning on the Day of Pentecost; when the Holy Spirit baptized those who believed and were scattered units into that body, thus making them members of the Body of Christ, and relating them to the Head in Heaven, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The work of the Spirit of God is to bring members in to the Body of Christ. Now Paul in this book is dealing with the Body of Christ; the Church as a whole is a corporate group or body. He is not speaking of us as individual believers. If I have entered into the blessings that are presented by Paul in Ephesians, it is only because I am a member of the Body of Christ. In Ephesians the believer is not dealt with as an individual. He is dealing with the Church as a corporate body. In the first three chapters of the book of Ephesians, we have the Church as God sees her accepted, and resting in all the merits of the Lord Jesus. In the last three chapters of this book we see the Church as God desires the world to see her. There is only one way in which the unbeliever can see the Church, and that is in her walk and work. The last three chapters of Ephesians then, have to do with the believers’ walk and work. There again we have presented the walk and work of a corporate group, the Church as a whole. In Ephesians 1: 4 we read,
4. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”
Notice clearly what the Spirit of God is saying through the Apostle Paul. He is telling in this verse that before the foundation of the world, God decided He would have a church. He decided that that church would have its foundation, “in Him.” This was a Sovereign act of God. He is Sovereign. He can do as He likes, and here is one of His decisions before the foundation of the world. He not only decided to have a church that He would be united with Christ, but He decided what kind of a church that Church would be, and He decided it before the foundation of the world. He wanted a church that would be without blame before Him. He wanted a church that when He looked at it, there would be nothing imperfect about it. It would not have marks of imperfections. It would be a church designed and completed by His infinite wisdom and His almighty power. The ways of God are perfect and the works of God are perfect. When He looks at that Church He does not see a flaw. It is without blame before Him. Anything that man makes, after it is made, he sees certain imperfections in it, and also room for improvement
It is not so in the Church of Christ. God created that Church as perfect, having imputed to her the perfect righteousness of the perfect Son of God. That is what God designed and desired, and also what He has brought into being concerning the Church which is His Body. God not only decided before the foundation of the world to have a church, but He also decided what kind of a church that church would be. According to Ephesians 1: 4, this was all decided before the foundation of the world. He decided that that church would be a holy church. I-wonder if we are building according to the divine blue print?
He also decided before the foundation of the world the Destination of that Church. Notice what He says in Ephesians 1:4-5
4. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:’
5. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
The divine blue print which is set forth in the book of Ephesians has in it the destiny of the Church which is His Body. He was not dealing with the individual believer in this book, but with a corporate group, known as the Church. In Ephesians 1:5 He has predestinated the Church unto the Adoption of children by Jesus Christ. God is not here deciding the Destination of individuals as individuals, but is telling us that before the foundation of the world He had decided the Destination of the Church the corporate group.
The young man who spoke to me at the close of the meeting at the Bible Conference on the matter of Predestination did not understand clearly the mind and teaching of the Spirit of God in the book of Ephesians. Nothing is more important than the studying of the Bible by Books. God never predestinated an individual to Heaven, and God never predestinated an individual to Hell; for God neither predestinates individuals to Heaven nor to Hell.
There is one exception to that statement. In the Bible, God has predestinated One outstanding individual to two places, and you will find the fact of it recorded in 1 Peter 1:11
11. “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it satisfied beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
The Lord Jesus was predestinated in two places. He was predestinated to suffering, and He was predestinated to the glory which should follow. Inasmuch as individuals do not come under the predestination purposes of God, we do find that God has predestinated two corporate groups in the Bible. God has predestinated one corporate group, known as Israel, to the outstanding place among the nations of the world. Then, God has predestinated another corporate group known as “the Church which is His Body.” This corporate group is predestinated unto the Adoption, which means that the Church is predestinated to be Son-placed. Ephesians 1: 5.
Now if you are in the Body of Christ you are in the predestinated company. People who are predestinated are those who belong to the Body of Christ. You are predestinated the moment you are saved, because that moment you became a member of the Body of Christ. Predestination has nothing to do with going to Hell. or going to Heaven as individuals. Predestination has nothing whatsoever to do with unconverted people. It only affects believers. The words “us” and “we” in Ephesians refer to the Church which is His Body.
It is blasphemous to dare to say that God predestinates individuals to Hell. Predestination is a divine act of God whereby, God makes the goal, which is Adoption, certain for the believer. Will I be “Son-placed?” Yes, if I am a member of the Body of Jesus Christ. If I, as a believer, and a member of the Body of Christ do not arrive there, at the place of Adoption, God would be a liar. Do you see that Predestination makes Adoption certain ? Thank God for His great truth concerning the Church which is His Body.
IV. The Partners in Predestination
I want you to notice another truth relative to the subject of Predestination presented in the 8th chapter of Romans, verses 28 to 30. Read these verses carefully, and as you do you will notice in verse 29 it says,
29. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Now in verse 30 we read:
30. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Notice the phrase, “whom he . . . them he also;” “whom he . . . them he also;” “whom he . . . them he also.” Here are the five things that God has joined together. It is a most delightful truth for the soul of any man. What God has joined together, let not man dare to try to put asunder. Five tremendous blessings are here joined together. These are the five:
God Himself has joined together these great blessings. He so united them together that they are inseparable. No man can put them asunder. They are joined together by His sovereign wisdom and power. This verse declares it to be so: “Whom he did Predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Now if you have experienced one of these blessings you have all five of them, for they can not be separated. These are acts of the Sovereign God, and thank God for His Word that these acts to us. Do you ever stop to thank God for these five blessings? Our faith rests in the knowledge of this abounding truth for the soul, and it is refreshing to our hearts. “He Who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” As a child of God you do not need to worry as to whether you are predestinated or not. God has settled that in His Word as He deals with the subject of Sovereignty.
V. The Pathway that Leads to Predestination
In Romans 3:28 a man is justified by faith alone. In Romans 4, we are told that man was justified by faith always. Two leaders are mentioned here in the opening of Romans 4, Abraham and David. So, you see that men of the Old Testament were justified by faith as in the New Testament. In chapter 5 we are told that justification is by faith. Romans 5: 1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith.” How a man is justified is clearly stated by Paul, and the question of justification is settled.
The sinner is perfectly and fully accepted by God and justified by faith. Religion and rights are all excluded. Now, if you can come into the experience of justification by faith, you can come into the assurance that you are predestinated. Justification by faith in Christ is the pathway that leads to Predestination. Whom He justifies, them He also predestinates. If you have the blessing of justification in your soul, you also have the blessing of Predestination. The same moment that God justifies a sinner, the Spirit of God places him in the Body of Jesus Christ, and as soon as he is in the Body of Christ, he is in the divine predestinated, corporate group. It is impossible for a man to be justified and not predestinated. You can change these five blessings around and mix them up with the little phrase, “Whom he . . . them he also,” and you will find that no human power and no human language can separate what God has joined together. The believing heart should continually bless God for this. God has saved the believing soul from sin, and made him a member in the Body of Christ; therefore God has pledged Himself by His sovereignty; yea, He guarantees that the Church on earth shall be the Church in Heaven. A man who has been justified by faith is in the predestined company.
How can a man be justified ? Hear the Apostle Paul telling a man how to get ready for Heaven on the shortest notice: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Again, hear the Apostle John in John 3:16
16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Notice what has been preconceived for us in John 1:12
12. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
If you believe on Him you possess another life. Are you a member of the Body of Jesus Christ? You are, if you have taken Christ to be your Saviour, and you can sing from the depths of your heart, “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”